We stayed July 16 to 19, 2013, with our two kids. When we booked I was somewhat taken aback at the pricing on the rooms. We stayed this month at spectacular hotels in both London (Soho Hotel) and Los Angeles (Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica). It seemed that the Disney prices were comparable if not more. I assumed (wrongly) that we would get a similarly great hotel and that the premium was being applied because of the proximity to the park. Wrong assumption. Knowing what I know now I would have stayed in a great hotel in Los Angeles and hired a driver to take us to the park for a day and return to L.A. that night. The drive to Santa Monica is only about an hour. The experience at the Dismal California is so lacking in value and so overpriced for the accommodation and food that any value you get from the location is completely overshadowed by the gnawing resentment which grows by the hour. Do yourself a favour. Take one day at Disneyland as described above and one day VIP guided tour at Universal Studios. It is expensive but worth it and you will get to see the whole Universal Studios plus rides and entertainment and Disney as well. If you feel you need more you can return for another day to Disney, but staying in this hotel is not worth it. Your money is better spent getting from Disney to a decent hotel somewhere else.
Our first clue as to what was to come should have been the requirement that the room be paid for in full one month prior to your arrival. We arrived from our beautiful hotel in Santa Monica at the Dismal California on a Tuesday morning. We had booked concierge level rooms and service but were somehow "missed" on check in so were taken to the front desk and asked for credit card info etc, which we supplied. We were then taken to the 6th floor check in where the entire routine was repeated verbatim. When I indicated we had already been checked in we were told nothing was entered. We were given a room with two queen beds. I had understood we were getting a suite with a king and sofa bed. They had none left so gave us a room with a king and sofa on another floor away from the concierge level. Not a big deal, until you saw the room. It looked as though it had not been updated once since the hotel was built 13 years ago. When we commented about the room we were told that the hotel was completely booked and that there were no other rooms available. Presumably this is because everyone else has been forced to pay in full in advance and were stuck with this place.
The room was incredibly small, dark and cramped. The decor was dreary, khaki greens, beige and brown. The bedspread looked like they borrowed it from my mom in 1970 and saved it to use in their hotel. We paid $4600.00 for three days at this hotel including park passes and the "extra magic morning hour". This is actually funny. They present it that because you are a guest in the hotel you get into the park an hour early to experience the "magic" prior to the general hordes arriving. As we stood in line with our kids for a ride on Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. with no evidence that the ride was moving we began to wonder, along with the other guests, if the magic morning actually meant we had the magical experience of standing in line for an hour before the park even opened or the rides began. Yes indeed this was true as confirmed by a surly attendant guarding the "fast pass" station. She acted as though only a complete idiot would think that the extra magic hour was actually going to be a special perk which allowed you to use the rides. The perk was standing in line for an hour before the rides even opened. Even my 6 year old was perplexed by that one and asked if we could skip the "magic" the next day and just sleep in.
There was sporadic turn down service. One night they made the pull out and left a chocolate. The other two nights they did not. They change the linens once every four nights because of their "green" policy. This is a bit hard to believe given that the massive three storey atrium in the lobby is air conditioned to the point that you could use it as a meat locker it is so cold, and they run a blazing log fire most of the time apparently to enhance their "Northern California" craftsman vibe. It was a bit of a hard sell when the temperatures are hitting mid 90's and frankly, being in Southern California was kind of the point of the trip. The uniforms look like they were the same ones worn the day the hotel opened and have been passed down since. The concierge level was ok as they have a continental breakfast in the morning and coffee so you did not have to go to a restaurant. It appeared that many of the people used the concierge level food to feed their families for entire trip and groups would pass through with overflowing plates of food headed back to their rooms.
The restaurants are ok, but not great. The supposed high end ones are so expensive that the entrees surpass many five star London restaurants in high season. The Napa Rose entrees are in the $30 to $40+++ range for food that is well cooked but not amazing. It is just so much better than anything else around that they can " get away" with the prices. The wine list is great - but most of the wines are so expensive it is hard to believe that you are in California where just up the coast (in Northern California as luck would have it) there is an a abundance of excellent well priced wine to choose from. "Getting away with it" seems to be the overriding game plan. The parks are fine, the rides are fun, but the endless waits and crowds wear thin pretty quickly when you feel you are getting taken on so many other aspects - this hotel being the primary one. It feels as though management is intent on squeezing every last penny out of the brand without regard for any potential bad will they are creating in the interim. I would never go back nor would I ever stay at another Disney Hotel. Terrible value.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This stunning hotel offers premium accommodations and rich dining experiences in American Craftsman style and elegance. With its world-class spa, an impressive array of amenities and impeccable Disney service, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa defines grandeur in every way. Located in the heart of Downtown Disney District, this hotel is just steps away from exceptional dining and entertainment. And with your park ticket, enjoy an exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure Park. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Californian Hotel
- Grand California Hotel
- Disney California Hotel
- Disneys Grand Californian Hotel
- Disney Grand California Hotel
- Disney Grand Californian Hotel
- Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel
- Disneys Anaheim