Top theme park hotel spotlight: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
In preparation for the announcement of this year's Theme Park Insider Awards
on July 4, we're looking at some of the top contenders in the four award categories. Today, we start our look at the top five hotels to date in the Theme Park Insider reader ratings. (By the way, both these and the restaurants that Scott Joseph's reviewing
are being profiled in no particular order, so don't read anything into that.)
This week, we spotlight Disney's Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Disney says that the Grand Floridian "conjures the splendor of the Sunshine State's golden era." West coasters know, though, that the Grand Floridian borrowed its look not from a Florida landmark, but from San Diego's Hotel del Coronado. Of course, the Hotel del Coronado earned its fame as the setting for the classic Marilyn Monroe flick "Some Like It Hot," where the hotel stood in for... a Florida seaside resort. So it all evens out, I guess.
Architecture aside, the Grand Floridian earns raves from many readers for its service, its fine dining and not least for its proximity to the Magic Kingdom. It's the closest hotel to the world's most popular theme park. As with other Disney hotels, guests get free transportation to and from the Orlando airport, as well as admission to Extra Magic Hours at the Disney theme parks. But the Grand Floridian is one of just three Disney resorts with monorail service.
No, it's not cheap, but none of the top hotels vying for the Theme Park Insider Award are. But a once-in-a-lifetime splurge can be worth the expense if it delivers a once-in-a-lifetime thrilling experience.
Does the Grand Floridian deliver to justify its price? Is it the best theme park hotel around? If you've stayed at the Grand Floridian in the past 12 months, please click over to its TPI listing page and submit a rating and review. We'd love to hear what you think.
I agree, very nice, but the most expensive on the property (on average, I think). Still, good representative of the fine Magic Kingdom Resorts
After a week-long Disney Cruise last year for my partner's 40th birthday, I planned a few nights at the Grand Floridian too, so we could hit the parks for a few days.
The Grand Floridian earns it's place as DisneyWorld's flagship Resort for good reason. It sets the benchmark for the other deluxe Resorts.......and that's saying something because they are pretty much all of a high standard.
Actually, the resort went through a complete room rehab only a few years ago. The style of the Grand is usually described as "Victorian, but not that stodgy, dark, and heavy Victorian, but the end of the era when things were getting brighter." I think the rooms do a pretty good job of conveying that feeling.
I've stayed at the Grand Floridian at least three times, from the so-called cheap rooms to a concierge-level suite in the main building.
I was thinking about monorail travel time, where I've found the trip to/from the GF a few ticks quicker than that from the Contemporary.
When I think of the flagship resort of WDW, I go with Contemporary, but that might just be me!
The monorail goes clockwise from MK to Contemporary to the TTC to the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian. So, from MK it is always quicker to the Contemporary, and from the resorts, it is always quicker from the Grand Floridian to MK. So, whether the monorail route is quicker depends on whether you're going to or leaving MK.
FWIW, I've ridden it both directions over the years. I haven't been to the MK since Christmas, so I don't know which way things are running these days, but last time I was at the GF, I could ride the monorail straight to the MK without having go around to the other resorts.
I've stayed here, I think, about 40 days over the years starting on my honeymoon many, many years ago. I like the little touches: chestnuts roasting on an open fire at Christmas, strawberries on the pillows at night dressed up in chocolate tuxedos, and the oh-so-comfortable robes they used to have (not anymore--the new ones are thin). One time my wife remarked how much she liked a particular cosmetic they had and asked where she could buy some. She was told it was made special for the Grand and couldn't be purchased. When we got home, there was a year's supply of it waiting in our mailbox!
My random thoughts on the GF. I've stayed many, many places on WDW property, and to be honest I wouldn't stay there again. My wedding photos were taken there - we always visit the GF when we're in town - and I will ALWAYS come back to have tea at the tea room. But, I found the rooms to be 'stuffy' (not in temperature, but decor), and the staff to match. It's almost as if they train the GF staff to be that way - not very 'Disney-esque'. Very stuffy and stodgy...
As someone mentioned on another thread (another site), the top of the line hotels look very nice, but they just don't look Disneyesque. The value resorts in Orlando are the most Disneyish. Even if I could afford the best ones, I think I would still go for the all stars and pop century. Love the theming.
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