OK, this will be more of a braindump than a real, thought out article. I’ll either come back and fix this one, or post a more coherent one with full details and explanations later.
First, the biggest problem with planning a Disneyland vacation, or any other summer vacation is that when you start out there is just too much information to handle and you don’t really even know where to start looking or caring. However, once you get going, and start getting things in place, it all starts to come together a little bit.
With that in mind, I recommend that you start by looking at hotels. This is a big, and important part of your vacation that will require a bit of research. At the same time, there is A LOT of material available online so you can get started and dig in without any real effort. In addition, researching this part of your trip will lead you to figuring out a bunch of other things about your trip that you will need to know like:
- should we rent a car
- are we going to stay ON Disneyland, or just nearby
- are we going to do anything else in Southern California, or are we just going to focus on Disneyland
- and so on.
Finding the Right Disneyland Hotel for Summer Vacation with Kids
That being said, finding the right hotel is not a small thing. There are tons of hotels with tons of different amenities at tons of different price points. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but if you break it down, it can come together pretty quickly.
First, decide if you are staying on the Disneyland Resort or not. There are only 3 official Disneyland hotels on the actual Disneyland resort. The Disneyland hotels are way more expensive than any of the surrounding hotels. They are also widely acknowledged to be the nicest with the best amenities. Plug your estimated travel dates into the website to get a price for the rooms. Do not include the tickets because you’ll worry about that later. In the month of June, it looks like official Disneyland Hotel room rates are in the $300 to $400 per night price range. There are surrounding hotels for $120 to $200 per night. For a three night trip, that’s easily a $300 price different, enough to pay for your Disneyland Park tickets.
If you can afford it, and don’t mind paying it, then you are probably best just staying on property. If not, then check out the surrounding area hotels.
Some of the hotels around Disneyland have a loose affiliating with the park. They are called Good Neighbor Hotels. I have not idea what the criteria or advantage of them is, but you can start there.
If you aren’t staying on property then decide what amenities you require, and what price you want to pay. That will narrow things down considerably. Most hotels have some sort of pool, and others have full-on water parks. Before you pick your hotel, consider how your days are going to go. For example, our plan involves getting to the park early, staying until we drop, and then coming back. In other words, we won’t be spending a lot of time at the hotel, so there is no need for bountiful amenities.
On the other hand, if you plan to spread your trip over several days and might be at the park less and at the hotel more, then you’re hotel probably needs to be nicer for a pleasant trip.
Use websites like Travleocity, Booking.com, or Orbitz to check out rooms around the area. You don’t have to use them to actually book the room, but they are a good place to start for research.
Also, check out the travel books at your local library. I like to grab an armload of the most recent travel books to do basic research with. Then, you can buy the ones that you decide you need. I do recommend find copy of The Unofficial Guide Disneyland 2015. Although I haven’t gotten deep into the book yet, it does have the easiest to understand section about which hotels you can and cannot realistically walk to Disneyland from, which can be a big deal if that is part of your plan.