Which of The Hotels Near Disneyland
Make Sense For You?
There are many good hotels near Disneyland, solid alternatives to staying at one of the official Disney resort hotels. We will talk about them momentarily, but first, how about a bird's-eye view of the hotels on a map? BTW, zoom in on where Harbor Blvd intersects I-5 and you'll find the Magic Kingdom and a million hotels.
From our observation (including our own experience at WDW in Orlando) and what we’ve heard from others, it is worth checking to see if your budget will allow you to stay at a Disney owned resort vs. one of the dozens of nearby independent hotels (realizing that those range from simple motels to full resort-quality establishments).
There are perks that come with completely submitting your will and credit card to the Mouse. For example, the Company owned parks open an hour early on certain days—to Disney hotel guests only. That means guests at the Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian and the Paradise Pier Hotel get first crack at Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Dumbo and other 14-carat attractions. Not so if you stay at another hotel near Disneyland.
They also have days where they open Mickey’s ToonTown for Mickey’s ToonTown Morning Madness. That is a great chance to see a gaggle of characters under much better supply and demand circumstances—fewer crowds, more characters. This means more if you’re coming in the busy summer months.
Disney makes it extremely easy to get to their hotels from the airports (also true of numerous other hotels near Disneyland). They also offer Vacation Planning Services to hotel guests, to help you with restaurant reservations, finding certain gifts and souvenirs, specific advice on the parades and shows for each day, insider Wall Street stock market information (extra tip required), etc. You can reach these folks at 714/300-7526.
There are very few discounts offered on Disneyland tickets, but they do offer price breaks when you buy a package deal. So you gain efficiencies in longer park hours (with an hour of reduced attendance), help in planning and getting to and from the airport, and slightly discounted Disneyland tickets.
A final consideration for staying in an official Disney hotel (rather than an independent hotel near Disneyland Resort) is that yes, you’ll probably end up paying more, but it’s likely to be a small percentage of your entire vacation budget. And if you stay at a Disney hotel, the resort ambience stays with you all the way into your hotel room and even out to the swimming pool. You feel like you’ve absorbed a lot more of the atmosphere. If you have children, it is more magical when they don’t break the spell by leaving the Resort area.
Now, having made the case above, there may be good reason$ for shaving from the budget and staying in one of the non-Disney hotels near Disneyland. Several are very nice resort-quality destinations. Of course, if there are no vacancies at Disney facilities, that makes it easy—you gotta go somewhere else. Budget is another factor, but again you may find the true cost difference is relatively small.
If you are planning to visit other destinations in SoCal, you may want a hotel near Disneyland that offers cheap or free parking, easy access to the freeways and you don’t feel the need to completely immerse yourself in 24-hour Disney.
Recognizing that they cannot lodge every guest to the Resort, Disney has cooperated with a couple dozen nearby hotels that range from budget to high-end hotels. Basically these “Good Neighbor Hotels” have passed an inspection by Disney and are endorsed as alternative places to hang your ears. All are very close and can be reached without driving your car, and several are within easy walking distance along nearby Harbor Boulevard. You'll find these hotels near Disneyland on the map above in closest proximity to the Park.
Friends of ours stayed at one of these places and had a great time; they had multi-day Park Hopper passes and the Dad was able to run over to the park on the last day, while Mom finished packing, to pick up a forgotten souvenir.
There are many other good lodging options in Orange County besides those hotels near Disneyland Resort. It does get back to the strategic planning we discussed above, about where your primary focus lies in this trip to the Big Orange.
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