You're looking for cheap hotels near Disneyland. I totally understand that. Sometimes your budget just doesn't allow for spending a penny more than you have to.
I'm here to kill the myths about cheap Disneyland hotels, help you avoid falling for misleading prices and show you how to find the cheapest Disneyland hotel you can.
Keep reading to find out how to do the research. Learn how to avoid extra costs that turn your cheap deal into a dollar-wasting dud.
When you're done, you'll know how to find a nice, clean place to stay for no more than you might for a place with paper-thin walls and a carpet so dirty you'll be afraid to take off your shoes.
Hotel rates change fast. They vary from day to day and even more by season. Today's cheapest hotel near Disneyland may not be the cheapest tomorrow. Instead of making a list of hotels that were cheapest when I wrote this, I'm going to tell you how to find the best deal for your trip.
Check Your Total Cost
This is the most important thing you need to know. The rates you get at any website aren't the whole story. Extra costs can make a big difference. The only way to spend the least money possible is to check the total price for your stay.
These are the things to add up:
Hotel Rate: Start with the nightly rate you find online. TripAdvisor not only has tons of reviews, but they also search multiple sources for the lowest rate.
You can filter your results for hotels within three to five miles of Disneyland and limit the highest rate you want to see. You can also sort by ranking. Unless you have an exceptionally high tolerance for dirt, noise, and poor service, stick with hotels that have rankings greater than 3.5 out of 5.
Hotel tax: It's 15% in Anaheim and 14.5% in Garden Grove, and not included in the quoted rates.
Parking Fee: Many hotels near Disneyland charge for parking. Rates vary from $10 to almost $30 per day. That charge could make the hotel with a rate that is apparently $15 less than its competition suddenly cost more.
Location: You're more likely to find free parking and lower hotel rates a little further from the parks. You save 0.5% on tax if you stay in Garden Grove instead of Anaheim.
Before you go any further, check out this page: Disneyland Hotel Myths Debunked: Across the Street and Walking Distance.
Parking at Disneyland costs $18 per day. Add that to your hotel rate if you're comparing costs between a hotel further away with free parking to one closer to the park with a fee. Even if you don't have a car to drive, you can try to find a hotel on the Anaheim Resort Trolley route, but add up the costs for your group before choosing that option.
Here's a fictitious example: Cheap-O's Hotel is near the Disneyland gate and charges $99 a night. Oh-So-Low Hotel charges $95 per night, but you'd have to drive to the park. Don't fall for those simple numbers.
When you add $10 per night parking at Cheap-O's and $18 a day Disneyland parking if you stay at Oh-So-Low, those numbers change: Staying at Cheap-O's would cost a total of $109, and Oh-So-Low is more expensive at $113.
Another sneaky thing to know about parking fees: If you arrive too early to check in and want to stay in the park all day after you check out in the morning, some hotels may charge for extra parking days. The only way to find out about this is to call them and ask.
Free Meals: Free breakfast may lower your cost, but not always. If you don't eat much or want lower carb options than the typical, sugar-laden continental breakfast, it might not be.
In Downtown Disney, you can get pastries and bistro meals at Starbucks — or a breakfast sandwich at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen — for less than $10.
You could also bring breakfast bars or other easy-to-eat breakfast foods with you to lower cost even more. Also keep in mind that going for a character breakfast means you won't be eating at your hotel that day.
Some hotels offer Kids Eat Free All Day specials, but do you really want to go all the way back to your hotel for every meal?
Resort Fees: These sneaky fees are showing up all over the Disneyland area, even at the cheapest Disneyland hotels, the ones that are more like a glorified motel. They say the fee covers things like the swimming pool and those "free" meals, and maybe a daily newspaper you probably won't read. The fees are sometimes hard to find on the hotel website. A simple way to find out is to do a search for "resort fee" and the hotel name.
Other Fees: Other fees to look out for include charges for rollaway beds, pet fees (which can be quite expensive), and fees to use the hotel's Disneyland shuttle.
More Ways to Get the Cheapest Disneyland Hotel
TripAdvisor is a great place to start your hotel search, but you may be able to lower your rates even more by using these tips after you have identified a few hotels that seem like good deals.
- If your schedule is flexible, try to plan your Disneyland trip during times when the parks are less busy. Lower hotel room demand means lower prices. Use this guide to find out when those times are.
- Check the hotel website directly. They sometimes offer packages and deals that may give you an even lower total cost.
- If you have a AAA card, check the hotel website to see if they offer discounts. I have gotten as much as an extra $10 a night off an already low rate using this technique.
- Go old school and call the hotel. My friends say they have saved even more using this simple tip.
- You can sometimes get a much nicer hotel for the same price as a cheap one. But only if you can tolerate not knowing your hotel's name — or how much they might charge for all those extras — until after you pay for it. To do that, try Hotwire and Priceline. At the very best, you can end up in a four-star hotel for less than the local Roach Motel. A simple strategy for using them is to choose the nicest hotel class available and bid $10 to $15 less than the best rate you've already found.