Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a hotel located at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Added as part of a major expansion of the Disneyland Resort in 2001, it is the resort’s flagship hotel and is the first and only hotel there to have been originally built and operated since inception by The Walt Disney Company. This luxury hotel is designed to celebrate the early 20th Century Arts and Crafts era, showcasing the architectural style of Northern California. It also features a Disney Vacation Club wing that opened in September 2009.
Designed by architect Peter Dominick of 4240 Architecture Inc. (formerly part of Urban Design Group Inc.), it is based on the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s. Despite the large scale of the hotel (1,019 rooms), the architecture still captures the key elements of the Craftsman style: wide sweeping roofs, projecting beams, exaggerated braces and colors that blend with nature. The exterior evokes the feel of National Park Service lodges of the Western United States, particularly the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park and, to a lesser degree, the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The interior design of the hotel also features the Craftsman motif, albeit on a larger scale.
Craftsman homes often have a garden theme. For the Grand Californian, the theme was taken from a garden idea and scaled up so that the garden became a forest. The reception hall is based on the interior of the Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco, increased in scale to accommodate the large reception desk. The central lobby is a living room done in immense scale with a massive fireplace and vast arching beams overhead, and furnished with chairs and sofas arranged around small coffee tables.
Many of the items found throughout the hotel have been handcrafted by modern practitioners of the Arts and Crafts movement using traditional techniques. Some early Roycroft items are on display in the lobby.
Some of the hotel’s rooms and features are tributes to various Craftsman-era architects and designers. For instance, two of the guest suites, as well as the California Boardroom, pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright; the Napa Rose restaurant features a rose motif in the glass design which was inspired by Charles Rennie MacKintosh. The Storytellers Cafe features a large tile mural that is a reproduction of an original design by the Gladding, McBean Company for a Robin Hood Room in the Wilmington, California, public library.
Its name is based on Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, its sister resort and Walt Disney World’s flagship resort hotel. The two hotels do not share themes, though, as the Grand Californian is a Craftsman theme, while the Grand Floridian is of a Victorian theme but both are Disney’s two finest resort properties in the world. It does, however, share many thematic elements with Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (also designed by Dominick) with its national park lodge themeing at Walt Disney World.
The hotel has its own entrance to Disney California Adventure Park park, located at the Grizzly Peak area. The entry is officially only open to guests of the Resort hotels.
The hotel opened on January 2, 2001. At about 3:00 AM PDT on December 28, 2005, a Christmas tree in the main lobby caught fire after electric maintenance workers replaced lights on the tree. All 2,300 guests at the hotel were evacuated within four minutes. The fire was contained by the hotel’s sprinkler system and by the Anaheim Fire Department. Two guests were treated for minor injuries, one of which was a severe headache. All guests were returned to their rooms by 7:00 AM; some were sent to other hotels in the area.
In response to a growing demand for guest accommodations in Anaheim, the Disneyland Resort announced on September 18, 2007 an expansion of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa that would increase accommodations by more than 30 percent and include the first Disney Vacation Club villas in Anaheim. The 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) expansion on the hotel’s south side added more than 200 new hotel rooms and 50 two-bedroom equivalent vacation villas and marked the West Coast debut of Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s vacation-ownership program. During this expansion and renovation, a new swimming pool was added as well as a 300 space underground parking garage. Peter Dominick of 4240 Architecture Inc., architect for the original Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa designed the ambitious expansion to compliment his existing hotel. It will reflect the same California Arts & Crafts architecture of the existing hotel, which immerses guests in a turn-of-the-20th-century California experience. The project was completed in September 2009.
With the completion of this major expansion, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa became the third largest hotel in Orange County, up from its previous fourth place standing