Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

On our recent Diva family trip to the Disneyland Resort, we needed to stay in a resort hotel that was close to the parks. Of the three hotels available, the Grand Californian was really the best choice for our needs.  It is actually attached to California Adventure and Downtown Disney, and it even has a private entrance into DCA for hotel guests. 
 The Grand Californian Hotel was designed after the famous Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. 
 I borrowed this from the Disney website - you can see that it kind of has that Sierra Nevada mountain lodge look to it.
 We took these as we drove into the hotel so excuse some of the glare from the car window.  This is the main entrance.  We love all the trees against the wood siding.
 Here we are approaching the valet parking.  You can self park, for $15 a day, but we chose the valet parking for $22 a day.  It was the most convenient for us because Mr. Diva had to leave part of one day to go out and back for something for work.
 I borrowed this one from the Disney site also.  We were so excited that we didn't get a picture of us checking in, but the registration is so beautiful that we wanted to show it here. Let me state right away that all of the cast members we dealt with from registration, bell service, valet, housekeeping and the information desk were all fantastic.  They went above and beyond to make sure that this trip was all that we wanted it to be!
 We arrived an hour before the check in time of 3pm, and found that you can't check in early, so our luggage was gathered and stored by the bell service.  We were allowed to sit and relax in this gorgeous lobby with a piano player on the second level balcony.  At 3pm we were quickly checked in and the bell service promptly delivered our luggage to our rooms.
 This is from the fourth floor, looking down on the grand fireplace.
Details really make the place don't they?  Look at these lamps in the hallways.
Aunt Diva was particularly enamored with the tile work on the floors in the lobby.

And of course I can't move on from the lobby without pointing out one of the Hidden Mickeys in there. Can you see it?
 As we headed to one of our rooms in the far corner of the hotel, we passed the pool area.  There are three pools in this area and you must show your room key in order to even get in to look.
 This is the kiddie pool with the slide that backs up against the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in DCA.

That is the third pool in the back ground and one of several spas can be seen behind the table on the right.
 The view of the hotel from the pool area.  The gate is right in front of the Storytellers Cafe.
 We took a picture from the park, looking up at Sister Diva's suite that she shared with Momma and Daddy Diva.  It is the window and covered patio on the corner right above the top of the trees.  If you know DCA, you know we are standing at the corner of Condor Flats with Soarin' to our right and the path to Grizzly River Run on our left.
 This is the view from that patio.  You can see the front of the plane in the bottom right corner.  Amazing view right?   From left to right we can see the roof to Soarin', Hollywood Tower of Terror, Carthay Circle Theater, Grizzly Peak and the Monorail!  We could also hear Minnie's Fly Girls as they performed.
 This is the view from the living room area of the suite.  Again, still amazing!  This suite had a large entrance area, a hallway with a small closet and bar that opened into a living room with a pull-out sofa bed, two arm chairs, TV cabinet, coffee table and small table with two chairs for working or eating.  We were so busy that somehow we forgot to take good pictures of the suite.
 If you turned to the left from the entrance area and walk down a small hallway with a large closet, you come to the large bedroom with this luscious king size bed.  There was a ton of room in here and it had a small patio off the east side of the room and a large window looking out at the beautiful view above.
 The bathroom was also large.   There was this vanity area and then behind it was a large area with the toilet and the shower.  You also get complimentary robes to use during your stay. The bathroom area opens into the bedroom hallway and into the living room area.

It was a gorgeous suite and we couldnt have been more surprised and pleased! So perfect for a trip that we wanted to be extra special for Sister Diva.

So that we could be near the rest of our party, Mr Diva, Aunt Diva and I booked a room at a different time. We ended up on the other end of the hotel with a park view of Goofy's Sky School.  Again, we forgot to take actual pictures of the room, so I borrowed these and this is exactly what our room looked like.

Very nice, plenty of room for the three of us, and we are so glad they do not use bed spreads!  We learned on Hotel Impossible that they are dirty, disgusting and so 1980's.
Our bathroom was nice too!  Everything seemed very clean and well maintained.  Totally important to us.
 The carpet has Hidden Mickey's in it so don't forget to look for them!

Now here is where I am going to veer from the praise for just a moment to tell you on this blog what I wrote in my survey for the resort.  We paid for a room with a park view.  We understood that it was a last minute booking at a very busy time. We didn't mind that our room was on the complete opposite side of the hotel, that it was a room and not a suite, and that we were overlooking the park from Goofy's Sky School. We were glad we got a room in the hotel to be near the rest of our party, but, when you pay for a park view room, you should get a view of the park, not this:
If you go out onto the tiny balcony and peer far to the left you can see this:

I must again reiterate that we only booked a room in the hotel to be near our family and to be able to serve them so that they could have the best trip possible.  The room itself was wonderful and served its purpose.  We weren't in our room enough to care about the view, or lack there of, BUT, we paid for a park view the same as everyone else and this is what we got. Not cool Disney.  If I were staying here on vacation with my family and I paid some $500 a night for this "view," I would be livid.  So as a courtesy to my readers, if you get booked in room 3256, 3258 or 3260 and are assured a park view, I would contest it.

Okay, enough of the one flaw in our trip and back to the good stuff!

 You definitely want to get the "turn down service."  The maid comes in and turns the corner of your sheets down and then leaves a cute little note wishing you sweet dreams as well as leaving you some yummy chocolates.
 These are the cute and tasty turn down chocolates.
One of the reasons we chose the Grand Californian was because they have a private entrance right into DCA from the hotel.  As we had two members of our party with medical issues, we knew this would be important for us since we would be able to get them back to their rooms quickly and easily throughout the day.  From the hotel, you enter the park just past the Napa Rose and the pool. You enter the park right across from Grizzy River Run.  This is also the best place to line up for the Magical Morning Hour where as a resort hotel guest, you get to enter the park a full hour ahead of the riff raff. ;-D  This was especially helpful the day we did Radiator Springs Racers.  We got on the ride in about 30 minutes and then also got fast passes to go again later in the day.

Another thing we knew we were going to need were some ECV's (electric convenience vehicles) as mobility was a big issue for Daddy Diva and Sister Diva.  We wanted them to have enough energy to get through each day and not expend unnecessary energy on walking long distances and standing endlessly in lines.  We thought that Mr. Diva and I were going to have to run over to Disneyland to rent them every morning and return them every night, but not so!  We were informed at registration that we could actually rent them through the hotel and that they could use them in the hotel to get down the long hallways to the room and they were able to keep them for the duration of our stay.  Fantastic service!!
Daddy Diva was reticent about getting one as he said he would be fine walking around and standing all three days.  We knew better and insisted.  He fell in love with it and he ended up speeding all over the place.  One particular time, we were all reduced to fits of giggles as he left us in the dust and all we had were momentary low flying cowboy hat sightings as he sped through New Orleans Square from Pirates to the Haunted Mansion. 
We must say that we booked this trip at the very last minute, and we had two people in our party of six who had medical issues.  We wanted this to be a very, very special trip for them and that was mentioned to the cast members when we booked the room and checked in.  We paid for and were assured a park view, and what a view it was! Let's take another look at it!

One last thing to note is that we checked out of the hotel before 11am, but wanted to spend more time in the park.  So that we didn't loose any more time in the park than we had to, we called Bell Service and they took our bags from our rooms and held them for us until we were ready to go home.  We also had the use of the ECV until we left as well.  Since we had rented them from the hotel, we just went back to Bell Services in the lobby and had them get our luggage, then to the valet to get our car, and after they delivered our car and loaded the baggage into it, they took the ECV's from us and returned them.  So incredibly smooth and such great service!

The Diva family highly recommends the Grand Californian if there is any way that you can work it out to stay there.

1 comment:

Susan Stringfellow said...

thank you for the wonderfully detailed review! I love all of the little extras but the rates still seem a bit higher than I would expect. Gorgeous view in the suite! LOVE the lobby views