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Is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Worth It?

by | Nov 9, 2023

I need to begin this post with a disclosure: I am a “Grand Californian Princess” – this is always my #1 choice when I visit Disneyland. For our first visit with our 3 boys in 2018 my husband Kevin and I wanted the ultimate Disneyland experience. We had 5 park days (yep!) and spent 5 nights in a Woods-Courtyard view room at “The Grand.” Maybe you’ve heard someone say: “Once you go to The Grand, you can’t go back” – truer words have never been spoken. Once you enjoy the location, convenience, service, and magic of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa it’s hard to imagine staying anywhere else!

DISNEY’S GRAND CALIFORNIAN RESORT & SPA — Conveniently located in the center of the Disneyland Resort, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offers supreme accommodations and amenities to ensure each stay is magical. The hotel recently completed a hotel-wide renovation, redesigning all guest rooms plus a refreshed lobby, pool area and concierge-level lounge. (Disneyland Resort)

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa opened in 2001 and underwent a significant remodel in 2017. The hotel is designed to feel like an old Californian Craftsman-style lodge with soaring ceilings, large fireplaces, and cozy armchairs. Guests can pick from a wide range of luxurious accommodations, catering to various preferences and party sizes. From Standard Rooms to the opulent Presidential Suite, each room is beautifully designed with a touch of Disney charm.  Guests can choose from a variety of view options, including rooms overlooking Disney California Adventure’s World of Color nighttime water show!

But as you can imagine, this hotel comes with a price tag, which can be off-putting for some families. But I’m going to work really hard to convince you of why it’s worth every penny!

First, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! You cannot beat the location of this hotel.  Guests enjoy a private entrance into Disney’s California Adventure Park and maybe a 5-minute walk to the entrance of Disneyland. When we took that 2018 trip, our boys were 5, 2, and 8-months old. We knew we’d want to head back to the hotel each afternoon for some downtime (hence the 5-day tickets!) – this was the main reason we picked this hotel. The convenience cannot be matched. But even if you’re not traveling with young kids, you’re still going to be walking over 20,000 steps each day. And let me tell you – after a 15-hour (plus!) day in the parks you’re going to look longingly at that entrance to The Grand and think: Man! I wish I’d paid $200 more a night to stay there!

Another great feature for young families is the Redwood Pool area, which offers a fun-filled water play area, complete with a towering 90-foot waterslide, twisting around a replica of a redwood tree stump. While the slide looks impressive, it is actually quite slow-moving and a great entry option for younger kids. Plus, the pool staff is there offering complimentary life jackets (which can be worn on the slide) and attentive lifeguards. More timid young guests will love the toddler slide where they can scoot down right into dad’s arms! (I picked dad here because obviously mom is sitting on one of the plush pool chairs drinking a margarita, which was delivered to her by the excellent pool waitstaff!).

But there are a total of 3 pool options within the hotel, including the Redwood Pool. The nearby Mariposa Pool offers a more tranquil retreat with cozy cabanas and a whirlpool spa. The Fountain Pool is tucked away in a slightly more secluded setting. The Grand’s pools also host morning Paddleboard Fitness Classes – a unique way for adults to begin their day!

And while we’ve used The Grand for our trips with young kids, it is equally great for families with older kids, or better yet: an adults-only visit! Between fitness classes, the Tenaya Stone Spa, and the world-class dining at Napa Rose you’re bound to have a luxurious time! I fantasize with my friend Kerri about an adult trip to Disneyland: we stay Club Level at The Grand, enjoy “Mindful Traveler” foot treatments at the Spa after our busy park days, and eat and drink well at the GCH Craftsman Bar! 😊 It’ll happen… someday…

When it comes to dining, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa boasts an array of delectable options. The Napa Rose restaurant, known for its elegant ambiance and award-winning cuisine, serves up contemporary American dishes infused with fresh California flavors. The Napa Rose is also home to the famous Disney Princess Breakfast Adventure, an immersive dining experience with some of your favorite Disney Princesses.  

For a more casual dining experience, Storytellers Cafe offers a welcoming atmosphere and a buffet-style character breakfast where beloved Disney friends make appearances.  Or visit Storytellers for their celebrated buffet dinner – a quiet spot away from the parks and a great option for larger parties. This is also home to my favorite World of Color Dining Package – if your dinner reservation is between 5:00 and 6:00 pm you’ll receive a voucher to the 1st World of Color showtime. Reservations from 6:00 to 7:00 for the 2nd showtime. I love the predictability of this!

The GCH Craftsman Bar is often where we enjoy our first meal of our vacation. After flying into John Wayne in the morning, and a little pool time in the afternoon, we bop over to the GCH Craftsman for a dinner of delicious small plates and artisanal pizzas. Plus, the handcrafted cocktails are delicious!

As a guest of The Grand, you’ll enjoy the many perks offered to those staying “on-property” at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels. The main benefit is of course Early Entry into the theme parks when you’ll have access to the parks 30 minutes before they open to the public! Not all attractions are open, but you can easily knock out 2-3 rides during this extra time and then be strategically located to jump on the most popular attractions (I’m looking at you Rise of the Resistance!) when the park opens to the general public.

My other favorite perk is the next-day package delivery. Souvenir purchases you make in the parks can be delivered directly to your hotel room! Trust me, you don’t want to carry that Star Wars fighter pilot helmet around with you all day. I know from personal experience…

Ok – are you convinced yet!?! Hopefully all this information has encouraged you to spring for The Grand for your next Disneyland vacation. But be aware of the risk: once you stay in Disneyland’s premier hotel, you might never be able to book anywhere else!  I think that seems like a good problem to have.

If you are curious to learn more about this hotel, or the other Disneyland Resort hotels, listen to the ConciEARS Podcast: EARS to the Kingdom, Episode 3, where Lynn and I share all our thoughts on these 3 excellent choices.

Ready to book your next Disneyland trip? Whether you’re splurging on Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or want an offsite Good Neighbor Hotel, ConciEARS is here to help! Request a free vacation quote and one of our Travel Planners will contact you to begin planning.



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