Inside Grand Floridian Villas with Grand Floridian Cafe Review, Looking Ahead to Polynesian DVC, Escape From Tomorrow Review

Edit: Four of the pictures from the 2-Bedroom Villa should have been under the Grand Villa. Those pictures have been moved to the appropriate location.

We’ll head out to check out the Grand Floridian Vacation Club Villas in front of the official October 23rd opening. Lisa was nice enough to do some reconnaissance with the RX100 and provided the pictures.

Looking back at the main entrance, the Villas will operate similar to Bay Lake Tower over at the Contemporary.

Villas will be staffed with a combined concierge/front desk staff from 7am – 10pm daily.

Guests can check in at the Villas during that time. Check-in is also available at Grand Floridian Proper 24-hours a day. Self and valet parking are only available at Grand Floridian and Magical Express only picks up/drops off from the Grand Floridian’s main entrance.

Luckily, there’s a covered path that connects the back side of the Villas and the Grand Floridian’s main building.

Just hope it’s not raining and windy and hot. know..Florida never is.

From the front entrance of the VIllas, the wedding chapel is only about a two minute walk away. On one hand, that makes it convenient. On the other hand, the chapel is far less “removed” from the Grand Floridian now that guests staying at the Villas can peer out from their balconies at what’s going on outside – whether they want to or not.

That’s also about a one-minute walk to Senses, which has a basketball court and grill area five steps to the right of it.

Back inside, the Villas continues Grand Floridian’s Victorian/Mary Poppins theme, complete with penguins, tea, and pineapples(?).

45-foot chandeliers offer an air of luxury to the Villas, with Studios starting at $554 a night for a view of the road or parking lot.

An extra $70 per night affords a lake view. Add $232 per night and you can stay in a 1-bedroom suite with a lake view for a total of $856.13 per night (minimum). That same 1-bedroom suite would run you $977/night through all of May, with the exception of the the 29th and 30th, which are “only” $954 per night.

For considerably less money per night, you could stay at the Ritz Carlton in their most expensive suite (960 square foot Club Level Executive Suite) with complimentary breakfast, snacks, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, dry cleaning/laundry, bottled water, dessert, and I’m guessing pretty much whatever else you want. Of course, the Ritz doesn’t have Magical Express, so you can’t look forward to a Mears bus with 50 screaming children annoying you during the four stops before you arrive at the Grand Floridian (only to walk yourself to the Villas section, which has no restaurant, lounge, or guest services for nine hours out of the day). The cheapest room at the Ritz in May is $327 per night(versus $613 at the Villas). With that $286 per night in savings, you could take a limousine every morning to the Contemporary, walk to Magic Kingdom, have a nice dinner at California Grill for two, and still have money left over. But that is not very magical.

I feel like this fountain will be grander.

As far as I know, every room has a patio or balcony. The rooms here closest to the Grand Floridian would only be a two minute walk out to the pool, beach, or main building entrance. It has to be at least ten minutes over to Narcoossee’s or the Courtyard pool though.

Two-bedroom Villas are spacious and sleep up to nine:

Grand Villa:

Price? If you have to ask… There are televisions in the mirrors though.

Once you get over the fact that the small lobby “feels” like it belongs in a hospital, the Villas are quite pleasant. The price and lack of amenities are major turnoffs though. I feel like if I’m dropping a grand a night on a room, there should be someone standing at the front desk to take care of my problems 24 hours a day. And they should have small batch bourbon.

Grand Floridian Cafe is Grand Floridian’s basic sit-down restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, much like The Wave at Contemporary and Kona at Polynesian.

Like those restaurants, the Cafe is rarely, if ever, busy for lunch. Breakfast and dinner reservations are usually available on the same day should you find yourself back at the resort unexpectedly. It’s always smart to make a reservation, even if it’s just a couple hours before you plan to arrive. It’s not all that uncommon for a restaurant to tell you they have no availability for walkups, but still have reservations available for that night. They will take you if you make a reservation, but not if you don’t. That’s unlikely to be a problem at the Cafe.

There is not a whole lot to the restaurant. Or as Disney describes it:

Victorian Charm with a View

Drink in delightful views of the rose gardens and courtyard pool as you dine on inspired favorites. Open for breakfast, lunch or an impromptu dinner, the Grand Floridian Cafe is a hidden gem that offers moderately priced cuisine with maximum flavor.

The roses on the table are a nice touch.

My view.

Lunch menu:

Lunch is indeed inexpensive with several sandwiches and salads in the $11 – $15 range. There’s also your typical Disney slab of meat for the Dining Plan crowd coming in at $26.99.

For the kids. Breakfast and dinner menus here:

Jill, moderator of the easyWDW Transportation forum, was nice enough to invite me and Lisa out to lunch.

She ordered the (now $14.99) Rustic Chicken Sandwich  – Roasted Garlic Aïoli, Balsamic Onions, Spinach, and Fennel Salad with Applewood-smoked Bacon. She described the flavor as good, but commented that the bread underneath was soggy from all the sauce. It’s certainly better than the typical quick service chicken sandwich that would run you around $9.19 these days.

Lisa ordered the (now $14.49) Grand Sandwich – Open-faced hot Ham, Fresh-roasted Turkey, Bacon, and Tomato with a rich Boursin Cheese Sauce and Fried Onion Straws.

There is an awful lot going on here with the meat piled high, topped with creamy Boursin cheese sauce, and then topped with crispy onion straws.

This is a rich, creamy, heavy sandwich that will require a fork and knife. The buttery, herb-y bread was fresh and added a bit more crunch should you wish to include it in any one of the heaping bites. While the sandwich does not come with a side – it really doesn’t need one. This is a lot of food and probably not a good choice if you’re planning to head out to the theme parks after the meal. It’s the sort of thing you eat before taking a nap.

Having tried California Grill just a few days before, I wanted to compare the Filet with the much less expensive Char-Crusted New York Strip Steak – Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes and Brandy-Green Peppercorn Sauce with Seasonal Vegetables – (still) $26.99.

This is a massive hunk of moderate-quality beef topped with a rich peppercorn sauce over mashed potatoes and broccolini. It should be the same cut they serve at Tony’s Town Square, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Sci-Fi, and other restaurants where the strip steak is in the $27 – $35 range. I have a big appetite these days and even I would have liked about half as much of a higher quality cut. The steak only had a bit of a char-grilled crust, which was just fine with me as I don’t necessarily care for the “burned” flavor that comes with a lot of char-grilled items. The steak was otherwise fine – slightly overcooked and chewy for the money. But there really was way too much of it and I don’t think that’s something I’ve ever said about portion size.

On top of that, there’s a large helping of creamy mashed potatoes and a vegetable underneath. The broccolini was perfectly prepared and added some color and crunch to the meal. Mother will be happy I favored it over a couple bites of steak.

Service was casual and friendly – perhaps a bit too casual for the Grand Floridian atmosphere. It was closer to 50’s Prime Time than fine dining, but this is the Grand Floridian’s casual restaurant that isn’t meant to intimidate or be too fancy. I don’t think the Cafe is worth going out of your way to visit and would put it behind The Wave and Kona in terms of atmosphere and potentially food quality. If you are staying at the Grand Floridian or otherwise visiting, the restaurant will certainly fill you up for not a whole lot more than quick service.

I was happy to see the Beach Pool’s bar still serves a great menu for lunch and dinner:

The food and selection out here are better than Gasparilla Grill in my opinion.

As you’ve probably heard, Disney Vacation Club is officially coming to the Polynesian.

Larger: You can see that much of the beach is already walled off.

Zoomed in.

Is Sunset Pointe a thing of the past?

The Polynesian recently underwent a full refurbishment of most rooms:

I think they did a nice job with the rooms, which are now a bit brighter and “feel” larger with some custom touches and attractive art.

If there are two things the Internet doesn’t need, it’s more movie critics and Disney World blogs. Unfortunately, those are the two things I bring to the table. You have probably heard of Escape from Tomorrow, the movie “guerrilla shot” at Disney World. But mostly shot at Disneyland. One thing that doesn’t seem to be mentioned much is the fact that very little of the movie is actually shot live at Walt Disney World. Most of the shots of the actors inside the Park are from Disneyland. And a lot of the scenes are “green screened,” meaning the atmosphere shots were taken inside the Park, but then the actors act out the scene with a green screen in the back with the scenes projected onto the screen. It doesn’t really work and looks cheesy and fake.

Escape From Tomorrow is otherwise bizarre and a bit uncomfortable. And I’m not just throwing that word out there. The father in the film finds out he’s lost his job within the first minute or two of the film and things quickly take a turn for the worse as the news causes dad to follow around two underage French girls for the rest of the movie as he goes more and more insane. While the acting leaves something to be desired and the story is off-the-wall without being clever or particularly interesting, I would still put it down as being worth seeing. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie, I don’t regret seeing it. Sort of like Showgirls. It’s kind of neat to see the Parks filmed in the style of the movie, even if most scenes are from Disneyland or otherwise a few years old.

This is not a movie for the kids. There is nudity, gore, and “adult themes.” None of that is actually seen inside the Parks. I didn’t think the movie showed Disney World in a negative light. Please don’t comment on whether  you think Disney “should sue the movie” based on your knowledge from Law and Order and Nancy Grace. Unless you are a lawyer making over a million dollars.

Amazon is selling and renting the movie digitally for $14.99 and $6.99 respectively. It’s available on iTunes potentially for a little less. You might want to wait for Netflix or another less expensive medium.

May 2014 Crowd Calendar preview is coming up next. October and November 2013 crowd calendars were updated yesterday.


  1. Glenn says

    WOW! The GF Villas do look great! Let’s hope the riff raff doesn’t ruin it too much.

    And a non-blue striped polo shirt. How do you expect people to find you if you change it up?

  2. Paul says

    Thanks for the GF Villa update and pics cause I’ll probably never see them in person. That pricing is a bit much. As far as your film info, so basically if it was shot at the local neighborhood park instead no one would care. Writers/directors, trying to draw interest, decide to write it based in WDW and maybe someone might be interested. Take away WDW and you just have a below average horror film with a weird storyline. Will I watch it? Already did and I’m glad my buddy was the one who wasted his money. I doubt this will spawn more guerrilla filming at WDW/Disneyland. That was not entertaining at all!

  3. keri says

    I scrolled down to see if anyone else mentioned the pineapple thing.

    They’re a symbol of luxury and hospitality from the Victorian era, partly because folks had just figured out how to grow them in cold climate and it showed taste, refinement, and wealth. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

    Also, I’m always amazed by the size of that enormous giant suite. Who needs so much space on a Disney vacation?! but then I realize it’s because folks bring along entire extended families. I dunno, but when I go on vacation, it’s to get away from my family?

    The tables with the boxes on top are weird. Why are there boxes on top? But I like that they’re obviously meant to move around.

    The seafoamy green color is also nice, with the white. I’m afraid the bathroom tile looks absolutely filthy to me. I can’t imagine how dingy and gross it will be after a few months of use.

    Thanks, Lisa, for snapping the photos!

  4. fairy8i8 says

    Yeah, the price is a bit much, especially compared to the Ritz. That was eye opening. However, lets be honest: who in their right mind would stay there buying rack rates from Disney when you could get a regular GF room for less with 2 beds or a king instead of a queen and pullout? I would consider renting points for a night; then it puts it in to the $210-$294/night (May weeknight) range for a standard view ($250-$350 for a lake view). That’s more in line with what I would expect to pay. As for ancient Old Key West owners, the price per night for them is a steal once the “newness” wears off and the Poly becomes available, if they ever feel the desire to sample the Grand Floridian. I’m a little disappointed that the beach at the Poly is already closed off. I was considering staying there this May… now I think not.

  5. pfalcioni says

    I like the GF rooms, but I LOVE the Poly room re-do. I love the colors, the art, how everything just seems to exude a sense of calm and relaxation. I don’t think I could help but take afternoon siestas if we stayed there – that room seems to demand it!

    Not that it’s ever going to happen, unless we win the lottery, but still, thank you for showing us inside places I’ll probably never get to in real life.

  6. Kirsten says

    I really want a penguin fountain. It would bring me such joy. I can’t believe that there are people willing to pay that much per night. More money than brains, my grandpa would have said.

  7. krikiter says

    “Lisa – loved your dainty raised pinky reflection in the microwave at the GF :)”

    Do we need another reminder from Josh about not being creepy?

  8. Emma says

    The Ritz needs to invite you over for a walk around. I saw that they commented to your tweet about their hotel the other day.

  9. Ayla says

    The new GF Villas are gorgeous, but insanely priced. The Poly refurbed rooms are great, too. Much brighter and fresher-looking. :)

  10. Psac says

    I don’t like the way the VGF sink just out from the granite countertop. Very weird design. I was going to stay there, but now won’t because of that.

    At the GF Cafe, you can also order just a regular burger and fries instead of that GF Burger with the lobster. Much cheaper, but I don’t remember the exact price.

  11. Jeremy says

    I’ll be staying at Disney World the first week of December and have dining reservations at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Thanks for the preview!

  12. snarkymama says

    I’m a Ritz-loving gal, but it’s a little far out from the World. BUT on our last trip, we stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria, in their largest suite (besides Presidential), for >$300/night. Yes, we did get a one category upgrade because of hubby’s Hilton status, but it was still 1800 sq. ft., gorgeous and had views of every park and fireworks. (The suite we paid for would have been something like 1000 sq. ft. if the upgrade wasn’t available.) I’ve stayed at the Grand, in the main building, for more than twice the price, and besides the boat service and monorail to MK, the Waldorf is hands down the better hotel.

    Now, when the Four Seasons opens (if it ever does), I’m in.

  13. Jill Mac says

    Another thanks for showing the GF villas because I’ll never see it in person. It’s amazing to me that people will pay that and I’m what you might call a Disney apologist. Still, I coudln’t stomach those prices, even if I had won the lottery and had millions at my disposal.

    I did make a special trip to GF Cafe last December for breakfast because the lobster eggs benedict are amazing.

  14. RebeccaMcK says

    I was going to say that about Psych, too! lol
    Lovely photos. I’ll probably never stay there, but it was nice to see all the details.

  15. chris says

    we had the char-crusted steak at the GF Cafe. The waitress confessed that the char flavor isn’t from a unique blend of seasoning and a just-right super hot grill. It’s from a pre-packaged rub. We still liked the flavor but it sort of took away from the foodie magic knowing you could probably buy the rub on Amazon.

  16. Beth says

    I am just annoyed that we pay dues for a Motel 6 looking bed…..really they cannot put a bed spread on the beds any more and just use a sheets and a bed scarf, come one DVC you can do a lot better, especially if you want to attract future buyers!

  17. David says

    Glad to see WDW is funneling all of their money into DVC resorts and My Magic band technology, instead of creating innovative new attractions.

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