Last January we stayed at the Grand Californian and this trip we tried Paradise Pier. Both trips were fairly quick, just 2 or 3 days. I found that for these quick trips in which you are just trying to jam in as much park time as humanly possible I would suggest Paradise Pier. It doesn't have the massive lobby and super pretty pool area but pretty much the rooms have the same layout and room service is too expensive in both. If you plan on staying a week or more then you ought to spend a bit more and try the Grand Californian. It has shops, is closer to the park, and get a view of the park to experience the World of Color. But if all you are doing is sleeping at the hotel save your money and stay at Paradise Pier. It is clean and nice. The cheapest rooms do face a parking lot but if you and yours are at the park from opening to closing see World of Color in person not fromyour room.
As expected with Disney service is super, everyone is glad to help. The food is ok. Nothing terrific, but will satisfy most kids. Be aware there is a $15.00 a day parking fee even if your car never leaves the structure.More