Before diving into our recent stay at The Grove Resort and Water Park, here’s a snapshot of our travel crew: Eric and I were on the road with our three kids – our 16-year-old son, 12-year-old daughter, and our 6-year-old ball of energy (boy). And not to forget, Grandma (aka GoGo) was coming along on her first Disney adventure since Covid.
With a family of six in tow, we piled into the mini-van for a quick stop for a wedding in North Carolina (which Eric agreed to mainly because we were 8-hours from the parks). It’s worth mentioning that our family visits the Walt Disney World theme parks several times a year, and this was a last-minute bonus trip.
Out of these trips, we typically stay on our Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points or on Disney property once or twice per year.
For supplemental trips, we choose to stay off property. Over the years, we’ve done the hard work of exploring numerous hotels, resorts, and condos so you don’t have to.
Spoiler Alert: Our top picks outside the Disney bubble are the Melia in Celebration and the Bonnet Creek by Wyndham. Why? Proximity to the parks, room quality, in-room laundry, and hassle-free parking. These matter.
Quick Overview of The Grove Resort
The Grove Resort Orlando is a luxury resort located in Orlando, Florida. It is situated near Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios Florida. The resort is known for offering spacious vacation residences, including suites and multi-bedroom residences, providing an ideal accommodation option for families and large groups.
Key features of The Grove Resort Orlando include a water park called Surfari Water Park, which offers a variety of water attractions and pools. Additionally, the resort provides amenities like restaurants, a spa, fitness facilities, and recreational activities. The location’s proximity to major theme parks makes it a convenient choice for visitors looking to explore the attractions in the Orlando area.
Hotel First Impressions
The Grove greets you with what feels like a slice of Beverly Hills – luxurious and lined with palm trees. Inside, a clean lobby and a handy market sits conveniently adjacent. Initial vibes? Solid.
Our two-bedroom setup was both spacious and smart, comfortably accommodating our family-of-six dynamic. Huge bonus points for ceiling fans, especially in the Florida heat at night. Our last off-property resort lacked these fans and you truly miss it at 3:00 AM and the air conditioner is not cooling your room as you intended.
The full-sized fridge proved perfect for Disney snack storage, ice for water bottles the in room washer was a huge win.
Extra points for ample storage; the walk-in closets felt more residential than hotel.
Having a full-sized washer and dryer was also a net positive. This means you can pack lighter and also avoid spending unnecessary time doing laundry in a shared space.
Getting to Disney
For those familiar with Florida’s infamous I-4 traffic, you’ll appreciate this: our route to Disney sidestepped it entirely. And that, fellow travelers, was a vacation another win.
The Grove seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere – or at least secluded enough that you wouldn’t think you were in a hotbed of tourism.
Hotel & Amenities
The major reason we decided to stay at The Grove Resort were the amenities – or at least the main reason we booked. From a birds eye view, the resort had a lot going for it.
The Grove’s arcade was an unexpected hit, clean and expansive. It even had indoor glow in the dark putt putt golf.
The water park (or so they called it), in all honesty, it felt more like a spruced-up pool area. The area was a bit more expansive than your standard hotel, but still, a bit overhyped. There was a lazy river, two slides (one was closed), a kiddie splash zone, and a surfing section. The surfing section was not free. Instead, you would have to pay $30 to use. Don’t get me wrong; it’s decent, but if you’re picturing a sprawling water park, recalibrate those expectations. Truthfully, I expected way more for a $40/day resort fee (plus the extra $25 per night for parking).
The Grove Resort had its fair share of unexpected charges. Beyond the surfing fee, there was a cost to use pool towels (if you forgot yours in the room). You would have to pay a $35 fee (per band) if you lost the thin blue county-fair-type plastic band that allowed entry into the pool area.
Plus, those planning to lounge by the pool, be prepared for an extra $30 up-charge for a chair and two umbrellas.
No thanks. Daily resort and parking fees also added up, making me miss the all-inclusive Disney feel. Sure, Disney up-charges quite a bit, but I’ve never had to pay to get an umbrella by the pool.
Navigation & Space
Maneuvering around the resort was hard. Period.
Identical hallways, with no clear identifiers paired with the sheer size of the resort made it a challenge to get around. You felt like you were stranded on some type of Death Star.
Tip for fellow travelers: landmarks are sparse, so maybe drop a pin on your phone’s map when you locate your room.
This also made it really difficult to pick up food and grocery delivery (which they only drop off at the lobby). So if you ordered some soda or water for the trip, be prepared to haul this up to your room. This experience was awful.
Unfortunately, it was needed because our room didn’t come with your normal “starter items” like dish liquid, scrubbers, much toilet paper, etc.
The Grove Resort and Water Park was a blend of hits and misses – but mostly misses. Its promise as an off-property Disney retreat had highs and some lows, but it would be a tough one for us to come back. Hidden fees and just blatant decisions to make the guests life more difficult is just not necessary when traveling to Central Florida. The discounted rate was not THAT much of a difference to settle for less.
For the cost-conscious Disney traveler, weigh these insights before you book. For us, convenience, room functionality, and cost transparency remain key.
Got a hidden Disney lodging gem to share? We’re all ears! Our pixie dusted luggage is primed for the next escapade.