My husband and I recently spent 7 nights at the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. While I have vacationed at Walt Disney World several times in the past, this was my first experience with just my husband. Before going, I worried that it wouldn't be as fun since we weren't with a group or kids, but the trip turned out to be one of our best vacation experiences to date.
Disney's Magical Express Transfer:
We arrived at MCO and as the owner of a travel agency, I opted to try the Disney's Magical Express instead of renting a car or hiring private pick-up. I'm so glad that we did this because all you have to do is walk down to the baggage claim area and get in line to get on your bus. There are several buses that go to the various resorts. They handle your luggage so you can begin relaxing immediately. I would suggest bringing a few dollars to tip the driver as they make you forget that you are on a motorcoach with other guests. The ride to the resort lasts about 25 minutes and there is a cute movie shown during the ride. Our bus stopped to drop people off at the Polynesian resort, then dropped us off at the Grand Floridian and continued to the Contemporary. Dropping other guests off didn't take long at all.
Check-in: We were greeted as we stepped off the Magical Express and a bellman took our luggage. We were supposed to have a garden-view room, but since we were celebrating our anniversary and my husband's birthday a few months late, we were kindly upgraded to an amazing room in the Boca Chica building and couldn't have been more happy. Thank you David! We were also given neat anniversary pins and my husband was given one for his birthday. We were them most of the week and I recommend doing the same if you are celebrating something special. The front desk staff were so kind and extremely organized and happy to answer any questions we had.
We were given a ride via golf cart to our room in the Boca Chica Building. It was on the top floor and highlights included the king bed, flat screen tv and incredible view of the Magic Kingdom castle and Space Mountain. We were right on the water and could watch the light show on the water each night as well as the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. They pipe in the sound. For the most part, we had a quiet stay. The resort was about 50% occupied and the only time we heard anyone in our room was when a group of kids ran down the hall screaming. Mousekeeping did a great job and I loved the H20 plus shampoo. The bathroom was pretty standard, but served it's purpose. We had a nice little sitting area with a love seat and chaise. Two sinks in the bathroom with ample space for both of us to spread out our stuff. They provide robes and slippers as well as a safe. Oh, there is also a refrigerator in the room- very handy.
There are 8 buildings (I think) that make up the Grand Floridian. I honestly don't think you could go wrong with any of them. The staff do such an incredible job and each building has it's own advantages. They are close together, but if walking is an issue, I recommend you stay in the main building since you are right at the monorail.
Food: We had room-service daily for breakfast and the French toast is out of this world! We tried it for dinner once or twice and it was great too. Quick service. We also picked up things at the Gasperilla Grill numerous times. They have great turkey wraps! Also, Gasperilla has mainly American food: burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, drinks, cookies, cereals. We had brunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe the day we arrived and the service was amazing. I tried the Mickey waffle, but the French Toast there puts it to shame.
We also ate at Teppan Edo twice during our visit to Epcot. It was a fun Japanese steakhouse and we loved eating community style and the show the cooks do. Italian restaurant at Epcot was also very good. 9 Dragons at Epcot was good, but probably our least favorite in that particular park. To each his/her own. They had extremely fast service at 9 dragons, but we almost as if they were rushing us to eat and get out. Sci-Fi Restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios was fun. We always try to go there while at Disney. You eat in convertibles and the atmosphere is like an old drive-in movie theater.
Shopping: We went via taxi (they sit at the GF door) and went to the Prime Outlets. So many stores and lots of fun for a few hours. GF also has a neat soap store, a golf store, and a fun shop on the first floor that offers cute clothing for women (think Lilly dresses, different Minnie Mouse shirts, bathing suits.) The parks also have Disney themed stores and will deliver your items to your resort at no charge so you don't have to drag them around the park. Allow at least 1 day for delievery. There is also a convenient shop in the GF that has snacks, books, Christmas ornaments now, Disney mugs, etc.
Monorail: Easy to catch on the 2nd floor of the GF main building. We never had huge waiting lines. The cars were crammed at times, standing room only, but that wasn't an issue since it doesn't take long at all for you to get to whatever park you are visiting. Note- you have to switch monorails (very easy) to get to Epcot and no monorails go to the Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, or Hollywood Studios. You have to go to those parks via bus, but they have a very convenient schedule, were clean and comfortable enough.
Parks: All amazing! Take advantage of the fastpass service. You get a ticket that allows you to come back during a certain time frame to be in a shorter line for the most popular rides. Also, we were very happy with the Photopass service. Instead of annoying other guests with "can you take our picture," there are many Disney photogs around to do that. They also have fun props at certain locations that make pictures more interesting and are easy to view online. Decent prices too. If you do go with the Photopass, I would recommend buying the package where you get a cd prior to getting to Disney. You save a lot that way if you are a picture person.
Special events: We attended Mickeys Very Christmas Party and had a blast! The Magic Kingdom shuts down except for guests who have tickets (must buy in addition to regular park ticket.) The castle was completely transformed and gorgeous, there is an incredible parade, cookies and hot chocolate are passed out in various locations and the characters do a special show in front of Cinderella's Castle.
Allergies: Forgot to note in the food section that Disney does an incredible job catering to allergies. At the restaurants, they asked if we had any allergies and when we told them our issues, they were totally accomodating. The managers of the restaurants came out and talked to us as we were ordering at each place, just to be safe. I appreciated that. Also, I was impressed at the Mickey's Christmas Party that they offered gluten free cookies and a substitute to the hot chocolate.
Spa: I thought we would have time to take advantage of the GF spa, but we honestly were having too much fun in the parks our relaxing in our room.
Weddings: The GF is right at the Wedding Pavilion and we witnessed a few seconds of 2 gorgeous weddings. The couples looked very happy.
We have stayed at some of the most amazing places in the world, so when our friends who haven't stayed at Disney heard we were going they thought we were crazy. We have been home for a little over a week now and keep talking about how hard it was to leave and how much fun we had. I get sad talking about it cause I want to be back there. It was truly magical. Yes, it will be so much fun and a different experience once we have children and take them there, but it allowed us, as a couple to relax and just be kids again. Disney World truly has something for all ages.
I know I am forgetting some details as it is late when I am typing this review, but please feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. I've also stayed at other Disney resorts and am happy to give you my opinions of those. I guess I should start posting about those experiences.
I would recommend the Grand Floridian to the traveler who is looking for the most upscale Walt Disney World property. The whole property was just beautiful and the Disney cast members were incredible. The resort never felt "stuffy" although I personally think that it has the most elegant decor. You could still let loose and relax there.
A few more highlights: The gingerbread house in the GF main lobby looks, smells and tastes amazing! They sell cookies from the house from 10 am - 10 pm (I think) in season. Also, the orchestra that plays in the evening was lovely. GF had a nice beach and 2 pools. We were busy with other things and didn't use them, but they looked great.
Last tips: I can't tell you how many disgruntled parents and out of control kids/temper-tantrums we witnessed. We don't have children yet, but please give your kids a nap in the day if they tend to get grumpy. Also, expect lines. You are at Disney World and they are pretty efficient at getting you to a seat fairly quickly. The fastpass is genius. Make reservations at Cinderella's Table 180 plus days in advance if you can. It is nearly impossible to get in there if you don't, even with concierge service. For other restaurants reservations are recommended, but we found that we could walk up and wait 20-30 minutes for a table, which we didn't mind. We didn't want to have to plan our day around reservations, so it worked out nicely.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Victorian elegance meets modern sophistication at this lavish bayside Resort hotel. Relax in the sumptuous lobby as the live orchestra plays ragtime, jazz and popular Disney tunes. Bask on the white-sand beach, indulge in a luxurious massage and watch the fireworks light up the sky over Cinderella Castle. Just one stop to Magic Kingdom park on the complimentary Resort Monorail, this timeless Victorian-style marvel evokes Palm Beach's golden era. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Disney Grand Floridian Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Grand Floridian Disney
- Disneys Grand Floridian Hotel
- Grand Floridian Orlando
- Disney Grand Floridian Hotel
- Grand Floridian Hotel Orlando