Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort: Where Magic Meets Luxury




Click here to view more pictures of this resort.

Classic. Elegant. Luxurious.

The list can go on and on when describing Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. This is a place where Victorian charm is seamlessly blended with modern elegance,  with a touch of magic. Often referred to as Disney's flagship resort, the Grand Floridian is the perfect choice for guests who want to experience the best Disney has to offer in resort amenities.

What Disney does best is tell stories, and with this resort, the imagineers did an amazing job of immersing guests in a world of charming details. Walking through the pathways, you'll feel lost in the turn-of-the-century hotel that celebrates the golden age of travel. The attention to detail is stunning. For example, as you're walking through the main lobby, look down; you might recognize a few friendly faces hidden throughout the marble floor!

ROOMS
 
The rooms at the Grand Floridian are among the largest standard rooms on property. At an average of 448 square feet, there is plenty of space for your family to spread out and relax. A typical layout includes two queen beds and a daybed or sleeper sofa. "Dormer rooms", or the rooms on the top floor, only sleep 4 (with 2 queen beds). The nice feature about these rooms are the vaulted ceilings and private balcony; these cannot be booked as a guaranteed category, although they can be requested. An "outer building: Deluxe room", formerly called a Lodge Tower room, is a located in one the turrets. These rooms have an extra rounded room with a sitting area and windows, and also sleep 4 instead of 5.

When booking, you can choose a variety of views and locations. The majority of the rooms are located in outer buildings, giving you the choice of garden, lagoon, and theme park views.

Club level rooms are available in the main building (Royal Palm Club), and one outer building (Sugar Loaf). Guests in these rooms will have access to the concierge lounge, providing breakfast, snacks, and a selection of beer and wine.

The main building also boasts some deluxe rooms, king bed rooms, and suites.

Guest rooms at the Grand Floridian are currently undergoing refurbishment, scheduled to be completed by the end of summer. The majority of rooms have already been finished. The interior decor of all the rooms and lobbies were completely overhauled, and the overall effect was dramatic and beautiful. What once was a lovely resort is now stunning. Muted, fresh, and modern colors and patterns grace the walls and beds.



LOCATION

One great reason to stay here is its proximity to the parks. The Magic Kingdom is accessible by a quick monorail ride (it is the first stop from the resort), or by boat. Either way is fantastic and very convenient. To get to Epcot, you take the same monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center, where you will transfer to the Epcot monorail. Disney's Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Water Parks, and Downtown Disney are all accessed by bus.

Being located directly next to the Magic Kingdom adds to the overall magic and ambiance of this resort.  I love taking a stroll along the lagoon, listening to the train whistle from the park.

RECREATION and RELAXATION

When not touring the parks, this is a great place to spend the day! Guests staying at the resort can take advantage of two themed pools, as well as an incredible childrens' splash area that will make you wish you were a kid again. For the ultimate pool and beach experience, you can rent a cabana for a few hours or the entire day.

A variety of watercraft are available to rent from the marina, allowing you explore the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Guided fishing excursions are available for the fish lover in your family. Also from the marina, kids age 4-12 can set sail on a Pirate Adventure cruise (reservations for this and the fishing excursions should be made in advance).

At night, guests can enjoy a complimentary movie under the stars. An outdoor movie screen is set up between the pool and the beach, making the perfect setting to enjoy a feature film in the night air. The schedule changes on a monthly basis, and the list of movies being shown can be found at the front desk.

Senses, the full service spa, is a great way to treat yourself on a special occasion, or simply take a relaxing break from the parks. Reservations should be made in advance.

DINING

This resort offers the largest dining selection of all resorts on Walt Disney World property.

Quick service: 
Gasparilla Island Grill, located in the main building, is a great location to grab a quick meal. The menus for all meals include a wide range of options: pastries, eggs, waffles, and breakfast sandwiches for breakfast, and sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads, nuggets, and salads for lunch and dinner. The great thing about this location is it is OPEN 24 HOURS!! If you come back from a late night in the parks and want to refill your mug, or even grab a pizza, you can do just that (you're on vacation, why not?).

The Beach Pool Bar and Courtyard Pool Bar also offer quick food options throughout the day, along with a large variety of cocktails, wine and beer. 

Table Service:

The Grand Floridian Cafe offers casual dining with an a la carte menu, in a charming Victorian dining room with sweeping views of the resort grounds.

1900 Park Fare is a character buffet.
  • In the morning, the Supercafragilistic Breakfast allows guests to dine with a variety of characters, including Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh. 
  • In the evening, Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner treats guests to an enchanted evening, with special appearances by Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella.
  • Each afternoon, this location is host to the Wonderland Tea Party, where children age 4-12 can have "tea" (juice) and cupcakes, hear stories, and play games. Alice and the Mad Hatter make an appearance as well. This experience is limited to 25 children, so early reservations are definitely recommended!
Another great experience for kids is the "My Disney Girl's Practically Perfect Princess Tea Party". This is an extra special experience, where young children can have a royal tea party with stories and songs. Aurora often makes an appearance herself as well! Children must be accompanied by an adult for this party. Each child will receive a special gift as part of the package (for girls, a My Disney Girl doll in an Aurora gown, along with tiara and bracelet; for boys, a Duffy bear and pirate ears). This is one of the pricier options, and a great experience for a special and memorable celebration.

SIGNATURE DINING

Guests who would enjoy a fine dining experience have three great options at the Grand Floridian.

Citricos has a menu focusing on fresh American food with a Mediterranean flare. The decor is modern whimsical, and the open on-stage kitchen adds to the entertainment and ambiance. As a signature restaurant, a dress code is enforced. At the minimum, you may not wear tank tops, swimsuits, torn clothing, or cut offs; but you will find that most guests are dressed elegantly for a special or celebratory meal. (Review here)

Narcoossee's, the large round building located near the dock for the Magic Kingdom boat, is the other signature restaurant at the Grand Floridian where you can use 2 credits of your dining plan. The first draw of this restaurant are the large sweeping windows with panoramic views of the Magic Kingdom; the second is the food. This restaurant is a must-do for any seafood lover; although you can also enjoy steak and chicken here as well. (Review here)

Victoria and Albert's
For the ultimate in luxury and fine dining, Victoria and Albert's is the most elegant restaurant on property. This AAA Five Diamond award winning restaurant is the number one spot for a special evening. Guests enjoy a leisure meal with personalized menus, long stemmed roses, and a harpist playing in the background. The impeccable service will make you feel like a member of an exclusive club. The menu changes daily, focusing on fresh local and seasonal items. Reservations fill up extremely quickly, and should be made at the 180 day mark. This restaurant does not accept any Disney Dining plan

SHOPPING

Another must-do at this resort is to check out all the shopping options! From fine apparel and accessories, to pins and novelties, you'll find something that interests you. My favorite is Basin White, where you'll find luxurious bath and body care items that smell heavenly.




Even if you are not staying at the Grand Floridian, I highly recommend taking some time to explore this great resort. The lobby is a great place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. The Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra graces guests with smooth melodies and sweet jazz (many of them favorite Disney tunes!). Throughout the day, you may catch a pianist performing on the grand piano. Of course, you can't miss out on shaking hands with Richard- a Disney legend who makes everyone who enters the resort feel welcome and at home.

Whether you stay there for a week or an hour, be sure to make the most of your next visit to Disney's Grand Floridian!

Carissa

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