Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel really is grand, with wonderful attention to Arts & Crafts details in every corner of this massive resort. Additionally the hotel enjoys a privileged and convenient position in the middle of Downtown Disney, Disneyland, and the California Adventure. There is even a direct entry from the hotel straight into the California Adventure in an area adjacent to the Grizzly River Run ride (although the entrance is not clearly shown on the property map you’re given at check-in, and you must pass through one of those ubiquitous bag check lines to enter). Additionally on the plus side, there are some really nice not-typical-of Disney amenities in each room – tv with substantial offerings beyond Disney channels, a double vanity, a coffee maker (pod type), and a mini-refrigerator (if only there were some location on site that sold milk for your morning coffee). However, when we consider what we got for our annual passholder rate of $375 ($438.75 after taxes & fees, but BEFORE the $22 daily valet charge and tips), we realized we could have bought a lot of cab trips to a drop-off point close to park entries from any of the other nice hotel/motel options in the area, and still come out ahead. Other bad news included the fact that the bedding and tub/shower combination were both of very average quality, and inferior to what we had just enjoyed at a Hampton Inn in another part of L.A. One night I went to sleep with the sound of a baby crying distinctly wafting through our room. On Day 2, neither our coffee nor toiletries were replenished by housekeeping (though they did make sure to take the tip). The check-in process was needlessly lengthy and tedious – they could have assigned the guys herding arriving guests to work behind the desk, instead, to provide a better ratio of check-in personnel to guests. The most egregious aspect of our stay was the motion detection controlled thermostat. Listen up, Disney Execs (and you, too, Bill Marriott) – May you all be doomed to spend the night in a too-warm room with synthetic bedding where the AC turns off each time you fail to move about sufficiently to convince the motion detector that someone really is in the room and wants the Air Conditioning on. We can appreciate the energy and cost savings you’re striving for, but we’re getting tired of flailing our arms and making needless trips to the bathroom during the night just to satisfy the motion detector. Please find another alternative to this anathema to comfortable travel – perhaps provide European style card keys that are inserted in a slot when a guest enters a room and removed when they leave so that electricity is on only when a guest is present.
In sum, it felt like Disney imagineers designed all the wonderful details of the hotel, but then left the running of the hotel to Aramark or some even lesser hospitality outfit. We’re glad we stayed there once, but are unlikely to repeat.