Given that Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is Disneyland’s flagship hotel, you probably expect it to be peppered with silhouettes of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and their pals. Not so. With its exposed rafters, sweeping crossbeams and lofty ceiling, the 948-room hotel looks like it was transplanted from Yosemite. In fact the lodges of the National Park Service inspired the lobby, also known as the Great Hall. It features an enormous fireplace hearth roomy enough for a Hummer, lots of comfortable settees and armchairs, with six oversized Craftsman-style chandeliers soaring overhead.
Cast members — Disney-speak for hotel staff — with iPads expedite check-in, while the concierge offers up suggestions to keep the kids occupied and makes reservations for dinner. In the pool area, the lushly landscaped lawns have citrus trees — lemon and lime — a reminder that you are in Orange County. There are three themed pools: a lap pool, the Mickey Mouse Pool for kids (shaped like you-know-who) and the Redwood Pool, featuring a twisting, 100-foot-long redwood slide. Hydraulic lifts assist guests with disabilities into the spa tubs and swimming pools.
Mandara Spa offers treatments for couples and solo travelers, such as the bamboo massage, in which warm bamboo canes of various sizes are soaked in essential oils and then rolled over aching leg muscles. It’s good for anyone recuperating after a day of riding the nearby attractions.