Greetings from Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ...
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... which -- now that this hotel's 45 foot-tall Christmas tree
has been set up in the lobby ...
... and the Gingerbread House is once again open for
business -- ...
Photo by Diana Zalucky.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... this deluxe Disney World hotel is THE place to stop if
you're in need of a quick shot of holiday spirit.
Photo by Jim Hill
Mind you, that wasn't the case when I dropped by the Flo
Monday before last.
Disney was still in the process of setting up the Gingerbread
House. And that ginormous Christmas tree was still backstage at this point, stashed
in multiple boxes, waiting to be unpacked.
And were you to exit
the Grand Lobby, you'd discover that the rest of Disney's Grand Floridian
Resort & Spa was also kind of in a state of becoming right now. Whether it was the
work that's now being done on the Courtyard Pool ...
... which is now slated to re-open in late December with
some exciting new features ...
... or the construction of those 147 Disney Vacation Club
... which The Walt Disney Company would like to have ready
for occupancy by July 1st of next year ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... just in time for the 25th anniversary of the grand
opening of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Given the current state of the Villas-at-the-Grand-Floridian
construction site ...
... I'm thinking that a July 2013 opening for this
particular Disney Vacation Club Resort might be a trifle optimistic.
That said, I hear that DVC management is supremely confident
that the Villas-at-the-Grand-Flo will be fully operational by the Fall of 2013.
So much so they've supposedly already asked WDW's Holiday Services staff to
come up with some sort of seasonal decorative plan for the lobby area at this
Disney Vacation Club Resort ...
... So that -- come the 2013 holiday season -- the lobby area
of the Villas-at-the-Grand-Floridian will have the same sort of festive Christmas
feel that the Grand Lobby at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa does.
That said, it's intriguing to note that -- given the large number
of DVC members who have small children that
will soon begin staying at the Villas-at-the-Grand-Flo -- that the management
at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa felt that they had to make certain
adjustments to their hotel. Chief among these was the recent addition of the
Alice in Wonderland kids splash playground.
Now some folks might take a look at this water play area and
mistakenly think that it was a fairly generic, off-the-shelf item. Something
that some Disney rep picked up while wandering the sales floor at 2011's IAAPA
Attractions Expo. Which isn't really the case.
You see, the Grand Flo's Alice-in-Wonderland kids splash
playground actually take its cue from that WDW Resort's super-popular
Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare ...
... Which is why -- if you look close at this new kids
splash playground -- you'll see all sorts of Disney's-"Alice-in-Wonderland"
specific elements that have been incorporated in this supposedly off-the-shelf
item. Everything from that super-sized
Mad Hatter's hat that pours hundreds of gallons of water down on WDW Guests every two minutes ...
... to this large bas relief of the March Hare ...
... to this step ladder fountain feature, which clearly
draws its inspiration from the tea pots & cups that were on display in the
Mad Tea Party sequence of that 1951 release from Walt Disney Animation Studios.
So look for further tweaks like this in the coming year. As
this deluxe Disney World hotel gets ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of
its grand opening back in 1988, while -- at the same time -- tries to figure
out how to maintain the same high level of quality while still keeping things
fresh for the next generation of WDW visitors.
So if you were calling the shots, what changes -- if any --
would you make at the Grand Flo?
I like the new water feature. Hopefully that'll get more than ducks to use the pool - the last time I was at the GF, that pool was so quiet that a few of Donald's relatives had decided that they would hang out there instead of in Seven Seas Lagoon. :)
As far as changes, The biggest thing I'd like to see at the Grand Flo is a change in offerings and attitude in the hotel's non-signature dining locations. The last time I was in the Grand Floridian Cafe, I was confronted by runny eggs, slow service, and an indifferent wait staff - nonot what you'd expect at WDW's flagship hotel. The grab and go option - Flagler's? - wasn't much better. With lots of DVC members looking for a quick and cheap meal one the Villas open, that's just not gonna fly.
One more suggestion for Disney on the Grand Flo: Finish the walkways and add a drawbridge so that Guests can finally walk from the Grand Flo and the Poly to the Magic Kingdom. Heck, finish Walk Around the World - I'd love to be able to walk all the way around the Seven Seas Lagoon. But then, I love to walk -- your mileage may very, so to speak...
EDITOR'S NOTE: The last time I was in the Grand Floridian Cafe, I listened on a Disney Cast Member (who was working as a server that morning) discreetly coach a pair of diners (who -- I guess -- had taken the Magical Express to property, Which means that they didn't have a car) on how they could actually get over to Universal Islands of Adventure and see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter by using Orlando's Lynx Bus System. Mind you, these folks had to first take a bus from WDW all the way to downtown Orlando to the main bus terminal and then catch a second bus that would drop them at the outside edge of the Universal Orlando Resort. But it did sound doable. More to the point, it was kind of interesting to hear a WDW employee say that " ... it'll take definitely you a while to get there. But that Harry Potter land is definitely worth the trip. I wish that we had something like that here."