In this post, we review the Royal Palm Club, the Main Building Club Level offering at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. If this is the first post of ours you’re reading, there might be two others you’re interested in. First, we have separately reviewed the Grand Floridian Resort. If you’re looking for information about the hotel generally, you’ll need to read that post.
Second—and maybe more importantly—we have an entirely separate post covering the ins and outs of Club Level at Walt Disney World. If you’re wondering about the details of whats included, whether it’s worth it, and just how we evaluate it broadly, you’ll want to check out that post. This post focuses specifically on the Royal Palm Club Lounge at Grand Floridian.
The Two Grand Floridian Club Levels
There are actually two club lounges at Grand Floridian. These are completely separate, meaning guests who book at one do not get access to the other. This is a review of the Royal Palm Club Level, which is the Club Level for guests of the main building. The “other” club lounge is the Sugarloaf Club Level, which is the club in an outer building. We haven’t reviewed Sugarloaf, nor do we intend to given our experiences at Royal Palm.
Booking Club Level at Grand Floridian
Club Level is a special room designation at all the the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World that includes a variety of perks. If you’re interested in reading about Club Level at the other deluxe resorts, we have reviews here (links open in new tabs):
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort - Royal Palm Club (Main Building) Level Review (you are here)
We booked our Main Building Club Level Theme Park View room through our choice Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, Lauren Quirk of Enchanted Escapes Travel. We paid $767.81 per night on an Annual Passholder offer rate. The rack rate for the room was $1,181 per night, which meant our offer rate was about 35% off.
For 2019, Main Building Club Level rooms at Grand Floridian start at $1,035 per night. There are no rooms other than Club Level in the Main Building, so to come up with a Club Level “premium,” we’ll compare to an Outer Building Garden View room, which starts at $657.
That’s a premium of $378 per night over a standard room during the same low season. Before I go on and get grumpy and you tell me I’m overreacting, I want you to lock those two numbers in your mind. $1,035 is the minimum nightly rack rate for this experience. And you’re paying a premium of $378 per night just for the Main Building Club Level access.
Grand Floridian Club Level Check-In
When we arrived at Grand Floridian, we headed to the normal check-in desk. Our Uber driver had (incorrectly) told the gate person we were “coming back” to our hotel, otherwise the gate would have passed our check-in information onto the staff at the hotel. Typically we specifically say we’re there for Club Level so that the desk knows to call whomever they’re supposed to call, we didn’t do that this time.
The Cast Member as the desk quickly identified us as club level guests and gave us a hotel map, Club Level welcome letter, and activity schedule. He called the club staff, who sent someone down to bring us upstairs. (The welcome level bizarrely does not include the 8PM to 10PM serving, but it does actually exist.)
She was apologetic about not catching us when we entered, which we told her was definitely the Uber driver’s mixup, not her staff’s. Along the way, she was able to find us a room, which was nice for a 1PM arrival.
Grand Floridian Club Level Perks
Again, our post on Club Level at Walt Disney World more generally is a better place to get a sense of the value of Club Level. Briefly though, by staying Club Level at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort, you’ll get:
access to a lounge (The Royal Palm Club Lounge) with five small food and beverage servings throughout the day
access to a dedicated concierge staff, including by phone and text
the ability to purchase extra FastPass+ reservations for $50 per person per day (restrictions apply)
The first of these is really the most important, and it’s what we focus most on in this review.
The Royal Palm Club Lounge
Again, this review is a review of the main building Royal Palm Club Lounge at Grand Floridian.
The Royal Palm Club Lounge sort of spans three floors. The third, fourth, and fifth floors of the Main Building at Grand Floridian—the only floors with rooms—are all Club Level rooms and suites. Each floor also has sitting space. As they’re in the main building, all three floors overlook the main lobby. This means whatever music is being played in the lobby will make its way into the lounge.
The third floor has the two concierge desks and sitting space with various games (chess, checkers, backgammon), as well as a patio overlooking the Grand Floridian grounds. There is couch seating for eight, three game tables for two people each, and patio seating for twelve.
The fourth floor is really the lounge proper, with the serving area, two televisions, and most of the seating, with space for 34 adults and eight children.
The fifth floor has seating for 14 people.
Altogether, there’s no doubting the physical Royal Palm Club Lounge is one of the best lounges at Walt Disney World. I definitely could get to capacity (just counting the number of rooms versus seats), but if it did, it wouldn’t really feel crowded because of its spacious layout.
As a physical space, the Royal Palm Club Lounge is almost up to the high standard Disney has priced it at. This is a marked distinction from the cramped lounges at Yacht Club and BoardWalk Inn, for example:
In particular, once the lobby music starts—from either the pianist or the band—and the sun starts to set, the lounge becomes an incredible treat. While the lobby itself is a good spot to hang out, the views from the lounge are fantastic. It’s safe to say little in Disney World beats having a glass of champagne in the Royal Palm Lounge while the band plays and the sky over Magic Kingdom, Contemporary, and Polynesian turns that brilliant Florida sunset orange.
Service at Grand Floridian’s Royal Palm Club
After our great time at BoardWalk Inn’s Innkeeper’s Lounge, I really was approaching Grand Floridian’s Royal Palm Club with a cautious optimism. But it turns out that Innkeeper’s Lounge will continue to be too high a bar for other lounges to meet.
Like Yacht Club’s Regatta Club, there was a real challenge keeping the lounge clean. One afternoon, dirty dishes (with decent chunks of food on them) sat out for over an hour. Yes, guests always can clean up after themselves (you decide how the room rate plays into that), but there was also no obvious place to put your dirty dishes. The best people came up with was to use empty counter-space in the serving area, which is not ideal.
While we sat at tables, we had mixed results. About 1/4 of our dishes were removed within 30 minutes of us being done with them. The other 3/4 of the time we wound up moving them to unmarked counter-space where guests were depositing dishes. During peak hours, the staff were much more attentive at grabbing dishes. As I repeat in these reviews, I don’t think this is a staff issue—it’s a deployment and staffing issue. Most staff were quite busy and looked to be working hard, they just didn’t look to be assigned to simple tasks like cleaning up.
As for direct service, the Royal Palm Club Lounge is a lounge where you’ll need to be the proactive one if you want to get served. As we’ve experienced in other Disney club level lounges, in about 20 hours in the lounge, we weren’t once asked if we needed anything. If you flag someone down or approach them, they’re always more than happy to oblige. Relatedly, the staff were exceedingly friendly any time you encountered them, which is a plus.
Now, unrelated to club level, if you think we’re just out of our mind that Grand Floridian might not be in perfect shape, I’d encourage you to watch Pete Werner’s review of the hotel for Dis Unplugged.
Grand Floridian Club Level Servings, Food, and Beverage
The Royal Palm Club has five servings and a morning coffee half-hour according to the following schedule:
6:30AM to 7:00AM - Coffee (available all day, actually)
7:00AM to 10:30AM - Grand Beginnings
11:30AM to 3:30PM - Refreshments (or “Mid Day Delights”)
2:30PM to 4:00PM - Afternoon Tea
5:00PM to 7:00PM - Twilight Refreshers
8:00PM to 10:00PM - Grand Indulgence
The lounge itself is open 24 hours (due to its open position in the building) though it’s only serviced from 7:00AM to 10:00PM. During those hours, you can request simple alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and champagne). On the fourth floor you’ll also find some items available throughout lounge hours—coffee, espresso, tea, bottled water, and cold beverages. There are two small refrigerators (not pictured) with soda.
The Royal Palm Lounge was definitely the lounge with the most lax cutoffs that we encountered. This could have been a quirk of staffing, but it was common to see people arriving 15 minutes late and still grabbing some food. Obviously this isn’t something you should bank on. Crowds weren’t really a problem, even during servings. As we noted, the seats could all get taken, given the number of rooms in the hotel.
Grand Beginnings at the Royal Palm Club (7AM to 10:30AM)
This was a fairly typical continental breakfast serving. There was also a chef making fresh cronuts, but I didn’t get a picture of that.
Refreshments at the Royal Palm Club (11:30AM to 3:30PM)
You could easily build a lunch meal out of the soup, salad, and bread during refreshments.
Afternoon Tea at the Royal Palm Club (2:30PM to 4PM)
This is mostly just scones and a few other items added to the refreshments lineup. Personally I think it would be worth everything if they did actual Afternoon Tea service here, which I’ve seen in other (non-Disney) lounges.
Twilight Refreshers at the Royal Palm Club (5PM to 7PM)
Twilight Refreshers was the real highlight of the servings. There were so many good options (even for a vegetarian), I was pretty overwhelmed.
Grand Indulgence at the Royal Palm Club (8PM to 10PM)
Unfortunately I missed a picture of precisely what cordials were included from 8PM to 10PM (and I stuck to beer and champagne).
Disney’s Grand Floridian - Royal Palm Club - Conclusions
We probably won’t be returning to the Royal Palm Club. The ambiance of Grand Floridian is enjoyable, but you can get that just sitting in the lobby or ordering a drink a Mizner’s.
Because of its large size, the Royal Palm Club Lounge is actually one of the better lounges to spend time in. Unlike say, Regatta Club or Innkeeper’s Club, you won’t hear every conversation going on in the lounge. You’ve got three floors of seating to choose from.
But that only gets you so far. There are actually plenty of places to relax around Grand Floridian—you don’t even need club level access.
Basically, it’s really hard to justify the $378 spread between the lowest-priced room at Grand Floridian and the lowest-priced Royal Palm Club Level room. The $250 norm for the premium at other Club Levels is challenging in itself, but Royal Palm Club would have to be on an entirely different level to justify $378—and it isn’t.
Grand Floridian might be a good bucket list experience, but we’d probably pass on Royal Palm Club!
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