By Mike Ellis.
The Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland is the premier place to stay at the Resort. Luxury abounds at this picturesque resort, but even more so, the location next to Disney’s California Adventure Park — with it’s own entrance in — seals the deal for us as a great place to stay. Let’s dive in and look at some of the incredible things that await you and your family if you visit here!
The Great Hall
The lobby at the Grand Californian — known on the drawings as the Great Hall — is awe-inspiring when you first enter. With openings to look down into the hall from all six floors of the resort, the Great Hall, which is, in my opinion, reminiscent of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. Inside the Great Hall is a huge lounge area with a fireplace, a piano that is quite often being played by a pianist, incredibly luxurious chairs and couches to sit in, an area for the kids to sit and watch old Disney cartoons while you check-in, and a gift shop. All in all, the area is full of vibrant activity, with plenty going on — but also has the ability to be a great place to just hang out and be.
Our Studio Room
We are DVC members, and the Grand Californian is our home resort, so, since we had enough points to get a room for the week, we decided to do just that. We booked just a standard studio room, which, for our week in June (the 20th-27th) was just 165 points. When we arrived to check-in, our room wasn’t ready, which we knew it wouldn’t be based on our arrival time, so we told them to text us when it was ready — which was around 4PM local time. When we got our text, we were just finishing up getting a few things at Target — hence the bags on the counter — so we headed over to see what Room 4510 had in store for us!
When we entered our room, Cindy and I first thought that perhaps we had walked into a room that was for a honeymoon couple — especially with the rose petals on the bed! That seemed strange to us because our 12 year old daughter was with us — but we never had any newlyweds knocking on our door, so we think it was just the Disney way! Here are some other pictures to show how awe-struck we were by our room!
The bathroom was your standard bath/shower and toilet, with a sink outside the bathroom. Standard amenities that you would find at any Disney resort such as wall safe, ironing board, hair dryer, and so on.
We really liked the room, but when we opened the blinds to see what our balcony looked at, we were floored! Check out what we woke up to every day, and went to sleep to at night!
If you have been to Disney’s California Adventure Park, you know that the World of Color show is in Paradise Pier. World of Color itself is located — from this vantage point — just to the left of Mickey’s Fun Wheel, so we could hear the music great from where we were — and, just in case, you could also tune your TV to a channel to hear the audio also — but the images were just out of site. That was okay, though, because the Disney Magic is turned on high, and just seeing those attractions with their lights turned on was absolutely incredible to me!
The Grand Californian has it’s share of amenities, including the Mandara Spa, which was the site of the manicure that I surprised Sophie and Cindy with on June 24th. In addition to the spa, of course, you’ve got Pinocchio’s Workshop — which is a child activity center for children aged 5-12. You’ve also got the Grizzly Game Arcade, the Grand Quest scavanger hunt, and three pools — along with cabanas available to rent.
Regarding the pools, though, if I had to say that there was one thing a little lacking in our stay, it was the pool facilities, in my opinion. They have a pool slide, but it is extremely slow, and I (along with other people, including children) found that the slope wasn’t steep enough and in fact, it is so slow that you have to almost push yourself to complete the slide and enter the water. In addition, the pools themselves, while they are nice, can be quite cold with the ocean breezes coming in. So, all in all, my pool experiences weren’t all that I thought they should be.
One thing that we did like, though, was movie night — on our first night, June 20th, they were showing Monster’s Inc. at the back fireplace for anyone that wanted to see it — it was a lot of fun, and since we weren’t going to the park that first day, it gave us a great way to enjoy some of the things that we often don’t take time to experience at the resorts when we visit at Walt Disney World! Here’s a picture from during the movie:
For dining options, the Grand Californian features the signature dining location Napa Rose, which we didn’t eat at, a character meal for breakfast at Storytellers Cafe (although no characters for lunch and dinner), and a counter service restaurant called White Water Snacks. I’ll be sharing with you in future posts detailed reviews of Storytellers Cafe and White Water Snacks, but for this post, let me say that the food was excellent at both places — and I would expect no less at Napa Rose.
At the end of our week-long stay at the Grand Californian Resort, we were left with one distinct impression — we didn’t want to leave! Unfortunately, work and life get in the way sometimes, and we vowed that one day, when we can find good airfare again, we would make the pilgrimage back to Disneyland, and the Grand Californian Resort. I hope you have enjoyed my review of this resort.
I have very much enjoyed your review, Mike. I think I would choose this resort over its Sister Resort at WDW – the Grand Floridian. It always intimidates me with all its white everywhere – while this one seems much more comfy with its warmer tones and subtle lighting. I truly hope we can one day afford to visit. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Heidi! One thing I forgot to mention in the review is that the monorail goes right through it — but it doesn’t stop. Still cool to see, though!
We LOVE the GCH, especially during the holidays. They have a tree that fills the main lobby. Plus, entrance to DCA right in the hotel is an added bonus! For us locals, if you eat at either Storyteller’s Café or Napa Rose, you get five free hours of valet parking. A nice perk if you want dinner and a few hours at the park.
I absolutely LOVE The Grand Californian Hotel! It’s such a beautiful hotel and I have always had a good experience staying there. I have never been to Mandara Spa though so I hope I get to do so in the future!