Monday, March 26, 2012

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and a Dinner Filled with Many "Characters"

The past week, I was at possibly the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Walt Disney World. Although this was my fifth trip to Disney World, the excitement for me was still there. I don’t know if it’s the great customer service, the thrilling rides, unique resorts, entertaining character meals, or all the fantastic characters, but something about Walt Disney World makes me so jubilant. On this trip, we decided to stray away from Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and try a new deluxe resort called the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Now let me tell you that this resort was amazing. When you first glance at it, it has a very neat and luxurious Victorian charm. This huge resort is very clean, spacious, and very well kept.  The Victorian theme was prevalent throughout and the employees or “cast members” were so helpful from check in to check out.

The Rooms

We booked a lagoon view room that had 2 queen beds and a sofa. Our room also had a partial view of the Magic Kingdom, more specifically Cinderella’s’ Castle. Now the rooms were OK. They we clean and well kept, but it just seemed a little out dated. After seeing the resorts opulent lobby, a little more luxury was expected in the hotel rooms. However, the rooms were big and the beds were comfy. The only complaint I had with the room was that it was near the water so literally all day and night we heard the horns of boats passing by constantly. However, this was just a minimal inconvenience.

The Service

Possibly the best impression that this resort left on me was the fact that once our Magical Express Bus arrived to the hotel from the airport, a concierge/check-in desk representative personally greeted us upon arrival and escorted us to the main lobby to get checked in. That was pretty cool if you ask me. Another thing that I really found to be very convenient was the check out service. The resort offered a baggage service that allowed us to print our boarding passes as well as check in our bags all the way to our final destination. What I mean by this is that we basically checked in our bags at the hotel, and didn’t see them until we got to our home airport’s baggage claim. This service was so helpful and hassle free that essentially allowed us to skip the checking in process at the airport and skip right to the security check in area.

Dining Options

Now to the good part- the food. This resort is home to Disney World’s finest restaurant, Victoria and Alberts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the proper attire (suit jacked and slacks) so I couldn’t make a reservation to dine there.  However, there were other good options that I tried.

Grand Floridian Café

The first place I tried was the Grand Floridian Café. This casual sit down restaurant offered a simple menu of delicious fare. The first time I went here, I tried the Shrimp and Grits. The shrimp was plentiful and the grits were creamy and flavorful. This dish truly was a very nice meal. Now the next night, we ate here again and I tried the Grand Floridian Burger. Now this burger was possibly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life- honestly. This juicy burger was topped with red onion marmalade, fresh grilled onions, a special lettuce, and juicy, succulent lobster meat. It was fantastic. Our waiter was also pretty cool. Although during our second visit to this café we had a different waitress, our waiter from the previous night came over to greet and conversate with us for a little bit. It was a very nice touch.

Grand Floridian Café on Urbanspoon

1900 Park Fare

My best meal experiences occurred at the popular 1900 Park Fare.  This is one of the few restaurants on Disney property that had a character breakfast. The character breakfast featured Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter. All the characters came around to each table and spent individual time with us to pose for pictures and conversate. This meal here was also pretty good. The breakfast was a buffet that featured a carving station, Mickey Mouse Waffles, pancakes, eggs, fresh fruits, breakfast pastries and breads, lobster eggs benedict, smoked salmon potatoes and more. It was honestly one of the better breakfast meals that I enjoyed at Walt Disney World.  This restaurant also featured a dinner buffet called 1900 Park Fare Cinderella Happily Ever After Dinner. Now let me tell you, this restaurant is one of the those places that you have to make a reservation months in advance just to get a table, but lucky me, I was able to go to the extremely helpful concierge desk and make reservations for the next night. I truly was SO lucky.  This character dinner was one of the best dinners I’ve ever experience at Walt Disney World. Not because of the food which was quite mediocre at best, but primarily for the character interaction. First of all, I got to meet and take pictures with Cinderella and other guest posed with Prince Charming. But second of all, I got to have long and interesting conversations with the Evil Step Mother and the Step Sisters. Let me tell you, these characters were something else. They were loud, obnoxious, funny, and so similar to characters in the movies. The Evil Step Mother came to our table and started telling me how wonderful her daughters were and that I should choose on of them to marry. She then grabbed me and escorted me across the dining hall to show me her available daughter. Then each sister came to the table to pose for picturing while also interrogating me to see if I was “husband material.” They then capped off the conversation with “Mother, I found my husband!” This was a very funny experience that I had so much fun with and I believe this kind of thing happens to all “available” men at the table. So ladies, watch out! Overall, this was a great restaurant filled many characters and fun, unique interactions throughout out. Highly recommended.
Cinderella <3
Step Sister 1...Future Wife?
Alice in Wonderland
The Buffet

Step Sister 2...Future Wife?
Just Food....and the Smoked Salmon that I loved
Evil Step Mother....Future Mother In-Law? 

Tigger :)
Mad Hatter...I like his nose

Dining Room
1900 Park Fare on Urbanspoon

Gasparilla Grill and Games

This was one of the food places that I couldn't live without on my trip. This 24/7 quick service restaurant offered great croissant sandwiches for breakfasts, burgers, fries, sandwiches, and rice for lunch and dinner, and creamy soft serve ice cream and pastries all day and night. It was truly so convenient.

Gasparilla Grill and Games on Urbanspoon

The Complaints

Now I do have one huge complaint with the resort- the Wi-Fi. You see I’m a huge techie so I always need my phone, laptop, or iPad around me. Unfortunately the Wi-Fi signal at this hotel was awful. I could barely connect to it and when I did, the signal lasted for a measly 2 minutes. At first I thought it was just the signal in my particular building, so I went to the main lobby to try it out. However, the Wi-Fi still sucked.  However, this problem was resolved when I called the front desk and they added my devices’ IP addresses to the resorts internet connection. 

Final Thoughts

So overall, other than terrible Wi-Fi connection, this was possibly my favorite of all the Disney Resorts that I had the privilege of staying at. I would definitely be returning to the Grand Floridian the next time I take another great vacation to possibly my favorite vacation destination in the U.S., Walt Disney World.

Until next time Walt and Mickey!