Being originally from California, I had been to Disneyland several times as a kid–but not to this Disneyland Resort. The parking lots are hidden and they have now dropped a resort hotel smack dab in the middle of the park area. Situated right beside Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian is a deluxe resort that lives up to its “Grand” name. Since this might be the only time we took our kids ages 13 and 10 to Disneyland, we wanted it to be the most magical ever.
Review of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
Rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
The Rooms are classic, with a few Hidden Mickeys. However, we stayed in a Villa and the standard hotel rooms have a bit more Disney–such as Chip ‘N’ Dale art on the wall. Staying in a studio villa afforded us some extra space and a microwave. Standard rooms will have a iron, hairdryer, coffee maker, coffee, and mini refrigerator. There is a alcove for the sink, with the shower and toilet being separate. A large closet includes your bathrobes for the week (which work well for a evening trip back from the pool). With the recent remodel, the beds are now raised which leaves lots of room to stow your suitcases and quite a few drawers to stow your clothes for the week. Each room has a small balcony, with the view being either the park (Disney California Adventure), pool area, or Downtown Disney. We had a view of the park, which was super fun–but a bit loud. Fortunately, we could not hear a thing when the sliding doors were shut.
Pools at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
The pool area is lovely and boasts three pools and two whirlpools in a very large area between the hotel wings and restaurants/spa. The kids will enjoy the Redwood Pool with a 90 foot waterslide, while the two other pools are quieter. Being newly renovated, everything is fresh and classic. The pool chairs were the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced at a pool–more like a daybed. Conveniently, there are attentive servers ready to take your drink order, snacks or sandwiches. Poolside cabanas are also available for rent.
Dining at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
There are three restaurants on the hotel premises. NAPA Rose is the upscale offering appealing to foodies and wine connoisseurs. A reservation is typically required. We chose to save this experience for when we go back as a couple. We experienced the character breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe which was delicious and bountiful. We enjoyed the typical Mickey waffles, fruit and omelet bar. But, I especially enjoyed the mexican inspired breakfast food–like the chilaquiles. Chip, Dale, Pluto, and Brother Bear entertained with visits to the table, photo opportunities and dancing. Lastly, there is a quick service restaurant, White Water Snacks, that is popular with many–but low on crowds. Though I never ate there–preferring instead to eat in the parks–I did check it out. They had rotating hot meals daily that sounded delicious! They also have many snacks and served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Along with the hot meals, they also serve grilled sandwiches, burgers and pizza.
Activities & Parks
Of course, the big draw is the parks–no transportation needed! This may be the time to buy the Park Hopper tickets, since the parks are an esplanade apart and you easily walk back to your hotel. My daughter and I used this feature one night to enjoy the Disneyland fireworks again after spending some time at Disney California Adventure. There are a few additional activities at the hotel, though not as many as some of the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World. They have nightly movies shown between the three resort hotels, an Arts & Crafts Hotel Tour, Walk in the Park (at 6:00 AM), kids trivia and a resort scavenger hunt. We weren’t able to do the scavenger hunt, but my daughter took home 4 luggage tags related to each classic Disney ride for which she answered all the trivia questions. You will receive their activity schedule upon check-in. Mandara Spa is also located conveniently near the restaurants and pool. A quick trip to check it out showed a peaceful respite from the busy parks, but I decided to save that for my trip back with just my hubby.
We have had great experiences with Disney service, so ours is a high bar. However, I did find the cast members at this resort to be especially helpful. They have many cast members posted around to just answer questions–especially in the Grand Hall. Additionally, even the laundry room worker gave me free services to help with a amenities card that wouldn’t work. They were quick to help and with a smile. The Grand Californian is a splurge that is worth it for the whole family.
Guest blogger Susan Easterday is always happiest planning her next trip–whether it be around the corner or across the ocean. When she isn’t traveling, she’s helping people meet their financial goals and hanging with her daughter, son and husband in Brentwood, Tennessee.