Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: A Photo Tour

by Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer

We've seen most of the hotels at Walt Disney World and stayed at many of them, but none of them have had as great an impact as the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Constructed in the 1980s, the hotel opened in June 1988. Its construction is inspired by Victorian-era beach resorts along Florida's east coast, sometime during the late 19th century. The exterior is modeled after the famous Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, and the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Much of the Victorian era details were patterned after Victorian style houses in San Francisco, California.

There are five outer buildings that are named after islands in the Florida Keys. They are: Sugarloaf Key, Sago Cay, Conch Key, Boca Chica, and Big Pine Key. One discrepancy we found in the naming of the buildings is that Sago Cay doesn't seem to exist. At least, a quick look at Google Maps brings up only building 5 at Disney's Grand Floridian, but nothing in the Florida Keys. If anyone knows the story of how this building was named, we would certainly like to know. There's also a convention center, wedding pavilion, fitness and wellness center, and relatively new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) building on the property. There are three swimming pools and several restaurants, some of which are considered important eating establishments with reputations reaching far beyond the Walt Disney World property. One restaurant, Victoria and Albert's, is considered one of the finest restaurants in the southeast.

Let's take a look at this great hotel:

The Grand Floridian architecture gets its inspiration from several iconic hotels, including the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Step back into the late 19th century as you approach the grand entrance to the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World. This 1929 Cadillac makes a great photo opportunity. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

In front of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, you'll find a white carriage that looks like it could be operational. All it needs is a couple of white (or maybe black) horses to pull it. As it is, it offers a good photo spot. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The rooms in the Grand Floridian are well appointed. Most have double queen beds and balconies or patios. Photo by Donald Fink.

The double sinks and marble countertops are fitting of a deluxe resort property. Everything about the rooms at the Grand Floridian indicates thoughtful luxury. Photo by Donald Fink.

As you might imagine with a deluxe hotel of this caliber, there is a wide variety to choose from when picking a room. We usually choose an outer building, theme park or lagoon view room, which has two queen beds, but you can choose a two bedroom suite that can sleep up to eight adults.

The Restaurants

We mentioned earlier that the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa has some of the finest restaurants on Disney property, and even competes with some of the best in the entire southeast, but this doesn't mean that eating here requires a dinner jacket and evening gown. Clearly, in some cases it does, but the Grand Floridian has enough to offer that pretty much every appetite and any mood can be accommodated.

The Grand Floridian Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This restaurant is a cut above the food courts found in so many Disney Value and Moderate hotels, but still in a medium price range. It's also one of our favorite spots on Disney property for breakfast. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

There was a time when a select few could indulge themselves with afternoon tea, sipping a cup while enjoying small sandwiches, scones, and pastries. At the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, this tradition continues in the Garden View Tea Room. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

One of the finest restaurants in the southeast is located right here on Disney property at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Victoria and Albert's is located on the second floor of the main building. Photo by Donald Fink.

We mentioned earlier that Victoria and Albert's has gained the reputation as one of the finest dining experiences in the entire southeast. It has amassed a multitude of awards over the years, including the elusive AAA Five Diamond Award and the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating. The AAA Five Diamond Award has only been awarded to three restaurants in Florida, and Victoria and Albert's has received it each year since 2000.

On the second floor of the main building, next to Victoria and Albert's is a more casual restaurant called Citricos. This restaurant offers American cuisine with a Mediterranean inspiration. The dress code is not as strict as Victoria and Albert's, but it might be a good idea to look it over before heading out to have a meal here. Photo by Donald Fink.

Narcossee's is a restaurant specializing in Coastal cuisine. Their menu heavily favors seafood, but has a good selection of turf too. It's located near the boat dock along Seven Seas Lagoon. Narcossee's is another of those fine dining experiences at the Grand Floridian that has earned a reputation for having some of the finest food in the southeast. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Mizner's Lounge is located on the second floor in the main building, behind the bandstand where the orchestra plays jazz in the early evenings. You can enjoy a high-quality drink and maybe a dessert as you look out over the grounds. Photo by Donald Fink.

There's a character restaurant on the main floor of the main building called 1900 Park Fare. In this buffet-style restaurant, you can enjoy breakfast, tea, or dinner with characters like Mary Poppins, Alice, Tigger, and more. As you might imagine, this is less formal than the restaurants upstairs, but not necessarily less fun. Photo by Donald Fink.

Deluxe hotels on Disney property don't normally have the same food court arrangement as the value or moderate hotels have, but if you're looking for a quick meal or snack, the Gasparilla Island Grill is the place at the Grand Floridian. This quick service restaurant is open 24/7 so you can refuel anytime you need. Photo by Donald Fink.

Who doesn't enjoy a good cookie? At Gasparilla Island Grill, you can find cookies and other pastries to satisfy pretty much any sweet tooth. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Swimming Pools

The main pool at the Grand Floridian is located directly behind the main building. Its theming is sophisticated and elegant, fitting the architecture of the Grand Floridian style. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

If the sophistication of the Courtyard Pool isn't working for your young ones, there's the Beach Pool Water Play Area, where kids can splash and be splashed as much as they want. The pool is wading depth, but there is always something in motion here to keep kids engaged. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

There's a pool located between the main building and the DVC Villas called simply the Beach Pool. This pool is themed with a waterfall and water slide and is more suited for a younger, more active audience. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Cabanas are located near the Beach Pool. They're available at an extra cost, but they offer padded lounge chairs, cable TV, towels, and a refrigerator stocked with complimentary sodas and water. The Cabanas can include a snack basket or fruit basket with prior arrangement. There's a dedicated cast member providing service to the Cabanas here at the Grand Floridian Resort. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Here's an interesting twist about the Cabanas here at the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary Hotel. They are available to anyone staying at any Disney hotel and are not limited to people staying at any particular resort. The Cabanas at the Yacht and Beach Club resorts are only available to guests staying at those resorts. You can read more about the Cabanas and how to make reservations here.

The Rest

There are many dream locations to have a wedding on Disney property, but this facility at the Grand Floridian is available for just this purpose. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

There's a boat to the Magic Kingdom in case you get tired of the monorail. Boat service goes from the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian, to the Magic Kingdom, and back again. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Some of these pontoon style boats in the foreground are available for self-piloted tours around Seven Seas Lagoon. Others are for guided fishing tours. In the background, you can see one of the yachts that are available for hire. They make a great platform for watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Disney and Disney related merchandise is available at several locations in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Summer Lace, shown here, is in the main building, first floor. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

For last minute gifts or just a snack, the Sandy Cove Gifts and Sundries store is also located in the main building, between the lobby and the Grand Floridian Cafe. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

In the afternoons at the Grand Floridian Lobby, you can often find a pianist, dressed in his best attire, playing various tunes. On this day, he was playing classical arrangements of Beatles songs. We knew the words. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

When you visit the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, pay attention to the marble flooring. We found this tea pot near the entrance to the Garden View Tea Room. Other characters are located throughout the lobby and the main building. Photo by Donald Fink.

We put together a quick video as we walked around Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. We think it helps describe the experience of staying at this iconic and luxurious Disney hotel. Take a look. Images and Video clips by Donald and Bonnie Fink.

We've stayed at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa only twice over the years since we've been coming to Walt Disney World, but we've actually been here many times. We're usually having a meal at one of the restaurants, and sometimes Bonnie is getting her hair done at Senses—A Disney Spa.

The first time we actually stayed as guests was in the early 1990s, and there was a bit of a problem. Not being a detail guy in terms of handling the money, Don got a glimpse of the bill after a seven night stay and, realizing that the bill was more than our house payment at the time, began to have a small meltdown. During our second stay just a couple of weeks ago, Don was ready.