Just 3 days after our wedding back in June 2014 David and I made our first big “we’re married now” decision: we spent aaaallllllllll our money and became Disney Vacation Club Members! We’ve only gotten to stay at our “home” at The Grand Floridian once since the purchase but we love it so much that even when we’re staying elsewhere we still clear out some park time to go relax at the Grand instead!

Grand Floridian Villas Review Once Upon a Mickey Bar: gluten free in Disney World #disneyvacationclub #disney #travel

This next paragraph is all for you numbers folks!

I’ll write more about DVC membership in another post but in a nutshell, what sold us was a combination of my love for Disney and workable numbers. As a DVC member we get a certain number of “points” per year (for us 100), and each DVC room costs a certain  number of “points” per night (changing seasonally, by room type, and by hotel). These points renew yearly for 50 years so over the course of our ownership we’ll get a total of 5,000 points. For those convinced by math, the quick & dirty estimate is that Grand Floridian points currently rent for a profit of about $13 x 5000 points = $65000 value. We paid $16,500 for the initial purchase and pay about $550 a year in maintenance (gotta keep those grounds green!), so a total expendature of $44000 over our lifetime still has us seeing green. Even more important than the worth of the points, however, is the value they give you. A room at the Grand costs around $600 per night, but we pay an average of about 24 points (rent price- $15 per point) or $360 taking our room costs from “that’s never ever ever going to be in our budget” to “alright, we can manage it.”

All the numbers aside, the other key factor in our purchase was just how much do we love Disney? Do we love it enough to use all those points? IMO, this blog is answer enough!

Okay, on to the review!

Grand Floridian Villas Review Once Upon a Mickey Bar: gluten free in Disney World #disneyvacationclub #disney #travel

The Grand Floridian Villas really have the best of everything, but let’s start with hotel features. Aside from impeccably managed gardens, daily power washing to keep those iconic white walls white, and a sandy beachfront with some seriously comfy loungers, the Grand Floridian Villas also feature two pools each with a pool bar and a large Alice in Wonderland themed spray ground. Other amenities include clay tennis courts, the Senses Spa, (admittedly short) jogging trails, better-than-your-average-marketplace shops like Basin and fine men’s & women’s clothing shops. In other words, if this wasn’t Disney, there’d be plenty to keep you happy right on site. BUT this IS Disney and since The Grand Floridian Villas are right on the monorail line it’s incredibly convenient to go wherever you want. Whether you’re heading to a park or hotel, having the convenience of Magic Kingdom literally next door means that you can make whatever transfers you need easily. Oh and if that wonderful monorail breaks down for the millionth time because well, let’s not talk about broken monorails here, there’s the boat!

Grand Floridian Villas Review Once Upon a Mickey Bar: gluten free in Disney World #disneyvacationclub #disney #travel

I love this cute little guy! I’ve never had to wait more than 5 minutes for it but that might be sheer pixie dust and dumb luck!

Okay, what you’re all here for, food!

The Grand Floridian Villas are by far my favorite place to be a gluten intolerant diner.

The Grand Floridan Villas have more on site food options than any other resort. Here we go:

  • Counter Service: Pool Bar, Gasparilla Grill
  • Casual Table Service: 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Cafe, Mizner’s Lounge
  • Expensive Table Service: Narcoosee’s, Citricos
  • All Your Life Savings Table Service: Victoria & Albert’s

Okay so Disney classification isn’t quite so broken up in the Table Service, but it helps to see the different possibilities. I’ll be updating these with reviews as I post them but a few words on the ones I have tried:

Gasparilla is possibly my favorite counter service anywhere in Disney for the simple reason that they can make me super tasty gluten free Mickey Waffles! The managers are always very friendly and the meal is only about $7 (comes with breakfast meat too) making it a combination of delicious and affordable rare anywhere in Disney!

Our only experience in Mizner’s Lounge was for late night drinks one evening although they do also have a limited menu of smaller plates and desserts. Our drinks they were ridiculously good, mine had elderflower syrup which I just can’t resist! Plus the location right behind the band provided wonderful music the whole time.

We ate at Victoria & Albert’s on our honeymoon and oh man it was an experience. 4 hours of course after course, granted they’re all small but it’s a long time to be eating! They made me a gluten free meal that completely didn’t feel gluten free, I felt just as pampered and taken care of as my gluten eating hubby, they even made me a gluten free version of each of the three specialty breads he was served! The food ranged from “this is the single best bite of this type of food I’ll ever have in my whole life” (aka the salmon cooked to 3 temperatures in the same piece of fish!) to “that was weird” (aka pheasant feet). It was a lot of fun but more of the once a decade special experiences. Don’t tell my hubby but I would probably rather go to Bluezoo for the best entree sized fish I’ve ever had every trip than go back regularly, although maybe for a 10th wedding anniversary! 😉

Grand Floridian Villas Review Once Upon a Mickey Bar: gluten free in Disney World #disneyvacationclub #disney #travel

Just behind that amazing chandelier is where the Grand Floridian musicians set up every night for beautiful live music! Behind that is Minzer’s Lounge where you can get a great drink and smaller bites to eat.

Here’s a few little extras we love!

You can walk to the Poly in about 5 minutes for even more gorgeous lounge spots, great food (all the dole whip!), and the single best latte on property- thank YOU Kona Cafe Coffee Bar!

The rooms are so beautiful, I found a few pictures we took the day we bought DVC, they’re in the slider below. The split bathroom design even in the studios means there’s a shower room, an open double vanity, and then another toilet/bathtub room. The main shower is enormous, like 4 people could comfortably fit and there’s a bench to sit on and the entire thing is gorgeous white and grey marble and whew! It’s just too much! One day when I build my dream home I’m literally just going to show the architect pictures of the Grand Floridian Villas and say “make me that.” We haven’t had the chance to stay in the 1 bedroom but, again, they’re just my dream apartment only in Florida instead of back home in Philly.

There’s always live music. Aside from at night when the band starts playing and you can sit right behind them having a delicious drink in Minzer’s, there’s also a pianist who plays regularly during the day.

It seems to be beta-running a new bus system where there’s a big tv screen that tells you when the next bus is going to arrive (during busy hours there’s often a cast member there with even more accurate info). This was true both when we stayed there in March 2015 and when we just pretended we were staying there in December 2015.

Fireworks! It depends on what room you have but ours (facing the main building and the monorail and the pretty little fountain) had a great view of Wishes! every night!

Summary: The Grand Floridian Villas are our absolute favorite resort on property. From the incredible grounds to the amazing food to the can’t be beat location, we truly love our DVC “home.”

Grand Floridian Villas Review Once Upon a Mickey Bar: gluten free in Disney World #disneyvacationclub #disney #travel Grand Floridian Villas Review Once Upon a Mickey Bar: gluten free in Disney World #disneyvacationclub #disney #travel

Okay I might love this fountain a little too much!

What do you think, do you have a favorite   resort hideaway   spot on property? What do you look for in a Disney hotel?