What’s It like to Work at the Grand Californian Hotel? An Interview with a Former Cast Member

Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr

Disney Resort Hotels can be pricey! I’m talking about hundreds of dollars per night—not including the costs of breakfast or shuttles.

The Grand Californian Hotel at Anaheim is no exception. A standard room here will cost you $559.00 per night.

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to work at such a magnificent place? If so, you’re in luck.

We recently had the amazing opportunity to talk to a former cast member on her experience. Interested? If so, be sure to read on!

A Closer Look at the Grand Californian Hotel

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is one of the many hotels at Disneyland Resort. Opened in 2001, it boasts 948 rooms and 71 villas!

Not only are there themed pools (complete with waterslide), but they also offer full-body spas. They’re also known for Napa Rose, an award-winning restaurant that serves upscale Californian cuisine.

In 2017, Disney renovated the premises with new rooms and a new lobby.

1. What Was Your Role at Disney?

CM: I started at Pinocchio’s Workshop as a Child Activities Leader at the Grand Californian Hotel. Disney closed that location so I transferred to Guest Services for the Grand Californian & Disneyland Hotel.

Editor’s Note:  Pinocchio’s Workshop was a licensed childcare facility inside the Grand Californian. They closed permanently on March 11, 2017.

I also was part of the facilitating team for new Cast Members (I forgot the official title…), facilitating a class called “Welcome to Lodging” (which I believe has been discontinued).

Every now and then I also helped with the Media team, escorting news teams around the Resort to their interview locations when there were media events going on.

2. What Was the Most Stressful Part of the Job?

CM: As a Child Activities Leader, nothing was that stressful! It was fun.

As a Guest Services Assistant, you just never knew what kind of Guest could be coming your way. It could be difficult. Also, the commute and parking weren’t fun.

3. Did You Find It Tiring to Be Happy and Smiling All the Time?

CM: No. It was fun.

4. What’s Your Advice to Those Who Want to Work at Disney?

CM: If you’re not a genuinely upbeat, positive, happy person, this might not be the job for you.

Also, make sure you at least LIKE Disney and be willing to speak positively about the company! Be flexible in your availability.

If you want to go far in the company, take advantages of opportunities that come up.

5. What Was Your Favorite Part About Working at Disney?

CM: My favorite part was my coworkers, especially at Pinocchio’s Workshop. We were like a family!

The other part that was really cool for me was the fact that I was part of making the magic happen.

Some people worry about the magic being ruined when they work for Disney, but for me, helping make the magic made Disney more magical. Nothing was ruined for me.

Even the backstage areas that most Cast Members think are boring were fascinating to me.

6. What’s Your Most Memorable Moment?

CM: The late-night shenanigans at Pinocchio’s Workshop. Nothing against Disney’s rules ever went down, but for context, all of us who worked there were also either part-time or full-time teachers during the day.

So by the end of the night at Pinocchio’s we were all a little tired, to say the least. And sometimes we weren’t off work till 11 pm or so.

Late night silliness ensued. Lots of inside jokes. We also had potlucks on holidays that we would enjoy backstage.

7. What Was Your Weirdest Interaction with a Guest?

CM: Nothing that stands out too much, although I will always laugh about when I was walking to my car, in the crosswalk outside of the Grand Californian, when a Guest who was in their car at the stoplight tried to ask me directions to the ESPN Zone.

I was in the middle of the crosswalk. I wasn’t going to stand there and explain how to get there. I told them to keep driving and follow the signs.

8. Any Easter Eggs on Rides to Watch out For?

CM: I didn’t work in the Parks, so I don’t really have anything special beyond what a hardcore Disney fan could find out on their own about the rides!

Ever Been to the Grand Californian Hotel?

Hopefully, that gives you a little bit of insight as to what it’s like to work at Disney—or more specifically, the Grand Californian Hotel.

Did you stay there during your last vacation? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!


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