lost weekenders


Treat Yourself: Mandara Spa at the Grand Californian Hotel

Hotels, Entertainment, BreaksKatComment
mandala spa disneyland

We’re starting a new tradition in our frequent Disney vacations of a ‘Treat Yourself’ trip. Not that every trip isn’t a ‘Treat Yourself’ trip - let’s be real - but we’re now designating one vacation above all others as a spare-no-expense extravaganza. This includes staying at the Disneyland Hotel, lounging by the pool, and eating All The Food. 

In planning our latest trip, we decided that in the spirit of treating ourselves, we should finally try out the Mandara Spa at the Grand Californian Hotel. 

I’ll start out by saying that I had never in my life gotten a massage, and Kelsey had only had bad experiences with them, so we went into it with low expectations but open minds.

mandala spa

The Mandara Spa has an extensive list of services, ranging from massages to facials to mani pedis and waxing. Not wanting to get too wild on our first experience at the spa, we went with the standard Mandara Customized Massage for 50 minutes, which comes with a scalp massage (which we both skipped) and a wax paraffin treatment to hydrate the feet. When we got into our rooms we were informed that the spa was out of the wax paraffin, so we received a foot scrub instead (which honestly was amazing so we weren’t that disappointed).

The spa offers customers the use of their sauna and steam room prior to their services, so obviously we showed up early to get our money's worth. The locker room is small - only two shower stalls, about 12 lockers, and you could probably fit maybe 4 people in the sauna or steam room before it started feeling really crowded.

However, in our hour before our massage, we only ran into about three people in the locker room and sauna and steam room, so we didn't experience any crowd trouble.

My massage room was small but cozy, and I wasn’t that concerned about the size of the room anyway, seeing as I was about to have my eyes closed for the entire hour. It was a great massage for me (again, as it was my first one, I have nothing to compare it to), and my masseuse spent a lot of time working out knots I wasn’t aware of, but nothing was too painful. She was very professional, funny, and I felt extremely comfortable the entire time.


We came out of the massage total converts. I thought I would never be a massage person, and I walked out of the spa ready to plan our next trip.

For maximum effectiveness, we recommend booking a massage on your third or fourth day in Disneyland (if you’re taking a long trip) like we did, giving your body plenty of time to get super achey and tired before going into the spa. 

And, okay, this is probably a weird point to add, but don't forget to try the complimentary iced tea. We made the mistake of waiting until we were ready to leave to finally try some and then had to stand there and guzzle a few glasses because dang it that tea is GOOD, and we are all about getting our money's worth, even if we have to look like total weirdos doing it. 

Also, pro tip: don’t forget to ask about an AP discount if you’re a passholder! We got 10% off the massage price, and the discount varies depending on whether it’s a weekday or weekend.

The Best Indoor Places to Kick Back in Disneyland

Tips, BreaksKelseyComment

It happens to the best of us. You’re intent on being a Disney warrior. You crushed the morning, you’re feeling good, but then slowly it starts to seep in. Burnout. Total meltdown tired burnout. It’s hot. People are crying. Are you crying? You might be the crying person. Your bones hurt. You might not have bones any more. But then why do they still hurt? Who finished the bottle of aleve? 


Shhh shh sh. We got you. For the times when you cannot take another step and you legit just need a break, there are lots of options to grab a snack and kick back. That rhymed. 


We usually save to do these all at once in the middle of the day when the parks are busiest. When you’re walking from show to show and you know you won’t meet a line or a crowd, it acts like a nice break. 



Great Moments with Mr Lincoln

No lie, I can barely sleep in my own bed. For reasons unknown but should be tested by scientists, the second I sit down in Great Moments with Mr Lincoln I am out. It’s more effective than NyQuil which says a lot because for a while NyQuil was my favorite drink until I reassessed my life. It might be due to the fact that a Ken Burns-esque slideshow kicks off the show and like…is super important or whatever but my body just completely shuts down. Or it could be that I know robot Lincoln is coming and I’m on the verge of horrified every time so I react by passing out but anyway.


Great Moments with Mr Lincoln is the one of the first buildings on the right when you enter Disneyland. Not surprising (sorry, Abe) it’s not the most popular attraction at the park, which is perfect, because that gives you a lot of room to stretch out in the air-conditioned and dark theater and take a 10-15 minute power nap. 

Tiki Room.jpg


Tiki Room

Tiki Room is great because even though it looks like the audience is going to be completely packed every time, it’s actually surprisingly roomy inside. And most people want to see the show (suckers) so they’ll sit in the front, which leaves the seats in the back wide open. And since they’re all bench seats you can spread out and just chilly chill with your dole whip. 



Long Rides

If you’re exhausted but still want to power through rides, consider longer attractions. Rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Small World load you onto a boat and then cradle you for a solid 15 minutes. Plus you can totally nap on Pirates. We’ve all done it and I’m not even a little ashamed. Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Jungle Cruise are also longer, and you can fast pass both Mansion and Splash.



Silent Theater

If you’re walking toward the castle on Main Street, you’ll spot what looks like a ticket booth with a terrifying mannequin and a turnstile. This is the Silent Theater, a super sweet little piece of Disney History that’s both worth checking out and a great place to kick back for a bit. Inside you’ll find a collection of screens playing old Mickey Mouse cartoons. There aren’t any seats but most people just pull up a spot on the floor and hang for a while. 


The Path of Jedi

This is a 3D show in the theater next to Space Mountain that housed Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Captain EO. It’s a Star Wars montage of sorts that takes you through the storyline of all the movies. It’s alright? Nothing super special. We’ve only seen it once, but it’s air conditioned and it’s inside which sometimes is all you need amiright. 



Tough to be a Bug

Let’s hop on over (GET IT) to California Adventure, and head into Bugs Land. Guys I flipping love It’s Tough to be a Bug. It’s charming. I know all the words to the musical number at the end. There are points of sheer terror in the middle so you don’t get bored. And I’ve never been in a full showing of It’s Tough to be a Bug, so it’s another good place to get away from a crowd and chill for a while. 


Frozen if you’re tired

I’m not going to sugarcoat this. The Frozen show at the Hyperion in Hollywoodland is not…good. It’s not good. It’s not really worth the space it occupies, and I’d never thought I’d say I miss Aladdin, but at least Aladdin had some good sets and there were some good magical moments. Frozen has some very large doors, so there’s that. But if you have kids and they’re starting to flop, it’s a good option to give them a break and keep them entertained while you pass the eff out for 45 minutes. 


Animation Studio

The animation studio on your right as you make your way down to Hollywoodland is a magical and special place. Inside, there are huge screens where they project favorite moments and the making-of lots the Disney classics. It’s a great place to kick back and take in some straight nostalgia. And I know I cry at everything but sometimes I cry in the Animation Studio because it’s so great. 


Grand Californian Lobby

There’s an entrance to the Grand Californian as you make your way toward Grizzy River Rapids, which makes it easy to check out their huge and beautiful lobby, modeled after mountain lodges like the Awanee in Yosemite. Take a flop in one of their huge and comfy chairs. Fun fact- there’s a water station by the entrance of the Grand Californian Bar, so you can pour yourself a cup of water and take a load off. 


Movie Theater

If you are DONE and you need a serious break from the park, consider checking out the movie theater toward the end of Downtown Disney, close to the Disneyland Hotel. No one really goes to Disneyland to go to the movies, so it’s rarely crowded. The theaters themselves are huge, so you can usually get a few seats to yourself to spread out and get away for a couple hours.