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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Grand Floridian Garden View Dormer Room (Refurbished)

The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is Walt Disney World's flagship resort.  The resort opened in 1988 and was the third hotel to be added to the Walt Disney World Resort - and the first added after Disney World opened in 1971 (Polynesian and Contemporary resorts opened in '71).  The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is comprised of the main building which houses suites and concierge-level guest rooms, six outer buildings (one of which is dedicated to concierge), and most recently, a Disney Vacation Club building.

While the Grand Floridian is considered by many to be the most opulent resort at Walt Disney World (well, perhaps until the Four Seasons opens in August), the rates are not incredibly unreasonable compared to other Disney properties.  The nightly rate of a Garden View room at the Grand Floridian is comparable to that of the equivalent category at the Polynesian and Contemporary resorts, or a lagoon view at the Yacht & Beach Club or Boardwalk Inn.

I put a good bit of thought into selecting our room.  While you can't pick out your exact room number with a standard room, Disney's online resort check-in allows you to make up to two room preference requests - whether location, building number, near transportation or elevator, or high or low floor.  On both previous stays at the Grand Floridian, I had chosen to be located near transportation, and our room was in Sago Cay, overlooking a bit of the lagoon and the monorail.  I polled my family on if they wanted to be in Sago Cay, again, or if they'd like to switch it up, and Rachel was the first to request a different building.  I narrowed it down to Boca Chica or Big Pine Key, and from looking at the map, I determined that we were more likely to have a decent view in Boca Chica, so I selected that building as one of my preferences.  Another thing that worried me was having a view obstructed by the pool house, so I selected "high floor" as my other preference with the idea that in case we were unfortunate enough to be stuck behind the pool house, we'd at least be able to see over it.

Our room (8432) was located on the fourth floor of Boca Chica and was not directly behind the pool house.  Because I had selected a high floor, we were assigned to a dormer room which is a bit smaller than a standard room and has a smaller balcony, but some added character with vaulted ceilings (dormer room is also a preference option with online check-in).  I should note that not all fourth floor rooms are dormer rooms, as the center part of the building has a fifth floor which consists entirely of dormers.

Grand Floridian Dormer Room

I hadn't really been keeping up with Grand Floridian updates, so I was really surprised to see that the room had been refurbished since the last time we stayed there in 2011 (room refurbishment at the Grand Floridian took place in February 2014).  The last time we were there, our room looked like this...

Yes, that is Rachel passed out on the bed.  This is what she gets for ruining my room photo.

While I enjoyed the updated look and break from heavy floral patterns, I wasn't sure if the new decor was too plush and not-so Victorian.  I can understand why Disney made the change, as I'm sure this update is much more appealing to modern-day guests, but there was a tiny bit of my that missed the old rooms.... especially the Mickey Mouse lamp.

The daybed has been replaced with one which looks more like a regular sofa (and is more comfortable to sit on), though I believe it still folds into a single bed in the same manner.

Grand Floridian Dormer Room

The beds seemed a bit smaller to me, and I wasn't convinced that they were true queens.  However, they were ridiculously comfortable, and the new linens were incredibly soft.

Grand Floridian Dormer Room

I had never stayed in a dormer room before, but I learned that in the past, dormers had not had daybeds because the desk was positioned on the opposite wall where the daybed now sat.  The new desk is a bit smaller than the old one, and it felt a bit snug in the corner there... now I know why!  Nonetheless, it served as a convenient nightstand and charging station for me.

Grand Floridian Dormer Room

When my mother was unpacking, she said, "I wish they didn't have this prissy little chair here."  Then she caught me sitting in it a few minutes later, "Oh, so there is a use for that prissy little chair."  It is a little bit silly, and I would have preferred to have extra drawer storage... perhaps a larger entertainment center.  If we were staying for more than four nights, we would have been fighting for storage.

Grand Floridian Dormer Room

There was plenty of hanging space in the closet, and we did use all of those hangers.  But we need more drawers!  Another thing to note is that the luggage racks of yesteryear are no longer useful with the new hard case suitcases which open in the middle.

Grand Floridian Closet

The vanity is the same as before, but the floor has been updated from carpet to wood.  Visually, the bathroom is my favorite part of the refurbishment because it maintains the airy, Victorian feel but with a clean and more updated look.  However, function-wise, there is not nearly enough storage.  Our vanity was cluttered with toiletry bags.  They really should add some shelves under the vanity - they don't even have to be built-in.  Our room was not handicap accessible (to ADA requirements), so there is no need for the vanity to be open underneath like that.

Some luxurious touches include embossed tissues and a large assortment of Disney's H2O Spa products.

Grand Floridian Embossed Tissues

Rachel loved the foot rub. I didn't use their toiletries, but I am told that they are of much higher quality than the typical hotel soap (I sure hope so), and they even sell large bottles in the gift shop.

Grand Floridian Toiletries

The shower head is a high-quality adjustable rainfall type. While it doesn't come out of the ceiling like in our rainfall shower on the Disney Fantasy, the water pressure is good, and there are several different settings.

Grand Floridian Bathroom

Also, the Grand Floridian is the only Walt Disney World resort to offer turn-down service to all rooms. We didn't really take advantage, since twice turn-down came when we were in the room.

Grand Floridian Turn-Down

But we never reject chocolates. Especially not beautifully-wrapped chocolates.

Grand Floridian Chocolates

The balconies of the dormer rooms are smaller than the standard balconies.  However, small is completely relative because the standard balconies at the Grand Floridian are HUGE!  The dormer balconies are still large enough for two chairs and a table.

Grand Floridian Dormer Balcony

Grand Floridian Dormer Room

And I loved our view.  I really liked having a view of the resort and pool.  It was much more entertaining than the lagoon/monorail view that we've had in the past.

Grand Floridian Dormer Balcony

Though we would have appreciated more storage, overall, I loved the room.  Honestly, it's about time that the Grand Floridian get an update and ditch the duvets.  While I was sad to see the Mickey Mouse desk lamp go, the decor update is clean and really helps make the Grand Floridian feel like a luxury resort.  And even though it was a bit smaller, I did enjoy the dormer room for the vaulted ceilings and added charm.  It is a shame that they didn't continue the true dormer over to the Disney Vacation Club addition (and I'll talk more about that megalodon building later).  It is a beautiful resort, and I would definitely stay here again in the future!

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