RUMOR: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort to Be Gutted to Become Modern Luxury Resort

This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

This rumor is out there, but seems to be picking up some steam…

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has remained for the most part the same since 1988, with the exception of new lobby floor installed in the last decade.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has remained for the most part the same since 1988, with the exception of new lobby floor installed in the last decade.

It appears Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts Bob Chapek is not a big fan of the current Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Walt Disney World’s flagship hotel and often most expensive per night. Similar to the recently initiated shakeup in housekeeping for Disney World, Chapek feels as if the Four Seasons Resort Orlando is putting them to shame when it comes to what a luxury resort on-property should be. So, what’s the solution? To completely gut the 28-year-old Magic Kingdom area resort, of course.

A room at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Walt Disney World
A room at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Walt Disney World

Obviously, many executives at Walt Disney World are trying to talk Chapek out of this massive remodeling as the Grand Floridian makes quite a bit of money and is often well-liked by those who stay there. One of the proposed alternate plans would involve constructing a new flagship hotel for Walt Disney World just north of the Transportation and Ticket Center. Reportedly, they have had no luck in changing his mind as of yet and Chapek is still moving full speed ahead with his plan.

Should it come to fruition, all of the rooms and the lobby of the resort will be completely gutted and rebuilt with a more modern-luxury theme, perhaps along the lines of the new hotel being constructed at the Disneyland Resort.

As it stands now, this project may not even be in the design phase as of yet, but it seems as if it will come to fruition should Chapek remain at helm of Parks and Resorts for the foreseeable future.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when planning a Disney vacation can be overwhelming! There are so many options, where to stay, when to go, is this the best price. So, I want to introduce you all to Cindy Minor and the team at Small World Big Fun. They will help you plan your Disney vacation for FREE. Contact them today!

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

122 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Disney is THE WORST at trying anything “Luxury”. They really have lost the entire mindset of offer a service for a price, they really just want people to drop money for very little given in return. As Tom’s other article was reporting, they really can’t maintain cleanliness and service up to the worst hotelier chains in the USA. The best Disney can hope, is to turn the parks to a 3rd party, and let Four Seasons, Marriott and others come run their resorts for them. Disney has totally lost their way. Chapek has yet to impress anyone, inside Disney, and hasn’t been a friend for guests. He loves the less is more mentality. Not giving the most to the guests for the least cost, as most successful business do.

    • Wait so the guy wants to do something to a hotel and your response is that he should be killed? That’s just sad

      • I’m pretty sure she means gut his current position within the company. Chapek’s influence on the Disney parks has, thus far, resulted in a very negative performance in his current role with the company.

  • Well they are getting ready to do a remodel of the Grand Californian at DL. This will be the first update since it opened. Have they done anything to the Grand Floridian since it opened?

    • While I wouldn’t say demolish I would agree, Contemporary WAY more in need of a re-imagining. Grand Flo is what it is and I think even the luxury resort people love the current state/nostalgia (at least I do). The lobby is just that GRAND, IMO this is a waste of money and resources.

    • I kinda and don’t at the same time agree with you, I mean the grand Floridian can’t be replaced. It was walts vision of luxurious right outside of a theme et park. It’s already a beautiful resort with a few modern touches. It can go in to refurbished. But still I want it to keep its elegance. The Contemporary is a old resort, but it’s not that bad that you have to destroy the resort. Maybe just a refurbishment that’s all.

  • Disney’s best cannot compete with Best Western or Red Roof Inn, much less anything close to luxury. They’re cutely themed, I’ll give them that. And with busses make it easier to negotiate the huge crowds at parks from Disney’s poor crowd control, but, nothing luxurious about any of them, they’re terribly managed.

          • Seriously I don’t get it. Why do you keep using dingo as an insult? Is that a normal expression where you’re from? Are dingos known to be particularly negative? Are you trying to say ding bat? If you’re going to pick random things as insults, could you at least get creative with it? How about platypus? It’s not a beaver and it’s not a duck, that’s weird. See it’s a way of saying he’s weird. Hell you could could call him David S. Pumpkins and it would make more sense than dingo! Any questions?!???

          • For DIS UNPLUGGED? Lol that is his job. To give good criticism and bad criticism on what you should and not do.

    • Despite some of the one line half-baked responses, Rob is correct! They are having huge problems and aside from ‘theming’, Disney resorts offer very very little, and are consistently inconsistent in service and cleanliness on our visits.

  • I work at Disney and hear a ton of rumors, but this one hasn’t made it though.

    I doubt this will happen. It would be cool if any updates would come, but I just don’t see it. $$

    For one primary reason. We are being whipped by higher ups than Mr. Chaptek to cut back. There’s NO interest in making an investment to improve the quality of the experience for guests, as this would be. They’re not into capitol improvements lately that wouldn’t be sponsored, would immediately offer pay back in self advertising or profit. I’d like to be wrong here. I believe the parks need a ton of love they’re just not getting.

      • No Rich, she’s a CM there. I know where, she’s actually very nice and LOVES Disney to default. More than I can say for 99% of our managers and 75% of our co-workers, who see it as a crowd of idiots to ‘milk money out of’.

    • Nothing fake about it! Get a job at WDW – any role casting is willing to offer you – and you’ll see! Oh, wait… we’re on a hiring freeze. Thank goodness for the season cast. Oh wait… they’ve been let go. Well, thank goodness for overtime! Shoot! That’s right! Our roles have been cut.

      • Patrick speaks the truth. So many of my friends have had their hours cut back or were CPs that can’t get hired on as FT or PT. Disney’s done so many budget cuts it’s ridiculous.

  • Each resort was originally matched to an area in the park…GF to Main Street…I don’t see them modernizing Main Street, so why would they modernize the GF….

    • LOL. Where did you get that information? It’s not even close and GF was not the original hotel that was to have been built on that spot. Ha ha ha!

      • This is true. Grand Floridian is to match Main Street. Contemporary is to match Tommowland and Polynesian is to match Adventureland. 100% true. Know your Disney!

      • Actually, you and Sara are both wrong and Lynne is correct. I DVRd and watched a special on the Disney resorts that aired within the last year (produced by Disney) and part of the commentary included an interview with a gentleman who stated what Lynne just mentioned. The Polynesian is supposed to reflect Adventureland in theme, Wilderness Lodge corresponds to Frontierland, Tomorrowland corresponds to the Contemporary, and the Grand Floridian to Main Street USA. So you all can laugh away, but Disney puts that material out there.

        • So you saw a show that you don’t know the name of but they just happened to give this info? Nice try Perelandra, or should I say Lynne Parsons? Main Street is based on Marceline, MS and Grand Floridian is obviously Florida. Same time period yes, but completely different themes because one is of simplicity and the other is of classic luxury. Also Wilderness Lodge can’t be Frontierland because it’s theme is the Pacific Northwest. FURTHERMORE, the Contemporary wouldn’t correspond with Tomorrowland because Contemporary is literally referring to to the present and not tomorrow.

          • Lol, So I don’t care if you believe me, I’m not Lynne and I certainly didn’t just make that up. I’m not that creative. You could probably google deluxe resorts and corresponding lands or something if it matters to you. I really could not care less if you believe that I made up seeing a special on Disney resorts. Just a FYI. I did not make that up. Disney put that out there. Argue with them about their corny theming correspondence. I thought it was kinda cool.

  • I love the Victorian era design of the Grand Floridian. I hope Disney doesn’t turn ANY of their resorts into a cookie cutter “luxury” resort.

  • Does anyone have statistics on what the occupancy rate for the GF has been in the past couple of years? If it continues to be high then why bother changing it? People are paying the premium for a reason. I also like the Victorian era theme. It’s unique, and it’s Disney-esque. Meaning you are brought into a world much like staying at the Polynesian or Wilderness Lodge.

  • I love the Grand Floridian. Feel free to modernize the rooms, but the lobby is perfect. No changes needed. People love the themeing of the Disney resorts; they don’t need to be changed to be like the Four Seasons boring ultra modern luxury. If you want to make the Disney high-end resorts compete with the likes of the Four Seasons, you need to work on customer service. Better restaurant chefs, bartenders, front desk staff, maid service, etc., etc. That’s what separates the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, Mandarin Oriental, and other super high end hotel chains from Disney resorts. The people who work at Disney resorts are not as well trained to provide superior customer service as should be warranted from the ultra high prices Disney resorts charge.

    • Ralph, I agree with you. IMHO, the issue w customer service is that CM’s, both trainers and workers don’t seem to stay in one place very long. They can and do shift jobs internally, or they leave completely. So, they don’t have a commitment to the job. They don’t learn the job. Plus so many guests use dining extras where an automatic 18% tip is added to your bill. Where’s the incentive to provide good customer service when you are guaranteed 18%. Personally, when asked, I hide the fact that I have a TiW card until the end of the meal. I’ve seen it make a difference.
      Frank

      • Frank, you are talking about a small minority of CM’s, as the majority dont work in tipped positions. While TiW does add the grat,, 18% is only added when a party of 6 or more is dining on the dining plan, which is a much bigger chunk of tables every day, than TiW.

  • I own at the Villas at the Grand Floridian and bought a DVC membership there for a reason. The thought they would change the Resort so drastically is concerning and I would expect to be given the option to ‘get out’ of my membership if this came to fruition. I hope it is just a rumour!

    • If they did update it I think it would still be in the “Flo” style. My guess is thst the decorating and theming would be similar to the villas which would be in my mind the right direction

      • That would definitely be the right direction but to ‘gut’ it sounds far more drastic, and the general theming of the resort I think is still relevant for what they are trying to achieve.

  • Well Chapek is correct with regard to Four Seasons as they are much superior in service and amenity….their vacuous decision to allow pets not withstanding

  • Would hate to see them ruin this hotel. The lobby is outstanding and it has the old Florida charm. Renovations sure but don’t lose the themes. If any hotel could use modernization, it’s the contemporary. Stayed there in October and couldn’t get over how abismal it was. Gutting that hotel would be a major bonus for them, as for now, they should rename it the outdated. Praying they don’t ruin the grand Floridian.

  • Disney needs to come back to their roots. The current management has forgotten the standards and ideology Walt Disney founded his company upon. If they would come back to their roots the rest of the business would flow naturally and take care of itself. IMO, they are ignoring, forgotten, or no longer believe in Walt’s dream. If this continues it will only continue to go downhill.

    • Agree 100% with your comment! They need to remember Walt’s vision for WDW. Yes, Walt wanted to make money, but he also wanted to give something to families, all families…not just wealthy families.

    • Amen! It is ALL about corporate greed. I’m surprised that there are not more earthquakes from Walt spinning in his grave continually. It is a no brainer how they have cheapened the brand and turned it from a G rating in to a PG13. They have also let the quality of the DVC go down the tubes while raising prices continually. The entire hotel area is rundown. A few years back our 10 year old was trapped on the bathroom in our room at Baylake because the door malfunctioned. It took over an hour for some with tools to get there to let her out.
      A few years after that we called because the kitchen in our Treehouse was infested and I mean infested with ants. All of our food in cabinets that was just purchased at the grocery had more ants than food! When we called to report this horrible dirty infestation they were shocked we expected not to be living inside with ants!
      The shine is off the crown. Lol

  • I just stayed at the Grand Floridian and loved it. Every time I look into booking a trip, the hotel is either fully booked or not available for discounts due to being near full occupancy. If Disney was worried about the Four Seasons or other generic luxury hotels, they should have no let them on property. If Disney wants to build a generic luxury hotel it should start from scratch. The mishmash of theming created by retheminig the existing building will potentially alienate the people who love staying there for the theme and the people who would want something to look like every other luxury hotel out there. Same thing has been happening in Vegas. The hotels are all boring and look similar now.

    • Not sure where you’re looking, we get 50% off regularly, and free dining plan to boot?!? Disney is having problems, they have ‘cheap’ reputation down here (Brazil). They’re offering huge discounted packages trying to get us up there. Guess we buy too much junk and food on property, worth it to let us in free.

  • This isn’t the Contemporary. WTF does he think he’s doing?! The Grand Floridian is perfect the way it is. The modern theme doesn’t coordinate with Main Street as a backdrop. You’re supposed to feel as if you’ve gone BACK IN TIME to a simpler way of life. This isn’t a hotel for modern decor. If you modernize everything, you lose the tradition that many of us Disney fans love so much. I understand that some things needs to be updated, but this hotel isn’t one of them.

  • I love the Gran Floridian as it is. It is bueatiful and traditional. I will be very sad if they really “gut it”. We will probably not stay there anymore if they do. We are very loyal Disney people. Tradition and history are a big part of that. Getting rid of the history will cause them to loose loyal supporters like our family. The other people that posted negative comments are not real Disney people and never will be.

  • I could see them gutting and rebuilding the hotel in the same theme. The Grand Floridian as built was always pretty cheap looking, with its miles of cheap drywall and carpet where there should have been plaster moulding and hardwood flooring. Even the main building was covered in ugly carpeting before they finally put in the marble. It’s always reminded me of cheap suburban houses built in the 80s trying to imitate ones built in the 1920s, but without the intricate flooring, woodwork, and plasterwork.

    I say go for it: gut it and rebuild a true early 20th century Florida resort.

  • Since this is a DVC property, I wonder how that would work. There is probably 45 years left on this contract.

    • The GF DVC is not located in the hotel. It is in the villas. My guess is that they will look to the villas interiors as the inspiration for the hotel redo.

  • I own DVC at this property – it better not be ripped out. If it is, DVC better let us pick our replacement home resort.

  • That is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. Can’t believe it is true if it is Chapek needs to be fired.

  • Beautiful hotel, Disney theming is what makes the resorts special . It would be a crime to make it an ” any old hotel” knock off

  • I hate to admit it but the quality of higher end Disney hotels is actually quite low compared to other similar properties at that price point. It gets by with the brand name but for example the Contemporary is on par with a big box Hilton or Marriott.

    • We love Disney, but to compare their hotels, even Disney’s best to Marriott or a real hospitality company is silly. Just like their restaurants. They’re well ‘themed’, but quality or value is NOT there.

  • I don’t think it is that bad…However in a major city you would pay around $200 for a Hilton and Marriott that Disney is charging $400-$500. For that price u just expect more out of the product along the lines of a Four Seasons or Ritz.

    • I’d be happy at WDW for Howard Johnson’s quality for $400-$500/night, and it ain’t happenin’! WDW has gotten really bad in value, cleanliness and should probably turn their resorts over to someone who does it better, like the chains. We had much better experience at Swan and Dolphin, is ON property, NOT touched by Disney, is all Starwood/Mariott run. Great value, expensive, but worth it. Not so with disney.

  • Ummmm….north of the TTC is WATER! To the NE is notoriously soft land. This isn’t happening. Is this from one of Tom’s unreliable insider “cast members”?

  • Praying that the Grand Floridian is not modernized. If they alter the hotel I think my family will skip our yearly trip to WDW from California. Instead of worrying about cookie cutter hotels they should look to their neighbors at Universal. The Portiofino Bay Resort is beautiful and a bargain.

    • Big difference comparing Universal Studios to Disney. Disney is an older heritage brand with tons of great media and theme parks that used to be top notch, but now is milking the brand rather than investing in it. I don’t think they will change this hotel for that reason alone, too cheap to invest in future. Universal is pouring money and value into their theme parks the last 5 years, of course their resorts knock Disney out of the park.

    • I hear your prayers my child. Now please stop. I have more important things to deal with than stopping a hotel remodel. You have a carrot faced, small handed, human version of the Inside Out character Anger, demagogue president that is trying to ban an entire religion, and I’m trying to smite him but Satan (known as Steve Bannon on Earth) keeps getting in the way. If you feel the need to pray for a theme park, how about you try praying that every time they finish the Trump AA figure that it spontaneously bursts into flames? And since you feel you can longer visit WDW, you could also take the money you would’ve spent there and use it to help those in need, those that are being persecuted simply for what they believe in. You know, like my son was.

      • This is a happy place for many of us. Where we go to relax and escape the crazy world outside. Walt wanted this park designed so that you couldn’t see the surrounding outside world. Please leave political talk off this site. This isn’t the place.

        • Yeah I can definitely see how a rumor thread where people are saying that Bob Chapek should be fired or “gutted” and that they’ll never go to Disney again if they change G Flo is a source of happiness. I also love your extremely happy post above about Disney being the WORST at trying to provide luxury. That’s just so truly inspiring. It sounds like you desperately need to get laid.

          • Maybe you should consider the fact that there are two different persons by the name of Kelly contributing here before you speak.

          • I believe as the 2nd Kelly posting, it is YOUR responsibility to differentiate yourself from any and all prior Kellys that have posted. To except for everyone just to assume that you’re a different Kelly is just plain Glib. Don’t be Glib Kelly*, don’t be glib.

  • Tom, isn’t the land north of the TTC where they once sunk pilings many years ago, and never recovered them because they sunk completely into the ground? If they could have built something there, they’d have already done it.

    • Wrong Scott. You keep saying Disney would build and expand if they could. Opposite true last few years. They’re retracting, and cutting back. New areas area all coming at expense of other areas.

      I don’t think Disney will change this resort. It would cost them money, and without immediate return of the investment. Not their style. Sadly.

      • I have no idea how your response is related to the the question I was asking Tom. Nor have I ever said anything about building or expanding “if they could”.

        I’ve been going to WDW since it was one park and two hotels. Trust me, I’ve seen more than my fair share of building and expansion. I’m good with not seeing anymore.

  • My suggestion is to make the rooms more “moderately” priced. I feel that it’s rather selfish that only the wealthy are able to enjoy the Grand Floridian. It’s just not fair that the rich and wealthy get all the good stuff and us regular folk get the scraps!!!

    • The Grand Floridian is regular scraps compared to real hotel operations. They just charge more for it, cuz they can, and have it themed quaintly enough to make the mark. Prices are going up, service going down. Not to worry you’re missing out on anything.

    • You sound like one of them Commie draft dodgers! Cut your hair! Get a job! And stop smoking the pot!

  • If the redo does happen. I encourage them to use the grand floridian villas as the inspiration. Its a lovely building

  • Leave the Grand Floridian alone. It is beautiful & that is the reason most people stay there. Disney is a themed destination & that is how it should stay. When you walk into the Dolphin or the Swan you no longer feel like your in Disney World. So I say build a new one if your so intent on doing something modern & so UN-Disney. A trip there is an escape from reality & I think that is what Walt wanted. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • I have stayed there and I’m praying that such a beautiful property does not get gutted for a whim of an obviously stupid man. gezzzzz

  • Reading the post I feel that remodeling the rooms to match or equal the new dvc rooms would not be a bad thing. The main lobby has just been remodeled and refurbished, leave it alone. I haven’t been in the restaurants for a long time so I’m not quite sure about the state they are in. As for building a new hotel near the TTC, I think I read an article a long time ago about the possibility of building one there went wrong and the ground was deemed to unstable. As I recall not to long ago there was plans to add a 2nd Bay Lake Tower north of the existing one, this would be where you add a new modern high luxury hotel.

  • Will never happen. Also Chapek and his family should banned from ever setting foot on Disney property ever again, and Disney needs a new parks chief who will undo every single thing he’s ever done. Capitalism is a very bad system and needs to be abolished.

  • […] this week, this rumor from WDW News Today was blowing up the social media feeds of many a Disney fan, myself included.  […]

  • It looks like Bob chapek is going to do something stupid because the grand floridian resort is very pretty the way it is right now Bob chapek is going to do something stupid like gut the grand floridian resort and because of this rumor bob chapek should get his head examined
    Because walt disney probably won’t like this stupid choice because it’s ridiculous.

  • We believe that this would be very wrong and like many, we have stayed at this beautiful resort many times and it is not meant to be a contemporary style hotel rather it is meant to be Victorian as seen in the name, “Grand Floridian.” That would be like renovating the Yacht and Beach Clubs to be more contemporary as taking away the whole theme of the name Yacht and Beach or even like gutting out Main Street USA to be more contemporary buildings, again taking away from the whole theme of the name. We feel that these unique themed hotels and their names are what make Disney what it is all about. Here’s a suggestion, buy the Hyatt Grand Cypress and totally renovate it to compete against the Four Seasons Orlando as the Grand Cypress also comes with its own golf courses. Taking away the uniqueness of the Grand Floridian would be like taking away a piece of Disney’s whole identity. -Michael and Ariana

    • Michael and Ariana,
      Funny you should mention renovating the Beach Club…. as Disney already has renovated it. I tried to find a link to photos of the original lobby but was unable. It was MARVELOUS.
      Travel Channel did a review of it many, many years ago, and that may be around somewhere.
      It had wicker furniture, very light, bright, inviting.. stay awhile feel.
      Band’s played in the evening, and there was a lobby bar, Riptide that was entered directly from the lobby or from Cape May. If you went into Cape May now and look to the right, that’s where it was located.
      I’m personally not a fan of the recent look Beach Club lobby. But that’s just me.
      Arial’s was a seafood restaurant with a huge aquarium.
      Yacht Club used to have a very polished floor and a ships wheel that sat outside Captain’s Grille (formerly Yacht Club Galley).
      I wonder if the polish smell may have been irritating to some.
      I couldn’t agree more w your comment about the Grand. I hope Disney doesn’t change it.
      As for the Grand Cypress, we’ve stayed there in the past. Really nice!!! Disney has gotten out of the golf course business too. Arnold Palmer Golf Management runs them. I remember in days gone by, Disney advertised 99 Holes of Golf. Golden Oak sits on what was Eagle Pines. My wife scored a hole in one there. Most if not all of Osprey Ridge is now Tranquilo Golf Club, part of the Four Seasons. Eagles Pines and Osprey Ridge used to be the Bonnet Creek Golf Club which opened in 1992.
      We haven’t been to WDW since last October, 2016, but I seem to recall the monorail monologue saying, as the monorail passed from the Poly to the Grand that the Palm and Magnolia are part of the PGA Tour each fall…. well, that ended in 2012.

  • IMO, GF should probably just get salvaged and then torn down completely. On-site, a new flagship “themed” hotel (right now, WDW is planning a luxury hotel that is going to be “Star Wars” themed) would be built. It’s theme would probably, IMO, be Frozen. It would look like an ice palace instead of a regular hotel. And it would be a “kid-friendly” luxury hotel.

    The 29-year old GF is not really “kid-friendly”. IMO, it has reached “functional obsolescence”, and is getting too expensive to maintain. I mean, the restaurant, V&A’s (yes, I’m talking about the restaurant with the controversial “no children under 10” rule), is too expensive to eat in and maintain, the hotel rooms are getting too expensive to maintain (heard at least 80 “terrible” reviews on TripAdvisor), and the style is too out of date.

    I hope, one day, the GF would be completely demolished and replaced with a more “kid-friendly” luxury hotel. And probably, the rooms would be less expensive than the GF, and the restaurants in there would be more “kid-friendly” and less expensive too.

  • We specifically booked our week long stay at the Floridian because of the largeness of their rooms and wonderful amenities. He can go blank himself if he wants to modernize it. Tell him to play with the Contempory- that implies modern. I love everything about the Floridian all year long.

  • Has there been any more updates on this? There was mention in January but I haven’t heard anything since them. Please let me know.

Fantasy Strollers
Lost Bros
TeePublic

Latest Videos