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We just got back from a fun-filled week in Orlando staying at the Marriott Grande Vista using our timeshare. This resort is also available if you wanted to pay cash like a hotel. We visited the new Diagon Alley and the related Harry Potter Hogsmeade, while also taking in the traditional Disney World theme parks.
Orlando Trip Details
- $1800 in flights to Disney World for less than $250 out of pocket
- Save Up to $200 on your Stay at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
- Where to stay in Orlando – Marriott Grande Vista review
- Trip Report – Orlando for Disney and Universal
How we booked our vacation
We own a timeshare with Diamond Resorts and had some points that were expiring a couple of years ago, but didn’t have a specific Diamond location we were able to visit, so we banked our week with the timeshare trading company Interval International. This “banked” week was available for us to book anywhere within Interval’s network, so it was a perfect opportunity to use it for this vacation.
We chose to vacation the middle of September because we figured that the theme parks would be far less crowded right after school starts, which would enable us to go on all the rides we wanted to without having to deal with huge lines.
Once we picked the time of our vacation, we had about 20-30 timeshares in Orlando to choose from. We started searching a year in advance so that we’d be sure to have numerous choices available to us. As we narrowed down the list of locations that looked attractive to us, we cross-checked reviews on TripAdvisor to ensure that there would be no negative surprises.
We booked our vacation using Interval’s website and had to pay their fee of $199 to complete the transaction. If we had paid cash for our reservation for the week, it would have cost $229 per night + tax.
That would have brought the total to $1,800 for the week.
Checking in to the Marriott Grande Vista
After our flight from Orange County, California, we arrived around 6pm on a Saturday night. As usual in Orlando this time of the year, the early evening rain greeted us.
As we checked in at the front desk, they acknowledged my Marriott Gold status. We were given our choice of rooms overlooking the golf course or the lake (we chose the golf course) and a low or high floor room (we choose the top floor).
The map they provided showed just how large the property was, with 3 pool areas, a lake, and the golf course. We stayed in building 99 towards the bottom right of the map below. It was away from any noise and commotion, yet a close walk to everything the resort had to offer.
If you want to see the detail map of the Marriott Grande Vista with a legend showing what each of the letters mean, click here.
Our two-bedroom unit at Marriott Grande Vista
Here’s a quick 15 second video of our unit.
Our unit was 2 bedroom, with a family room, dining area, washer and dryer, and a full kitchen. The rooms were set up so that one side had a bedroom, kitchenette, and bathroom (like a studio apartment), while the other side had everything else. We also had access to two balconies, one off each bedroom – one was screened in, while the other was not.
When you walk in, the full kitchen was immediately to the right. I love having a kitchen when we travel so we can save money on food, even while eating better meals than if the 7 of us (4 adults and three kids 5 and under) are out all the time.
The dining area also had the door adjoining our rooms, and the living room was just beyond that.
Timmy and Ally tested out the couch, while Jake watched… so, if your couch is lumpy, you might be staying in the same room we had!
Our bedroom was large with a chaise lounger by the slider that led out to a screened in balcony.
Just off the bed there was a relaxing two-person jetted tub, plus a bathroom with a shower stall.
The other bedroom had a kitchenette with a sink and small fridge, plus a bathroom with a shower/tub combo. It also had it’s own balcony, but it wasn’t screened.
The closest pool to our unit was a only a quick walk across the parking lot. It was a pretty basic pool with a large spa nearby and a splash pad with small water fountains for the kids. The pools were open to 11pm, so it was fun to relax at the pool while the kids slept after a long day at the Disney and Universal parks.
The main pool was large and also had a large splash pad.
There was also a kiddie pool only 1′ deep with a fountain in the middle and several water jets spraying in for the kiddos to play with.
We had the most fun at the Copa Local pool area on the other side of the lake, but first we to walk over the bridge.
I would recommend requesting a unit near this pool, because we had the most fun there! There was a normal adult pool above the “fun” pool below. There were water cannons, splash areas, waterfalls, and a bunch of other areas to explore with adventurous kiddos.
When we got to the Copa Loca pool, while we were setting down our towels, Mr Timmy walked up to the Copa Loca bar and knew what he wanted, “a yellow drink.” So we got him a virgin pina colada, and he loved it.
There was a good-sized gym at the Marriott Grande Vista, but we didn’t use it because our legs were way too tired from walking several miles a day at the Disney and Universal theme parks. There were a wide variety of machines to choose from.
Game Room for Kids
On our last day in Orlando we had some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we let the kids play in The Maze in the club house area. The had so much fun climbing around the structure and chasing each other around. Timmy was really excited because there were a bunch of blocks to play with.
What I would change
The decor was very attractive, but the only miss was using outdated 4″ square white tiles in the shower and bathtub areas. That made the room seem dated… if they changed those tiles, it would be a very attractive unit. Additionally, the light switches throughout the unit were placed in somewhat odd locations.
It was strange that only some of the balconies were screened-in. Given the number of mosquitoes and bugs in Florida, it would make sense to have all of the balconies screened-in so that you could enjoy the balcony without fear of being bitten all over.
We’ve been spoiled with many of our other timeshare locations offering gas grills on each unit’s balconies. At this Marriott, there were a handful of grills placed in strategic locations throughout the property. We were lucky that we never had to wait or share the grills with other guests, but I can imagine that the grills could get really busy during the summer months.
The Marriott Grande Vista was a fun place to stay, with a central location that was about halfway between the DisneyWorld and Universal theme parks. The SeaWorld parks were just down the street as well. We enjoyed cooking and BBQ’ing almost all of our breakfasts and dinners that helped us save a TON of money on food for the week. The resort was really big, which allowed for plenty of exploration opportunities to keep the kids occupied. There was so many free or low-cost activities to do at the resort, that we almost wished we had cut back on a day or two at the amusement parks. I would totally recommend staying here if you’re planning on visiting Orlando.
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