Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: A Review

by Jun 25, 2019

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the flagship resort hotel of Disneyland® Resort in Southern California. Guests are drawn to this hotel for its premium rooms, gorgeous American craftsman styling, excellent dining options, and proximity to Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park. My family (two adults and one Disney-loving six-year-old girl) recently had a chance to stay at Grand Californian during our recent Disneyland vacation, and in this post, I’ll share some useful information about the hotel, along with our review.



Let’s start with the basics: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa features 948 rooms, 44 suites, and 71 villas. Standard rooms can accommodate up to five guests, with suites and villas available for larger parties. (A 3-Bedroom Grand Villa can accommodate up to 12!) Various rooms and villas have views of parking areas, wooded courtyards, Downtown Disney District, or Disney California Adventure® Park.

There are a number of benefits available to guests staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, including:

  • An exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure Park, just for guests of the Grand Californian
  • Extra Magic Hours to enjoy more time inside the theme parks
  • Disney character wake-up calls
  • Preferred Access Reservation for Disneyland Resort restaurants and magical makeovers

Even without getting into the details of this magical resort, it’s easy to see why guests return to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa year after year. So, what stands out about this hotel? And, was it right for our family?




The lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a stunning craftsman-style marvel, with a vaulted ceiling that stretches all the way to the sixth floor of the resort. Its design was inspired by America’s National Parks, and my family noticed striking resemblances to the lodges at Yellowstone National Park, which we were fortunate to visit just last year. Our daughter immediately gravitated to the enormous fireplace surrounded by cozy rocking chairs and said it reminded her of spending time inside the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone Park. I think of this lobby as “rustic grandeur” – it’s warm and welcoming, while stately and refined at the same time.



I will also say this about the lobby: it’s a wonderful place to be welcomed home if you happen to visit during a cold, rainy week in January like we did! We enjoyed the complimentary coffee and hot chocolate offered in the lobby on these gloomy days, and it was nice to have a homey place to spend an hour with a snack and a glass of wine from the Hearthstone Lounge when we needed a break to dry out. The children’s TV in the lobby that plays Mickey Mouse cartoons on a continuous loop entertained our daughter and made these breaks possible!



Here’s a tip for guests planning a stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: you can visit Guest Services in the lobby to pick up a fun hotel scavenger hunt that will help you get familiar with the lobby layout and meet Cast Members who perform various duties around the resort. There’s even a small prize for completing the hunt!

Also, if you’re visiting Disneyland® Resort and want to learn more about the stunning lobby at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, make sure to stop by the Guest Services desk and sign up for the Art of the Craft Tour. This hour-long tour provides a behind-the-scenes look at the architecture and design of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. 




Remember what I just shared about our cool, wet Disneyland® vacation? Well, a little rain won’t stop a hearty midwestern kid from wanting to swim! We were able to spend a lovely afternoon enjoying the waterslide, pools, and hot tubs at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. (Okay, mostly the hot tubs…)



There are actually three pools here – Fountain, Redwood, and Mariposa – in addition to two generously sized hot tubs. The Redwood Pool boasts a 90-foot-long water slide, with a Mickey-shaped children’s pool nearby for little ones. The Fountain Pool offers easy access to quick-service meals and snacks at White Water Snacks, so families can set up camp here and enjoy lunch and a dip in the pool. Private poolside cabanas are available for rent by the Mariposa Pool – in better weather, our family would have been all over this!




Lifeguards are on duty at all of the pools, access is for resort guests only and by keycard, and pool towels are readily available – no need to schlep towels from your room!




Guest rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are inspired by California herself, and it shows. Artwork in the guestrooms is made from California wine bottle green glass, and a whimsical mural above each bed depicts Chip and Dale playing in the branches of a blossoming orange tree.



After a recent renovation, hotel rooms are now equipped with 55-inch smart TVs, Keurig coffee makers, and USB connections to charge all your electronic devices. Standard rooms sleep up to five, and rooms come in many configurations that may include a king bed or two queen beds along with twin sleeper chair or daybed. (Key to the World Travel® clients can ask their agent to request a particular room configuration, but there are no guarantees.)



Suites and villas offer additional space. My family actually enjoyed a 1-bedroom villa, which included a separate bedroom with a king size bed, a queen sleeper sofa, and daybed in the living room, a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and two full bathrooms. Talk about space! My daughter loved her little fold-down daybed, and my husband and I appreciated being able to cook meals and do laundry in our villa. (What can I say, we are weird!) Mostly, I enjoyed the enormous jetted tub in the master bedroom and our balcony with a beautiful view of Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure park! We loved this room and would stay in this or any other room at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa again in a heartbeat.




Dining options abound at and near Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa! We were, of course, obligated – out of a sense of duty to my clients, of course – to try many of these dining options during our stay, and were not disappointed!



Inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, guests will find four distinct dining options, ranging from quick bites to unforgettable culinary experiences:

  • The recently renovated White Water Snacks offers snacks and quick-service foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’d find easy family favorites here, including breakfast sandwiches and flatbread pizzas. There are a number of grab-and-go selections, such as salads and wraps, and plenty of choices for kids.
  • Off the main lobby, you’ll find Hearthstone Lounge. This relaxing lodge-style lounge allows you to curl up by the fireplace, play a game of checkers, and enjoy a glass of wine along with small bites such as artisanal pizzas and sliders.
  • Storyteller’s Cafe is a buffet restaurant with gorgeous, classic California and craftsman styling. A buffet dinner is served daily. At breakfast, you can meet favorite Disney characters during your meal at the new Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast.
  • Finally, the grand jewel of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: Napa Rose, where you can savor upscale California fare and enjoy an extensive wine list. The setting is elegant and refined, and the dinner menu is spectacular. This restaurant also hosts a special character brunch experience: Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures, during which guests can have an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind adventure with favorite Disney Princesses.



Although White Water Snacks was undergoing renovations during our vacation (it has since reopened!), we were able to try out Hearthstone Lounge and Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe. While we enjoy the lounge offerings, the standout for our family was our character breakfast, which featured fun interactions with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, and Dale. Chip and Dale are some of my daughter’s favorite characters to play with at character meals, and they didn’t disappoint this time around!

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is also located just steps away from the many unique dining experiences offered in the Downtown Disney District! Options here include quick service, table service, and lots of snacks. When staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, you’ll also have quick access to the dining venues inside Disney California Adventure Park (valid theme park ticket required.) These include some of our family favorites, like Flo’s V-8 Cafe and Cocina Cucamonga.




What can I say other than this: our family absolutely loved our time at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and we plan to visit again soon. This welcoming hotel provided a perfect home base for our Disneyland adventures. If your family is looking for a magical resort experience with well-appointed rooms, recreation options, and a location that can’t be beat, I can highly recommend Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa!




All Key to the World Travel® Advisors are experts and offer the highest level of exemplary customer service. Contact your travel planner to book your vacation, or click here to request a quote today!





Allison DeYoung

Allison DeYoung

Travel Advisor

Contact Allison today, using the links below!



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