The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, the crown jewel in Disney customer service and arguably, the pride of the Resort. It’s AAA four diamond rating, set the standard for all Disneyland Hotels. Inspired by the 1920’s Arts and Craft movement, everything from the lobby to the front desk has a theme and a purpose. With 1,019 rooms and villas, three pools, three restaurants, and one spa- this Hotel is more than a place to stay, it’s an experience.
Moving away from the reception area, you enter the lobby. The lobby was inspired to be a large scale living room- thus the large fireplace, hand-woven carpet, comfy sofas, and coffee tables. Next to many of the tables are cabinets full of old relics and utensils. The artifacts in the cabinets are real Roycroft artifacts from the Arts and Craft Movement. Towards the elevators there is a Grandfather clock, which houses a Hidden Mickey on its face. Late at night, someone comes by and winds the clock. Also by the elevators on each floor, there is a pair of birds. They are arranged on different floors according to how high they fly. The actual birds were used in the 1920’s to hide alcohol during the Prohibition. If you go to each floor, they represent different levels of the forest. Such as, the lobby is the base of the tree and if you notice, leaves are incorporated into the lobby carpet. When on the sixth floor, you are among the tree tops and more green is used. Thus, giving the feeling that the lobby is a dream-like clearing in the forest.
Among the interesting history and inspiration of the hotel, the main focus is the actual hotel rooms. The rooms either have a standard, pool, Downtown Disney, or park view. Often, travel agents will inform their guest that they offer a firework view, which is false. A firework view is never guaranteed, but in certain rooms you can see them. If you go to the desk and ask for those rooms, unfortunately they will tell you that they don’t guarantee firework view rooms. But, if you wish to see the fireworks, a Downtown Disney view is your best shot- just remember it is not guaranteed. Another fun fact is bedding is subject to availability. If you reserve a theme park view bunk bed room, there is no guarantee that you will receive a bunk bed room. This is why you pay for the view, not per person or by bedding. However, most of the time- they accommodate all requests and are able to make everyone happy. Aside from the rooms, there are the Disney Vacation Club villas. They are beautiful and have a home away from home feeling.
Many people ask me how to make their vacation extra special; I often point them to the concierge level, which is on the 6th floor. It’s an extra 125 per night, but offers breakfast, snacks, and firework viewing. (I found that part to be awesome. They pipe in the music, so you can watch the magic from the comfort of your hotel). Also, I recommend Critter breakfast at Storyteller’s Café. They feature tasty Mickey waffles and meet and greet with Chip and Dale. Another hidden jewel is White Water Snacks. This is one of my favorite places to eat on property, due to the outstanding nachos. For the price, it’s a great deal and not to mention it is always tranquil- a nice break from the park. If you are looking for magical things that are free, I recommend enjoying campfire songs in front of the fireplace. You gather around the fire and sing traditional camp songs; it really is fun for the whole family and this usually happens twice during the evening.
Now that I have given you ridiculous amount of information about the Grand, let’s talk about some misconceptions. Often people think that the hotel was copied after the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, when actually; it was inspired by the Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World. Its name is based off of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, because both properties are Disney’s finest resort properties in the world. Another misconception is the hotel is actually inside California Adventure. When in reality, it does have its own entrance into California Adventure.. so to visit the Hotel- no ticket is required.
Hopefully, I have given you many insights into the Grand and when you are there next time, you will look at it a little differently. To me, this place is home and I have many memories here… it’s where I made Walt’s dream a reality.
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