Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Review

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a luxury hotel at Walt Disney World within monorail, boat, and walking distance of Magic Kingdom. This WDW accommodations review features room photos, pool & restaurant info, pros & cons, and much more. (Updated August 3, 2021.)

Before getting started, let’s address the elephant in the room: pricing. The Grand Floridian is Walt Disney World’s flagship property, with rack rates to match. The Grand is far and away the most expensive hotel at Walt Disney World, and whether it’s worth the money is debatable.

Anyone who has read Our Deluxe Resort Rankings at Walt Disney World probably knows where we stand on the Grand. It ranks in dead last place, which is almost entirely due to its high price points and generic guest rooms. Although we are not the biggest fans of the Grand Floridian hotel, we do love the DVC Villas at Grand Floridian. Moreover, this hotel does have many fans and guests who swear by it!

My issues with the Grand Floridian can be reduced to this: its nightly rate is not even remotely commensurate with its quality. To be fair, the Grand Floridian does have a lot of selling points, and the recent refurbishment to the guest rooms to make them stylistically cleaner and more contemporary certainly helped. Fundamentally, though, this is simply not remotely on par with a luxury hotel with rates starting at $750/night.

Let’s take a look at why it is not (or, why it might be) worth the money, starting with the guest rooms…

If you had to play the Price is Right and guess this room’s nightly rack rate solely by the above photo–divorced of Walt Disney World context–there’s no way you’d come within $200. You’d probably be off by $400 or more.

If you had to guess what hotel it was, you’d probably guess something chained-brand like Hilton or Marriott. And not their high-end properties like the JW or Conrad. (Also keep in mind the vast majority of Grand Floridian’s rooms have standard ceilings–the photos here are of dormer rooms and its vaulted ceiling–so they’re even duller looking than the one pictured here.)

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is never going to compete with real world luxury hotels, or even the nearby Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World. As with other Disney-owned hotels, stripping the rooms of their theme to make them more broadly appealing just made them bland.

Don’t get us wrong–the rooms are perfectly satisfactory. The furniture is nice enough and there are some high-end finishings. Just as a whole, it’s boring. 

The bathrooms are well appointed, with nice counter-tops, tiling, and wallpaper.

With that said, these bathrooms are starting to show their age, and lack the modern lighting, large sinks, storage space, and other features of most hotel rooms at Walt Disney World.

Speaking of which, the Grand Floridian rooms haven’t had a hard goods refurbishment in a long time, and thus feel like outliers as compared to pretty much every other Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World.

For the sake of comparison, check out the new Moana Rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Wilderness Lodge Reimagined Rooms, both of which are new as of 2021. Likewise, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is currently receiving an Incredibles Overhaul. Our expectation is that Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is next up, probably at some point in 2022.

As noted above, these photos are of a dormer room at the Grand Floridian. The upsides to this are the vaulted ceiling and the more secluded quality of the balcony.

The downsides are that the balcony is slightly smaller and you can’t see anything without standing up. I’m not sure why Disney doesn’t furnish these with taller chairs.

Common areas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are much nicer. The hotel is inarguably grandiose and sophisticated, and the execution of the Victorian theme is incredibly well done.

Most areas offer tremendous detail and a sense of luxury, with a handful of locations being stuffy or overly reminiscent of grandma’s house…

I’m guessing these stunning paintings are Grand Floridian opening day originals, and somehow still grace the walls of the hotel. It could be argued that these are exactly the kind of dated decor you’d find on the pages of an issue of Country Living magazine, circa 1988.

It could also be argued that the artist behind these masterpieces was a true visionary so far ahead of his time that his genius won’t be fully recognized until the year 2071. I mean, a fancy monkey posing on a classy foot stool? If that’s not my spirit animal, I don’t know what is.

If for some reason you find yourself thinking, “wow, those paintings are pretty boss…where can I score a set?!” I would suggest trying a garage sale somewhere in the countryside of Indiana. I’ve seen “art” like this regularly priced for around $1 at said garage sales. (You’re welcome?)

With that said, these areas and details are generally outliers. For the most part, the Grand Floridian feels imbued with a sense of sophistication. The lobby makes a strong first impression, and the common areas are exactly what you’d expect of Walt Disney World’s flagship resort.

Speaking of which, due to the overall style, slight sense of stuffiness, dining sophistication, and other features of the hotel, we do not view this as a great option if you’re doing Walt Disney World with Kids and are primarily concerned with their reaction to the hotel. It is a much better option for Honeymooning at Walt Disney World.

grand-floridian-pool

As for adult amenities, the Grand Floridian is a pretty ‘loaded’ hotel.

While they aren’t the most thematically exciting, it has nice pool areas and a new Alice in Wonderland water play area that was added around the time of the Disney Vacation Club Villas at the Grand Floridian.

Another highlight is the dining. Citricos was recently overhauled with a new menu and decor (supposedly) inspired by Mary Poppins. As you can read in our New Citricos Review, it is fantastic–a top 10 restaurant at Walt Disney World. There’s also the recently-reimagined Enchanted Rose Beauty and the Beast Bar. We think it’s out of place at the Grand Floridian and an inappropriate use of intellectual property…but it is undeniably modern.

Moreover, Victoria & Albert’s is far and away the best restaurant at Walt Disney World, and the perfect place for a special occasion. Our recent visits to Narcoossee’s have proven excellent–much better than the last meal there (our Narcoossee’s review needs to be updated–I’d now consider Narcoossee’s in the 8.5-9 range).

grand-floridian-sun-lens-flare

Then there are the grounds, which are lovely. The Grand Floridian typically has well-maintained gardens, nice paths, and pretty fountains, all of which make for a pleasant post-meal stroll.

Another awesome addition is the new-ish walkway to Magic Kingdom. We’ve already breathlessly covered this in “Photos & Video: Meandering the Magnificent Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian Walkway.” In case you missed that, it’s now possible to walk all the way from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom. Our enthusiasm for the walkway is not hyperbole. It’s a huge win for the Grand Floridian.

grand-floridian-villas-sunset-bay-lake-tower

The resort is not too spread out, and walking around the Villas towards the Wedding Pavilion and Polynesian Village Resort–or just sitting in a quiet swing along the beach, is an enjoyable experience.

To take advantage of all of these highlights of the Grand Floridian, my recommendation would be staying at the superior Polynesian Village Resort (if your budget allows), and walking or taking the monorail over for a date night, and then having a peaceful nighttime stroll back to the Poly.

grand-floridian-gingerbread-house

Another thing I appreciate about the Grand Floridian is its beauty at Christmas.

The tree in the lobby and the huge gingerbread house are both gorgeous, and highlights of my Free Self-Guided Yuletide Tour at Walt Disney Word. With that said, the lobby can be packed at this time of year, so I would not want to stay in the main building.

Overall, where you stand on the Grand Floridian is probably a matter of personal preference. Some people will want to book it regardless, as there’s a certain cachet in staying at the most expensive Walt Disney World hotel. Others might not have experience with real world luxury hotels and think the Grand is perfectly adequate. Others still might legitimately love the Grand Floridian and find my qualms about its rooms and pricing over-blown.

Personally, for this amount of money–even understanding that staying on property at Walt Disney World costs a premium–I expect perfection. The Grand Floridian is a far cry from perfection, and simply not worth the exorbitant rates it charges, at least in my opinion. If luxury were my utmost concern, I’d book the Four Seasons at Walt Disney World. If I weren’t so worried about luxury or were taking a trip more geared towards kids, I’d book one of the other superior and less expensive Walt Disney World hotels.

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Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS…

Do you love the Grand Floridian, or do you agree about its bland and boring rooms? Would you consider splurging on a stay here, or is it too expensive? If you’re a fan of the Grand, what do you consider its selling points? Planning on staying here someday? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

40 Responses to “Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Review”
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