Friday, July 1, 2011

Grand Californian vs. The Disneyland Hotel

Let me first qualify these remarks with notation that I have not stayed at the Disneyland Hotel since its remodeling began a couple of years back. If you have read the reviews in and others, you may not have wanted to as various aspects of construction have taken its toll on guests overall experience.. But I have had the very good fortune to have the opportunity to stay at both the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian on a few occasions over the the last 10 years or so. Both are expensive, very expensive in fact, with the Grand Californian room rates running generally about a third more than the cost of a room at the Disneyland Hotel. Is the extra cost worth it?

The simple answer is "it all depends" on what you are after in a high priced hotel room. The guest experience in the Grand Californian maybe second to none in these parts. In a word, it really is "grand", also luxurious, stately, and rich in amenities. The standard rooms aren't overly large but they are very, very quiet. The quietest hotel room I have ever stayed at even if you have a room facing the monorail track. With the sliding balcony door closed, you still can't hear the thing as it whizzes by let alone hear anything out in the corridor. It is a terrific hotel and if you can afford it, a worthy opportunity to really treat yourself.

But I still prefer the venerable Disneyland Hotel to the Grand Californian. Why? The Disneyland Hotel feels almost like an extension of the Disneyland Park itself for its childlike fun and Disney magic and whimsy. These elements tend to be lacking in the palatial confines of the Grand Californian. In the Disneyland Hotel, I almost feel like I never left the park. Let's hope the remodeling continues to exploit the elements that made it so special over the years.

No the Disneyland Hotel is not as close to the park entrance the Grand Californian, but the walk over to the Downtown Disney monorail station is pretty short. The Grand Californian entrance to the park borders on bizarre. Yes it does have a private entrance to Disney California Adventure Park but since DCA generally opens later and closes earlier than Disneyland, the private entrance is almost useless for the early riser. The private entrance is best served for mid-day breaks. If you don't want to use the DCA private entrance, your other choice is to walk through the lobby area through a series of corridors that passes by convention rooms and eventually tosses you out into Downtown Disney right by the entrance to the World of Disney Store. How convenient.

Both hotels provide a great guest experience when they are running optimally. It's just that Disneyland Hotel is more fun.

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