Our May trip to Disneyland was an interesting trip for so many reasons. Being a media trip, it gave me many opportunities we would not have had being a regular family vacation. It was also Tara’s first time there and Caity had been almost the exact same age when we first took the TWO kids there five years ago. Thus we all enjoyed seeing the park through her eyes and comparing her reactions to Caity’s all those years ago. This time was the first time we stayed ‘on site’ at the ENORMOUS and beautiful Grand Californian Hotel and Convention Centre.
That was an experience in on itself.
The hotel harkens back to the stately ‘grand’ hotels like the Banff Springs Hotel or The Ahwahnee in Yosemite. You walk through amazing stain glass sliding doors into a dark and huge lobby/atrium that takes your breath away while your eyes zero in on the roaring fire in one corner. Everything feels warm and woodsy.
It is all class and elegance and handed to you with that way ONLY Disney can do. Disney knows how to make you feel special and warm and welcomed.
The standard rooms at the Grand are not large by any means. Our room had a Queen bed and a bunk bed with a trundle underneath it. There was no sitting area, just a desk and two chairs. I did like the double sinks for the bathroom. Again, it was what you need for a room that you are only sleeping in after a long day of play in the parks.
The hotel offers a myriad of great amenities and entertainment including a spa and a gym that we never ventured near (no time!). They had daily activities for young and old scheduled in and around the hotel and that included, treasure hunts, movies and the Pinocchio’s Workshop. This is a club (BABYSITTING) for kids aged 5 to 12, similar to the concept you see on the Disney Cruise ships.
They also have three pools and a large hot tub. One pool being more for adults and the others for kids with two water slides. The more adult focused pool had cabanas that you could rent. I looked in awe and envy at those availing this amenity….also those that could relax poolside long enough to enjoy the bar service too. I was in a pool with a kid. Until said kid barfed in the pool, prompting a CDA like evac and decontamination of the pool while I walked back a tired and upset child who had eaten too much cotton candy before swimming.
As an aside….who DOES have time to use cabanas at a Disneyland hotel? Why aren’t you IN Disneyland?
The Grand Californian has 3 restaurants and lovely lounge. The third being a small cafe (hidden in a far corner) where you can toast your own bagels and fuel up on simple day-starters as well as stock up your back for your day at the park. They also had Mickey shaped waffles available for about half the price they were in their main family restaurant, the Storytellers Cafe. Reservations are recommended if you want breakfast there as this is home to many Disney critters who are want to share their time with you. They have a good buffet for lunch and dinner though. We did not venture into the Napa Rose, though the menu looked fabulous. Also, Tara would not set foot in there when there was characters hanging about.
The main reason you stay at the Grand Californian is the convenience. What a luxury to walk right into the Californian Adventure Park and stumble right home at the end of a long day of fun. I really like the California Adventure Park. It has such a great vibe as well as so many fun rides and amazing attractions like the World of Colour water and light show. The hotel entrance is right beside Adam’s favourite ride – the Grizzly Rapids Run – and one night (the 24 hour monster madness night) he and dad went on over 5 times in a row and were SOAKING wet and happy not to have to walk far after for hot chocolate.
Disneyland itself is a bit farther, but you have choices to make that easy too. The hotel opens onto the shopping/dining district called Downtown Disney and we would either walk from their to the main entrance OR stroll to the monorail station and head to Tomorrowland. We did this on our first night there and pretty much did EVERY ride there except for Space Mountain in one evening and staggered back to the hotel the same way. Another great aspect of the convenience part is that you can use your room keycard to charge your food and other park expenses to your room. And for the California Adventure park…no lineups to get in or out. Having Downtown Disney right there also gives you more dining choices than the hotel fare, as well as some great shopping. You also have ‘magic hours’ where the park is open an hour early for hotel guests. Can’t beat that.
When we went to Disneyland five years ago, we did everything through a travel agent, which was great as everything was done at once, including park-hopper passes and a character lunch. We booked a hotel RIGHT across from the main entrance to the two parks so, really there was no inconvenience AND unlike the Grand, they included a buffet breakfast. The Grand does not include things, BUT you are paying for the experience of a stately beautiful hotel with amazing guest services all done with the Disney signature style that cannot be duplicated.
I will share more of our Disney experiences later.