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Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

I have spent quite a bit of time on the hotels grounds since it has opened. And probably explored more of it than the average guest (especially during the preview days when just about everything was open to walk through). I have only stayed at the resort once (in 2010).

Overall I am really impressed with the Hotel. It is a spectacular hotel built right in the middle of the Disney property in Anaheim. The lobby is incredible to walk into. It reminds me of the Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge in WDW, but with its own spin on things. Its one of those places were you just want to go and relax. Whether it is in the big chairs in the lobby with the piano player or a story going on. Or "out back" sitting around the fire in the rocking chairs. Or the good sized swimming pool and deck area.

There are a couple excellent restaurants in the hotel, as well as a fast food place. The work out room is a little on the small side, but I have never seen it full, so I do not think its an issue.

One of the best advantages to the hotel is the direct entrance into Disney California Adventure and if your room happens to be in that wing its the shortest distance to a Disney park in the states. The hotel entrance is near the Grizzly River Rapids attraction in the Golden State section of the park. I have seen several people taking advantage of this to ride the raft ride, get soaked then back to their hotel room to change and dry off. This especially comes in handy during the cool winter months.

The Hotel also has quite a bit of convention space and there always seems to be something happening.

A 2.5 acre addition opened on September 23, 2009 that included 203 new guest rooms and 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club villas.

 

The Geek's Impression from a night spent at the Grand CA in June 2010

Staying at the Grand Californian was a slightly different experience for me. Over the years I have spent a lot of time at the hotel for various events, just to hang out, to eat, or to visit friends staying there. But this was my first time staying there myself and knowing that I was there to stay was a nice treat. Below are some thoughts and observations from the experience:

  • Checkin -> Checking in was a breeze but due to the hotel being extremely busy our room was not ready (not even at 3:00pm which is checkin) so they found us another room.
  • The CMs working the hotel were great. They really wanted you to forget the outside world and just relax and enjoy your visit.
  • Parking -> You have two parking options. Self parking, which is included in your room rate, is across Disneyland Drive. This really was not too bad but it is a couple minute walk each way and depending on your luck with the light could be a wait. I wonder why they did not build an overpass or underpass to help with this guest flow, especially considering the Paradise Pier Hotel needs to cross the street too.. maybe a later phase?? Your second option is valet.
  • Note on checking in: If you want to check in then self park you can. Just tell the valets and they will instruct you to leave your car in the driveway and you are good to go.
  • The Room -> As you can see in the pictures below the room is an average sized hotel room. The furniture and beds are nice, on par with a deluxe hotel at WDW. I believe almost all (if not all) rooms have a balcony of some type.
  • Due to the busy schedule for the event I was there to cover (the World of Color Premiere) I did not get to spend that much time in the room (went to bed after midnight and was out of the room around 6:00am the next morning) or exploring the hotel grounds.
  • Checking Out -> As with all modern hotels the check out process is quick and express if you have your credit card on file. Also note you can leave your car in the lot until the end of your checkout day so you can enjoy the parks all day long.

The Geek's Suggestions

If you are used to Disney's resorts in Orlando then you should really stay here, or else you might be disappointed by the other two Disney Hotels in Anaheim. Prices are high, but the hotel is probably worth it if your are making a trek out to CA. I probably would stay there if I did not live 70 minutes away or have friends and relatives that live closer.

If you are a local or staying somewhere else the hotel is open to the public during the day. Take a stroll around it, its a nice place to visit and take a break for a few minutes. Keep in mind though that Disney goes in spurts about enforcing the guest entrance into the park. Depending on the day and time of day your luck may vary if you are not a hotel guest (guest is usually defined as having a room or dining in one of the restaurants).

When requesting a room something to be aware of. One is many of the rooms a good hike from the lobby area. Especially if you are in the far wings, like the ones over Downtown Disney.

People have asked about the DVC units with views of Paradise Bay and watching World of Color. You can see the show but you are on an angle and do not get the full experience.


Dining Options
Quick Facts
  • Opened:: January 2, 2001
  • 12,000-square-foot Sequoia Ballroom
  • 18 breakout rooms
  • Two convention registration centers solely dedicated to business group needs
  • Three pools: the Fountain Pool (a quiet pool), the Redwood Pool and slide (an active pool), and one just for kids in the shape of Mickey Mouse (Note: This is formed by the childs pool and some drawings on the ground. The original intent was for there to be three child pools forming Mickey, but they were not all installed due to flow issues).
Hotel Statistics

Number of Rooms: 948
Suites: 38
DVC: 50 two bedroom equivalent villas
Concierge: Yes
Rate Range: N/A
Restaurants/Snack Bars:4
Room Service: Yes
Lounges/Bars: 2
Pools: 4
Gym/Health Club: Yes
Kid's Programs: Yes
Baby-Sitting: Yes
Shopping: Yes
Water-Sports: No
Marina: No
Beach: No
Tennis: No
Biking: No
Reservation Number: N/A
Group Reservations: N/A
Meeting Facilities/Sq. Feet: 20,000

Pictures (from a Downtown Disney View/ Bunk Bed Room) - taken in June 2010

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - Bathroom area
The Bathroom area features two sinks, a coffee maker, and hair dryer.

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - Closet
The Closet, notice the robes and the crib.

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - Room Overview
The queen size bed.

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - Bunk Beds
Turning around ou can see the bunk beds.

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - table area
The other wall of the room features a small table as well as an LCD TV. There is a mini-fridge in the bottom cabinet.

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - Balcony
The balcony with two chairs and a small table

Grand Californian - Standard Bunk Bed Room - Downtown Disney View from room
A look down at Downtown Disney from the balcony.