Diamond Resorts Grande Villas Resort
This resort is in Orlando itself and located close to everything. If you have not been to Orlando before, know that Orlando, Kissimmee, and Winter Garden are the main locations for the resorts so that you can be close to Disney, Universal, and Sea World theme parks. Those 3 communities touch boundary lines, so you are close to most locations when you stay in one of the 3 areas.
Video by M.O.D
Day One Travel & Arrival at Diamond Resorts Grande Villas Resort
Again, I feel spoiled because I get to transfer to this resort from another and cut out all the travel by car, or the flight I would normally do before starting in on the fun. The drive for me to Orlando is one that I kind of enjoy, though. It is a bit of a rite of passage. Although, I must confess I do not mind feeling like I cheated that passage a little this time.
I do not know where you may be coming from, but by flight or car, the journey to Florida is that familiar trip for millions a year that they long for. The vacation that they plan months if not years for. If you are planning a trip to Disney, or Universal, do keep this resort in mind. It has a great location in the area. The resort itself sits between Dr. Phillips (a well-known area with Million Dollar homes on a local lake near Disney, and Disney Springs. So, staying here puts you in a great location near all the action but off by itself for comfort.
Of the various Disney parks, you are closest to Epcot on that side of the parks when you are staying here. Another way of saying it is that you sit Northeast of the Disney parks. Universal is just on the other side of the Doctor Phillips area, so you are very close to that as well. Likely staying here, you are as close to in the middle of both theme parks as you can get.
Some people that are here for a week try to see both theme parks, but unless you are an athlete, that may be a bit much. Both parks are so big these days that a week in each one means you still will not see it all. It is possible to hit the high notes for both parks if that is your goal over 6-7 days, but again; I like to focus on one or the other during my trips.
Given the big ticket attractions at both these days, part of your decision-making process might be which story line your kids are more in love with. Harry Potter (Universal) or Star Wars (Disney), soon after the next Avatar movie comes out, it may become the major draw at Disney for a while as well.
Both theme parks offer amazing lifelong experiences, and I love both of them. I must say that despite the higher prices, I have more childhood memories attached to Disney and Magic Kingdom, or Epcot, but your child likely does not. So, following their lead will make the family group happier on the trip. If you have a fan of both franchises, you may have to try to go to each during your trip. Sea World is another option and might work for you if you have a child that is very into sea life and animals. Some would rightfully say the vacation is also about the adults, but for me I have the most fun seeing kids over the moon happy, so I would go where I think they are most excited.
Also, while some might think it is a sin to come to the area and not go to the major theme parks, they are not paying your vacation costs for you. For many, just being able to take a vacation after a crazy few years is a blessing, and do not worry, there are many more affordable vacation theme parks and options in the area. Just remember, this resort too has many features that the entire family will enjoy. You can take a day on your vacation and relax at the resort and still have the kids happy with the pools and fun.
We stayed here over Christmas week and were thoroughly impressed! It is 7 minutes from Disney and they run their own shuttles to the park. I am very particular when it comes to the cleanliness of hotels, and this was top notch. We booked a 2 room condo, and it was SO spacious. The beds were also incredibly comfortable. You could tell the rooms were recently updated with fresh paint and new carpet. Even the baseboards were clean. The front staff was very attentive. If you have a big family, this is the bang for your buck!!! Highly recommend.
My family and I recently stayed in a two bedroom condo here at the Grande Villas Resort. We had an amazing stay! The staff truly went above and beyond to be kind, welcoming, and accommodating. As cheesy as it may sound, we truly felt like we were coming home every time we came back onto the property! *Attention guests that may sleep in the living room: the door that could be used to make the neighboring condo an “adjoining room” allows more noise than the other rooms. This didn’t matter to us as no one was sleeping in the living room, but if you plan to use that room for sleep, maybe bring earplugs just in case. The room had some AMAZING attention to detail, here are some of my favorites: laundry with detergent included, ice maker in the freezer, can opener, tea kettle, so many ceiling fans, decently insulated walls, STORAGE EVERYWHERE, small details to make it feel like home behind every cabinet and closet door! We have never experienced a stay somewhere that had so much attention to every small detail. Well done Diamond Resorts! We are now trying to plan a return trip with a large group of family as this resort and the area truly has something for everyone. Some of our favorite memories are just walking the surrounding areas and spending hours and hours swimming. We can’t wait to come back!
We had a great experience. Everyone from the minute we checked in was pleasant, kind, accommodating. Christopher at check in and Lisa in the Activity program were both exceptional! Lisa found out it was my parents’ anniversary and hand delivered a gift to them! We enjoyed the pool, ping-pong, corn hole, mini golf, ice cream sundaes and s’mores! The facility is very clean and the house keeping staff eager to help and always working to keep things nice. We had a family of 4 generations and all had a great time!! Thank you!
A perfect location between the 3 major parks. For the days you’re not at the parks, they have plenty of things to do on site with activities like crafts and games for the kids; beer and wine tasting for the adults. The staff is friendly and we have many lots of friends with other people that were staying there. The rooms are a full suite at 1300sqft for a 3 bed 3 bath unit. Fully loaded kitchen with all the amenities. Staff is a tentative to its customer’s needs. They accommodated us, needing an extra bed and sent maintenance out right away when out AC wasn’t cooling to the set temp. It’s my go to place for the most relaxing vacation for my family. Check them out!
I stayed here back in September. Originally booked for 3 nights, we loved it so much that we booked an extra night! They even let us keep the same room we were in. The room was very clean. I love the little kitchenette and living area being separated from the room. You can see all the employees (who are very pleasant) cleaning and maintaining the ground constantly. There were fun games at the pool and the pool was very clean!. We also utilized the little shop they had there (hot wings are bomb). I can’t wait to go back there and hopefully have the same experience!
Those reviews are just a few of thousands of this amazing resort location. Many like it for the same reason I do, plenty of room and amenities, and are so close to all 3 of the major theme parks here. Or I should say all 3 brands and the many parks they have in the area.
My villa or vacation condo had everything I would want or need.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Free WiFi
- Outdoor Pools
- Business Center
- On Site Restaurants
- Fitness Center
Day Two Epcot
I chose to start my adventure on this trip at Epcot. I enjoyed my last visit and felt like I left too many things unseen or experienced, so I wanted to go back. For those that have not been, Epcot is like a giant circle around a lake. Each part of that circle is a different country or land that introduces you to its culture, fun, and people. Many of the staff in these countries’ shops and restaurants come from their country of origin. So, you are interacting with someone from Japan, or China, and so on for all the nations represented here. They are working, but they are also kind of like goodwill ambassadors as well.
I almost always get the park hopper pass that allows you to go to more than a park in a single day. However, with Epcot or the Magic Kingdom there is more than enough to do at either park if you want to save the money. All the parks are amazing at Disney but Animal Kingdom feels more like half-day visit. Again, that will probably change after the new Avatar movie comes out. If that is a large a success story as the first, I expect that section of the park will soon see an expansion. The Avatar area is great. I just think there is a giant opportunity there.
When someone mentions Epcot spaceship earth probably comes to mind it’s one of the most iconic centerpieces of any theme park Epcot opened on October 1st 1982 with future world and world showcase offering almost two dozen pavilions to explore now almost 40 years old Epcot has definitely evolved through the years with a massive overhaul currently taking place there have been a lot of changes and additions and with that there are a lot of new secrets to keep an eye out for plus some older less talked about favorites so let’s explore some theme park history.
Space 220 truly elevates your dining experience at Epcot as you make your way into this elevator to travel 220 miles above Epcot. Your destination is the Centauri Space Station. If you look above, you’ll see Centauri Space Station coming into view. The name is actually a reference to the now extinct attraction horizons it used to occupy. The plot of land where mission space sits today. As you passed the outer space seen on the ride, you got a glimpse at the Brava Centauri space station. It’s that circular object, and now it’s made its way back into Epcot, where the space station is a real place we can explore.
Now when you’re dining in space 220 and see earth keep your eyes peeled for spaceships and astronauts floating past the windows, you can catch them doing a variety of different tasks including having a lightsaber duel. The sleek and form-fitting design of the looks nothing like traditional spacesuits we see astronauts wear, but what they do look a lot of like is the space suit from the outer space scene in horizons. If you’re looking for another hidden detail that pays tribute to horizons, then take a look at the blue mural by the entrance to mission space hidden right behind this cast member you find the Brava Centauri space station. It’s been here since 2017 when Disney relaunched the ride.
When you enter the Centauri space station on the left-hand side, you can find a hydroponic wheel. Here the astronauts are growing cabbage cauliflower and lettuce. This looks like a really long chamber but imagines just use the mirror at the back of the display to create the illusion of a being much longer it’s a pretty convincing effect now the produce is fake but the whole hydroponic setup could belong on living with the land. These have been on display on the ride since 1982 when it originally opened as listen to the land. Here’s something you may not know: Disney actually teamed up with NASA who provided hydroponic prototype units to display on the ride and in 1982 there was a very familiar looking hydroponic display on listening to the land, in a gravity spinning show. Your learned experimental approach to growing food in outer space, including the hydroponic wheel of lettuce in space 220, pays tribute to the original version of living with the land.
That was on display in the ride until about 1986 to 1987, when it was then replaced by this setup. I remember riding through and seeing the hydroponics from the boats all those years ago. Now it’s been some time since the late 80s when they were researching and developing these hydroponic practices and in 2015, the first space salad was actually served on the international space station.
Recently with the addition of Remy’s ratatouille adventure in the France pavilion there has definitely been a rat infestation. Thankfully it’s the good kind of rat infestation cause they’re everywhere imagines cleverly incorporated Remy into many aspects of the expansion. Kids will see him everywhere in the area. You could make a game out of it.
Beyond space, Epcot is known for its discovery of the nations around the lake. You get themed buildings, restaurants, shops, and rides, or shows all intended to give you a mini cultural experience. It was a very clever design idea for this park and it makes things very special here. When you visit, you will see many of the things you may remember from years ago, but also updates that they have been busy working on before and even during the COVID scare. It appears somehow that Disney made good use of some of that time working on updates in the park.
Day Three The Magic Kingdom
I have said it before and I mean it. I love the memories stored and reexperienced here as much as the park itself. Being able to go on a ride, or see a place that you last visited with a loved one who is no longer with you, is moving to me. These days I have to wear sunglasses into the Magic Tiki Room or Enchanted Tiki Room because it brings back such a flood of powerful good memories. It is much the same for several of the rides and experiences in this park for me.
I first came to the Magic Kingdom in the 1970s when you got the little green paper tickets to the park. Each land or area seemed to be made out of literally magic to my young mind at that time. I forget how old I was on the first visit, maybe 4 or 5, but I still have a few of those memories that stay with me even from that age.
If you are a parent, asking yourself will my child remember the trip at a certain age, I would say you will be amazed by what they can remember.
For me, the old rides and attractions are what the Magic Kingdom is all about.
Let’s talk about Disney Genie. This system is like the Fast Past of old but on steroids combined with a phone app system. The result is a useful tool with a bit of an additional cost that can shorten your time in lines and make the day go faster at any Disney park, but especially Hollywood Studios or the Magic Kingdome. Since many of the rides here are one’s like the Small World that everyone remembers, everyone wants to ride them. So the lines can be long, and on a hot day that is no fun. So, in comes the Disney Genie and you can book fast line access to those rides, make appointments, and so on.
This app is smart. however if you miss too many of your Genie rides, it may penalize you by not showing as many fast ride opportunities.
After being on the very first jungle cruise of the day, I got off. It’s about 10AM right now. Spending about 10 minutes playing those Disney genie slots and I was able to snag a lightning lane for 10-15, which is about 40 minutes from now, so not too bad over at splash mountain. It is a busy day at Disney today likely because of the great weather. Even if I was a local, I would have woke up today if off work and said “let’s go to Disney.”
The Magic Kingdome has a total of 34 rides and attractions. These range from classic rides to shows, and the in between like experiences. So, this park, along with a family, could spend several days and even with a Disney Genie pass not see it all. Just pace yourself and remember to have fun. I think a trip to Disney or Universal is best when you have a plan but when you do not put pressure on yourself to always follow the plan. There should be no pressure on vacations.
If you want an amazing vacation, this is the perfect location to be your homebase. You save on great accommodations when you book with Tzort.