Have you ever spent a day at Walt Disney World without a park ticket? Many guests fail to realize Disney magic can be found outside the parks, particularly at the Walt Disney World Resorts. Even those who aren’t staying at a Disney Resort are free to visit and enjoy some of what the different resorts have to offer. Let’s explore Walt Disney World’s flagship resort for this installment of Ticketless Disney: Experiencing Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is a Deluxe Resort, meaning it falls in the most expensive resort category. However, the Grand is the most luxurious resort at Walt Disney World and an effortless blend of Victorian theming, Florida history, modern luxury and conveniences, and that signature Disney touch!
Much like the Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian has rooms in the main lobby; but most guest rooms are contained in outer buildings named after islands in the Florida Keys, such as Sugarloaf Key, Boca Chica, and Conch Key. The Grand Floridian also offers a separate DVC (Disney Vacation Club) building with it’s lobby themed after Mary Poppins!
The resort’s signature five story lobby is worth a visit alone due to its chandeliers, stained glass ceiling domes, vintage cage elevator, and marble floors hiding familiar characters. There’s also live music daily, and this gorgeous space serves as a showcase for some of the resort’s most impressive holiday creations and decorations.
Check Out What Makes the Grand Floridian Unique:
The Grand Floridian Resort opened to guests in 1988 and sits on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, right between the Polynesian village Resort and the Magic Kingdom! So in addition to bus and boat transportation, the Grand Floridian offers Monorail access just off the second floor of the lobby. But what makes the resort unique in this respect is the Magic Kingdom is the first stop after boarding at this resort. You can literally be in the lobby of the Grand Floridian and then at the Magic Kingdom in under five minutes. Yes, I’ve timed it.
The Grand Floridian is also home to Victoria & Albert’s, the finest dining experience at Walt Disney World. This dining destination is a AAA Five Diamond rated restaurant which also offers a special Chef’s Table dining experience.
Lastly, the Grand Floridian is home to Senses – A Disney Spa. Guests in pursuit of ultimate relaxation can indulge in a selection of massages, facials, body wraps, and the like. Kids ages 4 to 12 can also have a manicure and pedicure with a dose of Disney magic too!
Stuff Your Face:
The Grand Floridian offers a variety of dining options ranging from the finest dining on property to character meals to on-the-go treats. Victoria & Albert’s is, of course, a dining experience like no other. But if that doesn’t fit your budget, Citricos and Narcoosees offer signature dining that’s a little more reasonable.
The Grand Floridian’s character buffet is 1900 Park Fare. Now apart from the restaurant’s signature Strawberry Soup, the food is relatively forgettable; but the variety of character options make the experience. For instance, the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast features characters such as Mary Poppins, Alice and The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, and Pooh and Tigger. In the afternoon, kids ages 4 to 12 can sip “tea” and decorate treats at the Wonderland Tea Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter.
Lastly, in the evenings 1900 Park Fare offers Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and even Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters. This meal is one of my favorite character meals on property for the antics of the Tremaine family and the fairytale interactions with Cinderella and Prince Charming. It’s a dining experience everyone can enjoy.
The Grand Floridian Cafe is ideal for guests looking for a table service meal without the crippling bill; however, apart from the setting and atmosphere, there are many other options on property with better food. I can recommend Gasparilla Island Grill, the resort’s food court. I love it because it’s open 24 hours; and while it may not have the same variety as other resort food courts, the options here are high-quality, delicious, and a great deal.
Finally, for a truly unique and special experience, the Grand Floridian has the Garden View Tea Room serving traditional afternoon tea each day. For little ones, this location offers Disney’s Perfectly Princess Tea. Here little royals can dress like their favorite princess and enjoy special entertainment, “tea” and sandwiches, sweets, and special gifts.
Listen to Live Music:
Every afternoon and into the evening, either the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra or the Grand Floridian pianist will be filling the lobby with tunes from a bygone era and some popular Disney songs too. After a long, hectic day in the parks, I encourage guests visiting the Grand Floridian to pause, find a comfy chair in the lobby, and take advantage of this live entertainment and ambiance. These musicians are truly fantastic and contribute to the beauty and magic of this resort.
Go On a Shopping Spree:
As I’ve said before, it’s a personal rule of mine to always shop at the Deluxe Resorts, particularly those on the Monorail loop. This is because they offer several gift shops as opposed to one. Shoppers may also find exclusive items unavailable in the parks. This is especially true of the Grand Floridian Resort. Why? In true “grand” style, the Grand Floridian features more shopping destinations than any other resort at Walt Disney World!
Sandy Cove Gifts and Sundries offers just that. Sundries. But I’ve also found a fantastic selection of pins, DVC (Disney Vacation Club) merch, and holiday items here. M. Mouse Mercantile is geared more towards little shoppers with your standard selection of plush, costumes, and play sets. Commander Porters is the resort’s menswear store offering name brand clothing items and accessories particularly for golfers. For women, Summer Lace is a women’s boutique showcasing brands such as Lily Pulitzer, Tommy Bahama, Dooney and Bourke, Vineyard Vines, and more! Finally, the Grand Floridian has its own Basin White store with a unique selection of bath bombs, soaps, lotions, and the like!
Go For a Run or Take a Stroll:
Haven’t walked enough during your Disney World Vacation? Determined to stick to your work out routine even on vacation (which I admire, but can’t relate)? Take advantage of the 1-mile path which connects the Grand Floridan with the Polynesian Village Resort. Of all the paths and trails at Walt Disney World, this is my favorite. Tracing the shoreline of the Seven Seas Lagoon, the path provides picture-perfect views of the other resorts and the Magic Kingdom across the water and white sandy beaches. Along the way, you might stumble across a real life fairy tale as this path takes guests past the Disney Wedding Pavilion and Franck’s Studio.
Get Those Insta-Worthy Photos:
Exploring the Grand Floridian is like stepping back in time without forgoing modern conveniences. True to its name, the “grandness” of this resort is difficult to describe! For your obligatory social media pics, you can’t go wrong exploring the resort grounds with that red and white color palette, green palms and manicured lawns.
Don’t miss the old fashioned vehicles parked by the main resort entrance. The grand staircase in the lobby, the ferry boat dock, and the beaches along with the path to the Polynesian Village Resort provide great backdrops for photos too.
Watch the Fireworks:
One of the best places to watch the fireworks is from the boar dock which is angled towards Cinderella Castle. The fireworks can also be seen from the pool areas and the marina. In fact, Grand Floridian guests can watch Happily Ever After from the pools! It’s one of the multiple reasons why this resort is unbelievable. Anyway, non-resort guests can still enjoy the view from the areas surrounding the pool too.
Have you ever spent a day at Walt Disney World without a park ticket? What is your favorite thing to do at the Grand Floridian Resort?