I’ve already documented the difficulties I came across when trying to book a room at Disneyland with my DVC points in a previous article and now it was time to start looking at Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. Now, I don’t have much experience with booking hotels in and around Disneyland. We’ve stayed in the Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel several times. Going back many years ago, we stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim Hotel (now renamed the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel) with a group discount from a theme park message board we helped moderate. On our most recent trip, we stayed at the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort (that’s a mouthful). It wasn’t my original choice, but I was lucky enough to win a free night during a online contest that had to be used by the end of 2016. It was a nice enough hotel, but nothing about it really screamed Disney; it was more a Sheraton that happened to be planted near Disneyland. It was also a 15 min walk to the Esplanade, which was fine in the morning but not fun after a full day in the parks. It’s also just far enough that you don’t want to go trekking back and forth during the day.
I needed to see what options I had for our stay..
I started with the Disney Hotels.
- Disneyland Hotel – $2600 for 5 nights
- Paradise Pier – $1900 for 5 nights
Well, maybe not. Besides paying cash, I am also able to book these rooms with my Disney Vacation Club points. What would they cost in points (I’m valuing each point at $13; that is what I can sell them for)?
- Disneyland Hotel – 225 points for 5 nights ($2925)
- Paradise Pier – 171 points for 5 nights ($2223)
Um, no. I didn’t expect to see it would be a better value for me to sell the points and then book the stay for cash. While using DVC points to book Disney hotel rooms has never beed a great value, it’s now become a money losing proposition. Either way, I don”t think a 5 night stay there is worth $2000+.
Time to see if I can book a stay with my other hotel points. Unlike Walt Disney World, the entrance to Disneyland is right across the street from a number of chain and independent hotels. I narrowed my search to places where I had points – here are some of the cash/points prices for our stay:
- Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort – $1089/140,000 points. This is part of the Marriott hotel family. This hotel was charging 35,000 points a night. However, if you make a reservation with points for 4 nights, the 5th night is free. This property charges a $18 daily fee for parking and has free wifi. Unlike most Fairfield Inn hotels, they do not offer a free breakfast to guests
- Sheraton Park Hotel At The Anaheim Resort – $1220/32,000 points.
Sheraton is part of Starwood Preferred Guest program. Rooms were available for 8,000 points a night. Like Marriott, Starwood hotels offer a 5th night free on points bookings. Self Parking charge at this hotel is $18 and the hotel offers free wifi. As I said above, this hotel didn’t overwhelm us the last time we stayed there. We had to walk to the Hilton nearby for Starbucks in the morning. However, if the price was right I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.
- Hotel Indigo Anaheim – $1311/150,000 points – Hotel Indigo is part of the IHG hotel group (same as Holiday Inn. I’ve already said how much I love this program in a prior post.) Since I just purchased 120,000 Holiday Inn (IHG) points for $690, I have plenty of points in this program. I would also get 10% of my points back because I have the IHG Credit Card, so the actual cost would only be 135,000 points. This hotel does not charge for parking (a big plus) and like all IHG hotels, has free wifi.
Those are some pretty decent options. The Sheraton and the Indigo are both tempting and if I had no other choice, I’d be happy to settle for either one. However, both of the hotels are a 15 minute walk and we (moreso Sharon) would like to stay somewhere a little closer this time. Since I do have other options, we are onto…
We’ve always been interested in the smaller hotels near Disneyland and many have been there almost as long as Disneyland itself. I did some searching and came across a page on Disneytouristblog.com that ranked all of the Disneyland off-property hotels (while it is admittedly not complete, they are all reviews by the same person). I commend anyone with this sense of commitment to a project.
I had narrowed our search to several hotels close to the Disneyland entrance and used the rankings with the ratings on Tripadvisor and Oyster to make my final decision. I found it interesting that none of these hotels were bookable from any third party website (Expedia, Hotels.com); you can only book them directly from the hotel website.
- Park Vue Inn – $1222 for 5 nights. This is THE CLOSEST hotel to Disneyland (it shows as a 0.3 mile walk on Google Maps). They offer free breakfast, have a deck where you can watch the fireworks from, and have free self parking and wifi.
- Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites – $1205 for 5 nights. This hotel is right next door to the Park Vue and, at first glance, appeared to be $20 cheaper a night. That changed when I went on with the booking as this hotel adds an $11 parking charge and $6 resort fee per day to the price. While they claim to have FREE continental breakfast and FREE wifi, I questioned how free that is with a $6 a night charge. Deceptive billing is always a negative for me.
- Candy Cane Inn – $988.65 for 5 nights (AAA Rate). I’ve heard about the Candy Cane for as long as I’ve been reading about Disneyland. It’s been right on the corner of Disneyland for over 50 years. They have free parking, free wifi and a complimentary park shuttle (if you don’t want to walk the 0.6 mile to the park entrance). Also important to us this trip is an on-site coin laundry.
These prices were all a little better than the chain hotels, so if I had to pay cash for this trip, I knew I had one more ace up my sleeve: I would be able to use the Fourth Night Free benefit of the Citi Prestige Card. I’ve not talked about this card before because it’s a niche player in my wallet. However, the 4th night free benefit is the killer app of the Citi Prestige. For any stay of 4 nights or more, they reimburse you the full cost of the 4th night (starting soon this will change to the average nightly cost for the stay, not including taxes or fees).
So with any of the room prices above, I’d be able to take 20% off the price of the stay. That would potentially be all the way from $520 off of the Disneyland Hotel to $197 off the Candy Cane Inn. My one concern was if the independent hotels would be eligible for the offer or not. I emailed the Citi Concierge to see if they could book the hotels we were interested in. The step by step directions are described in this article from Lucky at One Mile at a time. I loved the reply I got back:
So we had to make a decision. It was really down to using points at the Hotel Indigo or using the 4th night free at the Candy Cane Inn.
We are suckers for places that stick around even when it seems like they shouldn’t. It didn’t take us much time to decide. CANDY CANE INN, here we come!!!!!!!!
I sent back to the Citi Concierge our dates and room preference. Besides having to call in to verify our credit card number and then one more call to confirm booking details, we just got a confirmation from the hotel. I did spend an extra $10 a night to upgrade to a Deluxe room for the extra 40 sf. The out of pocket cost for 5 nights, after the rebate, will be $837. Not bad. I’ve never been so excited to be staying in a room that looks like this.