Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, the Grande Dame of Disneyland Resort

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Reminiscent of national park lodges, the Grand Californian Hotel is Disney’s flagship resort on the West Coast. In some ways it reminds visitors of the Wilderness Lodge, which is really no surprise, as both resorts were designed by architect Peter Dominick. 

Grand Californian

If you are interested in what influenced the architecture of the resort, make sure to reserve a spot on the “Art of Craft Tour,” held free of charge several times each week, usually at 1 p.m. Tours are limited to 15 guests, but you can sign up even if you do not stay at the resort. 

Location, Location, Location!

The hotel is within 5 minutes of walking distance from the esplanade leading to Disneyland Resort and Disney’s California Adventure. But there is more: The hotel actually has a dedicated entrance that leads right into Downtown Disney and into Disney’s California Adventure. Staying on property is a huge advantage, especially for families with young children, as returning to the resort for a nap and a dip in the pool is super easy.  

A Quick Look at the Resort and the Rooms

The Great Hall is home to the reception area, a gift shop, a lovely fireplace, and the Hearthstone Lounge bar. The bar serves appetizers such as a cheese-and-charcuterie board and yummy avocado toast.

If you just want to enjoy the majestic view of the lobby, there is plenty of seating, including rocking chairs at the hearth. 

All 948 guest rooms were renovated in 2017, and there are plenty of USB charging outlets to accommodate high-tech devices. All rooms feature hardwood flooring, plenty of storage space, a fridge, a flat-panel TV, and a Keurig coffee maker; some come with a private balcony. 

Rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort are the most expensive to be had at Disneyland Resort. If the view from your room matters, make sure you make this clear when you book. While all rooms are large and comfortable, not all views are created equal. If you want to overlook the Disneyland fireworks show, it will come with a price. 

Amazing Pool Complex

The resort has an amazing High-Sierra-themed pool complex. The Redwood Pool is for thrill seekers and comes with a 90-foot waterslide winding around a giant stump of a Redwood tree, while the Fountain Pool, complete with a turtle fountain, is geared towards families with younger kids. Right next to the Fountain Pool is the Mickey Mouse-shaped children’s pool and a Whirlpool hot tub. 

If you are looking for more tranquil surroundings, head for the Mariposa Pool where guests can enjoy a second hot tub and rent private poolside cabanas. 

Grand Californian Hotel

Dining Options at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

At dinner, award-winning chef Andrew Sutton brings the cuisine of the Napa Valley to the elegant Napa Rose restaurant. His innovative cuisine will not disappoint; if you wish to interact with the chef and his talented staff, then book the Chef’s Counter.

It’s timeless Arts & Craft decor is unique. If you are interested in the Arts & Craft architecture in California, check out this article on the Arts & Crafts-centric towns and neighborhoods to visit when on the West Coast.

Part of the Napa Rose is its lounge, and here no reservations are required to enjoy drinks and small bites. 

Napa Rose is not only one of the best Disney restaurants, but hands down one of the best restaurants in Orange County. Fine dining in an elegant setting, what could be better?

Thursday through Monday from 8 a.m. until noon, the Napa Rose is home to the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures. Six to eight Disney Princesses, including Mulan, Ariel, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Belle, and Princess Tiana, are on hand for pictures, storytelling, and activities.

Grand Californian
Grand Californian

Your little Princess will receive small gifts, including a choice of autograph books, pens, and a Swarovski crystal necklace; Princes receive a shield-and-sword set. Adults are not forgotten, either, and will be served champagne during breakfast and receive a box of chocolates upon leaving. While expensive, the food is really out of this world and the 2-hour experience is unique. The three-course breakfast comes with a hefty price tag of $125 for all ages, tax and gratuity not included.

If you are looking for a less expensive character experience, I recommend Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Café. The setting of the restaurant is true to the resort’s art and crafts theme with wood carvings and Western landscape murals. 

The buffet offers plenty of choices, including breakfast staples such as Mickey waffles, cooked-to-order omelets, bagels and lox, eggs benedict, and fresh-baked pastries.

Make sure to try the house specialty of Chilaquiles with tortilla chips, eggs, salsa, and queso fresco. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Chip & Dale take turns visiting guests at their tables for photo ops, autographs, and hugs.

Every half hour the characters invite kids to join them in a fun little parade around the restaurant. I visited without a child in tow and loved the fact that all characters took their time to interact with me, making sure that a waiter would take pictures. Storyteller’s Café also offers a brunch with characters and a dinner buffet, albeit sans Mickey and friends. Breakfast is $44 for adults and $26 for kids ages 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuities. 

The quick-service restaurant of the hotel is the GCH Craftsman Bar and Grill. Located adjacent to the pool area, this spot is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Know Before You Go

Rates for standard rooms start at $586 and include Wi-Fi. Self-parking is $25 per night, per vehicle; valet service is $35 per night, per vehicle. The resort is also home to The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian, which are part of the Disney Vacation Club

The Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian unfortunately closed permanently on July 10th of this year. Guests with reservations were informed that Disney will be creating an all-new experience in the space. Disney has not released any information as to what this new experience will entail.

This story was first published by The Mouse for Less. For all there is to see and do at Disneyland Resort, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.

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