March 10, 2014

Grand Floridian Adventure

The Grand Floridian Resort has remained the flagship Walt Disney World Resort since its debut in the late 1980s. And for good reason! It is lovely and elegant, but with a price tag to match! Therefore, it has always been one of our must stops with each vacation to the World but never our place of lodging. Fair enough as that probably applies to most visitors.

As a younger but large family with a common sized wallet, during our 1989 visit, we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Even to get to go to Florida took a bit of an unexpected blessing from God. Due to a series on business trips on a highly overbooked route, I was able to amass five free airline tickets. Just the thing we needed to be able to take a trip. Saving for the rest of the expenses would take awhile, but we did it.

Back then, the Caribbean Beach was brand new, but it was modestly priced and therefore affordable. Unknown to us until a week or so before departing for our trip, we discovered some family from the East Coast would be staying at the Grand Floridian at the same time as we would be there. They were very gracious and invited us to a wonderful breakfast at 1900 Park Faire

Back in the days before Disney's Magical Express, you had to rent a car or hire a taxi to get to your Disney destination. It was kind of nice because the trip from the airport to on site was filled with anticipation versus non-stop commercials for the place. It allowed the anticipation to build slowly without all the hype.

We chose the car as it allowed us more freedom to move around the property and beyond. Arriving on site for our breakfast, we instantly loved the Floridian's entry filled with palms. As a Californian, we knew Disney had taken more than a passing inspiration from the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California when they designed this place. But we were not at all complaining!

This fine old roadster established the flavor for what we would see inside- and of course, a greeter was there to welcome us onto the Walt Disney World property!  

The interior lobby was gorgeous, and the view straight up to the roof was nothing short of spectacular! On to breakfast. We found where we were headed, and once inside, it was as if we had walked into Mary Poppins' Victorian world.

The caliope at 1900 Park Faire filled the air with a touch of whimsy and victorian charm. The decor and the terrific breakfast were not the only attractions in the place.

Carousel horses were around us and vintage prints filled the space on the walls. An unexpected surprise awaited us- the Disney characters made an appearance for free! That would change in later years as Disney decided to begin fleecing versus delighting their guests. Now, there's a charge for everything, but back then, it was touches like this that helped created a real sense of magic instead of the feeling that you were always being asked to open your wallet!

Our happy little family certainly enjoyed the morning, and there's nothing like Chip or Dale to make smiles appear! We were all so young and innocent then. 

Naturally, we eventually sad to say goodbye to our family. They went their way, and we decided to stay a bit and explore further. It's one thing we have always loved doing- taking the time to explore the hotels and public spaces. We always schedule in a few non-park days to do this sort of thing. It is a luxury that is not available in California.

Moving toward the water, we discovered the marina was a very quiet,  a great place to stop.  With the Magic Kingdom in sight, it was tempting to hop on the monorail right then and take the kids, but that was scheduled for another day.

Later in the week, we would end of taking a water sprite for a cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon, but it would be from the Disney's Polynesian Resort instead. We wrapped up our morning by hopping back in the car and taking a swim at our hotel. It was a relaxing- and cheap- way to have some fun. Even though Walt Disney World can be very expensive, you can still get creative and enjoy the place. You just have to move away from the "got to do it all now" attitude and realize you can't!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Photos copyright Mark Taft.)

No comments: