Looking for a great Disneyland hotel? I have stayed at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel three different times. In this Grand Californian review, I'm sharing what we loved about this Disney Resort hotel, and what we didn't – plus tips for making the most of your stay.
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 national parks lodge in the Craftsman style. Child-size rockers and a television showing Disney cartoons have been placed near the front desk so children have someplace to unwind while adults check in.
Here is everything you need to know about Disney's Grand Californian to decide if this hotel is right for your family.
Location is the #1 reason to book Disney's Grand Californian. It has a private entrance to California Adventure Park and it's the closest hotel to Disneyland Park.
Once you've stayed at the Grand Californian, you'll have a hard time going back to any other hotel near Disneyland. It's so much easier to beat the crowds in the morning and take breaks during the day when you don't have to deal with parking or shuttles or longer walks that come with any other hotel. Even the Disneyland Hotel is a 10-minute walk from the parks' entrances.
On one Disneyland trip with my husband, I was exhausted after a long, fun-filled day. I was ready to crash in our room at the Grand Californian, but he was craving flavored popcorn from the Cozy Cone in Cars Land. It was so easy for him to re-enter California Adventure, ride Radiator Springs Racers a couple more times (using the short Single Rider line), and get his popcorn while I watched TV in bed.
Related: Our Review of the Disneyland Hotel
We've found that the rooms at Disney's Grand Californian come in a variety of family-friendly configurations. We've had the typical 2-queens or 1-king setup. However, we've also stayed in a room with one queen with a set of bunk beds and a trundle. That room also had a Pack-n-Play in the closet, which made this room work for a family with four young children!
Our rooms have always been quiet. This hotel was completely refurbished in 2018, so everything should feel fresh and new.
My son was delighted to find Disney channels we never knew existed on the television – not that there was much time to watch them.
There are perks to staying at Disneyland Resort Hotels that you won't get at off-property hotels. At Grand Californian, these include:
- Extra Magic Hours
- Private entrance to California Adventure Park
- Character greetings and Disney activities at your hotel
- On-site character dining
- Easy access to Downtown Disney
- Use your key card to make purchases in the parks
- Park purchases delivered to your room
- Shorter security lines
- “Disney magic” around the clock
Extra Magic Hours are my favorite benefit because we can ride non-stop in that hour before the park opens to the general public. Staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels is the only way to get early access to California Adventure.
Pro tip: At California Adventure, walk to Radiator Springs Racers first, but DON'T RIDE. Just get a FASTPASS and then walk to Paradise Pier and ride Toy Story Midway Mania! and Incredicoaster 1-2 times each. Return to Radiator Springs 10 minutes before the park opens to the general public and ride it once with no line. Then ride it again with your FASTPASS.
If you are using MaxPass, you can reserve that FASTPASS from anywhere inside the park.
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.
Related: When and How to Use MaxPass
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 have found that the pools aren't crowded in the afternoon when lines are longest in the parks.
Disney's Grand Californian has three on-site restaurants. Storytellers Cafe is a full-service character dining experience. Napa Rose offers fine dining with a focus on local cuisine. It is also home to a Disney Princess Character Breakfast.
We ate most of our meals inside the parks, but did stop for lunch at GHC Craftsman Grill 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.
Your room will have a mini-fridge and there are several grocery delivery options near Disneyland. On our last Disneyland trip, we signed up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh and had the groceries delivered to our Disneyland Resort Hotel, which saved us a lot of money on breakfasts, sandwiches and snacks at Disneyland.
We thought the service at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel was excellent. We 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.
Grand Californian also offers turn-down service – with chocolate.
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is a splurge for my family, but it's hard to beat the convenience, luxury and benefits we get when we stay here.
I hope that this article gives your family the information you need to plan the perfect Disneyland trip for your family.
Disclosure: We were hosted at the Grand Californian by Disneyland for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
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