With more than 20 official Disney resorts to choose from it can be hard to decide which one is right for your family. While all of the resorts come with major perks like free transportation and "extra magic hours" in the park, there is a lot of variety between resorts. During a recent trip to Disney World, we stayed at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — one of the deluxe hotel options.
While this was not our first time at the Walt Disney World resort, it was our first time staying at an official Disney resort. On previous visits we'd stayed at Shades of Green, or off-property with family, we were definitely excited to try an official Disney resort and be fully immersed in the Disney World experience.
Being that the Grand Floridian is one of the deluxe resorts nightly rates are pretty high. We visited in the peak summer season and took advantage of a military rate of $408 per night. This rate was for an outer building-lagoon view room that slept five.
The Grand Floridian is set-out with a larger main building that houses most of the properties dining options, a bar, and numerous gift shops, as well as hotel rooms and the concierge lounge. Our room was located in the Boca Chica building, one of the four outer buildings ideally positioned along the lagoon. Since the resort is so spacious it was a little hike from the resort entrance, but views of the lagoon and Magic Kingdom more than made up for that.
Rooms at the Grand Floridian measure in at 440 square feet, making them one of the more spacious options at Walt Disney World. Our room was furnished with two queen-size beds, a daybed, and a desk/table with chair. There was also a fridge which came in handy for storing the groceries we had picked up for cheap and easy breakfasts.
DINING OPTIONS AT GRAND FLORIDIAN
There is quite a selection of dining options available at the Grand Floridian. While several of them are rather pricey fine dining experiences, there's still quite a few family friendly options.
Gasparilla Island Grill
Located on the first floor overlooking the Grand Floridian marina, Gasparilla's offers a diverse quick service menu, available 24 hours a day.
We grabbed lunch here on the day we arrived, and enjoyed the sandwiches and kids meals we ordered. Breakfast here on the second day was a little less enjoyable, thus the trip to the grocery store. I wouldn't say the breakfast food was bad, just not to our liking, flavors weren't great and the prices felt a bit high for the quality.
Grand Floridian Cafe
Midway through our trip all of the Disney excitement got to our youngest, exhaustion set in and he and I opted to leave the parks early that day. After a much needed nap, we were hungry, I toyed with the idea of room service but ended up heading over to the Grand Floridian Cafe. I'm so glad I did, I was really impressed with the food here. The prices were a little higher here with my chicken entree coming in at $23 but the food was delicious. My chicken was flavorful and tender, even the vegetables were tasty and the service impeccable. My son really liked his food too, the couple of bites I tried were yummy, not your average kids meal. Overall I felt like we had a fine dining experience without the big dollar price tag.
It seems the cafe is a pretty popular place, it was busy the night we ate here. While we had a short wait for our table for two, larger groups seemed to have longer wait times. I'd recommend making a reservation if you plan to come for dinner with a larger party.
ACTIVITIES & AMENITIES AT GRAND FLORIDIAN
The Grand Floridian has so many amenities that I couldn't possibly list them all here. We spent most of our time at the parks so didn't spend much time enjoying all that it had to offer.
On our one down day we spent a few hours at the pool. There are two pool areas at the Grand Floridian, the bigger Courtyard pool features a zero-entry leisure pool while the Beach Pool is a fun place to splash or slide. The kids preferred the fun splash zone and slide at the Beach Pool; however the morning we were there an "accident" occurred that required a lengthy closure of the pool for cleaning. Another guest mentioned this had happened several times during there stay.
There were recreational activities by the pool at various times throughout the day, from dance competitions to Disney-themed quizzes, plus movie nights in the evenings.
Each evening sea creatures and twinkling flags circle the Seven Seas lagoon to electronic tunes in the Electrical Water Pageant. While this was fun to see the first time, our lagoon front room location meant the sound of synthesized music blared into our room every night, obnoxiously disrupting our sleep, this was the only negative to our stay.
TRANSPORTATION AT GRAND FLORIDIAN
One of the things that initially drew us to stay at the Grand Floridan was all of the transportation options for getting around the Walt Disney World property, and to the parks. We loved the convenience of hopping on the monorail for access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Buses to the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs were also pretty easy and convenient. There is also the option to take a boat between the resort and Magic Kingdom or vice-versa. We found the boat ride back to the resort to be a relaxing way to end our day at the Magic Kingdom.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS OF GRAND FLORIDIAN
The service we received at the Grand Floridian was first class. I was especially impressed when I arrived back to the hotel one afternoon, and my 55 lb six-year-old had fallen asleep on the ride over. There was no way I could carry him back to the room, and he was far too exhausted to walk. The bellman went out of his way to get us a golf cart ride across the property. Anyone that's tried to transport a wiped out kid even just a short distance knows how delighted I was to catch this ride.
As with most Disney World vacations, ours was all about maximizing our time in the parks; the Grand Floridian was a superb base for that. Furthermore, all of the fantastic amenities and activities on property at the Grand Floridian make it an ideal resort for those that are looking for less time in the parks and more downtime relaxing.
The Grand Floridian is a beautiful property full of Victorian charm. We loved our stay here!