During our Disneyland and Orange County adventures last month, we had the pleasure of staying at the beautiful Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa within the Disneyland Resort. Honestly, I cannot say enough great things about our stay in this gorgeous hotel! Not only does it provide convenient access to the parks but it also has that special magical feel that you’d expect from any Disney location. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share a special discount deal for my fellow Canadian travellers.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Lobby:
When you first enter the hotel, you are welcomed into the most gorgeous lobby that I’ve ever seen! There is a piano with relaxing music, a cozy fireplace area with seating and plenty of large chairs to comfortably visit with other travelers or simply unwind after a long travel day. My favourite area was an adorable television area for kids filled with mini recliners for the young guests.
Upon check-in, my husband and son were both given “First Visit” buttons with the date written on them. This is a keepsake we’ll hang onto forever! While walking around the park I also saw people with buttons celebrating other special occasions like birthdays and honeymoons.
Each member of my family (even my little guy who is 22 months old) was given a special room key for us to keep. The room keys have your full name on them along with the dates of your stay. Do you keep concert stubs and other keepsakes from vacations? Then you’re going to want to hang onto your card for your collection!
The lobby area is the perfect area to meet your travel companions to set out a plan for the day or the perfect place to unwind and debrief at the end of the day.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Navigation:
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is right inside the Disneyland Resort. It has a convenient private access to Disney California Adventure along with quick access to Downtown Disney and Disneyland Park. It is a large hotel with a lot to offer but they’ve made it easy to navigate around the hotel with plenty of signs and arrows. These signs and arrows help you find your way to the many facilities available inside the hotel, the parks, restaurants, pool area and more.
Inside the lobby & registration area, you’ll also find an area where you can request information from one of the helpful Cast Members or browse the large collection of travel pamphlets for activity ideas in the area.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Rooms:
The hotel rooms are spacious, comfortable and provide all of the conveniences you want in a hotel room. Although the hotel is within the Disneyland Resort, they are still quiet throughout the day and night. Disney must know that the guests need a comfortable sleep so they are energized to explore the park in the morning!
There was a mini fridge in our room which is so handy when travelling with a toddler. We were able to store fruit and milk in there for his bedtime snacks and breakfast.
His & Her sinks provide plenty of space to set out all of your bathroom essentials. In the sink area you’ll also find soaps, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, a shower cap, coffee maker, mugs and a hairdryer. The toilet & bathtub area is separated from the sink area with a sliding door. This certainly helps in the morning when you have a few people all trying to get ready at the same time.
Our room had a balcony view that overlooked the beautiful pool area. It’s always nice to have some fresh air in your hotel room – especially when you are enjoying warm California weather.
For your little ones, cribs and playpens are available for your room. Our little guy is a co-sleeper so he’s always sleeping beside me in the bed. I’m always afraid of him rolling off the edge of the bed (at home we have bed rails) but the beds in the hotel room were easy to move up against the wall. The bellman came into our room to deliver our bags so we checked first to make sure that we could do a little rearranging and he let us know that we could do anything that would make our stay more comfortable.
The room is also equipped with a flat screen TV (with loads of fun Disney channels of course!), a desk area with chairs and a spacious dresser area so you can unpack and make your room feel like home. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Park Entrances:
One of the many conveniences of staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the private park entrance. This hotel has a private park entrance to Disney California Adventure as well as quick access to Downtown Disney. In Downtown Disney you’ll find loads of restaurants, fun shops with activities for kids, shopping and more. It’s a great place to go in the evening for nightly entertainment. The path of Downtown Disney also leads you to the main entrances to both parks.
The private park entrance is a great way to avoid the crowds at the main park entrances. Although the main park entrances have more entry gates open, I always found the entrance through the hotel to be a lot quieter.
One of the biggest perks of staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel is the Extra Magic Hour. For guests of Disney hotels, you are given access to the parks one hour earlier than the park officially opens. I cannot stress to you enough how great this perk is! My son is an early bird so we were always up and ready to head into the park bright and early in the morning. Being able to access the parks an hour before they officially open is a great time to try rides without a line and enjoy a quiet breakfast in the park. For my little guy, it was a time when he had more freedom to run around the park without the larger crowd. The Disneyland Resort has two parks – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Only one park opens for Extra Magic Hour daily so be sure to ask the front desk for a calendar of hours.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Pools:
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has 3 main pools plus outdoor hot tubs and a small pool perfect for toddlers. There is a large Redwood water slide and a smaller water slide perfect for young children.
With so many pools and seating areas, you’re sure to find plenty of space to enjoy the pool area with your family. There are towels available in the pool area so you don’t have to worry about bringing one down from your room.
Spending some time at the pool is a great way to take a little break from the park and cool down on a warm day.
There are a lot of umbrellas to offer shade from the sun but if you are looking for an extravagant option, you can rent a private cabana complete with seating areas perfect for lounging, a private outdoor TV right in your cabana, a radio, a pool menu, spa services and more.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Restaurants:
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has so many dining options to choose from! Whether you want a quick snack before heading into the park or a romantic dinner for two, there are a lot of great options right within the hotel.
For a quick snack, try White Water Snacks. It’s quick, convenient and delicious! They offer hot breakfasts, sandwiches and more for lunch plus a special menu for kids. For a special dining experience with your little ones, try the Storytellers Cafe. Their menu offers a wide variety for all tastes plus special brunch buffets and character breakfasts. Imagine the look on your little one’s face if Chip & Dale came up to say hello during breakfast! Character dining experiences are a great way for your little ones to get up close and personal with the characters without waiting in line in the park. Be sure to bring along your camera an autograph books! While you’re at the restaurant, you’re going to want to try the special Mickey Mouse waffles!
For a more romantic meal, try Napa Rose. They offer California-inspired dishes and an extensive wine list in an elegant atmosphere. I also read that Napa Rose has the biggest wine cellar in the entire resort!
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Activities for Kids:
While staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, it is possible to enjoy an evening out without the kids! After a fun day of running around the park with your children, they can enjoy a fun evening in Pinocchio’s Workshop (for ages 5 to 12) with trained staff members leading special play sessions. While they enjoy time playing fun games and making new friends, you can go out to enjoy a romantic dinner for two! There are dining options available for your kids as they enjoy special movies, planned activities and more. They are sure to have fun with activities like Costumed Karaoke and Pirate Boot Camp.
Another fun area for kids within the hotel is the Grizzly Game Arcade. This is located beside Pinocchio’s Workshop and is filled with fun arcade games for your kids to enjoy.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Activity Calendar:
Upon check-in at the hotel, you will be given a special package filled with information about the hotel and parks. Inside this package you’ll find items such as:
- A copy of the “Weekly Grand Adventures” including information on the Extra Magic Hours and special programs available to hotel guests (like transformations into a “Super Star”, Build-a-Bear Workshop experience, guided learning tours of the hotel, learn to make your own washcloth creations, outdoor theatre times, a magic workshop and more).
- Entertainment Times Guides for both parks (park hours, hours for special presentations like parades, World of Color, fireworks shows, special attractions, FASTPASS information and more).
- Guide maps for both of the parks listing the location, restrictions and other information about each of the attractions.
- Postcard to send home to a loved one.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Other Conveniences:
Since my little guy is just 22 months old, he’s still in the stage of taking afternoon naps. He’s never been the type to easily fall asleep while shopping or touring so I knew that he’d need to go back to the hotel room for his afternoon naps. One of the convenient things about staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is that you’re close enough to pop back into the room for a nap or even a quick change of clothes (like after your get splashed on Splash Mountain!). At home he usually naps for an hour in the afternoon but he was napping for close to 3 hours while on vacation. The fresh air and running around really tired him out!
Although you’ll be getting a lot of exercise walking around the park and running from attraction to attraction, the hotel also has a fitness center on site so you can keep up with your regular fitness routine. There are also morning fitness sessions available – ask the front desk for a calendar.
Need a special treat for your feet after all that walking? Stop by the Mandara Spa for services such as pedicures, massages, manicures, facials and full body treatments.
Planning a Disney wedding? Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa has wedding facilities and planners to help make your day extra special.
Enjoy a relaxing evening in the outdoor fireplace area before heading to your room to go to sleep for the night.
Not sure where to head first in the park? Not sure where to go to eat? Tune into one of the special Disney channels on the TV in your room for special tips and information on the attractions, restaurants and more.
Want to watch the World of Color or the fireworks show from the comfort of your room? Tune into your TV to watch it live.
Does your little one enjoy a bedtime story at night? Tune into your in-room TV for a special bedtime story read by one of Disney’s princesses!
Looking for a snack to bring up to your room? How about some swim shorts because you forgot to pack yours (yes, that was my husband)? Then you can stop in at the gift shop in the main lobby.
Looking to make purchase in the park but not wanting to carry your bags around with you all day? Simply show your room key to have your purchases added to your room charges and you can have your purchases delivered right to the hotel! We used this option for a large Rex toy that we didn’t want to bring along on the rides with us.
No one likes waking up to the sound of an alarm clock but I know you don’t want to sleep in and miss that special Extra Magic Hour! Here’s a great alternative – schedule a special wake up call with one of your favourite Disney characters. Just call the front desk to arrange.
Love scavenger hunts? Then you’ll love the daily trivia challenges available from the front desk.
A front desk Cast Member can offer assistance in making restaurant reservations at most of the table service restaurants within the Disneyland Resort.
I honestly can’t say enough great things about this hotel and our experience there. Not only is it a comfortable stay, but they offer so many creative experiences and awesome perks that make your trip even more magical.
Special Travel Deal for Canadians:
If you’ve been thinking of planning a Disneyland Resort vacation, WestJet Vacations has a great deal on right now but you have to book before April 17, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. MT. Book a minimum 5-night flight and hotel package with WestJet Vacations and you will save up to $400 per couple when staying at the Disneyland Resort or any one of our hotels in Los Angeles or Orange County – Anaheim. Travel until May 31, 2013 (blackout dates March 20 – April 10). For more information, visit WestJet Vacations.
For more information on Disneyland and special offers for Canadians, visit www.disneyland.ca.
For more fun posts on our Disney adventures, check out our special page dedicated to Disney fun!
*Disclosure: My family was invited on a magical vacation to the Disneyland Parks and the beaches of Orange County. My flight, our hotel, park passes, meal vouchers and other various perks were provided to me as part of this adventure. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.