Where To Stay At Disneyland

When trip planning, guests must ask which hotel to book near Disneyland. Off-site or on-site? Good Neighbor Hotel, Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, Grand Californian Hotel, or one of the cheaper hotels on Harbor Boulevard? The reasons to stay on or off-site at Disneyland are quite different than the reasons for choosing a hotel at Walt Disney World, but much like the Florida Disney resort, there are compelling reasons for staying in Disney-owned hotels and for staying in off-site hotels.

First, the benefits of staying in the Disney-owned hotels, Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.

Reasons to Stay On-Site

Perks – Most of the perks offered to Disneyland guests are not dependent upon staying in a Disney-owned hotel, but instead are dependent upon booking a package with the Walt Disney Travel Company. These packages can be booked for either a Disney-owned hotel or a third-party “Good Neighbor” Hotel.

However, there is one very big exception to this. Guests staying in a Disney-owned hotel can enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure one-hour early for each day of their stay to enjoy the Extra Magic Hour. This is important, because even in 2014, Radiator Springs Racers still has quite long lines, often exceeding two hours and FastPasses for it run out within an hour of official park opening. The Extra Magic Hour really makes experiencing Radiator Springs Racers multiple times much easier (check out our Cars Land Tips & Tricks for additional strategy). If there is one perk that tips the scale in favor of staying in a Disney-owned hotel, this should probably be it.

Environment – As compared to Walt Disney World, there are few reasons to stay in a Disney-owned hotel at Disneyland. The most compelling reason is, easily, that staying in a Disney-owned hotel keeps you fully immersed in that “magic” Disney environment. Many people discuss liking to be inside the “Disney Bubble” when on vacation, and at Disneyland, that’s really only possible at the Disney-owned hotels. They each have their own restaurants, Disney details, and can generally be accessed without seeing the rest of the “real” world. You won’t see Denny’s or Coldstone Ice Cream as you head directly from the Grand Californian Hotel right into its theme park entrance. You won’t find theming to an arts & crafts movement-era National Park lodge or a monorail pool at the off-site hotels, either!

For some people, this is a big deal. The real world encroaching on the Disney experience snaps you back to reality pretty quickly. Others don’t mind seeing bits of the real world, and actually like having Denny’s by their hotel, as it’s a much cheaper place to eat than Disney’s restaurants. While I tend to side with those who want to be as entrenched in the Disney Bubble as much as possible, for the reasons below, we stay off-site at Disneyland in the hotels right across from Disneyland Resort on Harbor Boulevard.

Reasons to Stay Off-Site

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Distance to the Parks – The most compelling reason is that you can typically find an off-site hotel that is closer to Disneyland Resort than an on-site hotel. Sort of makes the terms off-site and on-site misnomers, right? Although Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is the closest hotel to Disneyland Resort, there are several hotels directly across the street from Disneyland Resort’s Esplanade (the open area between the two parks) that are a five minute walk to the turnstiles.

Even if you’re hotel does happen to be further from the Esplanade than Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier Hotel (which are both around 10-15 minutes away), there’s still a good chance your hotel will be within walking distance. You can–and should–easily be able to book a hotel within walking distance from Disneyland. Even if for some reason you book a hotel that isn’t within walking distance, chances are you can cheaply get to it via a hotel shuttle that it offers, or the Anaheim Resort Transit.

You’ll likely notice that because Disneyland Resort only has three hotels of its own, and it certainly can’t meet all of the needs of guests with these three hotels, Disneyland has a better working relationship with the “Good Neighbor Hotels” in the area. They’re obviously still competition to Disneyland in some regards, but they’re not direct competition like the cheap hotels at Walt Disney World are to the off-site hotels. You can book packages through Disney that include stays at the Good Neighbor Hotels, and these include some of the same perks that are included with on-site packages.

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Cost – Disneyland doesn’t have Value Resorts. Rack rates start at over $200 per night for both Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and can exceed $300.  Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is crazy-expensive (think of it as the sister resort of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa). Prices there range from around $300 to $500 per night.  There are frequently Annual Passholder discounts for these hotels and sometimes public discounts, but these hotels are all still well over $150 per night even with the discounts. And that’s the value-season, non-weekend, price. During the busiest times of the year at Disneyland, rooms in these hotels can cost much more.

By contrast, there is a surplus of hotel rooms near Disneyland, so you can book them for bargain prices. Many of these hotels are a ~10 minute walk to the parks and priced around $100/night, making them ‘value’ options, of sorts. We cover many other hotels near Disneyland, their price points, and value in our Disneyland Hotel Reviews section, below.

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If you are willing to wing things a little, I highly recommend waiting and using Hotel Tonight to book wherever you’re staying in Southern California. The Anaheim area has a huge inventory of rooms, and last minute deals are always available. You can only book 7 days in advance with this app, so it’s not for everyone, but it’s probably the best way to score a great deal. Several of our favorite hotels near Disneyland, including Park Vue Inn, Tropicana Inn, Hyatt Regency, Alpine Inn, and others are regularly on Hotel Tonight at deep discount. You really can’t go wrong with this option. Use code TBRICKER1 to save $25 on your first booking, too.

If you aren’t particular with regard to which hotel you get, Hotwire’s “best rate” feature can also be a good option. It’s not unheard of to book off-site hotels near Disneyland $59 or $69/night via Hotwire. The problem here is that the “Disneyland North” and “Disneyland South” areas are a bit large, and you’re booking blind, so you don’t know what you’re getting in advance, and sometimes, the hotel won’t be within walking distance, which we consider a huge downside. I’ve had both great luck with Hotwire, getting a nice hotel a 15 minute walk for ~$60, and also getting a lousy hotel much farther away. Your mileage may vary on this one.

There are a lot of cheap walking-distance hotels, and they vary greatly in quality. Many of the off-site hotels are actually closer to Disneyland than both Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel! At most of the close, budget hotels, the rooms are okay–certainly not as gorgeous as the newly refurbished rooms in Disneyland Hotel–but there’s a substantial difference in price. If you’re traveling on a budget, choosing one of these across the street hotels over one of the Disney-owned hotels is an easy decision. The convenience of being so close can be tough to pass up, even if it means getting a dated and basic room.

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Few On-Site Benefits – With the exception of the Disney theming in the hotel and the Extra Magic Hours benefit discussed above (which is really only helpful for Radiator Springs Racers, unless you’re visiting during a peak time of year), the only other benefits of staying in a Disney-owned hotel are  Morning Early Admission and Mickey’s Toontown Morning Madness. Both of these perks are also available to guests who book packages to stay in Good Neighbor Hotels or buy 3-day tickets.

I’ve heard very positive things about Extra Magic Hours, which is a great way to experience a lot of attractions in the morning before crowds appear during peak season. Magic Mornings (which function similarly to Extra Magic Hour, except are open to anyone with a qualifying ticket) are useful, especially for Fantasyland. With the condensed layout of Disneyland’s Fantasyland, it certainly seems conceivable to accomplish 10 or more attractions in that first hour if you play your cards right with either Extra Magic Hour or Magic Mornings.

If these options confuse you, don’t feel bad. Disneyland’s website explains the differences and when each is offered.

By contrast, the reviews for Toontown Morning Madness are mediocre, at best. Toontown Morning Madness allows guests who booked a package through Disney to enter Toontown, which normally opens after the rest of the park, an hour earlier on select days if they present a voucher. Meet & Greet characters are out, and guests can ride Gadget’s Go-Coaster and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. The general consensus seems to be that, since so many people receive these vouchers, Toontown is actually more busy during Morning Madness than it normally is, because guests are disproportionately driven there. These Character Meet & Greets are unique to Morning Madness and meeting characters can be a lot of fun, but long lines for rides is never fun. Just like the name suggests, expect “madness” with this one.

If you’re a Walt Disney World regular who stays on site there for the perks offered there to on-site guests, don’t expect anything comparable at Disneyland. There are no evening Extra Magic Hours. There is no Disney’s Magical Express. Walking is the best way to get to Disneyland, so the transportation system at Disneyland isn’t as important. The Disney Dining Plan that you can book when staying at Walt Disney Word isn’t offered at Disneyland; instead, there’s the lackluster Disneyland Dining in the Magic package.

Disneyland Hotel Reviews

Are you a fan of Cars? Then you'll love our Cars Land Facebook Covers! http://www.disneytouristblog.com/cars-land-facebook-covers/

With all of those pros and cons in mind, you might now be able to narrow down whether you want to stay off-site or on-site at Disneyland. Since we’ve stayed at every on-site Disneyland hotel and many of the Good Neighbor Disneyland hotels and other off-site hotels within walking distance of the Disneyland Esplanade, we have started reviewing the off-site hotels at which we’ve stayed. In these reviews, you can see photos of the rooms and the premises, plus our analysis of whether each hotel is worth staying at, to whom it will appeal, and what our ideal nightly price point is for each hotel. We think these reviews will be really helpful if you’re thinking of booking a hotel near Disneyland.

Clicking each of the links will open the review in a new tab, so click away!

Disney Hotel Reviews

Off-Site/Good Neighbor Hotel Reviews

Hope they help. If you’d like to read about other Disneyland-area hotels, please leave a comment below with the name of the hotel you’d like us to review. We have many more to come!


Off-site hotels are cheaper, can be just as close to the parks, and offer most of the same perks as on-site Disney-owned hotels with the very big exception of early access to Cars Land. Beyond that, the biggest reason to stay in a Disney-owned hotel at Disneyland is if you want the Disney theming and environment. For some, myself included, this is a big part of the experience of visiting the Disney theme parks. However, when that aspect of the experience is so costly, we’ll usually stay off-site unless we visit during one of the busiest seasons. While we always stay on-site at Walt Disney World, the off-site accessibility to Disneyland and the comparative lack of perks for staying on-site makes staying on-site at Disneyland less appealing to us.

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As for figuring out the rest of your Disneyland trip, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, the best restaurants for dining at Disneyland, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland trip planning guide!

For updates on Disneyland, the latest news, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!

Your Thoughts…

Do you normally stay on-site or in a nearby off-site hotel at Disneyland Resort? Has your opinion on off-site v. on-site changed since Cars Land opened in Disney California Adventure? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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126 Responses to “Where To Stay At Disneyland”

  1. Theresa says:

    Thanks for this! We’re planning our first Disneyland trip for this fall (hopefully the first week they have holiday decorations up) and the hardest thing to decide is definitely where to stay. Do you recall by chance when the discounts for that time of year start surfacing?

  2. Mark says:

    HoJo for the pools, if you have kids who have to have a pool,or pools. The new pools at the DL hotel look nice, but not nice enough for the up-grade. Do you or Sarah swim? Or just dip your toes in developing solution?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve heard a lot of great things about the HoJo pool. I’ve also heard the HoJo rooms can be noisy due to its proximity to the highway. We typically don’t have enough time to swim, although I enjoy it!

  3. Allison says:

    We stayed at Ayres Inn Orange for 3 nights on our visit to Disneyland. I thought it was awesome! The room was very nice, especially for the price, and the shuttle got us to the park in about 15 minutes. The parking is free and the substantial free breakfast were huge pluses for our family of four.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Great tip. Free breakfast can be a substantial benefit depending upon the quality of the meal at the place you stay!

      • MBG says:

        Parking is free but when I looked at the website they charge for the shuttle which is required due to the distance from the hotel. Many of the hotels within 1 mile from Disney charge an average of $12 a day for parking and based on the shuttle fees at the Ayres you are paying more for a family for the shuttle and it takes longer to get to/from the park…

  4. Suzi says:

    I will be visiting Disneyland this summer – my primary reason for attending a work-related conference in Anaheim. Am so excited to get to go to the parks every afternoon after sitting in meetings all day! My question is about safety; where would you recommend staying for a solo female? Is the short walk to the off-site hotels well-lit with lots of pedestrians at night? Disneyland Hotel is one of the conference hotels, but a bit pricier than I would like. I’m currently booked at Fairfield Inn, if you’ve seen that one, how close is it in proximity to the park?

    • Dianne says:

      I have travelled solo and as a single mother with children and now grand children for over two decades now. I have never felt threatened in the least. If you are concerned about this, stay at the DH otherwise any of the properties already mentioned will be fine. The only caveat I offer is to be sure to do you research, as there are plenty of very scuzzy properties in the DLR area. Check the distance for the Fairfield, as you will have to factor in transportation/parking. I had an unpleasant experience at a DLR area Fairfield so cannot recommend them. I personally stay at Hilton properties and prefer the Homewood or Embassy Suites but also always travel with a vehicle and parking included in my AP. The Hilton is very nice after the huge remodel and is next door to the convention center, but is not particularly close to the DL or DCA entries even though it may look that way on a map.

      BTW I totally agree with those who ALWAYS stay on property at WDW!!! I would not consider anything else, but caution you to do your homework in the DLR area.

      • Gia says:

        I too am a single mother, and our monthly perk is our Disneyland Annual Passports. We visit the parks every month, but make a 2-4 day stay of it every other month. We always stay at Embassy Suites. The shuttle is $5/person & parking is free. They do a Manager’s Reception each evening for 2hrs with free snacks & cocktails that is always nice. The best part is the incredible “Cook-to-Order” breakfast they provide every morning! The food is delicious & plentiful. This saves us so much money on food & snacks in the park for the first half of each day. The average cost is $119/night if booked a few weeks in advance and that makes it better than a lot of the hotels “across the street” from the parks. When you add parking, shuttles (15-20min to get to the park), and breakfast to their beautifully appointed 2-room suites, I think the choice is a no-brainer. These rooms fit up to 6 guests- the more you bring the more you save with amenities such as the breakfast- and there is a lovely indoor pool & spa, a fitness center, restaurant, bar, and business center. The atrium is wonderful with cobblestone paths, wooden bridges, a picturesque gazebo, twinkling lights, plush greenery, and a pond situated down the center of it all with vibrant fish & playful turtles!
        Please give this place a try & see how it improves your experience!

  5. Charlotte says:

    We stayed at the HoJo Anaheim during Thanksgiving week last year and were very pleased. The walk to the Disneyland turnstiles was about 10-15 minutes. We had a “Disney view” from our balcony and yes, the freeway traffic could be heard from our room but that did not bother us. We, too, didn’t want to spend the extra $$$ at a “Disney” property especially since so many other hotels were within walking distance and significantly cheaper. Of course, WDW is a whole different story and I believe staying at a Disney property is your best best due to the vastness of the parks and their transportation can’t be beat!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Absolutely agree with you about on-site WDW v. on-site DLR!

      • Melanie says:

        I’m with you both on this one. I can’t imagine spending the extra $ for onsite at DL, just doesn’t seem worth it, but ALWAYS at WDW.

  6. Michael says:

    Note that you don’t have to book a hotel package to get into Magic Mornings – the multi-day tickets (three days or longer, I believe) also include a Magic Morning entry when you buy them from the website. You can book your hotel separately and only get the tickets from Disney.

    Magic Morning itself is a bit hit-and-miss, and the more popular Fantasyland attractions are often busier then than other times because everyone has the same idea. It is an extra hour in the park, though.

  7. Jo says:

    I completely agree with your logic, and I might add you presented it quite well, thank you so much for sharing. I too stay off site at DLR and onsite at WDW for the same reasons.

    When you reserved the Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites for under $80/night and the Del Sol Inn for even less; did you book your reservations through the hotels website or through a third party site? Also how far in advance do you advise making hotel reservation to get the best rate; months in advance or last minute?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Directly through the hotel websites. Sometimes we’d even call to see if their “best available” phone rate was any better.

    • Pat Tegges, Scottsdale, AZ. says:

      Hotel reservations. Remembering that there are heavy and,
      slow season’s in Disneyland as a seasoned pass holder, I would advise you to make your reservations ASAP for confirmed reservations. Also be sure to compare expedia rates, etc. with a live quote from the individual hotel
      that you are interested in. The International Travelodge
      on S. Harbor Boulevard is where my family usually stays.
      Free transportaion to and from the Parks, Free parking,
      free breakfast. Safe. $ 49.oo @ night. Great deal.
      Renovated rooms. Good Luck!

  8. Trisha says:

    Thanks for this blog–it’s great!

    We stayed at HOJO’s with a family of 5 and loved it–but it was a far walk for my little one’s. We needed to take the shuttle after walking a couple of times. Since we hate having to depend on and wait for the shuttle and our family has grown (5 kids now) we LOVE staying at the Desert Inn and Suites! Perfect for a large family or group and so economical! They have suites that sleep 8 and it’s cheaper or about the same as trying to get two adjoining rooms at a cheap motel further away. Plus we don’t have to pay the shuttle fees so it kind of works out:)

  9. Ann Black says:

    Thanks so much for your tips. Looking forward to staying at the fairfield rather than the best western pavillion or plus raffle. The desert and the other one looked nice too but sadly, were booked.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Since Cars Land opened, Desert Inn has been tough to book. Enjoy your trip!

      • kwsj says:

        Anyone stay at the Candycane Inn? I booked that for this summer

      • Tom Bricker says:

        The Candy Cane Inn is very nice. It’s a bit further away than some of the hotels mentioned in this article, but definitely still within walking distance (15-20 minutes away).

  10. Stephanie says:

    My sister and I are taking our 3 boys (age 3 – 11) to Disneyland in August and staying at the HoJo. We are planning one day each for each park. Do you suggest Park Hopper tickets or are the one park per day tickets fine for how long we will be there?

  11. Mike B says:

    We were originally booked at Fairfield Inn for our two day pre-cruise stay in May. But being such a short trip and wanting to see as much as possible in such a short time we swapped to GCH. Just 2 nights so figured we could swing it.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      That sounds like a smart move. It means you won’t have to wait in standby for Radiator Springs Racers (as long as you get up early). That alone should save a lot of time!

  12. apequet says:

    I just reluctantly booked Best Western Plus Park Place for August, have u stayed here before? Thoughts? Is it directly across the street to DL? There’s so many hotels to choose from and I’m a bit over whelmed! Help!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We have not stayed there, and I’m drawing a blank as to where it’s located. I know there’s a Best Western right across the street on Harbor, but not sure if that’s the one. Check out Google Maps.

      • LAM says:

        I know it’s been a while since these comments, but hopefully this will help someone. If I don’t stay at a Disney hotel, I always stay at the Best Western Park Place Inn. It is the one directly across Harbor, and while nothing special, I’ve always found it to be clean, fairly cheap, and there’s free wifi. But mostly the location can’t be beat. Just don’t go to Captain Kidd’s next door for the free breakfast. Yuck.

    • Glenn Sullivan says:

      Give Ramada Maingate a call. They are on the same block and I think a better overall value. See my note farther down.

    • Tammy says:

      We love to stay at Best Western Park Place. It has the absolute best location, continental breakfast, and the rooms were renovated just a few years ago. We have stayed at Porto Fino, HoJo, and a few others I can’t remember the name of. Park Place is the best!

      • Lesley says:

        We stayed at BWPP in summer 2014 and it was fine! Clean, helpful staff, pool was decent and rarely busy when we went and the continental breakfast was good with lots of variety. The best thing was the location! Quick to get to the parks, which is a bonus with a five year old. Am already planning to stay next trip to DL. It can also fit larger families, up to 6 in a room if you don’t mind a fold out couch for two.

  13. Tricia says:

    What about the Hilton Anaheim? We booked a night there so we can use our 2 day 2 park hopper passes. We got it off Hotwire and it’s listed as a 4 star…it appears to have gotten horrible reviews though.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Don’t have any personal experience with that one, but I haven’t heard anything negative. Report back if you end up staying there!

    • victoria says:

      We stay at the anaheim hilton all the time. We collect hilton points. It’s nice and you can get a disney view room and sometimes see world of color from the window. it’s less than a mile walk. It’s an easy walk and doesn’t even feel very far. But they have shuttles to disneyland every 15 min. I highly recommend it.

  14. rebecca says:

    I am surprised that I have never seen any source, guidebook or website, talk about renting a home or condo. We have rented through Homeaway & VRBO (vacation rental by owner) & also Craigslist once. We have Pricelined 2 reaaly nice but super cheap hotel rooms when taking our older kids, and also stayed on-property. For us, a private home or condo is definitely the way to go! More room, more bathrooms, more amenities. We do not use the kitchen beyond a very breakfast or to eat a take-out meal (after all, it’s Moms vacation too!) but it’s so nice to have the option, especially as we will be traveling this time around with our 2nd set of kids, almost three & just turned one, and a friends 2 year old. Plus, having a washer & dryer on-site is great with small kids! How come no one ever discusses this option? It is also usually less expensive! We are staying in a 3 bedroom condo, 2.5 baths, W&D, pool area, sleeps 11, for $185.00/night. I could not find anything for our party of eight that inexpensive & also that nice at any hotel!

  15. LK says:

    While I can certainly understand your comparison of WDW and DL, we always stay on-site on both coasts. We travel to WDW several times per year and usually choose a Value or Moderate resort (although we have stayed at every one of the WDW resorts). We only visit DL once per year, so we splurge and stay on-site. We’ve stayed at all three DL resorts, but we were absolutely blown away by the Disneyland Hotel refurbishments and it has become our favorite when traveling there.

  16. Kim says:

    Which off site hotel has the best parking for large truck?

    • Mal says:

      The HOJO has excellent parking for large trucks. They have parking along the outerwall which runs parallel to the other parking spots so you can get larger trucks in there – and the HOJO doesn’t charge for parking either as long as you are stay there

  17. Rachel says:

    We stayed at Candy Cane Inn last week for three nights. We were very pleased with our room and how quiet the resort was. We upgraded to a premium room and had breakfast delivered to us each morning. They brought a sheet to us with all of our breakfast options each afternoon, and we just chose what we wanted, as well as what time we wanted it delivered. I timed our walk to the park one morning and from the time we left our room (in the back) to the time we reached the front gate at Disneyland was 10 minutes. The only downside for us was that the pool was really small, which wasn’t such a bummer for me as it was for my husband. Overall our experience was very pleasant, and I would definitely stay there again.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Candy Cane Inn is nice enough, but we’ve found it to be pricier than the other off-site hotels in the area. Still, not a bad option!

  18. Glenn Sullivan says:

    The best overall value is Ramada Maingate. We stay there every time. http://www.ramadamaingate.com/

    They are right across the street from the transportation entrance.
    It is a 5 min walk. Their pricing is usually the lowest on the block. They have been upgrading their rooms for the past few years and just added a whole new wing with suites. The have a new pool an jacuzzi. The staff is very helpful. They have a complementary breakfast. Free parking. Look for discount specials.

    You won’t be disappointed.

    Note: I have no personal or professional connection to this hotel. Just a very satisfied repeat customer.

    • Miss Tink says:

      I love the Ramada Maingate as well, but their prices have increased since they put up the new wing. They may now be out of our price range for our July trip. I wish they had built a parking garage instead of a new wing. It was already a challenge to find a parking space.

    • Sabrina says:

      How would you rate the beds??? It’s been years since I stayed at the maingate… because it was like sleeping on plywood!

  19. Amanda says:

    Thanks for this information. Like many we have WDW experience and LOVED the all inclusive feel. However after looking at these on-site options I was not impressed with the Family Friendly feel or location. Our kids range in age 5-16 so we are only planning 1/2 our trip in Disney and 1/2 at Universal. It looks like off-site will the way to go for us!

  20. Laura says:

    I would love to hear your opinion on the Cortona Inn and Suites. I got a great price for our October stay. I’ve read mixed reviews, mostly good though. But just wondering what your thoughts are of if you’ve heard anything personally about this location. I already plan on taking the shuttle to Disneyland. I love the idea of bunk beds with the kids suite. I would love some input from someone who has stayed there before. I also like that they have a continental breakfast. Thanks for any input.

  21. Andy says:

    Visiting Disneyland this september booked at Best Western. Any ideas about transportation. Is renting a car better or using ART?

  22. Renan says:

    I went on the 15th,16th and 17th of June this year (yes on the 58th anniversary and I didnt realise it until I was there it made me very very happy) and we went 2 days to disneyland and one to california adventure and we did everything in Disneyland except for very kid things and stuff we were not interested.( we just didnt ride the main street vehicles, davy crocketts canoes, Watch the 2 shows at the royal theater the carousel, and dumbo. We watched all other shows and the parade and fantasmic and magical we watched it on both days and we managed to also ride things twice).
    For california adventure we did the same thing but just in one day(we didnt ride the red car trolleys, watch disney junior, ride anything in bugs land except its though to be a bug, maters junkyard. the bakery tower, carousel, jumpin jellyfish, and golden zephyr. We also unforntunally missed the second showing of the parade while at Alladin and we watched all other shows and World of Color and rode california screaming 4 times and tower of terror 5 and radiator springs racers one with fastpass and one with single rider right after 9:00 world of color.) I would also like to say that we did see many characters not just ride and took many pictures. We also didnt eat at the parks we brought out own except for ice cream and other small “cart” snacks.

    Do you think me and my family were able to do well with this trip. Do you think we really used our time well and the fastpasses since it was busy season and one of the day was the 58th anniversary. Do you think we did well?

    Thank you.

  23. Jodi says:

    We stayed at GC Villa’s a month ago on friends DVC points. Of course the hotel is magnificent, I think that the pools at the Disneyland Hotel are better (at least the slide looks better). My children enjoyed themselves though & with all the Disney owned hotels having slides, you won’t go wrong. It’s too bad there is not pool hopping allowed. The Paradise Pier Hotel’s pools was cool too :)

  24. Aidan says:

    Since Jeff works for Hilton, we usually stay at one of their hotels if we can get a free or discounted room. However, since the days of my 30th birthday trip were a Doubletree two miles away (and not the free rate), I did a little research. We ended up staying at the Anaheim Plaza Inn (nearly across the street from the entrance). It was $50, and I thought it was a great value. It is somewhat dated, but all of the rooms have private balconies/patios, a fridge, and a microwave. Parking is only $4 per night ($15 seems to be the standard), and the amenities were decent: Olympic sized pool (with an actual deep end!), breakfast buffet ($9), on-site gift shop, grill and bar, and a limited but very inexpensive room service for breakfast. The location could not have been better. Luxury? No. Value? Amazing. And it was our first stay within way walking distance (0.2 miles from the resort to the entry).

    It’s also nicely landscaped. I couldn’t have been happier offsite.

    And to the poster asking about renting a car, the parking fees for the hotel and the park will likely cost you $30 per day combined. I’ve never taken ART, but hotel shuttles and cabs will save you money over just the parking fees, and that’s without adding in the car rental.

  25. mojo says:

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  26. Brian says:

    Hi, Thanks for your blog, helping me a lot to focus on the best parts of Disneyland. It has been more than 20 years since my last trip, holy cow! We will be there next week and from research, Candy Cane hotel was highly reviewed on tripadvisor and surprisingly was highly recommended by friends who frequent Disneyland. It looks like it is just around the corner of Disneyland although I don’t know relatively how far it is from the main entrance. I’ll let you know our experience :-)

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  30. Peggy says:

    I am going to a conference at the Disneyland hotel conference center this spring. i don’t want to stay at the Disneyland hotel because of the cost. Where would be a good alternative? I am not sure where the entrance to the conference center is.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Look for a hotel on Katella Ave near the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s going to be at least a 10 minute walk (possibly more), but that’s going to be the closest option. We like the Anabella if you can get a good rate there.

  31. Brent says:

    We stayed at the Del Sol and it was fine plus you walk like five minutes to get to the front gate. Like you say, its not the lap of luxury, but its a place for sleeping as you are not in your room long when on vacation. That said, despite it not being a Chateau Palace, its not some musty dive, either.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Totally agree all around. Thanks for the feedback–with those hotels it’s always good to get a variety of feedback because some can have rooms that vary in quality.

  32. Diane Sorensen says:

    Taking family this summer to DL. There will be 6 adults and 6 kids. Three families. Grandma and grandpa want a room to themselves. What do you recommend that is budget friendly , close to parks and has a nice pool for the kiddos? Thanks!

    • Trisha says:

      Hello Diane,

      My family is also planning a trip to DL this summer – the second week in July. We also have three families – 6 adults and 6 kids;-) just like yours. We are also looking for clean rooms, budget friendly, and a pool for the kids. Have you found anything for your family yet? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!

  33. Stephanie says:

    Have you stayed or heard anything about Best Western Raffles Inn? It isn’t the one across the street but is by the toy story parking garage. I found a rate of $76 / night for May. We usually stay at Hojo but the rates have gone up so much. I was wondering how far the walk is and the condition of the hotel.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Haven’t heard anything about this hotel. Have you checked out some of the other hotels on Harbor? The HoJo is so hyped up among Disney fans that it’s no wonder they’ve raised the price…

  34. Ayanna says:

    Price is not really a concern…willing to soend 200-300 per night for luxury accomodations…but the DDisneyland resort hotel didnt look all that greay t o me. The rooms looks dark and dank. I was quite surprised by the website given this is a Disney property. I may try homraway and look into condo rentals. Anyone have have experience with renting a private home near disneyland?

  35. Sherry says:

    My best friend and I are looking for a reasonably priced hotel closest to disneyland. We are going for 2 nights in april. Any suggestions?

  36. Sara says:

    Do you know anything about Stanford Inn and Suites? We have a family of six and I’m having the hardest time finding affordable suites. We want enough space enough to spread out and with little ones who will eat constantly, we’d really like a kitchenette! Any recommendations?

  37. Deb says:

    We have stayed at over 6 of the different hotels across from DL, including HOJO’s, Maingate, Ramada and Park Place. I don’t think you can beat Park Place for location – and although the breakfast at Captain Kidd’s is not the greatest, OJ, eggs and cereal and fresh fruit is not a bad start to the morning.
    We have found it to Park Place to be clean and with a fridge, microwave and decently sized TV, I think along with the location, is the best value.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Are you referring to Best Western Plus Park Place, or Park Vue Inn? I’m assuming the former, but just want to be sure…

  38. ali says:

    We are looking to go to Disneyland in November for 5 days. We are thinking either Best Western (PP or Anaheim) or Desert Inn & Suites. Any suggestions? We are a family of 4 (boys 12 & 7). We are looking forward to our first Disney trip ever. We rather spend the money on fun/stuff rather than a hotel room. We just need a clean place to stay, hopefully with a minifridge and microwave – in case we need some snacks. It’s so hard to decide on a place to stay. HOJO seems nice, but out of our price range. Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’d go with Desert Inn. That’s our favorite off-site Disneyland-area hotel.

      • Ali says:

        Thanks! Also, thanks for all the great information you have on this blog. My kids are SO excited that they are finally going to Disneyland. We were waiting for my youngest to be tall enough to ride all the rides. 48″ Yay! SO much to figure out before we go, that it is nice to at least know where we will stay. It’s nice to have a place with so much good info.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        No problem–have a great trip! :)

      • Sabrina says:

        How would you say the beds are at the Desert Inn??

  39. Donald says:

    We have stayed at just about all of the hotel on harbor just across the street. Have found all pricing within dollars of each other. As for the Disney hotels, price is not worth it. a couple years ago half our group stayed with Grand Californian and we stayed at Carousel. Every time we beat them to center of esplanade, so there goes that theory. I have enjoyed you reviews, we will be staying at the Tropicana for first time and would be interested in your opinion. A tip for booking would be to use AAA travel, a little cheaper than Disney travel and includes free parking at the Friends parking garage.

  40. Jenn says:

    What are your thoughts about the Red Lion?

  41. Tami says:

    Do you happen to have a list of hotels and how many minutes walking distance they are? For us, that’s the most important along with price, but that’s easier info to find. We’re going with a 3 & 5 year old so the closer the better. Thanks!

  42. Sam says:

    Booked extended stay america 1742 S Clementine St
    Anaheim for May Stay. Please guide convenient way to get into Disneyland main entrance when walked down…Is bus service available on this route ?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’m not totally sure I understand the question, but if you’re looking for walking directions, check out Google Maps.

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  44. Brittany says:

    I would love to know why Desert Inn & Suites is your preferred hotel. While I have found good prices for this hotel for an upcoming trip, I’ve also found great prices for other hotels along Harbor. Would love to read a post as to why this is a favorite of yours.

  45. Heather Keenan says:

    We stayed at the Anaheim Fairfield Inn May 2013 and thought it was fine for what we needed (sleeping & showers). We were in a pirate-themed room and had a view of the highway but were on the 11th (?) floor and could walk around to see both DCA & DL parks. We even saw magical from our hotel. I liked the distance to the front gates and the price wasn’t bad. I would stay there again.

  46. Nicole says:

    Thinking of a short 4 night/5 day trip to Disneyland…first time visitor. Trying to decide between Quality Inn and Suites on South Manchester Ave or Motel 6 Maingate on Disney way..any experience with either? Suggestions? Thanks :)

  47. Sabrina says:

    We stayed at the Carousel Inn and suites in May 2014. My last stay there was a few years ago, it was amazing… I am not sure what changed… but it was awful! The beds weren’t as comfy as they use to be(they said they upgraded… what a joke!), the maid service was terrible… half the time we didn’t get fresh towels(even after using them a few times and putting them on the floor), they didn’t sweep the floor after you could tell that my toddler had made a visible mess that needed swept up, and the kicker… valet parked my new suv where there were bushes…. and when they got in and out of my vehicle, they scratched it. I am still dealing with this 3 weeks later… I do NOT recommend staying there.

  48. Helen says:

    The Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites is a good choice for visitors. The facility is located directly across the street from DL, so it is easy to take a break from the crowds. It is an excellent choice for large families with a variety of room options. The parlour rooms with the little extra front room have a pull-out couch plus an extra dresser and t.v.; this is worth its weight in gold for a teenager. The pool is indoors; one of the very few in the area.

    The included breakfast is fine to get a busy family started (but the breakfast room is tiny, so it is best to bring your trays to your room); however Denny’s and IHOP are next door if something more substantial is required. There is also a 7-11 and other convenience stores which are a five minute’s walk.

    This facility is heavily used and is designed for family groups; it isn’t a high end resort, but is comfortable, efficiently run and clean. One might want to consider a white noise machine if they are a light sleeper. The rooftop fireworks viewing platform is great and one can even see some of the lower level fireworks. Prices have increased over the years, but the property still offers some very good rates especially during shoulder and slow seasons.

    Disneyland is an expensive trip for many; being able to rely on a solid property such as the Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites makes for an enjoyable vacation, especially when time and resources are limited.

  49. Y.Renee says:

    DL is something we save up for(from out of state)and rarely visit. Sometimes we visit DL with one or two other people, otherwise it’s just myself and my now 16 year old son. We start early and play all day. When it’s hot we go back to the Hotel for two hours to take a dip in the pool and on cool days we stay in the park ’till they close. We prefer Embassy Suites South because it fits our needs. My son eats an enormous amount of food at 7 am. and grabs a bagel and piece of fruit for his backpack. After the afternoon swim in the outdoor pool we have appetizers, which was often a couple of slices of pizza,(drinks for the adults and regular soda available for everyone)then head back out to the parks. Since we visit off-season they have always put us in a room where the fireworks were visible, without asking. The breakfast and appetizer-hour definitely offsets the cost, and our rooms have always been nice with plenty of space. We highly recommend the ART option at this hotel. Off-season has always been the most fun at Disney because people are calmer, except at rope drop when we see the Moms running with strollers toward Nemo and Peter pan, they left us in the dust! LOL

    Once, we also stayed at the Best Western Plus Stovall’s to try a closer hotel for less $. It was $25 per day difference. In comparison…it was harsh. The A/C was a window type Unit that smelled stuffy and was permanently set to a specific temp. The breakfast is comparable to what a child can get at school; rubbery frozen waffles that were not eggo, fake eggs, etc. We made do with the mini-muffins and apple juice. The coffee doesn’t taste like coffee- it’s very strange but most agree. With only two people in the room with two double beds, it was so stuffy that I actually opened the door in the middle of the night and parked a chair in front of it so we could breathe and sleep (A single Mom with a 14 year old at that time)! Worst night of half/sleep I’ve had in years. We were on the second floor and all entrances are exterior (no inside hallways). The staff and housekeeping were terrific, but the walk wasn’t much of a difference from the other hotel (walking through the GCH is “very neat” to get to Downtown Disney but it’s still a long walk. We ended up paying for the ART option anyway since there were a couple of evenings we didn’t feel like taking the walk back home.

    For $25 per day, we won’t make that mistake again. It’s better for us to delay vacation a month to have the five day stay at a better hotel for only $125.00 overall difference. For the better rates at the Embassy it is necessary to start tracking them early and get the reservation through a travel site when the price drops. I have seen it from $118(2 years ago) to $180. $125 is a good price so we are booking now for Nov.
    I’d jump at a chance to do DCH if I won a free day or something, but the cost for one day is about the same price as 4 or 5 days hopping in the parks, so that is not happening for us. Wherever you choose stay, Disneyland is still magical. :>

    Favorite place at WDW: Port Orleans Riverside to catch the boat to Downtown at night. LOVELY! We were first put in a room with torn bedding and a broken towel rack (awful room) but quickly moved to a riverside-facing, terrific room after we reported the problems.
    Most Unforgettable Awesome Experience: Snow White at Epcot was so beautiful and perfect that my “inner little girl” put me in tears(Too poor as a child to go)!

  50. Sara says:

    I am very surprised that vacation homes are not mentioned in the article like someone above mentioned too. I’ve seen some homes that are much nicer than hotels. Some homes have private pools and gorgeous kitchens to serve your own food. Some even sleep up to 18 people. So they are perfect for family reunions or large groups! You can even find ones that are walking distance to Disneyland. If you end up dividing up the cost it comes out to only around 28 dollars a person too! If you do a google search you can find lots of different places. The one that seems to have the nicest stuff and largest selection though is one called Anaheim Vacation House.

    • Angela says:

      I agree! We love to rent homes near WDW when we visit, and I’m hoping to find some info on the neighborhoods surrounding DL that have home rentals. There just isn’t much info out there on it. WE use vrbo.com and it’s been great. We love having our own home, with 4 kids it’s essential we have a private washer/dryer and we love the private swimming pools as well!

  51. Terri says:

    I reserved a suite, since my husband and I have 4 kids, at the Desert Palms Hotel and Suites. It’s on Katella behind Cal. Adv.
    The room looks good and the kids room is separate with bunk beds. But I was wondering if you knew anything about it. I just want to be sure it’s clean.

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  53. Trisha says:

    Is it still hard to book Desert Inn and Suites…now that Cars Land has been open a while? (Why did that one ride make it hard to book this hotel?)We’re planning a trip for next spring and my husband doesn’t want to talk about it until after Christmas:) Will it be too late to book for spring this winter?

    BTW we have stayed at Desert Inn and Suites before and LOVED the location. We have 5 kids, including teens, and found this hotel great for larger families. Lots of room options. I highly recommend it!

  54. Rhui says:

    I’m planning to take my son to Disneyland in 2015 Dec. to celebrated his b-day (7th). I know its a bit early to start looking into it, but it’ll be our first Disney experience at Disneyland (CA, and I want to make it memorable for him. His last one was 2 yrs. old at HK Disneyland. can you advise when should I start looking into flights/ accommodation deals?

    thank you

  55. Renee Cornaga says:

    Great website – full of lots if useful discussion.

    I hope you can offer me advice on the best place to stay for my family of 4 while visiting Disneyland for the first time. We are planning on staying 4 nights from Monday to Friday and therefore avoiding the weekend. It will be our first trip to Disneyland and l’m not sure whether to stay at the Carousel in a kids suite or spend the extra money and stay at the Disneyland Hotel. l understand that the Carousel may be closer to DL than the Disneyland Hotel. Any help would be greatly appreciated as l need to make up my mind and book soon. Thank you.

  56. Shelley says:

    Going to Anaheim for a NHL Ducks game and Disneyland/ California Park for 3 days. Can’t decide if Disney’s PPH is worth the $500 more than Fairfield for 4 nights. Anyone have any input for me? It’s just my 15 year old son and I going.
    Thank you

    • Tom Bricker says:

      No, it absolutely is not. That hotel used to be a non-Disney hotel, and was converted in 2001. Paradise Pier Hotel is nothing special. Save your money.

  57. April says:

    All this information is awesome!!’ I’m a mess right now trying to plan a trip for four with a 3 and 5 year old. Where to stay, when to go!! We were looking at the best western across from the main gate as its apparently had a renovation or the hojo? I just want to stay somewhere clean!

  58. Robin says:

    I always recommend staying off-site at Disneyland, but I do want to add one more benefit to staying on-site that always crosses my mind… Things you purchase in the parks, you can have them delivered to your hotel through the Package Delivery service. This is one of my favorite perks of staying onsite at WDW that is hard to give up at DL, but alas I do.

  59. Jeff says:

    I am headed to Disneyland for the first time in late April.
    As a certified Disney World fanatic I have stayed there 7 times in 7 different on site hotels. I find the biggest draw for my family aside from the environment that Tom mentions is the pool area.
    I think about the great pools at the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Port Orleans and Wilderness Resort in DW and get excited to see the pictures of the DL pools at the Disneyland properties.
    I have been looking at the ‘off site’ properties in Disneyland and can’t seem to see any pool areas that compare to what we would be missing at the ‘on site’ properties.
    That said, the price difference is too big to ignore so a little torn now on how to proceed.
    I am contemplating a split week with three nights on site, three off site.

  60. Regina says:

    I’m trying to put together a family reunion involving several families. We are aiming for fall of 2016, which should give us some time to plan/prepare.

    When would be the ‘sweet spot’ for making reservations (not too far in advance, but not so last minute as to find hotels booked solid)

    Also- any recommendations as to traveling with a big group? Do we want to try and book a large suite, or just adjacent rooms?

    • Wendy says:

      It might be wise to look at a house or apartment independent of any hotels. A few comments back someone mentioned one close by the main gate that houses 18 people & has a poll. Usually you can be altogether! Try flip-key to search for an independent accomm…

  61. Anthony says:

    We’re taking our kids on their first trip to Disneyland this fall, and trying to decide where to stay. We want to get the best deal we can, but we’re also aiming to stay 8 nights, so we’d prefer to have a suite where we can sleep separate from the kids, hopefully maximizing everyone’s chances of a good sleep. The suites at the Desert Palms Inn & Suites seem to be a decent choice, but are their better values out there?

    • Anthony says:

      Separate question–do most people recommend waiting till the summer to book for the fall (thinking late Sept at the moment)? Really want to make sure we get the best deal.

  62. Lee-Ann says:

    Looking for information on the Castle Inn and Suites. Last time we visited we stayed at the Travelodge on Ball Road and were disappointed with hotel and location. Would like to stay across main gate and looking for economical options as we are hardly in the room.



  63. Kristi says:

    Disneyland no longer does any kind of voucher or meal plan system for guests. You can get vouchers for character dining, but that is it. I was there for a training a few weeks ago and was told that by the agent trainers. Just FYI :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Can you use those character vouchers for other meals? The Disneyland Dining Plan pretty much was always for character dining, but they let you use it other places. It’s hard to tell if it’s totally gone, because there are still some references to it on Disneyland’s website, but no one I’ve talked to really knows what the deal is.

      Thanks for the info!

      • Kristi K says:

        I’m not sure as I haven’t seen them yet. I know that is the only meal thing that can be added on to a package. We were given the old paper vouchers to use at the training in the parks and they worked fine. But there were some Cast Members who didn’t know what they were. I haven’t seen anything else where you can buy them separately, not even for character meals, those are part of the package. It seems to me they could sell more food in the park of they did a credit system with a plastic card or even a magical type of band :) (gasp!)

  64. MIke says:

    Staying at good ole Del Sol for the 24hr party in May, easy to take a nap!

  65. Becky Klein says:

    Have you stayed at any other Marriott brand hotels near DLR? Such as Fairfield, Courtyard, Residence Inn. If be very curious to read your reviews of those.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think the Fairfield is solid (albeit often a tad overpriced), but I haven’t stayed at the others yet.

  66. Caroline says:

    I would like to see reviews of the Sheraton Park and Doubletree Suites by Hilton. I’ve stayed at both – pros and cons.

  67. Aimee says:

    We just booked Ramanda Maingate for our stay in July. We got a great rate with a veteran’s discount….but now I’m ready some pretty harsh reviews on travelocity! Is it still a decent place to stay? Are we going to get some trashed out, unrenovated room? Is the construction horrible? Thanks for any input!!

  68. donna says:

    How about the alamo? Im staying there in sept and wonder what its like there and how long of a walk it will be to the parks

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Stayed at Alamo Inn a couple of weeks ago, and it was one of the worst hotels I’ve stayed at near Disneyland. I would not recommend it.

      • donna says:

        Any info about your experience would be helpful. From what ive read its hit and miss now..just looking for a place to sleep and shower. Im running the half in sept and not planning on spending much time at the hotel..any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  69. Jenny says:

    Have you stayed at The Anabella Hotel? I have a room booked there in September and am hoping the photos on the website are accurate.

  70. AmyKB says:

    Any plans to do an updated review of Grand Californian? Looking to stay there mid-October during the week, but the rates are almost $500/night! Would you consider renting DVC points a better option? Taking my eight y/o niece and sister for a surprise birthday trip :) Love your blog!!

    • Aman Mahal says:

      We usually stay at the Disneyland Hotel (every 3 months or so) and LOVE it, but we usually go during slow times so we can grab rooms for just over $200/night. We went with some friends during Easter and the rates were crazy high, but we wanted the magic hours )and as Tom says “to stay in the Disney bubble”), so we stayed at the Paradise Pier…and we did not like it. It was a glorified Holiday Inn IMO, and the elevator situation, especially with a stroller, is awful. On our most recent trip, last week, we stayed at GCH for the first time. It was about $100/night more than DLH, and really not worth it for us. The view from our room at GCH was nice (we may have gotten a free upgrade to a view room, because we certainly didn’t pay for it), a pretty clear view of Screamin’ and the Mickey Wheel. I also liked the bunk beds in the rooms at GCH. The rooms at DLH tend to be nicer and more modern. Plus there are always lots of characters hanging out at the lobby and grounds of DLH. For me, there’s also the nostalgia of staying at the original DLH. I remember always wanting to stay there as a kid, but we always ended up staying with family or friends in the LA area.

  71. Jan says:

    Have you stayed at Hampton inn, Anaheim. If so what’s it like. Have stayed at Hilton garden inn before and loved it.

  72. Jan says:

    Have you stayed at Hampton inn, Anaheim. If so what’s it like. Have stayed at Hilton garden inn before and loved it and still found it close enough.

  73. Dale Hamblin says:

    Dear Tom:
    Leaving park night of July 18 and need a place to stay, next day going to Malibu and other areas but will be tired after full day at Disneyland, recommend a place to stay not too far away, thanks,

  74. Amy S says:

    We have stayed at several of these and have decided that hands down, Desert Palm in the place for us. From the deluxe breakfast that saves us loads of money, to the free parking, we just feel like it’s better than many others. I would be curious to read a review from you on that hotel.

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