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Theming and Accommodations at The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa



By Dave Shute

For the first page of this review of the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, click here.

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT

The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian from yourfirstvisit.net

Because the two sets of options at the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Saratoga Springs are so different, and the Polynesian offering is so distinctive, for review purposes I count a total of twelve Disney Vacation CLub resorts, but rank only eleven.

Their overall ranking for first time family visitors is as follows:

  1. Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  2. Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
  4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
  5. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  6. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
  7. Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  8. Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
  9. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  10. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
  11. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Treehouse Villas area

My rankings exclude the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, as it does not offer One or Two Bedroom Villas. If the ranking were based solely on Studios, the Polynesian offering would be near the top.

These resorts are available to anyone to reserve through the regular Walt Disney World website or resort reservations phone number at 407-939-7675.

They also are available to the general public at great discounts through renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member. (They are also of course available to these members themselves.)

THE THEMING OF THE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT

The Villas at the Grand Floridian

The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort are in a smaller 5 and 6 story T-shaped building at the south end of the Grand Floridian property, close to the Beach Pool, the spa Senses, and the Wedding Pavilion.

Their general external theming is very consistent with that of the rest of the Grand Floridian, recalling gingerbread Victorian-inspired seaside resorts, especially the Hotel Del Coronado.

To get to them by car, turn right after the security gate, and park behind the spa Senses. This is much more convenient than the lousy self-parking at the main Grand Floridian Resort. The lot requires a key card or MagicBand, and has an intercom to request it be opened when you arrive for check-in and don’t yet have either.

There’s two paths from the Villas to the main Grand Floridian building–this covered path, most convenient for accessing the monorail, bus stop and main lobby…

…and a path along the shore that goes past the Beach Pool and beach.

Inside the Villas at the Grand Floridian building itself you’ll find this lobby, with check in and concierge services at the desks–though I’ve heard from some that check-in is not always available…so if you are driving, ask where to check in at the security gate…

Also in the first floor public area is a penguin fountain…

…framed by other sculpture.

This meant to be reminiscent of Mary Poppins, but is perhaps too subtle.

Much more fun is the lighting above the fountain…

…especially when viewed from the sixth floor.

Other interior decoration at the Grand Floridian Villas is fussy, but not so fussy as at the main resort. Note the carpet and wall detailing.

One somewhat off-note comes from the wall art in the common areas–most of which celebrates the Grand Floridian itself.

The Grand Floridian is Disney World’s most expensive resort, but it’s never been among the best loved or iconic hotels there…so the self-celebratory tone doesn’t work that well…

But despite these nits, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian is a very impressive accomplishment. The floor plans in every room type are innovative and/or broke new ground among DVC options at Walt Disney World, with really only Old Key West challenging them on the livability front.

But Old Key West is much weaker on resort amenities and convenience.  Since the Villas at the Grand Floridian share in the great amenities at the Grand Floridian itself, overall it becomes a top choice for families who don’t care much about its lack of distinctive kid appeal.  

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT

All Disney Vacation Club resorts except the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows have studio rooms, One-Bedroom Villas, and Two-Bedroom Villas. Most have Grand Villas as well.

Floor plans of all four room types at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa are discussed below.

STUDIOS AT THE VILLAS AT THE GRAND FLORIDIAN

Floor Plan Studio at Disney's Grand Floridian from yourfirstvisit.net

Studios at the Villas at the Grand Floridian are larger than those at any DVC resort other than Old Key West.

 

They are also one of only a few DVC studios that sleeps five and has three sleeping surfaces (the others are the studios at the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the BoardWalk Villas, and the Beach Club Villas.)  Two sleeping spots are on the queen bed, two more on the couch that folds out into another queen, and the fifth sleeping spot is a Murphy Bed that swings down below the TV.

Another distinction in these spaces is the tub/shower combo on one side of the divided bath, and a shower on the other side. This creates a much more flexible bath.

Like all DVC studios, these spaces also come with a kitchenette including a sink, mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, and coffee pot.

Standard view studios are typically about the same price as standard view regular rooms at the main Grand Floridian Resort on weeknights, and less expensive on weekends.

Regular rooms at the main building are larger, and the beds there are more comfortable. (The queens are similar–it’s the sofa bed and Murphy bed that are less comfortable.)  The baths are better in the Studios.

So the call for many families will be the trade-off of the better bath, mini-kitchen (actually, only the microwave and toaster, as standard rooms have coffee makers and mini-fridges too) and lower price, vs. size and more comfortable beds.

ONE BEDROOM VILLAS AT THE VILLAS AT THE GRAND FLORIDIAN

Floor Plan One Bedroom Villa at Disney's Grand Floridian from yourfirstvisit.netOne Bedroom Villas are larger than any other such DVC spaces except those at Old Key West. They sleep five–two in the king in the master, two on a fold-out queen in the living room, and the fifth in a living room Murphy Bed.

Like most DVC offerings except Kidani Village and Bay Lake Tower, Grand Floridian One Bedroom Villas have only one bath for the five people they hold. But that one bath is large, divided, and easily accessible from all points in the villa.

The kitchen, dining and living rooms spaces are quite comfortable for a family of five, so on balance I’d say that for most families Grand Floridian livability is comparable to that at the villas with two baths.

See this page for photos of the master bedroom and bath, and this for the combined kitchen/dining/living area.

TWO BEDROOM VILLAS AT THE VILLAS AT THE GRAND FLORIDIAN

Floor Plan Two Bedroom Lockoff Villa Disney's Grand Floridian from yourfirstvisit.netTwo Bedroom Villas at the Grand Floridian come in two variants–lock-offs, that combine a studio and a One Bedroom Villa, and “dedicated” two bedrooms that have a slightly different layout for the second bedroom.

The floor plan for a lock-off is above; a floor plan of a dedicated villa–and discussion of the differences between the two types of second bedrooms–is here.

Dedicated rooms sleep nine, and lock-offs sleep ten.

As in the one bedroom, the master sleeps two and living room three.  The second bedroom sleeps 4-5, depending on layout.

Dining Area in One and Two Bedroom Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa from yourfirstvisit.net

These two bedroom villas are very comfortable for larger families, having more seating spots both at the dining table and in the living room than many other DVC two bedrooms.

Only Old Key West, Kidani, and Bay Lake Tower are comparable in their effectiveness for larger families, and only Old Key West Two Bedroom Villas are larger.

GRAND VILLAS AT THE VILLAS AT THE GRAND FLORIDIAN

Floor Plan Grand Villa at Disney's Grand Floridian from yourfirstvisit.net

Grand Villas at the Villas at the Grand Floridian are by far the largest on property, and the most livable.

Most DVC Grand Villas are twice the size of a two-bedroom villa.  This lets them slip easily into the overall space plan and exterior architectural rhythm.

Grand Villas at the Grand Floridian are much larger than twice the size of a two bedroom–almost 350 square feet larger.

This is possible because the architects

  1. Put them at the end of the halls, instead of along the side, and
  2. Did not constrain them to the width of the rest of the building.

Grand Villa Location in Space Plan at Villas at the Grand Floridian

See the image above, where the Grand Villas are circled. Note the extensions of the spaces on both top and bottom.

As a result, the six Grand Villas at the Grand Floridian are stacked like really expensive baloney–see the photo of the exterior of all six above.

Like most other Grand Villas, these rooms sleep 12.

There’s 3 bays of bedrooms–two sleeping four each in queens, and one sleeping two on a king–and two bays of combined kitchen/living/dining space.

What’s distinctive about the Grand Floridian Grand Villas–besides the size–is the use of the 6th bay, and what that means for the final two people the room will sleep.

In all the other DVC Villas except the Boardwalk Villas, the sixth bay is kinda wasted (long discussion here), and in a not-unrelated point, the 11th and 12th sleeping spots are in one of the common areas, in a fold-down couch.

In contrast, at the Grand Floridian the sixth bay is set up as a separately walled-off media room, and that’s where the last sleeping spots are located.  In effect, it’s a fourth bedroom!

There are some flaws in the design.  One of the two queen bedrooms is quite small, and does not have its own private bath.  This could lead to simmering jealousies and bitterness among family members.

Also, the ground floor Grand Villa is right next to one of the more convenient first-floor doors to the rest of the building from the Beach Pool area, leading this, I suspect, to be a bit noisy.

But overall, these Grand Floridian Grand Villas are among the best designed among all the Disney World DVC options, with only the Copper Creek Grand Villas in the same class.

PHOTO TOUR OF A TWO BEDROOM VILLA AT THE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT

This review continues here!

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