Disney Hotels

Enemy At The Gates – DCA Closed To Outsiders At Grand Californian

Don’t bother visiting Disney California Adventure, because you’re not welcome.

At least, if you’re just a regular schmo like me, you’re not welcome at the convenient entrance through the Grand Californian Hotel. I very seldom have something negative to say about Disney, but today is different. So if that’s not your cup of tea, then change the channel now, because I’m about to rant a bit.

Breakfast First – Park Later

For the unfamiliar, the Grand Californian Hotel (GCH) has a ‘secret’ gate into Disney California Adventure (DCA) next door. It’s on the far side of the outdoor pool, next to the Napa Rose Restaurant. Normally, at least in my experience, you can enter and exit DCA pretty much any time it’s open, thereby avoiding the crowds at the main entrance.

For years, whenever my family has visited the Disneyland Resort (DLR), we make a point of dining at Storytellers Cafe inside the GCH, and about 100 feet from this side entrance. After these meals, we have always entered DCA through the side gate and spent the morning there. We must have done this dozens of times, no questions asked.

DCA entrance gate at Grand Californian Hotel in relation to the park.
DCA entrance gate at Grand Californian Hotel in relation to the park.

So as usual, on our most recent trip to the DLR, and after breakfast, we set off to enjoy the day at Disney California Adventure. Only this time, we were stopped by a Cast Member and told that we needed to have a room key to use the side gate. Perplexed, I quickly told him that we just had breakfast at Storytellers and weren’t walking all the way around to the front of the park.

He then demanded to see a receipt for our meal! It was a very un-Disney moment. Through pure bluster and force of will on my part, my family allowed to pass and enter the park. However, a couple just behind us, who didn’t have a meal receipt, were told to take a hike. Needless to say, they were very confused and not a little angry.

Excluding, Not Exclusive

People often ask me what I like about going to Disneyland and something that always comes to mind is that it costs a fair amount, thus keeping out the riff-raff that populate places like Six Flags while maintaining the feeling of being somewhat exclusive. However, this Grand Californian entrance policy is not exclusive, it’s excluding.

Do you know how far you have to walk back to get to the front entrance to the park?

To get back to the main gate, you have to walk past the pool, back through the lobby, past the convention center, through Downtown Disney, through the baggage check, and across the entry plaza.

Path from DCA entrance gate at Grand Californian Hotel to main park gates.
Path from DCA entrance gate at Grand Californian Hotel to main park gates.

Total distance: over a third of a mile! That’s longer than the walk from the main DCA entrance to Radiator Springs Racers, at the back of Carsland. There wasn’t a single guest using this gate while we were there, but three baggage checkers and four turnstiles were all manned and ready, not to mention the bouncer out front.

I don’t blame the CM, he was just doing his job, but this policy should certainly be reversed. For us, it’s not going to a be a problem in the future, because the recent removal of the breakfast menu at Storytellers Cafe means we won’t be coming to that part of the hotel anytime soon.


In conclusion, don’t waste your time trying to use the DCA side gate- at least not in the morning. There was mention that the gate would be available for everyone in the afternoon, but I don’t think I’d risk it. From now on, we’ll be lining up with all the other families out in front of the main entrance.

Has something like this happened to you? Let me know in the comments below and make sure to sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you won’t miss any of our great content. See ya’ real soon!

By Alex Blasingame

I'm a professional pilot and entrepreneur. I love Disney, TaleSpin, Eeyore, maps, details, etc.

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