Happy 2017, everyone! We celebrated New Year’s Eve 2016 at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, of of the three resort hotels at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Here’s my review with all the details and visuals I found missing when I tried to research the event before we went. I hope this is very helpful to you!
- Dinner reservations between 5:30PM and 10PM at the PCH Grill
- New Year’s Eve Party at the Pacific Ballroom from 6PM-12:30AM
- $75 per adult and $25 per child 9 and under (and those who look like they don’t eat like adults)
- Party features 1 backdrop for character pictures and dance floor with DJ
- Midnight toast and balloon drop with characters and countdown included
- Limited amount of party favors available
- For more and important details, read on!
This year, Disneyland offered 2 dedicated Disney locations outside the parks to ring in 2017 in style. One was at the Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. While this celebration sounded very fancy at $250 a person with a 4-course meal and perfect wine pairing for an additional $65, I felt the family celebration at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel was a lot more fitting for my 11-year old, who still prefers chicken tenders to good food, and a mom who cringes at $250 per person for any event.
A Well-Priced Family New Year’s Eve Party at Paradise Pier Hotel
This Disney family party was held entirely inside Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and consisted of a dinner buffet at the PCH Grill and a New Year’s Eve party following dinner in the Pacific Ballroom. At $75 for adults and $25 for children, I considered that a deal, especially looking at prices for everything else around in the area and the fact that this is Disney we’re talking about! And if you came with an annual pass, you received you 10-15% discount. Our total bill for the night was $103.80 after gratuity, tax and annual pass discount.
Earlier this year, we also celebrated Thanksgiving at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and I keep being surprised about how reasonable the hotel properties price their events.
Take Parking Costs into Consideration!
One thing to consider when going to an event at a Disney property is parking. While the event itself might be well priced, parking is definitely not. At Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, parking rates are $18 for the first hour for self-parking in the attached structure, and $28 for the first hour for valet parking. Every subsequent hour is $10. The PCH Grill will validate 3 hours of parking, but that still leaves you with quite a hefty price tag. Note that Disney Dining reservation agents will not inform you of additional parking costs when making reservations for an event.
You can of course park in the Mickey and Friends Disneyland structure at $18 for the day or for free with a Deluxe Annual Pass or higher, but consider that the hotels are a long tram ride and walk away from the main structure. Count at least an extra half hour to get from the structure to the hotel. Parking at Downtown Disney is not necessarily cheaper than parking at the hotels and also a walk away.
Make it a Day!
Even if our annual passes weren’t blocked over winter break, I wouldn’t have ventured into the parks on December 31. They are way to overcrowded for my taste on these peak days, plus it was raining cats and dogs this New Year’s Eve. I kept seeing families wrapped in raincoats and strollers covered with plastic bags. Therefore, Downtown Disney was out, too.
We decided a while ago to make our hotel days “vacation days” without paying the hefty price tag that comes with a room at a Disney Resort Hotel.We arrived at 4:30PM and explored the hotel, and then spent the afternoon in the lobby with card games we brought from home, and hot chocolate, coffee, and treats from the quick service restaurant, the Surfside Lounge, adjacent and open to the lobby sitting area.
The lobby area was at a good temperature, quietly played island-inspired holiday music fitting the hotel theme, and offered cozy sitting areas and a large, beach-inspired Christmas tree for picture opportunities.
Make Event Reservations
I would never recommend going to a Disney event without having reservations. We made ours 2 days before New Year’s Eve and the earliest dinner available was at 8:10PM. Because tables apparently didn’t clear out as fast as Disney had expected, we didn’t get seated until 8:35.Families still got seated when we left at 10, so if you are early eaters, definitely make reservations, and I recommend you make them earlier than I did!
Food Selections at the Buffet
The PCH Grill is definitely a casual dining restaurant. Not quite as casual as the big herding halls you find at the value resorts in Florida, but you will not look weird in jeans and T-Shirt. It’s beach themed – go with it!
Dinner was at the PCH Grill with an all-you-can-eat buffet and special selections for the kids that included hot dogs, chicken tenders, corn on the cob, and Mac and Cheese at their own buffet station. The adult buffet included a nice variety of options. Starters included mixed greens, bean salad, tomatoes and mozzarella pasta salad, fresh fruit, and deviled eggs. Main dishes included salmon, chicken, pulled pork, a carving station for prime rib, smashed potatoes, various vegetables, cheese ravioli, and shrimp mac and cheese. All food tasted really very good with no complaints from neither mom nor son. Staff was standing by at all times to answer ingredients questions and to promptly replace all dishes when serving plates were getting low.
Also included in the price were all non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol could be purchased at an additional cost, however; and even though I didn’t have a cocktail myself, they looked really yummy and came with glow cubes in them!
The dessert selection was large and had something for every taste, including brownies, fudge, shortbread cookies, mouse, jello, and chocolate-covered strawberries, all beautifully designed by Disney’s pastry chefs. I thought dessert looked a lot better than it tasted. Everything was very sweet and the shortbread was dry. Christopher had no problems with that, but the strawberries turned out to be my favorite.
Party in the Ballroom – What to Expect
Following dinner was the big party in the ballroom. There was no dress code. We wore nice jeans and a nice sweater, but I saw everything from very casual to fancy cocktail party dresses. And many Disney princesses. 🙂 The ballroom was decorated with black, silver, and golden balloons and matching confetti on black table clothes. It offered a good amount of round tables for community seating and cocktail tables around the dance floor.
A big dance floor full of families was at the center of the room with a DJ playing non-Disney, but family-appropriate dance music. Off to the side was a castle backdrop where Minnie and Daisy, and then Mickey and Pluto, in festive attire rotated for photo ops. A Photopass photographer was not available, but a designated employee to take pictures with your own camera was.
The party was organized well, with a smaller balloon drop at 9PM for the littles, and a larger balloon drop at midnight for everyone able to make it. Party hats, headbands, and noisemakers were available for party guests; however, they were definitely not replenished or rationed for guests arriving at a later time. So when we got the the ballroom at 10PM after our dinner, they were all gone and we had to go scavenge the tables for left-behind party supplies. Many people brought their own party hats. If you want to make sure you get the Disney-provided ones (not Disney-themed), I recommend you make the earliest dinner reservation and hurry to the ballroom.
Water and shortbread cookies were provided and replenished throughout the night, and a small cash bar was available for alcoholic beverages.
Midnight and Toasting!
Starting at 11:30, staff came out to hand out champagne for adults and sparkling cider for the kids for a midnight toast. Shortly before midnight, everyone started hustling to the dance floor for the midnight balloon drop, where Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, and Pluto went up on the DJ stage to help us count down to the new year.
The party was over at 12:30AM and everyone did pack up their tired kiddos and left shortly after the balloon drop.
Altogether, we had a great New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a laid-back kid-friendly party where your kids can run and roam and you don’t have to be worried about them sitting still for hours until midnight.
Please let us know in the comments if you went, what you think, of have any questions for your future planning!
Happy New Year, everyone!