Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a Deluxe Resort hotel at Walt Disney World, located near the Magic Kingdom on the monorail loop. It is the flagship hotel at Walt Disney World, with the highest nightly rates of any resort. This review takes a look inside the recently refurbished guest rooms plus common areas, and analyzes whether the Grand Floridian is worth the money.
Anyone who has read my Walt Disney World Deluxe Hotel Rankings and seen Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in dead last place knows exactly where I stand on this hotel. Before I delve into why I’m not a fan of “the Grand”, it is worth noting that this hotel does have many fans and guests who swear by it. If money were no issue or I didn’t care about value, I’d probably enjoy it a bit more, too.
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 $550/night.
Let’s take a look at why it is not (or, why it might be) worth the money…
My biggest complaint about the Grand Floridian used to be that, while ornately detailed, it felt way too much like you were staying in the guest room of your well-to-do grandma who was out of touch with interior decorating styles of the last 20 years.
The refurbishment simplified the look of the rooms, making them much less visually busy while still retaining a requisite level of sophistication. I’ve heard some people complain that the refurbishment stripped them of some of their character and unique theme, but I disagree. The execution of the theme had made the rooms age poorly, and it felt less like a modern Victorian hotel room and more like a time capsule of the late 1980’s take on the Victorian era.
To me, the new look of the rooms better balances the Victorian theme with modern luxury, and they are all the better for it. I still don’t think you have quite the level of detail or unique quality to justify that $550/night+ price, but the rooms are a marked improvement.
I would have expected the tub to be “grander” or replaced altogether with a walk-in shower.
The bathrooms seemed less well appointed, although the counter-tops and tiling were fairly nice.
The fresh and modern take on Victorian evident in the guest rooms can be contrasted with common areas in the Grand Floridian. This, in particular, is my “favorite” detail of the hotel and representative of the hotel’s problem areas.
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?)
Therein lies my biggest problem with Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. It is inarguably grandiose and sophisticated in places, but all too often the execution of the Victorian theme feels dated–and I mean to the late 1980s and early 90s, not the actual Victorian era.
You have some areas with tremendous detail and a sense of luxury, but too many places where it simply feels like an unnecessarily stuffy version of grandma’s house.
And it’s not that the Victorian theme has an inherent sense of this grandmotherly-ness to it. Both Tokyo Disneyland Hotel and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel demonstrate how a Victorian hotel doesn’t need to feel like a “historic” hotel.
Speaking of the theme, 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.
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. Victoria & Albert’s is far and away the best restaurant at Walt Disney World, and the perfect place for a special occasion. While Citricos has disappointed us on a couple of occasions, 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).
The classy Mizner’s Lounge and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra likewise up the adult factor and make it an excellent place for a date night at Walt Disney World. Counter service dining is so-so, but the Grand Floridian is probably behind only Animal Kingdom Lodge in terms of overall dining among Walt Disney World hotels.
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.
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.
In terms of other amenities at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, there’s also something to be said for its location on the Magic Kingdom monorail line, as well as the boat transportation available, but several other Deluxes have just as convenient of locations, for substantially lower price points.
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 style 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 thematically superior (in my opinion) and significantly cheaper Disney hotels.
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Do you love the Grand Floridian, or do you agree about its dated theme and style? 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? Share your thoughts in the comments!