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- The Grand Lobby at the Grand Californian Hotel
- Hotel Check-In
- Rooms at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
- Bathroom Space at Grand Californian
- Additional Room Amenities
- Disney Resort Hotel Perks
- Pools at Grand Californian Hotel
- Dining at Disney's Grand Californian
- How to Get to the Parks from the Grand Californian Hotel
- Is the Grand Californian "Disney" Enough?
- Grand Californian Hotel Spa
- Is Disney's Grand Californian Worth the Cost?
Just steps away from the Disneyland parks, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is the ultimate choice for many Anaheim travelers. Both majestic and homey, this crown jewel of the three Disneyland Resort hotels offers vacationers a deluxe respite outside the parks. However, with standard room rates 3 to 5 times pricier than non-resort hotels, is a stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel worth the cost?
The Grand Lobby at the Grand Californian Hotel
From the moment guests step foot through the colorful stained glass sliding doors at the Grand Californian Hotel, they’ll be immersed in a hotel experience that’s luxurious without being ostentatious. Cozy sitting areas encourage guests to sit down and relax to take in the atmosphere, where Tiffany-style lamps glow against the woodwork. Grab a chair next to the fireplace under the towering stone hearth. A pianist often plays popular Disney tunes.
Acorns Gifts & Goods, a convenience store and gift shop sells Disney souvenirs and grab and go essentials. There’s a hang-out area in the lobby, with kid-sized rocking chairs and Disney cartoons on the television. During Halloween and Christmas time, there’s a seasonal display here along with treats sold at a kiosk.
For travelers familiar with the resorts at Walt Disney World, Disney’s Grand Californian has a similar feel to Wilderness Lodge. The property is built in a Craftsman-style that is rustic but still very elegant, reflective of the arts and crafts movement. For families planning a Disneyland vacation, the Grand Californian is a viable hotel option for a multitude of reasons. As a longtime Disney traveler, I’ll outline some of the details to consider before booking a stay at the Grand Californian Hotel.
Read More: How Much Does it Cost to Go to Disneyland?
Cast Members will create a personalized room key for each guest in the room, linking a credit card to pay for purchases if you wish. With so many rooms at the Grand Californian Hotel, you may have good luck with early check-in. If a room isn’t available, you’ll be able to check luggage with Bell Services and be sent a text message when the room is ready.
Regular checkout time is 11 a.m.. In regards to late check-out, I was told to call the night before to make the request. I did call and was granted a 1:00 p.m. check-out time. However, this may be a rare instance so don’t count on late check-out at the Grand Californian Hotel.
Rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa opened to guests in 2001, with major room renovations in 2017. The remodel included room overhauls that made the spaces even more luxurious, with convenient upgrades for families. Gone are the rustic bunks, but the new furnishings offer additional storage space underneath the beds.
A standard room at the Grand Californian Hotel can comfortably fit a family of four with either two queen beds or a king. Rooms for five include a convertible sleeper bed. It’s slightly smaller than a twin bed, but adequately sized for a child. Some rooms offer a convertible twin-sized sleeper chair. Our queen bed room included a sofa as well as a balcony with patio set (we had a woodsy view). Rooms at the Grand Californian Hotel overlook the front entrance, courtyard, Downtown Disney, the pool or offer a view inside the theme park. We could see the peak of Grizzly River Run through the trees from our balcony.
Bathroom Space at Grand Californian
The bathroom area features a double sink with lots of counter space. Tucked underneath is a hair dryer, step stool, and basket for soiled linens, along with additional storage space. Unfortunately, this area is open to the sleeping area and lacks a door. This is inconvenient if you have family that goes to bed before you while you’re still using the bathroom. I’ve had to get creative on previous trips, turning on the light inside the toilet area so I could see to wash my face at the sink and not wake the kids.
There is a sliding door with a lock to the shower and toilet. Note that most of the rooms only offer a shower. Some hotel rooms with a tub are still available; this should be requested at reservation and verified at check-in. The shower handle can be removed to rinse off younger children. There’s a pleasant rain shower feature as well. The generously sized toiletries are a plus.
Additional Room Amenities
All room include a refrigerator, coffee maker (easy to use single cup Keurig), and robes in the closet. While there’s no table, there is a desk area with a single chair, USB ports and plenty of accessible outlets. Most convenient are the USB connections near the bed.
Disney Vacation Club members can book a stay in one of the 50 two-bedroom vacation villas that include kitchens, living and dining areas and other home-like amenities. Additional room options include 1, 2 and 3-bedroom suites or stunning signature suites.
Disney Resort Hotel Perks
One of the major perks of staying at this hotel is the hotel’s private entrance to this theme park. The ability to quickly access Disney California Adventure at park opening can save time usually spent waiting with the throngs at the main gate. During the afternoon hours, my family often takes advantage of this side entrance (located near Grizzly River Run) to leave the park for a swim at the hotel.
Extra Magic Hour is another excellent benefit to staying at a hotel at the Disneyland Resort. There’s a lot that can be accomplished in the first hour at Disneyland, while other guests are still in bed. For each day of a resort stay, guests are able to enter the Parks (with valid ticket) one hour earlier than the general public.
Schedule for Extra Magic Hour (not all areas of the parks are open):
- Disneyland – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
- Disney California Adventure Park (including Cars Land) – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
There are many other reasons to book a Disneyland Resort Hotel including merchandise delivery, concierge, free Wifi, Club Level and more.
Pools at Grand Californian Hotel
Disneyland Resort hotel swimming pools deserve their own day! Be sure to schedule a free day just for relaxing poolside with the family. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel features three large pools plus water slides and lounge areas. Children’s life jackets are complimentary. During our visit, guest room keys were verified at the pool entrance gate and wristbands were distributed to each member of our group. The outdoor pools are heated year-round.
- Fountain Pool – features a turtle fountain and views of the surrounding trees.
- Mariposa Pool – surrounded by poolside cabanas, which can be rented for a full or half day.
- Redwood Pool – includes a 90-foot water slide that wraps around a Redwood tree stump. There is also a short slide for younger kids.
- Heated whirlpool spa
- Mickey-Mouse shaped shallow children’s pool
Dining at Disney’s Grand Californian
The Grand Californian offers several dining locations, including quick service, elegant full-service dinners and Disney character dining experiences.
- GCH Craftsman Grill – Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this quick service location offers mobile ordering and grab-and-go items.
- Hearthstone Lounge – Serves drinks and upscale bites, including artisinal pizzas and sandwiches.
- Storyteller’s Cafe – This bountiful dinner buffet is sure to satisfy foodies with dishes including roasted corn chowder, carving station and warm bread pudding.
- Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast – Charming character meal held at Storyteller’s Cafe daily for breakfast/brunch hours. Guests can mingle with Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale while dining on a delicious buffet.
- Napa Rose Restaurant- This elegant dinner-only restaurant is perfect for a grown-up night out with dishes like veal osso bucco and grilled scallops. There is an kid’s menu if you do bring young children but the atmosphere is decided sophisticated.
- Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – Exquisite character experience includes a 3-course meal, keepsakes and immersive moments with Disney princesses. Held inside Napa Rose from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Thursday through Monday; Advance Dining Reservations are a must.
- Room service and pool side dining, available only for hotel guests.
TravelingMom Tip: You need not be a guest of the hotel to dine at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Exit the California Adventure theme park via the side entrance and enjoy some of the best food at Disneyland, available at this hotel!
How to Get to the Parks from the Grand Californian Hotel
To Get to Disneyland:
Via the entrance inside Downtown Disney District. There is a private security check here and the walk to the Disneyland front gates is about 5 minutes. As an alternative, families can turn left upon entering Downtown Disney and walk to the Monorail station. From here, guests with a valid park ticket may board the Monorail and be deposited at the Tomorrowland station inside the Disneyland park.
To Get to Disney California Adventure:
One of the major perks of staying at this hotel is the hotel’s private entrance to this theme park. The entrance is located next to Napa Rose and has its own security check point. Guests may be required to show a valid hotel room key to use the entrance in the morning.
You might also occasionally find long lines to enter California Adventure in the morning. Be sure to arrive at the hotel’s private entrance early to get through the security check. This is particularly important during busy seasons, at park opening and during Extra Magic Hour.
Is the Grand Californian “Disney” Enough?
Disney touches at the Grand Californian are more subtle than at the original Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier Hotel. Travelers who like Disney but want a more luxurious lodging experience will find Disney’s Grand Californian a great fit.
You’ll see hints of Disney throughout the hotel, including Hidden Mickeys on the carpet and furniture. In the rooms, you can spot Chip and Dale in the wall design above the beds. In rooms with a sleeper bed, you’ll find Bambi artwork when the bed is open. Disney touches are definitely on the minimal side here, and the “Disney feel” may be too subtle for those wanting a full Disney immersion.
Grand Californian Hotel Spa
As of this writing, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa does not have an open spa. Mandara Spa closed earlier in 2019 and Tenaya Spa should open in spring of 2020. This new full-service spa will offer the usual body treatments, facials, massage and salon services for head-to-toe pampering.
There is a fitness center for those who don’t get enough exercise trekking the parks. Another option is the morning speed walk through California Adventure park before opening. See the front desk on the first day of your stay to sign up for this.
Is Disney’s Grand Californian Worth the Cost?
The Grand Californian Hotel is a definite Disneyland splurge that may or may not be worth it to you and your family. There are a few points to consider:
- With the high cost, it may be worthwhile to enjoy the amenities at Disney’s Grand Californian on a non-park day. You’ll want to take in the splendor of this beautiful resort and relax by the pool.
- One of the main perks of the Grand Californian Hotel is the Extra Magic Hour and use of the convenient private entrance. If your family members are early risers, getting that morning access is ideal when crowd levels at the Disneyland parks are lower.
- Off-season pricing for the Grand Californian is high, but justifiable based on the perks and upscale accommodations. Prices soar two to three times as much during peak seasons and holidays. Consider booking a less pricey off-site Anaheim area hotel during these instances.