Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa – Family Vacation

Kelsey P. Gonzalez December 1, 2010 No Comments

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. Photo courtesy of flickr.com.


On our recent trip to Disneyland—a trip that included my husband, myself, our two children, my parents, my sister, her husband, and their baby—we had the opportunity to stay at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa (thanks Dad)!  Having spent the majority of our lives living in California and of course going to Disneyland, we were quite familiar with the beautiful hotel though it was not someplace we’d ever stayed.  After a trip to Disneyland last year where we’d all stayed at hotels not on Disney property, we decided that next time the best way to have a stress-free visit would be to stay at one of the Disneyland hotels.  Since my parents have somewhat limited mobility and since we also now had two new babies in tow, we felt the Grand Californian was the best option.  It sits between Disney’s California Adventure on one side and Downtown Disney on the other with entrances and exits on both ends.  With such easy and convenient access, it ended up being the perfect choice; we didn’t have to worry about hauling strollers in and out of cars, the additional fees and hassle of the parking structure or trams, or all the extra walking for my parents! 

Our Family at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

My Dad, my husband, son, daughter, and myself at the Grand Californian.


Our trip started with the planning process which Disney makes easy with a quick click of the mouse.  The Disneyland website allowed me to check park hours, see which attractions would be closed, and find out the entertainment schedule for parades and shows.  It also allowed me to check pricing on tickets and dining plans.  Though we decided not to add a dining plan on this trip, being able to add the tickets into one, overall price was great!  While the entire process from planning to booking can be done online, I called the reservations number found on their website to complete our reservations.  The Cast Member who helped me solidify our plans was extremely helpful and even compared prices for me for a variety of dates.  We booked standard rooms and were given the option of either two queens or one king.  Since we were traveling as a large family we also had the option of requesting near-by or adjoining rooms.  Once our reservations were made, I received an e-mail with my confirmation number as well as information on the hotel and its policies.  The more I learned about it, the more perfect it seemed for the needs of my family! 

Grand Californian Hotel Lobby

Lobby of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. Photo courtesy of hubpages.com


Loading up two cars with six adults, one preschooler, two babies, three car seats, two strollers, and a mountain of luggage took a bit of work, but once we pulled up to the Grand Californian, we didn’t have to worry about it again.  They offer valet parking complete with bellhop services and attendants came to our cars immediately to unload everything onto big carts and whisk our cars away.  We stepped through the beautiful stained-glass doors and into the towering lobby of the Arts and Crafts style hotel.  It was magnificent both inside and out with a number of large, stone fireplaces and beautifully kept grounds.  It was surprisingly warm and inviting for such a large structure and somehow made us feel like we’d entered some kind of cozy retreat.  My son immediately spotted the television playing original Disney cartoons and sat down in one of the miniature chairs to watch them while we got checked-in.  As part of the process, we were given all the park tickets for our stay so we never needed to stand in line at the ticket booth! Once we’d received our keys, we headed straight to our rooms where we then called the bellhop service for our luggage; it was delivered within a matter of minutes.  

Grand Californian Hotel Standard Room

Our room at the Grand Californian.


While we waited for our bags to arrive we looked over our rooms.  We were all next door to each other and the rooms my parents and sister’s family were given were adjoining.  We’d been placed in a quiet wing on the ground floor and our sliding glass doors all opened onto small patios which looked onto the backside of the California Adventure theme park.  Since a small sidewalk was accessible from our patios it was as easy to simply knock on each other’s back doors as it was to go through the hallway!  I’d requested a room with two queen beds for my little family and it was beautiful!  An armoire with a refrigerator, large flat screen television, DVD player, and camera/video game hook-ups sat next to a table with two chairs.  The table was the perfect spot for my husband (who was taking a working vacation), to set up his lap top since the hotel-provided internet access was conveniently located there.  A nightstand complete with alarm clock sat between the two beds which were lit with sconces on either end of the bed posts.  Separate switches allowed for different lighting control for the two beds which was perfect for bedtime with our kids!  

Grand Californian Hotel Standard Bathroom

Our room at the Grand Californian.


The bathroom/dressing area was large with a beautiful vanity providing two sinks, a large framed mirror, toiletries, hair dryer, and under the counter storage.  Connected to the dressing area was the actual bathroom with a large shower/tub combination.  The closet contained an iron and ironing board, a luggage rack, safe, and two super comfy bathrobes; it even had a pack-n-play since our reservations included babies!  With all the attention to detail, even the standard rooms made us feel like we were living in luxury!  In fact they were so comfortable that even heading back to them for kids’ naps or a quick break made us feel like we were still enjoying the Disney experience rather than missing out on the fun of the parks.   

The Grand Californian offers 24-hour room service which can be ordered from an extensive menu.  A breakfast card with a variety of food options is also found in each room and can be filled out and left on the door the night before.  The next morning your breakfast will be delivered to you during the times that you’ve specified on the card.  This was one of the amenities my parents took advantage of and really enjoyed!  My sister and her husband also found it to be perfect after a long night with a cranky baby!  

Grand Californian Goodnight Treats

Our goodnight treats at the Grand Californian.


In the evenings when we’d return from a full day at the parks, we’d find our beds turned down, the lights adjusted, and chocolate coins on the table for a last, goodnight treat.  And despite their proximity to the theme park, our rooms were extremely quiet; with the patio doors closed we never heard a sound from the roller coasters or park visitors that were so close by. 

When it finally came time for us to head back home, the bellhop services were there to take our luggage again and help us get it all loaded back into the cars which the valet brought around.  In all the commotion of packing everyone back inside for the trip home, our son left one of his toys sitting outside in the valet parking area.  Fortunately we realized we’d left it before we’d gone more than a couple of miles and a quick phone call to the hotel ensured that it was waiting safely for us when we returned.  One of the workers was kind enough to run out and grab it after our call to make sure that it wouldn’t be taken! 

Truly, our stay at the Grand Californian made the entire Disney experience one of our most memorable family vacations!

avatarAbout the Author:

Kelsey lives in Southern Utah with her husband, their 3-year old son, and their newborn daughter. They enjoy the adventure of exploring new places together and love building memories through family travel.

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions

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