A Disney Vacation is Very Hectic and Busy
The risk with a Disneyland vacation is the pace of the holiday. There are vacations that are very relaxed and there are vacations that are very hectic.
There is so much to see at Disneyland that it often feels that it is impossible to cram everything into the time you have there. In my conversations with many people who have attended the parks, the typical length of a Disneyland vacation is 3 to 7 days.
With Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and the hotel pools if can seem that there are not enough hours in the day. The implication is that the pace of a Disney vacation is quick which quickly tires family member young and old out.
Overview of the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
There are three Disney hotels in the Disneyland resort area. The Disneyland Hotel, the Disney Paradise Pier, and the Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (DGC). The Grand Californian is considered the higher-end property of the three catering to those looking for what Disney calls more luxury-focused individuals. Note: We did not choose the hotel for the luxury but for the reasons listed below.
The closest of the three hotels, it is a AAA Four Diamond hotel with three pools, a water slide, gorgeous lobby, a nice restaurants with one offering Character Dining, and a special entrance to Disney California Adventure. It can be best compared to the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World. However, the style of the DGC is Arts and Craft rather than strictly wilderness.
Hotel guests can choose from Courtyard Views, Park Views, and City Views. In my opinion, the best of the three is the Courtyard views. After the initial wow factor of the Parks View, the value is limited compared to the extra costs. We spend most of our times with the drapes closed as we sleep and shower while we are in the room. Other than those time, we were out in the parks or at the pools.
The 3 Ways the Disney Grand Californian Hotel Led to Less Family Fights!
As I am going to detail in my upcoming ebook, we make all our personal family vacation choices based on making things as easy and painless as possible. To be blunt, we want to minimize the friction that can lead to fighting that tends to rear its head during family vacations.
To do this, we will pay more if we need to but not looking to spend money just to spend it. Our vacation mantra is: Reward and Family Travel…with Less Fighting.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa allowed us to do this. There were four specific attributes of the hotel that were key to the success of our vacation. Let’s look at each of these individually.
1. Location, Location, Location
On all the family vacations I have been on, none tire out my feet more than a Disney vacation. The miles that the typical Disney visitor puts on is staggering. Add the heat and crowds and that is a recipe for some cranky times interspaced with pockets of wicked fun.
The DGC excels because it is so close to all the main attractions. Timing our walks had us to the entrance of Disneyland Park in 7 minutes. Even quicker was Disney California
Adventure and Downtown Disney. Each of these was 3 minutes door-to-door.
The true benefit of this was that our commuting to get to the parks was dramatically limited. Even staying at the other two Disney hotels did not get you this close. Granted they were not too much further, but far enough to be a consideration if one is looking to maximize time in the parks. If you stayed off property then you had to factor in much further walks or even transit options. We just didn’t want to deal with that hassle.
2. Special Entrance
Similar to location, location, location, but a benefit that warrants a special mention is the exclusive entrance/exits that are connected right to Disney’s California Hotel & Spa. The closest is Disney California Adventure. This one is so close to that park that you can literally walk in and out of the park while still in the hotel.
To use this entrance to the park, you need to have a park pass. In addition, you need to show a Disney hotel room key. We saw a few people who tried to use this entrance without a Disney hotel room key and they had to turn back and go to the main entrance.
Although it is not exlusive to Disney hotel guests, the DGH is also connected directly to Downtown Disney. There is a seperate entrance to this area in antoher part of the hotel.
3. The Pools
A very common way to combat sore feet, tired kids, and two parents who are just trying to hold on is the afternoon break. There is no better Disney strategy than spending time at the parks in the morning / early afternoon and then heading back to the hotel for some R&R. The DGC excels at this partly because of the location aspects mentioned above.
It also excels because of the layout of the pools and the lounge chairs available.
There are three different pools. Two are pretty ordinary, basic pools with a lot of lounge chairs and umbrellas around them. The third pool is kid focused as it has a water slide. My family spent most of our time in the two ordinary pool as they are a bit older and the slide was frankly not that exciting to them. The water as warm enough to be comfortable (it is never warm enough for me) and the kids spent at least an hour in the pool in the peak heat.
For my wife and I, the bonus was the extremely comfortable chaise lounges and large umbrellas available. These were by far some of the most comfortable lounges I have run across. The cushions were about 9 inches think and soft. Couple with that an abundance of umbrellas (most hotels never have enough) and we were quite comfortable reading books and iPads while we watched the kids.
P.S. The wi-fi reached the pool area which was nice
Overall, for that afternoon break it was a real quick walk to the pool from the parks which broke up the day nicely and allowed us to manage how tired we got before taking a good break.
4. The Craftsman’s Club
On of my strategies, more which will be outlines in my coming ebook, is to utilize concierge service where available. By this I mean that you upgrade to what is called the Club Floor or Concierge Level at many hotels.
The Craftsman’s Club at DGC offers a number of services, many of which are listed below:
Access to the Craftsman’s Club on the 6th floor (open from 6:30am to 10pm)
Access to the Club Patio on the 5th floor
- Continental breakfast in the Craftsman’s Club from 6:30am to 10am
- Wine & cheese reception in the Craftsman’s Club from 5pm to 7pm
- Nightly turn-down service
- Complimentary beverage service in the Craftsman’s Club throughout the day (coffee, tea, juice and soft drinks)
- Exclusive elevator access to the Craftsman’s Club
- DVD Player in each room
- Complimentary movie rentals
- Table games available for use in the Craftsman’s Club
- Complimentary fax services in the Craftsman’s Club
- Dining and tour reservation services
- Children’s storytelling – “Tales from the Hearth”
From this list, the ones that made our vacation easier was the complimentary beverage service, continental breakfast, appetizers in the evening (wine and cheese), and the nighty snacks.
We had breakfast in the lounge four out of the five days, which saved us at least $50 each day given Disney prices. This also allowed us to eat in peace and quiet as we did not have to queue with everyone else.
More importantly, we did not need to make a reservation nor rush in the morning to make that reservation. We could leisurely make our way down to the lounge and have a too continental breakfast. It also gave us access to all the wine, pops, and snacks we wanted which kept the kids full through the day.
There were also some board games we took advantage of before bed as well as computer that the kids could use to check their email (if they got sick of using the iPads).
My favourite thing was waking up early and heading to get a cappuccino and catching up on some blogs while relaxing and enjoying the quiet time before the on slot of the hectic day began.
The Craftsman Club made things easier because we had the basics at our finger tips. No worrying about where to get snacks or drinks. We had them at any time of the day. It kept our bellies full and therefore kids happy. Well worth the extra price.
Key Take Away
You may have noticed I did not mention anything about the rooms.
The room we had had two queens, full ensuite, and a separate water closet and shower. It was by no means that big, but we slept well (really good beds and pillows), and really spent very little time in there. The other factors mentioned above were what won us over.
Some people value different things on vacations. For my family and me, we value convenience and ease, which reduces stress and the likelihood that fights will start because of being too tired or managing difficult situations. With the location, the good pools to relax in, and the added benefit of the Club Floor, we were able to better manage the hectic pace that comes along with a Disney vacation. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa deliverd this ease for us.