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Home / Blog / Hotels, Resorts & Lodging / The Frog Family's Guide to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

The Frog Family's Guide to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

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Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the most luxurious and convenient of the three on-site Disneyland hotels. With entrances that put you right into a theme park or Downtown Disney, you are in the heart of the Disneyland Resort, just off Disneyland Drive. But once you step onto the hotel property, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a different part of California. There is something about Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa that melts away all stress and tension, like a walk in the woods. Plus, this hotel is the most convenient location for the theme parks and Downtown Disney. For a limited time, save up to 30% on select stays at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel or the Villas at Disneyland Hotel. You can save up to 25% on select stays for both Standard and Premium room types at a Disneyland Resort hotel on Sunday through Thursday nights. Book through Sept. 12 for visits June 10 through Sept. 26, 2024. The discount is reflected in the rate.

Disney's Grand Californian

Overview of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

The hotel makes you feel like you’ve entered a mountain escape or wellness retreat with towering evergreens and quiet spaces (sprinkled with Disney magic, of course). Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is designed with Craftsman-style elegance and reminds us of visiting the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park and The Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. (In contrast, the Disneyland Hotel has a tropical vintage feel.)

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - LobbyThe reception area is based on the interior of the Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco. The hotel's designer, Peter Dominick, also designed Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World. We love the beautiful stained glass doors and windows in the hotel and spa!

Whether you stay the night or hop in for a day visit or dining, you can’t help but want to spend some time in the spacious lobby with natural light, exposed wooden beams, boulders and soothing piano music. We always find a rocking chair in front of the big fireplace no matter the season. Plus the Wi-Fi connection is strong, and it's nicely air-conditioned in summer. We've even been known to pop into the lobby to take care of business when we need to do some work while we are in the theme parks. (Hopfully, you don't have to work on your vacation!) With several restaurants, a gorgeous spa and pools (with a waterslide), you’ll love being pampered at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

The lobby gets decorated for the holidays. At Halloween Time, you might see a giant Oogie Boogie cake in the lobby. At Holiday Time, you'll find a giant Christmas Tree and a gingerbread replica of the hotel. During the Lunar New Year in 2024, we could not believe the giant Mushu that hung from the ceiling of the great Hall! During the Season of the Force, a giant Millennium Falcon cake is on display. Of course, the cookie cart sells all the cutest and tastiest treats to go with each season.

So, what is it like to stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa? Let’s take a look! Activities and amenities are back. We love classes, pool parties, using Early Entry for hotel guests and more.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Rooms

Look for Chip 'n' Dale in the orange tree mural above the headboards. Select rooms have a sleeper bed. In the bathroom, discover the thrill of finding a hidden Mickey in the wallpaper as you sit on the potty. You have your choice of two shower heads, one of which is an overhead rain shower. Shorter froglets, like our toddler Lily, can use the provided step stool (also with a hidden Mickey) to reach the sink. Nice! The rooms have balconies and are powered with the latest technology, including 55-inch smart TVs, Keurig coffee makers and USB connections to charge your devices. You have a refrigerator in the room, as well as a desk.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Standard Room

The Disneyland Monorail does not make a stop at Disney’s Grand Californian, but some rooms have a view of it zooming by. You can also catch a sign of it traveling through the courtyard before you enter Downtown Disney.

Savings Alert

Save up to 30% this summer!

Discount Grand Californian Hotel rates are available through Undercover Tourist!

Book Your Stay!

Save up to 30% this summer on select consecutive 4-night to 14-night stays at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel or the Villas at Disneyland Hotel. You can save up to 25% on select stays for both Standard and Premium room types at a Disneyland Resort hotel on Sunday through Thursday nights. Book through Sept. 12 for visits June 10 through Sept. 26, 2024. The discount is reflected in the rate.

One note about the beds for the clumsy frogs out there. The comfy mattress sits atop a wooden platform that gives the room a nice airy feel. If you have the sort of knees and shins that easily find sharp corners, walk around the bed with caution as the wood corners stick out farther than the soft mattress.

Amenities, Recreation and Shopping at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Look over the Activities guide you'll receive upon check-in. You can see all the magical offerings, classes and movie nights that might take place during your visit. The three Disneyland hotels rotate viewing locations between them, but all Disneyland hotel guests may attend no matter which hotel is hosting. You can sign up for fitness classes through the spa (some are an additional cost). Some take place in Disney California Adventure before it opens! Disney cartoons in the lobby are back, as are art classes, hotel tours, lessons and more.

Pools

There are several pools and a hot tub located near the entrance to Disney California Adventure. You can rent private cabanas for an additional charge. Smaller froglets can handle the gentle waterslide that wraps around a redwood stump or the shorter slide next to it. Note the pool hours as the pools and hot tubs may close early. If you have young tadpoles, life jackets are available for no extra cost at the pools. Pools are heated year-round, so you can bring your swimsuit no matter which season you're visiting. You'll need a wristband to enjoy the pool area.

The Frog Family's Guide to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Waterslides at Grand Californian

In summer, look for daily pool parties with characters in July and August! You can also try paddle board yoga or paddle board fitness classes arranged through the Tenaya Stone Spa.

You can order food and drinks and even Mickey ice cream bars or root beer floats with a Mickey cookie topper from your pool server. It's so convenient to have a pool right next to the theme park so you can take a break and cool off in the middle of your theme park day!

We recently entered Disney California Adventure at rope drop and took advantage of short morning lines (along with some Genie+ selections). Then we had brunch at Storyteller's Café, where we hung out with Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale. We rested our full bellies at the pool and stayed cool during the hottest hours of the day. We used Genie+ to set up some Lightning Lanes for Disneyand so that when we finished with the pool we could hop to Disneyland, rejuvenated, with no ride waits in the afternoon. What a perfect Disney day! The closeness of the hotel and amenities made it all very easy.

Fitness Center

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Fitness Center

The Eureka Fitness Center has high-tech machines such as treadmills, bicycles (regular as well as recumbent), ellipticals, stair climbers, weight machines — and free weights. It's open 24 hours a day!

Fitness classes are back. Some meet at the fitness center, some at the spa and in-park classes meet at the hotel's Disney California Adventure entrance. You can even take Hula classes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Disneyland Hotel! Try yoga, aqua yoga and other core strength and meditation classes. Fitness classes and an early morning power walk or boot camp in the closed Disney California Adventure cost extra and are arranged through the spa.

Early Entry to Theme Parks

Disneyland Resort hotel guests can enter a theme park (with tickets and reservations) 30 minutes before park opening. Early Entry hours are in one park per day as of Jan. 20, 2024. Hotel guests have access to select attractions, dining and shopping before the park opens to everyone else.

Acorn Gifts & Goods

This souvenir shop off the lobby has apparel, toys and more. You'll find more shopping just outside of the hotel in Downtown Disney (including a World of Disney store and Marceline's Confectionery, where you can pick up caramel apples, churro toffee and other sweet treats to take home.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Stained GlassParking has a cost. It’s $40 per night for self-parking or $70 per night for valet parking. Keep in mind that self-parking is across the street near the Pixar Place Hotel. It certainly makes you consider paying that difference in price for valet parking. You can always drop off your family and bags and go park the car to save money. You need a room key to access hotel self-parking.

ATM

You'll find an ATM located near the lobby.

Laundry

Traveling with kids? You might want to know where you can do laundry. The budget-friendly laundry facilities are located on the first and second floors. Both are open 24 hours. Bring credit or debit cards for payment.

Digital Room Key

Did you know you can check in online and use your phone to open your room? You don't even need to visit the front desk! You'll need a Bluetooth-enabled device and the latest version of the Disneyland app. But if you want a card key, just stop by the front desk.

Housekeeping

Light housekeeping comes by every other day of your stay at this time to remove trash and used towels. If you need anything before that, just ask Guest Services. You can put used linens in the provided laundry basket.

Room Charge

For convenience, you can charge select Disneyland Resort shopping and dining purchases right to your room through the Disneyland app.

The Tenaya Stone Spa at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Spa Room

Leap and I splurged at the recently renovated Tenaya Stone Spa during our last stay. It was toadally worth it! Even if you just want to hop in for a foot massage in the middle of your theme park day, you will have an immensely better time because of it. The highlight of our trip was that foot massage. Our flippers never felt so good as they did at the end of that theme park day! You no longer need to be a hotel guest to make appointments at the spa. Leap says he's budgeting a foot massage at Tenaya Stone Spa into every visit no matter where we stay, and I am 100% on board with that.

Guests who have booked a spa treatment may arrive 30 minutes early to enjoy the peaceful relaxation lounge (and the eucalyptus-infused steam room when it returns). People who have hair, nail or wax services in the salon may arrive 10 minutes early.

When you enter the spa from the gift shop, you’ll enter a forest of trees surrounding the Tenaya stone, originating in Yosemite and gifted by the descendants of Chief Tenaya. Just past the stone is a relaxation lounge with running water, snacks, beverages and comfortable seats. You can choose to wear a robe if you want to get comfier. You can enjoy this area before your spa treatments and unwind from the outside world.

Dining at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Grand Californian - Storytellers Cafe plate of food

You can enjoy on-site quick-dining to table-service dining and lounges. This hotel offers two character dining choices along with room service, bars and many more restaurants at nearby Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel. Character hugs are back! Hotel guests have preferred access to hotel dining reservations during their stay.

Hearthstone Lounge

The Frog Family's Guide to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Hamburger at Hearthstone Lounge

This hidden gem is located just off the lobby from about noon until midnight. Hop in for drinks or a meal. You don't need a reservation to dine here, which is nice. The kitchen stays open late. The tadpoles love a late-night grilled cheese while Leap and I enjoy an adult beverage and a really good burger.

GCH Craftsman Bar

The Frog Family's Guide to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - women enjoy lunch at GCH Bar

This poolside bar and lounge is a kickback outside dining location. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and the bar might be a good spot to catch a sports game if someone in your party is interested. Don’t froget to ask about the hot dog of the month or seasonal drinks. The nachos and quesadillas are delicious and fun to share!

GCH Craftsman Grill

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - GCH Craftsman Grill

This almost-hidden, quick-service dining location (just across from the bar and next to the spa) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can order in person. Get grab ‘n’ go foods or order hot food from the grill (and sit outside or inside). For us, it's all about the avocado toast and breakfast burritos (egg whites only, please) in the morning, but there are adorable doughnuts, Belgian waffles and typical American breakfast items. At lunch and dinner, you have nachos, poke bowls wings, sandwiches, pizza and more. The menu is pretty similar to the GCH Craftsman Bar menu, but it's quick service instead of table service.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Storytellers CafeStorytellers Café

Storytellers Café has a breakfast buffet with brunch after 11 a.m. on select days. The best part is that you get to start your day with Disney pals such as Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale. Read all about it in our post on character dining at Storytellers Café. Dinner is also a buffet, but no characters are present. You can upgrade dinner to the World of Color dining package if you want a reserved (but standing) area to watch the show.

Napa Rose

Napa Rose is next door to Storytellers. It offers a three-course Princess Breakfast Adventures character dining breakfast (it’s more like brunch) on select days. In our Disneyland character dining post, you can learn more about this pricy but elegant three-course dining experience. Princess interactions are modified at this time.

If you want a special night out of fine dining, make a reservation for dinner. No characters will join you for dinner, but you can enjoy the good food and atmosphere.

Room Service

Room Service is available at this hotel for breakfast and in the evening. You can also use a QR code to order food from select Downtown Disney restaurants and have it delivered to the lobby.

Downtown Disney

Just outside the hotel, you’ll find a bunch of quick-service and table-service dining choices. Hop over to our Downtown Disney restaurant post to find the best choice for you.

We recommend getting a reservation if you want to dine at Storytellers Café, Napa Rose or the GCH Craftsman Bar (or even some Downtown Disney locations). Reservations can open up to 60 days in advance anytime at 6 a.m. Some locations do open up reservation times later, so if you do not see what you want, keep checking back. If you don't get a reservation, you may be able to join the walk-up availability list through the Disneyland app.

Holiday Cart in the Lobby

At certain times of the year, you can hop by the cookie cart in the lobby to get all kinds of yummy goodness from cookies and other baked goods, cookie shots, hot cider and even adult beverages. During holiday time, we always hop by for the gingerbread cookies and cider, which we enjoy by the fire. In February, you may find Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day treats. Keep an eye out throughout the year for seasonal cookies and treats (such as for Season of the Force, the Fourth of July or spooky treats at Halloween Time). The cart is usually open in the afternoon and evening.

Grills

The Frog Family's Guide to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Grills and tables

Did you know this hotel has grills? You can grill up some food for your family. And the door that takes you to the grills is also on the short path to the Pixar Pier theme park entrance into Disney California Adventure.

What to Consider Before Staying at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Theme Park Entrance

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a stay at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Location, location location. We want to say that the other hotels are just as convenient, but they are not. This hotel accesses the middle of Downtown Disney and is the closest hotel to Disneyland Park (accessible through Downtown Disney). Not only that, but it has a separate side entrance right into Disney California Adventure as well as another hotel entrance into the park near Pixar Place! Whether you are starting or ending your day at Disney California Adventure, you will appreciate the convenience of this special theme park entrance.

Early Entry into the theme parks. The morning is the least crowded time of day at Disneyland. The park is even less crowded before it opens. Hotel guests can get in 30 minutes before park opening at every day (a with ticket and theme park reservation). Hotel guests have access to select attractions, dining and shopping. The parks alternate hosting Early Entry, so you'll have to have a reservation for the park that holds Early Entry to take advantage of this benefit. On Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it's at Disney California Adventure, while on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, it's at Disneyland. Always check the schedule up to six weeks in advance, as the days can change for special events, such as runDisney races.

What is your budget? This is the priciest of the three hotels. (Although some of the toadally awesome signature suites and Disneyland Hotel are also quite a splurge.) If it’s within your means, then enjoy this luxurious and convenient location. Did you know you can book hotel rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian (or any on-site or off-site hotels near Disneyland) for a discount through Undercover Tourist? No matter where you stay, if you need a rental car, be sure to book one when booking the hotel to unlock even deeper discounts and save up to 50% on the car.

Choose your view. A premium view looks at the pool or theme park. You can also select a woods, garden or courtyard view or a standard view (which has views of Disneyland Drive, Downtown Disney, interior courtyards, the rooftop or parking). We recently had what might be considered a lesser view as it looked out toward the driveway to the hotel, but the tall trees made it feel quiet and peaceful. Our standard views have also included Downtown Disney or the Monorail. We get a different view every time we visit.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Theme Park View from Balcony

Find a view from outside your room. There are some balconies with views that all guests can access. On the fifth floor, there is a balcony with seating that overlooks the pools. On the sixth floor, you can find a balcony (bring a room key to access it) that looks out over Disney California Adventure’s Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens Park. It might be a great spot to catch World of Color from a distance!

How much time are you planning to spend at the hotel? If you are an open-to-close theme park warrior, you might not be spending a lot of time at the hotel. But if you want to come and go between the hotel and the theme park to take breaks, then this is your place. You can hop back to use the gym, pools and spa, and to dine.

What kind of vibe are you looking for? If you are looking for a serene escape from the busy theme parks or a more upscale experience, this would be your best choice. If you want more water slides and a water play area for toddlers besides the main pools, you might consider the Disneyland Hotel in your search.

How big is your party? Standard rooms at Disneyland Hotel are a little bigger and have a day bed for a fifth person (or if you have party members who do not want to share a bed). Some rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian do not. Some rooms have a twin sleeper chair or a day bed. Just be sure you book what your party needs to sleep comfortably.

Security. You will need to prepare to go through a security bag check and metal detector every time you enter the theme park or Downtown Disney. Use the Downtown Disney security to access Disneyland Park, and use the security near the pools and restaurants for Disney California Adventure. Or use the lesser-known (and less-crowded) entrance to Disney California Adventure. It puts you in the park near the Corn Dog Castle. Exit by the grills and make a left. The early bird gets the worm, so line up extra early to get into the parks before they open.

Which Disneyland ticket and reservations do you want? You have a lot to think about in terms of theme park tickets and park reservations. Do you want to start your day in Disney California Adventure or end there to make the best use of the theme park hotel entrance? Is a park hopper ticket worth it? We think so, especially for a multi-day ticket. Did you know it's less money per day to add park hopping to a multi-day ticket compared to a 1-day ticket? You get your money's worth with a park hopper multi-day ticket. It allows you to start in one park and hop after 1 p.m., that way you can either start or end your day (or even both) at Disney California Adventure.

The Downtown Disney entrance from Disney's Grand Californian makes it just as easy to be among the first people at the gates of Disneyland Park before park opening. We suggest starting in each park at least once during your visit to take advantage of the shortest lines of the day.

We love staying at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and we know you will too. Check here for a hoppin' deal on a room. If you need theme park tickets, you can also get discount Disneyland Resort theme park tickets from your favorite froggy friends. Book a rental car at the same time you book a room to unlock deeper discounts!

Related: All of the Magical Reasons to Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

Related: Tips to Maximize Your Time at Disneyland

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments

Comments

Jan 29, 2024 at 2:22 a.m.
Becky Says...

Any idea where I could buy an animal lamp like is on the registration desks? Like the cute snail lamp?

Reply
Sep 1, 2023 at 12:31 p.m.
David Says...

This is regarding GCH Craftsman Bar, hoping you can help! Lol Made a reservation there for our trip in October. I was looking at how to get there by foot from the hotels on a harbour Blvd. Google shows a path of going through downtown Disney then turning left at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney.

Issue is all maps and photos I find make it seem like there’s no actual path or way to reach GCH Craftsman Bar that way. So just wanted to double check that Google is correct and there actually is some type of path leading to the restaurant next to the Starbucks? If there isn’t, what’s the best way to reach it on foot?

Thanks and I appreciate the help! :)

Reply
Sep 1, 2023 at 10:41 a.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Hi David!

There is an entrance to the Grand Californian in Downtown Disney - located between Sephora and the Disney Dress Shop.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Sep 1, 2023 at 4:29 p.m.
David Says...

Ooooo thank you so much ! I’ve screenshot the answer so I do t forget! Thanks again :)

Reply
Jul 10, 2023 at 2:08 p.m.
Shari Says...

My kids and I are staying at the GCH in August. Thank you for the great information all in one place.

Reply
Jul 10, 2023 at 1:05 p.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Enjoy, Shari!! Thanks for hopping by :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Feb 24, 2023 at 4:19 p.m.
Patrice Says...

Hi,

Which hotel has the car themed seat restaurant on its grounds, please?

Reply
Feb 24, 2023 at 12:32 p.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Hi Patrice!

We're not toadally sure which restaurant you're referring to, but here are a few spots that came to mind and may help you figure it out! Inside Disney California Adventure Park, there is a "Cars"-themed land, which includes Cozy Cone Motel (quick-service) and Flo's V8 Cafe (quick-service). And this last one is a less likely option since it's over at Disney World, but there's the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant at Hollywood Studios (your table is shaped as a car and the restaurant is themed like a drive-in movie theater). Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Sep 15, 2022 at 12:42 a.m.
Amanda Cowan Says...

I heard there is no room service there like there used to be.. is there room service or no?

Reply
Sep 15, 2022 at 12:35 p.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Hi Amanda!

Room service has returned to the Grand Californian.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Aug 3, 2022 at 3:23 p.m.
SweetCaroline74 Says...

This post was chock-full of super useful info. I had so many little questions about our upcoming stay (the type of questions only overplanners think of... LOL!) and I got pretty much all my answers. Thanks so much!

Reply
Aug 3, 2022 at 10:34 a.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Frogtastic! We hope you have a wonderful stay! :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply

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