Kingdom Magic Vacations

Call Toll-Free

Category Archives: Grand Californian

Happy Haven: Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

We all know Disneyland Resort is the Happiest Place on Earth. But did you know that many people call the Mandara Spa the happiest spot inside the Happiest Place on Earth?

Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

After a long day walking the parks and riding attractions, you might also want to check out Mandara Spa atDisney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Like most of the magic at Disneyland Resort, it’s the little things at Mandara Spa that make all the difference. The greeters at the front desk are all smiles, and they’re happy to answer questions. The aromatherapy is soft and pleasant, adding to the relaxing atmosphere. Therapists utilize Balinese practices, massaging the left side of the body and then moving to the right to achieve optimal results.

Be sure to ask an attendant which treatment might be best for your sore spots. Attalia Alverdes, the new manager at Mandara, said the hot stone massage is very popular. The smoothly rounded stones are heated to just the right temperature to make knotted-up muscles give a big sigh of relief.

Mandara Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

Facials also are very popular at Mandara and it offers a wonderful selection. To test it out, I chose the “Visibly Brilliant Facial.” The therapist suggested this one after we had chatted about how I wanted to feel when I went home: relaxed and hydrated. I also recommend the scalp treatment and the seaweed wrap massage. Next time, I want to try the “Thai Poultice Massage.”

One surprise was also one of my favorite things: The therapists are trained to wash a guest’s feet at the beginning of each treatment. It’s not just to soothe feet that may have taken 10,000 steps that day; it’s the theory that clean feet are necessary for the body to fully relax.

I thanked the staff profusely for their service, but I never got to give them the best compliment possible: When I got home that evening, I still felt like I was floating on a cloud and I enjoyed one of the most restful night’s sleep in a long while.

Meet the Chefs from around the Disney Parks

What’s your favorite restaurant at Disney Parks? Whether it is the new Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure park or the upcoming Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park, there is a chef behind the scenes working to perfect your Disney dining experience. Learn more about Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort chefs below.

  1. Meet Disneyland Resort ‘Pie Man,’ Chef Jean-Marc Viallet – Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Marc Viallet shares his latest creations served at Flo’s V-8 Café in Cars Land. [peekaboo onshow=”” onhide=””][peekaboo name=”one”][peekaboo_content name=”one”]
    “Eat dessert first” is our mantra, especially when we’re at the Disneyland Resort and we have the opportunity to dig into any sweet created by Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Marc served at Flo’s V-8 Café His latest creations are the fabulous mini-pies served at Flo’s V-8 Café in Cars Land – we love the strawberry-rhubarb, but won’t pass up the apple-cheddar or chocolate mud pies. Chef Jean-Marc confesses that creamy chocolate desserts are his favorite to prepare, and that his mom’s gooey chocolate cake is one of his favorite childhood memories. He says he remembers helping her in the kitchen in Paris, France, when he was just eight years old, and he started culinary school and working in a pastry shop by age 16.His sweet career has taken him around the globe and he landed at Disneyland Resort in 1999 as executive pastry chef. His very first sweet for the parks was a Mickey cookie – and the rest is history, as that cookie was the springboard to a job that includes design, development and production of 90 percent of the desserts and baked goods at the Disneyland Resort (except for Napa Rose Restaurant and some catered events).
    ‘Pie Man,’ Chef Jean-Marc Viallet
    Now he and his team (of 100!) at the Disneyland Resort Central Bakery use more than 90,000 pounds of flour, 80,000 pounds of sugar, 80,000 pounds of chocolate, 165,000 fresh eggs and 66,000 pounds of fresh butter each year to create everything from those bite-size pies at Flo’s V-8 Cafe to elaborate wedding cakes.By the way, Chef Jean-Marc tells us if he wasn’t a chef he’d be an actor or singer – but for now he lets his delicious sweets play the starring role.What’s your favorite sweet at Disneyland Resort?[/peekaboo_content]
  2. Chef of Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland Shares His Favorites from the Menu – Chef of the new Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland, Michael Deardorff, shares his favorite lunch and dinner dishes. [peekaboo onshow=”” onhide=””][peekaboo name=”two”][peekaboo_content name=”two”]
    Braised pork for lunch and a grilled strip steak for dinner – Chef Michael Deardorff had a hard time choosing, but says those are two of his favorites from the new menu for Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park.Guests can start making reservations in late August (we’ll let you know the exact date as soon as we can), with the restaurant to be open for the holidays.Be Our Guest Restaurant Chef
    Chef Deardorff has been at the helm in Disney kitchens for 25 years, most recently as part of the opening of the restaurants at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai’i. Now he’s back to open Be Our Guest, inspired by “Beauty and the Beast,” with three dining rooms and seats for over 500 guests.“Lunch is quick service, but not traditional counter service,” says Deardorff. Guest-activated terminals make ordering a snap (there also will be traditional cashiers for cash orders and special dietary requests). You order, take a seat and lunch is delivered to your table – on china, not paper.Back to the menu. “It’s all about simple, fresh ingredients,” says Deardorff. “Just like your favorite quick-service restaurants across Magic Kingdom Park, you’ll be able to enjoy sandwiches and salads at Be Our Guest Restaurant for lunch, but all with a twist that transports you to the French setting of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’”There’s a little French bistro flavor with tuna Niçoise salad and a Croque Monsieur sandwich with carved ham, Gruyere cheese, béchamel and pommes frites (a fancy term for French fries). Or go for the carved turkey on a warm baguette with Dijon mayonnaise, or the grilled steak sandwich with garlic butter spread, both with pommes frites. Heartier fare includes braised pork that’s cooked for eight hours, and for vegetarians, there’s a loaded vegetable quiche or quinoa, shallot and chive salad.Be Our Guest Restaurant in the New FantasylandDinner is table service, with diverse starters such as a charcuterie plate with cured meats and sausages, mussels steamed in white wine, French onion or potato leek soup, and a salad with champagne vinaigrette. We’re intrigued by the salad trio with three mini tastes of roasted beet, raisins and orange; green beans, tomatoes and roasted shallots; and watermelon, radish and mint.Entrées include a thyme-scented pork rack chop with au gratin pasta, rotisserie rock hen with roasted fingerling potatoes, pan-seared salmon in leek fondue, grilled strip steak with pommes frites, sautéed shrimp and scallops with veggies in puff pastry with creamy lobster sauce, and an oven-baked ratatouille.Oh, and dessert – we vote for the cupcakes, strawberry cream cheese or triple chocolate. If cupcakes aren’t your favorite sweet ending, there’s a chocolate cream puff and a passion fruit cream puff.For kids 9 and under, the lunch entrées include a carved turkey sandwich, roasted pulled pork, Mickey meatloaf, seared mahi mahi, or whole-grain macaroni topped with marinara and mozzarella. For dinner, it’s grilled steak, grilled fish of the day, whole-grain macaroni or grilled chicken breast.“We think guests will be pleasantly surprised with the menu and the value,” says Deardorff.[/peekaboo_content]
  3. Meet Chef Gloria Tae at Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure Park – If you’re a fan of Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, you already know a little about Gloria. Learn more about her career at the Disneyland Resort. [peekaboo onshow=”” onhide=””][peekaboo name=”three”][peekaboo_content name=”three”]
    Fans of Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa already know Chef Gloria Tae, who has worked side-by-side with Chef Andrew Sutton at Napa Rose for four years (you also may remember her from The Vineyard Room at Disney California Adventure park). With Andrew as executive chef of both Napa Rose and Carthay Circle Restaurant, he’s confident as she takes the helm in the new Carthay Circle Restaurant kitchen.

    Gloria was born in Seoul, South Korea, and worked in Los Angeles restaurants before joining the Disneyland Resort, where she has been working in culinary for nine years. “With no formal culinary education, I was fortunate to have on-the-job training with some very patient chefs,” says Gloria with a smile. Her biggest inspiration is the diverse cultures of Southern California, making her a perfect fit for Carthay Circle Restaurant, where the light, fresh flavors of Southern California are celebrated.
    The menu, for example, offers five varieties of sustainable fish, both wild and farmed, such as sushi-grade yellowtail grilled with jerk spice and topped with a tropical salsa of pineapple, mango, black beans and lime, and Sierra Golden trout roasted with couscous, lemon and oil. The lunch menu includes tastes like an udon noodle bowl with red Thai curry broth, and an Angus burger with Tillamook cheddar.
    Vegetables are hand-selected, with visits to the Santa Monica market and to local farms seeking the best-of-the-best local produce. Desserts, too, honor the seasons, with summer desserts including “Peaches In All Their Glory” and seasonal county pie with whipped brown sugar sour cream.
    Gloria describes her style as “California rustic with Asian accents,” and she loves making anything with handmade pasta, so we can’t wait to try her creations.[/peekaboo_content]
  4. Two More Disneyland Resort Chefs Achieve Notable Culinary Ranking – Meet Disneyland Resort chefs who have earned the distinction of Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation. [peekaboo onshow=”” onhide=””][peekaboo name=”four”][peekaboo_content name=”four”]
    Earning the distinction of Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation (ACF), Disneyland Resort Chefs Chris Faulkner and Marcel St. Pierre recently joined Chefs Bill Orton and Chris Justesen, who also have been awarded this prestigious ranking that requires considerable education and work experience.
    The ACF is the nation’s largest organization of professional chefs and has been considered the authority on cooking in America since 1929.
    Faulkner is the chef at Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. His biggest inspiration in the kitchen? “Discovering new ingredients,” says Faulkner.
    St. Pierre is chef at Club 33 in Disneyland park, and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. “I am a true believer that hard work pays off, “ says St. Pierre. “I wanted to give back to the culinary industry while hopefully being an inspiration to my team.”
    Justesen is area chef at the Disneyland Resort and also graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. His biggest culinary inspiration? “My two grandmothers,” says Justesen.
    Orton heads Disney’s Culinary Academy and graduated at the top of his class from the French Culinary Institute in New York. Originally certified in February 2007, Orton is an advocate of continuing education, and says that his students are his biggest inspiration. “They get so excited about cooking, and their excitement is contagious,” says Orton.[/peekaboo_content]
  5. Every Role a Starring Role – Disneyland Resort Chef – Meet Chef Janine Ruozi of Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park. [peekaboo onshow=”” onhide=””][peekaboo name=”five”][peekaboo_content name=”five”]
    Next time you stop by the Jolly Holiday Bakery Caféon Main Street, U.S.A., keep your eyes peeled for Chef Janine Ruozi (and the Matterhorn Macaroons). Chef Janine is the new bakery’s head chef and her creations are guaranteed to make you hungry!