A Stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian: Perspective from a Value Gal

by | Nov 11, 2021 | WDW Blog, WDW Food, WDW Resorts

Wondering if staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian is worth the cost? Get the opinions of our loyal Value Resort queen and WDW Magazine CEO, Stephanie Shuster.

I’m a loud and proud, self-proclaimed Value Gal—a HUGE fan of the Value Resorts at Walt Disney World. But this past September, I was treated to a two-night stay in a Garden View Outer Building Room at the very swanky Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

Budget is a big factor for me when selecting a hotel at Walt Disney World. I usually opt to spend those extra dollars on more park days, tasty treats, and lots of souvenirs! And on this trip, I actually started out in my comfort zone at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort before moving to the Grand Flo.

I thought I might miss the bright colors and oversized icons, or find the deluxe resort a bit stuffy for my personal taste.

As someone who usually stays at Disney’s Value Resorts, I was really curious to see what the differences were in the room, at the pool, and on the grounds (and what the similarities were too).

Would this be the resort to make a Value Gal upgrade her future vacation plans? Is the Grand Floridian worth the cost? Let’s find out …

Arrival and Departure from the Grand Floridian

An iced coffee from Gasparilla Island Grill

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

Since I started my trip at Walt Disney World a week before I checked into the Grand Floridian, there was no need for airport transportation. I simply ordered up an Uber, loaded in my suitcase, and, 10 minutes later, arrived in style.

I’ve visited this resort previously for brunch, to see the holiday Gingerbread House display, and to shop at Basin White, but this was my first time arriving as an overnight guest.

The experience at the security booth was amazing and really set a high bar for my interactions with Cast Members for the whole stay. The two gentlemen greeted us, asked us about our day, chatted a bit about our favorite booths at the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, and then sent us on our way to the front doors.

When we pulled up at the porte-cochère, our bags were whisked away, and we were directed to the front desk so we could find out if our room was available early.

It wasn’t, and we still had a couple of hours until our media event at Animal Kingdom began that day, so we grabbed breakfast and sat outside at the marina with a view of Magic Kingdom. What a blissful way to start our whirlwind stay!

Now, there’s nothing technically different about the check-in and arrival process: You can do online check-in with your My Disney Experience app and go directly to your room when it’s ready.

But I can’t continue without mentioning how great the Cast Members were. If there’s one thing that stood out to me during this stay, it wasn’t the gorgeous pool, the seriously delicious Quick-Service meals, or the incredibly comfy bed. It was that this is where Disney puts their A-List cast, placing the Grand Floridian a notch above even other Deluxe Resorts.

Find out more about how Cast Members make our resort stays magical in our February 2022 Cast Member Magic special edition of our monthly magazine. Subscribe today for just $8/month so you don’t miss out on any of our magical exclusive content!

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Splash zone at the Grand Floridian Resort's pool

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

On our checkout day, we wanted to spend a few hours at the pool, so we kept a few things with us, checked our bags with bell services, and enjoyed a lovely day swimming and sunning before calling an Uber to whisk us away as fast as we arrived. I felt like a 21st century Mary Poppins just blowing in and out of the hotel as if by magic—the experience was that easy!

How did the experience rate out of 10?

  • Grand Floridian – 11
  • Value Resorts – 8

For the check-in and check-out experience and the Cast Member magic, the Grand Floridian is worth the cost.

Around Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has an incredible location on the monorail line for Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, as well as boat service and a walking path to Magic Kingdom and bus service to the other parks and Disney Springs.

You can also walk over to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort from the Grand Floridian. Sadly, we didn’t ride the monorail during our stay since Disney provided special transportation for the media event, but we did take the regular park bus to Animal Kingdom.

Even waiting on a bus at the Grand Floridian was a great experience. Since the walkway to the bus and the waiting area is completely covered, guests are shielded from Florida’s famously scorching sun and fickle pouring rain.

Despite being quite the upscale resort, the vibe, to my relief, was not stuffy. In fact, it was relaxed, friendly, and calm. This Value Gal didn’t feel at all out of place.

I especially liked the sweeping waterfront views throughout the resort and the quiet spots to sit along the beach or at the marina.

Video Tour of Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Check out our short video tour of the Grand Floridian below or, for a more in-depth dive into this resort, check out our live stream on Facebook.

Grand Floridian Pools

The Grand Floridian has two pools: the Courtyard Pool, which is a bit more central, and the Beach Pool, which is on the far-right of the resort, closest to the Wedding Pavilion and the walkway to the Polynesian.

We spent our pool time at the Beach Pool, and let me tell you, we really made a day of it. We grabbed some super comfy lounge chairs with an umbrella, took a few rides down the waterslide, and floated around for a few hours.

For a little extra Disney magic, a few ducks flew into the pool and swam around with us, completing my Disney Princess dreams. There was a lovely change room facility we used at the end of our day and poolside bar service. 

We ordered a couple of drinks and some fantastic lunch, but more on that later. I did find it a little odd that the hot tub is only at the Courtyard Pool and hope a future pool renovation brings one to the Beach Pool.

Sitting there at sunset you could almost feel like you were at Aulani!

Rock waterfall at the Grand Floridian Resort's pool - grand floridian worth the cost

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

Truthfully, there is a little less “Disney” in your face at this resort – it’s not about splashy characters, but instead you’ll find lots of hidden Mickey details, elegant nods to Alice in Wonderland in the kid’s splash area, and the very best in customer service which is something Disney is known around the world for.

I would love to see a little more artwork paying homage to characters and stories like at Disney’s Riviera Resort, but that’s my only (very small) complaint.

How did the experience rate out of 10?

  • Grand Floridian – 10
  • Value Resorts – 7

For the pools and overall resort atmosphere, the Grand Floridian is worth the cost.

The Deluxe In-Room Experience

Beds inside the room at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

Coming off a stay in a smaller, cozy room at Disney’s All-Star Movies, I was curious to see how the room here stacked up. We were located in the Sago Cay building, with a gorgeous balcony view over the marina, and less than 2 minutes from the Convention Center, which we visited multiple times for transportation to our events. Very convenient.

Even if you’re not attending a convention, I’d definitely recommend a stay in this building. You’re very close to the boat launch, the bus loading area, and the walking path to Magic Kingdom. Also, there’s a bunny outside I saw every day (I named him Willard, please say hello if you see him!).

I was worried an “Outer Building” would put me far from the action, but that wasn’t the case at all. And there was a lovely mini “lobby” in the building where you could wait for the rest of your party or just relax.

The mini "lobby" inside the Sago Bay building at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort - grand floridian worth the cost

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

My favorite part about this spot was the marina view and the proximity to Gasparilla Island Grill. It made our early morning coffee runs so easy! Yes, there is a Keurig in the room, but Gasparilla has a whole menu of Joffrey’s drinks, and I just can’t say no to some espresso in the morning (or noon … or night …).

Small soaps provided inside the room at the Grand Floridian resort

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

The bathroom had a split design, similar to the Value Resorts. Tub and toilet in one section, sink in the other. Instead of the large pumps of H20 products, we were treated to the mini-size toiletries, including lotion and mouthwash, which made me feel so fancy.

Double sinks made getting ready for events each day and evening really fast, and there was a little desk area that was great to whip up blog posts or download photos to send to our team for posting on social media. There were even plush robes in the closet that I made good use of even though we had very little time in the room.

The Wi-Fi connection was great, and the beds were just dreamy. I was honestly shocked by just how much more comfortable the beds were than what I’m used to with Value Resorts.

A view of the balcony outside the room

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

The one thing I wish there was more of? Counter space! The bathroom had plenty, but I love how the dressers in the Pop and All-Stars double as tables for me to layout and organize my park gear. I used the second bed in the room for that.

A Grand Tour of a Grand Floridian Room

How did the experience rate out of 10?

  • Grand Floridian – 8.5
  • Value Resorts – 7

For the luxury of the rooms, the Grand Floridian is worth the cost.

Delicious Dining at Grand Floridian

Breakfast Croissant with egg cheese and bacon from Gasparilla Island Grill

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

While we didn’t have the chance to dine at Citrico’s Narcoosees, Victoria & Alberts, or Grand Floridan Café on this visit, we were still very well fed. I may have started a new love affair with Gasparilla Island Grill, in case that wasn’t clear.

While we only had breakfast there each morning of our three-day stay, we ordered different things and all were equally amazing. My favorite was the breakfast croissant with egg, cheese, and bacon and served with crispy potato barrels. but don’t worry, they have Mickey Waffles too!

The full-service espresso bar stocked with Joffrey’s cold brew, espresso, lattes, and more sent my heart aflutter, and not just because of all the caffeine I consumed.

Mobile ordering here was quick and easy. We’d place an order in our room, and by the time we walked downstairs it was ready!

Lobster Sliders from Beaches Pool Bar and Grill at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort - food makes the grand floridian worth the cost

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

For lunch at Beaches Pool Bar & Grill, we ordered Lobster Sliders and Chicken Breast Nuggets doused in Buffalo Sauce, both with a side of crisp cucumber salad.

I dream of those chicken nuggets, let me tell you. To drink, my husband Danny opted for the refreshing Cucumber & Mint Vojito (vodka mojito), and I went for the citrusy Sunshine Margarita. Both were excellent, and I even got the requested extra salt on my marg.

Chicken Breast Nuggets tossed in buffalo sauce from Beaches Pool Bar and Grill at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

In this case, since we did no Table-Service dining, I think comparing a pool bar and a Quick Service location make this a pretty fair fight, and my beloved Value Resorts sadly lost.

How did the experience rate out of 10?

  • Grand Floridian – 11
  • Value Resorts – 7

Even for Quick-Service dining options, the Grand Floridian is worth the cost.

Did This Value Gal Become a Deluxe Devotee?

We had an incredible time at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and I’m shocked to say I could see myself staying there again someday (not just for the nuggets and coffee!). I really did miss the in-your-face Disney aesthetic and high energy of the Value Resorts though, so I think I’ll reserve Grand Flo stays for a shorter celebration trip! After all, I’m still a Value Gal.

Now that I have two Deluxe resorts under my belt, I wonder which I should stay at next…

How did the OVERALL experience rate?

  • Grand Floridian – 40.5 out of 40
  • Value Resorts – 29 out of 40

It’s safe to say a stay at Grand Floridian is worth the cost … but sometimes, it’s nice to save the money and enjoy a Value Resort.

Can’t wait to stay at Disney’s flagship deluxe resort? Or are you more of a Value Resort fan? Either way, book your dream getaway today—just fill out this form to get a quote on your stay from our partners at Destinations to Travel!

Thanks to Disney for hosting us on a 2-night Media Preview of the Most Magical Celebration on Earth where we got to tour and experience many of the exciting updates made for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, plus had the chance to stay at WDW’s flagship hotel, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. #disneyworld50 

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Written by Stephanie Shuster

Written by Stephanie Shuster

A lifelong Disney fan with a passion for globetrotting, I’m driven by a desire to build a community where people like me can let their Disney flag fly with pride. As CEO and Owner of WDW Magazine, I lead a team that connects thousands of Disney fans to the Most Magical Place on Earth from wherever they are.

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