There are two main questions to any vacation: How to get there, and where to stay once you arrive at your destination; and even for avid travelers like us, this is the case. Carefully considering where to stay in Disneyland is the foundation of a fabulous time, because when you probably will be spending most of your time in the parks, you want to make sure you have a nice place to recharge your batteries at the end of each day.
In this post, I will walk yours through some consideration points that will help you narrow your criteria and facilitate your decision on where to stay in Disneyland.
I will also give you a detailed review of our accommodations during this trip and why we decided on this one versus the other options.
Proximity to the Parks
For us, proximity to the parks is a very important factor because we like to walk to the parks, and by being close to the resort we can ditch the car rental and parking expense.
Of course, no hotel or condo will be closer to Disneyland than a Disney hotel on the actual resort. However, you pay a hefty price tag to stay in the property. Yet, this gives you the opportunity to enhance the magic of your Disneyland vacation by having more chances to interact with characters and experience the touches of Disney even after leaving the parks.
Another advantage of staying in a Disneyland hotel is that you can take the monorail that goes from the hotel directly into the park and so you not only skip the entrance lines, but also the monorail station puts you right where the action is.
If you want to book your Disneyland Hotel, you can do so at Hotels.com with this link. Make sure you create an account, so you can collect rewards towards a free night. That’s why when I do book hotels for our travels, I always do it using this link.
This is actually a picture of my actual reward punchcard, and as you can see I’m only 3 nights away for getting another free night at any hotel. (the value of your free night is the average of the 10 nights you collected rewards on).
When you look for hotels in Hotels.com, you can filter by distance, by landmark or by price, by reviews, ratings, etc. In our case, I’d select Disneyland like the landmark and the sort by proximity like this:
The first two hotels in this list are the Disney property hotels, and you can see the price tag you will pay to stay as close as you can to the park, yet to put it in constant the third and fourth items on this list are literally just 5 minutes farther than the first one.
This is another thing I like about using Hotels.com and is that I get to see options and make my decision on where to stay based on all the facts. For instance, in this case, I wouldn’t pay double or triple just to be 0.1 miles closer, but how would you know that if you didn’t have all the options in front of you.
Amenities that are important to us
Even though there is plenty of things to do in Disneyland, one thing that’s extremely important to us when we are traveling with kids is that the amenities that are going to make our lives easier and therefore the vacation better for everyone.
I think the logic goes like this: Happy Mom = Happy Dad = Happy Kids! So yes, it’s all about me, because if I’m not happy no one will be…
The amenities that we need in our accommodation when we are traveling with the kids are A pool, a spacious living area, and a kitchen. An arcade is nice, but not required.
Let me share with you, why I’m so particular about these three things when traveling with kids.
– A Pool:
A pool is a lifesaver, especially if your kids are comfortable in the water. For me, learning to swim was never a luxury nice thing to do for my kids. It was a requirement because it’s a life skill. Maybe it’s because I grew up around water, but not being able to swim was a fun limiting factor back home.
So my kids have been around water since very little. Even my autistic child is totally fine in the water (still with a life jacket) but I can attest that no one has more fun in the water that Hanky.
We used the pool twice during our week in Disneyland, the day that we arrived and the day before we left. It’s a great “free” activity to get the kids tired at the end of the day (that wouldn’t be the case in Disneyland, but in most any other vacation it’s a great resource to have), and if you are doing multiple days at Disneyland as we did, it’s a great activity to do in between park days to rest and relax a bit.
My kids use the GenSwiss vest Life Jacket, and I highly recommend it. Not only is light and easy to pack, but it actually allows your kids to learn to swim and give them the flexibility to explore the pool and have fun with other kids without having to deal with bulky and uncomfortable life jackets.
I also like that you can remove the inserts from the inside as they get better at floating on their own, this way they learn to swim while having fun.
My son, who is 4 and weighs 65 pounds is wearing the size XL that goes up to 80 lbs. He is the little one in the picture above.
– A Spacious Living Area:
Of course, this is different if only Ben and I are on vacation, but I’m sure you agree with me that having multiple rooms and a living room is key to a successful vacation especially when you are traveling with kids.
We usually put the kids in their rooms at night, close their doors and enjoy an adult conversation and maybe some adult beverages, so we can also enjoy the vacation and decompress from the day.
– A Kitchen:
If I’m traveling with my kids, where to stay in Disneyland is 100% depending on do I have a kitchen or not. Not only having a kitchen is super convenient, but it also saves you tons of money.
In this trip, we had breakfast and dinner at our place almost every day. We did grocery shopping for the week, spent $500 for all of it, and got 14 meals and some lunches and snacks out of it. If we were going to go out for 14 meals with a family of 8, we would be looking at no less than $1400.
Condo (or House) vs. Hotel
I think you have gathered that for this type of vacation I rather stay at a Condo, but let me give you the pros and cons of each one:
– A Hotel:
When I rather stay in a hotel if I want to have a romantic getaway or a pampered vacation, staying in a hotel with kids is not very convenient. It also can and most likely get very expensive super fast if you are not constantly watching your budget.
Unless you know the area or your hotel is super centric, you might be the victim of eating at the hotel restaurant for every meal, and we all know how awful hotel food could be.
However, a hotel can be relaxing and it’s probably the closest accommodation to your landmark of choice.
– A Condo or a House:
Where to stay in Disneyland was for us more a matter of at which condo are we going to stay in Disneyland. When I’m traveling with my kids I always stay at a Condo, because it’s spacious, convenient and cuts our vacation expenses significantly.
People ask me all the time how I can afford to travel with my kids so much. The answer is because we are smart about where we spend our money.
A Condo gives you a kitchen, sometimes a balcony, many times access to a pool, BBQ equipment. Simple things like multiple TVs or a large fridge can make the entire difference in the world for your vacation.
When we are booking a condo we always use Vrbo (Vacation rental by owner), because it’s easy and reliable. Besides you can read reviews from past guest and know exactly what you are getting.
I personally feel the properties listed in Vrbo are of a higher quality than those in other similar services and that’s so internationally too, as I’ve rented condos in other countries using Vrbo as well.
If your plans change you can always cancel too, which of course has happened to us and I never have had a problem with it.
Also, you can filter your search by your important criteria elements like the number of people you need to accommodate, amenities like pool, beach, kitchen, etc.
Where did we stay in Disneyland
When we go to Disneyland, we like to stay at the Worldmark Anaheim. This is a timeshare property and you can get it through Vrbo
We had a 3 bedroom, 2 bath unit with a nice balcony, a spacious kitchen, living room and dining room. Great master bedroom and perfect for our family of 8. Also a large pool, kids pool, 2 hot tubs in the pool area, 2 hot tubs in the roof area and BBQs.
We’ve stayed there a few times and I don’t see any reason why to stay at a different place
So, where to stay in Disneyland?
The most honest answer is that there are many options, and the choice you make depends on your budget, on your taste, on who is going, in how old your family members are.
Whatever decision you make, I hope I was able to help you by giving you a few criteria you should consider and why I like one over the others.
However, don’t let the number of options to overwhelm you and stop you from traveling. You and your family deserve a memorable family vacation!