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Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Disneyland in California is all about classic Disney.  As Walt’s original park, it has his stamp all over it, from the always-glowing candle in the window of his Mainstreet, U.S.A. apartment to the original script for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (which he financed out of his own pocket).  Now, with the instant-classic World of Color show earning rave reviews, a stay at Disney’s Grand Californian could be just the summer celebration you’re dreaming of.

Chief among the Grand Californian’s many attributes is its location right inside Disney California Adventure theme park, a companion park to the Disneyland classic.  Guests of the hotel are treated to rooms overlooking the action and to a special, private entrance that puts the adventure – including the new World of Color show –  just steps from their pillows.

The hotel itself is elegant and likable.  The jewel in the Disneyland Resort crown is a finely crafted tribute to the Arts and Crafts movement in California with a gorgeous grand lobby – at once sweeping and thoughtfully detailed.  Live piano music fills the air, and resort guests sip wine by a majestic, roaring fire.  Everything about the public spaces at the Grand Californian is exquisite.

Dining options at the hotel are modern and delicious.  The pool bar offers a full range of adult beverages, and Whitewater Snacks serves flavorful, made-to-order favorites.  Hearthstone Lounge and the family restaurant, Storytellers, are especially cozy and classic at night; try Storytellers’ enormous and rich desserts for a sweet treat.  For a special meal, it’s Napa Rose, Zagat rated #1 four years in a row. Casual attire is accepted in the lounge area, where they serve the full menu.  Or just order an artisan cheese plate and some California wine.

Guest rooms display the same attention to Arts and Crafts detail seen throughout the property but on a scale proportionate with their size, which brings us to the one reason the Grand Californian is not all it could be: the rooms are small enough to give pause to anyone with expectations built up by the show-stopping lobby.  They carry out the Arts and Crafts at Disney theme very well, but they are probably too small for an expensive, deluxe hotel.  Still, they are comfortable, plush, and pretty.  And, who can complain about H2O spa bath products?


Book before September and snag special rates at 40% off for a two-day or more stay.

Sneak outside and catch the backside of the two-sided fireplace.  You’ll find rocking chairs and views of the park but few other guests.

Stretch out by the expansive pool early in the day, as the tall buildings and courtyard arrangement make for abnormally cool shadows in the afternoon, even in the summertime.

Take advantage of your private, no-wait entrance into California Adventure!

Go ahead and opt for the valet parking.  Self parking at this resort is in a parking structure across the street, about three blocks away.

Okay to skip:

The gift shop.  Unless you’re a sucker for any kind of gift shop (like we are), you’ll be underwhelmed by its meager offerings.

The spa.  The prices are outrageous, even for a four-star hotel.

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3 Responses to “Disneyland’s Grand Californian”

  1. Oh that sounds so nice! I have had such a craving to go to Disney lately it’s ridiculous!

  2. SO excited to stay there in September!!

  3. Finally a travel article with enough detail to not only make me want to go, but make me feel like I’m there.

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