Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – 4401 Floridian Way, Bay Lake, FL 34747
Lets face it – a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort can be down right exhausting to say the least. Many guests may not realize it, but Walt Disney World is so much more than JUST a theme park. In our typical trip, we do a lot of running, biking, walking, waiting in line, eating overeating, drinking, and we have many late nights and early mornings.
The Walt Disney World Resort is made up of 47 square miles of fun including four expansive theme parks, two water parks, four championship golf courses, a 220 acre professional athletic complex, three Broadway style dinner shows, a multitude of behind-the-scenes tours and culinary experiences, thirty-four uniquely themed hotels and one incredible campground each packed with their very own water sports and recreational activities, over one-hundred delicious Disney dining experiences, and seven soothing spas.
Our biggest piece of advice to all guests of The World is to schedule some time away from the parks, and enjoy all that the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer! In our opinion, a Disney spa day is a must, and when we think of luxuriating at the Walt Disney World Resort the first place that comes to mind is Senses Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort.
The brainchild of Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, & the architectural firm of Wimberly, Allison, Tong, & Goo from Newport Beach, CA, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opened as the premier Flagship Resort of Walt Disney World on June 28, 1988. In 2017, at just 29 years old, this Resort is still (in our opinion) the best hotel you will EVER stay at. Its timeless Victorian charm, luxurious amenities (we highly recommend the concierge club level suits!), delicious dining, and of course exclusive lake-side access to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom are unparalleled. With all of this in mind, it should come as no surprise that this Resort is also home to Walt Disney World’s best spa!
First, it should be known that the Grand Floridian Resort (formerly the Grand Floridian Beach Resort) in itself has achieved “Four Diamond” status with the American Automobile Association. As a Deluxe Walt Disney World Resort, it should come as no surprise that the Grand was awarded the title of a Four Diamond Resort. However, this is not an easy task to achieve, and it was the first of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels to appear on this highly sought-after list.
If you’ve had the privilege of experiencing the hard work and attention to detail Disney Parks puts into their theme parks and resorts first-hand, you should also know Disney’s Spas are no different. For years, the Grand Floridian was the place for pampering at the Walt Disney World Resort, and we’ve been frequenting the Grand Floridian Spa and Health Club since Y2K. The Grand’s Spa is home to some of the most amazing facials, massages, body wraps and aromatherapy experiences. Over the years, the Walt Disney World Resort has introduced a number of other Spas and Health Clubs at its Deluxe Resorts as well as at one of its Moderate Resorts, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort throughout Disney Property. In 2011, the Grand Floridian Spa closed its doors for an extensive eighteen month overhaul while the Disney Vacation Club Villas were constructed on its former site. When the Spa reopened on December 17th of 2012, it was relocated, management & ownership changes were made, and the spa itself was re-themed to match the very popular Senses Spas aboard the Disney Cruise Line fleet.
The moment we pass through the Grand Floridian Spa doors, we are welcomed by the smiling spa attendants in the Spa’s intimate reception area. What first caught our eye was a beautiful and serene mural of a Floridian swamp surrounded by palm trees, wild flowers, and a lone crane standing at the center enjoying his solitude among the greenery. A gold plated incandescent chandelier hung from the detailed lattice work in the bright white ceiling while vases of fresh flowers in colors complimentary to the mural on both ends of the reception desk welcomed us with their light fragrance.
When making your reservation at a Disney Spa, you are asked to arrive at least thirty minutes prior to your treatment time. If you arrive to late, your treatment time may be reduced in order to maintain the therapists schedule with other guests. However, we always arrive early – more on that later.
Payment for your treatment is collected upon arrival and an automatic 20% gratuity is added to all spa services. If you would like to add additional gratuity at the end of your treatment for a spectacular service, you also have the option to do so.
After checking in, and paying the bill, a male and female attendant were each requested by the front desk staff. Once they arrived at the reception desk, we were individually swept away to our respective male and female locker rooms.
This is where we parted. We were each taken to our respective locker rooms where we would not see each other again until it was time for our treatment. If we had not booked a couples treatment and instead opted to take part in more individualized packages, we would not see each other again until
the spa closed we both decided we were ready to move on.
The great thing about a Disney Resort Spa is that you have the ability, if you so chose, for someone in your party to head into a park or back to your resort post treatment. We’ve visited the Spa many times with other couples who
are crazy enough to head back into the park post-treatment. The beauty of it is that because Resort transportation is so easily accessible, no one guest is tied to another as far as when it comes to coming and going from the Spas.
When we arrived to our respective locker rooms, we were each given a brief tour of our facilities, assigned a personal locker which housed our days attire (a plush spa robe that we never wanted to let go and a comfortable pair of spa sandals), and shown where to deposit our robe and shoes upon
being forcibly removed exiting the spa. Each locker is large enough to fit a few towels, a pair of shoes, a large handbag, and we still had room to hang our pre and post-spa attire. Our spa attendants were both very sweet and willing to answer any and all of our silly questions or requests. They even took the time to point out a few hidden mickey’s. After a brief chat, we were each left to further explore and enjoy the solitude of our home for the day.
The locker room is home to the relaxation room (the point of entry from the spa hallway), the lockers themselves with a dressing table, restrooms with individual stalls, a double sink, and showers. Both the restroom and the showers offer handicap accessible options.
The individual relaxation rooms are very similar to the co-ed relaxation room you will find at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Senses Spa. The recessed low-key lighting, privacy curtains, and baby soft leather chairs all invoke an overwhelmingly peaceful and relaxing atmosphere that make you feel just as you should during a spa day.
Here guests are asked to respect the quiet and privacy of others by keeping their speaking voices at a low volume and to silence all mobile devices (tablets, phones, watches, etc.). For us, this is where our bucation truly begins as we are cut off from the outside world. Hey, rules are rules!
In the relaxation room you will find an assortment of complimentary teas, infused waters, as well as a few delicious treats. For us, the Spa’s refreshing cucumber infused water is something we look forward to starting our morning with on each of our visits. Magazines are also available for your reading pleasure.
On this particular visit, we were both very lucky to have our locker rooms, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, and Jacuzzi all to ourselves for the morning hours prior to our treatments. However, on most spa visits, we prefer to arrive early (as soon as the spa opens) in order to make the most of our time in these areas prior to as well as after our treatments. We’ve found that arriving early is best and it allows us to enjoy the spas in the morning hours while most guests are park hopping.
The steam room and spa pool is our favorite area of the entire facility, and it is the very reason we arrive early (and stay late) to the spa. In order to enjoy this area, a swim suit is required. First, the spa room is a very calming environment decked out with warm earth tones, a hint of natural light, and a subtle waterfall at the far end of the room. In the Jacuzzi you have the option to marinate in the soothing warm bath waters, or you can go for the full experience by turning on the massaging jets.
One of our favorite items you will find in the steam and spa room at the Grand Floridian Spa are the pair of absolutely divine heated tile loungers. We love these loungers so much that we’d love to have a pair in our home! A few moments on these luscious heated loungers, and you will be in heaven. Whether you are just enjoying the loungers for what they are or you are cuddling up with a good book, in these loungers we’ve never felt further away from the crowds, lines, and chaos that can be a day in the Disney Parks.
If you do not have time to fit in a full facial treatment during your spa visit, Janine loves to pack a one-time-use face mask or peel to polish or brighten her skin while relaxing on one of the Spa’s heated tile loungers. You may want to consider one of these even if you have a facial treatment booked. A disposable face mask or peel is a wonderful way to enjoy your time in these heated tile loungers for 10-20 minutes while also treating your skin.
Spa Day, All Day!
For our most recent treatment, we selected the “Imagine Massage for Two.” The experience was an eighty minute couples massage, and it was described by WaltDisneyWorld.com as:
“Enjoy a massage together in our treatment room for two, as our practitioners tend to your individual needs. Share your massage journey with a loved one in our treatment room for two. Enjoy an individualized and custom experience.
Massage for Two
50 minutes / $275
80 minutes / $390”
For your experience, you are invited to choose between three themes: Relax, Renew, and Imagine. This theme is then carried through in every phase of your treatment from the food and drink you experience during your treatment to the lighting and various scents you experience.
We had the pleasure of enjoying a couples massage previously at Senses in the Grand Floridian Resort pre-overhaul during the Summer of 2007. The treatment options were a bit different as far as the “theme” of your treatment, but both the fifty and the eighty minute offerings were available. However, for our first couples massage at the Grand, we selected the fifty minute treatment. Fifty minutes was just not long enough. After our first experience, we were both in agreement that when given the option, going forward we will always go with the longest treatment possible.
This time around, all eighty minutes of our treatments were heavenly. We’ve had some incredible massages, but this one in particular put both of us right to sleep. Perhaps it was the much needed break from all of our park hopping, but we both agreed that our masseuses took excellent care of us, and we were glad we opted for the full eighty minute experience.
There are a number of enhancements and upgrades that can be added onto your experience, such as aromatherapy oil enhancements, foot treatment enhancements, reflexology, scalp treatment enhancements, or another style of massage. You also have the option to add an additional twenty-five minutes to your massage treatment for just $50.00. Each of these enhancements allows you to further customize your experience at Senses in order for you to receive the exact treatment that you have in mind. However, it should be known that we’ve never experienced any up-selling as far as these services go from the Senses Staff. We have opted in the past to add-on a feature or two, but these were decisions we made between the time we made the appointment (prior to our trip to WDW) and our arrival at the Spa.
For this particular treatment, we both selected the “relax” option for our Spa journey with the classic Swedish massage. We of course worked with our individual therapists as they asked what our pressure preference was and what areas we prefer to have our treatments focus on. Even though we didn’t mention it, the Staff knows that our feet really get a work out at the Disney Parks and they do an excellent job of relieving any pain, pressure, or stress that you may have in your feet area during this fabulous eighty minute treatment.
As Annual Passholders, we always take advantage of the 15% discount offered to passholder guests of each of the Senses Spas. Disney Vacation Club Members receive a discount. This discount, in our opinion, is one of the best perks of being Passholders or DVC Members.
After your treatment ends, and you’ve enjoyed the facilities to their fullest, it’s time to enjoy a refreshing shower in one of the Spa’s fantastic oversize rain showers. It’s finally time to head back into the parks! Throughout the locker room you will find spare towels, luxurious Senses Spa toiletries, disposable razors, and shower caps. For your post shower refurbishments, you will find disposable hair brushes, ample hair dryers, hair gel, and a number of salon professional curling irons (small and large barrel) and hair straighteners. There is no need to pack any of these items for your day at the Grand Floridian Spa as the Spa has literally thought of everything – and we mean everything!
For years the Spa at the Grand Floridian offered its very own unique brand of grapefruit scented lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. For us, the scent of grapefruit could always be associated with our memories of the Grand Floridian Spa, but unfortunately with the uniform overall of the Disney Spa’s re-branding as “Senses,” these lotions were discontinued and a more uniform “Senses” brand of toiletries began being offered.
Unfortunately, one of the only drawbacks we’ve experienced with the Disney Spas is that they are a bit behind the times when it comes to their reservation systems. Disney has not yet made online or in-app reservations an option for Spa reservations. In order to make a reservation at one of Disney’s Senses Spas, you must book via telephone. These appointments also do not appear in your itinerary on your My Disney Experience app. For us, the inclusion of these amenities in our My Disney Experience app would be a great benefit. Planning wise, it would make things a lot easier for park guests to visualize all of their plans in one centralized location. Not only would we as park guests be able to keep better track of our appointments, because we all know how easy it is to lose all track of time in The World, but this option would allow us to book last minute appointments while we are park hopping where a change in our schedule opened up a time frame where a service might be available.
Have A Grand Day
When your spa day ends, that doesn’t mean your time at the Grand has to. The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, besides being home to the best spa on Walt Disney World property, also boasts some of the most amazing restaurants as well. For an early spa appointment, we suggest lunch post-massage at The Grand Floridian Café.
After lunch, soak in the sounds of The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra in the hotel’s massive lobby. The Orchestra features Disney classics old and new, and we couldn’t think of a more beautiful setting to enjoy one of our favorite acts in all of Walt Disney World.
For an afternoon appointment, we suggest taking advantage of the fabulous spa showers and beauty products to prep for an unforgettable dinner at Narcoosees (one of our favorites), Citricos, or splurge on a true dining experience and make a date at Victoria & Albert’s!
Senses Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is easily accessed by resort transportation, rental car, or taxi. As you pass through security by car, bus, or taxi, the Spa is now located to your right along with the Fitness Center. There is ample parking in this new location, and you are able to take in the sites of the newly constructed Disney Vacation Club Villas as well as the Wedding Pavilion. If you are heading to the spa by monorail, you will need to exit the lobby to the left from the main floor and head towards the Disney Vacation Club Villas tower.
Whichever method of transportation you chose, if your lucky, not only will the monorail pass over you from high above as you’re making your way into the Spa, but there may also be a horse drawn carriage straight out of a scene from Disney’s Cinderella that is arriving for a ceremony at the nearby Wedding Pavilion.
For us, the Grand Floridian Spa has always been a must do when our trips to The Walt Disney World Resort allow. The time we spend together away from the crowds, lines, and out of the sometimes handicapping heat has allowed for some of our best moments together on Disney Property. Any trip to The World can be tiresome to even the best paced Disney Guest, and treating yourself to a break at the Grand Floridian Spa is something we highly recommend on your next trip to Walt Disney World!
For those of you who frequent the House of Mouse like us, we hope we’ve inspired you to think outside the theme-park-box on your next trip. If you have not yet visited The World, we hope we’ve encouraged you to consider a trip to this magical place!
Have you visited or do you plan to visit the Grand Floridian Spa or any of the Senses Spas at a Disney Resort? If so, we’d love to hear all about your spa journey!
We hope you found our Spa Day post to be helpful, and we hope we encouraged you to think outside of the theme-park-box on your next Walt Disney World visit! Please feel free to share our posts and photos on social media by crediting @bucation
The comments, opinions, and views set forth on this site are the reflected personal positions of the site’s creators. This site is not an affiliate of The Walt Disney Company. The comments, opinions, and views set forth within this site are not the official positions of The Walt Disney Company, and they do not reflect the Company’s position.