Disneyland Lodge vs. Grand Californian

Disneyland is dwelling to 2 (and solely two) nice resorts: Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge & Spa (GCH) and Disneyland Lodge (DLH). This head-to-head comparability weighs the professionals & cons of every, choosing a “winner” in theme, eating places, location, swimming pools, value, and different classes.

This marks the primary (and final) entry into our ongoing Disney Lodge Comparability Sequence, which in any other case addresses troublesome dilemmas you may face when making an attempt to decide on the suitable resort at Walt Disney World. There are a number of shut calls or cheaper counterparts there, whereas there are solely 3 on-site inns at Disneyland Resort, and a type of isn’t worthy of consideration.

Conversely, the argument may very well be made that both of those are Disneyland Resort’s flagship resort. There’s Disneyland Lodge, which is the unique and has the crown jewel citadel park proper in its identify. The case can be made for Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge & Spa, which is extra lavish and splendid, has a non-public entrance straight into Disney California Journey, and is normally costlier.

Along with these all-stars, Disneyland Resort can also be dwelling to Paradise Pier Lodge aka Pixar Place Lodge (to not be confused with the superior Hyatt Place Lodge down the road) aka Lodge Dino-Rama (minus the dinosaurs). In the event you take pleasure in development, inefficient elevators, or losing cash for no discernible cause, PPH is best for you! For everybody else, there are 38 inns that outperform it on our Disneyland Space Lodge Rankings & Evaluations.

As for the Disneyland Lodge vs. Grand Californian comparability, it’s an extremely shut name. Whereas we are going to draw our personal conclusions as to which is best, we’ll additionally clarify our reasoning alongside the best way, so you may type your personal opinions. Since a lot of this can be a matter of subjective, private desire, that’s one of the best ways to strategy these comparisons. Plus, it could be a reasonably quick weblog put up if we didn’t provide explanatory textual content together with the winner of every component.

Theme: It Relies upon – Theme is such a tough topic since a lot of it’s predicated in private desire. Slightly than making a worth judgment about which theme is inherently “higher,” we strategy this from their respective execution of their kinds.

Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge & Spa is little question probably the most elegant and refined resort at Disneyland Resort. It’s, because the identify suggests, grand. From the hovering foyer to the ornate woodwork to the attractive stained glass, Grand Californian is subtle and upscale in a approach that Disneyland Lodge merely will not be.

It’s additionally misunderstood. Some may use the phrases “rustic” and “outdoorsy” to explain GCH, however in actuality, the resort has extra in widespread with a luxurious resort than it does a lodge within the countryside. This could be extra pronounced within the Disney fan group, as there are a number of superficial similarities between the Grand Californian and Wilderness Lodge, resulting in the (faulty) conclusion that GCH can also be primarily impressed by the long-lasting U.S. Nationwide Park Lodges of the early twentieth Century within the American West.

That’s true to a sure diploma. Each Wilderness Lodge and the GCH have been designed by the identical architect, and share bloodlines. There are additionally some stylistic similarities between the Grand Cal and the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite Nationwide Park. Nonetheless, it’s in all probability fairer to say that the Ahwahnee and Grand Californian each characteristic California Craftsman fashion.

Slightly than trying to Northern California to seek out inspiration for the Grand Californian, Disney regarded principally to the close by metropolis of Pasadena, dwelling to many masterpieces of the Arts & Crafts motion by architects Charles and Henry Greene. The obvious supply of inspiration is the Gamble Home, which is the crown jewel of the California Craftsman fashion.

DLH is a way more easy resort, and its theme is actually “Disneyland.” Above all else, the resort is a self-referential love letter to Walt Disney and his unique magic kingdom in fairly unusual package deal. These are commonplace resort towers that, not less than upon first impression, aren’t all that totally different from what you’d discover all through Anaheim or Los Angeles.

That’s overly reductionist, although. Disneyland Lodge’s towers every have their very own theme: Fantasyland, Adventureland, or Frontierland. (Plus the brand new DVC tower, which is impressed by “Blandland,” I assume.) Once more, that is completed through tributes somewhat than true theme, however it’s completed in an extremely loving and thorough approach. There are fashions within the lobbies, posters, and nice depth of element. Every tower has its personal distinct persona, and sufficient nods that it feels such as you’re immersed within the resort model of the respective lands.

Disneyland Lodge additionally incorporates mid-century trendy design into its towers and customary areas, giving it higher persona and a way that it’s actually a tribute to Walt Disney’s park. Somewhere else, DLH weaves collectively each tiki tradition and modern fashion and facilities, whereas holding its self-referential attraction entrance and middle. It’s actually spectacular the way it manages to efficiently stability all of those parts, and by no means does it really feel like an inexpensive try to tug on the heartstrings of Disney followers.

The entire of DLH is sort of a mashup of the Polynesian and Modern Resorts at Walt Disney World, plus possibly a touch of Coronado Springs. At odd comparability, however on the finish of the day, Disneyland Lodge simply works. It’s not a thematic exemplar just like the Grand Californian, however for a lot of Disney followers, it’s going to “click on” higher and be extra interesting.

For that cause, we’ll name this one an “it relies upon.” Personally, we’d be inclined to offer victory to the Grand Californian (and by a large margin) however not everybody goes to agree. In truth, there was a time when even we wouldn’t agree with that evaluation, as mentioned within the verdict on the conclusion of the comparability.

Rooms: Grand Californian – Each inns have rooms that have been not too long ago up to date, however the Grand Californian rooms have been absolutely redone, whereas the Disneyland Lodge rooms have been superficially refreshed. The room reimagining at GCH brightened up the rooms, toned down a little bit of the (arguably) dated themed design, and injected enjoyable Disney particulars and historic nods.

These reimagined rooms deftly stability themed design, visitor expectations, and luxurious–they’re actually distinctive, and a big improve from their predecessors. You’ll be able to see a showcase of the visitor rooms in our Photographs & Movies: New Rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge & Spa put up.

Word: Disney Trip Membership rooms on the Grand Californian haven’t been up to date, and certain received’t be till 2024 or 2025. There’s a sure attraction to them, however they’re undoubtedly exhibiting their age in each type and performance. Additionally they look completely nothing like what’s pictured right here. Simply one thing to think about should you’re planning on renting DVC factors to save cash on a keep on the VGC. (I’d nonetheless go that route, as the price distinction is critical.)

The defining characteristic of the rooms on the Disneyland Lodge is the “goodnight kiss” change that lights up the fiber optics within the headboard and performs “When You Want Upon a Star,” music field fashion. Whoever thought up this characteristic is a genius, as a result of it’s at all times the very first thing talked about when discussing the rooms at Disneyland Lodge. If in case you have youngsters, they’ll love this. In case you are an grownup who’s unduly impressed with issues that mild up and make sound, like me, you’ll want to depart this on all night time.

The opposite memorable characteristic of the visitor rooms at Disneyland Lodge is the fireworks-infused (I assume?) carpet, which seems to be explosively good. There are additionally historic images of Walt Disney, and (should you’re fortunate) ephemera within the room you may take dwelling. In any other case, the rooms are extremely variable in structure and measurement, and wholly forgettable. However you’ll not overlook that headboard (or the carpet), and that alone could be the trump card that helps surpass Grand Californian, regardless of its rooms being in any other case objectively superior in each approach.

Oh, and the Disneyland Lodge rooms don’t have balconies, whereas Grand Californian rooms do. Among the rooms at Disneyland Lodge already really feel a bit cramped, and that solely exacerbates the difficulty. (Additionally, that is Southern California, not Central Florida–sitting outdoors on the balcony within the morning or at night time is beautiful.) However what Disneyland Lodge lacks in balcony house, some may argue it makes up in light-up headboards…

Eating: Grand Californian – Each of those resorts have a number of sturdy eating choices that serve totally different functions. In the event you seek the advice of our Record of the 23 Greatest Eating places at Disneyland Resort, you’ll discover that 3 places on there are at Disneyland Lodge, and one other 3 spots are on the Grand Californian. So it needs to be a draw, proper?

On paper, this comparability might sound shut. In actuality, it’s by no means. The Grand Californian is dwelling to the eating places at which we dine most in all of Disneyland Resort, GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill. These sister spots (bar outdoors by the pool, counter service grill inside) provide incredible and deep menus that far surpass Tangaroa Terrace at Disneyland.

On the character eating entrance, Goofy’s Kitchen at Disneyland Lodge will get the sting over Storytellers Cafe on the Grand Californian, however each are actually good. (Goofy’s Kitchen is goofier and extra enjoyable, getting the nod for that and its flagship character meal standing.) Dealer Sam’s is in a league of its personal as a themed bar, however don’t underestimate Hearthstone Lounge–it’s extra relaxed and has higher all the things edible.

The place issues actually crumble for Disneyland Lodge is on the desk service entrance. Following the closure of Steakhouse 55, it doesn’t have a regular desk service restaurant (sans characters). The dearth of high-quality eating choices is an enormous misstep for a resort of this caliber, particularly when contrasted in opposition to the top-tier Napa Rose on the Grand Californian.

Location: Grand Californian – Objectively, that is a simple one. Disneyland Lodge is situated on the opposite facet of Downtown Disney, which means that it’s important to stroll by that buying and eating district not less than partially to entry Disneyland or Disney California Journey. It’s both a couple of minutes to the monorail station or about 10-12 minutes throughout.

Against this, the Grand Californian Lodge was constructed with Disney California Journey, has a non-public entrance straight into the park, and overlooks Grizzly Peak and parts of Paradise/Pixar Pier. It’s 0 minutes from DCA and solely ~5 minutes from Disneyland.

How a lot this issues is dependent upon the diploma to which you wish to cut back your each day steps and likewise once you’d be strolling by Downtown Disney. Very first thing within the morning or late at night time after park closing, Downtown Disney is blissfully uncrowded. It’s a leisurely stroll in a pleasant setting with enjoyable music. Throughout peak hours, Downtown Disney is crowded and unsightly, and navigating it may be a chore.

When you do the non-public entrance of GCH, it’s troublesome to return to Disneyland Lodge. It could look like a slight distinction, however it opens up a world of prospects. You need to use your room as a locker, grabbing snacks, drinks, or coats when the solar goes down. You’ll be able to journey (and inevitably get soaked on) Grizzly River Run earlier than returning for a change of garments. You’ll be able to keep Membership Stage and breeze as much as the lounge everytime you’re hungry, by no means needing to hassle with Cell Order or desk service meals within the parks. In our view, the Grand Californian’s location is a game-changer.

Swimming pools: Disneyland Lodge – This one might be demographic-dependent. Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge boasts 3 swimming pools—the Fountain, Redwood, and Mariposa–in its central courtyard, one among which contains a water slide extending from a redwood tree trunk. Radiating from round these swimming pools are beautiful lounge chairs, among the most snug you’ll discover at any pool.

There’s additionally the adjoining GCH Craftsman Bar, which is extremely handy to the pool for grabbing drinks or a noon chunk to eat. It additionally affords up dwell music on sure days and evenings, which amps up the ambiance. Talking of which, the design of the pool space is great, with tree-laden grounds, stone partitions, rocky boulders, stained glass lamps, critter fountains and extra all including to a way of serenity. Each swimming pools can get busy and crowded, however we’ve at all times managed to discover a sense of seclusion and calm away from the Redwood Pool at GCH.

Then there’s Disneyland Lodge, the place the large 4,800-square-foot E-Ticket Pool lives as much as its identify. This options 2 winding waterslides, each characteristic replicas of the unique Mark 1 Monorail trains. There’s the 25-foot-high, 180-foot-long Purple Monorail slide or the 13-foot-high, 80-foot-long Yellow Monorail slide (the latter is similar to the Redwood Pool Slide at GCH).

There’s additionally a 2-lane mini slide for smaller youngsters with pop jets, fountains, and a waterfall add to the enjoyable. This nostalgic water play space is topped by a “Disneyland” signal harking back to the park’s basic years. This whole pool space is top-notch; it’s bigger and has extra enjoyable on provide than its counterpart at GCH. If in case you have youngsters of any age, there’s little doubt that they’ll want the swimming pools at Disneyland Lodge.

We’re going to offer DLH the win since that’ll be the consensus, however actually, we want the swimming pools on the Grand Californian. The vibe is extra mellow, and that’s what we’re in search of when taking time away from the parks to calm down and decompress. Kids will disagree, however {couples} may give the sting to GCH’s swimming pools.

Value: Disneyland Lodge – These are the 2 most costly inns on common at Disneyland Resort. Each routinely begin within the $400 or $500 vary, and that’s with a reduction. On the excessive finish, rack charges exceeding $1,000 will not be unusual.

Costs differ by season and room class, however you may count on to pay about 20% to 25% extra for a comparable room on the Grand Californian on common. There are occasions when the charges are inexplicably decrease at GCH, however that’s the exception somewhat than the rule. (And normally on account of commonplace rooms being unable at DLH.)

Membership Stage: Grand Californian – If $500+ per night time is just too low cost on your tastes, you may at all times improve to Membership Stage for an additional couple hundred {dollars} or so per night time! Disneyland Lodge’s Membership Stage is the E-Ticket Lounge, which is situated on the highest flooring of the Journey Tower, and affords elevated views of Downtown Disney (it’s presently overlooking the development zone to broaden the district). It’s a good view of the fireworks at Disneyland within the distance, and the night ambiance of Downtown Disney might be pleasurable.

Grand Californian’s Membership Stage is the Veranda, which affords indoor seating and an outside terrace. This lounge is bigger, extra trendy, and has considerably higher selection (and better high quality) food and drinks spreads. In the event you’re desirous about a complete have a look at a number of days’ price of what we ate right here, see our Evaluate: Veranda Membership Stage at Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge.

The E-Ticket Lounge is okay. It may use an replace and the meals spreads aren’t practically as spectacular, particularly after accessing the superlative Veranda Membership Stage on the Grand Californian. (I’ll stage with you: the one cause I included this part was as a result of I don’t really feel like writing a standalone assessment of the E-Ticket Lounge. “It’s high-quality” is just about the extent of my ideas.)

Verdict: Grand Californian – For us, Disney’s Grand Californian Lodge & Spa is the winner in a landslide. Nonetheless, that has not at all times been the case. After we first began visiting the California parks, we instantly fell in love with Disneyland Lodge. As large followers of the historical past and legacy of Walt Disney, the resort received us over immediately and fully–very similar to the park itself.

Disneyland Lodge felt like an extension of the eponymous park, and we completely couldn’t get sufficient of Disneyland. Returning to the resort and visiting Dealer Sam’s after watching “Bear in mind… Goals Come True” was only a pitch-perfect nostalgia overload. The mid-century trendy stylization was additionally a winner (this was throughout the peak of Mad Males) and in contrast to something we had again “dwelling” at Walt Disney World.

Then again, the Grand Californian was admittedly a bit complicated. There have been features of it that blew us away, but in addition some bizarre stuff. Facets of the design struck us as darkish, dreary, and dated. Like a Nationwide Park Lodge, however making an attempt a bit too exhausting to be each fancy and rustic, and feeling drained. (This was virtually 15 years in the past–approach earlier than the brand new rooms.) All in all, it felt like an odd early-aughts imitation of Wilderness Lodge.

That was a really floor stage evaluation, coloured by a passion for Wilderness Lodge, incomplete information of DCA’s shortcomings, and spending too little time truly exploring the Grand Californian. It wasn’t till our subsequent go to that we spent extra time on the GCH and began to know what it was doing in a different way from Wilderness Lodge.

Truthfully, although, it wasn’t till we hung out in Pasadena, together with a tour of the Gamble Home together with different properties within the historic district there that it actually “clicked” for us. Since then, our fondness for the Arts & Crafts fashion has solely elevated, and the identical is true for the Grand Californian. We’ve stayed on the resort a number of instances and visited (actually) a whole lot since then, and we nonetheless see new particulars and design quirks with every go to. Our appreciation of the Grand Californian retains rising deeper. I now adore it as a lot as I like Wilderness Lodge, which is actually saying one thing.

We share this so as to add context but in addition a caveat. It actually took us years to get up to now with the Grand Californian. Though it has far surpassed Disneyland Lodge for us, that’s not how the story started. For us, it was love at first stick with Disneyland Lodge…and extra like apprehensive appreciation with the Grand Californian. Maybe you’re extra subtle than us, and the attraction of the GCH and distinctions from Wilderness Lodge can be instantly obvious for you, however there’s a superb probability fellow Disney followers will expertise an identical response. Since this can be a comparability geared toward your first keep somewhat than your 14th, it appeared like a related story to incorporate.

Planning a Southern California trip? For park admission offers, learn Ideas for Saving Cash on Disneyland Tickets. Study on-site and off-site inns in our Anaheim Lodge Evaluations & Rankings. For the place to eat, take a look at our Disneyland Restaurant Evaluations. For distinctive concepts of issues that’ll enhance your journey, take a look at What to Pack for Disney. For complete recommendation, seek the advice of our Disneyland Trip Planning Information. Lastly, for guides past Disney, take a look at our Southern California Itineraries for day journeys to Los Angeles, Laguna Seashore, and plenty of different SoCal cities!


Which of those two good inns at Disneyland Resort is the higher one, in your opinion? Does value, rooms, location, swimming pools, eating, or one thing else matter most to you? Is there something you may consider to make Disneyland Lodge the higher decide? Are we lacking a key variable that would, doubtlessly tilt the scales? Do you agree or disagree with our picks? Any questions we can assist you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even once you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!

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