Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground
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Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground in Anaheim, across the street from Disneyland, consistently shows up as a fan favorite on every survey or website I’ve ever seen. The accolades are deserved, because this hotel offers great value and has a terrific location within walking distance of Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.
This particular hotel is probably the nicest in the entire Howard Johnson chain. It was designed by world-renowned architect William L. Pereira (who also designed the famous Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco), so while it was built in the 1960s, the hotel’s design is unusually interesting. Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground is well-maintained and is continuously updated to keep things fresh.
There are 317 rooms spread over several buildings, which are located on a pleasant and attractively landscaped property, giving it a feeling of spaciousness that you won’t find at most of the other hotels along Harbor Boulevard. Also, unlike most of the accommodations within walking distance of Disneyland, the Howard Johnson has interior corridors. This is advantageous both in terms of safety and noise reduction.
Standard rooms at the Howard Johnson are nicely decorated in golden tones, with oak-colored furnishings. Rooms are equipped with two double beds, two queen beds or a King bed and include a small refrigerator, coffeemaker, hairdryer, iron and ironing board. Most rooms have double sinks and balconies. As of fall 2012, all rooms now have 37″ flatscreen HD televisions and expanded channel selections.
Many rooms will give you at least a glimpse of the Monorail. Some rooms on the top floor of certain buildings offer views of the fireworks and the Matterhorn; there is an extra charge for these rooms.
Another value feature: all rooms at the Howard Johnson have FREE Wi-Fi (wireless) Internet access! This hotel also charges no “resort fees” or “energy fees.”
Castaway Cove, a mini water park located on the grounds of the hotel, includes:
- 30-foot Pirate Ship with two slides
- Cargo-net climb
- 300-Gallon Drench Bucket (dumps every seven minutes after the warning bell rings!)
- Water Curtain & Water Umbrellas
- Water Cannons, two on the ship’s deck and two on the ground
- Hot tub with 15-person capacity featuring additional back and foot jets
- “Speedy’s Sprayground” toddler pool and fountain play area
- Two outdoor showers
- Restroom facilities
No other hotel in Anaheim or Garden Grove has anything remotely close to Castaway Cove (except for the themed pools at some of the Disneyland Resort hotels). This facility has something for adults, kids and toddlers so the entire family can play together.
There is also a heated pool in another area of the hotel grounds with newly refurbished and expanded decking providing lots of space for sunbathing, a 5-foot deep end and two outdoor showers. There’s a video game room for kids.
While the hotel does not have a restaurant or room service, you can just stroll about 100 feet from the Howard Johnson’s lobby to Mimi’s Cafe, a terrific, value-priced restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mimi’s is a regional chain and I’ve eaten there many times. It has attractive theming (each room of the restaurant is slightly different) and excellent food. If you get tired of Mimi’s — which will be difficult, because it has a huge menu — you’re only about a 3- to 5-minute walk from other dining options, including McDonald’s, Denny’s and IHOP.
If you want some quick snacks or cold breakfast items, you can pick those up in the hotel’s convenience store, which charges reasonable prices for items like milk, cereal and bread. Remember, each room has a small fridge, so this is very handy if you just want to feed the kids some Cheerios before you head off to Disneyland. The convenience store also sells Disney theme park tickets and souvenirs.
It is an easy walk from Howard Johnson to the main gate into the theme parks. It should take you about 7-10 minutes. (Believe it or not, this hotel is almost exactly the same distance from the Disneyland entrance plaza as the furthest tower of the Disneyland Hotel!) If you prefer not to walk, the hotel participates in the Anaheim Resort Transportation system, which will take you to and from the Disney parks all day for a small fee.
If you’re bringing a car, parking is FREE!
I have enjoyed several stays at Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.
My wife and I took our 3 year old to Disneyland and tried your tip on staying at Howard Johnson’s – what a great savings and a nice place to stay! We appreciate your tip. One suggestion – if traveling with a toddler that you would like to have nap in the afternoon, request a ground floor room.
The upper rooms have attractive arch windows on the front and back of the room with no curtains – so sunlight comes in and doesn’t allow for the room to get dark in the afternoons. Otherwise, I would give our stay at Howard Johnson’s a HUGE thumbs up! We’ll be going back!
- Chris C from Chula Vista, CA
Save 15% every day off the lowest published rates, or 20% off for Disneyland Annual Passholders!
- Click here to take advantage of the great MouseSavers.com deals at Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground!
Not able to book the dates you want online? There is occasionally an issue with the online booking system. Call the hotel directly at (800) 422-4228 and ask for the MouseSavers rates.