The second of a series of blogs by guest blogger Jenni Weightman.
I am a massive fan of staying onsite when going to Disney. In Paris I have stayed in the Cheyenne (cozy and usually a great price), Sequoia (gorgeous in winter with the fire in the bar and rustic decor), Newport (pretty but far too big) and the Disneyland hotel (just amazing). In Florida we went for Port Orleans Riverside and were given an Alligator Bayou room. I was initially a bit disappointed (I know I could have given a preference on booking but I couldn't decide at the time!). But in the end the room and its proximity to the main building and also a relatively quiet bus stop was perfect and the decor was very much like the Sequoia in Paris. One of the best things about staying at Port Orleans was the boat trip to Downtown Disney. Lovely and relaxing and on one trip the Captain even did a trivia quiz!
Anyway, when I first starting planning California I assumed that we would stay in one of the Disney Hotels and I immediately fell in love with pictures of the Grand Californian. That was until I saw the price! At a grand total of $3980 (£2580) it was definitely out unless we re-mortgaged the house (not a good idea) or win the lottery (why does this never happen?).
So it was time to find another option! I found a official website for the Orange County area (http://anaheimoc.org/plan-your-trip/maps-and-transportation) in which Disneyland is located and they have some great maps including one that contains a list of all the hotels in the area. This became my starting point and the hotel spreadsheet was born.
My initial list contained a staggering 79 hotels but I quickly filtered out those that were further than a 20 minute walk and more than $80 dollars per night. Many of the Hotels that are further out either have their own shuttle or are on the Anaheim Resort Transit Route. The buses at WDW really started to annoy me after a while though so I wanted to be close enough to be able walk to the parks. The cost restriction unfortunately meant that I had to say goodbye to staying on site as even the cheapest (Paradise Pier) was over budget. I then had the fun task of checking each of the remaining hotels on Tripadvisor and their own websites for whether they had a free breakfast (good), wi fi (good) and bed bugs (bad).
The problem with using Tripadvisor is however many good reviews there are for a place there are always the few negative ones that really scare me but I tried to ignore any that were just being petty or expecting 5* service in a 2* place and eventually ended up with a shortlist of 9. At this point I became really geeky and gave each hotel a score out of 3 for Location, Reviews and Price and then sorted them so that the high scorers came to the top. I had my joint winners; The Desert Inn and Suites and Quality Inn and Suites Anaheim at the park. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I spent hours going back and forth between the two! But eventually the location of Desert Inn tipped the scales in its favour. As it is on Harbour Boulevard, pretty much opposite the gates, we can fall out of bed and be at the turnstiles in 5 minutes. I'm not going to lie though, I haven't stopped reading reviews or holding my breath every time I see the hotel being mentioned on one of the many Disney forums but for what we need (basically a room with a bed near to the parks) it seems a great bargain at only £420 for the 8 nights. It also has a indoor pool and a viewing deck where you can see the fireworks from. So as long as we don’t end up with noisy neighbours everything should be good.
To get my Grand Californian fix though I fully intend to visit to admire the gorgeous lobby and dream about one day staying there!
Next month- blog part 3 Getting to the Magic!