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 May 5, 2023.)
Let’s start with the latest update for 2023, which is that the resort is currently in the midst of a large-scale refurbishment and reimagining project. You can check out Grand Floridian Resort Reimagining News & Construction Updates for 2023, which is updated periodically with progress reports and changes.
Officially, Walt Disney World has not shared many details about changes and construction. If you go to the official website, there’s simply an update stating: “Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is currently undergoing refurbishment. Guests will be able to see and hear construction during daytime hours. Most Resort hotel amenities will remain available. Please allow for extra travel time.”
That definitely understates the scope and scale of the work. In actuality, construction crews are going building-by-building and completely redoing both the interiors and exteriors. This project began over a year ago, and is now approaching its home stretch. Thus far, the Big Pine Key (now Disney Vacation Club), Boca Chica, Conch Key, and Sugar Loaf buildings are all fully reimagined and reopened.
Currently in progress is Sago Key buildings, which began work in the last couple of months. If past precedent is any indication, Sago Key should be finished before Summer 2023. As a result of the work on Sago Key, the glorious Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom walkway is closed. Our expectation is that this will reopen as soon as that building is done, although that’s not yet certain. Officially, Walt Disney World lists the walkway closure as through “Late Spring 2023.”
On a related note, the walkway between the Grand Floridian and Polynesian has changed on a couple of occasions due to construction of the Poly DVC Tower. A new route just opened and is easier to navigate and feels safer. Given that this is open right now with the degree of structural construction that’s occurring, we expect that pathway to remain open for the duration of that project.
The only building that is not finished or even started is the main lobby. This means that if you book any of the “Outer Bldg” room categories at this point, you will get a new room. The buildings that are currently in progress are closed completely; only the reimagined rooms are available for booking. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that all of the Main Bldg. rooms (including Club Level and Suites) are still the old, dated, and bland style. However, you won’t even have the option to book these depending upon your travel dates, as the Main Building is totally unavailable for Summer & Fall 2023, which should provide insight into the timeline for that project.
The other bad news is that the scope and scale of the main lobby overhaul is unknown; construction could be majorly or minimally disruptive for stays between later this month and November 2023. Our expectation is that the work will occur in phases, meaning sections of the lobby will be closed off at different times. We do not expect the entire building to be walled off, but we do expect major areas unavailable and visible construction throughout the summer and fall.
What’s also unknown is what happens with Grand Floridian Cafe and 1900 Park Fare, the latter of which has still not reopened. Our expectation is that both receive reimagined interiors, with the former closing over the summer to accommodate that overdue update and the latter not reopening until the lobby project is done. (So perhaps sometime between October and December 2023–that’s the biggest stretch of the year for Walt Disney World restaurant demand.) That’s simply speculation, though.
On a positive note with regard to dining, Narcoossee’s has now reopened after its reimagining, joining Citricos and Victoria & Albert’s. This trifecta of fine dining establishments have all been overhauled in the last couple of years at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
Even more positive is the Grand New Rooms at Walt Disney World’s Flagship Resort. We’ve stayed in the reimagined rooms a few times in the last year (twice in the DVC version, once on the hotel side) and absolutely love them.
The themed design, attention to detail, and sense of luxuriousness is off the charts. They have so much more personality and style, and are also considerable improvements in terms of functionality. Here’s a video tour of the new hotel rooms at the Grand Floridian that showcases their quality:
For years, we’ve been complaining that the guest rooms at the Grand Floridian are not commensurate with the prices. I’d go as far as to say that the previous regular guest rooms are among the dullest at Walt Disney World. You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish them from a mid-range Hilton or Marriott. With these rooms being replaced, our opinion of the Grand Floridian has improved tremendously.
As a result of the new rooms and other enhancements, the Grand Floridian has shot up our Rankings of ALL Walt Disney World Hotels from Worst to Best. Previously, the Grand Floridian performed poorly, not living up to its flagship resort status due to datedness and underwhelming rooms. Now, there are only two reasons why it doesn’t rank higher.
The first is cost, as rack rates at the Grand Floridian start at over $700 per night. Those are the cheapest nights of the year, with most dates being in the $800 to $900 range for standard rooms. (However, discounts are often available that reduce those prices significantly.)
The other is the simple fact that the construction is not yet completed. During our stays at Grand Floridian in the past year, work has been minimally invasive. There has been a minor amount of blight and noise, but going building-by-building has helped prevent the resort from feeling like a construction zone. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay here during the project–obviously, given that we’ve returned on multiple occasions during the work.
However, everyone’s tolerance for construction impacts differs. There are walls up around portions of the resort and you will see construction workers on carts, roof replacements being done, exterior stairways being rebuilt, and more. Additionally, the construction up until now has been on the outlying buildings of the resort. As that wraps up and impacts the grounds less, work on the main building and lobby will begin, and no one knows how disruptive that will be.
Accordingly, we hesitate to recommend Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort to first-timers for stays in Summer or Fall 2023. Perhaps we’ll revise this once work starts and we see how impactful it is, but for now, we’re erring on the side of caution and advising against staying at the Grand Floridian in the next few months if you’re an infrequent visitor to Walt Disney World.
Conversely, if you’re already looking ahead beyond that, we highly recommend Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for Christmas 2023 or 2024 Walt Disney World vacations. The construction will be entirely complete by then, and every building–including the main lobby–will be feeling as fresh and looking as good as the outlying buildings do now. Walt Disney World’s flagship resort will once again be truly deserving of its status!
We always recommend booking with an “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (Disney’s term for a travel agent), but that’s doubly true if you’re thinking about rolling the dice and staying at the Grand Floridian during construction. That’s because it’s possible Walt Disney World will end up wanting to relocate you to a different resort–or you will want to change hotels after seeing the extent of construction. Among many other things, Authorized Disney Vacation Planners can advocate on your behalf and ensure a favorable outcome.
They receive commission from Disney, so most authorized planners will not charge you for booking the vacation package and planning services. The fee-free Authorized Disney Vacation Planner that we recommend is Be Our Guest Vacations. Their services don’t cost extra, they’ll reserve your room, help you with dining reservations and itineraries, and apply the best discounts to your reservation.
At that point, we’ll return to totally overhaul this review. For now, much of what follows (in particular the harsh criticism of the guest rooms) no longer applies.
Even prior to the reimagining, the common areas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are upscale. 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. In our view, this comes across better in person than it does via photos, which might make the hotel appear more antiquated than it actually is.
In person, the entire resort is permeated with a sense of opulence. There’s texture and quality to every surface, making the resort feel decidedly luxurious. Yes, it also feels a bit classical, but that’s true of many of the world’s nicest hotels. For now at least, the Grand Floridian skews towards classy luxury rather than modern luxury.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 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. It can feel a tad stuffy or old school, but it’s also beautiful and well-appointed. Even if you’re not staying at the Grand Floridian, the lobby restaurants are the perfect destination for a fancy date night or anniversary dinner.
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.
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).
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.
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.
If you want to take advantage the Grand Floridian’s highlights while staying at a resort with a more relaxed theme and atmosphere, our recommendation would be Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. From there, you can walk or take the monorail over for a date night, and then having a peaceful nighttime stroll back to the Poly.
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.
Finally, we come to the resort rooms at the Grand Floridian. Again, this is a look at the old style of the rooms. Thankfully, these rooms have been retired in the outer buildings and are on their way out in the main building. Unless you’re staying at the Grand Floridian in the coming weeks, you will not be stuck in one of these.
That’s a good thing, as these were on par with chained-brand hotels 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.
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 countertops, 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.
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. 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 the next year.
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.
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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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!