Villas at Grand Floridian Review
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are a hotel and Disney Vacation Club property adjacent to Walt Disney World’s flagship hotel. This review features room photos of the villas, the pros & cons of staying at this resort hotel, whether it’s worth the money, and a comparison to the hotel side of the Grand Floridian.
You might recall our Grand Floridian Resort Review, which was not exactly complimentary to Walt Disney World’s most expensive luxury hotel. To the contrary, we concluded that the Grand Floridian did not offer luxury accommodations “even remotely commensurate” with its high price tag. That pretty much sums up my rambling review, which was more or less a tirade about how the Grand Floridian is overrated.
Perhaps you’re expecting more of the same from our Villas at Grand Floridian review. After all, this is the DVC ‘wing’ of the same resort, and most of the amenities are shared between the regular hotel and the villas. As such, it might surprise you that our take on the Villas at Grand Floridian is essentially a 180 of that. In fact, this rates at (or near) the top of the list when it comes to Disney Vacation Club villas at Walt Disney World. Here’s why…
The first reason is price. Our main criticisms with the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are all predicated on its nightly rates, which start at $550/night and can exceed $1,000/night during some seasons. All other quibbles with the resort flow from this, and our belief that the quality doesn’t match the price.
If you’re a Disney Vacation Club member, you aren’t paying anything near those rates for the Villas at Grand Floridian. Actual cost is going to depend on myriad factors, including home resort, whether you purchased directly or via resale, and what year you purchased your membership.
We bought via resale a while ago at Saratoga Springs Resort, and accounting for our initial purchase price (prorated for the duration of our contract) plus annual dues, we are paying a yearly cost of roughly $7 per DVC point that we own. Accordingly, our nightly rate at the Villas at Grand Floridian was $119. $119!
This is not a sales pitch for buying into Disney Vacation Club, so I do want to note that we were incredibly lucky, timing-wise with our DVC purchase (it actually has gone up in value since we bought it). Even if you purchased directly from Disney and paid significantly more, you’re looking at a studio room that’s still easily under $300/night.
Even renting points, the average cost for a 1-night stay in a studio at the Villas at Grand Floridian is around $250-325. That’s still over $100/night less than the best room-only discount at the Grand Floridian. (For assistance with that, see our Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points article.)
While I do not believe Grand Floridian can justify the $500+ rack rates that Walt Disney World charges, I think it’s justifiable as a $300/night hotel. I’ll go one further and say that I think the Villas are even more justifiable as a $300/night resort.
I was surprised by this. When concept art for the Villas at Grand Floridian was released, I was not impressed. When construction was completed, I was even less impressed. The exterior made it look like the project was done on the cheap, with the sides lacking detail (and windows), and generally with less artifice that could be found on the hotel’s buildings. I figured if the aspect of the project around which people would form first impressions was sloppy, the rooms would be, too.
Turns out, they were not. The rooms are basically the second prong of our about-face on the Grand Floridian, which isn’t really an about face at all, so much as experiencing a different side of the experience that was nicer and cost less money. Much to my surprise, the guest rooms at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa were nicer than even the newly-refurbished hotel rooms.
(Note: this review features photos of a 1-bedroom villa, rather than a studio; however, based on what we’ve seen of the studios, statements about quality and detail also hold true for those.)
To be fair, I didn’t take much issue with the hotel rooms at the Grand, stating that the refurbishment simplified them while still retaining their level of sophistication and luxury.
However, I also noted that I didn’t think they had the level of detail or unique quality to justify the exorbitant rates.
With those ‘exorbitant rates’ knocked down into the stratosphere of realism, the villa rooms already had a lower threshold to clear in order to qualify as “worth it” in my mind. Turns out, they didn’t need it.
Not only are the guest rooms in the villas every bit as nice as those in the hotel, but they take it to the next level by having the ‘level of detail and unique quality’ I lamented was missing from the Grand Floridian hotel rooms.
There are tray ceilings, detailed tile-work, numerous upgrades in terms of lighting and other fixtures, and plenty of Disney touches that are on-theme and feel appropriate to the Grand Floridian.
Oh, and of course there’s a television in the bathroom mirror, so you can watch the Must-Dos while you bathe, like a big-shot. (Because you know that’s what John Stamos is doing when we visits Walt Disney World!)
It’s all done at an incredibly high level–one befitting of “flagship” status at Walt Disney World.
Common areas and amenities do bear mentioning, and in this case there’s a lot of overlap between the hotel side of the Grand Floridian, and the villa side. I will start by noting that we were really pleased with the lobby of the Villas at Grand Floridian.
The fountain with the Mary Poppins’ penguins was a nice touch, and there were luxurious details throughout that married Disney and Victorian style. In that sense, it felt more like Tokyo Disneyland Hotel than the Grand Floridian. No complaints about datedness here.
We actually spent a few hours in the lobby pre-checkin and post-checkout and found this to be a delightful area to lounge about (in our case, getting work done). We also appreciated the complementary espresso in the lobby, which is the kind of nice touch a resort of this caliber should be providing its guests. These little things go a long way.
Now, we turn our attention to the shared amenities between the Villas at Grand Floridian, and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa itself. The lobby and grounds of the hotel are no doubt a shared amenity, but we see little reason to fixate on them as we deliberated as to their merits at length in our review of the hotel.
Suffice to say, elements of the lobby are beautiful (and grandiose) but it could use some updating. As for the grounds, they are unquestionably beautiful, and perfect for an evening stroll.
Amenity-wise, the Grand Floridian is a ‘fully loaded’ hotel. While they aren’t the most thematically exciting, it has nice pool areas that rank #4 on our list of the Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World. The Alice in Wonderland water play area is fun for kids, while the Beach Pool has an adult vibe.
Grand Floridian’s fine dining game is strong. Victoria & Albert’s is far and away the best restaurant at Walt Disney World, and one of the most acclaimed restaurants in all of central Florida. Likewise, Citricos and Narcoossee’s are both highly regarded. (For what it’s worth, we far prefer the latter of the two.)
Mizner’s Lounge is an underrated place to unwind and grab drinks, especially while the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra plays. Counter service dining at Gasparilla Island Grill has (historically) been so-so, but we’re hearing rumblings that this has improved dramatically since its recent refurbishment. (Stay tuned for our thoughts on that.) Regardless, the Grand Floridian still ranks behind only Animal Kingdom Lodge in terms of overall dining among Walt Disney World hotels.
As you might be able to gather from these amenities, and our general tone about the resort and its luxury and sophistication, we do not view the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa as a great option if you’re doing Walt Disney World with Kids and are primarily concerned with their reaction to the hotel. Conversely, and for those same reasons, it’s an excellent option for Honeymooning at Walt Disney World.
Another upside to the Villas at Grand Floridian is that you’re within a very easy walk of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, so if you want a more casual or light-hearted dining experience (or just something tonally different to enjoy) that hotel’s grounds and dining options are easily accessible (it’s maybe a 10 minute walk) from the villas.
That same location makes it slightly more of a commute to the monorail terminal, located in the main lobby of Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, but it’s hardly inconvenient.
Even with that walk, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa scores huge points for being on the Magic Kingdom monorail line. There’s also boat transportation available, as well as (shared) bus transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Overall, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa address nearly every complaint we had about the Grand Floridian in our review of that hotel, and make those complaints left unaddressed less significant by virtue of the significantly lower nightly rate. While we were inclined to grade on a curve here due to lower pricing, that wasn’t even necessary. About the only quibbles we have with the Grand Floridian’s Villas are the cheap look of the building’s exterior, and that the Victorian theme may not appeal to Disney’s main family demographic. However, that last one isn’t really a complaint so much as the ‘something for everyone, but not everything for everyone’ nature of Walt Disney World. All things considered, these villas score at or near the top of all Disney Vacation Club/Deluxe Villa properties at Walt Disney World. If you’ve stayed or visited the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, what did you think?
My family of five (kids aged 9, 7 and 5) just finished a week-long stay at the Villas at Grand Floridian, and my, what a beautiful place to stay! We were in a two-bedroom villa which worked extremely well for separating our kids – more conducive to everyone getting a solid night of sleep after an exhausting day in the parks. For those curious, our kitchen at least was stocked with a combination individual K-cup and drip coffee pot Keurig maker, with a few packets of Joffrey’s coffee for the drip, and a few Joffrey’s K-cups as well. There were also packets of Twinings tea. Clearly, it wasn’t enough to last us the week (but that’s okay, we brought our own K-cups to supplement).
Two complaints I have: the first is that counter height is 36″. I’m not sure if that’s standard across the villas on other properties, but our 5 year old is suddenly unable to wash his hands without assistance, whereas he’d been doing this on his own just fine for quite some time with a more standard 32″ counter height. This wouldn’t be an issue if the rooms were stocked with a step stool, or if step stools were available from the desk… but they aren’t, and there aren’t any. It’s strange that a company that specializes in vacations for families with young children (and clearly considers this detail with lowered height sink basins in most of the park restrooms) doesn’t have a way for young children to properly use the sink in these villas. (We ended up pushing the “powder desk” chair into the one bathroom for all three to use.)
The second, and to my mind biggest, concern is the utter lack of USB ports. As in, there were exactly zero in our suite. With five Magic Band+, two phones, and a laptop to charge, this was the strangest detail to leave out. Even if the villas were reimagined five years ago, bargain basement hotels back then were already offering USB ports in the bedside tables, desk tables, and/or lamp bases. The fact that the Magic Band+ does not ship with a USB charger block meant that we were short one charger block after turning over all the random USB charger blocks at home (thankfully, the Magic Band+ doesn’t take long to charge and we could charge the lone band in the hour or so after awakening before heading out the door for the parks). It’s a really strange omission for a luxury hotel! And I surely hope they remedy this soon, as this is our home resort!
I’m trying to book a Grand Floridian Villa around Christmas 2022 but there are none available on the Disney World website. Any idea if they’re sold out already or if they just haven’t been “released” to the public yet? Thanks for any thoughts!
I’m trying to book a Grand Floridian Villa for the week of Thanksgiving 2022 but there are none available according to the Disney World website. Any idea if they’re sold out already or if they just haven’t been “released” to the public yet? Thanks for any thoughts!
I am interested in the formula you use to calculate the dollar cost per night for a stay at Walt Disney World when using DVC points. Is there any way that you can share that formula with me?
Hi there- great posts. You mentioned the monorail. Is it more of an inconvenience and or long distance to access it? Asking bc traveling with elderly family members. Thanks.
My wife is from Florida and always wanted to stay at the GF. We’ve lived in Seattle for many years and are now empty-nesters. I took us a few years to get to a financial place to make it possible to stay where my wife has always wanted to stay. We’ve stayed in the the GF, and in a two bedroom VGF with our adult children. We rented points for that stay. We love both the hotel and the villas. Absolute luxury. Great food. Quiet. Peaceful. Beautiful. Elegently whimsical.
Let’s face it, WDW has become an extremely expensive vacation. We still go, but a little less often than we used too. There is NOTHING like Disney magic. I’m hooked.
We bought at Grand Flo in 2014. (A small contract so we can go about every 2 or 3 years.) But I was upset when we tried to book at our home resort for the first time in 2016… at the 11 month mark I had to be put on a waiting list!! The wait list did come through very close to the last minute and it was absolutely beautiful. Our next trip is coming up in Dec 2019 and we want to stay at the Beach Club but I keep seeing all these articles saying that booking in the 7 month mark is impossible – for all the resorts! I find this upsetting. Anyway, your photos in this article are amazing!
There’s no DVC that even comes close to the Villas at the Grand Floridian. It is the closest to Four Seasons luxury that all of Disney World has to offer. That’s why it is so hard to get reservations there and had a 4 year waiting list to buy DVC points directly from Disney. The list has become so long that Disney has done away with the waiting list altogether. When the hotel side gets its major upgrade it will undoubtedly use the Flo villas as their template. There is no DVC property that even comes close to the DVC Flo. It is simply the best.
I got my VGF contract on resale a year ago and finally had the chance for a quick stay. I bought it sight unseen. Fortunately, the Grand Floridian was all I had hoped for and more. The room was in perfect shape. It was bright, and I loved the tile and wood floor decor. Great split bathroom. On the small side for a studio, but we’ll be back in the one bedroom next year.
The support staff on the DVC side was amazing. Easy, friendly check-in. Also: they held our bags all day while we were at the park. The night porter got us ice from another floor (!) and then gave me a golf cart ride over to Gasparilla’s for some midnight supplies. (Thanks again, John!!)
The hotel, as described above, is fully loaded. I loved being in the giant, lively lobby. Great live music and good food. Mizner’s was awesome to wind down in with a scotch after a day in the park. I’m counting the days until I can get back.
Grand Floridian Villas are my favorite DVC overall. If I had unlimited points we’d stay there often. Someone asked about comparing it to BLT. We’ve had the same dilemma and solved it by doing a split stay. For me GFV wins most of the comparison, but walking access to MK is why we ever choose to stay at BLT. Although BLT is far from my favorite DVC, we stay there often thanks to the walking path access to MK (the extra bathroom in the living area is a bonus). I also like the walk to the monorail much better at BLT. At GFV it’s an elevator ride down, a walk in the elements, then another another elevator ride. I guess BLT has the same situation when you boil it down, but it’s far more pleasant than the GFV monorail access.
I have stayed at the GF for several conferences – with conference rates, which makes it very worth the money spent for me. I’ve loved it every time! I toured the Villas at one of my stays – it is lovely too. I think that you just talked me into buying resale for this property. Thanks for the review!
Thank you for the review! I knew you’d like the Villas once you stayed there. I gave my son the choice between GF or wait for the Poly when we bought into the DVC. He chose GF, he was 18 at the time.
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I’ve never even considered staying at the GF (for all the reasons in your hotel review) but I think I would now add this to the list for a split stay – couldn’t not stay at Crescent Lake for part of a stay! Was considering a split stay at BCV and villas at AKL or BLT. Would love to see a comparison between BLT and Villas at GF. 🙂
I stayed in a grand villa during MLK Weekend (2017), and it was amazing! We had 10 people and it fit everyone more than comfortably. The nice thing about the Grand Villas is how the media room doubles as a fourth bedroom, with a powder room directly across the hall – much improved over a pull-out in the main living room.
I will say the exterior does appear to have a lesser quality in the details compared to the hotel. Though it doesn’t apply to most guests, it’s worth mentioning that the walk to the monorail is a bit of a bear if you have a wheelchair in your party.
I couldn’t agree more. The Villas really have a feeling of beauty, luxury, and that intangible “wow” quality. Never did I expect to find Duffy so appropriately integrated into any WDW property, either. 😉
These villas look gorgeous…they did a great job updating the GF design while holding onto the theme and charm. Agree with your description of the outside. We thought it looked blank and unimpressive. Inside looks very sophisticated and soothing…We will have to plan a stay there, and break out of our Epcot hotel bubble!
I’d potentially consider a split stay if you’ve grown fond of the Crescent Lake hotels and the ability to walk to Epcot. Not being able to walk to a park (please, Disney, finish that walkway to Magic Kingdom!) is a downside of Grand Floridian, but not enough to impact our desire to head back as soon as possible!
We were having dinner at the GF way back and thought we would take the nice walking path. Luckily, a nice monorail CM yelled down and stopped us before we had gone too far. It looks like it would be a peaceful walk if you could get over the canal.
They should run some Tom Sawyer’s Island rafts between the GF and MK walkways at the canal!
” we do not view the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa as a great option if you’re doing Walt Disney World with Kids and are primarily concerned with their reaction to the hotel. ”
As a young child visiting WDW, I remember riding the monorail from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom and seeing the Grand Floridian being built. Even at that young age, I knew at some point I would spend one of my trips there. I have spent 3 different trips there, with and without kids. My family rented points for a 1 bedroom villa at VGF for our vacation in September of 2015. My kids were 11 and 7 at the time and were absolutely wowed by the grandeur of VGF and TGF. They loved walking through the lobby of the main hotel in the evening and listening to the band. My daughter enjoyed finding all the Disney characters in the tile of the main lobby. While on vacation, I saw plenty of families with young children who also seemed to love the fanciness of the Victorian theming.
The CMs at the resort went out of their way to interact with my kids. It was wonderful experience and my kids are begging to go back to VGF.
To each their own, I guess. I would not expect that from most kids, but as I’m not a parent, I can’t speak from experience. (Aside from my own–and I don’t recall thinking the Poly was anything special as a kid.) I appreciate you offering a different perspective on this, though! 🙂
Thank you for this r3view…we are DVC members and will be staying there is upcoming Jul 2019.
However, can u give me some tips in traveling with an ECV…I am 72 and cannot walk all the long distances at the parks as I used to do with my kids. Maybe you can do a feature on this in 5he very near future.
I would agree with this. As a parent who enjoys luxury and also has young kids, the GF is a total crowd-pleaser for us all! Our kids love watching the water pageant from the hotel room, and the pools are so great for kids. The splash pad is one of the best with the hat that tips water. There are campfires and movies and marshmallows on the beach. It’s only one monorail stop away from MK. There are hidden Mickeys everywhere, including in the hotel rooms. I actually think that for parents who enjoy a higher-end experience and also have young kids, this hotel very nicely meets the needs of both.
Also – were your photos showing the beach areas taken before the tragic alligator incident last fall? I ask because I don’t see any fencing between the beach and the water. I thought it had been put up all along these areas. We are going back in March and it will be interesting to see that change from our prior visit.
The top banner advertising on your home page today is for an interview with Ron Paul at thecrux.com. I’m just a bit surprised by this…
I have no control over the contextual ads on this site. Those are delivered via Google and are based upon a combo of your browsing history and in-page content. There’s nothing about Ron Paul on this site, so… 😉
Yeah… that’s not on Tom. That’s something that is actually on your web surfing habits… so….
My only complain with the Grand Floridian Villas is that it is so difficult to get a studio there using points from other resorts and often even for owners of the resort itself!
I have yet to stay there for this reason, but looking forward to do it.
I think that really depends upon the time of year. We found Christmas season (in our case, mid-November) exceedingly difficult to book. However, I could have had my pick of just about any week in January or February outside of runDisney weekends and holidays.
It’s a lot like the Crescent Lake resorts in that regard–nearly impossible to book during Food & Wine (or Christmas), but not that bad many other times of the year.
Thats because everyone wants to stay at the Grand Floridian but pay motel 6 prices.