Staycation at the Grand Californian Hotel

As I’ve said, we’re a family who loves to travel anywhere and everywhere, and really like getting out of our “bubble” and exploring beyond touristy experiences. An exception to that “touristy” side is Disney Travel, although we try to get out there as much as we can with our Disney Side on too. J I specialize in Disney Travel through my Travel Agency planning, which is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. I met Mr. CT at Disneyland many years ago and have always been a fan, so Disney travel and tips are a big part of my life. I hope that for those readers who like the more adventuresome or outdoorsy travels this isn’t too much of a distraction, as I promise there will be plenty more of those as well.

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Lobby at the Grand

In any case, I definitely wanted to give an update on staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in Anaheim, CA. We have a tradition of staying on property as a “staycation” with my mom for the kids’ birthdays each year.   We usually stay at Disneyland Hotel, which has great perks such as characters on site and fantastic water slides. For a splurge this year, we decided to stay at the Grand, as it was recently (and is ongoing) remodeled with new layouts and designs for the guest rooms.   While we’ve stayed there in the past, this was our first stay with the kids in a long time and since the remodel and security changes Disney has implemented this year.   Among those changes is the fact that Guests of the Grand now have distinct room keys from those at the other two Disney hotels. This enables security to easily check that only Guests from the Grand are using the private hotel entrance into Disney California Adventure, and keep security tight at the hotel itself (note – anyone can enter the Grand from Downtown Disney or from DCA, but only Grand guests can use the entrance, especially during Extra Magic Hours or peak times). The Grand has also started issuing wristbands at the pool to prevent local pool parties or pool hopping from other hotels, although they were fairly lax about checking them and implementation.

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Hotel-Specific Room Keys

Room categories have changed a bit at the Grand since the construction of DVC Villas on Paradise Pier – we had a “premium” view room, but it was mainly of the pool with the theme park in the background. There are also Downtown Disney Views, Courtyard Views, Partial Views, Premium park views (of Grizzly Peak Recreation area) and standard/parking views. The hotel is really large! The rooms now all feature 2 Queen Beds and a Day Bed, similar to their counterparts at Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel. They are more spacious than they were before (a common complaint was the size of the rooms for what you pay) and especially with the balcony (they’re the only Disney hotel to offer this outside of the DLH suites) it makes for a really comfortable stay. The service at the Grand is always top notch Disney – turn down service, better pool/bar service, and extremely friendly concierge staff. The beds are comfortable and the rooms are clean. I definitely feel the value has been improved since the remodel. That being said, the price has gone up dramatically at all the hotels this year, especially the Grand, and I can see the concern compared to other properties and amenities. However, this point, the rooms still seem to be filling up!

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Day Bed

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Two Queens

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Separate bath and vanity area 

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Spacious mirrored closet on left, hallway to entry

The kids had a blast on the Redwood water slide – while not as exciting as the Monorail slides next door, it’s still a fun perk at the Resort. The lifeguards are amazing and do a great job, a nice Disney perk at all their hotels and on their Cruise Line as well. Service and wait staff actually remembered us, and the lifeguards talked to my kids by name over our 3 -night stay, making personal connections. They also have a daily “pool party” in the afternoons with Disney Recreation staff leading games and contests with music, which is a nice touch. We did not use the babysitting in Pinocchio’s Workshop, but I would imagine it’s quite a blast as well!

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Awesome Pool & Water Slide

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Pool Party with the Disney Staff

For dining, Napa Rose is our favorite restaurant at the Grand, and I’ll be doing a feature on that next month when we do the Chef’s Counter, a special treat! For quick fare, Whitewater Snacks has quite a spread, and also has quick snacks and a microwave inside, which is great if you want to store some items in the hotel fridge and save money that way by heating them up on site. Hearthstone Lounge is also a nice place to relax in a quiet setting with a full bar and appetizers! The kids enjoyed the character breakfast at Storyteller’s Café. While this isn’t my favorite compared to Goofy’s Kitchen at Disneyland Hotel or some of the others offered, the food was still good and the characters available were great. The Chip and Dale furry critter breakfast features the famous twin chipmunks, Pluto, and the mama bear from Brave. The food is now buffet style (as are all the character dining experiences except for Ariel’s Grotto) but does include a fresh omelet bar and wait service for beverages. We recognized my kids’ birthdays, and they enjoyed their cupcakes and singing from the staff.

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So many furry hugs

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Pluto is one awesome dog

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Chipmunk Games

The biggest perk of the Grand Californian is the location – it’s amazing to be able to hop in and out of the parks easily without a lot of lines or stress. The balcony and luxurious ambience are also very special, and the service is outstanding. Overall, I still feel the Disneyland Hotel is the most “fun” when it comes to kids – characters on site, awesome water slides, fireworks over the bed, etc. However, the convenience factor of the Grand may win out for some, and your kids certainly won’t be complaining on the trip home! J

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