My Disney World: The Grand Floridian
A Grand Experience
In November 2014, we had the great joy of heading back to Walt Disney World. This trip was for my youngest sister's wedding. She had an amazing Disney Wedding. Her guests were all booked at one of three Resorts: The Grand Floridian, Port Orleans Riverside or Pop Century. Most of the wedding party opted for The Grand Floridian.
We pulled up to the valet, unloading driveway by the front door. We literally had a car full of stuff. It's never simple to travel with small ones. We opted to have the valets take care of our luggage and car. This costs $20/day, but we decided to take advantage of all this Resort had to offer. This was a luxury I think we will be using again. It was so nice to just check in without having to lug all of the luggage while simultaneously trying to contain the monsters. So, Shane and the kiddos walked around the lobby. They wanted to check out the life-size gingerbread house... It's pretty incredible. They sell delicious goodies out of it. Yum.
While they were scoping the place out, I checked us in. I wanted to see where we were in relation to the rest of our family. They had all of us in one building, and my parents were with the bride in a completely different building.
Because we were valeting the car, the bellhop offered us a ride to our room. Sweet! Buddy was totally stoked to ride on a Disney Golf Cart (he has an affinity for all WDW transportation).
We were in the building furthest away from the lobby. The upside was that we were closest to the Gasparilla Island Grill - that's the cafeteria style eatery at the GF.
We were on the 4th floor. Our room was beautiful. It had two double beds, couch (which I think pulled out to a bed), small desk, small fridge in the dresser (empty, but there's little store where you can buy things like water or milk) and a nicely appointed bathroom. We had a balcony too. Unfortunately for us, we weren't facing the Magic Kingdom... if you're lucky enough to get an MK facing room, you will probably have a great view of the nightly fireworks shows. We had the Monorail track off our balcony. That made Buddy really happy. He spent a fair amount of time out there watching the Monorails go by.
My sister (the bride) and my parents were staying in a building near the main part of the hotel. The reason for this was the wedding day... they move the brides and grooms around at different times and they have them separated so there will be no accidental sightings. Anyway, my parents' room didn't have any outdoor space. In the place of the balcony was a sitting room with bay windows. As always with Disney, there was a specific purpose for this... wedding day photos. The bridesmaids and flower girl (my daughter) met up in their room and the photographers came in to take a few pre-game pics. It was fun. I can't wait to see the professional photos.
One of my favorite things about this hotel was the nightly turn-down service. We didn't realize that they did it. So the first night when we came back, it was a fun surprise for the kids (and us) to have the beds ready for bed and yummy chocolates on the pillows. My monsters got a kick out of it.
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa has quite a few food options on property. And they have varying price points.
- Beaches Pool Bar & Grill - Counter service, pool bar $
- Gasparilla Island Grill - Counter service $
- Mizner's Lounge - Lounges $
- Grand Floridian Cafe - Casual dining $-$$
- 1900 Park Fare - Buffet, family style, character dining $$-$$
- Garden View Tea Room - Character dining, unique, themed dining $$$
- Narcoossee's - Fine, signature dining $$$
- Citricos - Fine, signature dining $$$
- Citricos Chef's Domain - Fine, signature dining $$$$
- Victoria & Albert's - Fine, signature dining $$$$
- Victoria & Albert's Chef's Table Dinner - Dining Events $$$$
Some Helpful Tips
- Check Out - I love any hotel where we don't have to physically go and check out when we are leaving. This is especially great at Walt Disney World. I mean, you and the kiddos just want to get moving on your final adventure and not have to stand in line in some lobby to sign a few papers. We called for bell services in the morning once we were packed. They came, picked up our stuff. We told them we would be eating first, so it'd be at least an hour before we made it out to the car. The bellhop assured us this was not a problem. They'd be ready for us when we were ready. What a relief! Seriously, no stress.
- Valet at the Resort - What if I need my car during my stay? No problem. When you valet the car, you are given a ticket with a number that corresponds with your account and vehicle. You can call the valet stand from your room and ask to have your car brought around. That way by the time you and your party make it to the lobby, the vehicle is out front waiting for you. Bonus: you do not pay extra for this. Valet is a straight $20/day regardless of how many times you have the car brought around.
- Magic Bands - We put a credit card on our Magic Bands this trip. That makes things so much easier. If you haven't been yet with the Magic Bands, they are wonderful and you're really going to like them. The Resort will send your party the bands in the mail (if you book far enough out, if not they'll be at the front desk). The Bands act as your room keys and Park passes.
- My Disney Experience - Our annual passes are on our Bands, and we have a My Disney Experience account. If you don't already have one, get one! It's free. Go to www.mydisneyexperience.com and sign up. There you can link your bands, tickets, resort and dining reservations. You can also "add" friends and family to your account. This is great for getting FastPasses for your whole party. The front desk concierge clerks can help with any linking issues you may have. My husband bought his pass while we were on this particular trip... I dropped his Band off with mine at the front desk. They called me about an hour later and said they had successfully added him to my account.
Disney Wedding Pavilion
My sister's wedding was at the Wedding Pavilion on a Saturday morning. But the Wedding Pavilion cranks out weddings seemingly around the clock, so the rehearsal was held in a room at the convention center. The convention center is pretty impressive in its own right. First, it's enormous. I was kind of taken back by the sheer size of it and how many ballrooms it has. It seemed to me like we walked and walked and walked looking for the correct room.
The ballroom was nice. Nothing too special or unique about it, but nice. I especially liked that we didn't hear any noise from the surrounding rooms. It was really quiet. We weren't alone either... there were lots of events on the marquee. Plus at one point, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy walked by. The kids got a kick out of seeing them. We happened to be in the hallway at that moment because we were practicing "walking down the aisle". The characters were cute, all dressed up presumably for someone else's wedding or party. But alas, they are Disney characters and we couldn't exactly ask them.
The morning of the wedding was so special. My sister Steph, the bride, was staying with my parents before getting hitched. My other sister Jackie and I were her bridesmaids, my daughter Rea was the Flower Girl, and my son Buddy was Ring Security. Jackie, Rea and I went to the bride's room bright and early. The photographers came to the room to photograph Stephanie getting ready... they were fantastic guys. Very personable. They took pics for 30 minutes. Then they were off to take pre-wedding photos of the guys. Once that was done and the boys were moved over to the Wedding Pavilion, one of the wedding planners came to pick us up. We took lots of pics at the grand staircase in the lobby of the Grand Floridian.
Then it was wedding time! We were driven to the Wedding Pavilion. They have a small, two-room space for the bride and her maids to hang while all of the guests arrive. My sister opted of only family and close friends. The day of her wedding was really overcast. I think it worked out for the best... I'm not really sure if the Pavilion would have been hot and flooded with sun.
The inside of the Wedding Pavilion is impressive. It is really very fairytale beautiful. The room lets in a TON of natural light. There are Disney details everywhere you look.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
We Want to Know...
Have you stayed at the GF before?
Pros v. Cons of the Grand Floridian Resort
Plenty of dining options
Pricey (rooms start around $500/night)
Easy Monorail access to MK & Epcot
Vallet is $20 per day - or self parking
Great view of the MK fireworks
Food options are mostly $$ or $$$
Rooms are beautiful, beds are comfy
It's a sprawling Resort, so plan to walk far from the Monorail or bus to your room
Turn down service at night (they leave yummy chocolate)
Pools are heated - great kids water park