Hiya stranger! Nice to see you in this part of the world. We stayed three times at the Santa Fe when the children were small. We also visited, but didn’t stay in, the Cheyenne, which is just across the ‘Rio Grande’ (in reality a man-made canal about thirty feet wide) from the Santa Fe. Personally I like the Santa Fe for a number of reasons and saw little difference between it and the Cheyenne. When we did upgrade we leapfrogged Cheyenne and went to Sequoia Lodge and then to the Disneyland Hotel. These days we always stay off property as our trips are always made en route to somewhere else. I would tend to agree with your friend that the Cheyenne seemed a bit dead and we hardly ever saw anyone out and about there.
One huge advantage of the Santa Fe is that just outside its gates is an Esso service station where you can buy drinks and all sorts of snacks and things to have in your room or even to take into the parks if you want. It’s the only place anywhere near the parks where you can do this. We found this to be invaluable, as not only did we save a lot of money (always welcome with two small children) but we could get stuff that the kids liked such as crisps and cheese slices and all sorts of things. I would choose the Santa Fe just for that alone. Both hotels are about a ten minute walk to the park gates, but the walk is pleasant along the ‘river’ bank.
If you were to upgrade then I would only do it for the Sequoia Lodge or better (Newport Bay, New York or Disneyland Hotel). It was a couple of years before I realised that Cheyenne was a move upwards from the Santa Fe. I seriously thought it was the cheaper option because it just looks like it is.
Rooms in the Santa Fe are very acceptable, with two double beds and TV, bathroom etc. There are no rooms ‘with a view’ as there’s nothing to see. Rooms are arranged in a series of blocks away from the main reception area and there is always a bit of lugging cases around so make sure you have those wheelie ones.
PM me if you want any more info. I’ve got tons after 17 or so visits!!
Whatever happened to Queen Radio? That’s what I want to know!!