All you need to know about the Grand Floridian:
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a AAA Four Diamond Award–winning, Victorian themed luxury hotel and spa located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The property opened on June 28, 1988 as the Grand Floridian Beach Resort. The name changed to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa during the fall of 1997. The resort contains 867 rooms among six buildings at an average of 400 square feet (37 m²) per room. A standard room can sleep up to five people. The resort is owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
The Grand Floridian is categorized as a deluxe resort, one of four types of accommodations at the Florida site. The resort is distinguished Disney’s flagship and most luxurious resort. The resort has received designation in the Florida Green Lodging Program.
The hotel was inspired by the Victorian era beach resorts built along Florida’s east coast during the late 19th century and early 20th century; its exterior is modeled after the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, California, with red gabled roofs and white walls. Additional design inspiration was taken from the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Florida. The resort’s outer lodge buildings — Sago Cay, Sugarloaf Key, Conch Key, Boca Chica and Big Pine Key—are named for islands in the Florida Keys. The hotel’s main building features a five story lobby, a cage elevator, stained glass domes, and Italian marble floors.
Initially, Walt Disney wanted a Polynesian resort (reflecting Adventureland), the Contemporary Resort to echo Tomorrowland, and other resorts that mirrored the ‘lands’ of the Magic Kingdom. Main Street and The Grand Floridian act as analogous reflections. The resort was designed by the Disney company and executed by the architectural firm Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo.
Along with Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the Grand Floridian sits on the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon near the Magic Kingdom. The hotel occupies land that had been earmarked for an Asian themed resort during the initial development of Walt Disney World Resort in the late 1960s. As of June 2007, smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor smoking locations. In 1992, a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) convention center opened adjacent to the hotel, which contains a business center.
The hotel has completed some major renovations over the last couple years. In 2007, all the guestrooms were redecorated and flat panel televisions were added. The lobby has gone under a major transformation since its beginning. Italian marble was put in to replace dated tiles. There are even some mosaics of Disney characters near common places such as the main entrance, monorail station, and elevators with new carpet installed in May 2010. During evening hours, a band plays on the second floor balcony for about 3 hours alternating with a piano.
Victoria & Albert’s – A critically acclaimed restaurant at the hotel, with a menu created nightly and an award-winning wine cellar. The restaurant has received AAA’s Five Diamond Award each year since 2000 and currently is the one of three Floridian restaurants to receive the award (the others restaurants are at The Breakers Hotel and Four Seasons, both of which are in Palm Beach.) As of January 2008, children under 10 are no longer permitted.
Cítricos – American food with a Mediterranean inflection. Serves dinner five to seven nights a week, depending on season. It operates in a location that was formerly an Italian restaurant called Flagler’s that operated until 1997.
Narcoossee’s – A seafood restaurant with an open kitchen and views of Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, Wishes. Serves dinner nightly.
1900 Park Fare – Buffet dining with Disney characters including Mary Poppins and Cinderella. Inside this restaurant is “Big Bertha”, an organ built in Paris and used from 1909 to 1955 in a Grand Rapids, Michigan amusement park. The organ’s instruments include pipes, drums, bells, cymbals, castanets and a xylophone, and are played by a piano-roll score. It plays short concerts periodically during mealtimes. Serves breakfast and dinner daily.
Grand Floridian Café – Traditional American fare, with fresh fruit, seafood, and burgers. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Gasparilla Grill and Games – A 24-hour snack bar with an adjacent arcade.
Recreation and spa
The resort offers two pools, a jacuzzi, and a white sand beach. The marina contains various watercraft rentals, including fishing excursions and a yacht. Other recreational activities include tennis programs, a mile-long jogging trail, health club, and preferred access to the Walt Disney World golf courses. The full service spa offers massages, therapies, and other treatments. The Walt Disney World Monorail System, water taxis, and buses provide access to other Walt Disney World areas and attractions.
The Grand floridian property as viewed from the Magic Kingdom.
In March 2011, plans of a potential addition to the Grand Floridian Resort surfaced on the internet. Architectural renderings show a new wing on the southern tip of the property that may be used for Disney Vacation Club villas, as well as a new parking lot for Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and Grand Floridian Health Club. This addition was confirmed to DVC members through e-mail in December 2011, thus officially making The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa home to the second Vacation Club property on a monorail resort, following Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort which opened in 2009. The e-mail contained a link to a site on the DVC members only site that describes an addition with approximately 147 villas. Beginning on September 19th, the Grand Floridian’s Spa will be closed for 18 months due to this expansion. It is estimated to open in late 2013. You can see an update of the construction in this post.