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A Beginner’s Trip to Disneyland Part Three – Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

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In my last installment of the Beginner’s Guide to Disneyland Part Two, I discussed our experience staying at Paradise Pier Hotel for the first time. This next installment will dive into our experience moving to and staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa!

When we first began planning our trip to Disneyland it was a bit overwhelming. There was so much to factor in. You can catch up on the entire planning process in Part 1 of my Beginner’s Guide to Disneyland series.

Part of planning our trip was deciding where to stay. We ended up booking multiple stays at the Disneyland resort hotels to experience them all. You can read all about our experience staying at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel HERE.

A Beginner's Trip to Disneyland Part Two - Paradise Pier
Credit: KtP Writer Christina

After our first night at Paradise Pier we transferred to the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for a two night stay.

First Impression

There are not enough words in the English Dictionary to describe how amazing this hotel is! Now to be fair, we were coming from Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel so to say the difference was a stark contrast is an understatement. 

The resort reminded me so much of the Wilderness Lodge Resort in Disney World. Both hotels were designed by the same person, so that’s not surprising. Everything was very rustic-chic, with lots of wood and stone details.

There were elements that also reminded me of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa such as the the pianist playing in the lobby every afternoon.

Similar to Wilderness Lodge, there was a big roaring fire in the main lobby with wooden rocking chairs. This was the perfect way to end a busy day at the parks. We sat in front of the fire each night for almost an hour.


We ended up rope dropping Disneyland in the morning and took a mid-day break for brunch at the Storyteller’s Cafe and to check-in to our room.

All of our luggage had already been shipped from Paradise Pier to the Grand Californian so all we had to do was call bell services to bring them to our room.

Our Room

The room was very elegant and the beds were like marshmallows. I have never slept on anything more comfortable than that bed in my life. While we didn’t get any sort of view upgrade here, our room had a lovely view of Grizzly Peak and some beautiful trees. 

I felt so at home at the Grand Californian. I think that was mostly because it reminded me so much of the Wilderness Lodge resort at Disney World. It was cozy and familiar.

The room was a standard size room you would expect from any deluxe Disney resort. I particularly liked the adorable Chip and Dale wall design behind the beds! 

The bathroom was very nice and had a rather large walk-in shower. The room also came supplied with ultra fuzzy bathrobes. I seriously tried to buy one of these, but they didn’t sell the same ones from the room downstairs in the gift shop.

Pool Amenities

The pool at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was absolutely gorgeous, which is why it kills me to say that we didn’t get to swim here!

One of the days we tried to use the pool, the main pool was closed due to issues so we just sat outside on the pool chairs.

The other days we had full park days planned and when we had time to swim, it was too cold. If I ever get the chance to come back, I will plan a whole day just to spend at this pool!

The main pool has a really neat water slide that wraps around a giant tree trunk. There was also a mini slide next to it for the little ones to enjoy.

There were also numerous hot tubs to enjoy!


Another thing that made the Grand Californian resort way better was the location. Compared to the commute from Paradise Pier hotel, the Grand Californian was much closer.

Not to mention there was a special entrance right from our resort directly into California Adventure park! That was more valuable than we would have initially thought.

Dining at Storyteller’s Cafe

There were a lot of great dining experiences at Disney’s Grand Californian resort, but time being limited, we only booked the Storyteller’s Cafe brunch.

I know many suggested we should try Napa Rose; however, our days were limited and the menu was a bit too adventurous and pricy for everyone in my party. That being said, if you like what you see on the Napa Rose menu go for it! Everyone says it’s amazing.

Many of our Crew members highly recommended the Storyteller’s Cafe brunch to us, and it was a fantastic choice!

I am a big fan of characters and at the time we visited you could meet some rare ones such as Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear.

Not long after our trip the character line up was changed so I was grateful to have the experience as we had such a blast with the characters.

The food was spectacular and the offerings were so unique and delicious! Again, we visited pre-covid so the food then was served buffet-style. 

Right now, Storyteller’s Cafe has changed to family-style offering due to covid restrictions.  If I ever visit Disneyland again, and if buffets every come back, I would certainly make sure to come back here!

Too Good to Leave

Our original plan was to only stay at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for two nights and then transfer to the Disneyland hotel. Well, as you can imagine, after experiencing all the wonders of this hotel, we didn’t want to leave. 

We called down to the front desk to see if it would be possible to extend our stay two more nights instead of switching over to the Disneyland hotel. They checked and said they had no availability to accommodate the request at that time, but said we could keep checking back. 

Each day we would call or stop by the desk and check. We were told it was a request that needed permission by someone from upper management to book one of the “on hold” rooms since the resort was full.

For us, it wasn’t just the resort that made us want to extend our stay but the location. I had people in my travel party with mobility issues and we knew switching to the Disneyland hotel would be difficult for them.

On the last night of our stay, my mom took one more Hail Mary pass and stopped by the front desk. She explained her mobility trouble and asked if they could check to see if we could extend our stay.

Wish Granted!

Well, the prayers and perseverance worked because she happened to ask a Cast Member with authroization to make the approval. Not only did they let us extend our stay, but we were able to stay in the same room and not move our stuff! 

I’ll say it again and again, Disney Cast Members are amazing. They are truly the magic makers and we were so thankful to that manager who helped us out!

While I am sure we would have loved the Disneyland resort, I felt so blessed to be able to spend more time at the wonderful Grand Californian Hotel. 

If you have the chance to book a stay at this amazing hotel, you won’t regret it.

Have you ever stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook and be sure to stay tuned for the next installment of this series coming soon!


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