My family and I have been annual pass holders at Disneyland for almost 4 years now. Disneyland is our second home, we go any chance we get! Every September we plan a week’s stay in a hotel next to the park for a mini family vacation. Last year for my husband’s 28th birthday we had the privilege of staying in the Arroyo signature suite at the Grand California Hotel & Spa.
Saying the experience we had was incredible would be an understatement. Entering the hotel brought back the type of magic you experience as a kid walking into Disneyland for the first time. Upon check-in, every employee had a smile on their faces and made you instantly feel welcomed. Now, when we planned this trip we had no idea we would be staying in a suite, a signature suite at that. We originally booked a standard room, but since there were going to be 7 of us, we asked if they had any larger rooms available to accommodate us better. Lo and behold they told us the Arroyo suite was available.
A very long story, a story for another time perhaps, later, we upgraded our room and added valet parking and club level. Which means we had access to the veranda, I’ll talk about that in just a few. We received a $20 dinner voucher to any restaurant outside of the park, and 1 fast pass was put on each of our annual passes. That right there was amazing! Now having absolutely no idea what to expect, we only wanted the upgrade for an extra bathroom mind you. I remember asking the lady at check-in “does the room have an extra bathroom and enough space for all of us?” Now I know why she had a smirk on her face while answering my question. We all grabbed our bags and started walking across the ginormous lobby all decked out for Halloween and followed the map to our suite. I remember us all joking around about what the room would look like as we walked down the halls.
We finally arrived at suite 4359. As my dad swiped the key card the door opened and in that door was a small entryway with 3 other doors. My dad swiped the key card once more and our mouths dropped as soon as that door opened. There was a full-size kitchen, a gorgeous dark wood dining table that sat 12, a sectional couch that turned into a queen-sized bed and recliners that sat atop the most unique layout of carpet and hardwood combine, a big screen tv encased in a beautiful entertainment center. It had bookshelves that made you think of beauty and the beast coming out of the side. Not only 1 but 2 balconies overlooking grizzly rapids. A master bedroom fit for a king and queen. The bathroom had a sunk in jacuzzi tub, a walk-in steam shower and the smartest toilet I’ve ever encountered. It was simply magical.
After all the excitement had settled and we unpacked we went and grabbed dinner at the Storytellers Cafe. It’s an all you can eat buffet style or they have meals you can just order off the menu. We all got the buffet and it was so good. Lots of variety, but my favorite was the dessert bar! Such detailed decadent desserts and so delicious.
The next day we all got up and headed down to see the veranda. Ok, now when I say it was an experience of a lifetime I’m not exaggerating if you ever stay at the Grand Californian spend the extra money on club level!! You will thank me later. The food was my favorite part. Donut bar with all kinds of toppings to choose from, chocolate-covered strawberries, macaroons, cookies and cakes, cream brûlée, exotic meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and veggies. A different themed dinner every night. Every day there was something different to look forward to. I literally found myself in the parks checking the time to make sure I was back to see what different foods and snacks they had going on. A constant stock of beverages ranging from sparkling water, soda, juices, wines, champagne, mimosas, beer. This was a place of happiness, the staff was unbelievable from the minute you walk in catering to your every need and so nice. There was an outside balcony where you can enjoy watching the fireworks. The view everywhere in that hotel was just breathtaking.
One of my favorite parts about staying at the Grand Californian was the easy access to California adventure. Now I’m a mom of a 2-year-old and the more convenient the better! That whole week I didn’t have to worry about bringing a diaper bag filled with a ton of stuff into the park. If I needed anything the room wasn’t far. If my daughter needed a nap or needed to be changed my room was right there. We didn’t have to worry about trams or walking a long distance to get to the room. It was so awesome and such a stress reliever. You could enter downtown Disney directly from the hotel as well. Everything was walking distance it was great. If we needed the car for anything all we did was call the front desk and they called us as soon as it was ready. The hospitality of the whole place was just exceptional.
We got to experience magic hour at DCA. That was so much fun. The park was dead, it was a gloomy crisp morning, we rode some rides and had lunch at the lamplight lounge. Then we all went back to the room for a nap. Went down to the pool after and enjoyed the water slide and jacuzzi. Browsed the gift shop in the lobby and admired all the sweet Halloween treats they had set up. Making trips back n forth to the veranda throughout the day.
Another favorite part of mine was going into DCA at night right before closing and riding grizzly rapids with my whole family, then running back to the hotel and jumping in the jacuzzi! Now that’s the type of magic you can’t experience staying at any other hotel. That is a memory I will hold onto forever. As our trip came to an end we decided we wanted to spend the rest of the day at the park and then go home instead of leaving directly after check out. We were A little concerned because we didn’t want to leave our cars packed with all of our stuff while we were in the park all day long. Well, after asking a few questions to our surprise, we found out that the hotel would hold our stuff and we could still use all the amenities until midnight that night. We still had access to valet and the veranda even after we checked out. That was really awesome and ended our trip perfectly.
Another thing that amazed me about the staff was their genuine care and concern. My daughter brought along her favorite stuffed giraffe Penelope with us. In the process of transferring our luggage, Penelope got lost and didn’t make it home with us. Devastated we called the hotel and asked if they could check if she was left behind. No luck. About 3 days later my daughter received a package in the mail. They found Penelope and mailed her back to us with a lovely letter explaining how she missed my daughter and where she was found. They didn’t have to do that, but they did. The smile on my little girls face when she got her giraffe back. That was a pure Disney moment thanks to them.
This was the escape from reality that everyone needs. A place to let all the responsibilities go and be a kid again. A break we all deserve at least once in our life. It was a trip I was fortunate to be able to experience and a trip I hope to one day do again. Thank you Grand Californian and all your staff for making my family’s dreams come true.