I remember, visiting Disney World as a child, having a few pictures that stayed in my memory like no others. The view down Main Street to Cinderella’s Castle, the people-filled “logs” sliding down into the Briar Patch on Splash Mountain… but, one picture seems to be more vivid than any other: The picturesque view of a gorgeous white ornate building with a deep, almost-ruby red roof. It looked like 20 castles put together. I think it helped that the view came from a monorail car delivering us to an exciting day at the Magic Kingdom.
“THAT’S the Grand Floridian. The nicest resort in all of Disney World!”
My sister would say, “THAT’S the Grand Floridian. The nicest resort in all of Disney World!”
As a boy, I dreamed of staying there just as much as I dreamed of meeting Mickey Mouse or riding Space Mountain. With our family being about as middle-class as you can possibly be, I knew it just wasn’t in the cards. I never let the dream die though.
As I reached an age where I got married and started to raise a family of my own, it was time to go back to Disney World. Still not in a place to take on the steep price tag of the Grand, but just as inspired as I was upon viewing the resort from the monorail like I did many years ago.
After a couple of trips, as I started to look for ways to add different experiences to our family vacations, I decided to do something we never dared as a child: CRASH THE PARTY at the Grand Flo. Ok, that’s putting it a bit dramatically. We just payed a visit even though we weren’t guests.
Come to find out, we weren’t exactly breaking ground. This wonderful resort has a lot of reasons to visit… and no one even looks at you funny!
Covering all of those reasons would make this blog post longer than even I would want to read. So let me cover my top 5 reasons for visiting Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (GF).
(Disclaimer: On our first time visiting, we actually took the opportunity to jump in the wonderful pool, with cool slide, over at the GF. “Pool-Hopping” is ok for guests staying at any Disney Resort, but is prohibited for certain pools. Unfortunately, the GF pool has been added to the list… It definitely would have made my top 5. Only the rebel-rule-breakers would dare to still attempt it.)
…gives you a feeling of luxury from a different era. To be honest, it’s an experience just walking around the grounds or sitting in the lobby.
4. Just BE there. I often say one of the greatest strengths of Walt Disney World is the ability to transport you to a different time and place. With the GF, the consistent and strong theming, along with the quality apparent at every corner, give you a feeling of luxury from a different era. To be honest, it’s an experience just walking around the grounds or sitting in the lobby. Disney treats all of their resorts with respect, but it just seems the GF is singled out as the “Flagship” resort… truly a cut above.
Go sit and listen to the piano player as he jazzes up Disney classics in the grandiose lobby. During Christmas season, check out the life-size gingerbread house… incredible. There is also a nice beach along the Seven Seas Lagoon, to get some sand between your toes.
3. Fireworks Viewing. No big secret here. If you are looking to escape Magic Kingdom a little early, take a boat over to the Grand Flo and watch the MK fireworks. The boat dock area has a great view!
2. The Dining. GF has every level of dining you could ever want. Mainly that’s because it hosts arguably the best (definitely the most expensive) restaurant in all of Disney World, Victoria and Albert’s. The 5 Diamond establishment is considered by many to be a world class dining experience, but be ready to shell out a car payment or more!
A step down from that (but still a signature level restaurant), Narcoossee’s has a great spot overlooking the Seven Sea’s Lagoon. For both of the aforementioned restaurants, plan to reserve months in advance.
If you are more in our price-range, you might enjoy the Grand Floridian cafe. To be honest it doesn’t get a top recommendation from us. We’d rather do this…
Even though pool-hopping isn’t allowed, grab a table near the pool/beach and grab a burger and drink from the pool bar, Beaches. Can you say relaxing??? One of my favorite spots on earth! One of the best burgers you can find at WDW!
1. The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. Spoiler alert…. but my childhood dream became a reality thanks to the Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s Timeshare). While we probably wouldn’t have ever stayed at the GF due to price, we’ve had the opportunity to have two stays there because it worked for us in the timeshare format.
One of my favorite things to do, in all of Disney World, is end the evening at Mizner’s lounge, listening to the “Orchestra”… really a jazz band… playing Disney Tunes in the unique style that throws back to a mid 20th century. To be honest, most of the band members were probably born during that timeframe and the group is as charming as they are talented.
The group starts playing sets around 4PM, starting their last at 9. Another great way to end the day after adventures at Magic Kingdom.
Getting to the Grand Floridian is pretty simple if you are already in the Magic Kingdom area. The (sometimes unreliable) resort monorail runs from the Magic Kingdom and has 3 other stops before the GF. There are boats that run in a cycle from the Magic Kingdom, to the Grand Floridian, the the nearby Polynesian resort. As far as leaving the GF and going to another Disney Resort, you’ll either have to take a boat to Magic Kindgom and then a bus to your resort… or just get a Taxi/Uber and save yourself a ton of time.
What are your thoughts on the Grand Flo? Any favorite spots to hang around and relax for a while??