Disneyland Area / Anaheim Hotel Discounts
There are lots of hotels near Disneyland, and it’s not hard to find Anaheim hotel discounts. The Disneyland area is quite compact, with many off-site hotels located within easy walking distance or a very short shuttle ride away from the theme parks.
Some of the off-site hotels offer accommodations nearly as good as the “official” on-site Disneyland hotels. (Bear in mind that Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier are both renovated 60′s high-rises — and Paradise Pier was not even originally a Disney hotel.)
Interesting fact: some off-site Anaheim hotels are just as close to the Disneyland/Disney California Adventure entrance plaza as the Disney resorts! For instance, Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground is almost exactly the same distance from the center of the plaza as one of the buildings at the Disneyland Hotel.
- Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground – This fantastic value-priced hotel within easy walking distance of Disneyland gives you a ton of features for your money, including a small fridge and FREE high-speed Internet access in every room!
Be sure to check on the actual location of the hotel instead of just relying on the hotel’s name. Often the name has “Anaheim” or “Disneyland” in it, but the hotel is really located 25 miles and two towns away. Those that are actually in Anaheim will usually (but not always) be closest to Disneyland. Hotels in the cities of Buena Park, Garden Grove and Orange are also fairly near Disneyland and in a few cases, due to city boundaries, might be closer than certain Anaheim hotels.
Okay — assume you’ve narrowed down your choices. Now how do you get the best Anaheim Hotel discounts? Read on…
- Shop Around Online
- AAA Rates
- AARP Rates
- Government Discounts
- Military Discounts
- Flight + Hotel Package Deals
- One-Night, Last-Minute Getaways
- Beach Add-On
There are lots of useful websites to try for discounts. When searching these sites, be sure to use Anaheim, CA if you want to be closest to Disneyland. Parts of Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove and Orange are also close to Disneyland — in some cases, closer than parts of Anaheim, so check a map.
A great resource for promotional Disneyland-area hotel rates is aRes Travel, which specializes in Southern California hotels. aRes Travel is actually located in Southern California and offers reservations for most of the local hotels as well as discounted tickets for many attractions. You can book online with them, or call and speak with an actual person at (800) 680-0977.
aRes Travel does not charge a service fee for most reservations, though a few select hotels that offer ?Special Web Rates? may incur a small per-night fee. In many cases you will find that aRes Travel beats the top online agencies like Expedia and Travelocity.
If you book online, be sure to read the specific terms of the deal you pick (click on “View Terms”) before finalizing your booking with aRes Travel. Most reservations have a 72-hour cancellation policy, but some hotel deals require full prepayment. Some of the offers on the site incur a $25 cancellation fee and some require a nonrefundable deposit.
Two good sites to check out for hotel deals are Expedia and Travelocity. These travel agencies are constantly engaged in a battle to control the online travel market, so they are extremely competitive on price. I usually find the best deals overall on Expedia, but it’s worth checking both sites if you have the time.
These sites may charge a service fee on your reservation, and they sometimes require full payment or a substantial deposit in advance. Be sure to read ALL the small print as you make your reservation (which may require you to click on a link that says “terms and conditions” or something similar) so that you are clear on any cancellation and change fees.
Sometimes there are good offers directly through the hotels’ own websites. All of the major hotel chains have websites:
There are many independently-owned hotels around Disneyland. Most were built in the 1960s and have exterior motel-style corridors. The quality varies widely, but some are pretty nice.
A good way to compare prices on the independents is to see what kind of deal the hotel is offering on its own site (you can find the hotel’s site through a search engine like Google). Then go to aRes Travel, Expedia and Travelocity and see if they have rooms for the same hotel at a better price — amazingly enough, these third-party sites do beat the hotels’ own websites fairly frequently.
The majority of major hotel chains (and many independently-owned hotels) offer American Automobile Association (AAA) discounts, which can give you significant savings. (Generally the same rates are offered for the Canadian equivalent, CAA.) If you are a member, always look for the AAA rate when checking online, or ask when calling for reservations.
Many hotels offer very attractive discounts to members of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). You only have to be 50 to join, and you don’t even have to be retired. Membership in AARP is very inexpensive and might pay for itself in one night’s stay!
If you are a government employee (local, county, state or federal), you should always ask if there is a government discount (be sure to carry your ID with you and have it available at check-in). Many contractors to government agencies also qualify. Most of the major hotel chains offer government rates, though you may have to call the hotel directly, since these rates don’t show up on most of the hotel websites. Thanks to ClaymoH for the info!
If you are active duty or retired military, you should always ask if there is a military discount (be sure to carry your ID with you and have it available at check-in). Often the military discounts are among the best offered by hotels. Most of the major hotel chains offer military rates, though you may have to call the hotel directly, since these rates don’t show up on most of the hotel websites. Thanks to John G for the tip!
Priceline is a service that allows you to bid on hotel rooms, airfares and rental cars. (Note: Priceline is making it harder and harder to find the bidding area of its site: be sure to click on “Name Your Own Price” to get the real deals.) There are some amazing bargains to be had through Priceline and I use it myself to bid on hotels all the time! I always choose hotels in the 3 star or higher category, and I’ve never been disappointed. I have used Priceline successfully in Anaheim and was very pleased with the results. 3 and 3.5 star hotels near Disneyland can often be had for about $45-$55 per night!
With Priceline you won’t get to pick the exact hotel, and it’s critical to keep in mind that once you’ve made your bid, there is no going back. If it is accepted, you will be charged for the room immediately and there are no refunds or exchanges allowed. However, you can pick the general location (first choice is “Disneyland vicinity” hotels — anything else will be quite far away) and the number of “stars” (meaning the level of service and accommodations) you’d like.
Keep in mind that parking fees and resort fees can apply at 3 and 4 star hotels, which will add to your costs — just as they would if you booked at full rack rate. If you don’t care about staying in a “full service” hotel (with valet parking, sit-down restaurants, gift shops, etc.), try for a 2 1/2 star hotel, which will normally provide free parking.
Sometimes Priceline will reject a bid, but offer you an instant free rebid and suggest a rebid amount. I have learned that when they come back with a bid suggestion, you can almost always reduce the suggested rebid and still have the bid accepted. For instance, if you bid $30 and they reject it but offer a free rebid at $42, type in an amount that splits the difference (for instance $36) and they’ll almost always take it.
While there are no guarantees, I recommend waiting until very close to your travel dates to book rooms through Priceline. Meanwhile, see if you can get a fairly good deal elsewhere, and book a room directly. You can later cancel your reservation (up until the cancellation date) if you get a better deal through Priceline.
There are three good reasons to use Priceline as close to your trip as possible: It reduces the chance that your travel plans will change; it reduces the length of time Priceline has your money (better to have it in the bank, earning interest!); and it probably increases the likelihood that your bid will be accepted, since hotels with rooms sitting empty should be increasingly desperate for your business.
Hotwire is similar to Priceline in that you don’t get to choose the exact hotel (you choose the rough location and the star rating), and the room is sold on a “no refunds, no exchanges” basis. However, the difference is that Hotwire tells you exactly how much you’ll be paying up front — you don’t bid like you do with Priceline. Hotwire gives you a list of prices for unnamed hotels in various star categories (i.e. a 5-star hotel will be a luxury resort, while a 1-star will be a low-end motel) and with specific amenities. At that point you can choose to accept or reject the offered price for a hotel that has a rating and amenities you want. Once you have accepted the price, you are charged in full. It is only at that point that you’re told the hotel name. There are no refunds or exchanges.
As with Priceline, I strongly advise you to do your homework using some of the resources above, so that you know what the going rate is. That will help you to evaluate whether the Hotwire price is a good deal.
If you need both airfare and hotel accommodations, there are some good resources for booking a cheap vacation package that includes both. Note that most of them offer the best deals fairly last-minute (typically 2 weeks to 4 months in advance). If you are booking really late (3 weeks or less before your departure date) these are especially worthwhile, because sometimes you can buy an entire package (airfare and hotel) for LESS than it would cost to book a last-minute airfare alone!
Click here to learn more about the best places to find deals on these packages.
If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, an app called Hotel Tonight provides VERY last-minute hotel bargains in a number of cities, including Anaheim. When I say VERY last-minute, I mean “a few hours before you check in.” Starting at noon local time, you can book a decent-to-upscale hotel at up to 70% off for that night only (or sometimes up to 5 nights). The reservation is made right on your smartphone, through the app.
Hotel Tonight is ideal for people who live within driving distance, who are willing to just pack up on the spur of the moment and go for a quick overnight in Anaheim.
- Once you’ve downloaded the app to your phone (use the links above), enter invite code mwaring and you’ll get a $25 credit toward your first booking!
I’m frequently asked about the best beach near Disneyland. For those who are visiting Southern California and want to add a beach visit to their Disneyland trip, I recommend a short stay at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach.
Huntington Beach is one of my favorite Southern California beaches. I might be a little biased because I spent a lot of my childhood there, but it really is a fun beach, and it’s located an easy drive from Disneyland.
The Hyatt Regency is a fabulous luxury hotel with a great kids’ program called Camp Hyatt, and it is right at the beach. In fact, Disney uses the Hyatt for its “Southern California Vacation Package” Beach Hotel option for Disneyland packages. (If you’re interested in booking that package, consult a Disney Specialist travel agent.)