PassPorter Online
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
Articles Menu
PassPorter Articles
Disney Dreaming
What Keeps Us Coming Back
Disney for Veteran Visitors
Rumor Round-Up
Finding Answers
Best Disney Trip Advice
Getting Your Disney Fix
How Young Is Too Young?
Top Ten Disney Questions
Tipping (Gratuities)
Timeshare Vacation Offers
Disney World on a Budget
Credit Cards 101
Money-Saving Strategies
Preparing Kids For Disney
Taking Toddlers to Disney
Planning Trips for Others
Convincing Others To Go
Importance of Being Lazy

Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
Ten "Must Pack" Items
Touring With A Group
Chaperoning A Group Trip
Ten Travel Tips
Luggage Tips
iPhone, I Travel
Driving to Disney
Driving With Kids
Child Safety Seats
CARES Harness Review
Rental Cars
Amtrak Auto Train
Airline Security
Flying With Kids
Surviving Long Flights
Surviving Bumpy Flights
Surviving Bad Vacations
Surviving Long Airport Waits
Staying Healthy
First Aid on Vacation
Solo Travel
Pregnant at Disney
Dress For Travel
Traveling With Pets
International Travel
Taking A 'Greener' Trip to WDW

Orlando Sanford Airport
Choosing a Resort
On-Site Lodging vs. Off-Site Lodging
Disney Resort Primer
Reserving a Room
Key to the World Card
Fun at Resort Hotels
Disney Vacation Club
All-Star Movies
All-Star Music
All-Star Sports
All-Star Vacation Homes
Animal Kingdom Lodge: Perfect for Teens
Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Beach Club
BoardWalk Inn & Villas
Contemporary Resort
Ft. Wilderness Camping
Old Key West
Wilderness Lodge
Home Sweet Home
Grand Californian #1
Grand Californian #2
Grosvenor Resort
Hilton Resort
Orlando Airport Marriott
Radisson Resort Parkway
Shades of Green
Westin Century Plaza
Making The Most of Bell Services at Disney's Deluxe Resorts
DVC's Old Key West Resort
Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
New Ships!
Cruise Security
International Port Security
Convincing a Husband to Cruise
Palo Dinner Review
Vow Renewals Onboard
Cruising With Special Diets
Cruising St. Martin
One in a Million Cruise
Zip-A-Dee-Zip-Line: A Canopy Adventure
A 'Magic' Time In The Mediterranean
A Wrap-Up From DCL's Inaugural Mediterranean Cruise
DCL: Not Just for Kids!
Spa Villas Review
Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Fantasyland For Adults
Mission: SPACE
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Wars Weekends
Animal Kingdom
Expedition EVEREST
Surviving the Parks as First Time Parents
Surviving the Holidays
Overcoming Kids Fears
Planning Park Days
Four Parks in One Day
Touring with Toddlers
A Kid's Perspective
A Teen's Take
Educational Epcot
Flower & Garden Festival
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Scary Places (Halloween)
Playing "Millionaire"
Winning "Millionaire"
A Day With Allie
Past Attractions at Magic Kingdom
Meeting Mickey
Disneyland at 50
Future of Disneyland
Beyond the Disney Parks
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Monorail System
California Adventure
Expanding Disney's California Adventure
10 Reasons to Love Disneyland
A WDW Veteran's First Trip to Disneyland
A Disneyland Veteran's First Trip to Walt Disney World
Disneyland Homecoming
Walt Disney World With Pre-Teen Boys
Keys To The Kingdom Backstage Tour
Pirates & Princess Party
WDW with Teens? Absolutely!
Disney Dining Plan
More Dining Plan Tips
Dining Plan Revisited
Dining Plan Answers
Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) Strategies
Artist Point Review
California Grill Review
Nine Dragons Review
Spoodles Review
The Turf Club Review
Crystal Palace Review
Yak & Yeti Review
Tutto Italia Review
Character Dinners
Dine With A Disney Imagineer
Eating Healthy at Disney
Food Allergies
White Water Snacks
MurderWatch Mystery Theatre
Disneyland Dining: Yamabuki
Disneyland Area Dining: Pirate's Dinner Adventure
Party For The Senses
Artist Point
1900 Park Fare Dinner Review
Making Magic
Romance At Disney World
Beating The Post Trip Blues
Discovering the Magic
Magic of Slowing Down
Unexpected Treasures
Wishes Fireworks Cruise
Backstage Tours
Epcot's Segway Tour
Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival
Taking Great Photos
Taking Great Fireworks Photos
Digital Photo Q & A
Souvenirs on a Budget
Pal Mickey
Birthdays at Disney
Reunions and Gatherings
Holidays (Christmas)
More Holidays
Disney Intimate Weddings
Disney Vow Renewals
Custom Events
Preserving Memories
Scrapbooking Supplies
Finding Scrapbook Supplies at WDW
Memories and Milestones
Scavenger Hunts
Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys Book Review
Richard Petty Experience
More Richard Petty Rides
Ft. Wilderness Trail Ride
Disney Podcasts
MouseFest 2006
Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba
Making of PassPorter
Rest of the World
United States:
Big Apple Greeter
City Pass Cards
Hilton Head Island #1
Hilton Head Island #2
Celebration, Florida
Key Largo & Islamorada
Miami, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
Space Coast, Florida
Tampa-St. Petersburg
WonderWorks (Orlando)
Knoebels, Pennsylvania
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Anza-Borrego Desert
Grand Canyon
The Poconos
New York City
New York Splash Tours
New York City Dining
New York: Antiques
New England
New Orleans
Nashville, Tennessee
Adventures by Disney: Wyoming
Fort Sumter, South Carolina
Zoos of the World
Universal Studios Orlando
New Attractions at Universal Orlando
Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Universal Orlando
Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Universal: For Non-Thrill Seekers?
Madison County, Iowa
The Great Smoky Mountains
Discovery Cove (Orlando)
Busch Gardens Africa: SheiKra Coaster Review
NASCAR AllState 400
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Niagara Falls, New York
Blue Horizons at SeaWorld Orlando
International Travel:
London Museums
London's Globe Theatre
Kent, England
Bath, England
Great Britain via Harry Potter
Stockholm, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland
Quebec City, Canada
Prince Edward Island
South Africa
Leeds Castle
Windsor Castle
Dover Castle
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

by Kathy Davis, Guest Contributor

In celebration of our fifth anniversary, my husband and I recently booked two nights at the Disneyland Resort's deluxe hotel, the Grand Californian. It was the perfect place to escape, even though we live only thirty minutes from Disneyland. We checked in on Monday of Labor Day weekend to avoid holiday crowds.

You enter the Grand Californian through two sliding stained-glass doors, which depict a typical Pacific Northwest mountain scene. Just beyond registration, the lobby opens out into a 6-story Great Hall, columned in dark wood arching over the hall to represent trees. Wood and glass chandeliers suggest the branches and foliage of trees. A generous fireplace sits in a nook on one side, filled with rockers in the Arts and Craft style. The lobby is intentionally kept cool enough that even in 90 degree California weather, the fireplace is inviting. The music in the great hall is either light classical on tape or a tuxedoed pianist who plays easy standards and Disney tunes. Each evening, a storyteller performs in the fireplace nook.

The Grand Californian was designed by architect Peter Dominick, who also designed the Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge at the Walt Disney World Resort. The design is from the Arts and Craft Movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and draws from such influences as Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Henry Greene. The interior design was done by Richard Brayton, who used the talents of many artisans to reproduce the look and feel of the Arts and Craft Movement. It is the priciest of the three hotels at the Disneyland Resort but we thought it was well worth the extra money.

Our room overlooked the wedding garden and Paradise Pier in Disney's California Adventure park, and was off the Great Hall, rather than one of the wings. I enjoyed the spacious hallways surrounding the Great Hall, as well as the music from the lobby, which was still not loud enough to be disturbing. Even in the morning, this location was fairly quiet. The Grand Californian is definitely a deluxe hotel, with evening turn-down service and a luxurious bathroom. The decor is inspired by the Arts and Craft Movement, so wood of various hues abounds. There is repeated use of both the California poppy and the rose as motives, and many "extra" touches, such as wallpaper and borders.

We elected to take a tour of the hotel to learn more about the decor of the Arts and Craft Movement, which was advertised on a daily calendar, left by the turn-down service. This tour is appropriate for teens and adults. Maria, from Guest Relations, escorted us through the lobby, the Hearthstone Lounge, the pool area, the Storytellers Cafe and the Napa Rose Restaurant. Many of the details included in this review were obtained on the tour. We were also fortunate that one of the four suites was unoccupied, and was included in the tour. Each suite is different; "ours" was decorated in Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style (my favorite in the Arts and Craft Movement), and overlooked a vast portion of California Adventure, including Condor Flats, Grizzly River Rapids and even Hollywood Backlots in the distance. Oh, to be rich or famous!

The Grand Californian has two table-service restaurants: the casual Storyteller Cafe, which features character dining, and the Zagat-rated #1 Napa Rose. The Storyteller Cafe is buffet-style for breakfast and a la carte for lunch and dinner. We ate breakfast there, and were joined by Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear. The food was adequate, with a large offering in the buffet. Murals decorate the walls, depicting six classic California tales, such as the legends of Zorro, The Island of the Blue Dolphins and "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Theming is especially intricate here, as images from the murals are repeated in the design of the chairs, the carpeting and the wall borders. Our other breakfast was room service on our balcony, just as the sun came up over the roof of the hotel; it was romantic, and the food was excellent.

The Napa Rose Restaurant is the only part of the property with a different interior designer: Marty Dorf, who designed lounges on the Disney Cruise ships as well as the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. The Napa Rose is aptly named on two counts, the interior design is inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh's "Mackintosh Rose," from a Scottish branch of the Arts and Craft Movement and the food is inspired by California's Napa Valley wine country. There is an extensive wine list, and all wait staff are trained sommeliers (wine experts for restaurants), so you can depend on their expertise to choose an appropriate wine for you. There is no restaurant in California with more sommeliers on staff. For a unique dining experience, reserve one of the Vintner's Tables, where a five-course meal will be designed personally by the chef for your party.

Naturally, the landscaping and the pool reflect careful theming. Three gates, each different and designed by California artisans, lead to the pool area. Trees are abundant in the pool area, and the slide in the Redwood Pool is a Disney Redwood tree. There are three pools, including a small wading pool for the youngest guests, though the pool area was smaller than I had expected from a deluxe resort. There is also a quick-service cafe, where we ordered lunch after swimming. We ate in our lounge chairs, in the shade by the pools, and enjoyed one of the most relaxing experiences of the trip.

Trees are in fact abundant all over the hotel property, as suits a hotel whose design strives to bring the beauty of the Redwood forest to southern California. Many of the trees are varieties of redwood which were chosen for their ability to survive the local climate. Both indoors and out, there is an abundance of green and brown, making an amazingly natural setting in the middle of Orange County.

Guests at the Grand Californian have a private entrance into California Adventure, right across from Grizzly River Rapids. This was one of the most satisfying parts of the vacation for us. We rode Grizzly River Rapids twice in succession, got completely soaked, and zipped back to our room for dry clothes and shoes! Having the special entrance made you feel like a VIP sneaking in through a secret door.

We had two minor complaints during our stay at the Grand Californian. The Monorail was closed for refurbishment, but the in-room Guest Book still encouraged guests to use their resort ID to enter Disneyland Park via the Monorail. It would have been simple to have housekeeping leave a note in each room which updated the Guest Book, and would have saved us a long walk when we were tired! We also received inaccurate information from one Guest Relations person, regarding meal times at the Storyteller Cafe. That error worked in our favor, but we still expect Disney's service to be beyond reproach.

For anyone more interested in the architects and designers of the Arts and Craft Movement, Wikipedia has a surprisingly good discussion of the Movement, as well as articles on the architects and designers mentioned.

About the Author: Kathy Davis is the executive director for a non-profit youth orchestra in southern California. She and her husband have been to Disneyland hundreds of times, and they are currently planning their very first trip to Walt Disney World.

This article appeared in our October 5, 2006 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

Related Articles:

  • Top 13 Reasons to Stay at Grand Californian Hotel
  • Disneyland: Fabulous at 50
  • White Water Snacks
  • Westin Century Plaza Hotel
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Alcatraz
  • Future of Disneyland
  • Disneyland Homecoming
  • Disneyland Sidetrip
  • Discover the Magic Tour

    Return to | Visit the PassPorter Message Boards

    Updated 01/18/2008 

    Read additional articles from

    Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

    E-mail Address:

    First Name:

    E-mail Format:
    -Text/Don't Know  



    We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Copyright 1999-2015
    by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

  •        LEARN MORE
    Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks

    PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

    PassPorter's Sidekick for the Walt Disney World Guidebook e-book

    PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide

    PassPorter's Disney 500: Fast Tips for Walt Disney World Trips e-book

    PassPorter's Disney Speed Planner: The Easy Ten Step Program to a Perfect Walt Disney World Vacation e-book

    PassPorter's Disney Weddings & Honeymoons

    PassPorter's Festivals and Celebrations at Walt Disney World e-book

    PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World

    PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook

    PassPorter's Disney Cruise Clues: First-Class Tips for Disney Cruise Trips

    PassPorter Disneyland Resort and Southern California Attractions guidebook

    PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line guidebook

           SPONSOR LINKS
 RSS Feed
    More on Disneyland Hotels from PassPorter Readers
    Real-Time Feed from

    See more posts like this (or post your own question) at our fabulous PassPorter Message Board Community.