Join me for a photo tour of the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa! The Grand Floridian opened in 1988, originally as the Grand Floridian Beach Resort (it was renamed a few years later), and has been WDW's flagship premium resort ever since.
Grand Floridian approach
Themed as a late 19th century Florida resort, with an exterior design that is strongly reminiscent of Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, the Grand Floridian is a lovely resort, with some of the best restaurants in the whole resort.
Grand Floridian from across Seven Seas Lagoon
When you first enter the Main Building, the view of the lobby is spectacular! There are several groupings of chairs and sofas on the main floor. This central atrium provides a great place for folks to gather. A Piano and, in the evenings, a small band, play live music. The opulence and elegance are reminiscent of the Astor - Guggenheim - Morgan era. Fortunately, this hotel can't sink like Titanic...but the time period that is captured here is the same.
First view of the lobby
Immediately to the right, as you enter the building is the check-in desk. Guest Services, also located here, can provide any additional help that guests here may need.
Note the uniforms here. The knickers, pinstripes, and hats just nail the clothes that I'm sure everyone wore back in the later Victorian era. Expectation and perception, as always, are the key to great themeing.
Looking up in the atrium, you'll see another one of those great Disney ceilings. (For some odd reason, I find my eye drawn upward in many places at Walt Disney World. Cinderella's Royal Table, the entry hall of Coronado Springs Resort, the Hollywood Tower Hotel lobby are great examples.) It's a classic example of how Disney still does a great job of sweating the details.
Another nice detail is the bird cage elevator that goes between the main floor and the second floor of the lobby area. Upstairs you'll find many of the restaurants and shops that this resort has to offer.
Back in the lobby area of the Main Building, here's the grand staircase from the first floor up. It's located directly behind the cage elevator, so it's hidden from view, which is a shame because it's quite the design flourish. Many a young bride has had her picture taken with her bridal party here.
Walking upstairs to the second floor, the view of the lobby is spectacular.
Lobby from above
And the view across Seven Seas Lagoon is nice, too. This picture was taken from a verandah on the second floor near the grand staircase.
View of Wedding Pavilion and Polynesian Resort
The next picture gives you one view of the outside area of the resort. The Main Building is the larger one to the left. Sugar Loaf Key is on the right.
Main Building and Sugar Loaf Key
The other building, you can just see the red roof of it in the background behind the two buildings in the foreground, is Sago Cay. The marina area is enclosed in the "U" formed by the Main Building, Sugar Loaf Key, and Sago Cay.
Downstairs, at the far East end of the lobby area, and around the corner, is a small gift shop, Sandy Cove, that sells trinkets, newspapers and magazines, and resort logo merchandise. You have to go upstairs to find the resort's finest shops and restaurants. Working our way clockwise around the second floor... Commander Porter's is an upscale shop selling men's resort wear.
Summer Lace is Commander Porter's counterpart for women's resort wear.
M. Mouse Mercantile is the Grand's character shop.
M. Mouse Mercantile
And located in the far corner, is Bally, the well-known and upscale retailer. This place peddles handbags, footwear, ties, and other wardrobe accessories.
A sample of Bally's merchandise
Ivy Trellis, the resort's salon, is located almost directly across from the cage elevator.
Ivy Trellis Salon
On the first floor of the Main Building, you'll find 1900 Park Fare, a great buffet restaurant that is also the venue for some great character meals. By the way, MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource has information and descriptions of many of WDW's restaurants including the ones here at the Grand Floridian!
1900 Park Fare is decorated according to the general theme of the resort. Mary Poppins and Burt, from late Victorian London, would be very comfortable in this place. In addition to serving up some pretty decent food (and as much of it as you'd like, as it's served buffet-style), the restaurant has a great organ with percussion and other instruments built in. When it plays, you're treated to a fun style of music that is all the better for it being "performed" right in the restaurant. In the picture, several of the organ's instruments are shown built into the top part of the wall, in between the two chandeliers.
1900 Park Fare (sorry for the fuzzy picture)
The Grand Floridian Cafe is also located on the first floor. This table- service restaurant has a menu that is very similar to the Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. Of course, the themeing is pretty much the same too, although the Grand Floridian Cafe is decorated in a more simple way (the Plaza Restaurant, of course, is pretty heavy on the Victorian gilded mirrors, carved and painted wood trim, and heavy brass chandeliers). Beware, though, that the menu at the Cafe goes strongly upscale at dinner...and the prices go along with the entrees. It can be a much more expensive meal that you might be expecting from these rather unpretentious surroundings.
The Grand Floridian Cafe
The Garden View Lounge is a nice place to catch something to drink and have a little snack in the afternoon. The windows look out to the courtyard area that includes the pool and many of the resort's manicured garden areas.
The Garden View Lounge
Located in the Main Building, behind us, is Gasparilla Grill and Games. This is very similar to the Food 'N' Fun Center at the Contemporary, but the arcade is quite a bit smaller. There is a snack bar, with ice cream, beverages, sandwiches, and other snacks available. This is a nice place to catch a quick bite if you're not too very hungry.
Gasparilla Grill counter service area
Upstairs are many of the resort's finest shops and restaurants are located. At the top of the stairs, and far to the left (behind the band stand on the second floor) is Mizner's Lounge. Mizner's is open only in the evenings, but it provides another place for relaxing while enjoying the company of others.
Finally, in the corner of the second floor, above the Grand Floridian Cafe if I remember correctly, is Citricos and Victoria & Albert's, the resort's (and in fact, WDW's) must upscale of all restaurants.
Citricos is a nice restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine (much like the former Flagler's did when it exited in this same location). Citricos open show kitchen adds some entertainment value to your meal.
Citricos show kitchen
While Victoria & Albert's is low on entertainment, but high on service and romance. Here's the first thing you'll see when you enter the restaurant.
Victoria & Albert's entryway
Here's the view around the corner...
Victoria & Albert's
...and of the main seating area. Remember, Jackets and ties are required for men here. That should tell you something about the atmosphere here.
Victoria & Albert's seating area
One last restaurant that I just have to mention is Narcoosee's, which is located away from the main building on the shore of Seven Seas Lagoon. In the fuzzy picture below, Narcoosee's is front and center in the low-slung octagon-shaped building. The menu is focused on seafood here and the service and views are excellent. In fact, Narcoosee's is one of Walt Disney World's premier restaurants, but because of it's remote location even within the Grand Floridian complex much less WDW as a whole, it's not anywhere near as well known as other food establishments.
Slightly to the right, as you exit the Main Building into the Courtyard area, you'll see the pool area. The pool itself is relatively simple in its' design. There is no great water slide or any intricate themeing here. Of course, some folks would say that that is ok since the Grand doesn't cater to families with children. On the other hand, all of Walt Disney World caters to families with kids. If you're expecting a Storm along Bay (like at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts) or a Doubloon Lagoon (Like at Port Orleans), you'll be disappointed here. Even so, it's nicely sized and remains a great place to cool off and relax in the hot hours of the afternoon. (Note: A new pool has recently been constructed at the Grand Floridian. I'll add pictures of that new swimming complex as soon as possible.)
The pool in the central courtyard
The building right behind the pool in the picture above is Big Pine Key. The rooms in this building that are on the side opposite the pool have a great view of the Wedding Pavilion and the Polynesian Resort across one part of Seven Seas Lagoon.
The Grand Floridian's beach area before the new pool was constructed
I was standing right between Big Pine Key and the Main Building when I took this picture of the beach area and the Polynesian Resort beyond. Immediately to the left is the Summerhouse, which serves beverages and snacks during the busier parts of the year. Summerhouse is also the location of many group events, so this area is often pretty busy in the early evening hours.
Back in that U-shaped area between the Main Building, Sugar Loaf Key, and Sago Cay, is the marina. In this picture, Sugar Loaf is the building on the right, Sago Cay is to the left, out of the picture and the Main Building is directly behind.
Located in the Main Building, behind us, is Gasparilla Grill and Games. Across from the snack bar area is the arcade. Being in the same room, it makes for quite a bit of noise when a lot of kids are in there playing. When we were here in the mid-afternoon, though, the place was almost deserted. The game selection isn't great, but there's enough here to provide a diversion for a few minutes.
Gasparilla Grill arcade
For the record, the Mouseketeer Club is located on this side of the Main Building, too. It's a bit further down, across from Sago Cay.