Tag: DVC Reviews

A Look Inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Lamp on the check in table at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

A warmly lit quail lamp greeted me at the check-in desk of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. To my back the Great Hall welcomed my family with its massive fireplace, over-sized couches, rocking chairs and stained glass light fixtures all saturated in rich hues of yellow, green, orange and brown. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is an architectural beauty, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900s.

Grand Californian Hotel Lobby "Great Hall"The Craftsman theme and Disney’s celebration of California’s grand natural beauty can be found in every corner of the hotel.

The Villas at Disney’s Grand California Hotel mirror the same Arts & Crafts motif as the original hotel rooms, but depending on the size of the villa, Villa rooms also provide guests with additional in-room amenities. There are four types of Villa rooms, Deluxe Studio, 1 Bedroom, 2 Bedroom and Grand Villa. Here’s a look inside, and outside, of my family’s “home away from home” during our stay at the hotel. The room is categorized as a Deluxe Studio room.

Headboard at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

This is the headboard of the queen-size bed.  Notice the Craftsman theme continues in the Deluxe Studio furnishings .

Sleeper Sofa in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Studio Room

The couch is a queen-size sleeper sofa and the window to the left is actually a door leading out to the balcony.  I LOVED the light fixtures in this room!

kitchenette within the studio room at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

 The kitchenette provides a sink, microwave, toaster, instant coffee maker, ice bucket, four drinking glasses, four coffee mugs, an under-the-counter refrigerator, a variety of disposable utensils, travel-size dish washing liquid, paper towels, garbage can and pantry storage.  Use this convenient space and be prepared to save some money!

Bathroom of a Studio Room at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

The bathroom at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is themed after one of Disney’s most beloved films.  Can you see what character is hiding out in the forest print shower curtain?

The vanity at Disney's Grand Californian.There’s no detail that’s too small for Disney.  Even the complimentary bath products carry the nature theme with sea marine scented Disney Resorts SPA H2O brand shampoo & conditioner and sea salt body wash, body lotion and facial soap.

Pool View from DVC Studio at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

 Each Deluxe Studio room has a balcony that provides exquisite views.  Our room had a view of one of the hotel’s three pools.  The pool pictured above is the Mariposa Pool.

Villa at Disneys Grand Californian Hotel Pool View

My parents also stayed in a Deluxe Studio at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  I like to describe the view from their balcony as an obstructed view, but I think it gave them a nice view of two pretty amazing sights!  When standing on the balcony and looking to the left guests can see obstructed views of the Fountain Pool and the Redwood Pool, as pictured above.

View of California Adventure park from a Deluxe Studio room.

Standing on the same balcony, when looking to the right, guests can watch the “Screamin’ Over California” roller coaster. Cool, right?

Entrance to the Fountain Pool at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

 Want a closer look at the pools?

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is conveniently positioned a few steps away from the Downtown Disney District and has an exclusive entrance into the California Adventure Park. Due to potential non-hotel guest visitors walking by the pools, guests of the Grand Californian that are eager to jump into the glistening pools can do so by using their room keys to open this beautiful gate.

Redwood Pool Looking for the slide?  Redwood Pool is ready to deliver!

Food options at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

After some hard-core playing hours at the pool, hunger is bound to set in.  There are four themed dining options that deliver guest experiences which continue to pay tribute to the beauty of California and Craftsman art motif.

Although, I’m not going to review the restaurants in this post, I will say that White Water Snacks is the perfect place to stop by for a quick snack after a dip in the pool.  Or if you’re looking for a special place to eat with your spouse, try Napa Rose.

childcare at Disneyland

All Disney restaurants are “kid friendly.” However, if you and your spouse would like to plan a “date night” at Napa Rose, Pinocchio’s Workshop is ready to help make your wish come true.  Located at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Pinocchio’s Workshop is a child care facility that offers a variety of fun activities to keep kids active while Mom and Dad play.

As each night concluded during our five night stay, the soft glow provided by the Craftsman designed lobby area welcomed us home as we waited for the elevator to take us to our room.  It truly was a beautiful sight.Elevator Lobby at Grand CalifornianDisney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offers its guests more than just its beautifully themed hotel and pools.  Experiences at the hotel is what truly makes a stay at the West Coast’s “Grand” magically GRAND.

Visit https://disneyland.disney.go.com/hotels/grand-californian-hotel/ to find out more about the outstanding spa services, award-winning restaurants and magical experiences just ready for your family to experience at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

I hoped you enjoyed this look inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and thank you for stopping by the blog today!

The Magical Reasons Our Family Loves Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower and The Contemporary Resort “Our Building”

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is my family’s favorite resort at Walt Disney World. We stay there so often that my six year old son, Gavin, refers to Bay Lake Tower as “Our Building”. From the monorail, to Chef Mickeys, to the background sounds of a steam train’s whistle blowing nearby, to the side walk leading to the Magic Kingdom’s gates, to the beaconing boat dock by Bay Lake, every corner of the Tower leads to adventure. For my family, it’s the tower of our own Disney castle nestled nicely next to Cindy’s!

Today I’ll share with you the many magical reasons that my family choses to stay at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. You’ll read about the convenience. You’ll read about the fun. You’ll read about the potential money savings. And of course, you’ll read about the Magic!

walkway to Magic KingdomConvenience

My husband and I have two small children, 6 years old and 2 years old. The Magic Kingdom is our most frequented park during each vacation. Our mornings are as close to stress free as could be possible. There is no rushing to the bus stop in hopes that we don’t miss the next bus to the Magic Kingdom. We simply take the elevator downstairs, walk out our door and stroll along our side walk which leads us straight to the Magic Kingdom . Then, as the evening comes to a close and our feet are tired of walking, we hop on a monorail and get off at the first stop, The Contemporary Resort.  BLT (Bay Lake Tower) is connected to the Contemporary by a walkway located on the Concourse Level of the main Contemporary building.  The Concourse level is where you’ll catch the monorail and it’s also home to the famous Chef Mickey’s Restaurant and Contempo Café, a quick service dining option. So to get to our room all we have to do is roll our stroller off the monorail, walk across the walkway, hit the elevator button for our floor and we’re home.

Chef Mickey’s is the 2nd most popular character dining experience at Walt Disney World. Each year we kick off our first full day of our Disney vacation by having breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey’s. We leave our room fifteen minutes before our reservation time and moments later we’re at the check-in desk of the restaurant. If you are not staying at a Magic Kingdom Resort, getting to the early morning breakfast reservations for Chef Mickey’s can sometimes be challenging, especially if you do not have a vehicle. There are no direct buses to the Contemporary from other Disney Resorts. With small children, mornings are stressful enough without adding the pressure of lengthy transportation ordeal to get to the Contemporary. For example, if you’re staying at the Coronado Springs Resort you would take a bus to Downtown Disney then transfer to a bus to the Contemporary, or take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and walk over to the Resort.

Another convenience of BLT is that Epcot is an easy and fun ride to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then a skip over to the Epcot Monorail. Traveling by monorail is massively convenient if you have an infant or a young child. Little ones love riding the monorail. It’s not out of the norm to hear that the monorail is a little Mouseketeer’s “favorite ride at Disney”! Also, strollers do not have to be collapsed for you to ride this mode of transportation. This is especially convenient if your child is taking his or her nap at the time.

Most importantly, Bay Lake Tower is a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Since it is part of the DVC family of resorts, all rooms have extra amenities, such as a kitchenette in the studio rooms and a full size kitchen in the one, two and three bedroom grand villas. Although this is a DVC Resort, you do not have to be a Disney Vacation Club member to stay at Bay Lake Tower.


Bay Lake Tower offers a variety of fun adventures.  In this photo my husband and our son wait on the boat dock for a boat to take them to Fort Wilderness Campground where we’ll check out the playground and animals.

Fun Adventures

An entire post could be dedicated to fun adventures to be had while staying on property at any of Disney’s resorts. However, today I’ll share the fun adventures that my family enjoys while staying at BLT.

After checking into our resort, the first thing we do is drop off our carry-on luggage in our room, check out our view of the castle and monorail, and then head to the monorail platform for a ride. Due to travel, our first day at WDW is often a half day, so we try to do some fun things that don’t require using a full day’s park ticket. Although the monorail is used to get to two of Disney’s four main theme parks, it also stops at three resorts, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We enjoy stopping at each Resort to explore their gift shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Another fun exploration that’s a must do for my family is riding a boat from our boat launch over to the Fort Wilderness Campground where we let loose and explore. Our son loves to play at the beach, then move to the playground, followed by checking out the animals and he’s even frequented their arcade. The Fort seems to move at a much slower pace. They have less crowds in the middle of the afternoon, so it makes for a great place to go for a brief escape from the over stimulating environment that children are in while at the parks.

Once we return back to “Our Building” we stop in at Community Hall to check out the week’s special events and projects. The Community Hall is usually very quiet when we stop in during the day, so our son has the place to himself, pick out coloring pages, check out their movies and games. One great activity that is preschooler friendly and that they seem to do often, is make your own pillowcase or pirate treasure bag. We also note the movies that will be playing that week at our resort.

Having a young children that have an early bed time, we haven’t yet taken advantage of the following fun adventure, but I thought I would mention it, in case you have an older child that could enjoy the event. During the evenings, outside of Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary, located in a nice open area, between the two buildings and close to the boat launch area, a Disney movie is shown on a huge screen for families to watch. I look forward to the future when I can take our children to one of those showings. I’m certain they will think it’s pretty cool.

IMG_2416And we can’t forget the awesome slide at the pool!  Not pictured in this photo is a wonderful splash area separate from the pool, perfect for toddlers and preschool age children.

Disney Easter Disney Birthday 041

In the above photo Gavin intently watches the monorail while finishing up breakfast in our 2 bedroom villa at BLT.

Money Saving Potential

Since Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a Disney Vacation Club Resort, many of the conveniences of home can be found at the Resort and some even in your room. The resort has four types of rooms, Deluxe Studios, One Bedrooms, Two Bedroom, and Three Bedroom Grand Villas. The Deluxe Studio is the type of accommodation that we have recently chosen, since our family consists of four. In previous years, we have stayed in the Two Bedroom when we stayed with additional members of our extended family. Both types of accommodations at Bay Lake Tower were fantastic. In regards to saving money, the Deluxe Studio and the Two Bedroom saved us a lot of money when it came to purchasing food in the parks.

The Deluxe Studio at Bay Lake Tower has a kitchenette, which we used everyday. It includes a small refrigerator, a kitchen sink, microwave, coffee pot, toaster and a pull out pantry. The kitchenette area is stocked with plastic utensils and paper products, including paper plates and bowls. Other than the morning that we eat at Chef Mickey’s, we eat our breakfast in our room before leaving for the parks. It’s so nice to sit on the balcony and watch the park come to life in the morning. You can see the Monorails start zipping on their rail, hear the whistle of the steam engine warming up for its day, and watch as the astro-orbiter prepares for approaching passengers, all as you munch on a bagel and sip your tea. With the close proximity to the Magic Kingdom, we would eat one other meal at our resort each day. The short walk or monorail ride back to the resort allowed us to do this without missing too much of our day. On occasion, we would sneak in a quick nap for everyone.

The One, Two and Three Bedroom Villas all have full size fully equip kitchens with a small dining area and a spacious living room. It’s wonderful to have that extra space if you have a large family or are traveling in a group.

In addition, they have a washer and dryer within the one, two and three bedroom villas. The Deluxe Studios do not have the washer and dryer but there is a laundry facility at Bay Lake Tower and it is free for guests to use. I find that this has saved our family money. We usually travel by plane, so when we do we have to watch how much stuff we pack. Checking luggage can really add up to a large expense with multiple people in your family needing to check bags. We make sure that we take only enough clothing to cover three or four days, then we do laundry on our day off, usually the middle of our week.

As I mentioned many times earlier, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Our family members are DVC members. We use our membership to the fullest and know that it has saved us a lot of money. Honestly,we would not be able to afford to stay at this magnificent resort without our ownership. If you are a Disney Fan and love to travel to Walt Disney World and stay on Disney property, take the time to look into the membership. The DVC tours, that are done on Walt Disney World property, are stress free and fun. It could save you thousands too.

Disney World September October 2013 018


The one word to sum up staying at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is magical. Each night the resort is in the middle to two special evening events, Wishes and The Electrical Water Pageant. Since there are several types of views at Bay Lake Tower, each room experiences a different view of the events.

The resort rooms are booked under the following “views”, Theme Park View, Standard View, and Bay Lake View. I’ve come to find out that there is another view labeled “obstructed” but this is not an option to book. The resort rooms are broken down into the following percentages, 25% of the rooms are considered Theme Park View, 25% are Standard View, and 50% of the rooms are Bay Lake View. On one occasion, we booked a Bay Lake View and were given an Obstructed View. This view was fantastic for us. We had a view of the Magic Kingdom but also some of Bay Lake.

Disney Easter Disney Birthday 025The theme park view in a Studio Villa during the day.

Most of our stays have been in a Studio with a Theme Park View. We enjoy staying in our room and using the balcony to view Wishes. The kids’ favorite part is seeing Tinkerbell fly!   After my children and husband are fast asleep, I enjoy a silent moment, soaking in the sight of Cinderella’s beautiful castle lit up for the evening. It’s simply breath taking and a site that I wish I could capture with a camera.

One or two evenings during our stay, my husband or I take the kids with us as we walk over the Skyway Bridge to The Contemporary Resort. Gavin’s tall enough that he can see over the railing of the bridge to view the Electrical Water Pageant. Of all the parades he has seen, this is favorite. The only down side is that the pageant stops at the resort a bit late for little ones, so he doesn’t get to see it every night.

For those Disney Vacation Club Members not staying in a Theme Park View but wanting to see Wishes at the resort, they are in for an extra magical treat. At the Top of the World Lounge located at the rooftop deck of Bay Lake Tower, DVC members staying at the resort are able to take in the sights of Wishes while listing to the music of Wishes in sync with Magic Kingdom firework display. The view is amazing and one of the most magical on property.

From rooftop to balcony, no matter what room we may stay in at Bay Lake Tower, my family believes “Our Building” is the most magical in the “World”. We hope you enjoy your next vacation to Walt Disney World and hope you get the opportunity to discover for yourself the magic at Bay Lake Tower.

If you have any questions regarding Bay Lake Tower, I’d love to answer them!  You can leave them in the comments section, or email me at info@mouseearsmom.com .

I hope you have a Magical Day!

Mouse Ears Mom’s Tour of The Villa’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney 2014 055 Have you seen Disney Vacation Club’s newest addition?

My family is full of devoted Disney Vacation Club members.  My parents became members in 2001, while I worked for Disney Vacation Club.  My husband and I were next to purchase points, soon to be followed by both of my brothers and their families.  There has never been a DVC point among us that has had a chance to expire.  When we reach the midpoint day of each vacation, we start planning our next trip to Walt Disney World.

Each family has their favorite DVC resort, my husband and I, along with our monorail-loving kids, refer to Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as home.  The resort offers everything we could dream of needing or wanting in a resort.  So to say the least, when I curiously walked up to the new villas at “The Grand”, I didn’t expect to be overly impressed.  My heart already belonged to BLT.  Knowing that The Villas at the Grand were essentially part of “The Grand” Resort, I did anticipate they would be nice.  However,  The Villas were nothing short of phenomenal!  That’s all I can say.  I’m not an interior designer.  I know little about building materials, fabrics, and hardware, so I’m not even going to try to “Review” the resort.  Instead, I’ll share with you the photos that I took while touring the Studio, One Bedroom and Two Bedroom Villas.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my good camera with me and it was in the evening, so I apologize for the quality of the images.

Lobby Fountain  The Disney décor touches were themed primarily Mary Poppins.  This Mary Poppin’s Penguins fountain is located in the heart of the lobby.

Disney 2014 061In the center of the lobby, located directly above the fountain, there are two of these enormous chandeliers.

Disney 2014 059Above each of the glimmering gold elevators, you can find Miss Poppin’s Parrot Umbrella ready to help you fly to your room’s floor.

Studio Villa Pictures

Disney 2014 072Disney 2014 071These photos are of the bathroom area located within a Studio location.  When facing the vanity, there is a free-standing shower at the right and at the left is the bathtub and toilet.  In the photo of the vanity area take note of the mirror.  You can see in the bottom right hand corner of the mirror there is a TV.  Talk about a great distraction to use when trying to get a toddler’s teeth brushed!

Disney 2014 067Queen-size bed located in the Studio Villa.

studio Above the queen-size sleeper sofa is Mary Poppin’s themed artwork.

Disney 2014 066This Dumbo-themed twin-size sleeper is a great addition to the DVC studio format.  It allows for five people to sleep in the Studio Villa, instead of the traditional four people.

Disney 2014 068I fell in love with the understated color scheme of The Villas at the Grand.  Here is a close up of the material used within the Studio Villa.

Here’s some photos of the One-Bedroom Villa.

The One-Bedroom also sleeps up to five people.


Notice to the right of the stove is a large white cabinet.  This is actually the refrigerator.  To the left of the sink, in an other large white cabinet is the dishwasher.

gavin graduation and disney 2014 January 322

In this photo you can see the kitchen’s eat-in dining area.  The wall behind the nook is the division wall for the living area.

living room one bedroom

 Aren’t the Minnie and Mickey Mouse silhouettes on the wall adorable?  The couch is a queen-size sleeper sofa and the chair is a twin-size sleeper sofa.

one bedroom master bedroom walk-in closetIn the master bedroom there is a walk-in closet, equip with a personal safe.  If you have an infant who needs a pack-n-play, this is where you’ll find it.

Master bath tubThis photo of the master bath tub does not do it justice.  The tub is a claw-foot tub.

vanity in master bathThis vanity is in the Master Bathroom.

Toilet in the master bathroomAs you tell from this photo, the toilet area is separate from the bath tub and vanity.

Hallway to the Studio (second bedroom)After existing the toilet area into the common area, you’ll find the hallway to take you back into the kitchen on the left or if you have booked a Two-Bedroom Villa, this hallway will lead you to the door you see opened.  When walking through that door you’re entering into a Studio room, which is considered the second bedroom in a Two-Bedroom Villa.

The Two-Bedroom Villa sleeps up to ten people.

What I haven’t shown you in these photos is my absolute favorite thing about this resort- the view!  Since I toured the villas in the evening I couldn’t get a good photo of the balcony attached to the rooms.  The view of the Magic Kingdom was, in fact, GRAND.  In all the times that I visited the parks and gazed at Cinderella’s Castle, I’ve never seen it so picturesque.  I wish I could have captured the view with my camera.  It is one that I won’t soon forget and I wish I could have shared it with you!

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed my little tour of The Villa’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.  If you’ve stayed there, I’d love to hear about your experience!  Please feel free to tell us about it in the comments below or connect with me on Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and I hope you have a happy Sunday!

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

DSCF8318Have you ever visited Disney’s Vero Beach Resort?

This week on the blog I tried to help you extend your summer vacation a little bit longer, by showing you creative ideas to remember your summer beach vacation with a touch of Disney.  Today I’d like to close the week by telling you about a beautiful pearl of a Disney vacation resort, that is sandwiched between fields of orange groves and the foaming blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?  Well, it truly is.

The Walt Disney Resort is my family’s favorite place to vacation.  So much so, that we call it our home away from home.  For how much fun it is to vacation at Disney, it’s also equally exhausting.  Adding a couple of days before or after our WDW vacation is a relaxing treat. The resort sincerely exemplifies all that I love about The Walt Disney Resort.  The cast members are some of the most “Disney” people I have met.  The resort’s cleanliness is exceptional and the beauty of the resort is breathtaking.  There are even Hidden Mickeys you can find!  The difference is Vero Beach is quiet.  Unless you are visiting in the summer months, it’s possible that there will be times that your family may only be sharing the beach or pool with a few other people.  These photos were taken in the month of April.  As you can see, we were the only one’s on the beach!  One of the best features of the resort is it’s literally right on the beach.


Your trip can be as relaxing as you’d like, or full of adventure with fun family activities that are organized and run by the resort’s cast members.  Here are some of the resort’s amenities that your family can use during your stay.

  • Soccer fields
  • Tennis courts
  • Port Holes miniature golf course
  • Bocce ball court
  • Playground
  • Arcade
  • Campfire pit
  • Horseshoe pit

The Tiger Lily Wet Play Area was my son’s favorite place to play.  I think it had something to do with the water canons!

Disney Easter Disney Birthday 252Disney Easter Disney Birthday 251






The accommodations at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort can sleep parties as large as 12 in their beach cottages.  The smallest rooms are referred to as Studios and there are two different types, an “Inn” or a “Villa” room.  Although the “Villa” room is an additional 15 square feet, we prefer to stay in the “Inn” rooms, otherwise known as in the Main Building.  It’s nice to be close to the store, restaurants and guest services.  Since the resort is part of the Disney Vacation Club family of resorts, each room offers at kitchenette or a full size kitchen and a bunch of other features.  You don’t have to be a DVC member to stay at this resort.  Check out the link below to Disney’s site to learn more about the resort’s accommodation offerings.


Vero Beach view from balconyHere is the view from an “Inn” room.  The buildings in the photo are the three bedroom cottages.

There are four different types of dining offerings at the resort and they are all delicious!  They even offer a character dining experience on Saturday mornings, Goofy’s Beachfront Breakfast.

IMG_0146  If you’re one for dining in, of course they offer in-room dining, complete with Mickey shaped butter!

If you’ve ever visited Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, what’s your favorite thing to do there?

A peek into Disney Vacation Club’s newest resort, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

DVC 1Disney Vacation Club’s Newest Resort is Almost Done!

As some of you may already know, at one time my husband and I worked for Disney Vacation Club and we are also very happy Disney Vacation Club “Members”.  We own points at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and also own points at our favorite place to stay, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  On August 8th, DVC members were offered a special on-line “First Glimpse” to see “Behind the Grand Design” with Samantha Brown.  After viewing the video, now I want stay there too!  It’s simply stunning.  I’m not going review the resort at this time, as I haven’t stayed there yet, but I do want to tell you about a couple things that really stood out during their presentation.

The Disney character touches found throughout the resort feature Dumbo or Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins fountain

Located in the Grand Atrium Lobby of The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, you’ll find this Mary Poppins’ Penguin Fountain.  I can’t wait to see it in person!  I found this image on WDW News Today.  They have a few other images you could see of the fountain. This link will take you to their site to view the other photos.


The sleeping arrangements are a bit unique in this DVC resort.  They sleep an additional person!  There is a pull down bunk size bed in a studio, so it sleeps five and the 2 bedroom sleeps 9 people.  Check out Disney’s website to see their floor plans.


The Villa’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are scheduled to open October 2013.  Here are some additional photos of the current state of it’s construction.  My friend, Jodi Diamond, took these photos a few days ago and she so kindly said that I could share them with you!