Disneyland Resort Hotel Review – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

 Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa - A Rustic Respite in the City

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa – A Rustic Respite in the City

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Earlier this year we spent one overnight at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa for the first time. We’ve stayed many times at the other two Disneyland Resort hotels, the Paradise Pier Hotel and the original Disneyland Hotel. We were so excited to stay at this rustic respite since we’d walked through it a few times before, simply to admire the lobby. Fortunately our stay met all of our expectations, read on for the full review.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Lobby & Check-in

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa lobby is as you would expect, grand! There are fantastic details at every turn, from the stained glass lamps, classic phones, pretty floral arrangements and sparkling diamond ‘D’ to celebrate Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. Alcoves around the main lobby are homey and inviting, including a rustic fireplace.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Check-in desk at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

We checked in early on a Saturday morning and there were only a few ahead of us in line but they had a Cast Member asking us a few questions in advance. She then introduced us when we did get to the counter and let them know that we were there to celebrate an upcoming birthday. The Cast Member checking us in was able to write up a birthday button as well as celebration buttons for everyone in our group. While I went through the check-in process, my kids waited in front of a television, seated in tiny wooden rockers.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Our room wasn’t ready yet, so they were able to hold our bags so we could venture into the parks. I was told that I would receive a text message when our room was ready (and I did!) Later in the day, we came back through the lobby to get into bathing suits and there was a man playing the piano in front of the towering stone fireplace. It certainly added even more charm to the grand, yet still cozy, feeling.


The rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel face the lobby. I thought that the noise from below might carry up into the rooms, but we couldn’t hear any noise. In fact the room was very quiet, even thought it was overlooking the front of the hotel and valet area. We had a small balcony with a table and chairs to get fresh air outside and we were able to catch a view of the Monorail as it drove by.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Decor in the rooms doesn’t scream Disney but there are subtle details like the Bambi print on the shower curtain and a picture on the wall of the dwarf’s cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The room was nicely sized, with enough room for our family of five to spread out. We were only there overnight so luggage was minimal (just one big bag) but I can see that space might have been tighter if we’d been staying longer. We were given a bunk bed set-up, alongside a queen bed. There was also a desk against the wall, dresser, closet, sink area and a separate toilet/shower space. In the evening when we returned from the parks, we found a roll-out bed had been made up for our preschooler and each pillow had a chocolate treat!

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

I liked having the sink area separate from the bathroom so we weren’t on top of each other getting ready in the morning. A nice supply of h2O spa products was a plus, including foot rub and after-sun gel. You can be sure these top-notch toiletries came home with me after the trip! My husband appreciated having a coffee maker in the room as well.


We’ve eaten at Storyteller’s Cafe twice (once for lunch and another time, for the dinner buffet). It’s definitely a favorite of ours (read my review on Storyteller’s Cafe here).

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Napa Rose is a fancier dining restaurant so we’ve yet to dine here. There is also Whitewater Snacks which is close-by the pool area and would be a good choice for a quick grab and go meal. Disney’s Grand Californian is very close to the Downtown Disney District and lots of other dining choices. For our morning at the park, we were able to walk into the Downtown Disney District and grab breakfast sandwiches from La Brea Bakery Express.

Pool Area

Just like at the Disneyland Hotel, spending time at Disney’s Grand Californian pool area can easily be an all-day affair! We arrived at the pool midday and couldn’t secure a lounge chair because they were all taken. I’d definitely recommend arriving early if you want a place to rest because I ended up having to sit on a brick wall in the shade while my family was swimming.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

The three pools are beautiful and unique. However they are spread out so you can’t just post yourself in one place if you’re trying to keep an eye on the kids. Fortunately there are very diligent lifeguards there to remind kids about running poolside and keeping a close eye on all the activity.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

The twisty slide was a highlight here, of course! I appreciated the amenities here, like ample bathrooms, cold water and cups, swim diapers for babies and life vests for kids. See also my overview on all the pools at the Disneyland Resort Hotels as well as this post on Traveling Mom about what you can expect at Disneyland Resort pools.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Bottom Line

As with the other hotels at the Disneyland Resort, we felt that our stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa really added to the magic of our vacation. We loved the easy access and guest-only private entrance to Disney California Adventure park. This made swinging back to the hotel for lunch and a swim a simple mid-day break. The Cast Members were efficient and helpful anytime we requested assistance. Our room and all of the hotel was well-kept and clean. Yes, this is the most expensive of the three Disneyland Resort hotels but it easily became a fast favorite of the area hotels simply because of the location. Will we stay here again? Yes, for a one-night splurge we will stay again!

See my other posts about the Disneyland Resort hotels, Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel (click the thumbnail images below). I also have a post on Traveling Mom about the 18 Valuable Reasons To Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed  Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel  PIN-18 Valuable Reasons

I received a complimentary stay at Disney’s Californian Hotel & Spa. As always, opinions are my own.

Have you stayed at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels? Which is your favorite and why? Share with me below in the comments!


Disneyland Resort Hotel Review – Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are reviewing the official Disneyland hotels and some of Disneyland’s Good Neighbor hotels. While Walt Disney World boasts dozens of “on-site” resort hotels, the Disneyland Resort only has three – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the original Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Paradise Pier Hotel many times over the years and as with all other Disney resorts, I’ve enjoyed my visits.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Image Credit: Disney Parks

When you first step into the lobby, you might feel that this particular hotel is lacking a bit in the theming that is so prevalent at the other two hotels. While the other two Resort hotels were built specifically as Disney resorts, the Paradise Pier Hotel was actually a different establishment that was taken over and remodeled by Disney. The Paradise Pier started its life as the Emerald of Anaheim in 1984 and later renamed the Pan Pacific Hotel. It was purchased by Disney in 1995 and renamed it the Disney Pacific Hotel. In 2000, it was re-branded as the Paradise Pier Hotel (to match the Paradise Pier theme at Disney California Adventure Park).

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Inside the Paradise Pier Hotel gift shop, Mickey in Paradise

The lobby is a bit lackluster, I will admit. There is a Goofy statue that’s fun to take your picture with. There is a large gift shop (called Mickey in Paradise). There’s a restaurant (home to a Character breakfast) and a lounge. And a kid’s space called the “Paradise Theater” that shows Disney cartoons in a beach-theme. It’s a small lobby that lacks the “grandness” (obviously) of the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the vintage-chic feel of the Disneyland Hotel. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not very “Disney” feeling. But then again, you can always go and visit the lobbies at the other two Resort hotels and come back to the Paradise Pier Hotel to stay the night, right?

So what makes the Paradise Pier special and worth a stay? Here are some upsides:

A Beachy-keen Theme – The rooms are light and breezy in a fun beach theme that reflects the Paradise Pier, complete with beach balls pillows on the bed. There are subtle Disney details throughout too, including a lifeguard Mickey lamp. I think it’s a really fun and roomy space. There’s even a sleeper sofa for extra space.

Gotta Love that View – Watch the action taking place below with a stunning view of Disney California Adventure Park.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

A vintage view of Disney California Adventure Park, circa 2009

Extra Magic Hour  – While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, guests may enjoy the theme parks an hour before park opening with Extra Magic Hour. All Disneyland Resort hotel guests also have access to the exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure park from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. It’s a great way to get that Radiator Springs Racers FastPass.

Slightly Lower Cost – Paradise Pier is always the lesser priced of the three Disney Resort hotels but it’s still priced quite a bit more than other area Good Neighbor hotels.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Catch a Wave for Breakfast – Disney’s PCH Grill hosts the Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & Friends, a highly enjoyable character dining experience. We’ve dined here several times and appreciate the variety at the buffet (can’t go wrong with Mickey waffles!) as well as the entertainment and characters that come to each table.

Concierge – We splurged on concierge during one of our stays here and it was a treat. We were able to enjoy the special lounge for a light morning breakfast, return for an “evening happy hour” with appetizers and pick up bottled water and a few snacks before heading to the pool. There was also turn-down service and a special treat for the kids when we returned in the evening.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Proximity to the Parks – Yep, there are definitely motels on the other side of the Disney Parks that are technically closer to the front gates. Still, it’s really less than a 10-minute walk from the Paradise Pier to the special “Guest-only” entrance at Disney’s Grand Californian (bring your valid hotel room key & park tickets for access) and it’s only a few minutes more to reach the Monorail Station entrance in the Downtown Disney District. And the landscaped walk along the curving footpath is pleasant.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

California Streamin’ waterslide

A Pool with a View – Situated on the third floor, the Paradise Pool is an enjoyable respite mid-day. My kids have always loved the California Streamin’ waterslide and little ones will enjoy the Children’s splash pool. It’s a smaller area than the other Disney Resort hotel pool areas, which can be a good thing when you have small kids to keep your eye on.

Fireworks – Come night fall, from the third floor pool deck, you can pull up a beach chair and watch the Disneyland fireworks over the Park. There is a live synchronized broadcast over the loudspeakers so you’re fully involved in the show. I have fond memories of my dad’s last visit to Disneyland, as he held two of his pajama-clad grandsons on his lap while we watched the fireworks from this location.

The Paradise Pier sounds like the perfect place to start the day (with a Character breakfast) and a lovely place to end the night (with fireworks)! What is your favorite feature of the Paradise Pier Hotel? Share below in the comments!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disneyland & Good Neighbor Hotel Reviews Loop:


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