Honest Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

August 15, 2019

When going to book your Disneyland trip, you’ll find yourself inundated with hotels to choose from. That’s why I take hotel reviews seriously; they provide me with the information I need to know in order to dwindle down the options. In my “Honest Hotel Review” series, I provide extensive details about hotels I’ve stayed at in the Disneyland area. My first review was on Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. While I loved that hotel and all its offerings, I recently stayed in a hotel that absolutely blew me away.


This review is for Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa


The lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa | © Disney Parks Blog


If you know anything about Disneyland Resort hotels, you know that Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (referred to as Grand Californian by most) is arguably the most desired option available. While the Grand Californian shares many of the same benefits as Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, it definitely has a few unique benefits that makes the difference in price worth it. Location, room quality, amenities, and accessibility combine to make this hotel stand above the rest. 


Summer Booking Tip: My most recent stay at the Grand Californian was this past July. The summer heat in Southern California can be intense. So just a pro-tip – if you’re visiting the parks in the summer months, splurge on a nice hotel! You definitely won’t regret it. When the parks get hot, you’ll definitely want to retreat back to your hotel for a bit. However, there’s no fun in being confined to a hotel room until the day cools down. That’s why I really recommend splurging on a nice hotel. One with a pool, shopping, food, and maybe even a bar (wink, wink). 


Breakdown of Information

Let’s breakdown the important information:

Walking Distance: Designated entrance into Disney California Adventure for Grand Californian hotel guests; under 5 minute walk. 5-10 minute walk to Disneyland and Downtown Disney.

Average Cost Per Night: Fluctuates, but can be anywhere between $500 and $800 per night. View the price during your stay, here

Parking: Self parking is $25/night, Valet is $35/night.

Wifi: Free

Food & Drinks: In-room dining, Napa Rose, Napa Rose Lounge, Storyteller’s Cafe, Hearthstone Lounge, and GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill.

Character dining: Napa Rose (Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures), and Storyteller’s Cafe (Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet).


So with all that being said, here’s my review on the hotel itself, during my summer trip. 



The room was amazing! We had a woods-courtyard view. The view was gorgeous, and the room was spacious. The mini-fridge was a helpful amenity, as it was needed to store my daughter’s milk. The beds were extremely comfortable, and they had space underneath to store your suitcases! I mean, they think of everything. There were plenty of outlets, so you won’t have trouble charging all of your electronic devices. The television was large, although I have to admit, we didn’t turn it on at all. We were too busy taking in all the other offerings at the hotel. 


The patio was unique, and a fun place to sit out and rest after a long day in the parks. If you get one of the woods-courtyard rooms, be sure to wave at the monorail as it passes by! 



This was one of the cleanest bathrooms I’ve had when visiting Disneyland. There were two sinks, plenty of counter space for toiletries and makeup, and everyone’s favorite...free travel-sized products! The bathroom also had a vanity mirror, which I used a ton. The shower was large, and it actually had a sitting area which came in handy when bathing my daughter. I’m not sure if all rooms include this sitting area, so be sure to ask before booking. 


Other Disney Resort Hotel Amenities

Everything listed below are amenities you can find at every Disney Resort hotel.


Extra Magic Hour: Access to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure an hour before opening. All you need is your Disney resort hotel room key. You can find the Extra Magic Hour schedule here.

Merchandise Delivery: You can have your purchases sent straight to the bell desk, at no extra charge. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to pick up your items until 7AM the morning after the purchase was made. 

In-Room Celebrations: For a little extra Disney magic, you can purchase in-room decorative arrangements to help celebrate a special event!

Key to the Magic: This service allows you to have you room key, charge card, and parking permit all in one. You’ll receive the card when you check in. 

Shopping: Want some Disney pins, apparel, or snacks? There will be a shop available for that!

Get Up & Go Power Walk: All Disney Resort hotel guests will have the opportunity to sign up for a fast-paced 2-mile walk through Disney California Adventure that begins at 6:00AM. Sign up at the Guest Services desk.  

Theater: Grand Californian doesn’t have a theater room, but they do have a television in the lobby which plays various Disney movies. The television is also surrounded by chairs for the little ones. 

Guest Services Desk: Just like the other Disney Resort hotels, the guest services desk is open 24/7. The benefit of this perk can’t be overstated. Whether you have forgotten a toothbrush, need help making a reservation, or want to buy tickets, you’ll always have a little Disney magic to assist you. 

Pools: Grand Californian actually has three different pools and a waterslide. Don’t forget to also take advantage of the poolside food and drink service!

Poolside Cabanas: If you have a little extra money to spend, this may be a good option for you. These cabanas reserve space and shade for you and your party, so you can just focus on having a relaxing day by the pool!


Unique Amenity for Grand Californian


Dedicated Entrance into DCA

This is actually a pretty cool perk for hotel guests. Instead of having to walk through Downtown Disney to get to DCA’s main gate, hotel guests have their own entrance which is right next to Grizzly River Run and Soarin’ Around the World. This is arguably one of the best perks, as you are as close to the parks as you can get. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this dedicated entrance can be long in the mornings when hotel guests pile up at the entrance. All hotel guests obviously want to take advantage of this perk; however, there is usually only two bag checks and x-ray scanner lines. This can lead to a pretty long wait. Honestly, I suggest using the main gate in the mornings, and using the dedicated entrance during the day (it will be emptier than the other entrances as the day goes on).


The Final Verdict

In order to get a good overview on whether or not this hotel is right for you, here are the pros and cons:



  • Dedicated entrance into DCA

  • The closest hotel to both parks

  • Early Magic Hour

  • Bars and food within the hotel

  • Three pools to choose from



  • One of the most expensive hotel options 


Final Thoughts

In my Disney’s Paradise Pier review, I said Paradise Pier was my favorite hotel. However, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has definitely taken that spot. As a parent, the proximity to both parks alone makes this worth the money. I also used the pools (which I never do when visiting Disneyland), and took advantage of the various food and drink offerings they have. I enjoyed the hotel just as much as I enjoyed the parks, which I’ve never really been able to say. 


However, it’s a pretty big splurge, so this may not be the most feasible option for some. If you have the ability to save up before trips, I’d definitely recommend giving this hotel a try. I have a feeling you’ll find it was well worth the money!


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