Wondering how the Grand Floridian Resort stacks up against the other Disney World Deluxe Resorts? Check out The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts for a comparison of the eight Deluxes in a variety of categories including Best Layout, Best Dining, Best Transportation, Best Location, Best Rooms, Best Pool, and Best Overall Deluxe Resort.
4401 Grand Floridian Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000
Direct Phone: 1- 407-824-3000, Fax: 1-407-824-3186, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)
Resort Class: The Grand Floridian is a Deluxe resort, the most expensive resort type. There are 20 different types of rooms, suites, views, and categories with prices ranging between $410 per night for a Garden View room during Value Season all the way up to $2,965 per night for the Two-Bedroom Grand Suite during the Holiday Season. During Holiday Season, the Grand Floridian has 14 room types that cost more than $1,000 a night, making it the most expensive Deluxe resort. The Grand Floridian is also the newest of the Monorail Resorts, having opened in 1988, 17 years after the Contemporary and Polynesian.
Location: The Grand Floridian was actually built on top of a man-made peninsula on Seven Seas Lagoon, near the Polynesian. On the monorail, the Grand Floridian is the most convenient resort to the Magic Kingdom because it’s only one stop away. Although the Grand Floridian is close to the Magic Kingdom, it is relatively far from Epcot and Hollywood Studios and one of the furthest resorts away from the Animal Kingdom.
Size: The Grand Floridian is made up of the main building and five outlying guestroom buildings. You will find the check-in area, restaurants, shops, suites, and concierge level rooms in the main building. The Sugarloaf building also houses Concierge level rooms and has a separate Concierge lounge. The other buildings, Sago Cay, Conch Key, Boca Chica, and Big Pine Key are made up of Standard guest rooms. There are 900 rooms in all, which is about the same as the Contemporary and Polynesian, but relatively few compared to the nearly 3,000 found at the Pop Century Value resort.
Room Amenities and Quality: Most of the “Standard” rooms are about 440 square feet and can accommodate up to five people. Rooms come with all of the Deluxe amenities including: two queen-size beds or one king size bed, day bed, small table, two chairs, ceiling fan, internet access ($10 per 24 hours), 32” LCD television, small safe, telephone, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, alarm clock, coffeemaker, refrigerator, and bathroom with two sinks, shower/bathtub combo, toilet, and mirror. Rollaway beds are available for free, which is cheaper than the usual $15 per night charge at other Deluxes. Microwaves should also be available by request.
The rooms at the Grand Floridian are much more elegantly appointed than those found at the Polynesian. Plus, almost all rooms have balconies or patios and all rooms have double sinks. At an average of 440 feet, about 130 feet larger than the Moderates and 180 feet larger than the Values, the rooms have plenty of space for five people. I prefer the newly refurbished rooms at the Contemporary because of their modern look, but there’s nothing wrong with the Victorian themed Grand Floridian and the room furnishings fit the overall theme of the resort well.
The most inexpensive rooms at the Grand Floridian are Garden View, which look inward at the resort and offer a view of the pool, marina, or courtyard. Located on the opposite side of the hall are Lagoon View rooms, which overlook Seven Seas Lagoon. The cost to upgrade from a Garden to a Lagoon View is between $65 and $95 per night depending on season. As usual, the most expensive view type is the Magic Kingdom View, which cost $105-$155 more per night than the Garden View. The Grand Floridian is considerably farther away from the Magic Kingdom than the Contemporary, so the view is not nearly as extraordinary. Plus, at only five stories tall, the views form the Grand Floridian pale in comparison to rooms on the upper floors of the Contemporary.
Personally, I can’t justify the cost to upgrade from a Garden View to the Magic Kingdom View. During Value Season, the Magic Kingdom View rooms cost $515 per night, compared to $530 for a Standard Concierge Level room in the Sugarloaf building. For $530 (only $15 more) per night, you would get all of the additional Concierge benefits, including itinerary planning, increased chance of securing dining reservations, turndown service, in-room DVD player, newspaper delivery, and most importantly access to the lounge with “free” food and beverage service for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In my opinion, this is a much better way to spend the extra money. If you want a view of the Magic Kingdom then you can walk down to the beach and relax in a lounge chair for no additional cost.
The Two Levels of Concierge Service: As if 20 different room categories wasn’t confusing enough, there are also two levels of Concierge service at the Grand Floridian – “Sugarloaf Club Level” and “Royal Palm Club Level.” All guests staying in the main building receive access to the Royal Palm Club Level and all guests in the Sugarloaf building are limited to the Sugarloaf Club Level Lounge. The two levels are basically the same, except the Royal Palm offers a larger, more luxurious lounge area. Both lounges serve similar food and the rooms have nearly identical furnishings. The price difference is mainly due to the convenience and exclusiveness of staying in the main building. The Sugarloaf Level used to offer fewer food and drink options, but that has recently changed and the level of service is almost identical.
Theme and Layout: The Grand Floridian is Disney’s Flagship Resort and no expense was spared in its planning, construction, or decoration. The inspiration for the resort came from the famous Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California and the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Florida. In addition, the buildings are named after islands in the Florida Keys. The resort is extravagantly Victorian themed with red-gabled roofs, intricate gingerbread woodwork, and a five-story main building that features stained-glass domes, glistening chandeliers, and upscale Victorian era furnishings. Like the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian features a gorgeous white sand beach where guests can relax and watch the Magic Kingdom’s evening fireworks.
The Grand Floridian has a reputation as being stuffy and not particularly kid friendly. While it’s true that the Polynesian and Contemporary are more overtly friendly, the Grand Floridian doesn’t turn its nose up at children and they are perfectly welcome. While some kids enjoy the Polynesian’s exotic atmosphere or the Contemporary’s fourth floor concourse, many other kids love the Grand Floridian’s opulence and the way the resort makes guests feel extra special. It’s simply a matter of personal preference.
Pool: There are two pools at the Grand Floridian. The quiet pool, which used to be the resort’s feature pool, is 300,000+ gallons and the largest of its kind. The Grand Floridian’s feature pool has zero-depth entry, which is nice for kids, as well as a water slide and rockery with a waterfall. The location near Seven Seas Lagoon is pristine, but overall it’s not as “cool” as the Volcano Pool at the Polynesian or even the pools at most Moderate resorts. Nonetheless, the sheer size of the quiet pool and the elegant surroundings of the feature pool make it a pleasant and relaxing place to spend an afternoon swimming.
Transportation: The Grand Floridian is on the Disney resort monorail line which conveniently connects it to the Ticket and Transportation Center, Polynesian, Contemporary, and Magic Kingdom. Located in the back of the resort is a marina with a scenic boat ride to the Magic Kingdom and Polynesian resort. While not necessarily as fast as the monorail, it’s a fun ride that I would recommend trying at least once. For Epcot, guests ride the resort monorail to the Transit Center and then switch monorail lines to the Express route.
Travel to the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios is via bus. Most of the time, bus service will be shared with at least one other resort. The Grand Floridian is usually picked up and dropped off last which can equate to longer transit times coming back from the Parks and the strong possibility that it will be standing room only on the way to the Parks. It isn’t so bad when the Grand Floridian shares buses with the Polynesian, but plan to spend an extra 15 minutes on the bus if it’s sharing with the Wilderness Lodge. The Grand Floridian is about as far away as possible from the Animal Kingdom and not particularly close to Epcot or the Hollywood Studios either. Unlike the Polynesian, it is not possible to walk to the Transit Center to get on the Express Epcot Monorail and there is no walkway to the Magic Kingdom like there is at the Contemporary.
The times below are calculated after the bus, monorail, or boat leaves for its final destination.
Hollywood Studios via Bus: about 20 minutes
Epcot via Resort Monorail then switch to Epcot Monorail: about 35 minutes, depending on how long it takes for the Epcot Monorail train to arrive.
Animal Kingdom via Bus: about 25 minutes
Magic Kingdom via Monorail: about 5 minutes
Magic Kingdom via Boat: about 10 minutes
Best Rooms: The suites in the main building are the best rooms, but they’ll run you anywhere between $1,310 and $2,965 per night which is out of most people’s budgets. Of the Standard rooms, I would recommend requesting a room in Big Pine Key. It’s located nearest to the beach and quiet pool and about as close as the other buildings to the restaurants, monorail station, and buses. There really isn’t a tremendous upside to any particular Standard room location since Disney charges extra for any upgraded furnishings or view.
Lodge Tower rooms cost almost as much as Magic Kingdom Views, sleep four instead of five, and have views of the courtyard or pool. They are more expensive because they have a separate seating area, along with additional furniture, an extra television, and a private balcony. At a minimum of around $500 per night, the extra space probably isn’t worth it.
On-Site Dining Options: The Grand Floridian has the most dining options of any resort at Disney World. 1900 Park Fare is a character buffet and serves breakfast and dinner. Like most buffets, breakfast is generally better as far as food is concerned. The characters at breakfast include Alice from Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. Dinner characters include Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and, Drizella (The Wicked Stepmother and her daughters from Cinderella). Character interaction is usually great and most of the characters can’t be found at any other character meal. Adults are $25 for breakfast and $36 for dinner, which makes this one of the most expensive buffets at Disney World. Unfortunately, the food isn’t particularly good at dinner. I would recommend it on the Dining Plan, but I would only visit for dinner if you’re particularly keen on meeting the characters.
Citricos and Narcoossee’s are both Signature Dining restaurants and cost two table service credits each on the Dining Plan. Both are expensive, with entrées in the $30-$60 range. Narcoossee’s is more expensive, with a menu predominantly made up of expensive seafood and cuts of steak. Citricos is less expensive and features a variety of fish, steak, and chicken. I would recommend Narcoosee’s on the Dining Plan, but it is one of the most expensive restaurants at Disney World out of pocket. The food, service, and view are excellent. If you’re looking for a special meal then Narcoossee’s would be a fantastic choice. Citricos, while expensive, isn’t necessarily worth two table service credits based on the price. However, the service and food are also excellent at Citricos; the menu just features less expensive options. Overall, either would be a great choice, but Citricos makes more sense out of pocket and Narcoosse’s would be the better choice on the Dining Plan unless the Citricos menu is particularly appealing.
The Grand Floridian Café is the resort’s casual sit-down restaurant. Breakfast and lunch are reasonably priced with a number of $11 breakfast entrées and sandwiches in the neighborhood of $12 for lunch. Dinner is more expensive with most entrées over $20. While a perfectly decent option, I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here and prefer it for a late lunch rather than dinner.
Gasparilla Grill and Games is the resort’s counter service. It’s similar to the standard Disney counter service in the Parks with burgers, chicken nuggets, and a variety of sandwiches. The Grand Floridian also serves afternoon tea between 2 and 4:30pm. There are a variety of teas, pastries, and other options. You can spend as little as $6 for a cup of tea or as much as $25 per person for tea, sparkling wine, and a variety of sandwiches, scones, and tarts. Afternoon tea is a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon break from the Parks.
Finally, Victoria and Albert’s is the fanciest restaurant at Disney World. I could write several pages about it, but for now I will just say that it is unrivaled by anything at Disney World and it’s on par with some of the best restaurants in the United States. Dinner runs at least $125 per person and wine pairings are an additional $60 or more. Jackets are required for men and women are required to dress fancy as well.
Full reviews coming soon.
Best For: Those who have the money to stay at Disney’s flagship resort. People who want to take advantage of the resort monorail and plan to spend a considerable amount of time relaxing and enjoying the resort.
Worst For: Those on a budget or people who would otherwise have to make sacrifices to afford it. People who plan to spend most of their time away from the Magic Kingdom and plan to rely on Disney transportation.
Summary of Key Points: The Grand Floridian is one of Disney’s finest resorts. Suffice to say, all of your friends will be jealous when you tell them you’re planning to stay here. The resort has tremendous upside with only a few minor detractions. First, let’s quickly consider potential problems. At a minimum of $410 per night, the Grand Floridian is the most expensive Deluxe resort at Disney World. Second, although it is close to the Magic Kingdom, it is one of the furthest resorts from the Animal Kingdom and not particularly convenient to Epcot or the Hollywood Studios either. While the monorail ride to Epcot is usually fun, it can routinely take 45 minutes to ride to the Ticket Center, walk over to the Express Monorail, wait for a train, and ride to Epcot. The Grand Floridian potentially shares bus service with the Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge, so buses may be standing room only on the way to the Parks and it will take even longer to return from the Parks due to the extra stops. Finally, while kids are certainly welcome, the Grand Floridian is not as overtly kid-friendly as the Polynesian or Value resorts. Nonetheless, plenty of children love the luxurious atmosphere.
With that out of the way, we can consider the resorts many positive features. The Grand Floridian is far and away the most elegant Disney resort with beautiful architecture and outstanding service. There will be no doubt that you are staying at Disney’s flagship resort. While the resort has six separate buildings, none of the rooms should be more than a 5-10 minute walk to any point of interest at the resort. At about 440 square feet, the rooms are large enough to sleep five people comfortably. The furnishings, beds, and bathrooms are all top quality. The beach on Seven Seas Lagoon is gorgeous and a fantastic spot to relax or enjoy the evening fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. The quiet pool, at over 300,000 gallons, is the largest of its kind at Disney World and is plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the cool water on a hot day. While the feature pool is not extravagantly themed, it is still in an excellent location and it feels like it fits in the overall atmosphere of the resort.
The Grand Floridian also excels in terms of dining options and quality. It’s connected to the Polynesian and Contemporary resort by monorail, which puts you only a few minutes away from Kona Cafe, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana, California Grill, The Wave, and more. Citricos, Narcoossee’s, and Victoria and Albert’s are all amazing and 1900 Park Fare is a fun buffet with unique characters. The Grand Floridian Café, while not particularly special, is a nice alternative when you want a more casual sit-down meal and afternoon tea is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon away from the Parks. The resort’s counter service is nothing special, but it’s adequate as well. With all of these dining options, the Grand Floridian is an excellent choice for those who plan to eat several meals away from the Parks.
Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend the Grand Floridian to anyone who can afford it. The resort is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. The downsides, other than the price, are all minor compared to the many advantages. Whether or not it’s worth the price is up to the individual. I never recommend straining financially to afford Deluxe accommodations because many people who stay at Value or Moderate resorts enjoy their vacation just as much, if not more. Remember, once you leave the resort everyone is in the same boat, no matter where they’re staying. Nonetheless, the additional resort amenities, convenience, and elegant theme make the Grand Floridian a favorite resort of many Disney vacationers and it should be on the short list of anyone considering a Deluxe or Villa level resort.
Overall Rank on The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts: 1st out of 8