Elegance, Luxury, and Martinis

When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, there were only three resort hotels to accomodate guests looking to visit the east coast Magic Kingdom. Disney’s original plan was to theme all of Disney World’s hotels to the different themes of the Magic Kingdom Park. The Contemporary Resort, elegant and futuristic, was the doppleganger of Tomorrowland, The Polynesian Resort, lush and exotic, is reminiscent of the tropical flavors of Adventureland, and the rugged vibe of the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground matches the wild west themes of Frontierland. Despite the rapid growth in attendence, Walt Disney World continued to only operate three hotels until 1988 when they opened two new resorts, The Caribbean Beach Resort and The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, with the latter becoming the flagship resort for Walt Disney World. (Before 1988, The Contemporary was seen as the Flagship resort.)

The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, originally named The Grand Floridian Beach Resort, is themed to a Victorian seaside resort and would be the counterpart to Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom. Strangely enough, the resort is similar to Hotel de Coronado in Coronado, California with its red gabled roof top and white walls, but does look and fit the part of its East Coast seaside look. All of the resorts smaller outer buildings are named after different islands from the Florida Keys which also goes along with the theme.

The main building of the resort is decadent and luxurious in the style of a beautiful Vegas hotel. the five story lobby contains a gorgeous lounge area, a old style cage elevator, Italian marble floors and stained glass domes. Several rooms are located inside this building as well, however I have to say my favorite part of the lobby is the jazz band that takes the stage on the second floor looking down over the first floor lounge area. Also, my favorite place to relax as an adult is directly behind the stage area where the band plays on the second floor, Mizner’s Lounge, a great place for a drink looking over the gardens of the resort and the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Despite my love affair with having a drink at Mizner’s Lounge, the hotel also boasts some of the most lavish dining in all of Walt Disney World including Citricos, 1900 Park Fare, Narcoossee’s, and the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant on property, Victoria and Alberts. However, my bet for best place to eat, especially without giving up an arm and a leg just to eat, is the Grand Floridian Cafe breakfast. Serving up a traditional breakfast menu, the Cafe is a beaufiul place to eat and a great way to start your day before leaving for the dock to take a cruise across the Seven Seas Lagoon over to the Magic Kingdom.

The resort has also grown and developed over the years. A convention center and business center was added in 1992. Disney’s Wedding Pavilion was also built right next to the property in 1995 and has become the premier spot for weddings at Disney World, with most wedding pictures capturing Cinderella Castle in the background. The resort also had a room refurbishment in 2007, adding flat panel televisions and updating some of the decor. Also, starting in March 2011, the possibility of an expansion of the resort has been running rampant on the internet. If this is true, the expansion will be a Disney Vacation Club addition with several villas added which would make this the second resort on the Monorail track to add a DVC wing .

Along with the resort opening, the Grand Floridian spa opened as the only spa on property at the time. Currently the spa is under renovation until 2013, but until Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa opened, Disney vacationers who were looking to be pampered had only one place to go. The spa also doubles as a health club, however, this club can only be used by guests staying at the Polynesian or Grand Floridian Resorts.

Much like Disney using the word “attraction” instead of “ride”, Disney’s “resorts” are truly resorts and not just “hotels”. The Grand Floridian can be thanked for that. The property is a place where you can shop, eat, relax, workout, and have fun. You could spend your entire vacation at the Resort, without ever leaving, and still have an amazing time. If money isn’t an issue for you, I would quickly recommend staying at this resort. Even if you don’t have the money, I would recommend taking a boat, bus, or monorail to the Grand Floridian Resort and enjoying some of its charm. Whether you are listening to the band play while drinking a martini at Mizner’s Lounge or enjoying a Character breakfast at  1900 Park Fare before leaving to ride Peter Pan’s Flight, its a joyous place for every age, and can be appreciated on different levels despite what kind of vacation you and looking to have.

Josh Taylor

Until Wednesday

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Posted on September 26, 2011, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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