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May 15, 2012

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa - Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead


Thanks for checking back for Part Two of my review of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Let's get started.

The Grand Floridian has two swimming pools. The Courtyard Pool is the larger of the two (at 300,000 gallons) and is the more relaxed and dignified of the two. It is flanked by the Main Building and three of the lodge buildings. The Courtyard Pool is open 24 hours, however, it is NOT manned by lifeguards at any time.


Courtyard Pool

Courtyard Pool

Courtyard Pool


Courtyard Pool Bar sits adjacent to the pool. Besides the usual selection of Coke products and alcoholic beverages, this spot also serves turkey, ham & cheese, and PB&J sandwiches. Nearby tables offer a wonderful environment to sit and enjoy an alfresco lunch.


Courtyard Pool Bar

Courtyard Pool Bar


Near the pool is a lovely fountain. This water feature offers great photo opportunities.


Fountain

Fountain


The newer, Beach Pool can be found south of the resort on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon and is the better place for energetic kids. An in-ground fountain, waterfall, and water slide add a lot of excitement that the Courtyard Pool lacks. In addition, the Beach Pool also offers zero access entry for toddlers and those in wheelchairs. Unlike the Courtyard Pool, the Beach Pool is manned by lifeguards during most of the day. However, this pool is not open 24 hours. Check with the concierge desk for current times.


Beach Pool

Beach Pool

Children's Play Area


Drinks and sandwiches are available at the nearby Beach Pool Bar. Private cabanas can be rented through the hotel's concierge desk. Besides having upgraded lounge chairs, the cabanas offer televisions, refrigerators, and a host of other amenities. This is truly the way to pamper yourself.


Beach Pool Bar

Cabana


The white sandy beach that surrounds the Grand Floridian is the perfect place to relax in the sun and watch the Magic Kingdom ferry boats sail by in the distance. Covered lounge chairs dot the beach and add a touch of class found nowhere else on property. Please be aware, there is no swimming in any of the Disney lakes and canals. This is also the spot to watch the Electric Water Pageant presented each night at 9:15.


Grand Floridian Beach

Grand Floridian Beach

Grand Floridian Beach


It's interesting to note, the sugary sand of the Grand Floridian beach was found beneath the muck that was once a swamp before Disney cleared this area to create Seven Seas Lagoon.

As you may or may not know, Disney is currently building a new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) just south of the Grand Floridian that will feature the same style and architecture as its nearby neighbor. The resort is schedule to open in late 2013.


Grand Floridian DVC Concept Art

Grand Floridian DVC Concept Art

Grand Floridian DVC Under Construction

Grand Floridian DVC Under Construction

Grand Floridian DVC Under Construction


Because of this construction, the Grand Floridian Spa is temporarily closed and will not reopen until sometime later next year. However, the Grand Floridian Health Club remains open and offers state-of-the-art cardiovascular and weight-training machines 24 hours a day.


Health Club

Health Club

Health Club

Health Club


Toward the north end of the Grand Floridian, located next to the Conch Key and Sugar Loaf Key lodge buildings, is the Captain's Shipyard. This is the spot to rent a pontoon boat for a leisurely afternoon on the water or a mini-speed boat for zippy trip over the waves. Fishing excursions can also be arranged and leave from this spot

For a truly distinctive Walt Disney World experience, consider chartering the Grand 1 yacht birthed at the Captain's Shipyard. This craft is 52 feet in length and can accommodate 18 people (17 if a butler is in service). This is a wonderful way to enjoy an elegant night out on the water and watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Of course, when cruising aboard the Grand 1, you would want more than just a boat ride, so Disney has created a number of packages that include all sorts of wonderful hors d'oeuvres and beverages to tempt your appetite. For more information as to what is available, click here.


Captain's Shipyard

Captain's Shipyard


There are a number of restaurants at the Grand Floridian, each worthy of a full review. However, due to a lack of time and space, I'm just going to briefly mention them here.

I'm often asked, "What's your favorite Disney World Restaurant?" My answer always begins as follows, "If you don't count Victoria & Albert's, it's""

But if you do count Victoria & Albert's, then this is hands down the finest restaurant at Walt Disney World - and probably all of Central Florida.

Victoria & Albert's, or Vicky & Al's as we regulars like to call it (just kidding), has won the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award for the last eleven years. At this Grand Floridian restaurant, guests enjoy a two to three hour culinary experience within an elegant dining room. As your butlers tend to your every need, a harpist serenades in the background. Imported crystal, fine china, personalized menus, long-stem roses for the ladies, and a host of other elegant touches make an evening here an experience to remember for years to come.

Located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert's offers a prix fixe menu that includes six courses of sumptuous food served at a luxuriously slow pace. Nothing is left to chance and the service is flawless. Chef Scott Hunnel selects seasonal foods from around the world and the menu changes from day to day. After your meal, you can select a brandy or cognac from the well-stocked cordial cart.

Beginning on June 1, 2012, the price will be $135.00 per guest with wine pairings adding another $65.00 per guest. (Pricing does not include tax and gratuity.)

Dinner jackets are required for gentlemen (tie optional) and dresses or pants ensembles are recommended for ladies. Valet Parking is available at no additional cost. Children under the age of 10 will not be served.

Victoria & Albert's is a fantastic restaurant. If you have a special birthday or anniversary coming up, think seriously about splurging and giving this restaurant a try. You will not be disappointed. Reservations are an absolute must.


Victoria & Albert's

Victoria & Albert's

Victoria & Albert's

Victoria & Albert's


I'm often asked, "What's your favorite Disney World Restaurant?" My answer always begins as follows, "If you don't count Victoria & Albert's, it's""

Well, if you don't count Victoria & Albert's, I have two favorite restaurants at WDW, and one of them is at the Grand Floridian. In fact, it's located right next door to Victoria & Albert's - Citricos.

The Citricos dining room is elegant, yet playful. There is something fun about this spot, yet it reeks of old-world sophistication. The tables and chairs are traditionally styled, yet the surroundings are whimsical. It all combines wonderfully and I feel very comfortable here.


Citricos

Citricos

Citricos


When Citricos first opened, the menu was to be Mediterranean inspired with all dishes containing some sort of citrus flavoring - thus the name Citricos. But today, this citrus "gimmick" has been down played and now the restaurant focuses on American dishes inspired by the cuisines of Provençe, Tuscany and the Spanish Riviera. Oak-grilled steaks, pastas, seafood, and their signature braised veal shank are just a few of the delights to tempt you - all prepared in an open show kitchen. To see the current menu, click here.


Citricos Kitchen

Citricos Kitchen


Citricos is considered a "Signature" restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan and requires two credits. This restaurant is open for dinner only. The dress code is Resort Casual. Not allowed in the restaurant are tank tops, swimwear, hats for gentleman, cut offs, or torn clothing. Reservations are highly recommended. In addition, Citricos has a one-day cancellation policy. When booking, guests must provide a credit card to hold the reservation. If the guest cancels within one day of the reservation or if the dining party is a no show, a fee of $10 per person will be charged to the credit card used at the time of booking.

Narcoossee's is the other "Signature" restaurant at the Grand Floridian and all of the above Citricos caveats apply here as well.

Narcoossee's is the only Grand Floridian restaurant not located in the Main Building of the resort. It can be found on the water's edge of Seven Seas Lagoon near the boat dock.


Narcoossee's


Narcoossee's has a subtle nautical/New England theme. Dark wood flooring, white paneled walls, shutters, and seating that resemble cruise ship deck chairs combine to create a casual environment.


Narcoossee's

Narcoossee's

Narcoossee's


Narcoossee's is a seafood restaurant and offers such specialties as seared-grilled scallops, crab-crusted halibut, grilled wild king salmon, and steamed whole Maine lobster. However, beef, chicken, and vegetable dishes are also available so everyone should be able to find something to their liking. To see the current menu, click here.


Window tables at Narcoossee's offer wonderful views of Seven Seas Lagoon, Cinderella Castle, and the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks. But be warned, guests not seated at a window table will venture out onto the verandah shortly before the fireworks begin and obstruct the view of those sitting next to a window.

You might be interested to learn, Narcoossee's has a small stage located above the bar. When the restaurant first opened, combo groups would entertain guests from this perched area. However, there are no "soft" surfaces at Narcoossee's and the music was overpowering. Eventually, the live entertainment was discontinued.


Narcoossee's Bandstand


I have eaten at Narcoossee's a number of times. I have always been pleased with my food and service. However, I still find this eatery a little too noisy for my taste. When I'm paying Narcoossee's prices, I prefer a quieter atmosphere.

The Grand Floridian Café is located on the first floor of the Main Building and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This charming spot offers a more casual atmosphere than Citricos or Narcoossee's, yet it still radiates elegance and charm. Fresh roses adorn each table and massive, lace curtained windows look out onto the manicured gardens. Flowered wallpaper, marble table tops, and delicate cushioned chairs complete the mood.

The Grand Floridian Café offers American favorites at all three meals. I especially like the Grand Sandwich (open-faced hot turkey, ham, bacon and tomato, with a rich Boursin cheese sauce and Fried onion straws) served at lunch. It's loaded with calories and loaded with taste.


Grand Sandwich


Reservations are suggested, but often not necessary. To see all of the Grand Floridian Café menus, click here.


Grand Floridian Café

Grand Floridian Café

Grand Floridian Café


Character dining is also available at the Grand Floridian. 1900 Park Fare serves a Supercalifragilistic Buffet Breakfast from 8am to 11am where Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and other Wonderland friends stop by your table to say hello and pose for pictures. From 4:30pm to 8:30pm Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner offers a fairy tale-inspired evening meal. Cinderella, Prince Charming, and their storybook friends stroll through the restaurant and chat with guest. All meals are served buffet style.


1900 Park Fare

1900 Park Fare

1900 Park Fare


Dominating the upper portion of the restaurant is Big Bertha. This organ was built over a hundred years ago in Paris by Gavoli & Co. and used from 1909 to 1955 in Ramona Park, an amusement park in Grand Rapids, MI. The instruments include pipes, drums, bells, cymbals, castanets, and a xylophone played by a piano-roll score. Periodically during your meal, a short concert is played to the delight of children and adults.


Big Bertha


The 1900 Park Fare Character Meals are intended for children or for those adults who love characters and never miss an opportunity to interact with them. The atmosphere here is festive (or maybe chaotic would be a more appropriate word. LOL). The energy level is high and so is the noise level. A great time can be had here, but you need to be aware that this restaurant does not offer an intimate experience. It offers "fun" in abundance! This being a Character Meal, reservations are absolutely mandatory! A one-day cancellation policy is in effect here.

Gasparilla Grill & Games is a 24 hour, counter service restaurant that offers freshly made sandwiches, burgers, wraps, salads, and pizzas. Also available are a large selection of beverages, sweets, fruits, and other snacks. Gasparilla is located near the Captain's Shipyard. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. Also, a number of arcade games are at hand for the young ones.


Gasparilla Grill

Gasparilla Grill


Mizner's Lounge is located on the second floor of the lobby, just behind the bandstand. This spot is open from 4:30pm to midnight and offers light snacks, a full bar, and vintage ports and brandies. In the evening, this lounge is dark and cozy and allows for intimate conversations. The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra adds to the mood with their ragtime and big band melodies.


Mizner's Lounge

Mizner's Lounge


The Garden View Lounge plays host to two tea services. From 10:30am to noon, "My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party" is held for the enjoyment of young ladies ages 3 to 11. At this event, a character named Rose Petal plays host and entertains with stories and songs. The girls are made to feel like princesses and are presented with an 18-inch My Disney Girl doll dressed in a matching Princess Aurora gown with accessories, her own ribbon tiara, princess link bracelet, fresh rose, special princess scrapbook page, and a "Best Friend" certificate. The price is $250 for one child and one adult. Additional children run $165 each. Reservations are mandatory.

From 2pm to 5pm, guests can engage in an age-old tradition and partake in a traditional English-style tea. As you might expect, a large selection of tea is available and served "very properly." A number of other menu options are on hand to accompany your tea like finger sandwiches, scones, jam tarts, strawberries and cream, pastries, and an array of English cheeses. I know that many of you might be put off by the "formality" of this event, but I can assure you, Disney always does everything possible to make their guests comfortable in every situation and this dining experience is no exception.


Garden View Lounge

Garden View Lounge


Believe me when I say, I've only scratched the surface when talking about the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I can think of a dozen other items of interest that I didn't mention, but there simply isn't room in my blog to do this resort justice.

The Grand Floridian is the most expensive resort at Walt Disney World. Is it worth it? Maybe. That depends on your taste and especially your budget. I'm certainly glad I've experienced this resort several times. It was nice to spend a few days in the lap of luxury. But I can't say I'd want the Grand Floridian as a steady diet. Often when I've been on an extended cruise, eating rich food every night, I can't wait to get off of the ship and have a meal at Burger King. That's not to say I didn't enjoy everything about the cruise, but I like variety as well. Disney World has a lot of great and unique places to stay. For me, I enjoy the All Stars, the Grand Floridian, and everything in-between.

For more information about the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, check out the AllEars Fact Sheet by clicking here.

As always, I have created a video of the Grand Floridian Resort. Enjoy.




May 14, 2012

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa - Part One

Jack Spence Masthead


Have you ever wondered why the body of water in front of the Magic Kingdom is called the Seven Seas Lagoon?

When Walt Disney World opened in 1971 the Imagineers had a five-year plan that called for additional hotels to be built along the shores of the lake and lagoon. These included the Persian, Venetian, and Thai/Asian resorts. When added to the existing Polynesian Resort, these hotels would give the area an international flavor; thus, the name Seven Seas Lagoon was born. But for a number of reasons, these other resorts never materialized. For many years you could see a square piece of land jutting out into the water that was earmarked for the Thai/Asian Resort.


Seven Seas Lagoon


A third Disney hotel, the Golf Resort (now the Shades of Green) opened in 1973. But other than that, Disney failed to build any new resorts during the first decade of operation.

In the early 80's, Disney fought off several hostile takeovers. To the company's rescue came the Bass Brothers of Texas and Roy E. Disney (son of founder Roy O. Disney), and in 1984 they hired Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to turn the corporation around. One of the many directives the new executives were given was to develop the vast, unused acreage of Disney World.

Any casual observer could see that other companies were cashing in on Disney World's success by building their own hotels and motels at the Mouse's doorstep. During this same time, Disney's three existing hotels were running at near capacity year-round. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that one of the first things that should be done was to build more Disney owned and operated resorts on their property.

Since the original five-year plan called for three more resorts to be built on the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, this was the logical place to start construction. However, Epcot had opened in 1982 and featured an International playground called World Showcase. This pretty much ruined the idea of building "international" hotels anywhere else on property. Disney didn't want their guests to experience the same sights and sounds in two separate areas, so a different concept needed to be developed. To help this new direction take shape, the architectural firm of Wimberly, Allison, Tong, & Goo (WATG) of Newport Beach, CA was hired and told to come up with a "deluxe" hotel that could be considered the "flagship" resort of Walt Disney World. For inspiration, the design team visited the Bellevue Biltmore in Clearwater, FL, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, and the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA. In the end, a luxurious Victorian era hotel grew on the west shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon and has been wowing guests since its opening on July 1, 1988. Here are some construction photos I snapped in1986.


Grand Floridian Under Consturction

Grand Floridian Under Consturction

Grand Floridian Under Consturction


This aerial shot shows how the original square plot of land was modified slightly for the Grand Floridian.


Aerial Shot of the Grand Floridian


This next picture is of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. The similarities are striking.


Hotel Del Coronado


Guests arrive at the Grand Floridian via Floridian Way. Beneath the porte-cochère guests are greeted by bell services personnel who will help them with their luggage and direct them to the lobby. Also in this area are a lovely carriage and a 1929 Cadillac that can be rented for weddings and other special occasions. Behind the Cadillac in a secluded courtyard is a topiary of Mary Poppins. This is an uncrowded spot that allows for great photos.


Grand Floridian Entrance

Grand Floridian Entrance

Bell Services

Carriage

1929 Cadillac

Mary Poppins


The check-in desk is located just inside the main doors and to the right. The concierge desk is located to the left.


Main Doors

Check-In Desk


When entering the hotel's five-story lobby for the first time, most guests look up in awe. The delicate balustrades, the stained glass ceiling insets, the massive chandeliers, the ornate furniture, and the abundant artwork combine beautifully and make you long for a bygone era when women wore bustles and men donned top hats. But then you come to your senses and realize that you can still enjoy this lush atmosphere in your shorts and sandals as the Grand Floridian may be elegant, but it allows for 21st century theme park casualness.


Lobby

Lobby


The recently added marble floors greet guests with the resorts "GF" logo and a few Disney characters.


Grand Floridian Logo in Marble

Mickey Mouse in Marble


After the initial astonishment wears off, you start to notice the many details that make this hotel special. Located on the ground floor of the lobby is a large Chinese-styled aviary that was crafted in Spain. For many years, this birdcage housed a pair of lovebirds, but alas, today it sits empty. On the other side of the room is an equally elegant "cage" elevator that transports guests between the first and second floors. And beyond the elevator is a sweeping staircase worthy of Tara from "Gone with the Wind." Often, bridal parties can be seen on these steps, posing for elegant photos. Be sure to notice Cinderella's coach woven into the carpet.


Birdcage

Cage Elevator

Grand Staircase

Cinderella Carpet


The majority of the lobby's ground floor is comprised of numerous seating areas where you can relax and soak in the atmosphere. In the center of it all is a concert grand piano where a musician plays melodies suitable to the surroundings. Requests are also honored. As evening approaches, a ragtime/jazz band called the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra joins in and plays alternate sets with the piano player.


Lobby

Lobby

Piano

Grand Floridian Society Orchestra


The Grand Floridian uses more flowers than any other resort at Walt Disney World. Lush bouquets are everywhere.


Flowers

Flowers


The Grand Floridian is the only Disney resort to have dedicated men's and women's clothing stores. Summer Lace, located on the first floor, features designer fashions for the ladies, along with perfumes, jewelry, swimwear, and Grand Floridian logo items. Commander Porter's, located directly above on the second floor, offers men's designer clothing such as Tommy Bahama and Ralph Lauren Polo. Men's fragrances, golf apparel, and gift items are also available here. Both shops are open daily from 9am to 10pm.


Summer Lace

Summer Lace

Commander Porter's

Commander Porter's


Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop offers a large array of Grand Floridian logo merchandise. And if you enjoyed the music heard in the lobby, CD's of the pianist and ragtime band can be purchased at this location. Also sold here are drinks, snack items, postcards, stamps, wedding items, and a limited selection of reading materials. This shop is open daily from 8am to 10pm.


Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop

Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop


On the second floor of the lobby you will find M. Mouse Mercantile. Disney souvenir items including children's apparel, toys, books, pins, and watches can be purchased here. This shop is open from 8am to 10pm.


M. Mouse Mercantile

M. Mouse Mercantile


Also on the second floor is Basin White. Decorated to look like a giant, old-time bathroom, at this shop you can stock up on a wide variety of bath salts, soaps, and shampoos. Although operated by the same folks who run the Basin shop at Downtown Disney, it is my understanding that the merchandise sold here is slightly different and of a higher caliber than its more pedestrian cousin. The hours of operation are from 10am to 10pm.


Basin White

Basin White


Next door to Basin White is Ivy Trellis Salon. Men, women, and children are welcome here. Services range from a simple haircut to a complete styling. Manicures and pedicures are also available. Appointments are recommended and the shop is open from 9am to 6pm.


Ivy Trellis Salon

Ivy Trellis Salon


All of the rooms in the Main Building of the Grand Floridian are Club Level accommodations as are those in the Sugar Loaf Key lodge building. Guests staying in one of these rooms are given a gold room card-key that grants them access to the upper floors of the Main Building and entrance into the Sugar Loaf Key lodge building. All guest use Club Level elevators in the Main Building for access to the first and second floors, but only guests with Club Level privileges may access the third through fifth floors.


Club Level Elevator

Gold Room Key

Main Building

Sugar Loaf Key

Sugar Loaf Key


The Main Building contains both suites and standard rooms. I've never stayed in one of the suites at the Grand Floridian, so I can't tell you much about them. But I have stayed in a standard Club Level room twice. Actually, the Club Level rooms are roughly the same size and configuration as the rooms located in the lodge buildings. I'll discuss this in more detail later. But it's not the rooms that make the Club Level special. It's the extra amenities and services guests receive on these floors.

One of the first perks of Club Level is a dedicated concierge staff. Only seasoned cast members with extensive knowledge of Disney World man these posts. And they're here to help make your vacation whatever you want it to be. From restaurant reservations, personal tours, and suggestions you have never even imagined, these well-informed hosts and hostesses are there to make you happy.

Need private tennis lessons? They can arrange it. Want to rent a cabana at the beach pool? They can arrange it. Want an elegant picnic lunch to take out on a pontoon boat? A lavish cocktail party for 40? An intimate dinner for two on your balcony? They can arrange it. If you've got the bucks, they can arrange it.

For those of you who must work while on vacation, these trained cast members can also help you fax documents and conduct other business functions. And because these individuals are serving a much smaller number of guests than the staff assigned to the rest of the resort, they often have more time to spend with you. In the Main Building, the Club Level concierge staff is located on the third floor. In Sugar Loaf Key they can be found on the first floor.


Main Building Concierge

Sugar Loaf Key Concierge


The other great perk of Club Level is the "free" food and drink offered throughout most of the day. Coffee and juice service begins each morning at 6:30. From 7am to 10:30am, a wonderful continental breakfast, called Grand Beginnings, is available. Served is fresh fruit, a large selection of breads and pastries, hot and cold cereals, and cheese & cold cuts.


Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings

Grand Beginnings


From 11:30am to 3:30pm, cookies and cold beverages are available. Afternoon Tea is served from 2:30pm to 4pm.


Soft Drinks

Cookies


Twilight Refreshments are served from 5pm to 7pm. This selection of appetizers is amazing and offers enough variety and quantity that you can make a meal out of what is served. An assortment of cheeses & crackers, raw vegetables & dipping sauce, canapés, and hot hors d'oeuvres are displayed beautifully and make resistance impossible.


Twilight Refreshments

Twilight Refreshments

Twilight Refreshments

Twilight Refreshments


From 8pm to 10pm, Cordials and Desserts are served. The sweets include everything from cupcakes to chocolate covered strawberries with miniature tarts and cream puffs thrown in for good measure. And the cordials are first rate with Drambuie, Courvoisier, and Grand Marnier just to name a few. Beer and wine are also available.


Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts

Cordials and Desserts


In the Main Building, the Club Level lounge is known as Royal Palms Club and can be found on the fourth floor. Many tables are situated next to windows and offer great views of the monorail or the manicured grounds. This is a wonderful area to sit and relax and converse with friends. There is a sense of wellbeing here. The cares of the outside world seem to melt away when you're sipping Kahlua & Cream, while being attended to by an ever so attentive staff.


Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club

Royal Palms Club


At Sugar Loaf Key the Club Level lounge is called Sugar Loaf Concierge. Here, about ten tables have been tightly arranged in the lobby area of this building. The serving counter is located nearby. Although Sugar Loaf Concierge offers the same selection of food and drink as Royal Palms Club, it lacks greatly in charm and sophistication. The tables are spaced too close together and the area is dark. This room feels like an afterthought with no real design or direction. Disney needs to rethink Sugar Loaf Concierge and come up with a larger, brighter, and more convivial facility.


Sugar Loaf Concierge

Sugar Loaf Concierge


To see a video of the Club Level amenities, click on the picture below.



Another advantage of staying on a Club Level floor of the Main Building is the convenience offered. It's only an elevator ride away to the monorail, bus stop, shops, and all but one of the resort's restaurants. On rainy, hot, or cold days, this is a big plus.

The monorail station is located on the second floor above the porte-cochère (near M. Mouse Mercantile). This is your mode of transportation to the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, Epcot (transferring at the Transportation and Ticket Center), and the Polynesian. Hours of operation are posted nearby. The bus station is located on the first floor, just to the right of the porte-cochère as you exit the building. Buses take you to Downtown Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the water parks.


Monorial

Monorail

Bus Stop


The Grand Floridian has one other transportation option, a boat that sails between the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, and the Magic Kingdom. The dock is located at the north-east end of the resort, just past Narcoossee's Restaurant. These cute little vessels are not meant for speed and efficiency, but rather as a wonderful way to enjoy a leisurely excursion across Seven Seas Lagoon. A trip from the Grand Floridian will make a stop at the Polynesian before continuing on to the Magic Kingdom. If you're in a hurry to get to the Magic Kingdom, these boats are not your best option. Opt for the monorail instead. But if you're in the mood to slow down and smell the roses, or in this case, the lake air, then by all means, board one of these charming boats, sit back and relax.


Boat

Boat


People often ask me if they need a car when visiting Walt Disney World. I always say "No, you don't need a car. Walt Disney World transportation is reasonably efficient." However, a car can make things easier, as you won't be dependent on the buses and boats that usually only arrive at a given station or dock every 10-20 minutes.

Before I continue, I want to say that the Disney buses are very clean, maintained extremely well, and are driven by exceptionally courteous and knowledgeable cast members. These drivers have to be ready to answer an array of unbelievable questions - time and time again - all day long. But keep in mind, the buses at WDW are "mass" transit, not "rapid" transit. If you want to get someplace fast, the bus isn't necessarily your best bet. This is especially true if you plan on eating dinner at another resort -- there are no direct buses from one hotel to another. You must catch a bus to one of the parks (or the monorail to the Magic Kingdom) and then transfer to a different bus. In these cases, driving your own car is probably the better option.

However"

The Grand Floridian was designed for guests to valet park. This costs $12 per day plus gratuity each time you leave and return. This can add up. Free, self-parking is available at the Grand Floridian, but it's inconveniently located across the street from the resort in a less than attractive lot.

I suppose if you can afford to stay at the Grand Floridian, you can afford to valet park every day. But for those families who have saved their pennies for years and staying at the Grand Floridian as a once-in-a-lifetime event, then parking costs must be considered.

The majority of the rooms and several suites can be found in the five lodge buildings. Each is named after an island in the Florida Keys and includes Sago Cay, Sugar Loaf Key, Conch Key, Boca Chica, and Big Pine Key. Guests enter these buildings through nicely appointed lobbies where you'll find more fresh flowers.


Lodge Building Entrance

Lodge Building Lobby

Lodge Building Lobby


Standard rooms are approximately 448 square feet and sleep five. Dormer rooms (those located on the top floors) are slightly smaller and sleep four as they do not have a daybed. In addition, the balconies on the dormer rooms are significantly smaller than those on the standard rooms. However, I feel that the vaulted ceilings in the dormer rooms add a lot of charm and are worthy of consideration if you can do without the daybed.


Balconies

Dormer Room Balcony


Guests enter the rooms via a small hallway. On one side is a spacious closet. Club Level rooms have mirrored doors. Inside the closet you'll find a large safe that locks and unlocks with a four digit code. Also in the closet are two Grand Floridian robes. If you find you're taken with these, plusher copies can be purchased for $100 at the Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry shop. An iron and board, luggage racks, and the hairdryer can also be found in the closet.


Mirrored Closet Doors

Open Closet

Safe


Opposite the closet is the spacious bathroom. A large marble counter affords plenty of space for your toiletries and two sinks allow a family to get ready for their day all the quicker. H2O+ products are provided and two large bars of soap are a welcome relief from the slivers so often used in other establishments. These products can also be purchased at the Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry shop. The towels at the Grand Floridian are the thickest and fluffiest found at Walt Disney World. And I especially like the hamper where you can toss the used towels rather than leaving them on the floor or over a hook.


Bathroom Sinks

H2O+ Products

Towels

Hamper


In the standard rooms, the toilet and tub/shower are located in a separate room. In the Club Level rooms, the tub/shower is slightly bigger and along with the toilet is located in the same room as the sinks. The shower head has three settings, soft spray, hard spray, and pulsate. Also, the shower curtain rod bends outward at the top so you have more room when standing in the tub. In addition, all bathrooms come with a telephone for those calls you simply must take at inconvenient times.


Shower Tub

Shower Tub


Another perk of the Club Level room is the Keurig coffee maker. This is perfect for those of you who aren't fans of Nescafe which is served almost everywhere else on property.


Keurig Coffee Maker


The wallpaper in the bathroom is especially fun. The Super Six make a visit in topiary form.


Wallpaper


The sleeping area is bright and airy and has a Victorian elegance. Yet the design is not so heavy-handed and frilly as to make you feel like you're visiting an aging dowager who would smack your hand if you dared touch any of her bric-a-brac. The wallpaper has a delicate pattern, but it's subtle. The carpet uses colors of gold and green and displays a leaf pattern. The furniture is stained in mid-tones that are neither light nor dark. Disney did a wonderful job of combining the charm of a bygone era with the 21st century.

Most rooms have two queen-sized beds; however, rooms with one king are also available. A "king" room needs to be requested when making your reservations. As I mentioned earlier, a daybed is also part of the furnishings unless you're staying in a dormer room. Once again, if you need a daybed, request a non-dormer room when making your reservation.


Two Queen Beds

Two Queen Beds


The beds are VERY comfortable - and they're also for sale. If you'd like to purchase one, check out this website for more information.

www.disneyresortcollection.com

A trend I see spreading among deluxe resorts is the use of a third sheet. This sheet is used to cover the top of the blankets. Once the bedspread has been turned down (a nightly service provided at the GF - complete with chocolates) this third sheet covers the bedding. You never need touch blankets that have been used by a hundred other people before you. I like this A LOT!

Opposite the beds are a chest of drawers and a desk. The desk is especially nice as it "nests" and allows for easy laptop use. Free WiFi is now available throughout the Grand Floridian. Above the desk is a wonderful picture that requires close examination to find all of the Disney references. Sitting on the desk is the most elegant Mickey Mouse lamp you'll ever see. Donning a top hat, Mickey's head sits atop a faux marble column. A white shade tops it off. If you want one of these marvels for your own home (I know I did), they can be purchased by visiting the webpage I mentioned earlier.


TV and Desk

Desk

Picture

Mickey Mouse Lamp


Once flat screen TVs hit the market, they took over like wildfire. And just like the rest of the resorts at Walt Disney World, the Grand Floridian now offers these modern wonders. Below the TV are four drawers and a small refrigerator.


TV

Chest and Refrigerator


A number of views are available when booking a room at the Grand Floridian. Some look out at Seven Seas Lagoon with views of either the Polynesian or the Magic Kingdom. Others look into the resort's marina, while some view the manicured grounds and pool.

The first picture below was taken in 1989, one year after the Grand Floridian opened. I had requested a Magic Kingdom view from the Main Building. If you look closely, you can almost make out Cinderella Castle in the distance -- however, I could see the fireworks from my balcony with no problem. The next three pictures were taken on my most recent visit where I had a view of Seven Seas Lagoon and the Polynesian Resort.


View of the Magic Kingdom

View of the Wedding Pavilion

View of the Polynesian

View at Night


I like the rooms at the Grand Floridian. As I mentioned before, they are elegant without being stuffy. I doubt that anyone would be put off by these comfortable accommodations.

To see a video of a Club Level Dormer Room, click on the picture below.



To see a video of a Standard Dormer Room, click on the picture below.



That's it for today. Check back tomorrow for Part Two.



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About Grand Floridian Resort

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Grand Floridian Resort category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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