I Stayed at All Three Disneyland Resort Hotels in One Weekend
Disclosure: While my stays and character dining experiences at the Disneyland Resort Hotels were part of a paid collaboration with Disney, all thoughts and opinions provided below are my own.
For dining experiences, character appearances and menu items are subject to change without notice. Reservations are highly recommended and can be booked up to 60 days prior to your visit. Reservations can also be made in person on a limited basis, subject to availability.
My family and I have been long time Disneyland Annual Passholders. During our bi-weekly trips to the Disneyland Resort, we have often thought of how relaxing it would be to stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, or how fun it would be to go down the Monorail-themed slides at Disneyland Hotel, and have craved another stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (which we did when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened). Well last month, all of those Disney vacation dreams came true and we had an epic weekend of staying at all three of the Disneyland Resort hotels. When I shared about this experience on Instagram, I had many people asking which hotel was the best, or what hotel is best for families or for a couples getaway, etc. My short answer to all of these questions was any of the hotels! They all offer an amazing Disney vacation experience in different ways, so I wanted to share with my readers this post about our experiences and each of the different offerings at the Disneyland Resort Hotels. For our stay in September, we also got a look at special holiday magic they added to the hotels for Halloween Time, ending October 31st.
Our Stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Our weekend got an early jumpstart by staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on a Friday night. This would be our first stay at this hotel, so we were very excited to see what was in store! Each of the hotels has its own unique decor for Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. When we walked into the lobby, we saw a large Oogie Boogie cake display created by the hotel’s pastry chefs!
Right by the cake display they offer holiday beverages and treats available for purchase. We picked out the Halloween cookie sampler box, which Amelia and I enjoyed nibbling on in the lobby while listening to a pianist playing live near the fireplace. It was then time for check in and to see our room! We were on the Concierge Level of the hotel, which added a lot to the vacation experience. (More on this in just a bit)
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Pool
The pool area at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is massive! You could truly spend one of your vacation days lounging and playing at this pool. They have two large pool areas, one with a waterslide that looks like a Redwood tree, and then a smaller pool area with a slide for younger children. The pools are surrounded by trees, making it feel like a woodland escape. There were plenty of lounge chairs around, and found it easy to find enough for our family to sit and relax without a problem! They have waiters who come around to take food and drink orders in the pool area, as well as a table service poolside restaurant that is brand new, GCH Craftsman Grill. After we spent a few hours at the pool, we had dinner while listening to live music at the new restaurant.
Concierge Level at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
When you stay on the Concierge Level, you go to a special check-in desk where you can skip the lines of the lobby check-in desk, and are given your room key card, a listing of times for The Veranda, and an activities guide listing all of the free activities available for Disneyland Resort Hotel guests. The Veranda, which is a lounge available only to guests staying on the Concierge Level, offers complimentary snacks, beverages, beer and wine throughout the day. They have breakfast and lunch items, as well as tea time each day (with items such as scones, cucumber sandwiches, etc), and at night time near when the fireworks happen they have desserts!
Visiting The Veranda in the evening was my favorite part of our stay! We arrived there about an hour before the fireworks start time. They were bringing out the gourmet desserts to enjoy, and then Pluto came out wearing Halloween attire, and joined a cast member for story time. My daughter absolutely loved getting to sit by Pluto and listen to a Disney storybook with him! After Pluto went to bed, we picked out some desserts and then sat on the balcony of The Veranda for fireworks viewing. At the fireworks time, they play the audio for the show to sync with the fireworks. It’s a very leisurely way to enjoy them!
The Rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
The rooms were beautiful and incredibly comfortable, with perfect touches of Disney magic! The rooms have a California forest feel, and our balcony had a view of the hotel’s pool. The headboards had orange trees on them, with a hidden Chip and Dale in the design. There was also an art piece in our room I really enjoyed, which was a painting of the Griffith Park Carousel, where Walt Disney used to take his daughters and inspired the idea to create Disneyland. With the immersive surrounding of having the view of the pool and some of Disney’s California Adventure Park, it felt like true escapism! You can book a vacation at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa here. – particularly if you want to experience Halloween Time like we did, you will want to hurry as it ends October 31st! You can also find a special deal where you can get up to 25% off hotel rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. The discount is available most Sunday through Thursday nights through December 19th (must be booked by December 5th). You can learn more about this special offering here.
After a very restful night’s sleep (the beds were probably the most comfortable hotel beds I’ve slept in), we headed downstairs to check-in to Napa Rose for one of the hotel’s character dining experiences.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Dining
There are so many different dining experiences at this hotel! As mentioned earlier, you can enjoy lunch or dinner at the new poolside GCH Craftsman Grill. There is also Hearthstone Lounge adjacent to the lobby open for lunch and dinner. At the hotel is also Napa Rose, a truly luxurious dining experience open for dinner. And lastly, there are two character dining experiences, one for breakfast or dinner that’s buffet style at Storyteller’s Cafe, and a multi-course princess character breakfast, Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures, at Napa Rose.
This was our second time experiencing Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures, and the experience has been perfect each time. Upon entering, you receive an autograph book and pen. While you’re waiting to be seated, you will meet a princess in the lobby, adults can receive a glass of sparkling wine included in their meal, and listen to live music. Once seated, your breakfast adventure begins with a bread basket, appetizer course, and princesses coming to your table!
The cast members and princesses really make sure each guest receives plenty of time meeting the Disney Princesses, and it’s not rushed at all! Amelia loves this experience since she gets to have a conversation with the princesses, give them hugs, and take photos with them right at the table! The sit down portion of the experience is topped off with an entree course and desserts, themed after Disney Princesses! Once you’re done dining, you will go outside for story time with a princess, and get to take one last photo with complimentary PhotoPass photos included! Children get to leave with a special gift at the end of the experience. It is truly a dining experience fit for a princess, and I can’t recommend it enough! You can book the experience here.
Our Stay at Disneyland Hotel
The next day, we checked out of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and headed to Disneyland Hotel. Something that was incredibly helpful is that if you are staying at more than one Disneyland Resort Hotel, bell services can move your luggage over to your next hotel for you for an easy transition. Once our luggage was stored, we decided to head to the hotel to see what all they had to offer! For Halloween Time at Disneyland Hotel, the lobby was decorated for Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary celebration.
They had a mural as soon as you walk in from the front doors, and there were hitchhiking ghosts on the elevator doors! We spent the afternoon exploring the lobbies of the three towers (Fantasy Tower, Adventure Tower, and Frontier Tower). This hotel has the longest history, with it being the only hotel Walt Disney himself helped envision! I love that they show its history by showing photographs of Disneyland Hotel throughout the decades, and also have a whole display of vintage Disneyland merch! In the Adventure Tower, you can see macquettes of animatronics in Jungle Cruise, and at the Frontier Tower you can see a diorama of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Rainbow Ridge.
Disneyland Hotel Pool
Amelia’s favorite part of any hotel stay? Having fun at the pool! After a relaxing lunch at Tangaroa Terrace, the Polynesian inspired restaurant overlooking the pool, we got ready to finally achieve a bucket list item of going down the Monorail-themed slides. The pool area, like Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is very large. Disneyland Hotel’s pool area has a mid century modern feel. They also have poolside service, a jacuzzi, and of course those epic slides. The slides were very large, and they end with a landing in the pool! It was the perfect vacation to have family time at the pool, splashing in the large waterfalls near the slides and going down the “monorail”.
Dining at Disneyland Hotel
Disneyland Hotel, in addition to Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill, has a few other dining options. Adjacent to Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill is the tiki themed lounge Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, which was inspired by the world-famous Jungle Cruise. In the outside eating area, there are tiki torches, palm trees, and some evenings live Hawaiian music. For a sit down dinner, they have The Lounge at Steakhouse 55, also with a vintage Disney inspiration, being designed with a mid century modern feel, and adorned with photos of celebrities who have dined at Steakhouse 55. They offer dinner, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons they have tea (right now they have a Haunted Mansion themed tea). If you would like appetizers or a cocktail, you can enjoy The Lounge at Steakhouse 55 (it’s a fun place to hang out with their purple velvet chaise lounges)!
Disneyland Hotel also offers a character dining experience, which is what we did for dinner: Goofy’s Kitchen. Goofy’s Kitchen is an amazing family experience, and is where we have taken Amelia for dinner every year for her birthday. (She was incredibly excited, to say the least, about getting to go another day in between in her 4th and 5th birthdays) Before you get seated, you get to take a picture with a PhotoPass photographer with Chef Goofy or Chef Minnie.
Once seated, you can enjoy the buffet at your leisure. Throughout your meal, characters (such as Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale, or Minnie) come to your table to take photos, say hi and give hugs! Amelia loves saying hi to some of her favorite characters, and talking to them about how much she loves Goofy’s Kitchen soft serve ice cream with Mickey-shaped sprinkles! Also periodically throughout each hour, the characters walk all together through the restaurant for a little parade, and all the guests wave their napkins in the air or clap! Going to Goofy’s Kitchen always definitely feels like a party! You can book reservations for Goofy’s Kitchen here.
Disneyland Hotel Rooms
Once we were in our room, Amelia and I got into our matching Disney Halloween pajamas from shopDisney, and I was super excited to show her the magic switch and music on the Disneyland Hotel’s headboards. On the lamp in the hotel’s rooms, there’s a special “Magic Switch” that then reveals fireworks on the headboard, and plays “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. Amelia kept the fireworks on all night as our night light, and especially loved spotting the little hidden Mickey firework. At night, we were also able to enjoy a special channel that plays Disney bedtime stories, such a special way for kids to end a day of their Disney vacation! You can book Disneyland Hotel for your Disney vacation here. Currently until December 19th, you can also get up to 20% off a stay at Disneyland Hotel most Sunday through Thursday nights (must be booked by December 5th). You can learn more about the special deal here.
Our Stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
It was time to experience the third hotel at Disneyland Resort: Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. But before we checked in, we took advantage of Extra Magic Hour, which is available for guests at any Disneyland Resort Hotel! Each day, you get to go to one of the Disneyland Resort Parks an hour early before non-hotel guests. When we were there, we were able to go into Disney California Adventure Park early, meaning a short line for Amelia’s favorite rides, Soarin’ Around the World and Radiator Springs Racers!
After some fun in the parks, we went to check in. We walked into the lobby to see that it was decorated with an Ursula theme for Halloween, perfect for this nautical inspired hotel! We were staying at the Concierge Level at this hotel as well, so were able to go to the Concierge Lounge to do our check-in. While I did our check-in, Amelia was able to watch Disney movies in the lounge, and we could enjoy some complimentary snacks. They also had desserts available in the lounge in the evening, like they did at Disney California Adventure Park! I loved that the Concierge Lounge gave us a place to quietly relax and eat lunch or breakfast, and we could get a cool overhead view of the Ursula decor in the lobby!
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel Pool
And next…I’m sure you’ve probably guessed it…we went to the pool! This is our third time at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and let me tell you…I LOVE this pool area! It is one large pool, a jacuzzi, a smaller kid’s pool, and a waterslide. This pool area has always been a quiet and relaxing experience for us, and this is personally Amelia’s favorite waterslide. She went on it so much, that the next day when we returned for more pool fun before checking out the lifeguards all knew Amelia by name! It was so cute and she still talks about how she loves the cast members by the pool. The pool area also has a restaurant and lounge called The Sand Bar, which has a lot of comfy couches to lounge on.
What I also love about this lounge and the pool level is the fireworks viewing! During the fireworks at Disneyland Park, they sync up the music so you can enjoy the show from the hotel. We love to get dinner at The Sand Bar and then watch the fireworks during dinner! Even if you aren’t dining there, they have a standing area to watch the fireworks from Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel Rooms
Since our room was a Concierge Level room, it is higher up and had a view of Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park! Not only is the view stunning, but it’s perfect for being able to watch World of Color from your hotel room (they have a channel on the hotel’s TV that plays the audio for World of Color to sync with the live show). As a nod to it having a view of Pixar Pier, you can find pillows on the bed that look like the Pixar ball – something Amelia loves about the room!
Also in our room that Amelia was ecstatic about? A Halloween gift basket! At any of the Disneyland Resort hotels, you can order various gifting baskets for special occasions, or just because (you can find them here)! This basket had a Halloween Mickey and Minnie plush, Halloween Time light-up necklaces, and plenty of sweet treats – a perfect way to celebrate Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort! It was such a memorable way to cap off an amazing vacation. But before the night was over, we also took advantage of one of the free activities listed on the Activities Guide available to guests at all Disneyland Resort Hotels. Sunday through Friday, they have nightly movie nights at the hotels. We headed over to Magic Kingdom Lawn near Disneyland Hotel to watch Alice in Wonderland. They even set up chairs and picnic blankets, so need to pack anything extra to enjoy the movie nights! You can book Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel here.
Dining at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel also has a few dining options, as well as a character dining experience! As mentioned earlier, you can dine poolside and with a fireworks view at The Sand Bar. There is also Surfside Lounge, where you can enjoy appetizers, entrees, beverages and cocktails in the lobby. There is also a TV in the lounge area, great to keep the littles entertained!
My favorite dining experience at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is their character dining restaurant, Disney’s PCH Grill. They offer a Calitalian Dinner Buffet, as well as character dining for breakfast, called Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast. This is a buffet style breakfast, located right in the lobby of the hotel. When you check-in, you get a PhotoPass photo with Donald Duck in his beachwear. Once seated, you can enjoy the breakfast buffet (which has both Mickey-shaped waffles AND Mickey-shaped pancakes), and characters such as Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Stitch come to your table. You can book Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast here.
I hope you enjoyed following along with our Disneyland Resort Hotel vacation! It was an incredible experience to get to hotel hop and experience all three hotels in one weekend, and love that each one is filled with plenty of amazing dining, activities, and ways to uniquely experience Disney magic!