When I visit the Disneyland Resort, I usually stay offsite at the Candy Cane Inn. However, in October 2014, I had the opportunity to stay in a 2-Bedroom Villa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. (A BIG thank you to the Oster Family for generously gifting us their Disney Vacation Club points!)
If you’re a Walt Disney World Resort regular, the Grand Californian may give you a sense of déjà vu. It’s not your imagination: both of the resorts were designed by architect Peter Dominick. Much like Wilderness Lodge Resort, the impressive lobby, or Great Room, is inspired by the National Parks Service lodges and features a gigantic stone fireplace, soaring ceilings and gorgeous wood beams.
There are 71 villas at the Grand Californian ranging in size from a Deluxe Studio up to a 3-Bedroom Villa. We stayed in a 2-Bedrooom Villa which accommodates up to nine people and features: a full kitchen, stackable washer/dryer and three bathrooms. Our particular villa included 1 king-sized bed in the master bedroom, 2 queen-sized beds in the second bedroom and a queen-sized sleeper sofa and pull-down bed in the living room.
We got our first look at the villa after a memorable day at Disney’s California Adventure Park (which we accessed via the Grand Californian’s special entrance!) and World of Color. First off – wow – what a view! We could have easily watched World of Color from the comfort of our beds. Speaking of the beds, they are everything you’d expect from a deluxe resort: plush mattresses that envelop you and tons of fluffy pillows. Heaven after a long day in a theme park with a toddler!
DIStracted Tip: As a perk of being Disney Vacation Club guests, we enjoyed World of Color from a reserved 6th floor viewing area at the Grand Californian. While the view wasn’t perfect, and it proved to be quite windy, Disney piped in the full soundtrack. We were able to enjoy the amazing water and light show without having to deal with thousands of other guests.
I’m a big fan of the Arts and Crafts style so the decor was right up my alley. The warm tone of the furniture, trim, and paneled doors accompanied by the earthy colors of the paint, light fixtures, tiles and textiles gave the villa a cozy feeling. Of course, the “magic is in the details” and there were plenty of details! One of my favorites was found in the wallpaper border in the bathroom:
Our villa was a dedicated 2-bedroom and not a lock off, so there was only one door into the villa. We ended up using the little entryway as a staging area to consolidate all the paraphernalia needed for a day in the park – stroller, diaper bag, camera, etc. We found this to be a great way to remember all the important items since we literally tripped over stuff when walking through the compact space!
While the fully stocked kitchen included everything needed to stay in and cook your own meals on the cheap, we were on the go the entire visit and opted to pick up our food at Downtown Disney. The kitchen featured marble counter tops, a stainless steel microwave, range, and dishwasher. If you have a sizeable group, there’s plenty of space to eat. In addition to the large banquette style dining table, guests can belly up to the breakfast bar before they hit the parks.
The stacked washer/dryer sure came in handy on this trip. My son REALLY enjoyed his first Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar and returned from the park covered in melted chocolaty ice cream goodness. Luckily, we were able to pop his outfit into the washer and avoid any stains.
Unfortunately we didn’t get much of an opportunity to explore all the amenities. Hwever, we did get a chance to play in the pool before we headed to LAX. If I had it to do all over again, I would build in an extra day just to explore the hotel and enjoy the pool. My son had a blast going down the water slide (and flirting with the lifeguard!)
DIStracted Tip: Parents or guardians are not allowed to stand at the base of the slide and must remain on the other side of the lane rope (approximately 10-12 feet away). If your child is unable to swim, secure them in a complimentary life vest and let the water jets do the rest! I was a little nervous about this at first, but it worked like a charm. Once my son hit the water he was pushed towards me and safety. His head did pop under water occasionally, but he still had a blast!