So, you’re planning a trip to Disney World, and you’ve narrowed it down between two of the most ICONIC Disney resorts in existence (you lucky, lucky person!).
But how do you choose between Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa? Well, let’s dive into the deets to see which one is right for you!
Choosing between the Beach Club and the Grand Floridian, is like choosing a favorite child, a favorite Disney cupcake, or between a Dole Whip or a Mickey Pretzel — there’s enough love to go around! But just like cupcakes and classic Disney snacks (and maybe your kids, too… only you know your family dynamic…😂), there’s a certain flavor that might just hit the spot for what you’re looking for.
There’s no doubt that Disney vacations are expensive, and no one wants buyer’s remorse when it comes to what can usually be the most EXPENSIVE part of your Disney trip. We’re approaching this chaos-agent of a decision with as much logic as possible, so we’re breaking it down into five categories:
- Common Ground
We’re putting each resort through these paces to see where they stand and which one may be speaking to you for your Disney trip.
Before we start down the rabbit hole into the Wonderland of their differences, let’s review the similarities of these resorts. These resorts are both Disney Deluxe Resorts, so they will be at a similar price point, with similar room sizes, and the same perks. They both have close proximity to the Disney Parks, and even within walking distance! And both offer Disney Vacation Club Villas as additional accommodations.
For the Beach Club, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $534 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $4,763 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit.
For the Grand Floridian, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $780 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $5,502 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit.
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Just like our ol’ Friend, Chandler Bing, would say, “Could these resorts BE any more different?” Both the Yacht Club and the Grand Flo are Deluxe resorts and offer the poshest of Disney’s accommodations and perks, but that doesn’t mean they look the same!
Not to be confused with its up-tight and snooty sister resort, the Yacht Club, the Beach Club is where you can relax, let your hair down, and wander through the lobby in bare feet with your bucket of collected seashells.
The Beach Club steers clear of those bold nautical colors and embraces pastels and the soft tones of the beach at sunset.
Though we wouldn’t mind some more Disney touches, these rooms are soft, cozy, and embrace the beach cottage vibe of New England. Luckily, Disney heard our concerns and is planning to update and retheme the rooms to include some magical Disney references.
Until then, though, the Beach Club’s last renovatation and updated was back in 2016, for a more sophisticated appearance with simple features and softer coloring. These rooms don’t have the personality that you can find at the Contemporary and Polynesian. So, if you’re looking for a room with some “character,” the Beach Club may not be your jam.
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Cross the threshold of Disney World’s flagship resort into the Victorian age of high tea, dressing for dinner, and gloved-hands with pinkies-out. The lobby and restaurants are grandiose and luxurious, almost to the point of making guests reflect on imposter syndrome rather than a welcoming presence. The meticulous grounds and pristine white buildings with their brilliant red-tiled roofs definitely provide that grand allure you’d expect from a flagship resort.
And the lobby delivers on that jaw-dropping “oh wow” moment (especially around the holidays), but it seems like Disney blew the budget on the common areas, and then tightened the purse strings on the room sitch. There are some very nice, and perfectly adequate furnishings, but the rooms themselves just don’t scream lavish.
The Grand Floridian standard rooms haven’t seen the TLC that the Contemporary and Polynesian rooms have. So, there’s hope out there that the Grand Floridian rooms will be up soon for the next room renovation, but in the meantime, the Grand Floridian rooms don’t quite deliver for the price tag assigned to them.
This could boil down to your preference. Are you looking for a luxurious resort that feels glamorous and Victorian? Or would you prefer to feel like you’re spending the summer in an Atlantic beach town, and getting ready to head to a clam bake? Both resorts deliver beautifully on their themes, but when it comes down to rooms, the Beacb Club may have the edge — especially when the updates to the rooms there are complete.
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Pools, splash pads, hot tubs, and lounge chairs, vacation just doesn’t feel completed without spending some time by the pool. Which of these resorts is the aquatic champion of water lounging? Only one way to find out…
The Beach Club may be understated when it comes to its lobby and resort rooms, but it is not to be outdone in the pool category. Disney’s Beach Club shares a pool complex with its neighboring resort, the Yacht Club, Stormalong Bay.
Stormalong Bay is a destination on all its own. This pool complex is almost like its own mini-water park, with sand at the bottom and even a lazy river! So, your kiddos can take advantage of the ‘shipwrecked’ themed water slide, while you leisurely float around the lazy river, so just relax on of the many lounge chairs.
Stormalong Bay is also nestled in close to Beaches and Cream, an iconic ice cream shop, providing over-the-top milkshakes, sundaes, and comfort junk food essentials like burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
The Grand Floridian is not to be outdone in the pool category; it hosts two pools as well: the Beach Pool and the Courtyard Pool. And though both pools are pretty, the most memorable experience might be at the Mad Hatter splash pad.
And because it’s the Grand Floridian and sophisticated luxury is this resort’s brand, there are plenty of poolside lounge chairs and cabanas available to rent for the day as you relax by the pool and nosh on some peeled-grapes and sip on some sweet tea, like we’re sure Victorian-age vacationers did back in the day.
There’s no real loser in this category if you’ve found relaxation and joy, but our heart leans towards the Beach Club, because that pool is just epic!
Toes in the sand, relaxing down a lazy river with a shipwreck-themed water slide. We’ll take the Beach Club’s pool oasis just tips the scale over the Grand Floridian’s pool situation.
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Because we are Disney FOOD Blog, we take food seriously. Very. Seriously. And we love it all. We love the cheap, comfort of plastic cheese, and we love the high-brow sophistication of a wine flight or a multi-course pre-fixe meal. We don’t discriminate; we are a lover of all foods. Since food is SO important, let’s see who these resorts stack up against each other in the restaurant category.
Hurricane Hanna’s is a pool bar, tucked under the Stormalong Bay waterslide that provides fixes for your hunger without having to wander too far from the pool.
The Beach Club is home to one lounge, one quick-service market, a table service option, and a Character dining restaurant. Not to mention its close proximity to Yacht Club and all of those dining options.
The Beach Club Marketplace is the quick service location and gift shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Once you make your way through the gift shop you’ll find yourself in the quick service dining area, complete with a sandwich counter. Guests will find basic staples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in addition to a dry goods section (think boxes of cereal, peanut butter, and other essentials you might need). This is also the location for filling your Refillable Resort Mugs.
Hot breakfast choices include a breakfast platter, pastries, and oatmeal. Lunch and dinner options include sandwiches, salads, and some truly tasty baked mac and cheese dishes. Oodles of tempting sweet treats are often found in the refrigerated cases, so keep an eye out for specialty cupcakes and more!
Ah, Beaches & Cream Soda Shop… THIS is the place to go for classic diner eats and GIGANTIC ice cream sundaes in Walt Disney World! Tucked between the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts, this authentic soda counter restaurant is decked out in pastels and is complete with a jukebox! Though the sundaes and shakes here are sizable no matter which sweet treat you order, Beaches & Cream is especially well known as being home to the famous Kitchen Sink: an eight-scoop ice cream sundae (made for sharing with the whole group) served up with EVERY TOPPING in the house! Beaches and Cream underwent a renovation to expand the dining space and reopened in late 2019, so this formerly small spot can accommodate many more guests these days. And you can always grab some ice cream (or hard shakes & floats for adults) at the Beaches & Cream To Go Window, too!
Cape May Cafe is located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, just inside the lobby! Cape May Cafe currently features an all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast buffet with Disney pals! Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast is one of the best places to see some of the most beloved Disney characters outside of the parks. Though characters may vary, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy can often be found at Cape May Cafe, all dressed up for a day at the beach!
Though Disney characters are not present during Dinner, the evening meal serves up something unique, as all-you-can-eat surf-and-turf gets the spotlight, with plenty for landlubbers and seafood fans to enjoy!
Located directly next to Cape May Cafe near the lobby of the Beach Club Resort, Martha’s Vineyard Lounge is a relaxing spot to get a bite and a drink in the evening hours. Specialty cocktails, craft drafts, wines, and a full bar menu are available. And, like Cape May Cafe, the cuisine (a small selection of appetizers) is inspired by a Northeastern clambake, with comforting seafood favorites like clam chowder served alongside a few pub classics like chicken wings.
Sometimes, Martha’s Vineyard Lounge will also host drawing or painting activities, so be on the lookout for those.
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Beaches Pool Bar and Courtyard Pool Bar provide fixes for your hunger without ever leaving either of the Grand Floridian’s pools.
Grand Floridian is home to two Signature dining restaurants, Citricos and Narcoossee’s. Citricos is an upscale restaurant serving American dishes with Mediterranean influences. Reserve the Chef’s Domain for a private table and specially prepared menu. Narcoossee’s, another Signature Dining restaurant, specializes in seafood. This beautiful, Victorian-inspired building sits ashore on the Seven Seas Lagoon, offering dramatic views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
Enchanted Rose Bar and Lounge is inspired by the live-action Beauty and the Beast film. Guests can indulge in gourmet bites and crafted cocktails while enjoying any one of the four themed rooms.
Garden View Tea Room hasn’t yet reopened, but when it does, it offers Afternoon Tea with delicious finger sandwiches, pastries, cheese, and fruit. The beautiful view, elegant atmosphere, and fine china make this an exquisite experience.
Gasparilla Island Grill is a counter service restaurant with a standard food court menu, and it is open for guests 24-hours a day. Dine outdoors overlooking the Marina (with a view of Cinderella Castle) when the weather permits.
The more casual Table Service options at the Grand Floridian are 1900 Park Fare and Grand Floridian Cafe. 1900 Park Fare, when it reopens, provides popular character dining experiences! At breakfast, guests are entertained by Mary Poppins and friends while the young and young-at-heart feast on Mickey waffles. Dinner is a more stately affair hosted by Cinderella and Prince Charming. Grand Floridian Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an airy, casual setting. You’ll find American fare being served at your table overlooking the hotel’s elegant courtyard.
Victoria and Albert’s is a AAA Five Diamond Award winner offering an exclusive dining experience. This Signature Dining restaurant pampers guests with personalized menus, dedicated servers, and long-stemmed roses.
A Chef’s Table is also available to those who’d like to experience the most exclusive dining experience in Disney World. Also, the Queen Victoria Room is available for a bit more privacy.
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It’s so hard to designate a clear winner for food — because we love it all! If you’re in the market for fine dining, then the Grand Floridian is for you with Citricos, Narcoossee’s (when it reopens), and the poshest of posh at Victoria & Albert’s.
And though the Grand Floridian offers some casual bites at Gasparilla Island Grill and Grand Floridian Cafe, the Beach Club is the queen of the casual fare with Beach and Cream Ice Cream Shop and Cape May Cafe.
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Do these deluxe resorts offer anything different when it comes to transportation? Let’s see!!
The Beach Club is considered an “EPCOT-area” resort. It sits on Crescent Lake, next to Yacht Club Resort, and across the lake from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. This resort is situated in between TWO Disney parks, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Yep, that’s right, you can walk or enjoy a relaxing boat ride on a Friendship Cruise boat to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
If Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs is your destination, then you can board one of Disney’s buses to transport you over to these parks.
And as if walkways, boats, and busses weren’t enough options for you, Beach Club guests are also within walking distance of the EPCOT Skyliner station. This means you have easy access to the other Skyliner resorts if you want to go exploring other resorts or just have a relaxing cruise through the sky.
The Grand Floridian is also on the Monorail loop. It’s the second stop after the Polynesian on the way to the Magic Kingdom. If Magic Kingdom is your destination, there is also a boat option to sail across Seven Seas Lagoon to the front steps of the Magic Kingdom. You can also get your steps in by strolling the walkway over to Magic Kingdom. Though this resort is closer to the Magic Kingdom than the Polynesian, that walk is still about 15-20 minutes.
If Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs is your destination, then you can board one of Disney’s busses to transport you over to these parks.
If EPCOT is your park for the day, the easiest option is to board a Disney bus and head over. If you want to take the Monorail, you can but you’d have to walk through the Polynesian resort, over to the Transportation & Ticketing Center to catch that Monorail, resulting in a 15-20 minute walk, and that doesn’t include waiting for the monorail. Or you can hop on the Monorail at the Grand Floridian and ride it past Magic Kingdom, past the Contemporary, and then transfer to the EPCOT Loop Monorail once you get to the Transportation and Ticketing Center, but that does add more time and complication to your already busy morning.
These deluxe resorts are pretty much a tie when it comes to transportation. They both have pretty quick access to TWO Disney parks, and have the options of busses, boats, and even direct walkways to help you get around.
The Grand Floridian is right on the Monorail loop, and the Beach Club gives you access to the Skyliner, so they both have some unique offerings as well. It might just boil down to which parks do you plan to spend more time in, Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom?
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So, who is the ultimate winner in the Beach Club vs. Grand Floridian battle? We hate to say it, but it depends! The Grand Floridian may seem like a clear choice because of its grand luxury, popularity with Disney fans, and promity to Magic Kingdom. If the Beach Club seemed like the clear choice to you, it is a great hotel, it has an awesome pool and is just a quick walk from EPCOT’s World Showcase. It’s up to you and your group to decide what makes the most sense for you using all that we talked about above.
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What do you think? Is Beach Club or Grand Floridian Resort better? Let us know in the comments!
Kimberly Blauch says
Love your comparison but I have to say The Beach Club has been our family favorite since it first opened and have stayed there more times than I can count. However, under new management several times we have had terrible experiences the past few times staying there. Check in was a total nightmare the past 2 times as recently as last July 3. The pool experience is a nightmare. Pool opens 9:00 or 10:00 AM in the summertime? And guests start lining up to get in at 7:30 AM?!! Therefore if you get in line 30 minutes before opens no chairs left not to mention no umbrellas/ tables, shade. The rooms are mediocre at best – they used to be such fun- and The Beach Club Villas are just plain ugly- stark- too modern not much of a beach theme- ugly ceiling lights replaced ceiling fans. The Breezeway room is very charming though. Beaches and Cream is very hard to get in to and not nearly as much fun as it used to be. The DVC Villas at The Grand Floridian are beautiful and bathroom layout is very nice. Both resorts are good locations.