Dream Big, Live Grand - 4th of July at the Grand Floridian!
I'm usually better at coming up with cute, catchy titles, but all of the funny titles I could think of to describe our trip were a tad bit inappropriate! :lmao:
Hello! I'm Victoria, and I just got back from our 4th of July extended weekend stay at the Grand Floridian. This is my first TR on the DIS, so I figured I'd begin with some "cast" introductions!
Me - Victoria
I'm 19 years old, and I'm a sophomore at Clemson University, majoring in architecture. I am the "Disney freak" of the family. I'm the one who books the hotel and dining reservations and maps out our day. My parents are the ones who took me to Disney throughout my childhood, but ever since I became an AP holder when I was 9 years old, I've been a Disney fanatic, always researching Disney - whether I have a vacation planned or not.
Sister - Rachel
Rachel is 17 years old. She is the diva of the family. She loves vacations, and she always wants to go somewhere. "I wanna go to Disney... I wanna go on a cruise... I wanna go to the beach......" :rotfl: Rachel is fun-loving, super friendly, and the life of the party.
Dad - Boyd
Dad visited WDW for the first time in 1971, and he's been going back ever since. My dad is a big fan of the parks, but he doesn't care about the history so much. And he's the total theme park commando.... king of the FastPasses. As soon as it's time for a new FP, he's right there, and the FP distribution, ready to get his next one. He's fun-loving, but he can wear us out!
Mom - Sharon
My mother went to WDW in 1973 and camped with her parents at Fort Wilderness. Mom is the one that just goes with the flow.... she'll make suggestions here and there, but she's probably the least involved with our plans. But, she is the packer and the organizer and makes sure that we don't forget anything.
I'm going to start the TR with reviews of our resort and restaurants. I figure this way, it will be easier to navigate.
Our Resort: The Grand Floridian
We had a lovely stay at the Grand Floridian. My second stay there, and I've decided that it really is my favorite Disney resort. I know many people describe it as "stuffy," but I don't get that vibe at all. To me it's light and airy and beautiful. I just love the architecture.... my heart opens the same way for the Grand Floridian as it does Mickey Mouse and Cinderella's Castle. :wub: I can't really describe it other than.... "so this is love... mmmhmm mmhmmm..." :rotfl: I also especially love the evening atmosphere in the lobby with the band playing. So Grand!
Both days we went to the Beach Pool, I noticed people wearing orange wristbands. I assume that indicated that they were staying at the resort. However, we were never carded. Rachel and I tried the waterslide and liked it enough to go back twice. The kids complained about the "long line" - of about four to six people! :laughing: However, I didn't find the wait to be long at all. The lifeguards were nice, too. Whenever someone broke the slide rules, the lifeguard would kindly tell them that they weren't allowed to do that (many times fighting a laugh!). The recreation staff was also great - the pool wasn't crowded with kids because they were all out of the pool playing games with the recreation team. It looked like a lot of fun.
We visited the courtyard pool at 2 am, so we had it all to ourselves. It's huge! And it feels even bigger when you're in it by yourself at night! The hot tub is also huge. It seemed deep, though.
The monorail to MK is great, and the switch to Epcot isn't bad at all. Of course, coming home from MK on the monorail seems to take forever. If you're headed from MK back to the GF and you see a boat, take it, instead!
We also had wonderful bus luck this trip - never waited more than five minutes for a bus!
Our Room: Sago Cay 5120
Our room was in Sago Cay where we stayed last time. I was hoping to get Sago Cay when I requested "close to transportation," and it worked out perfect! Our room was on the first floor, right off of the main lobby (5120). I was a little skeptical at first, worried about the noise, but the room was so convenient - great location! The view was also beautiful of the monorail over Seven Seas. I found it a great 'steal' for a 'Garden View.' I would definitely want to stay in that room, again.
I love the size of the rooms at the Grand Floridian. Last time we stayed there, Rachel slept on the daybed while I slept in the queen bed, but the mousekeeper didn't make down the daybed this time, so we just slept together (which is what we normally do, anyway). The daybed is a good size, though. A petite to average-size adult could definitely sleep there comfortably.
The bathroom was great with the double vanity. It was at the perfect height for a petite person like myself, too. I loved the makeup mirror, and the full-length mirror on the bathroom door was great because it could be angled so one could see the back of their hair while fixing.
My architectural critique of this room is that there should have been a mirror over the desk so that one could use it as a vanity if they wished. The mirror in the main room was over the daybed, which was lovely but at the same time didn't serve a very practical function. Also, the bathroom vanity could use shelves. There is a huge open area beneath the vanity - why not incorporate shelves? I felt that our countertop was always cluttered with makeup bags and hair products because we didn't have any drawers or shelf space in the bathroom.
Service critique is that our evening mousekeeper only left us two chocolates - when there were four people staying in the room! After the first night of two chocolates, I wrote a note saying, "There are four people staying in this room! :)" Still two chocolates. So the next night, Dad left a note on the bed saying, "Please leave four chocolates." And we got four chocolates! The next night.... two chocolates. :confused: I guess he didn't remember that there were four people in our room. It was the same guy every night because he always left us a "good night" card with his name - Michael. I even met him one night because he came to turn down the room when no one else was appropriately dressed.... he was a very young guy, maybe a bit older than me. Quite handsome, as well. :blush: Maybe if I had told him that, he would have left us more chocolate...... :rotfl:
The Cast Members
I've read so many complaints that the CMs here are snooty and not friendly at all, but I would have to disagree. Our bellhop that helped us move in was super friendly - even in the wee hours of the morning! On our way from our room to the bus stop or parking lot in the morning, we would pass CMs headed to work. They'd always smile and wave and say good morning. Also, the night Rachel and I went swimming at 2 am, two security guards passed through and saw us swimming, so they casually stopped and chatted by the pool while we were there. Now, they could have been making sure that we didn't go crazy and scream and shout, but it was just the two of us, and we were being very quiet, so I would like to think that they were just making sure we were safe. Also, a CM cleaning up came across our stuff and almost turned it into lost and found, but the security guards told him it was ours. After we got out of the pool, they were very friendly and chatty with us.
Now, I'm not going to force the GF on anyone who doesn't like it. If you think it looks like a grandma's house, that's cool with me - there are a few Disney resorts that I think I'll never want to stay in! But, my advice to people wanting to stay at the GF but are scared to because they think that they "won't belong" - don't worry about it! Everyone there is super friendly, and I never felt as if anyone was judging me. There were many, many families and lots of kids. Even if the super wealthy folk is staying there, they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you! As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." So stay at the Grand and enjoy its beauty!
Dining Ratings & Reviews
So I'm the light eater in the family, yet I'm the one who booked a bunch of buffets! My dad didn't think that was cool, and after the first day, he was saying, "No more buffets!" Well..... that ruined my ADRs! However, we made a few compromises (skipped out on Grand Floridian Cafe and Rainforest Cafe) and ate at all of the buffets!
For our ratings, I'm going to use a :earsboy: system - scale of 5 :earsboy:s!
Crystal Palace - Breakfast :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy:
When I saw the breakfast time before the park was open, I snagged it! We had done breakfast at CP before park opening before, and it was a great experience to be in the park before everyone else - wonderful castle shots! Once again, we enjoyed the great pictures. The buffet was also consistently good. I wouldn't say it's the best breakfast buffet at WDW, but I think that it consistently puts out a good product. I got the chocolate Mickey Mouse waffles, and they were delish! Rachel, Mom, and Dad all got the regular Mickey Mouse waffles and complained that they were hard and yucky. I did not care for their sausage. I loved their fruit - the pineapple was perfect! Also, two of our favorite offerings were from the kids' bar - breakfast pizza and Pooh's Puffed French Toast. Yummy! Character interaction was good... I guess when you're older, it's not as big of a deal. We just take pictures - no autographs or videos of our character interaction. Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore moved together and were very prompt. We ended up waiting on Tigger... but he spent more time with us than the other characters.
Kona Cafe - Dinner :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy:
We repeated this restaurant at Rachel's request. She loved the bread. Last time, our waitress brought us three loaves! However, this time, our service was terrible! Our waiter never came by our table! He left us waiting so many times. It took us thirty minutes to finally place our order. We had to get his attention to ask for refills. We had asked for more bread, but he forgot it, so we had to remind him. Finally, he brought us more. Then, he brought us the check and Dad was ready to pay... had it sitting on the edge of the table... the guy kept walking by, looked straight at my dad - and ignored him!!!!! Mom, Rach, and I left for the bathroom... Dad was all alone... still, the guy wouldn't take the book. My dad peeks around the corner and sees him chit-chatting with other waiters..... walks up to him and hands him the book (he talks about how he should've opened it and slashed the tip right in front of him :rolleyes:). The guy isn't apologetic at all.
The food was very good, though. I had crab cakes (it's an appetizer... and not quite big enough for an entree). Rach and Dad had the chicken and salad. And mom had shrimp noodles. All were good. And we would be willing to repeat it because what are the odds that we're going to get such terrible service, again?
Cape May Cafe - Breakfast :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy:
This was a first for us, and we all enjoyed it! The breakfast bar was very similar to Crystal Palace's in selection, though (it's breakfast... how crazy can you really get?). They did have a nice little bagel station. I never made myself a bagel because I didn't have the patience for that, though! :laugh: The food was great and it was very relaxed. Only three characters, but they all came by twice. I'd say this is a better breakfast buffet for adults that like an American breakfast, but aren't on a mission to see characters.
Tokyo Dining :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy:
Another first. We really enjoyed it! We were seated by the window with a lovely view of the lagoon. lIf you could snag this table around fireworks time, it would have a great view of IllumiNations! Our waitress was super sweet (she was from ***ishima :sad1:), but a little difficult to understand. I had the volcano sushi and it was great. I was a little skeptical about the bright orange, beady-looking sauce, but it was very tasty! It was described as spicy, but I didn't really find it so.
Dream Big, Live Grand - 4th of July at the Grand Floridian!
1900 Park Fare - Dinner :earsboy:
This was our bust of the week. We chose this because it was convenient and we loved it for breakfast on a previous trip... but will never eat here for dinner, again! The selection was very limited. The most expensive options were the sushi and salmon. The sushi was good, but after Tokyo Dining, it didn't really impress. I found the salmon a little dry. The kids' mac and cheese was terrible, as was the cheese pizza. I didn't come across anything amazing. (I'm the kind of person that takes a bite and if it's good, I eat more... if I don't like it, I move on.) The desserts were all petite, and while they were cute, they tasted terrible. They had a mini Key Lime Pie... in a chocolate crust. Weird combo. The carrot cake was so bad, it was unrecognizable. I had to go back and read the name because I thought it was fruit cake! :eek: The minimal food selection definitely did not match the hefty price tag. We were clearly paying for the character interaction.
The characters.... Prince Charming was a weirdo. He came up to us and asked Rachel and I if we practiced our manners. After I said, "Uhh, yes," he told us we should use them with Cinderella. I'm thinking... I'm sorry.... did we do something to offend you???? Then I heard him give the same speech to two little boys around four and six. It must be his standard spiel. However, I found it a bit inappropriate for young adults like Rachel and myself. Now.... the best character EVER was Lady Tremaine. Oh my goodness, she was a hoot! Always in character - soooo sarcastic! I loved her sense of humor! More on that, later....
Chef Mickey's - Dinner :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy: :earsboy:
This is the ADR we almost skipped after our disastrous Park Fare dinner..... but we are all so glad we didn't!!!
Chef Mickey's was AMAZING!!!!!!! And our waiter was AMAZING!!! We've never really thought that waiters could really be good for buffets... all they did was bring drinks... but this guy proved us wrong! (More on that, later.)
The food selection was great... and everything was so good! The mac and cheese off the kids' bar was the best I've had at WDW. The cheese potatos were great... the salmon and ham were wonderful. There wasn't much I didn't like... and I'm a selective eater! The desserts were also wonderful! I got the cutest thing ever... an oreo with mousse Mickey head on top. I figured, this thing is so cute - there is no way it can taste good. But I was wrong - it was the best dessert!!! They also had a wonderful mini key lime pie and carrot cake. There is no appropriate way I can think to properly express how much better Chef Mickey's was than Park Fare!!!!
When my parents mentioned to our waiter that this dinner was so much better than our dinner the last night, he told us that Chef Mickey's and Boma are the only two buffets that make fresh food throughout the day. All other buffets make food in large batches. I was surprised because I always figured that the buffets were run the same. It must be something about the kitchen or type of food served or something.
This is the place to go if you love good food and you love characters. It really is the best character dining experience we've had... and the only one with which we can justify the hefty price tag.
Ohana's - Breakfast :earsboy: :earsboy:
I was excited about this one because so many people love it. However, we were very disappointed. For one, our waitress was terrible. She sounded just like Roz from Monsters, Inc. And she was in desperate need of training!!! She reached right across my plate, in front of my face, to get something... didn't even say excuse me. She was also awful at pouring drinks. She sloshed the glass all over the table. I was beginning to wonder if she was perhaps hung over? And... the father at the table beside us said, "Excuse me, could I get - " and she cut him off by yelling, "I'M NOT LISTENING!!!" What the HECK?????
Service was really slow. The sweet bread was very good. I was also a fan of the orange/guava juice. Once again, I didn't like the sausage (didn't at any meal!). The bacon was absolutely terrible - it tasted like paper! No flavor! I didn't eat the eggs, but I probably should have because everyone else in my family liked them. The biscuit I had was really dry. And they kept bringing us a platter for three when we were clearly a family of four... while they brought the family of three next to us a platter with four biscuits! You'd think after the second time, they'd realize the error. The food selection was extremely limited, but it was also significantly less expensive than the other character dining breakfasts. So if you aren't a big eater but want character dining, this is a good place to try!
Thursday, June 30 - Departure Day
Our trip to WDW had been planned for about a month. The week before, Rachel got an offer to work at the Miss South Carolina pageant in Columbia. It was free labor, but she loves pageants, so she snatched it up immediately. She was supposed to drive home Thursday morning, but of course Wednesday afternoon she asked us if we could pick her up in Columbia. Dad was against it, and I wasn't a fan of the idea, but Mom wanted to give her her way so that she would be happy about Disney. So, I packed up all of Rachel's stuff for her.
Between packing for myself and packing for Rachel, I also painted some Mickey toenails...
We left the house at 8:30 and drove to Columbia, then picked her up at the pageant. Of course, for the first hour headed to WDW, we had to talk pageants. Then Rachel was tired and wanted to change, so we pulled into a promising, well-lit gas station.... only to find it completely creepy inside.
Rachel slept soundly. My arms kept falling asleep, so I'd wake up and stretch them out, then change positions and go back to sleep.
We arrived at the Grand Floridian at 6:00 in the morning. We sent Dad to check us in and tried to wake up Rachel. She wasn't budging.
Good news.... they had a room available for us!!!! Perfect!!!! So, a nice bellhop helped us take our luggage to the room.
As soon as we opened the door, Rachel plopped down on the bed. "Don't go to sleep, Rachel!!!" Too late......
We had a lovely view of the monorail.
Could also see a bit of the convention center...
Here are some more photos of the GF in the morning.
So mom and I went ahead and got ready. Dad had enough time to take a shower. Rachel.... Rachel slept. We tried and tried to wake her up. Finally, we told her we were leaving in 20 minutes, and the girl freaked out!
In attempt to speed her up, I laid out all of her outfit options on the bed....
Oh, Dad... what a character!
Another picture of the room view
Enjoy the hair while it lasts....
I almost forgot to mention that my mother made these adorable bags! I got the idea from all of the Mickey Mouse appliqued dresses for little girls on Esty. My mother just happens to be the applique queen, so I gave her the idea, and she completely ran with it!
The bag is khaki (so it will go with everything) and has a basic Mickey Mouse head applique (left).
Mom made bows for the bags and pinned them on. This way, we could change our bows...
Rachel is the princess, and my bow is Pooh because we ate at Crystal Palace that day!
She also lined all of our bags differently. Mine is the red mickey print, Rachel's is the black and white dottie, and hers has a black and colored mickey print.
On the trip, she kept making more improvisations to future bag designs!
She told us, she wanted just one person to ask her where we bought our bags. Well... we got questions from more people than that! Many, many compliments, as well as people asking where they could buy them and if she had a store. :laughing:
Rachel was finally ready to go, so we headed to MK for our 8:15 breakfast ADR.
Check out the empty Main Street....
We got some good Castle shots. We also got some Photopass pictures, but I've yet to look at them.
Oh, the sisterly love...
And the classic, "Oh, look... a castle!" shot
Breakfast at Crystal Palace
We had to wait a little bit before getting seated, but no more than ten minutes. This trip, we learned that if you show up 20 minutes early like they tell you to, you're probably going to have to wait at least 20 minutes. If you show up right on time or late, you won't have to wait nearly as long! :laughing:
My favorite food was the breakfast pizza on the kids' bar. I also really enjoyed Pooh's Puffed French Toast on the kids' bar. The cinnamon rolls were suprisingly good. Usually, cinammon rolls are hard on the outside, but these were soft throughout. The fruit was all fresh, and the pineapple was perfect. They had grits, which was great (only breakfast buffet that week with grits)... if only they had cheese grits! They also had biscuits and gravy. I wasn't a big fan of their sausage... it had a funny taste to it. And there was an omelet bar, which pleased my dad, the omelet man. :laughing:
As for the characters, I'm so happy that Pooh is continuing to stay popular, with the Playhouse Disney (err... whatever the name is now) show and the new movie (which I can't wait to see!). Pooh was THE man back when Rachel and I were kids. We LOVED Pooh and friends. We had every Winnie the Pooh VHS movie and watched them over and over again. We also had Winnie the Pooh books, toys, and clothes. I hope he remains a classic.
We were waiting on Tigger. I was suggesting that we just leave without meeting him, but then he came around when we were waiting to get the card back. He spent more time with us than the others, but he was really trailing...
And, we got to meet Pooh, again!
Great TR. Beautiful family. Fantastic pics. Looking forward to more.
While sitting in CP, we suggested that Dad run on to Space Mountain and get us FP and we'd meet him at Peter Pan. Well, we took our time leaving and primping in the bathroom, so he beat us to Peter Pan. And apparently there was only a 15 minute wait for Space Mountain. Oh, well. We rode Peter Pan, then the tea cups.... very short waits for both (and the park had already been open for 40 minutes!).
Rachel and I spun ourselves silly, but Dad and mom didn't spin their cup! Dad kept moving his arms like he was spinning it! :laughing: Silly, Daddy!
For some reason, Dad really wanted to ride Indy Speedway. I have no idea why, but he was insistent - "it's only a 10 minute wait!" Yeah, in the hot sun....
The guy didn't even drive!
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