The “Flagship” Resort. That in itself tells you a little something about what to expect when you stay at the Grand Floridian, already your expectations are higher. I have wanted to stay at the Grand for years. Ever since the Full House crew stayed there on the House Meets the Mouse episodes it has been on my wish list (or Disney Bucket List as the case may be). All of those great scenes filmed at the resort—Uncle Jesse playing the piano in the lobby; Aunt Becky being stood up at the dock and her picnic taken by Chip & Dale; the swing on the beach; Steve (aka Aladdin) checking in (how in the world did a teenager get a room at the Grand by himself anyway ?!?!?). It has always seemed like a luxurious and relaxing resort to me. I know that a lot of people shy away from this resort feeling it is more formal, too “stuffy” or that they would feel out of place. I wondered if I might feel the same way, but once we arrived and I was an actual guest of the resort I never got that feeling. So, why should you splurge (and it is a splurge with some of the highest price points on property) to stay at the Grand Floridian? Here are my top 6 reasons:
You have a lot of opportunities at the resort for fun at the Grand Floridian. Let’s start with the obvious pools. There are two big pools at the Grand, one in the courtyard and one by the beach. The beach pool has an adjacent splash pad & play area themed to Alice in Wonderland and perfect for little ones. The pool itself is zero entry which I love, has a great slide (according to my kids) and is in a beautiful location just off the beach for parents to enjoy. Aside from the standard Disney options like the arcade and movie under the stars, the Grand offers much more. You can rent a boat from the marina to cruise the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Private fireworks cruises also depart from that marina (you should reserve those ahead of time)—even the Grand 1 Yacht is parked right there ready to be chartered (and most nights we saw it go out and come back from our balcony). The marina is also host to the Pirate Adventure cruise for kids ages 4-12, and while you don’t have to be staying there for your child to take part, it does make it very convenient. If you are a golfer Disney’s Palm & Magnolia courses are just across the way. So much to do—so little time!
5. Room Size & Décor
As a family of 5 still trying to stay in one room, size matters to us. The rooms at the Grand Floridian are large. Depending on the room category you book and specific room you are assigned you may have a different layout, but they all feel spacious, and well grand. There is a dressing/vanity area where we had 2 sinks, a large separate bathroom area, and the room itself had 2 queen beds, a day bed, a chair, and a desk with chair. On our full balcony we had a couple of chairs and a small table. The rooms were recently refurbished and the décor is now very clean, simple elegance feeling to me. It is luxurious and fits the resort, but is no longer the over the top floral that characterized the resort since it opened. One other thing worth noting . . .because I am a Disney toiletry hoarder . . .the Grand Floridian has the best toiletries of any resort that include a foot cream and a solar gel.
As I mentioned, some fear it might feel stuffy or formal, but I did not get that vibe at all. To me it felt fancy but in a relaxing, pampering kind of way. Entering the main building the lobby is impressive with the high ceiling, humongous chandeliers, and decor. But it is all comfortable to me—who can resist a bird cage elevator? Adding to the atmosphere you have the lobby pianist, and in the evenings the Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra. You just can’t beat coming into the lobby from the monorail after a day in the parks and hearing Disney classics being played by live musicians. You want to just have a seat and stay a while. The resort grounds are well kept, beautifully landscaped and has a relaxing feeling of vacation and a slower pace of life. The individual buildings with the guest rooms are like miniature versions of the main building—with an open lobby and rooms around it. All of this makes for a pleasing resort atmosphere. Many people feel like there is nothing here for children, but my kids who were ages 16, 11 & 3 were all entertained. My 3 year old loved watching the jumping fish in one of the shop displays (every. time. we. went. through. the. lobby.) As I mentioned in #6, there is a splash play area designed for little ones, and the pool and beach were great for the older 2. There is a character meal for kids to enjoy. And fun little things like the parade of housekeepers with their parasols. My kids were as happy here as they have been at any other resort (and we’ve tried most of them). Maybe even happier.
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3. On-Site Amenities
I often say that Walt Disney World visitors don’t take enough time to enjoy their resort, and if you are splurging for the Grand you definitely want to schedule resort time. In the lobby you can find multiple shops—and not just the generic Disney merchandise. There is a shop featuring women’s fashions and resort wear (many brand names) as well as a counterpart for men. My favorite may be the Basin shop, grab a bath bomb and take a relaxing bath after a day of theme park trekking. If the Basin bath bomb isn’t enough pampering there is a fantastic spa right on site offering a variety of services. Not to mention the Ivy Trellis salon if you need your hair cut or styled. The Grand has a huge concentration of very good restaurants. If you are looking for character dining 1900 Park Fare is a great choice for breakfast or dinner—and you never have to leave your resort. The Grand Floridian Café offers casual dining. And if you want a nice, signature dinner Narcoossee’s and Citricos are right there. Then there is the culinary experience that is Victoria & Albert’s. If you want something a little lighter you can enjoy the Garden View Tea Room in the afternoons, or visit one of the lounges.
As the flagship resort you expect to receive a high level of service at the Grand Floridian, and you absolutely do. From the moment you pull up through the check-in process it feels very individualized. All of the hotel staff we encountered were over the top Disney service—we noticed it and appreciated it. From little touches like the mousekeeping staff carrying the towels, etc. in baskets through the halls of the guest room buildings to the fantastic greeter Richard, everything they do makes you feel welcome and appreciated. We didn’t have one misstep in service during our stay from the quick service restaurant to the boat captains to the lifeguards, all excellent. And, each night we received turn down service with chocolates—we sure missed that after we came home. Although overall Disney service is wonderful, I think it shines at the Grand Floridian.
1. Location, Location, Location
Just like in real estate you pay for a fabulous location. All of the monorail resorts have that in spades, but the Grand Floridian’s convenience of being 1 monorail stop from the Magic Kingdom really spoils you. One afternoon I left my family of men/boys in the room, hopped on the monorail and over to Magic Kingdom just to go to the Jewelry shop. I was back in less than an hour & I took my time shopping. With monorail and boat service to the Magic Kingdom it is just so convenient. If you plan on spending a lot of time at the Magic Kingdom it is so worth it to stay here. Take the monorail to the TTC and transfer for Epcot—such an enjoyable commute. And a beautiful location on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon. Your room view might be of the beautiful grounds, the Seven Seas Lagoon, the marina (with the monorail going by in the background—which is what we had & loved), or a view of the Magic Kingdom. From various points at the resort you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant.
Have you stayed at the Grand Floridian? Did you feel it was worth the splurge?