Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
The Grand Californian Hotel is a Disney-owned hotel in the middle of Downtown Disney. The architectural style is called American Craftsman, an early twentieth-century style that features warm-colored wood and nature-inspired touches throughout. In 2017 The Grand Californian went through major renovations. Each room has been redesigned from floor to ceiling, and the already beautiful lobby was also upgraded for an even more upscale feel.
You could be excused for a moment of confusion when you walk into the Grand Californian. The lobby looks like it belongs in one of those classic national parks lodges like El Tovar at the Grand Canyon or the Ahwahnee in Yosemite. The Craftsman-style touches include exposed rafters, tapering wood columns and a massive stone fireplace. And the Disney touches are so subtle that they almost disappear.
All of that makes it by far the most adult-oriented, romantic places to stay at the Disneyland Resort. That is if you aren't expecting bright colors and Disney theming.
What's Special About the Grand Californian
The Grand Californian is the closest hotel to the park gates and the Downtown Disney monorail station, a bigger plus than you might think when you're trudging back to your room after a busy day. Guests can also use an entrance that goes straight into California Adventure, bypassing long lines at the entrance.
The Grand Californian offers all the advantages of staying at a Disney-owned hotel. Their Concierge Lounge is on the sixth floor and you can watch the Disneyland fireworks from the patio outside it. Their guests-only tour is called Art of Craft. It gives a behind the scenes look at the hand-crafted artifacts you can find in the lobby and dining areas.
The Grand Californian's character breakfast at the Storyteller Cafe features critter characters like Chip 'n' Dale and some of their rarely-seen pals.
What You Really Need to Know about the Grand Californian
A lot of websites will give you all the statistics about the Grand Californian, like how many rooms it has, its address, and so on. That may be because they're working from information they find online and they have never actually stayed at the hotel. You can find that general information on the last page of this guide.
I have stayed at the Grand Californian - more than once - and these are the things I learned that you really need to know.
This is a little thing but it often confuses first-time guests. If you're used to taking the monorail at the Disney resort in Florida for transportation, don't expect to do the same in Anaheim. At Disneyland, it's actually a ride. It goes through the lobby on its loop around the resort, but doesn't stop.
What's Special About the Grand Californian
The Grand Californian sometimes offers guests exclusive perks. Exactly what they’re offering may change, so your best bet is to check the Grand News newsletter which you get when you check in for current information.
If your room is on the east side of the hotel, you can see Disney California Adventure and you may be able to watch World of Color from above.
Parents can enjoy a little alone time, a meal at the Napa Rose or a spa treatment at the Mandara Spa which is the only spa at the Disneyland Resort. It offers a wide range or relaxing treatments.
What There Is to Like About the Grand Californian
If you're looking for the quietest, most relaxing place to stay at the Disneyland Resort, the Grand Californian is it. Most people who review it online like the Grand Californian and give it very high ratings. That's a tough thing to accomplish for a high-end hotel like this, where expectations are high.
The Grand Californian is the closest Disney hotel to the park entrances. If you're already walking a mile for every hour you're at Disneyland like I do, it's nice to not have to walk even further to your room at the end of the day.
I think the beds at the Grand Californian are the most comfortable of all the Disney hotels and the rooms are super quiet.
What You Might Not Like About the Grand Californian
If you're looking for Mickey Mouse ears and bright, colorful decor, you'll be better off in one of the other Disney Resort hotels. Some people complain about small rooms at the Grand Californian or they say it isn't worth the high price.
The hotel is also enormous. Its several floors and lots of wings make it easy to get turned around or confused. I'd suggest bringing along a bag of breadcrumbs to mark the route to your room, but they wouldn't last long before housekeeping swept them all up. A more practical suggestion: If you remove your room key from the paper cover it comes in, be sure you write your room number somewhere.
Cost Considerations for Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
The Grand Californian is one of the most expensive hotels in or around the Disneyland Resort.
Anaheim hotel tax will add 15% to your bill. Many area hotels charge for parking and the Grand Californian is no exception. You can find current parking rates at their website, but expect them to be just a little more than daily parking in the day-use garages.
Hats off to the Grand Californian for not adding the annoying ripoff "resort fee" that many other area hotels charge.
Don't just look at the phone number for the hotel and say "how old-fashioned." Instead, find out how to get the best hotel rates by picking up the telephone. Using those tips, my Gal Pal saved a bundle on a room at a Disneyland Resort hotel.
Grand Californian with Kids
If you’re staying at the Grand Californian with kids, stop by the Guest Services desk to pick up instructions for the Grand Quest scavenger hunt. When the kids finish their quest, they can collect a special treat.
Dining at the Grand Californian
Dining options at the Grand Californian span the entire range of eateries, and you are only steps away from all the restaurants in Downtown Disney. And with easy access to California Adventure, you could also make reservations for the Carthay Circle restaurant or the all-princesses character meal at Ariel’s Grotto.
The Napa Rose is the finest dining venue at Disneyland Resort and perhaps in all Orange County, gathering great ratings from almost everyone who tries it. The dress code is ultra-casual, but that doesn't mean the service is. In fact, the servers go beyond the level of service we've all learned to expect from Disney in general. All are first-level sommeliers or on their way to becoming one. The menu is interesting. It's also expensive, but most people think it's worth it.
The Storytellers Cafe hosts Chip 'n' Dale's Critter Breakfast in the morning. They also serve a buffet or a la carte menu for lunch and dinner.
If you're looking for lighter fare, stop by the Whitewater Cafe for a sandwich or a quick bite.
You can also get something to eat in the Hearthstone Lounge in the lobby or at the bar in the Napa Rose.
Character Dining at the Grand Californian
The name says it all: Chip 'n' Dale's Critter Breakfast is hosted by those plucky chipmunks who are always pestering Donald Duck. Their critter pals may include some rare characters that you don't normally see anywhere else, like Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear, raccoon Meeko from Pocahontas or Lilo's little pal Stitch.
The Farmer's Market buffet include Mickey Mouse waffles.
This character breakfast is probably better suited to extreme Disney fans who aren't looking to see the big four Disney characters or the Disney princesses.
Details About the Grand Californian - and Other Disney Hotels
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is a big hotel with more than 900 rooms. It's a multi-story structure with interior hallways and elevators. In spite of accommodating more guests than the population of some small towns, it never feels crowded or busy.
Its official address is 1600 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim CA. The location is actually in the middle of Downtown Disney, with a drive-in entrance off Disney Drive.
For more details, see the Disney's Grand Californian Hotel Website
Facilities at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
Like all of the Disneyland Resort hotels, the Grand Californian has free WiFi, a newly renonovated swimming pool, and a fitness center. And it's a 100% non-smoking hotel. And like all of the Disneyland Resort hotels, it accommodates guests with disabilities and has a limited supply of manual wheelchairs for rent.
You'll find a gift shop in the lobby, along with a concierge desk, a business center, and a Guest Services desk whose staff can help you with all kinds of things, including reservations and other arrangements.
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.