Our First Look at DCA

Saturday, May 17, Part 7: DCA from the Grand Californian

While the two engineers were working in the room, housekeeping stopped by to ask if we wanted turndown service. Rich said no but he accepted the stack of chocolates she handed to him. I was a bit disappointed since I love turndown service so Rich turned down the bed and turned on the low lights over the bed and spread out the chocolates just below the pillows. He’s a very talented guy.

We were good to go. Since we already had a sneak peek into Disneyland that afternoon and we were anxious to see DCA for the first time, we headed for DCA via the Grand Californian. Tomorrow morning was “Magic Morning” and Disneyland would open at 7 am (yikes, that’s early) for those staying on-property. The thought at that time was we would do DCA tonight and Disneyland tomorrow morning.

We crossed the street and jogged to the left to the Grand Californian porte-cochere. Directly across the street from Paradise Pier is where they’re constructing the Grand California DVC Villas—can’t wait to take a tour of that on our next trip.

As soon as we entered the Grand Californian we knew we were on Disney property. Okay, so maybe hotels like Paradise Pier would have been good enough before we spent so much time at the wonderful resorts at WDW, but having done that, the standard has been raised. It was an interesting juxtaposition—knowing we were at Disneyland but feeling, resort-wise, that we were back at Disney World. It looked and felt so much like Wilderness Lodge.

We took a tour of the resort, including the gift shop, noted the restaurants, pool area and entry into DCA and decided we must come back at Christmas and stay here. Entering DCA we landed in the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. Grizzly River Run—the whitewater raft ride was still quite popular as the weather was still quite hot. But we stuck to the shade and were quite comfortable. We popped into Rushin River (play on the “Russian River” in Northern California) Outfitters and took a look around—really loved the atmosphere there.

By this time we were hungry so we headed for the Pacific Wharf Area. While we really enjoyed the architecture—so reminiscent of the San Francisco Bay Area where we lived for over 20 years—the eating areas were a bit disappointing. Why had I pictured Rita’s Baja Blenders to overlook the water the way the Margarita Bar did at Downtown Disney at WDW? We thought the Asian restaurant (forget the name and can’t find it listed anywhere so maybe it’s never open—did it used to be Pucks?) looked good but it wasn’t open. We walked up to San Andreas Shakes and the CM said, “We’re closing” just as we got there. Huh?

The menu at Pacific Wharf Café didn’t appeal to us, there was a very long line at Farmer’s Market and Cucina Cucamonga. We were getting hungrier by the minute and the hungrier we were, the more difficult it was getting to be to make a decision of which long line to stand in. We had a PS at the Vineyard Room for tomorrow night but with the heat and desire to see and do as much as we could, we weren’t sure we would make any of the sit down meals. This was more of a scoping out trip.

So, we wandered over to the Terrace Wine Tasting and were quite impressed with their long list of wines by the glass. Nothing like a delicious glass of Eschelon French Pinot Noir to take the edge off your hunger. We would have liked to have sat down to enjoy the wine but all of the tables were taken by families (one table was completely filled by kids) waiting for their Wine Country Trattoria PS. We would like to see some improvements here: have a more private seating area for those wine tasting (read: adults only) separate from the families waiting to eat at either the Trattoria or Vineyard Room.

In fact, as we were standing in line for our wine, a kid started screaming at the top of his lungs that seemed to go on forever. The woman in front of us turned to us and said, “That sure is annoying. I was hoping to relax with a quiet glass of wine.” We agreed.

We took our wine back over to the Farmer’s Market area and grabbed a picnic table. We weren’t really too impressed with this area because it just seemed like one big food court. I pictured these eating areas as being more integrated into an attraction area.

After our wine, we headed for Paradise Pier—the one part of DCA that is the most heavily criticized. We agree with the criticisms. Maybe it’s too reminiscent of a tacky beach theme park—Disney seemed to make no attempt to Disneyfy it—other than add Mickey to a roller coaster. The attractions are too pedestrian. What we’d like to see is more of a Boardwalk/World Showcase area like at WDW complete with water, Friendship boats, and a hotel like the Boardwalk Inn or Yacht Club. Heaven knows, Disneyland could use more resorts like at WDW—Disneyland’s weakest link. We tried to hunt down a place to eat but still no success.

At the far end of Paradise Pier, we finally found food at Pizza Oom Mow Mow, which had fabulous pizza. Rich had a slice of sausage and mushroom and I had the barbecue chicken—huge slices and delicious!

We walked back to Paradise Pier and awaiting us in our “Big Kahuna Suite” was a plate with 2 Chocolate-Coated Mickey Head Rice Krispy Treats. YUM! YUM! We shared one and saved the other for the next day.

Next: Alarming Morning

About Kathy

Author of Cruise and Travel-Themed Novels ("Real Women Wear Red" / "Real Women Sing the Blues"), Songwriter & Poet