The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World borders Seven Seas Lagoon, rising from the beach with white walls, balconies and in the Victorian era style of architecture. From the beaches of the resort you can see the fireworks shows at Magic Kingdom, access the monorail, and revel in the fact that Princess Diana too once stayed here in the 90’s.
From afar the Grand Floridian promises an elegance that you can’t find anywhere else and we were eager to check it out. We had previously had numerous visits to the Garden View Tea Room and 1900 Park Fare, but never before had we stayed here. Here’s the breakdown of what we did and didn’t love.
Grand Floridian Vibe
Sophistication and grandeur from the 19th century beach resorts of old (namely San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado from which it was modeled) can play a nice backdrop to your Disney vacation. The lobby is an excellent place to just relax, while listening to the piano player that is often showcasing his grand musical stylings. We, however, could only do “sophisticated” for so long. At one point we just wanted to put on our mickey ears and feel o.k. wandering outside in flip flops and pajama pants like we could at the value resorts, along with all the other poor souls trying to find the hot chocolate machine in the middle of the night.
If you, however, don’t mind putting on your Lilly Pulitzer to frequent the lobby then more power to you- this could be the resort for you! This hotel is really more about the elegance vibe, fresh flowers, superb service and grandeur in every sense of the word.
Grand Floridian Rooms
The accommodations at the Grand Floridian were wonderful. We had a room with two double beds, a couch that could act as a bed, a balcony and a bathroom that was separate from the double vanity sink. G’s favorite element was that robes were provided, so there was definitely some lounging about on the balcony in our robes during our stay. And don’t forget the Turn Down service. Who doesn’t love coming back to their room with Disney Resort branded chocolates on their bed?!?! Absolutely loved it. One thing I was asked about a lot when we returned from this trip was- are the rooms bigger? Yes the room are bigger at the Grand. In fact they are the largest on WDW property.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort may seem out of reach at 600 dollars a night, because at that price it sorta is. Fortunately, our best Disney Travel Hacks are the ones that save loads of money. We stayed here right before our Disney Cruise and since February is shoulder season, it’s considered value season for resort accommodations. Depending on what building you get and what time of year you go the rooms range from 400- 3500/ night. Choose wisely.
Even at the cheaper rates we would definitely recommend resort hopping if you’re planning a longer vacation because the resort cost alone could really eat up your budget. While we did love the resort, we wouldn’t choose it over the Polynesian or and couldn’t justify the higher cost.
Grand Floridian Restaurants
Gasparilla Island Grill: This is the Grand Floridians answer to the typical dining hall experience. You can get your quick-service meals, coffees, pizza, and artisan sandwiches here. It’s open 24/7 though don’t expect anything too fancy after 11:30pm.
We got mochas and breakfast croissants ( with egg and bacon) that were large enough in size to share or just be a substantial breakfast. They also had the most adorable cupcakes. If you’re a devoted reader you know of our obsession with cupcakes. We sometimes plan our days specifically around where the cupcakes are and when they will be available. The cupcakes at Gasparilla weren’t bad, but definitely wouldn’t make our Top 10 Cupcakes at Disney list. Melanie and G’s were both really wet at the bottoms, which may have just meant that they were sitting too long and the cake in my German Chocolate was pretty dry… so a couple issues all around. Otherwise for quick service, Gasparillas was a super nice atmosphere, small and relatively un-busy.
1900 Park Fare
1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian is the buffet restaurant that offers character dining. It’s one of the table service restaurants we book quite regularly. In the mornings you can be lucky enough to have a custom made omelet while visiting with Alice, Mad Hatter and Mary Poppins. In the evenings, this is the showcase restaurant for Lady Tremaine and the evil stepsisters ( definitely our favorite character trio as the improv acting here is unparalleled) and you can also see Prince Charming and Cinderella.
Offering brunch on Sundays from 9:30-1:30pm, Narcoossee’s can be enjoyed even if you don’t eat there! They have a wrap around deck that overlooks the lagoon with perfect views to Cinderella’s Castle and across the bay to the Contemporary. If you venture out at night you can see the Electrical Water Pageant and the Fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
Garden View Tea Room
Anytime we go to Disney we usually try to book a tea at the Garden View Tea Room. High Tea, Princess Tea, and Afternoon Tea are available. We usually book the afternoon tea which is offered between 2-5pm. A little pricey at about 40 bucks a person I forget every time just how filling a whole pot of tea and three courses is! You get an array of cheeses, little sandwiches, and pastries. A perfect calm atmosphere can be a great break from the crazies in the parks.
Victoria and Albert’s
For the very fancy and sophisticated, Victoria and Albert’s provides fine dining at the highest level. This menu changes with the seasons but is always sure to impress.
Extra Amenities at the Grand Floridian
If you’re looking for more of a resort experience and less of a theme park experience you can frequent Senses Spa, visit the Ivy Trellis Salon, rent a yacht, cabana or boat. You can also get an inside glimpse of the history of the resort with the resort tour. And dare we mention the shops! You can find high end shops, the regular Disney shops and specialty shops. Definitely worth a walk through even if you’re not staying there.
Kids at the Grand Floridian
A pirate adventure, wonderland tea party, and movies under the stars are perfect for the little ones. And don’t forget the Princess Parade! Some guests go all out for this fun tradition at the Grand, so make sure your little princess is dressed and ready for her big debut. You can also always count on the amazing family Beach Pool area not only for fun in the sun but also as the location of all the children’s programs. The cast members do crafts, dances, and games poolside so if you’re taking a day away from the crowds at the parks, be sure to check it out. Of course, if you have tweens, they may just like the idea that there is a spa robe and a balcony to help make you feel extra princess-like.
One of the biggest draws of the Grand Floridian is the location. Right next to Magic Kingdom, a few minutes on the monorail is all it takes to get there. The monorail can also be taken to get to the TTC which will bring you to Epcot and if you’ve read our Hollywood Studios to Epcot post, then you already know how to get to Hollywood Studios from there. The only locations that you MUST take a bus to are Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs and the waterparks. One thing we noticed was that the buses took a lot longer to get to the Grand than any other Walt Disney World hotel we’ve stayed at. You can also take ferry transportation from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, but this is usually not the fastest way. Its fun and we enjoy it when we aren’t in a hurry, its just not fast. And for those Dole Whip lovers out there, ok who am I kidding, for anyone reading this post, its about a five minute walk to the Polynesian should you crave a dole whip from Pineapple Lanai.
What We Really Thought of The Grand Floridian
So, is the Grand Floridian worth the high price tag? If you plan to spend a reasonable amount of time at your hotel, want to be close to Magic Kingdom and have quick and easy access to the monorail and love the sophisticated, elegant and luxurious style and service that only the Grand Floridian provides, then YES! Personally if we’re spending this kind of money, we love the laid back style and vibe at the Polynesian. So for us, while the Grand Floridian truly is grand, we will probably save our Disney dollars for something a little less fancy and whole lot more fun.