A stay at Disneyland Resort’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

The best Disney theming never seeks to replace what you know and love. It simply taps into it to touch you on an emotional or visceral level. Disneyland Resort’s Grand Californian does this for me. A lover of wilderness lodges (the real ones), I know what they should look like, feel like, and smell like. While the Grand Californian is clearly the romanticized version, its magnificent six-story lobby (called the Great Hall) and wide, thick-beamed corridors succeed in making me nostalgic for those places I’ve experienced in my past while making me ridiculously happy to be where I am at the same time.

grand californian

What makes the Grand Californian so great as a Disney resort pick for families (and specifically, worth its hefty nightly rate)? Whether you, too, have a connection to historic national park lodges or just want a great home base for your family Disney trip, the Grand Californian will deliver on convenience, location, and perks.


Everything you need in a theme park resort is on-hand at this hotel. The Grand Californian offers two restaurants, including signature dining at Napa Rose, which I highly recommend, and character dining at the Storyteller’s Cafe. There’s also a poolside snack venue, and the cozy Hearthstone Lounge. In-room dining is available, as is a convenient express menu for breakfasts.

grand californian

If you’d like to have an adult evening out or a spa treatment at Mandara Spa, Pinocchio’s Workshop is open from 5 pm to 12 am daily, and costs $13/hour per child. Alternatively, free staff-organized poolside activities are ongoing on the Children’s Pool deck. Speaking of pools, the Grand Californian has three of them: the Redwood Pool, Children’s Pool, and Mariposa Pool, as well as two hot tubs and a decent-sized slide. The pool deck area is spacious and shaded, and includes a vast army of well-padded lounge chairs perfect for an afternoon park break.

grand californian

In addition to the perk of Magic Mornings for all Disneyland Resort guests, guests staying at Grand Californian can take advantage of the opportunity to grab World of Color FASTPASSes prior to all other park guests. (Available at the Grand Gate between Napa Rose and Mandara Spa prior to regular park hours.)


All the above amenities are nice, and yes, you will crane your neck to look up into the Grand Hall’s impressive architecture more than once, but the #1 reason I’d recommend a Grand Californian stay is its ideal location. I can’t emphasize enough how convenient it is to be literally steps from the action in California Adventure: a short path and tunnel, and you’re there. No busses to hassle, no monorail to wait for, no dragging kids with tired feet. I love the Disneyland Hotel as well, but can’t tell you how tired we got of the walk between the theme parks through Downtown Disney. Guests at the Grand Californian could go from riding California Screamin’ to jumping in the Grand Californian pool for a much-needed afternoon cool-off swim in under 10 minutes.

grand californian

You’d have to have a pretty perfect room to see all of World of Color from the Grand Californian, but I was able to see most of the water and colored lights and hear all of the music from my 5th floor pool view room. It made for nice ambiance while I wrote this review. Just down the hallway from my room, the Fifth Floor Parkview Terrace is an ideal location for taking a load off, seeing just a bit more of the World of Color than I could from my room’s balcony, and getting away from crowds.

room in Grand Californian


As with all Disney does, total emersion, in this case into the world of wilderness lodges, is promised. The rooms feature warm wood tones, ‘lantern’ style lamps, mission style dressers, and muted colors. Huge stone fireplaces reside inside and out and rocking chairs dot the many decks and garden outdoor spaces.

The rooms themselves are spacious, feature tubs as well as showers, mini-fridges, and quite large tables/desks with two chairs. As with most Disney properties, lots of storage space is available, and the housekeeping staff was prompt and attentive every day.

park view deck

Date last visited:

June 13, 2012

Room rates:

Disney resort rack rates vary greatly between seasons, room type, and more. Families can keep track of it all online. Check room categories and rates here. Keep in mind: you do need separate park tickets to gain entry; even from the Grand Californian private entrance.


See above. The only thing the Grand Californian does not have that I wish it did: a quick service breakfast option. Room service is available, but expensive.


The hotel is located at 1600 S. Disneyland Drive in Anaheim, CA. Follow signage from I-5.