Grand Californian

January 2001 – present

LOCATION

The Grand Californian bumps up against Grizzly Peak in California Adventure. The hotel is accessible from inside California Adventure, by the Grizzly River Run, or through Downtown Disney, across the walkway from Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria.

BACKGROUND

In the late 90s, Disneyland announced plans to massively expand Disneyland, finally turning the park into a resort. This expansion included California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and two new hotels. This included a luxury hotel, The Grand Californian. This hotel would be a sister resort to the Grand Floridian in Orlando.

The Grand Californian pays tribute to the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 1900s. Much of the detailing and displayed items in the hotel were designed using traditional craftsman techniques. The hotel’s pools, spa, gardens, and halls all work together to create a luxury cabin experience, surrounding visitors in a warm and cozy atmosphere. The Grand Californian opened to the public in 2001, and has been one of the most popular hotels in the area ever since.

EXPERIENCE

Details:

  • Theme – California Craftsman
  • Dining Options – Napa Rose, Storytellers Café, Hearthstone Lounge, White Water Snacks
  • Amenities – 3 pools (with cabanas available for reservation), spa, movie screenings, trivia games & a mini tour available in lounge/lobby, business center, dry cleaning
  • Price Range – most expensive of the resort hotels, with rooms starting at $400+ per night
  • Official Site

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa provides a luxury experience for Disneyland Resort visitors. “Grand” is definitely the operating word for every aspect of this hotel – from the humongous lounge/lobby, to the fine dining restaurants, to the sheer size of the hotel itself. Each wing of the hotel offers California craftsman-style details, and the grounds transport visitors from Anaheim into a redwood forest wonderland.

 A standard room in the Grand Californian

MY RATING: ★★★★☆

The Grand Californian is without a doubt the most stunning hotel at the Disneyland Resort. Even if you aren’t a guest, the lounge and restaurants are worth visiting. The atrium-style lounge has amazing architectural details, from a massive stone fireplace to the dark timber beams surrounding the balconies. All three pools draw inspiration from California scenery, and the restaurants follow suit with California-inspired menus.

But the best part of the Grand Californian is its location. This is the only Resort hotel with a private park entrance for guests, and any resort visitor can pass from California Adventure directly onto the hotel grounds. There’s nothing better than being footsteps away from your room after an exhausting day running around the park!

However, the Grand Californian only gets 4 stars because of its enormous price tag. This hotel is very, very expensive. For what you’re paying, the rooms are incredibly basic. Not much décor, not a lot of space, and semi-obstructed views, even with “theme park view” options. I still absolutely believe this is the best hotel at the resort, but it’s important to keep in mind that at the Grand Californian, you’re paying for amenities and location, not a fancy room.

 California Adventure as seen from a theme park view room

TRIVIA

The Grand Californian completely transforms during the holidays. If you’re at the resort between November and early January, stop by to see some gorgeous décor, plus a massive Gingerbread House!

Each floor of the hotel has different bird statues, sorted by how high they fly. These hidden gems are known as the Grotesque Birds.

Does the lobby look familiar? It’s modeled after Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco.

Architect Peter Dominick designed both the Grand Californian and the Wilderness Lodge in Orlando. Both hotels share similar design elements.

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