Well, Hubby and I are at it again! After taking just over a year to complete the Dating Around World Showcase series, we are finally kicking off the next chapter by Dating around the Disney Resorts. Where are we headed first? Well, we thought we would break this series down into smaller bite-sized portions. So, we’re kicking it off with the Magic Kingdom Loop. So, join us, if you will, as I share the evening we spent together exploring Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa! Wait until you see what Hubby had us do!!!
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Dating Around The MK Loop
A Little About The Resort…
The moment you step onto the grounds of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa you are magically transported to a time and place where “Victorian elegance meets modern sophistication.” Cast Members don knickerbockers and ginormous chandeliers hang from the beautifully vaulted ceilings. A grand piano draws everyone’s attention to itself in the center of the lobby and the perimeter walls are dressed with turn of the century art work.
Of course, during the holidays, the piano is upstaged by a 40 foot tall Christmas Tree in the center of the resort lobby!
The luxurious hotel opened in June 1988, almost 32 years ago, as Disney’s Grand Floridian Beach Resort. In 1997, it underwent a name change that elevated it to Resort & Spa status. Of the over 25 resort hotels on Walt Disney World property, this is considered the flagship resort of Walt Disney World. It is also one of its most opulent.
In 2013, it opened the doors to a separate building housing villas reserved for those who are Disney Vacation Club members ~ of which we are VERY blessed to be called!
The resort is home to nearly a dozen eateries, ranging from poolside fare to exquisite dining in a AAA-five-diamond award winning restaurant. It also has several shops housed within the five story main building and there is both a salon / spa for adults and a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the property, as well.
The resort’s overall theme pays tribute to classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins and Dumbo, The Flying Elephant. Even the marble floors hold the renderings of various classic Disney characters.
To be honest, I could go on and on and on….but let’s get to date night!
Date Night Arrival
We arrived mid afternoon so that I could make sure to snap pictures while there was still daylight left. Being winter, we are still seeing night fall around the 6 pm time frame. Between the red-gabled roofs, the white exteriors and the meticulous landscaping, there is so much to see on the outside that I wanted to make sure I grabbed those photos before dusk.
We made our way to and through the front entrance, stopping first to grab some photos of the absolutely gorgeous antique cars that welcome each and every guest out front.
I have to be honest ~ walking through the front entrance is still somewhat difficult without thinking about our dear friend Richard Gerth. Richard was a long time Cast Member whose smile and conversation touched the hearts of everyone he greeted. Richard passed away a few years ago, but the resort is keeping his spirit alive by giving one of the conference rooms inside the adjacent conference center (where tons of special events are held) the honor of bearing his name (there were wedding receptions taking place, so we were unable to go in to snap a photo).
Taking A Seat In the Lobby
Hubby and I walked hand in hand into the grand lobby. As the doors slid open, we were immediately welcomed by the sound of the band playing and the sight of Cast Members dancing. We decided to first find ourselves a seat on one of the stately sofas just to take in the view, as well as listen to the music for a few. The band was playing Disney classics in a corner of the room that I believe used to be home to a portion of the reception area. We just sat and listened for a bit, catching a few of our favorites and taking notice of the intricate details that surrounded us ~ the vaulted glass ceilings, the way the furniture was arranged, the exquisite designs on the railings, walls, carpet ~ everything.
Walking the Grounds
It wasn’t long, though, before we headed out to the door that sits behind the grand staircase.
As we walked outside, you could hear the laughter of children playing in the water and feel the warmth of the sun as it was just beginning to change the sky’s hue. There were at least THREE different wedding parties roaming the grounds having pictures taken. Oh, it was soooo beautiful. Those dresses were absolutely stunning and gorgeous!!!
Yup, girls ~ I definitely started dreaming about renewing my vows at Disney (25 is quickly approaching….ahem!)
We took a walk by the small beach, now roped off to prevent Guests from entering the water. As we drew as close to the water as we could, we watched as ferry boats and various other water craft coasted by. I loved listening to the waves they created crash up against the land below us.
We even took some time to say a little prayer for Lane Thomas’ family as we paid our respects at the beautiful lighthouse that stands on the property to remind us of how precious and fragile life really is.
A Little Friendly Competition?
From there, it was time to find something fun to do ~ time to create a laughable moment. As we began to walk towards the center of the courtyard, we found an open game area where three different activities just laid there waiting for Guests to partake. We found Connect 4, hula hoops and a bean bag toss. Since Walt has a history of winning ONE Connect 4 game against me in the recent past, he was determined to see if he was actually capable of repeating the victory.
It got pretty intense.
In fact, a little girl tried to jump into the game to help, but was kindly (and quickly) called back by her mother so as not to break our concentration….
Let’s just say I should have pushed for the bean bag toss….
Sharing a Snack
By that point, it was time to grab something to satisfy our growing appetites. However, we had a hope and goal of trying the Enchanted Rose later that night, so we decided to share something quick and easy. We made our way over to Gasparilla Island Grill ~ the resort’s quick service option ~ to find something to share.
I’m not sure why, but we have never really had tremendous success at this quick service over the years. Twice, I’ve noted food allergy issues with them (when the youngest was present ~ not reactions, though. We just caught something they didn’t) and the food is just mediocre at best. Of course, this is just our experience. Others we know absolutely LOVE dining here.
For this visit, we shared the Artisan Burger with fries, as well as a Minnie Mouse Cupcake and a drink. Not that it was bad ~ it just – wasn’t great. It certainly left room for us to crave something better later (well, that’s another interesting story coming up).
Time to Browse
From there, we walked around and found dessert parties being set up near the boat dock, the movie under the stars being prepped and families making their way to meet their dining reservation times. It was nice to walk hand in hand with no time crunch, no obligations and nothing giving us reason to keep an eye on our phones.
This is when we decided to head back inside and explore the various shops that call the perimeter of the main building home. We walked through Curioser Clothiers, M. Mouse Mercantile, Basin White, and Sandy Cove Gifts and Sundries. Oh, my crazy husband had a little too much fun at Basin White, to be honest.
We even took a peek through the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique window. Our boys never did the “pirate” thing, but we are more than hoping to have a granddaughter one day. Oh, to think of how much fun we would have spoiling her here!
At this point, I was about ready to head over to Enchanted Rose for a drink and a little something better to eat.
Then ~ it happened.
Hubby started thinking…questioning…envisioning…concocting a plan. Uh-oh is what I began to think!!! What was going on in my dear husband’s head?
Walt’s Witty Idea
The plan had been to visit The Enchanted Rose because we had yet to do so and it looks absolutely gorgeous. While at Gasparilla Island Grill, we took the time to check out the menu, which was a little intimidating only because we are trying to reserve funds (including the ones called Disney Rewards from our Chase Disney Visa). So, Hubby’s brain was trying to come up with a sweet and creative alternative.
Why couldn’t we just purchase a bottle of wine, grab some cheese and crackers and sit in the lobby to enjoy?
Okay – when I type it out, it doesn’t sound as “magical” or extraordinary. You really had to be in THAT moment to understand. Hubby had simply noticed that there was seating outside The Enchanted Rose and he remembered that there was wine and snacks in Sandy Cove Gifts and Sundries ~ so he put the two thoughts together and decided that he had to investigate further.
Back to Sandy Cove
We made our way downstairs, chuckling the whole time. On our descent, we passed by this absolutely beautiful tapestry on the wall (later to find out that this had been an actual tablecloth Walt and Lily Disney had in their own home!!).
Hubby thought that he was being brilliant with this bottle of wine thing and I was humoring him to see what kind of a story this would create.
Once we arrived at Sandy Cove, we priced out bottles of wine and snacks that might go well with it…but I confess. I was a bit skeptical of the idea. I’m such a Debbie Downer. Sooooo ~ to appease my anxiety, Hubby went to go ask questions.
Sure enough, Cast Members confirmed that many Guests will cut costs by doing exactly what Hubby was scheming! In fact, here are a few tips (adults only)!
- Grab a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola and a bottle of Jack Daniels – around $20 purchase.
- Pick up a bottle of wine and a package of meat, cheese and crackers – around $20 (maybe just a little more)
- Purchase two individual bottles of Kahlua Mudslides and a bag of popcorn (I don’t remember how much that would have been)
That’s sooo much more cost effective than purchasing two drinks at one of the bars or restaurants (though we still enjoy doing that, too).
What about cups?
No worries!!! We found out the bar will give you glasses if you ask them. Of course, you can also ask the Cast Member at the counter of the store where you’re making the purchase. They have plastic cups they can give you!!
So, guess what we did…
We bought a bottle of wine and the small pack of meat / cheese / crackers, asked for two plastic cups and made our way to find a seat in the lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa!
Believe it or not, it was one of the most romantic moments we’ve had in a long time!
A Little Music to Set The Tone
At the time that we sat down to slowly enjoy our bottle of wine (yielded about two glasses each) and three tiny salami sandwiches, the musical entertainment had shifted from the band to the solo pianist in the center of the lobby. I grew up teaching myself how to play piano and all three boys played for a few years. So, I adore the sound of a beautiful song emanating from a grand’s strings.
Hubby then made his next romantic gesture.
I love, love, love the theme song for Tangled – I See The Light. It does something inside of me (Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi – LOVE THOSE TWO!!). Believe it or not, Hubby got up from his corner seat, made his way over to the pianist and asked if he took requests. I could see his head nodding. Then I saw Hubby walk back.
Yes, my husband actually requested the pianist play that song for me. After 23 years, he can still make me smile!
Closing out the night with some fireworks…
It’s not often that the two of us will stay late enough to watch fireworks these days. We like the comfort of home and aren’t fond of the crowds that form at the parks around that time. However, no one ever said the fireworks had to be watched WITHIN the parks.
Happily Ever After, the colorful and majestic fireworks display that plays over Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom just about every night, can be seen quite well from the grounds of the monorail resorts. We’ve seen them before, after dining at Narcoossee’s, so we knew what to expect.
Of course, even knowing what to expect doesn’t speak to the magic of the actual moment.
About ten minutes out from the beginning of the nightly demonstration, we made our way over to the pier. There was a small group of people already gathering. However, we were able to find ourselves a great spot to stand. We stood there, wrapped in each other’s arms (or at least I wrapped in Hubby’s). It was so romantic to watch the night sky light up with Disney emblems and the sound of magic. The music was piped in so we could follow along in perfect synchronization.
It was a PERFECT way to end our evening together at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa….and a great way to start the new series. Don’t you think?
Is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa the place for you?
If you’re looking to stay at the Resort (which we have and loved every second of it), the prices are much steeper than some of the others. However, it provides a level of convenience not found at a majority of the Disney Resorts. Guests are a five minute monorail ride to Magic Kingdom. They have the opportunity to watch the fireworks away from the crowds ~ and the list goes on.
One of the best ways to enjoy the luxury and elegance of Disney’s Grand Floridian is as a Disney Vacation Club member. We became members in 2013, making our purchase when the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa were complete. Even though we are Florida residents now, we still enjoy being DVC members. It’s nice to know we can look forward to decades of Disney stays both here in Central Florida and elsewhere.
Believe it or not, I haven’t even shared all this Resort has to offer. This is just one evening well spent. I’m dying to try the salon services one day or dine at Victoria & Albert’s. Hubby would love to rent one of the boats for the family as it grows over the years. Mind you, that can take its time – I’m in nooooo rush.
The point is, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa can be a place to stay or a place to visit. It doesn’t matter where you are on property. Hopping over to explore this elegant and meticulously kept resort is a privilege any Disney Guest can afford to do. Perhaps you can arrange a date night or a family movie night under the stars while you’re here on vacation. I simply and highly recommend that you take the time to come explore. There’s just something that happens inside when you walk the meticulous grounds of this elegant venue. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more!
Interested in other Disney Date Nights we’ve had? Check out our Our 11 Dates Around World Showcase: Leaving Footprints in Epcot!!
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