As you plan your southern California vacation you may be asking: “when I visit Disneyland, must I really stay at an official (expensive) Disney hotel to have a great experience, or are there other alternatives?” After all, the costs of a family vacation add up pretty quickly and it is reasonable to look for savings wherever possible.

Many people envision Disneyland to be an enormous campus surrounded by luxurious resorts owned and operated by Disney exclusively. While this is partly the truth and there are great perks to staying at an official Disney hotel, there are many other hotels near Disneyland from which to select.

It’s clear that those who want the most luxurious amenities and the most pampering will stay nowhere else but an official Disney resort. There are great perks that come with staying in these hotels, such as getting early admittance to Disneyland parks on certain days. You may save money at surrounding non-Disney hotels, but you will give up the early access to all of the premier Disney attractions.

Some other luxuries provided to guests of official Disney hotels that you won’t find at all of the other hotels near Disneyland include:

* Vacation planning services.

* Specialty Restaurants like Goofy’s Kitchen

* Information on parades and other fun activities.

While you can purchase convenient packaged deals that combine your hotel stay with transportation to and from airports and discount park tickets, there are few really cheap discounts on a Disneyland vacation. Staying in non-Disney hotels near Disneyland (within walking distance) can save some money, but the price difference between these hotels and an official Disney resort is sometimes quite minor.

Plus, the atmosphere in a Disney resort cannot be reproduced anywhere else. You get all the excitement and luxury of staying with the Mouse and your trip becomes nothing less than magical, especially with smaller children.

That said, there are some hotels near Disneyland that would be great picks if you can’t get a room in an official resort during your trip dates, or when every penny counts and you can’t afford that difference to stay at a Disney resort. These hotels have the “good neighbor” designation which means Disney has inspected and approved them for their guests.

There are even some larger resort-type hotels that are not official Disney hotels but which offer a lot of the amenities you would find at an official resort. Many of these unofficial hotels near Disneyland are a short distance from the main Disney attractions, with some being a quick walk away down Harbor Boulevard.

Just because you aren’t staying in an official Disney park doesn’t mean you can’t be very close to all the action and still enjoy the complete Disney experience! Not only can you save some money by staying in unofficial Disney hotels, but many have found them incredibly convenient as well.

In summary, the official Disneyland resorts have a magical appeal, but they are not the only options you have when visiting Disneyland. Do your research to see what package deals you can find and determine the real difference between staying at an official resort and an unofficial hotel. Then you can make an educated decision on where you stay for your Disney vacation.

Michael Key has been writing for 30 years. For the best hotels near Disneyland visit Near Disneyland.

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