Where To Stay At Disney World: Family 2018 Disney World Vacation (Part 3)

You have now successfully reached Orlando, so you’re going to need someplace to stay.

When my parents were footing the bill back in the summer of 2017, we stayed at the Grand Floridian.  This is an onsite resort, which means you are considered to be staying on Walt Disney World grounds.  You get certain advantages by staying onsite, such as Magic Hours and incredibly convenient transportation.  For example, the Grand Floridan has a monorail you can reach on the top floor at the back of the main building.  It connects to Magic Kingdom, the Polynesian Resort, and the Contemporary Resort.  It also connects to the Transportation Center, where you can then catch a ride to Epcot.  Furthermore, it has a bus system that will take you to any of the parks.  The buses run all day and keep running up to an hour after the parks close.  They also have a ferry that will take you across the lake towards Magic Kingdom.  If you time it right at night, you can get an amazing fireworks show.

Our stay at the Grand Floridian was magnificent.  The resort was absolutely amazing.  The employees were not only kind, but bent over backwards to help us and foresaw any possible complications on our behalf.  Everything was sparkling clean, incredibly classy, and beautiful to behold.  We did not have one single issue during our six-day stay.

Honestly, when we return to Disney from now on, we will only stay at the Grand Floridan.  Yes, the rates our exorbitant, but you actually see where all of that money is going — you are treated like gold.  Look into special rates and packages.  The Disney cast members are extremely helpful in helping you find the best deal.  I’ve mentioned Cal before.  Cal spent an hour with us on the phone trying to help us find the best rate for the experience we wanted to have.  If you want to get in touch with Cal, here’s his contact info …

Cal
Walt Disney World® Vacation Advisor
(407) W-DISNEY / (407) 934-7639 Ext. 5243362
Days Off: Wednesday and Thursday
Hours: 10:15 AM to 7:00 PM ET

For this second visit during the summer of 2018, we stayed at the Beach Club Resort.  Cal told us it was a close second to the Grand Floridian.  The rates were generally about $175 less a night than the Grand Floridan, but still very, very expensive.  The Beach Club resort also has the bus system for getting from park to park, and it’s handy in that the back of Epcot is literally a five-minute walk away.  In fact, we walked over to Epcot to view the fireworks several nights because it was so convenient.  They have a ferry system to reach Hollywood Studios, but it was out of service for the time being.  The Beach Club connects to the Yacht Club Resort — literally.  It’s also across the lake from Disney’s Boardwalk, which you could reach by ferry or foot.  The Beach Club shares a very cool pool with the Yacht Club.  This pool actually has a sandbar through the middle of it and a very shallow area for the children to make sandcastles and little lagoons.  They also share a lazy river that runs in a small circle.  Be aware — it’s very deep!  We only managed to get in the pool one day.  We like to hit the parks early and then swim in the evening before heading back out.  The only problem is that it tends to rain during the late afternoons and evenings in Florida.  This normally wouldn’t be an issue, but if there is a lightning strike within six miles, they won’t let you get in the water.  We would get ready, head down, and then have to delay our pool fun due to distant lightning.  In most cases, we were never able to get in at all.  We understood this was for our own safety, but it was still a bummer.

I wish I could tell you that our time at the Beach Club Resort matched our stay at the Grand Floridian … but it didn’t even come close.

Let me first say that the Beach Club bent over backwards to try to make up for the issues we experienced, but I wish these issues never came up at all.

First of all, I knew I was in for trouble when nobody could tell me if Alamo would shuttle me back to the resort when I needed to drop off my rental car at the Disney Car Care Center.  Two different Beach Club Resort cast members suggested I do a taxi, Lyft, or Uber.  When I got to Alamo, they immediately offered to shuttle me back and told me they would take me anywhere on Walt Disney property.  Upon my return, I found the two cast members and alerted them to the news.

Okay, I thought maybe this was an aberration, so I let it go.

We immediately noticed that, while some of the furniture was the same as the Grand Floridan, our room just wasn’t generally as clean.  At over $400 a night, we expected a little more, but whatever.  We rolled with it.

We hit Hollywood Studios that afternoon, spent the night, then visited Magic Kingdom bright and early the next day.  We spent the whole day at Magic Kingdom, then returned at 6:00.  We noticed our room hadn’t been cleaned.  I called down and told the concierge that we were going to go swimming, we’d like our room cleaned around 6:45 p.m.  I then went to the front desk and personally requested that our room be cleaned at 6:45 while we were swimming.  In both cases, I was told it would not be a problem.  Lightning struck within 6 miles, and so we were not allowed into the pools.  My family and I hung around until about 7:45 p.m. in order to give the cleaning service plenty of time.  When we returned at 7:45 p.m., our room still had not been cleaned.  This obviously upset me very much. Not only had I just wasted an hour, but this very simple, baseline service had not been accomplished at an incredibly expensive resort.  I called down.  I spoke to a gentleman.  I requested to speak to a manager.  He told me a manager was not available, but one named Stefan would call me back.  I then went back to the front desk.  I spoke to Samantha.  (As I’m dealing with all of this, the rest of my family is making their way to Epcot.  I’m staying behind in order to manage this unnecessary situation.)  Initially, Samantha could only nod and apologize.  At 8:00 p.m., I was not accepting excuses for a room that had not been cleaned.  She asked me if I still wanted the room cleaned.  I said I definitely still wanted this most basic of service provided — yes.  She offered $100 off our total bill as an apology.  I told her that, frankly, that amount of money is a drop in the ocean compared to what I’m spending during our 6 days at Disney.  She asked me what I would like instead.  I told her I’d have to talk to my wife about it and that I’d touch base with her again after we watched the fireworks at Epcot.

While at Epcot, Stefan called and left a message.  The gist of the call sounded like an apology and excuses as to why the room hadn’t been cleaned.

After our return from Epcot, our room had been tidied up.  It appeared that the sheets were not changed — just the beds made — and floor not vacuumed.  It looked like a quick-job to me. My wife noticed several things were missing such as a bathmat (again), ice bag (again), disposable coffee cups, etc.  My wife went down to speak to Samantha because the whole situation had me far too upset.  To Samantha and Beach Club’s credit, she had a package fully prepared for us.  Samantha offered a full night’s stay refunded, as well as three fast-passes per member of our family.  We found this to be more than fair and were very satisfied with the compensation.  However, we felt as though we had to fight tooth and nail to both get the room cleaned and to procure more than an apology and an excuse.  We wanted action from the start.  The whole ordeal lasted 4 hours with us applying constant pressure to achieve satisfaction.

We thought that was the end of our troubles.  We were wrong.

The next morning, while at the bus stop outside Beach Club, we waited to go to Animal Kingdom.  There was a large group of people.  We noticed a cast member standing nearby.  We stood by the benches in the shade joining those already in the semi-formed line.  Several more families arrived, and my wife kindly informed them the Animal Kingdom line was behind us.  When the very packed bus arrived, those families that arrived after us cut in front of us and got on the bus.  When we made it to the door, the driver wouldn’t let us on — too many people.  I explained to him that most of the people who got on had cut in front of us and another family.  Can you guess what he did?  Just stared at me and then shrugged.  I next approached the cast member who had walked away as the bus initially arrived.  I explained to her the situation.  She apologized and made excuses.  I asked her what her job is, exactly.  She said to make sure people get on and off the bus safely — not to enforce any kind of order as people load.  I won’t lie, after the previous night’s debacle, I lost my cool.  Time was wasting away yet again and we were on pace to miss our first fast-pass (which we did).  I asked for her supervisor to join us.  Not surprisingly, they weren’t available and would have to give me a call.  (Which they never did.)  The cast member gave the other family and us a fast-pass for the inconvenience.  Yet again, had I not complained, the Beach Club cast members would have been more than happy to let all of these situations slide by.

As I already said, we encountered not one single issue during our stay at the Grand Floridian.  Within the first thirty hours at Beach Club, my head was about to explode due to poor customer service.

Again, the night’s refund and the three fast-passes per person absolutely compensated us for our troubles with the cleaning service.  Also, when we returned from Animal Kingdom, the Beach Club left a stuffed Mickey and Minnie Mouse toy for each of my daughters which absolutely delighted us.  Furthermore, the day after that, we had an exquisite desert platter sent to our room which we very much enjoyed.  My point is, Beach Club tried to make it up to us — we acknowledge that.

However, I honestly wish none of that had been necessary.  I would have preferred no issues at all and a smooth stay that didn’t demand that I complain and lose my temper in front of my children (something they rarely see … to that degree).

We don’t expect any further compensation.  We are satisfied with the compensation Beach Club provided.  We realize everyone has a difficult job.  We strive to be reasonable, kind people and we’re sure to tip our cleaning service daily.

But I also want to alert you to our circumstances.  It could be this was all a hiccup; maybe that kind of thing never happens at Beach Club.  I’d like to think all of the onsite Walt Disney World resorts provide exquisite service no matter what the rate variations.  It’s not like Beach Club is considered a budget option.  We were told it was a close second to the Grand Floridian!  Just be aware.  If you experience something that dissatisfies you, speak up.  For the amount of money you are paying , you deserve the best service possible.

All right!  The next installment will detail our superb adventures at each of the Walt Disney World parks!  Thanks for reading.

Foley Girls with Mickey and Minnie.jpg

(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)

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