Brian Flock from DCL Duo hosts our Villas at the Grand Californian resort and amenities and activities review show. We discuss everything from dining options to pools.
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Things That are Unique to Disneyland
- Disneyland is a commuter park.
- You’re walking distance to everything. It’s about a square mile. If you’re familiar with Citiwalk in Universal Orlando, Disneyland is more compact than Citiwalk.
- There is no pool hopping.
Things That are Unique to the Grand Californian
- The hotel is inside the theme park area for Disney’s California Adventure. The back story here is that Grand Cal and DCA was built in the former parking lot for Disneyland. Disney bought up several lots of land that are adjacent or nearby for parking areas so that they could get a single large block of land.
- DCA is the only Disney Park in the US with dedicated entrances for Disney resort guests. Grand Cal has their own entrance. Recently, DCA opened another side entrance for Paradise Pier hotel.
- This spa is not ran by Senses.
- Grand Cal has it’s own line of spa products, some are unique to the Grand Cal.
- Like Aulani, you will pick a rock and get a gift upon your check out based upon the rock you picked.
- Gina found the pricing very reasonable compared to other high-end resorts in LA. She gets the same treatment everywhere and this was about $100 less expensive than Aulani.
- Vicky thought the food and snack items were high-end. Mini parfait. Blueberry smoothy. Blueberry cluster. Pumpkin loaf. Blueberry parfait. Vicky loved the Pooh honeypot shaped honey for your team.
- Craftsman Grille (formerly Whitewater snacks). Gina has tried everything and highly recommends the nachos, tacos, and avocado toast. Vicky points out that they specialize in local craft beers from LA and Anaheim area. With all the great dining in Disneyland, this restaurant has some tough competition but will not disappoint. Reservations are readily available.
- Hearthstone Bar has some great specialty cocktails. Brian really likes the walk-up line. Gina appreciates the snack-mix that is served in a fashion that encourages you to take your time and enjoy your drink. Sliders and quesadillas are some of the awesome smaller bites available at the bar.
- Storyteller’s Café – Vicky and Gina rank this as the absolute best Character dining breakfast experience Disney offers. Topilino’s Terrace as the second-best Disney character dining breakfast. (That’s a shot’s fired comment to those of us who love Topilino’s). Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Mickey are regularly here. Gina loves the all-you-can-eat Salmon on the buffet. She like breakfast more than dinner. Getting a breakfast reservation can be challenging. However, dinner reservations are readily available.
Lobby Coffee Bar – Brian normally prefers Starbucks from Downtown Disney. However, this is a fully blown high end coffee bar in the lobby. You don’t have to leave the resort.
Downtown Disney – No conversation of food and Grand Cal is complete without pointing out that Downtown Disney is at the eastern exit of the resort. You literally step out of the resort and are at the heart of Downtown Disney.
Room Service – this is readily available as it is a deluxe high-end luxury resort. During COVID, the Downtown Disney offered mobile ordering and room delivery from numerous restaurants in Downtown Disney. We believe this was a response to delivery apps. The restaurants are literally minutes away from your room.
Napa Rose – The best restaurant on Disneyland property. In our opinion, this is beyond normal Disney Signature dining and stands on its own as fine dining. They have a chef’s table experience. Vicky points out that our mutual friend Shannon loves Disney’s kid’s meals and even the kids meals are highly recommended. Chad would recommend Napa Rose over Club 33 dining in Disneyland. If you’re a fan of California Grill, Napa Rose needs to be on your must-do dining list. The restaurant celebrates the California’s best known wine region Napa Valley. The restaurant has seasonal menus because they only prepare dishes where the fresh ingredients are readily available and in season. Brian ranks Napa Rose on par with Victoria and Alberts for food quality and service; however, he prefers Napa because of the more casual environments. At Napa you can order tasting menus, you can order ala carte, you can pick and choose your own fine dining adventure.,
Pools: They have three smaller pools that are not heated. Gina points out that Californians go to the beach to swim, and they’re not pool people. Chad went in early April and the water was too cold to enjoy. However, it has some of the best pool seating at any Disney resort. Brian suggests going to Disneyland hotel if you want cool slides. The splash area is a couple inches of water. They don’t have anything that compares to the kid’s play area at Grand Floridian, Riviera, or Copper Creek. Chad highly recommends leaving the pool with your swimsuit and riding Grizzly River Rapids. They do offer full cabanas and semi-circle chairs for private rentals.
The Grand Californian does not have a community hall; however, they regularly use conference rooms for resort activities. The resort will assign a room based upon how many people RSVP for the resort event.
Disneyland has a DVC preview center in what locals call BOB (the Big Orange Building). They have a lock-off two-bedroom unit from Aulani built in BOB. We’re anticipating that the Disneyland Tower will have a sales center and model rooms in the first floor of the Disneyland Tower Hotel. Brian points out there VGC also has a DVC sales room within the Grand Californian next to the gym.
Recreational Activities – the star of the show is Powerwalking through the park and doing Yoga classes in the redwood forest area of DCA. California Adventure is the ONLY Disney park that regularly allows resort guests to participate in activities inside theme park before it opens. The powerwalk through the park is an amazing activity. However, you must powerwalk at 5 miles per hour. Theme Park operations requires all resort guests to be out of the park in a timely fashion. Like most Disney resorts, you can get a sheet of typical Disney activities and their regular scheduled events. VGC has an outdoor BBQ area. The resort lobby has numerous TV’s and a live fireplace. You can regularly find culinary art in the Grand Cal – Gingerbread houses during the holidays and a Millennium Falcon made of rice Krispie treats to celebrate May the 4th. On a non-park day, Chad highly recommends going to the observation deck to watch World of Color from a special viewing area in DCA for resort guests. While this area is not the same level as Top of the World, it’s still a unique and special viewing area.
Shopping – downtown Disney has a plethora of shopping opportunities. Grand Cal does have a small gift shop in the lobby. You can find numerous DVC items in the gift shop. Chad would argue it’s a standard Disney resort gift shop. Vicky also highly recommends shopping in the spa.
The first floor of the DVC wing has a laundry room set up for members.
Today's show was produced by Brian Flock. Audio editing by Derek Sasman. Audio mastering and show notes by Chad Pennycuff.
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