Saturday, November 14, 2009

Disneyland: Where to stay

Along with when to go, one of the first decisions you will have to make when planning your Disneyland trip is where to stay. If you haven't been there before, choosing a hotel can be overwhelming and intimidating. Anaheim is filled with hotels, all claiming to be family-friendly, clean, and close to the park. So how do you know which one is really the best?
First, you have to decide on your criteria--must-have and would-like-to-have. This criteria will affect how you conduct your hotel search, to an extent. For us, the biggest criteria was proximity to the park. We wanted to be able to walk back and forth several times a day, if necessary, and not spend half an hour at a time doing it. This article was very helpful in narrowing the hotels down by price and proximity. You could also look at Harbor Blvd and Katella Ave (the streets that border Disneyland) on GoogleEarth and make a note of all the closest hotels. After I narrowed my search down to the hotels that met all or most of our criteria, I started reading reviews at Tripadvisor and AAA, starting at the lowest rating. If I found a lot of negative reviews that revolved around the same issue, I crossed the hotel off the list (you have to remember that there will always be the odd bad reviewer--don't let just one bad review change your mind!)
Price is another big consideration when choosing a hotel. If you are on a tight budget, you will have to sacrifice either location or how nice the hotel is. Going in the off-season, when prices are lower, is one way to beat the price. Joining AAA and getting their discount is another way. The AAA discount can be up to $40 or more per night at some hotels!
If you do not want to eat out a lot, choose a hotel with a complimentary continental breakfast and a kitchenette in the room where you can prepare your own meals. If you can't afford a kitchenette suite, make sure your room will at least be equipped with a microwave and refrigerator. We are not planning on buying any meals while we are there--I will be cooking all our meals in the microwave! (For the record, we are having canned soup and rolls from a grocery store, baked potato bar and chili, and cheese and chicken quesadillas with salsa, and refrigerated microwave pizza. Maybe not the most gourmet meals ever, but they will keep us alive and energized!)
Even if you don't want to cook your own meals, having fresh fruit in your hotel room will help you combat the urge to buy treats in the parks.
Some of the hotels that were on our short list include the Desert Inn and Suites (which is the one we chose), the Park Vue Inn, the Carousal Inn, the Castle Inn and Suites, and the Howard Johnson Anaheim--they have pirate themed rooms!) All of these hotels met our relatively low budget, are within walking distance of the park, and cater to families with young children.
Remember, your hotel room is really just a place to sleep and park your bags when you are at Disneyland. As long as it's safe and clean, that's all that matters!

1 comment:

Candi said...

We stayed at the Park Vue Inn when we went two years ago. Glad to see it made your list! It was very reasonably priced, had a continental breakfast, fridge and microwave (all our must-haves) and you CAN NOT get a closer hotel to the park. Literally, right across the street!