I thought I might write a little today about the 3 different hotels at the Disneyland Resort: the Paradise Pier Hotel, the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and the Disneyland Hotel. I’ve worked at each of these properties and thought I might share a little information about each in case you’re interested in staying at one of them.
Each hotel has a unique history and story to it. No matter which property you may choose to stay at, you’ll receive a Disney experience. One important thing to remember too is that all rooms at the 3 Disneyland hotels, unlike Orlando, are booked by view type. Bedding is always subject to availability. With that being said, I can personally attest to the room assigners always trying their best to accommodate all requests.
The Paradise Pier hotel is the most economical of the 3 Disney hotels. It was once owned and operated by a Japanese company and called the Pan Pacific Hotel before Disney acquired it and built the Downtown Disney District. The hotel is themed after a 1920s beach themed resort and has 14 floors. The hotel offers Standard and premium view rooms (some of which overlook California Adventure where you can watch the World of Color). The Paradise Pier has a rooftop pool on the 3rd floor.
The Paradise Pier has one quick service restaurant, the Surfside lounge and one full service restaurant, the PCH Grill. The PCH Grill in the morning serves as the hotel’s character dining location where you can see Donald Duck and sometimes even Stitch! PCH Grill is closed in the afternoon, but reopens in the evening for dinner. The gift shop in the lobby, Mickey in Paradise is the largest hotel gift shop of all 3 resorts and is a nice place to stop by in case you forgot to bring anything. Other basic amenities include a fitness center, laundry facility and business center.
Next up is the Grand California Hotel and Spa. The Grand is the priciest option of the 3 hotels and perhaps the least Disney themed. The hotel opened in 2001 along side the Downtown Disney district and California Adventure theme park. The hotel was later expanded to include villas as part of the Disney Vacation Club program. It was just recently renovated and has been beautifully brightened up. The hotel is themed after the arts and craft movement of the 1920s.
If you enter the lobby you may notice it looks very similar to that of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World in Orlando. That’s because all three hotels were designed by the late Peter Dominick. Although he passed away in 2009, his attention to details remains legendary. For example, if you get into the lobby elevators and ride up each floor, you may notice statues of birds. I loved pointing out that the high the floor, the higher the bird type of the statue could fly. The bird heads on all of these statues are removable; in 1920, they may have been used to hide alcohol during prohibition.
The Grand Californian has views that are standard, deluxe, woods views of California Adventure or of its Barista Courtyard, or premium. The pool area contains several pools and hot tubs along with a water slide. This hotel has a fitness center, 2 laundry rooms and business area. Most people will notice that the monorail runs through the hotel, but doesn’t stop there. Someday it may, but for now the monorail will only stop in Tomorrowland in Disneyland or at Downtown Disney.
The Grand Californian has 1 gift shop, Acorn’s Gifts, but it doesn’t quite have the same selection as Mickey’s in Paradise. It better to walk through the hotel to Downtown Disney and over to the main gift shop for the Downtown Disney area and shop at the World of Disney. There is 1 quick service food location, Whitewater Snacks (which has amazing nachos) and 2 full service restaurants, Storyteller’s Cafe and the Napa Rose.
Storyteller’s Cafe serves as the character dining location for breakfast at the hotel where you can see the one and only Mickey Mouse! This is my favorite character breakfast as the buffet has the widest selection of goodies to choose from. Storyteller’s is closed for lunch during the week, and reopens for dinner in the evening. The Napa Rose is considered a fine dining location and rotates it’s menu seasonally. The wine list is outstanding and is truly hard to beat. It is only open for dinner and fills up quickly. Reservations are highly recommended! Ask about the chef’s counter if you really want to treat yourself.
I don’t want to forget to mention the Mandara Spa! It is a full service spa open to any guests is popular to destress at after a long day inside the theme parks. Before I move onto my home away from home, I’ll mention that the Grand has a piano player during the evenings. When I was there it was typically either Hugh or Jamie. They will be more than happy to play any some requested of them and are the real hidden gems within the hotel.
Last but certainly not least is my favorite hotel, the Disneyland Hotel! I may be biased, but there is no beating the original hotel. The Disneyland Hotel opened it’s doors in 1955, just a few months after Disneyland. On opening day, there were only 7 guest rooms available and 1 room serving as an office! The Disneyland Hotel was owned and operated for a long time by Jack Wrather who himself was a visionary. The Disneyland Hotel had a piano bar, a mall, marina area, arcade and was truly state of the art.
Today the Disneyland Hotel retains its magic, but is now spread across 3 different buildings, the Fantasy, Adventure and Frontier towers. Each tower is themed after a different land and has a bit of magic to its decor. The hotel front desk is located inside of the Fantasy Tower where you will notice tea cups from Wonderland as you enter the building. The Fantasy Tower has several historic photographs from various celebrities who have stayed there through the years and a beautiful map of the original Disneyland park.
Before I continue, I want to mention that the Disneyland Hotel has several different types of rooms that are: standard, deluxe and premium. On nights there are fireworks it is possible to see them from some of the rooms that overlook Downtown Disney of the Mickey and Friends parking structure. The hotel has a wonderful pool area in the middle of the hotel with the fastest watersides on resort property.
Going back to the Fantasy Tower, you will find 2 hotel shops, Small World Gifts and Fantasia Gifts. Small World Gifts carries swimsuits, snacks and everyday items, while Fantasia carries resort souvenirs. Also in the Fantasy Tower you will find a convention center, the Coffee House and 2 full service restaurants. The Coffee House is not open all day, but it is the only place on resort property outside the theme parks where you can find the world famous Dole Whip!
The Disneyland Hotel has character dining at Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast and dinner. You will find Goofy and all his pals having a blast! This character location is the most popular character dining location. Sometimes on the weekdays after breakfast, you may find Goofy playing in the lobby with his pals. It was almost the highlight of my day to see what Goofy was up to.
Steakhouse 55 is the other fine dining location of the three hotels. It serves breakfast in the mornings, high tea on the weekends from 12-3 and dinner in the evenings. High tea is always booked up! Make sure you make your reservations as soon as possible if you want to experience high tea. Steakhouse 55 serves the best dessert you will ever eat called the 24 layer chocolate cake! If you are a chocolate lover it is a must eat! It is 24 layers of amazing alternating chocolate yumminess. It can be ordered at the lounge if the line for the restaurant is too busy….
The quick service restaurant for the hotel is located by the pool area. Tagaroa Terrence serves Hawaiian and American themed dishes and is connected to the bar area, Trader Sam’s. This is the place where night life happens. The atmosphere is fun, but it can be overwhelming at times. Life Hawaiian bands play on the weekends. Pretty sure I forgot to mention Heartstone Lounge as the bar over at the Grand.
Jumping back over to the different buildings, I want to mention that the Adventure Tower is the original building that was the Disneyland Hotel! It has some original Jungle Cruise statues in its lobby. A lot of guests always requested to stay in this tower for the view, but it’s also the noisiest. All of the sounds from Downtown Disney bounce off the walls.
The tower, the Frontier tower houses a model of the Big Thunder Railroad in Frontierland. It’s often overlooked and is a wonderful piece of art. Next to the tower is the Rose Garden where many weddings take place and the last remaining waterfall from the original hotel. There is a geyser named Old Faithful that still goes off from time to time. Other amenities include: fitness center, laundry facilities and a business center.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention quite a few things, but this is just meant to serve to an introduction as to each of the three hotels. I haven’t even mentioned the concierge level or transportation! I’ll cover those along with other hotel benefits in a future post. I do want to mention that parking for the hotels is not included. Neither is breakfast or theme park tickets. There is free wi-fi at the 3 hotels and an extra magic hour. I’ve gone on long enough for now. Until next time, happy travels.