Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

the entrance from downtown disney district (2)

The entrance from Downtown Disney District

The Grand Californian Resort and Spa is the premier resort on property at Disneyland in California. This resort has a very relaxing but luxurious feel from the moment you step into the lobby.

The lobby at the Grand Californian Hotel

The lobby at the Grand Californian Hotel

The hotel has 1019 guest rooms with 40 Artisan suites, 2 Vice Presidential suites, 2 Presidential Suites and 250 Villas from studio to 3 bedrooms (Disney Vacation Club properties). Standard rooms can accommodate up to 5 people with a variety of king, queen and bunk bedded rooms (there are 160 rooms with bunk beds). Views include Downtown Disney District, the hotels’ pools, or Disney California Adventure Park. Concierge Rooms are available on the 5th and 6th floors.

Arcadia Suite

The Concierge Lounge at the Grand Californian offers a few extras compared to the other Disneyland Resort hotels – afternoon tea (from 11 am – 4 pm), Sweet Endings (from 8 pm – 10 pm), bedtime storytelling & songs (with complimentary milk and cookies) for younger guests and a great fireworks view from the lounge balcony.

The resort is also home to some amazing dining. Storytellers Café is home to Chip and Dale at breakfast with some of their animal friends. (There is also a la carte breakfast available). Lunch and dinner include the very popular wood fired pizzas as well as grilled sandwiches, salads and a selection of beef, chicken and fish. Napa Rose is an award winning fine dining location. Whitewater Snacks is a quick service restaurant open and breakfast, lunch and early dinner. The Hearthstone Lounge has continental breakfast in the morning and cocktails and light appetizers in the evenings.

The resort has 3 pools – including a 100 foot water slide, 2 whirlpool spas and 4 poolside cabanas (available by reservation for resort guests). There is also an arcade and a fitness center. The Grand Californian is also home to the child activity center exclusive for Disneyland Resort hotel guests – Pinocchio’s Workshop. The workshop provides licensed supervision, Playstation modules, arts and crafts, movies, computers, storytelling and more. The center is open from 5 pm – 12 am and is available for children ages 5-12 (for a $13/hour fee and a 2 hour minimum). There are also 2 complimentary tours available – the Art of the Craft Tour and the Grand Quest Scavenger Hunt (great for families). The Grand Californian is also home to the Mandara spa which blends the Arts and Crafts style with signature Balinese elements. Facials, manicures, pedicures and full body treatments are available.

The pool as viewed from the Arcadia Suite

The pool as viewed from the Arcadia Suite

One of the best things about the Grand Californian Hotel is the exclusive entrance into Disney California Adventure Park. This entrance enables resort guests to obtain FastPasses for same day World of Color performances and enter early on certain days of the week. The resort is also walking distance to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney District. This close proximity makes it very easy to take a sleepy child back to the room quickly or take your heavy shopping bags back to the room before you head back to the park. Get soaked on Grizzly River Run? No worries – you’re only a few minutes’ walk from your room!

How would you like to stay on property at Disneyland?! Please email me at Amy@TravelWithTheMagic.com or you can find me on Facebook so I can book your family’s vacation to Disneyland! You can also call me at 1-800-670-4312, ext 129. I can’t wait to plan your family’s MAGICAL vacation!

Paradise Pier Hotel

Paradise Pier is one of the 3 Disney owned on-site hotels at Disneyland in California. The resort has a fun, beachy vibe that can be seen as soon as you step foot into the lobby!

Goofy welcomes you to Paradise Pier!

This hotel’s top priority is families. There are 489 guest rooms including 12 family suites that sleep up to 6. (The majority of the rooms sleep 5). There are a limited number of king bed rooms. Park view rooms look out over Disney California Adventure and some provide a great view of the nighttime show, World of Color. You can even listen to the music in your room while you watch the show out your window.

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The room and the view

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Concierge level rooms are located on floors 3, 14 and 15. A great feature of the 3rd floor concierge rooms is the outdoor “cabana” that opens onto the pool area!

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Poolside cabana

The pool is a family haven with a toddler wading pool, whirpool spa and the roller coaster themed water slide – California Steamin’! There is also a theater room where kids can watch Disney films and TV shows while you’re checking in and a great arcade.

Paradise Pier is home to 3 great dining options – Surfside Lounge, Slurpin’ USA and PCH Grill. Surfside Lounge is located in the lobby and has pastries and to go salads and sandwiches as well as drinks and cookies. Slurpin’ USA is located on the pool deck and serves burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries and drinks. PCH Grill is home to the Surf’s Up! Character Breakfast – the only breakfast where you’ll find Mickey Mouse! He’s joined by Lilo and Stitch (when they are on the mainland) and other friends such as Daisy, Pluto, Donald, Max and others. The restaurant is also open at dinner (without characters) and offers pastas, burgers, salads and make your own pizzas for the kids.

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Come join Mickey at the beach at Paradise Pier Hotel!

By staying on property, you’re within walking distance of Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney. Guests of all 3 Disney hotels get an Extra Magic Hour EVERY DAY to either Disneyland (currently Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) or Disney California Adventure (currently on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). There is an exclusive entrance into Disney California Adventure located in Disney’s Grand Californian (right across the street from Paradise Pier) that is only available to guests of the 3 Disney hotels. You can also charge meals and merchandise to your room and have merchandise purchases delivered directly to your room. You can even have a wakeup call from a Disney character!

How would you like to stay on property at Disneyland?! Please email me at Amy@TravelWithTheMagic.com or you can find me on Facebook so I can book your family’s vacation to Disneyland! You can also call me at 1-800-670-4312, ext 129. I can’t wait to plan your family’s MAGICAL vacation!

Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps

I grew up with family in southern California and my earliest memories of anything Disney were at Disneyland. I grew to love all things Disney at a very early age. Fast forward 20+ years later and I’m still obsessed with all things Disney! I love learning about the behind the scenes information, history, and details at Disney parks and resorts. Up until last week, Dine with an Imagineer was one of my most memorable Disney experiences. Then I went on the Walking in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps Tour.

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The tour begins just outside City Hall where you meet your guide (dressed in early 20th century, jockey inspired attire) and get your audio equipment. This was one of my favorite things about this tour – the audio equipment. Not only could you hear your guide, no matter how crowded the park was or how far away you were from her, but you were also able to hear Walt, Roy, and others as you travel through the parks. You could hear different music and attraction descriptions as you crossed from one land to another.

The tour is a story telling experience. Your guide truly makes you feel like she knew Walt and was present when the stories she’s retelling you actually happened. At one point, most of our group and our tour guide were in tears. We were able to ride the Disneyland Railroad, Peter Pan’s Flight and see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln* (and hear the stories about why these attractions were so important to Walt). Some of the stories I knew (why there is a lit lamp in the window above the fire station) but some were very new to me (do you know about the petrified tree?). One of my personal favorites was about the elevator inside Club 33.

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The petrified tree

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The Club 33 elevator

The tour is approximately three hours and includes two classic attraction experiences, a private lunch on Main Street (from Jolly Holiday Bakery), and a collectible pin. The highlights include a stop in the lobby of Club 33 (Disneyland’s exclusive club) and a visit to Walt’s apartment above the fire station on Main Street. You are not able to take any pictures in the apartment but your guide will take a picture of each guest with their own camera. As of June 24, 2013, the tour operates daily at 9:30 am but has become so popular, a second tour will be added at 1:30 pm daily (beginning June 30, 2013).

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Lunch from Jolly Holiday Bakery

The tour is $109 per person ages 3 and up, though I would not recommend this tour for anyone under the age of 14 (it is, after all, a historical audio tour which might be tough for those with a short attention span). There is a 20% discount for Disney Rewards Visa, AAA card holders, Disney Vacation Club members and Disneyland Annual Passport holders. This tour does book quickly, so be sure to book in advance.

*Attractions available on the tour are subject to change. Park admission is required for this tour.

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Would you like to walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps? Do you want to learn more about the other amazing tours available at Disneyland? Please email me at Amy@TravelwiththeMagic.com or you can find me on Facebook so I can book your family’s vacation to Disneyland, where Walt started it all! You can also call me at 1-800-670-4312, ext 129. I can’t wait to plan your family’s MAGICAL vacation!

Beat the Heat! Indoor attractions to cool you off on your Summer trip

Indoor attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort to cool you off on your Summer trip

Title pic for pinterest

Summer in Florida and California can get HOT. VERY HOT! But you can still enjoy your trip by planning out some cool off zones in each park. Finding a spot to cool off doesn’t mean you have to be bored or waste time away from the attractions. There are TONS of things you can do at any of the parks that do not require standing in the heat. Below are some of my favorites:

Animation Academy: (Hollywood Studios and California Adventure Park)
Take an art class from a Disney Animator! This is An Animation Experiencethat you won’t soon forget. The class lasts 20-30 minutes and there is even more to see and do inside the Disney Animation building at Disneyland and Animation Hall at Hollywood Studios. Plan to spend at least an hour cooling off here!

Animation

Turtle Talk with Crush: (Epcot and California Adventure Park)
This show is geared toward kids but with or without children this is a must see. Crush is live and interacts with audience members which make each show unique. Everyone will laugh and you will remember why Crush stole the show in Finding Nemo. Turtle Talk is located inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot and inside the Disney Animation building in Disneyland. Both locations offer more indoor activities besides turtle talk so this could also easily be an hour or more of cool off time.

Turtle Talk

3D movies: (All Parks)
Even before you get into the theater to see the movie you get to wait inside for a little while and still be entertained. This maximizes the cool off time and gets everyone rested up and cooled off before the show. Each park has 3D movies available including Captain EO a resurrected classic featuring Michael Jackson (Disneyland and Epcot), MuppetVision 3D at Hollywood Studios and California Adventure), Its Tough to be a Bug featuring your favorite critters from It’s a Bug’s Life (at Animal Kingdom), and my favorite, Mickey’s Philharmagic at Magic Kingdom. Make time for the 3D movies and you will be refreshed and entertained, ready for your next walk in heat!

Live Stage Shows: (California Adventure, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios)
If you do not typically take the time to see the live shows you are really missing out! Not only will you get to sit down and cool off but you will get to experience Broadway quality shows that are unique to the Disney Parks. Some of my favorites include Festival of the Lion King (Animal Kingdom) which is an interactive musical and dance show that is non-stop thrills and fun the entire time. Finding Nemo-the Musical (Animal Kingdom), Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage (Hollywood Studios), and Aladdin-a Musical Spectacular (California Adventure) are wonderful retellings of your favorite stories with live actors, music, and some great special effects.

Aladdin

Festival

Nemo

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor: (Magic Kingdom)
Like Turtle Talk, this show is always unique because of the audience participation and interaction with the animated characters from Monster’s Inc. Text your joke to a number you will see in the lobby before your show and they might use your joke in the show. Be ready to be a part of the show and the laughter when you enter the Laugh Floor. This is one I could do over and over again.

These are just a few of my favorites but of course I need to at LEAST mention some runners up, Kali River Rapids (California Adventure and Animal Kingdom), The Enchanted Tiki Room (Disneyland and Magic Kingdom), Innoventions (Epcot), and of course all the great movies and shows in the pavilions of Epcot’s World Showcase.

There are MANY more tips for keeping your cool during your summer vacation to a Disney Park. And don’t forget to add the Water Park Fun + More option to your tickets so you can cool off at the Water Parks and indoors at Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest! For more info and help planning the perfect trip for YOUR family give me a call or shoot me an email, I would LOVE to help you book and plan your next magical vacation.

See ya real soon,

Aleshia

Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel with the Magic
~ 1-800-670-4312 ext. 139 ~ aleshia@travelwiththemagic.com ~Find me on Facebook ~

Mad Tea Party at Disneyland

A Wonderful World of Color!

World of Color is a fantastic nighttime show at Disney’s California Adventure park (part of the Disneyland Resort in California). It is by far my favorite nighttime show of ANY Disney park. And I might be one of those people who cry and/or get goosebumps when I watch Fireworks in front of Cinderella’s Castle!

My husband and I were at California Adventure back in 2009 for the first time but there was quite a bit of construction going on for something called World of Color. It intrigued me even though I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what it was exactly.  I didn’t think we would be back to Disneyland Resort for many many years so I didn’t investigate too much, thinking I wouldn’t get to see it anyway.

2 years later we found ourselves back at California Adventure and I was ready to experience World of Color. I looked forward to it ALL day the first day. I was excited to find out that you can get a FastPass for World of Color to get prime viewing for the show. FastPasses are available first thing in the morning at Grizzly River Run FastPass machines.   World of Color takes place at Paradise Pier and there are no seats for World of Color (much like Illuminations at Epcot). Although there are plenty of places to sit and watch around the park (some spots are better than others).

Our first day there we didn’t make it in time to get a FastPass for World of Color. I was pretty disappointed until the show started. I was ready to have to strain my neck to see around all the tall people but as soon as the music started and the water shot up in the air I forgot all about that and audibly oooed and awwwed with the rest of the crowd.  The show is so well staged that most anywhere you could be is a unique and colorful view.

World of Color is tough to explain but I would say it is more of an experience than a show and that it is a collective experience. The whole park seems to pause and slow down as the show begins. Something magical happens when you are standing with that many people, surrounding that big of a space and seeing the show happen right in front of your face. The music, stories, color, water, and Disney Characters projected onto the mist draw you in as soon as the first note begins.  Disneyland Resort now offers special Mickey Ears that can be purchased called “Glow with the Show”. The Mickey ears are programmed to sync with the World of Color music and lights making it even more of a collective/interactive experience. The Glow with the Show Mickey ears will also sync up with a few of the attractions in the new Cars Land.

We experienced World of Color the next night as well and this time with preferred viewing (due to getting FastPasses first thing in the morning). It did not lose any of its surprises or magic seeing it again. I won’t give too much away but it is for sure a must see. World of Color Dining packages are also available and can be purchased in advance to give you a meal and preferred viewing for the show. World of Color is scheduled each night for 2 show times, usually 8pm and 9:15pm.

If you have little ones and are worried that Walt Disney World may be too overwhelming -OR- if you want to go on a Disney vacation but only have a few days…think about Disneyworld Resort in California. The 2 parks are right next to each other so no transportation is needed between parks.  A lot of my favorite attractions from Walt Disney World can also be found at Disneyland and California Adventures. Plus there are plenty of surprises that just might become a new favorite. Like World of Color!

For more information on a Disneyland vacation (or any other Disney Destination), Contact me today at Aleshia@travelwiththemagic.com or 1-800-670-4312 ext 139

My Solo Trip to Disneyland

A while back I was scheduled to go to California for a work trip. What was my first thought? I wonder how close it will be to Disneyland. Of course that was my first thought. I am a Disney nut. Well turns out the trip were in the Los Angeles area so I was thinking “score”. Although Los Angeles is a huge place I was hoping to squeeze in at least a short visit to Disneyland.

I have been to Disney World in Florida numerous times but never to Disneyland. So I was so excited to hopefully get to see the original park. I began to check park hours and the schedule that I would be on during my week in California. Once I got my itinerary and accommodation information it was like the stars have aligned. The hotel happened to be a “Good Neighbor Hotel”.  If you don’t know what that is I will explain. At Disneyland there are only three Disney owned resorts: The Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and the Grand Californian. But around the Disneyland property there are dozens of hotels you can stay in, many of them are partnered with Disney to be the “Good Neighbor” hotels. You can create a package with hotel and tickets at a good neighbor resort. You won’t get all of the perks you do staying at a Disney property but there are many nice hotels nearby and some within walking distance. The hotel I was staying was the Crown Plaza and was only about a mile down the street from Disneyland. Plus they had a shuttle that ran all day to the parks. It was great. As soon as I got to my hotel and checked in I hopped the shuttle and went straight to Disneyland.

If you have only been to Disney World I can tell you that Disneyland is somewhat the same but somewhat very different.  They are both divided up into different sections much like Disney World but some are different and have attractions that you won’t see in Disney World. In Disneyland you have Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and Frontierland just like Disney World. But they also have New Orleans Square, Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown that is different. While visiting Disneyland I rode some of my favorite rides since I really wanted to see what was different about the parks. For instance the Haunted Mansion looks nothing like the one in Disney World, it is set in New Orleans Square and look like an old house from that area. On the inside it is much the same and still a favorite of mine. I also waited a really long time to ride Space Mountain because I had heard the ride vehicle was very different. Instead of three people in a single file row car you are side by side in the vehicle. Not sure which park I like it best in, but it is still a blast.

Now the other park that is part of Disney in California is called California Adventure Park. It has some of the most thrilling rides around.  I must have rode California Screamin’ three times it was so much fun. Luckily it had a single rider line and since I was by myself I made use of it. A lot of the attractions here you will also find in WDW at either EPCOT or Hollywood Studios such as Soarin over California and Toy Story Midway Mania. I was not able to ride Soarin but I did ride TSMM and it did not disappoint. Of course this year the newly opened Cars Land is really a must do if you are out here.  The World of Color is a nighttime show seen only in Disney’s California Adventure Park and it is awesome.

I did not have much time to spend at the parks but I made the most of it while I was there. I really enjoyed getting to walk around in Walt Disney’s original theme park for families. I felt the real nostalgia for what he envisioned as a place where families could come and have a great time as a family. That was his goal and he nailed it in both parks. Even though I was alone on this trip I loved seeing all of the people coming and going enjoying the parks and all they have to offer.

If you  thought you could not go to Disney solo let me tell you it can be done. Is it as fun as with your family no, but almost.

For more information about Disneyland, Disney World, Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney contact me Laure Simms at laure@travelwiththemagic.com or toll free 1-888-214-6954.

Laure Simms

Travel with the Magic.