I’ll admit I am spoiled and have expensive taste. I agonized over where to stay near Disneyland for my first trip with two children (3 and 6 years old). Try as I might to find a cool and hip boutique hotel nearby, it seemed they simply did not exist. I went for the next best option which was the highly priced but very family friendly Disneyland Grand Californian *. Happy and busy kids, make happy and relaxed parents, is my theory. I struggled, however, with the price. $400 a night seemed like a bit much if I wasn’t going to be greeted at the reception with a cool cloth and a cocktail, and spritzed at the pool with Evian mist (although you are paying a huge premium for it’s location right at Disneyland). I was determined to stay there for less, but afraid to leave it until the last minute and have it sell out. Here is what I did:
1. I booked a vacation package at regular price using the Disneyland booking line (714-520-5060) about 3 months prior my travel dates. Booking a package including your hotel and park passes saves you a little bit of money, but also gives you access to a few special perks such as early entrance to the park on selected days. I paid only the minimum deposit which was $200. I clarified the change/cancellation policy which is currently the following:
31 Days prior to arrival
$0 change fee
$100 cancellation fee
30 Days Prior to Arrival
$50 change fee
$200 cancellation fee
2. The agent I spoke with when booking the package explained to me that on the Disneyland Hotels website they usually only show one special at a time affecting the upcoming few months. He told me to check back closer to the end of the current promotion to see if another promotion pertaining to my travel dates had been listed. Well, I did exactly that, and 2 weeks before the booking deadline for the current promotion, a new deal offering 30% off the Disneyland Grand Californian was listed that would include my reserved nights.
3. I called back the reservation line, quoted my reservation number, and they quickly readjusted my package (3 nights in a standard room with bunk beds for the kids / 2 days worth of park hopper tickets / round trip airport to hotel transportation) from $1988 US to $1547 US. A $441 savings for a very small amount of follow up and no change fees since I was outside of 31 days.
If I take out the passes and the transportation costs, we were now paying about $215/night for a standard room which I am completely okay with for the convenience of staying right at Disneyland.
* Other less expensive accommodation options include the original Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel , although their reviews are a little weaker on Tripadvisor. The Disneyland Hotel is currently undergoing renovations (one tower has been completed), so with a special request on your reservation file and some good luck, you could pay as little as $169 a night for a renovated room.
Often companies repeat similar promotions year after year. Here is what I have seen recently:
Oct 1 – Dec 16th 2010 (posted mid Aug.)
Save $300 on a 4 day/4 night room and ticket package
Save 20-30% off on all 2 night + stays at any of the 3 Disneyland hotels
Jan 2 – Apr 15th 2011 (posted mid Nov.)
Save 25-35% off all 2 night+ stays at any of the 3 Disneyland hotels
Apr 17 – June 18th 2011 (posted in Feb.)
Save up to 25% off at any of the 3 Disneyland hotels (no minimum required)
Aug 14th – Oct 1st, 2011
Save up to 30% off at any of the 3 Disneyland hotels
Aug 14th – Sept 28th, 2011
Save up to $450 when booking a Disnelyland Vacation Package (4 days / 3 nights)
For a my post trip review of the hotel, please see my Tripadvisor review.