by Character Diva
Planning a Disney vacation requires all sorts of decision making. One of the largest decisions you will need to make is where to stay. Whether you are more of the “I’m only here to sleep and shower” kinda people or if you want to experience all of the luxuries and amenities your resort has to offer, figuring out what best option works best for you and your family (and your budget) can take some serious thinking. So let’s review the usual options….
Staying With Friends or Family: If you’re lucky to have family or friends in the area who are willing to let you and your party stay with them and you won’t be inconveniencing them too much, this is by far the best route to go. The hundreds of dollars you will save can easily free up your budget for more fun things like souvenirs, tickets, character meals, or other experiences, or just make it a much more affordable family vacation. Just remember to be courteous to whomever is allowing you to stay with them…. You not only want to clean up after yourselves, but try and be considerate when getting ready to leave in the morning or getting back in the evening, especially if you’re going to spend as much time at the parks as possible. And of course, make sure you give whomever you are staying with a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store as a thank you for their generosity and hospitality!
Staying at a Hotel: For those of us who do not have family or friends living nearby, or for those who are trying not to impose on our loved ones for whatever reason (especially if you’re worried about waking people up as you try to make it when the gates open or plan on staying until the park closes), hotels are most likely going to be where you’re planning on staying. But which hotel is the best option for you and your family?
Hotels can fall into three categories…. Staying on-property, staying off-property, and the hybrid of the two… staying at a good neighbor hotel. So what’s the difference?
Staying on-property: Personally, the only reasons I would ever stay on-property is because 1.) It was something on my Disney Bucket List I wanted to cross off or 2.) It was free because your company or a very generous family member/host was paying the bill for you. While there are perks such as theming, extra hours in the park and obviously being extremely close location-wise (who doesn’t enjoy seeing the Matterhorn or fireworks from the comfort of your hotel room?), to me, the perks just don’t justify the expensive price tag… Especially when I can take all of the money I save and use it on souvenirs, character meals, or future vacations. But if it’s something you want to cross of your list or if you’re fortunate enough to have landed a stay there, by all means, take advantage of the perks. Disney Diva Tip: When figuring out the cost of your stay, please remember that Disney Hotel Guests still have to pay for parking, so if you’re planning on having a rental car or your own vehicle, don’t forget to factor that expense when figuring out which option is right for your family.
If you would like to read Tinker Belle Diva’s review of the Paradise Pier, you can find it here.
DVC Properties: Another option for staying on-property comes if you are a DVC member. Disney Vacation Club or DVC is where you can buy points to be used on specific Disney resorts, cruises, and so on. For more information on how DVC works, you can read Tonga Princess Diva’s review of it here. To buy or sell DVC points, check out DVC Resale Market.
Staying off-property: In case you missed it in the last paragraph, my personal preference is to stay off-property. Southern California has a lot to offer in regards to tourism and entertainment however, so depending on your family’s itinerary and what you would like to experience, that can greatly affect where you choose to stay. On our last trip, we were visiting for my cousin’s wedding, but we also had plans to go whale watching at Newport Beach and spend time at Disneyland. We basically looked at a map and figured out which city would put us in the middle of all three of our destinations and then searched online and read reviews to figure out which hotel would be the most budget-friendly while being in a safe area and still close to everywhere we wanted to visit.
Good Neighbor Hotels: If Disneyland is your only destination, or if you’d rather stay closer to the parks, staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel can be the perfect compromise of being close to the parks but with a much lower price tag. Good Neighbor Hotels offer the convenience of being within two miles of Disneyland or less, and many include spectacular views of the parks. (We were still able to watch fireworks from our balcony when we stayed at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Resort and it came with the added perk of free parking while being only a six minute walk from Disneyland). If you are planning on staying at a hotel and sticking close to Disneyland, this will probably be the best option for you. You can read about some of our favorite good neighbor hotels here: Tropicana Inn & Suites, Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites, Candy Cane Inn, and Howard Johnson Anaheim Resort.
Renting a House: Let’s face it… if you have a big party, hotels can be expensive. And even if you don’t have a large party, depending on where you’re willing to stay, there can be many local options that are cheaper and provide larger living spaces with more conveniences like laundry machines and kitchens. If you don’t want to spend a fortune at eating at the parks and would rather make your own food or if you would rather spend more time at the parks than babysitting your laundry, staying at an AirB&B or similar residence can be a good fit for your family.
So there are some of the most popular options for where to stay. And while you ultimately have to decide what is the best fit for your family, just remember, home is always where you hang your Mickey Mouse Ears.
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