First off, thanks in part to a recommendation from my SIL Lauren, I have chosen the Anabella Hotel for our stay. I have booked a three bedroom family suite for Brandon, the kids, my mom, my sister Claire and I to stay in as well as a nearby room for my FIL and step MIL.
I have been to Disneyland nine times, I believe. I have only stayed in hotels there three of those times. The first time I was seven or eight and have memories of red hallway carpets and the ice machine at the Mariott. I thought it was very fancy since I'd only ever stayed in motels before that:) When Brandon and I stayed in a motel in the area, it was completely unmemorable and I don't even remember the name of the place.
When we went six years ago we stayed in a very basic motel called The Alpine Inn. It had a grungy pool, which we actually used, and I don't remember being in the rooms at all except to sleep. The location was great and the price was right, but I wouldn't stay there again.
All the research I did for this trip came from two books and the internet. The books are The Unofficial Guide Disneyland 2011. It has all the information you need and more. The authors are overplanners and total geeks (they encourage matching t-shirts and fanny packs). I loved it! The other book is Disneyland & Southern California with Kids 10th Edition, which wasn't nearly as useful but still had some new information and good stuff.
Here's the breakdown on what seem to be the best hotels in the area (I wish I knew how to set up a chart) for families:
Townplace Suites by Marriott Anaheim- room rating 88/100, pool, $$, best deals (value for what you get),
Sheraton Anaheim Hotel - room rating 87, $$$-, best deals, pool
Hilton Suites Anaheim-Orange - 86 room rating, $$$-, best deals, pool
Homewood Suites by Hilton - room rating 85, $$$-, best deals, pool
Hyatt Regency Orange County - rooms 85, $$+, best deals, poolSheraton Park Hotel - 17 min. walk, room rating 85, $$$-, pool rating = 7/10 (best pool rating on my list), best deals
DoubleTree Hotel Anaheim-Orange County - rooms 84, $$$-, best deals, pool
The Anabella - room rating 83, 14 min. walk (also an ART stop), pool 6, $$$-, and listed under "top 30 best deals" in Unofficial guide. Two heated pools (one for adults only) and spa. Rooms have refrigerators and coffee makers and some have microwaves. Can take the monorail into Disneyland from the DT Disney station. You also have access to walk thru the Disneyland Grande Hotel on your way to the park.
Desert Palm Hotel & Suites - rooms rated 83, 13 min. walk (one block from Disneyland), heated pool and spa, pool rated a 2/10, $$$-, micros and fridges in rooms, free continental breakfast.
Staybridge Suites Anaheim Resort Area - rooms 82, pool, cost $$$-, best deals, recommended by CA resident friend of mine
Portofino Inn & Suites - room rating 82, 16 min. walk, pool 7, $$$+, kids eat free at adjacent restaurant, shuttle service available for a fee, free parking, heated pool and spa, video arcade, fridges & micros in every room. Great kids' suites.
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Anaheim - room rating 82, $$+, best deals, pool
Greenwood Suites - room rating 82, $$+, best deals, no pool
Peacock Suites - room rating = 81, $$+, best deals, poolRamada Plaza Hotel - Anaheim resort - room rating = 81, 14 min. walk, pool 2, best deals
Best Western Stovall's Inn - room rating 80, $$+, best deals, pool
Holiday Inn - Anaheim Resort - room rating 80, $$+, best deals, pool
(Anaheim) Desert Inn (&) Suites - room rating 79, 7 min. walk, pool rating of 1, $$, listed under best deals. Across the street from the maingate, heated pool and spa; microwaves, fridges, free continental breakfast
Hilton Garden Inn - 79 room rating, $$, best deals, pool
Candy Cane Inn - room rating 78, 10 min. walk, pool 4, $$+, listed under best deals, highly recommended by a friend of mine with season passes to Disneyland. Garden view rooms available, one block from maingate, shuttle available, heated pool, spa, childrens' wading pool, micros and fridges in some rooms, free continental breakfast
Howard Johnson Hotel - room rating 75, 11 min. walk, pool 6, $$$. Heated pool, kids' pool area, fridges in all roomsRamada Maingate - room rating 67, 8 mins. walk, pool 8, $$, some kitchenettes available, heated pool and spa, fridges available for a fee, free continental breakfast
Anaheim Plaza Hotel & Suites - room rating 65, 11 min. walk, pool 6, $$-
What I was looking for in a hotel for this trip was something with more than one room (a suite), walking distance to the resort (most area hotels offer shuttle service or are on the ART route, but you may not be able to come and go at the exact time you'd like), at least three and a half stars from Unofficial, a room rating of at least 75, a decent pool, and affordability.
The downsides of the hotel I chose are no free continental breakfast, no free wifi, and parking isn't free either.
The three Disneyland hotels are supposed to be fantastic, but they are way out of my price range.
The only hotels with pool ratings available were those within walking distance of the resort.
ART = Anaheim Resort Transit system (aka: buses)
All of this information is true to the best of my knowledge but be sure to check with the hotel directly for current information.
I am looking forward to reading lots of comments about your experiences with Disneyland area hotels:)
If this information has helped you and saved you time (it has) and saved you money ($35 in guidebooks at least). I guarantee it will make for a more enjoyable stay in Anaheim. Please contribute a dollar or so towards my future research. Thanks!