My husband and I are taking our kids to Disneyland for the first time over Thanksgiving break this year! We're debating whether we should stay at the Disney Hotel or elsewhere. Are there any better hotels out there or should we just book at the Disney Hotel?
Disney has a stable of "good neighbor" hotels that are less expensive than the DisneylandDisneyland Hotel but offer many of the same benefits. The Anabella Hotel and Hotel Menage are boutiques, but a bit of a walk from the main gate; I think they have a shuttle bus but I haven't used it. The Doubletree Suites is very close to the gate and microwaves in-room. Anything on South Harbor Blvd. is a good bet.
Mentioned in this answer:
If the price doesn't scare you away, I would do the Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Best access to Disneyland, California Adventure (private entrance from the hotel into the park), and Downtown Disney, great in-hotel restaurant, etc. Not cheap, but a great, great experience. If you really want to do it up, this is your best choice, IMO.