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When looking to take a trip to Disneyland, buying a park ticket isn’t the only thing you have to consider. Of course, multiple nights out of town mean you will have to look for accommodations as well.
Luckily for Disney fans, the resort offers multiple hotel options — two of which are the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and the famed Disneyland Hotel.
The main difference between the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and the Disneyland Hotel at Disneyland Resort is the price point — with Grand Californian rates being more expensive. The themes featured between each hotel are also notably distinct with one offering an elevated feel and the other a classic Disney experience.
When it comes to the Grand Californian versus Disneyland Hotel, each has its own unique appeal, depending on the ambiance you prefer and your budget. Whether you’re visiting from out of town or planning a staycation, here’s how these two popular Disneyland Resort Hotels stack up.
As two of three official Disneyland Resort hotels available to guests, it’s only fitting that the Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel are both only a few minutes' walk to either park and Downtown Disney.
But they also share a few other similarities.
Early park entrance
A major perk offered to guests of both hotels is early entrance to either park on each day of your stay.
Guests can enter Disney California Adventure or Disneyland 30 minutes before the parks open to the general public. However, you’ll still need a park reservation for the day to access this early-entrance perk.
Disney magic everywhere
As Disney properties, you can expect both hotels to have thoughtful Disney-related details, from hidden Mickeys throughout to Disney memorabilia on display.
Additionally, both hotels offer a dining option with a character dining experience.
At Disneyland Hotel, visit Goofy’s Kitchen for character appearances. At the Grand Californian, you can say hello to characters while enjoying breakfast and brunch at Storytellers Café.
Basic room and hotel features
Both hotels offer rooms that sleep up to five adults, and they share a few similar room amenities, such as:
Crib (upon request).
In terms of hotel amenities, both hotels offer an on-site gym and fitness classes, as well as multiple heated pool options with poolside cabanas and at least one water slide. Additionally, guests can find an assortment of guest activities at either hotel.
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The biggest difference guests will notice when comparing each hotel is the price. We compared the costs for a one-night booking for five guests (two adults and three children) for both a standard view room and the highest-tier room. Room rates, not including taxes, are below.
Friday, Jun. 23
Wednesday, Sept. 6
Saturday, Dec. 23
Room rates at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are consistently hundreds of dollars higher, compared with the Disneyland Hotel, in general, regardless of the room tier.
With the cost of admission to Disneyland Parks already high, travelers who want to stay at Disneyland Resort-proper need to determine which accommodation fits their budget.
» Learn more: How to purchase theme park tickets with points
Theme and feel
Built in 2001, the Grand Californian is the newer hotel of the two.
As its name suggests, its overall theme is a sophisticated California-Craftsman design throughout the hotel and within the rooms. It’s more reminiscent of an upscale retreat — at least by Disney standards.
For example, the pianist playing live music in the lobby and large hearth and fireplace with ample seating are details that add to the theme and ambiance of the Grand Californian.
The Disneyland Hotel, on the other hand, offers guests a quintessential Disney feel.
It more strongly mirrors the classic Disneyland Park themes with room towers that are named after different lands: Adventure, Fantasy and Frontier. Decor throughout the Disneyland Hotel is more whimsical compared to the Grand Californian.
» Learn more: How to budget for a family trip to Disney
Room types and amenities
Guests of the Grand Californian will find a few extra room amenities, compared with Disneyland Hotel. A rain shower, robes, Keurig and turndown service are some notable differences that aren’t offered at the Disneyland Hotel.
The types of views offered also differ for Disneyland Hotel versus Grand Californian.
A higher price point at Disneyland Hotel gets you views of Downtown Disney or the pool while standard rooms either have views of trees or the parking structure.
The Grand Californian offers similar scenes, in addition to views of a forested courtyard, theme park and Disneyland Drive.
Between the two hotels, spa services are only available at the Grand Californian’s Tenaya Stone Spa.
In terms of unique features, the perks between the Grand Californian versus Disneyland Hotel are evenly split, depending on your preferences. A unique feature of the Grand Californian is its private entrance into Disney California Adventure, entering straight into Grizzly Peak land.
Disneyland Hotel doesn’t have its own private entrance into a park; instead, guests with a Disneyland Park reservation for the day can walk a short distance to the Monorail stop in Downtown Disney and get dropped off at Tomorrowland inside Disneyland.
Disneyland’s Grand Californian vs. Disneyland Hotel, recapped
Since both hotels offer convenient access to Downtown Disney and either Disney Resort park, deciding between Disney’s Grand Californian versus Disneyland Hotel ultimately depends on your budget and the experience you’re looking for.
While the Grand Californian costs more, it offers an elevated aesthetic while still being immersed in Disney magic. Conversely, the Disneyland Hotel offers a classic Disney flavor and convenient proximity to the parks, at a lower price.
(Top photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort)
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