If there is one Walt Disney World resort that I make a point of visiting each and every time I vacation at the most magical place on earth it is definitely Walt Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Rarely do I allow myself the pure indulgence of laying down the cash for a night stay at this magnificently luxurious resort, but I will always find time to either sit down for a delicious meal at one of their rave-worthy restaurants or simply stroll the pristine property and glory in the majesty of it all. The beauty of a Disney resort is that you don’t have to be a guest to visit it, and you’d be doing yourself a favor if you carved out some time to witness first-hand just how immensely brilliant each resort is—especially this timeless one. Here are 11 things we love about Walt Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
11. The Holidays
Where do I even begin? At the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the holidays are taken to a whole other level. Just before Easter, there is a wondrous display of giant hand-painted Easter eggs with classic Disney images for guests to gawk at. But during the Christmas season the essence of the holidays are ripe and the season shines bright from the moment guests enter the lobby. Christmas is seen, heard, and felt in a magical way at this Disney resort as delicious gingerbread scents waft passed your nose, delightful chords of classic Christmas melodies greet you from the lobby’s grand piano, and a larger than life Christmas tree towers high center-stage, trimmed with colorful, shining bulbs. Beyond the tree you’ll find a life-size gingerbread house made of REAL gingerbread shingles, candy, and frosting, and it houses delicious gingerbread treats available for guests to purchase and savor. At night the guests are even greeted with complimentary chestnuts that were, you guessed, roasted by an open fire. Aside from all this Christmas cheer, you’ll find wreaths, plants, flowers and decorations in gold, red, and green everywhere you look, reminding us that this resort sure does love this time of year!
10. The Restaurants
This resort is the home to some of the best restaurants not only on Walt Disney World property, but all over. Victoria and Albert’s—Disney’s premier restaurant—holds a AAA Five Diamond Award to prove it. Though this meal is leaps and bounds pricier than what you’d find anywhere else throughout Disney, the food experience—whether dining at the exclusive Chef’s Table or inside the dining hall itself—provides a memory that is guaranteed to last a lifetime. Citricos and Narcoossee’s—two other signature restaurants found at this resort—offer incredible views while you dine on delicious award-winning fare in a sophisticated setting. If a character meal is what you seek, 1900 Park Fare is the place to go. During their “Supercalifragilistic Breakfast,” they offer refined morning delights, such as Lobster Benedict, Smoked Salmon Lox, and Floridian Strawberry Soup, while you are visited by Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. During their “Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner,” you’ll find palate-pleasing entrees that take your typical Disney World all-you-care-to-eat buffet up several notches while Cinderella and her fellow castle residents stroll on by for a visit. Also on property is the delightful table-service Grand Floridian Café which never fails to impress as well as the quick-service Gasparilla Grill which is open 24-hours and offers gourmet grab-and-go items. Beyond the restaurants, you’ll find dining experiences like the Wonderland Tea Party and the Perfectly Princess Tea Party, both geared towards the younger royalty in your family.
9. The Location
The close proximity of this resort to the Magic Kingdom is evident when you head outdoors beyond the hotel room buildings. Peaking over the trees is Cinderella Castle, a sight that never gets old, and can be viewed from the private balcony of some of the luckier resort guests. This resort neighbors Magic Kingdom, separated by the Seven Seas Lagoon, and is just a short boat ride or monorail ride away.
8. The Transportation
As previously mentioned, because this resort neighbors Magic Kingdom, you’ll find unique modes of transportation to bring you to this magical Disney Park. This is the last stop of the monorail’s circle through the Magic Kingdom Resorts before it heads to the park. You’ll have a little bit of a longer return trip, but if you take the boat, you’ll be the first drop off (and be in for a beautiful boat ride with majestic views!) as it heads to the Grand Floridian first, the Polynesian Village Resort second, before it returns back to the Magic Kingdom.
7. The Views
Want to watch a stellar fireworks show but aren’t inside Magic Kingdom? This resort provides views that are unparalleled. You can experience Wishes Nighttime Spectacular in a new way from this resort’s boat deck. There are a few wooden benches and plenty of standing space available. When the bright bursts of color reflect off the shimmering lake before you, it’s a breathtaking sight. You’ll also have a wonderful view of the nightly Electrical Water Pageant which glides along the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.
6. The Pools
This resort offers a wonderful way to cool off from the often merciless Florida heat. Two pools can be found on property—the grotto-themed “main” pool equipped with a slide, waterfalls, and a nearby pool bar, and the “quiet” pool, nestled just beyond the courtyard in the middle of the resort. Kids will have a whimsical time playing in the “splash-pad” area as it is themed around the classic Alice and Wonderland film. Teacups and teapots sprinkle water on little ones as they play in this interactive, wet playground. A Mad Hatter hat periodically douses water on sometimes unsuspecting kids, which is always good for a laugh. A number of poolside activities and games are also scheduled daily at the primary pool.
5. Richard Gerth
If you’ve ever been to the Grand Floridian Resort, there is a good chance you’ve seen Richard Gerth, the “Grand” father of Cast Members. At 88-years young, he stands just outside the lobby entrance, greeting guests with welcoming words, a smile, and possibly even a hug. Visiting Mr. Gerth in his full cream-colored Victorian attire has become a tradition for many families as he has delighted guests here for nearly 25 years. He is a legacy to this resort and to the Walt Disney Company, and a true gem of person. Do yourself a favor and take a second to meet Mr. Gerth and allow him to sprinkle even more pixie-dusted magic on your Disney vacation!
4. The Rooms/Villas
There are more than 900 guest rooms at this resort, each one themed around elegance and sophistication. Standard guestrooms average a comfortable 450 (ish) square feet of space, each one with a sliding glass door that opens up to a picturesque view. Each room provides a clean, comfortable, and luxurious ambiance that makes the day of checking out near unbearable. There are also newly constructed Vacation Club villas located near the fairytale-like Wedding Pavilion, the spacious rooms with fully-equipped kitchens evoking a casual elegance and sleeping anywhere from 5 to 12 guests. Regardless whether you stay in a standard room, suite, or villa, you will wake up feeling like royalty.
3. The Spa and Salon
This resort is all about indulgence and elegance, so it’s no wonder that they offer spa and salon services. The salon is located on the second story floor, offering services for men, women and children. Haircuts, hair-dos, highlights, and/or make-up can be scheduled at the Ivy Trellis Salon. Senses is the full-service spa located at this resort, offering a menu full of invigorating experiences to nourish your mind, body, and soul, and have you come away feeling like a million bucks.
2. The Lobby
This resort offers guests that “wow-factor” from the moment they enter the lobby. A breathtaking five-story atrium greets you, filled with lavish Victorian touches like glistening chandeliers, an Otis “Birdcage” elevator, stained glass domes, elegant Chaise lounges and chairs, and a shining grand piano. Perched above the lobby on a floor all their own is the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra, playing daily ragtime, Jazz, and traditional Disney tunes in the evening hours.
1. The Almond-Crusted Cheesecake with Cherry Lambert Sauce
I do realize that this could be included under the restaurant point—after all, this sweet concoction is served at the previously-mentioned Narcoossee’s—but this dessert is so mouthwateringly delicious, so dream-worthy that it deserves its very own point on our countdown. The first time I heard about this dessert I was skeptical. Hailed one of the best desserts on Disney property, I wondered if it would really live up to its accolades and praise, especially for my particular palate which likes cheesecake but doesn’t LOVE cheesecake. One night, my husband and I decided to go to the bar at Narcoossee’s, have a drink or two, share a dessert, and watch the nightly Wishes fireworks show from the outdoor verandah (exclusive to patrons of this restaurant). The bartender insisted that we order the almond-crusted cheesecake. So, naturally, we ordered it (Rule #1: If a Disney Cast Member insists you do something, you do it. They typically know what they are talking about.). Let me tell you, I really, really wished after that first bite that I wasn’t sharing the dessert with my husband. We barely spoke as we scarfed down as many bites as our eager forks could steal first. It was heavenly, to say the least. Each velvety, luscious bite of cheesecake is perfectly complemented by the crunchy coating of thinly-sliced toasted almonds. And if that isn’t enough, a sinfully delicious Lambert cherry sauce is given on the side to run your forks through. At $12 you might be wondering if it could possibly be worth the price. Yes, it most certainly is. Bonus tip? You don’t even have to eat at the restaurant to order it. You can simply walk up to the bar, and order it to-go!
You may also like “The Grand Floridian Resort – Disney Luxury At Its’ Finest.”
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