I am finally back from my trip to Disney World. I stayed Memorial Day weekend at the GF and really enjoyed my time there. This was my first time staying at a resort on the monorail so I was reading reviews on here months in advance and really anticipating this trip! I had stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort last year and visited Citricos for dinner. I was in awe upon first entering the grand lobby. I am a young guy but there's just something about hearing the band and pianist play during the evening hours(They start at 3 and stop around 10pm) that really puts a smile on my face. The hotel really does take you back in time to the Victorian days! It's a very relaxing and peaceful experience.
So I will start from the beginning. I pulled up to the security gate and they do ask you for your last name and ID before letting you through. I pulled up to the circle and was immediately greeted by the bell and valet staff. I chose to self park vs the valet service which is a daily fee of $10. They took my luggage and gave me a retrieval tag. I then walked past what looked to be a manger who greeted me with a hello before I entered the gorgeous lobby. I had selected the online check-in service to cut down on time.
This was a bit of a grueling experience. The room was not ready and the receptionist was having some difficulties with making me new KTTW cards. She did, however, have an "earning my ears" ribbon on her name tag (I'm not mentioning her name because it was not her fault that she wasn't trained properly) so I cut her some slack. While she was doing something on the computer, I had asked her if I could be in Boca Chica but she ended up putting me in Sago Cay which was no big deal but she put me right next to the elevator on the second floor.
She asked if I needed a bellman and called their desk but no one answered. I guess they were busy but it's quite ridiculous to wait 5 mins for a bellman to assist you. I told her forget it we will walk the grounds and find the building ourselves.
The rooms are larger than a moderate room at Disney. and include a nice balcony and day bed. The furniture is quite dated for a place that charges nearly $400 a night. Disney finally got more TV channels which was nice but they look horrendous on the HD flat screens since Disney isn't supplying HD feeds. If you look down upon entering Sago you will notice the ugly tiling from the 80's. Again, this place needs a major renovation. The walls are also quite thin so you can hear the other person in the next room. I also had an adjoining room so that may have contributed to the noise factor.
Naturally the first thing you want to do when you get settled is go to the theme parks but by that time I was ready for a dip. The resort has two pools. A main pool & smaller zero entry pool with a slide & waterfall. I will also point out that the zero entry also had a chair lift for those who are handicapped. I mainly went to the main pool with the jacuzzi. The jacuzzi is quite large and crowded most of the time with lots of kids so go early in the morning for a nice peaceful dip. The pool area is again very dated. The tiling is 20 + years old and looks like it's going to break off at some point. I'm not sure what Disney is waiting for. There's countless reviews on here stating that Disney really needs to put some money into this place. I also want to point out that the hours of the pools have changed. It is no longer 24 hours. The pools close at 11 which is ridiculous since many of the theme parks remain open for extra magic hours and most people don't get back to the hotel until 1am. Another thing I'd like to mention is that they play a movie late in the night so you can swim in the pool and enjoy a nice Disney flick. There's an itinerary in the room listing what movies play each night. It turns out that the movies listed are never actually playing. So I wasn't too happy when I made the trip back from Epcot to watch Toy Story 3 when they were playing something else instead. The same thing happened the following evening when Tangled was scheduled.
I had a late night snack at Gasparilla's. The sandwich was made to order and tasted all right for a quick service meal. The breakfast is also quite good. They have a grand breakfast where you get 1 serving of everything or can double up on some Mickey waffles. A hidden gem is definitely the fitness center located past the construction. Ah yes, I forgot to mention the construction. I will get to that in the moment.
If Disney spent half the time, effort and money they did on the fitness center as they did the rooms, this place would be 5 stars! I didn't have much time to utilize it but everything is brand new equipment with everything you need to get in a good workout.
Now back to the construction. This phase is going to go on for sometime and at least 3/4 of the beach is blocked off due to the new DVC building that is going up. There are barricades around the zero entry pool and all along the path going to the Spa, Wedding pavilion, and eventually the Polynesian. The crane is also not the greatest sight in the world either. Noise, however, was minimal. I was never bothered by any of the construction except for the groundsman blowing leaves outside my balcony at 8am. The grounds are remarkably kept clean.
I'm going to wrap up my review since it is getting long but I wanted to be as thorough as possible. Is the Grand Floridian nice? Absolutely! Would I stay here again? I'm currently planning a trip in December. The GF is very expensive and some will argue a bit too expensive for what you get which is, I'm sorry to say, an outdated resort. However, being on the monorail saves you a lot of time if you plan to go to Magic Kingdom. I would suggest taking a car to Hollywood studios to save time because the buses are really hit or miss. I waited an hour for one on one of the days!
The final plus is that you can also see the fireworks from the boat launch area. They plug in the audio so you can enjoy exactly how it is in the park minus the crowds. I would give the Grand Floridian a 5 but until they put some more money into their "flagship resort"..I'm giving it a 4.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC