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Evaluate: Disney’s Greatest Resort Has (Arguably) Its Worst Rooms


There’s one Disney resort that we completely adore, however haven’t but reviewed as a result of we’ve been not-so-patiently awaiting its long-overdue room renovations. With the up to date DVC refurbishment calendar out and displaying that received’t occur till 2025 on the earliest, it’s time for a fast have a look at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort (VGC) and whether or not you must keep right here or on the new Villas at Disneyland Resort.

Let’s begin with the fundamentals. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa is, because the identify suggests, situated on the flagship resort overlooking Disney California Journey (DCA). Whereas the resort itself opened with the DCA theme park, the DVC wing was an enlargement venture that began in 2007 and opened in 2009.

Our first Disneyland journey got here shortly after that, so I’ve no reminiscence of the resort pre-VGC. Truthfully, I’ve a tough time even conceiving of it. Whereas most Disney Trip Membership wings are apparent expansions as they’re separate buildings with an obvious standalone high quality, the addition of the Villas at Grand Californian is pretty seamless. I imply, you possibly can see the place it was added, however it feels and appears prefer it was at all times there. No less than, to me, somebody who has solely been visiting because it was at all times there.

It undoubtedly helps that the DVC wing was designed by the late, nice Peter Dominick. If that identify sounds acquainted, he was additionally the architect for Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa in addition to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. The villas additionally mirror the identical California Arts & Crafts model of the principle resort, which immerses company in a turn-of-the-Twentieth-century California Craftsman expertise.

The DVC wing is far smaller than the resort itself in addition to most different Disney Trip Membership expansions. The unique Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa options 745 visitor rooms, together with 44 suites. With the addition of the enlargement wing, the resort now affords 945 visitor rooms, together with 44 visitor suites, and 48 Disney Trip Membership two-bedroom equal trip villas.

These 48 villas embrace 23 Deluxe Studios (lock-offs), 23 1-Bedrooms (lock-offs), plus 23 devoted 2-Bed room items and a couple of Grand Villas. (We really had the prospect to tour one in every of these spectacular Grand Villas a few years in the past because of a sort reader!) That makes for a complete most of 71 items, which remains to be small by Disney Trip Membership requirements. Between the low provide and excessive demand, the Villas at Grand Californian are fairly standard with DVC members!

This property is in high-demand as a result of it affords the entire similar promoting factors on the Grand Californian, which is a reasonably nice resort. This can be a assessment of the villas, particularly, so we’re not going to fixate on all of that. We’ll simply say that from the wealthy themed design and a spotlight to element to the non-public entrance into DCA, the Grand Californian is unequalled.

The rooms within the villas versus the resort are in all probability a fairly large consideration for a lot of potential company, so let’s check out these…

The excellent news there’s that finally 12 months’s DVC Condominium Affiliation Assembly, Disney introduced plans for a prime to backside exhausting items refurbishment of the Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian.

This was initially slated to occur final 12 months…then this 12 months…now it’s 2025. Right here’s hoping this isn’t delayed once more, as a result of this was overdue even a number of years in the past. We love the Grand Californian and can keep within the previous rooms if it means not paying the resort’s pricing, however they’re undoubtedly displaying their age–similar to Boulder Ridge at Wilderness Lodge previous to final 12 months’s reimagining.

Hopefully the idea takes thematic and stylistic parts of the new-look GCH rooms–with a splash of Boulder Ridge–and combines that with the brand new Inova pull-down beds. That might be an enormous win.

Emulating the look of the wonderful new Boulder Ridge rooms can be an enormous win for the Villas at Grand Californian. These designs make vital strides in space-saving design, whereas including revolutionary options just like the pull-down Murphy sleeper that’s someway each a snug sofa and a snug mattress.

These new rooms seem to be the end result of a variety of classes discovered by DVC over the past decade–iterating on previous successes and disregarding previous failures–into one thing that coalesces completely. To that time, Disney Trip Membership has indicated that visitor satisfaction scores have elevated 20% amongst company who’ve stayed in new rooms.

Personally, I believe the present rooms at VGC are principally high quality. They’re previous and drained, to make sure, and missing the usability enhancements of their newer counterparts. There are apparent enhancements that could possibly be made, however they’re not downright unhealthy. On the plus facet, they’ve thematic integrity.

I’d take the rooms on the Villas at Grand Californian over redone rooms from the 2016 to 2018 period (most of which are actually additionally being changed). These are superior from the attitude of performance, however function an aesthetic that’s attempting a bit too exhausting to be stylish and classy.

They’re additionally missing in model and substance as in comparison with the latest rooms (like final 12 months’s replace at Boulder Ridge) as in comparison with the 2019 to current rooms. For my part, for this reason the VGC rooms are arguably the worst DVC rooms on the market–as a result of the present technology of rooms are such an enchancment over the past one.

For my part, the Grand Californian ought to lean into its Arts & Crafts model with the 2025 reimagining. These rooms ought to have wealthy woods, lanterns, ornate particulars, and draw inspiration from the pure world. Visitors who don’t like that or dismiss it as “too rustic” (it’s actually not!) can purchase and keep elsewhere.

Making the whole lot fashionable and “on development” additionally makes the whole lot bland and fewer distinct. Fortuitously, I don’t actually suppose this occurred with the rooms on the resort facet of the Grand Californian and it additionally hasn’t occurred with the latest rooms at Wilderness Lodge.

The largest problem can be making the VGC rooms distinctly Craftsman–as it’s thematically completely different from Wilderness Lodge. Not dramatically so, however by sufficient that the Pacific Northwest-inspired rooms at Boulder Ridge can be very off on the Grand Californian.

I’m not too involved about this. The brand new DVC rooms from the previous couple of years have been wonderful, stuffed with particulars and little Easter Eggs. Previous to that, I’d’ve been nervous that Disney would’ve heard complaints concerning the VGC rooms being “drab and dated” (as they undoubtedly have) by overcorrecting with sterile seems to be and overly vibrant areas.

Now I’m rather more assured that they’ll thread the needle nicely, updating the rooms whereas retaining the traits that make them particular. The woods, the headboards and the gorgeous art work. Properly, perhaps not the very same artwork, however new items that marry basic California with Disney characters. Once more, that’s what we noticed with Boulder Ridge, which was a really tasteful redo.

I just like the look and ambiance of the present Villas at Grand Californian rooms nicely sufficient, at the least in concept. They’re cozy and comfy, a pleasant technique to decompress after a busy day within the parks. There’s a chilled sense to them–similar to the resort as a complete (nicely, when it’s not filled with individuals) and the Arts & Crafts model.

Just like the houses in Pasadena, these rooms are enjoyable and lend themselves to indoor/outside dwelling. Sitting on the balcony or patio with a morning espresso or post-parks snack is a good way to unwind. You’re feeling a world away from Disneyland, regardless of being within the coronary heart of all of it.

Once more, that’s in concept. The issue is that in individual, that’s not precisely how the rooms current anymore. It’s tough to inform from the pictures, however the carpet is worn–as is the furnishings. We’ve stayed at VGC a number of occasions in as a few years, and had some espresso tables and couches that had been actually dinged up, and carpet that had noticeable put on and tear ‘paths’ in areas with extra visitors.

Between that and staying in one of many brand-new rooms on the Villas at Disneyland Resort, it’s clear how antiquated the rooms are at VGC. These pull-down beds and different little ‘high quality of life’ options all add up in mixture, and that sharp distinction makes these older rooms on the Grand Californian really feel much more drained and outdated.

Talking of which, when you’re attempting to resolve between this and the Villas at Disneyland Resort, try Grand Californian vs. Disneyland Resort for a comparability (and distinction) of the promoting factors at every. That focuses on large image stuff on the two inns. That is primarily simply concerning the rooms.

Whether or not the Villas at Disneyland Resort or Villas at Grand Californian are best for you actually comes right down to how a lot newness and fashionable luxurious matter to you. The rooms at VDH are very good and recent, providing each comfort and high quality company have come to count on.

The rooms at VGC are…not that. They’re for much less fussy vacationers who both need one thing calming or aren’t involved with the pretension of modernity. As a complete, the Grand Californian is clearly nicer, however it’s much less in-your-face. It’s refined luxurious for the subtle and discerning traveler.

Maybe extra to the purpose, the VGC is best for individuals who prioritize the resort as a complete over the rooms themselves. In nearly each different regard–from location to eating places–Grand Californian beats Disneyland Resort. It’s the higher choice for individuals who care much less about rooms, and extra about the entire bundle.

In case you’re good with the extra mellow and earthy model of the present Villas at Grand Californian rooms, it’s a unbelievable decide. Having a kitchenette is nice, particularly when staying on the Grand Californian–the place you possibly can order one of many scrumptious pizzas from GCH Craftsman Grill and save a part of it for leftovers to reheat.

Having your personal meals within the fridge can be helpful on the Grand Californian, typically, as you’re so near the parks and might simply do a noon break to have wholesome snacks–or perhaps a full breakfast or dinner within the room, when you so desired.

Staying within the Villas at Grand Californian studio rooms can be the most affordable technique to keep on the Grand Californian, whether or not which means utilizing your personal membership or saving cash by renting DVC factors. That is far and away our favourite of the three Inns of Disneyland Resort, and that’s true whether or not you’re staying within the older villas or newer resort rooms. (Proper now, we’d undoubtedly take the latter if cash is not any problem, however it clearly is for lots of company!) See our our Grand Californian Resort & Spa Evaluate for an outline of facilities, why we adore it a lot, and so forth.

After spending a variety of time on the Grand Californian, significantly its widespread areas, I’ve come to essentially admire the resort. It’s like a combination between Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian: it has a way of cozy and earthiness like Wilderness Lodge, however with a extra polished and stylish pedigree. It’s clearly a luxurious resort, however an inviting and extra casual one–very in line with California. Its stage of distinction is instantly obvious in its furnishings and Craftsman design. The ostensibly “rustic” look would possibly seem less-refined at first blush, however upon nearer inspection, that couldn’t be farther from the reality. I’ll in all probability at all times have the Walt Disney World “dwelling” resort bias, however with every keep, the Grand Californian comes nearer to dethroning Wilderness Lodge.

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


What are your ideas on the Villas at Grand Californian? Have you ever stayed at each VGC and the Villas at Disneyland Resort? Which do you like? What do you consider the rooms, each at present and the seemingly end result of the refurbishment? How would your assessment differ from mine? Do you agree or disagree with our evaluation? Different ideas or considerations? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even if you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!