Planning a trip to Disneyland? My 8-year-old son and I had the chance to stay at Disney's Grand Californian when we made a quick trip to preview Star Wars: Season of the Force in Tomorrowland! The convenience and luxury of the Grand Californian made this one-on-one trip extra special.
Grand is an apt name for this luxury hotel. The front doors are heavy wood and stained glass. The massive lobby is reminiscent of a not-so-rustic mountain lodge in the Craftsman style. Child-size rockers and a television showing Disney cartoons have been placed near the check-in, so travel weary children have someplace to unwind while adults check in.
We thought the service was excellent. We stayed only stayed one night, but we put the bell service to work when we arrived hours before check in and stayed at the park long after check out. They cheerfully stored our luggage and pulled it out for us twice before check in – once to find my son's swimsuit and the second time to return it. They even thought to offer a plastic bag for his damp things.
Want to know what to expect at Disney's Grand Californian? Read on:
The great thing about hotels near Disneyland is that they are all about families – and the Disney hotels lead the way. Our room had a queen-size bed and a set of bunk beds with a trundle underneath. And we found a Pack-N-Play in the closet. Our room was one of the closest to the park, but very quiet. My son was delighted to find Disney channels we never knew existed on the television – not that there was much time to watch them.
The Grand Californian is now about 15 years old, and while everything was clean and in good condition, the room decor felt a little dated. However, one thing that caught my attention throughout the resorts were the lovely lanterns. There were so many delightful designs! It's an example of Disney's impressive attention to detail.
One of the biggest reasons to choose the Grand Californian is its private entrance to Disney's California Adventure Park. There is no hotel closer to the parks, so it couldn't be easier to take a nap or enjoy some pool time in the middle of the day when the parks are most crowded.
Another huge benefit to staying at the Grand Californian are Extra Magic Hours. These are opportunities for Disney hotel guests to enter Disneyland or California Adventure an hour before the general public. We found that the line to get in through the private entrance can still be long in the morning. If that's the case, don't wait. Walk straight to the main gate where the line moves more quickly. Just show your room key.
One more perk (or a warning): your room key can be used to make purchases in the parks!
Disney's Grand Californian has three swimming pools! One of them has two waterslides – a small one for young children and a larger slide that my 8-year-old loved. Swim diapers and use of life jackets is complimentary. We had the pool practically to ourselves on the afternoon we were there.
Disney's Grand Californian has three on-site restaurants. Napa Rose offers fine dining with a focus on local cuisine. Storytellers Cafe is a great full-service option for families because characters like Chip and Dale roam the dining room.
We ate most of our meals inside the parks, but did stop for lunch at White Water Snacks where we found much more than snacks. I love that Disney's kids meals are always served with fresh fruit and vegetables. I had the mouthwatering carnitas burger.
Let me tell you one more time how special it was to take a one-on-one trip to Disneyland with my son. We spent nearly every minute together and made priceless memories in the parks – and at the Grand Californian Hotel.
Disclosure: We were hosted at the Grand Californian by Disneyland for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
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