A review of any resort located on a Disney property is not exactly difficult to write, all the resorts, even the value ones, have tremendous charm. We stayed in most of the value and moderate resorts before joining the DVC several years back, and since then, have been able to stay at many of the deluxe resorts located at Walt Disney World. We enjoy staying on property so very much whenever possible because the comfort, location, and transportation options make the vacation even more enjoyable. Because we were not familiar with Disneyland, and since we were celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary, we decided to go large and stay at the Disneyland DVC resort: the Grand Californian. It turned out very similar and very different from Disney World resorts in amazingly good ways…and in one slightly negative way.
I am a huge fan of the Craftsman style of architecture, the Grand Californian is an amazing example. The expansive lobby is warm and inviting, I wish we could have spent some time there, it was beautiful. As I mentioned in the last blog, it took us some time to check-in, there was a long line. The cast members were friendly and tried to make the process as quick and painless as possible.
Our accommodations were lovely. We had a 1 bedroom suite which had a kitchen, living room, master bedroom and bath. My favorite thing was that our balcony overlooked the Grand Californian entrance to California Adventure. We could see the Soarin’ building and the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail from our balcony and hear the sounds of the park. If we had been there longer, I would have spent so much time sitting out there – but the parks were calling, and we spent every minute we could in them. (In fact they were calling so loudly that the only pictures we have of our room are in our minds!)
The only negative surprise that we experienced at the Grand Californian was the lack of a store to purchase basic sundries on property. We had not planned on using our kitchen very often, but we were hoping to pick up a few basic items (soft drinks, bottled water, bananas, etc.) to have in our room. At the WDW resorts, the gift shops and counter service restaurants usually have some small items like this for available for purchase, and the DVC properties usually have a few frozen meals for purchase.
We did not have a car and really had not planned for the possibility we could not find these items. When the cast members told us there really wasn’t another option, we checked into the grocery delivery. There were generally minimums that we didn’t really need to meet (even paying resort prices we rarely spend $30 in a week), and honestly, the biggest concern was the four-hour delivery window, we would have had to stay in the room until delivery was complete. We did not want to miss that much park time, so on the second morning, @drsql walked to a close (Note: @drsql did not write that word close, as it was about a 2 mile round trip!) convenience store off property for a few small things and we relied completely on meals in the park. It was not a huge problem, but one we wished we had been aware of so we could have planned better.
I believe the most amazing advantage of staying on property at Disneyland was the proximity to the parks. At WDW we obviously have to use the resort transportation or our personal car to access the parks, which can take over an hour at times to get from room to entry gate. When you stay on property at the Disneyland Resort there is no need to ever get on a bus once you arrive at the resort. There was a private entrance to California Adventure and another to Downtown Disney. Security was handled at these entrances. (And others, like the Downtown Disney monorail stop, the entrance by the Disneyland Hotel, and another entry point by the entrances to Disneyland and California Adventure. I didn’t see it, but there were parking trolleys delivering people, and there must have been a security checkpoint around parking too.) So very different from the Disney World experience, in an amazing way. Once you were in the “land”, you were checked and could move around freely.
The proximity of the parks to our rooms was amazing – and almost won our hearts away from Walt Disney World. Just knowing we could make a quick trip back to the room to pick up something we had forgotten, or to dry off on the super rainy day, was wonderful!!