Review: Tea at Garden View Lounge at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Editor’s Note: The menu for Afternoon Tea at Garden View Lounge has changed since this review was written, and many of the items featured here are no longer available. For more details, see our news post about the changes.

Today, we’re taking in afternoon tea at the Garden View Lounge. This charming spot, which occupies the far end of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa’s cavernous lobby, is the perfect place to relax, dress up a bit (perhaps), and slow down, while you enjoy traditional offerings and steaming pots of tea.

Menu Cover

Menu Cover

It’s become a rather hot ticket, though, so if you like what you see, be prepared to make your advance dining reservation well in advance.

Tea at the Grand has become a tradition of sorts for my mom and me, and so we were excited to head there for this special treat.

Atmosphere

Upon entering the Grand Floridian, take a moment to notice the details of the soaring atrium. With natural light flooding the seating areas during the day, the large birdcage, and the beautiful domed skylights, it really is lovely.

Lobby and Atrium Garden View Lounge

The Lobby and the Atrium Put the “Grand” in Grand Floridian

I’ve often heard people suggest that the Grand suffers from a “lack of themeing”. I’ve never thought so. To me, the setting is beautiful — elegance with a light touch, befitting Florida’s subtropical climate. And even with families around me rushing to catch the monorail, I’m transported when I enter it to a less-rushed time and place.

Whether you visit during the day or evening, you are likely to catch some form of live musical entertainment here. During the day, you’ll enjoy piano music. In the evening, be sure to catch Grand Floridian Society Orchestra playing jazz standards from the bandstand located just outside of Mizner’s Lounge on the second floor.

Piano Music in the Grand's Lobby

Piano Music in the Grand’s Lobby

The Garden View Lounge is located at the far end of the lobby, directly opposite from the main entrance.

View of the Tea Room from the Lobby

View of the Tea Room from the Lobby

Flanking either side of the lounge are these adorable mosaics of inlaid marble.

Mrs. Potts Mosaic

Mrs. Potts Mosaic

Be sure to look down occasionally while walking around the Grand! They redid the floors a few years ago and added mosaics like these throughout. They are absolutely stunning.

Chip Mosaic

Chip Mosaic

Garden View is also the setting for the Perfectly Princess Tea Party, a character and storytelling experience.

Tea Info

Tea Info — Click to Enlarge

The Lounge itself is an open-air spot, separated from the rest of the lobby by a wall featuring “windowless” windows.

Flowers Garden View Lounge

Looking Into the Lounge from the Lobby

We arrived a few minutes early for our advance dining reservation, and were told that our table would be ready shortly. I’m not sure what all of the luggage by the hostess stand was about! There was a full house inside, however. And it seemed as though a few people were dressed up for a special occasion of some sort.

hostess stand Garden View Lounge

Hostess Stand

We relaxed nearby in the lobby. Soon, our pager went off, and we were shown to our table.

Entrance

Entrance

Marble statues flank both side entrances of the lounge. Other than that, the space is sparsely decorated.

Entering the Lounge

Entering the Lounge

The center of the room is dominated by a central service area, while mixed seating surrounds the tables and cabinets.

Garden Lounge

View of the Lounge

Larger tables occupy the area nearest the picture windows, which provide a stunning view of the beautiful grounds.

View of the Grand Floridian Grounds

View of the Grand Floridian Grounds

The left side entrance to the lounge is roped off during tea service, but this view provides you more of an idea about the layout. As you can see, although it was busy, the small size somehow made it feel less bustling to me.

View of Lounge from the Back

View of Lounge from the Back

The service area in the middle of the lounge serves as both a focal point and parking spot for many of the tea offerings. Silverware and saucers are ready for the next guests to arrive.

The Pastry Table

The Pastry Table

Pastries are part of nearly every tea service, and a tray gives you an idea of what you can expect.

A Tray of Pastries to be Passed

A Tray of Pastries to be Passed

Sets of Jam, Cream, and Lemon Curd are on standby for our tea service as well. And since Lemon Curd is one of the best foods in the world, this makes me want to jump up and down and squeal. :-)

Sets for Scones and Jam Tarts. So. Much. Lemon Curd. Sigh.

Sets of Traditional Tea Toppings. So. Much. Lemon Curd. Sigh.

Teacups with cloth napkins are all lined up in a row, ready for use. We were a teensy bit sad to see the old Royal Albert China that used to be used in the tea room replaced by this heartier version that appears to be prosaic-ly dishwasher safe.

Teacups All Lined Up

Teacups Ready for Service

Seating, as I mentioned, is mixed. Larger tables line the window area, while loveseats and wicker chairs occupy the center of the room. We were seated beside the windowless windows on the other side. Our seating consisted of a long banquette running the length of the wall, with small tables like these, and chairs on the other side of the tables. All in all, seating is comfortable and substantial.

Seating

Seating

Our table was set with teacups and saucers and tea strainers all ready for us. Apologies for the fleeting princess arm and superhero shoes. My son quickly discovered sugar in cube form, much to his delight.

The Table is Ready

The Table is Ready

Having been to tea here before, we came hungry, knowing that this can be a substantial affair. Time to check out the spread.

Eats

Tea at Garden View Lounge is not served in the traditional prix fixe manner that you’ll often find in tea rooms or hotels. Guests choose from a set menu of offerings under different headings here.

Tea Options

Menu of Tea Service Options — Click to Enlarge

A la Carte courses were offered previously, but have since been removed from the menu.

In addition to choosing which Tea Service you prefer, you also choose your Tea from a wide range of options.

Menu Offerings

Tea Service Options Continued — Click to Enlarge

There are teas representing many varieties, from Black, Green, and White Teas, to Oolong and Herbal Infusions.

Tea Offerings

Tea Offerings — Click to Enlarge

It’s also interesting to note that you can order Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Port, Beer, and other Bar Selections. And if you love the tea you’ve selected, gift tins of some of the varieties are available.

Tea Options

Tea Offerings Continued — Click to Enlarge

There were four of us dining — two adults and two children.

As guest of honor, my mother chose the Princess Kate Tea. In addition to her own pot of tea and various courses, her selection came with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne

Veuve Clicquot Champagne

I can never pass up Port or Pâté, which makes me sound a little masculine, I suspect. :-) And so I went with my favorite offering, the Prince Edward Tea. My service began with a glass of Fonseca Bin 27 Port. The ruby Port is full-bodied and jammy. A fortified wine, it paired excellently with the rich dishes that would make up my first course.

Port

Fonseca Bin 27 Ruby Port

Both children in our party opted for the Mrs. Potts Tea. The children’s tea service comes with special “Dark Tea” — Chocolate Milk. That was fine for the Little Knight in our party. But the Princess is a bit older, and preferred to have real tea.

And here’s my little plug for teaching children manners. I love that children are provided the same teapots and teacups that adults use. Even the “Dark Tea” came in a teapot, and our wonderful server used a strainer as she poured it out. What a lovely way to teach kids about the ritual of tea in a completely kid-friendly setting.

Pouring Tea and Special "Dark Tea"

Pouring Tea and Special “Dark Tea”

The four of us all chose different teas, so we ended up with four pots on our two tiny tables. Together with strainers, cups and saucers, it soon became crowded!

My Teacup and Tea Pot

My Teacup and Tea Pot

Add the cozy for each pot, and pretty soon, we were going to need a third table!

Teacup, Strainer, and Cozy

Teacup, Strainer, and Cozy

Mrs. Potts Tea consists of two courses. Tea Sandwiches make up the first course. I requested that the tea sandwiches be all Peanut Butter and Jelly for the Sir Picky.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Tea Sandwiches

Peanut Butter and Jelly Tea Sandwiches

The Princess was a bit more adventurous, throwing caution to the wind and eating what they brought her. As a result, she found out she enjoyed Tuna Salad very much! (She always wrinkled her nose at it before.)

Tea Sandwiches

Tea Sandwiches

My mother — oh heck, let’s just call her the queen to stay in the spirit of things — started with Tuna Poke served with Wonton Crisps. (She had the choice of Potted Shrimp, but went with the Poke, a Hawaiian dish of raw fish lightly tossed in a marinade before serving.)

I had several bites of the dish, and it was fresh and absolutely delicious.

Tuna Poke and Crisps -- Up Close

Tuna Poke and Crisps

Her second course was a Medley of Cheeses and Seasonal Fruits.

Now, I had my hands full keeping the tiny knight from upending his Dark Tea all over his suit of armor. So I’m not quite sure why there are two Scone-Slash-Biscuit Things in the middle of all the beautiful Cheese, Fruit, Honey, etc. But Mom says this is how the plate landed.

At any rate, presentation aside, everything here was delicious. (There was a liberal amount of sharing that day among us. I stole all the currants and some of the honeycomb, in fact.)

Princess Kate Platter

Princess Kate Platter

But my plate — ah. This is what I had been waiting for. The first course of the Prince Edward Tea is a mighty platterful of Pâtés, Cheese, and Fruit. Each slice of Pâté is accompanied by Cumberland Sauce, a fruit-based sauce typically made with Red Currants.

Prince Edward Platter  -- Up Close

Prince Edward Platter

A side of Crostini came with the pâté and cheese, but I mostly skipped it, preferring to enjoy the strong flavors unmasked by bread.

Crostini

Crostini

Since we had chosen to partake in some of the heartier tea service options, we were well on our way to being full. But we certainly weren’t passing up Jam Tarts and Scones.

I’m showing you the tray of Jam Tarts here, because someone (ahem, that would be me) sort of gobbled up her tart before photographing it.

jam tarts Garden View Lounge

A Whole Tray of Jam Tarts

We did manage to get a photo of half a tart, beside the split scone on Mom’s plate. (Again with the sharing.)

My favorite detail here are the Condiments. If I could eat something everyday for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure it would involve Lemon Curd. The Cream and Jam were delicious on the scone as well.

Scone and Jam Tarts with Jam, Cream, and Lemon Curd

Scone and Jam Tarts with Jam, Cream, and Lemon Curd

Yes. Um. Sorry.

Apologies. That Jam Tart was Really Delicious.

Apologies. That Jam Tart was Really Delicious.

Finally, as if Scones and Jam Tarts weren’t enough, it was time to select our final course. For the children, that meant choosing two Pastries each. I think there was some repetition (and also some eager consumption), so I managed to snag photos of some of the selections.

Pate a Choux Swan and Mini Eclair

Mini Eclair and Pate a Choux Swan

Pate a Choux Swan and Pistachio Cake

Pistachio Cake and Pate a Choux Swan

Gentlemen apparently don’t prefer sweets — hrmph — so my service didn’t include dessert. However, the others were more than happy to share with me.

We left, amply satisfied and in need of a walk.

Overall

Simply put, I love tea at the Grand Floridian.

Now, to be fair, I’m a bit of an Anglophile, and am predisposed to like this kinda thing. But having been to tea, prepared tea, and held teas, I feel like they do a pretty great job. The food is always fresh, delicious, and beautiful, and the tea is expertly brewed.

Sure, it’s a bit of a splurge. However, I did a bit of checking, and the prices are in line with other premium hotels that offer afternoon tea in the area.

This is my second experience having tea in the Garden View Lounge, and both times, I have enjoyed very little wait for my ADR as well as impeccable, relaxed service.

If you’re looking to start your own ritual, let me put tea at the Garden View up for consideration. I think you’ll be pleased.

Have you had tea at the Garden View Lounge? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience!

Comments

  1. Miles says

    This explains everything. My wife and her bridesmaids had tea here after our rehearsal (but before our rehearsal dinner at ‘Ohana). They were so stuffed. All of them hardly ate anything at ‘Ohana. I thought they were being over dramatic, but now I completely understand.

  2. says

    Jenny — Thank you! We had so much fun. It was a great experience for everyone in our party, and the children loved the chance to dress up, use china, and use their best manners.

    Miles — It’s so true! It was quite a spread. I don’t think that any of us ate for the rest of the day. :-)

  3. Lynne says

    What a pity the side offerings have been taken away-especially the cheese plate. Even though they aren’t officially on the menu, I wonder if they would accommodate you if you requested one?

  4. Joni says

    Lynne, I too will miss the cheese plate. I got that every time. :(
    Looks like you had a good day. The last time I went there were no cozies the waitress use to work at the haunted mansion I think she barley spoke a word and had a gloomy Eeyore attitude. The swans were filled with something that tasted rancid maybe just a flavor I have never experiences or something but yuck. But to be fair I have had many really great times too. Didn’t see the strawberry’s and cream with the GF Logo on top do they still have that?

  5. CraigInPA says

    The design of the new plates looks like the original Royal Albert Old Country Roses without the 24k gold rim.

    I happen to have the original ones (with the gold rim) and they are supposed to be hand-washed only. If you put them in the dishwasher and then forget to turn off the dryer cycle, it causes the gold to pucker or bubble on the plates in the bottom of the dishwasher near the heating element. Not a good thing with china that is $60+ a place setting!

  6. Aimee Perez says

    To Whom It May Concern:
    Please indicate where can I buy the beautiful tea strainers.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Aimee Perez

  7. says

    I love the tea at GF! The condiments with the scone are one of my favorite things – I almost wish I could just get a plate of like 5 scones and those condiments! And for dessert I always go with strawberries and cream. The pastries look great but the strawberries are so fresh and delicious!

  8. Brooke says

    Great to see you had such a lovely time. Being English, my Mum and I had picked out some faults with the tea in itself (courses being served separately, cream should be clotted and lots of it!, not to mention that Kate isn’t a Princess!) but we still had a really nice time. For all of those looking to make scones, rather than the American biscuits…. it’s a super easy recipe and they take 20mins tops to make!

  9. Michelle B. says

    We love Tea there. Just to let you know you can get the Princess Kate or Grand Tea and substitute the Port wine for the Champagne. My husband does that whenever we go. The Black Currant is my favorite tea there. It is seasonal so may not always be listed on the menu, but they will still often have some in back.

    As for the new plate design, they’ve had that about 2 years now. Our server said that the handles kept breaking on the tea pots so they needed something more durable. I dislike that the sugar bowl handles no longer accommodate putting the sugar tongs thru the handles. The tongs usually end up separated from the sugar bowl and we are constantly looking for them on the table.

    Thanks for the review! Can’t wait for our next trip!

  10. winston says

    I’m glad to see the Garden View Tea getting popular. It’s was always something we’ve always recommend to people visiting WDW.

    I’m not glad to see the Al La Carte offerings removed. Every single one of the set bundles include scones, tarts, and pastries.

    For those of us traveling with Diabetics and people with other diet restrictions, removing savory options in favor of high fat sweets bundled with the package make this previously wonderful place off limits.

  11. Bellamouse says

    I am wondering if they have any gluten free offerings? Did you happen to notice? I realize that it’s not really the spot to go if you’re gluten free (kinda like going to ‘Ohana if you’re a vegetarian :D ) but I would love to take my mom and my sister (who are not gluten free) and I (who am) would like to be able to enjoy some treats. Obviously the cheese and pate plate looks ah-maz-ing! But I’m thinking more about the pastries. Anyone know?

  12. Trevor says

    My wife and I go every trip and usually buy a tin of tea to take home to get us through till the next trip.

  13. Jennifer says

    I am so happy I read this or maybe really sad. I have been trying to get a reservation my last few trips but haven’t been able to. Figures when I do, everything I was going for is gone. I only ordered from the al la carte as I don’t like sandwiches or cheese. Is the Sally Lunn bread still available? That is really what I want and my main reason for tea. I’m going in March so maybe I will keep it in case the menu changes, if not, I’ll cancel

  14. Essie says

    This is something that I can’t wait to do on my next trip. My BF and I are Anglophiles and I’m so looking forward to this.
    Aimee: Check for the Tea Strainers in the GF gift shop or at the shops in the UK Pavilion in EPCOT’s WS. If you can’t get to WDW right now, try Amazon or just Google ‘Tea Strainers’.

  15. Lin says

    When we went in November 2014, one of our adult members had the dark tea and PB&J sandwiches while the rest of us had great tea, a really great waitress and really bad sandwiches. The other adult members wished they had gotten the PB&Js. The “Assorted Tea Sandwiches” were not traditional cucumber, or egg salad but maybe an attempt at fusion or modern. I cannot even remember what kind they were. It was wonderful when we went in 2012 (party of 9 from 30 to 80 and everyone happy) but now I will be asking the waitstaff about the sandwiches before we eat there again. Am willing to forfeit $10.00/person fee to walk if those sandwiches are there…

  16. Gail Feingold says

    We’ve had tea there since they opened. My daughter and I have been going to WDW for a girl’s weekend(we call it spa weekend because we go to the spa then find ourselves here) since she was 10(she’s now 34). This is one of our highlights. I was sad to read that the cheese plate was gone as my daughter is diabetic. I’m sure in true Disney fashion they will come up with an acceptable replacement.

  17. jrbauer says

    Thank you for this review! I recently booked our Disney vacation, and saw this afternoon tea while looking through the dining options. I thought my five-year-old daughter would really enjoy it (she hosted a princess garden tea party for her birthday last July), so I made a reservation for a Sunday afternoon. This will be her first trip to WDW, and she is beyond excited! I’m so glad to know she will not be disappointed with her tea time!

  18. Reagan says

    Tea at the Garden View has been our family tradition. We have been 6 times starting when our daughter was 5 on her first trip. It is always the first thing we do on arrival day. After all the airport hustle, flight, DME and check in is done; I know I’m finally on vacation when our server sets the glass of Fonseca Bin 27 port in front of me. We always bring a tin of Mad Hatter tea home.

  19. Dave DeSanto says

    Does anyone know if the Princess Kate cheese plate always comes with those biscuits / scones, or was that a fluke? There’s no mention of them on the menu. They’re not the “buttery scone” right?

  20. says

    Dave — Those are the Buttery Scones. I can’t recall how or why both my scone and my mother’s ended up on her plate (I was attending to two kiddos at the time. :-) ) You’ll see a few other pictures of the scones a little further down, on their proper plates, alongside jam tarts.

  21. Kathie says

    Yes, the scones come with the Princess Kate. My favorite is the potted shrimp! It is so good, I get it every time I go. My daughter had our second “tea” this past May while we weren’t Disney. I’ve been to tea several times when I went to Disney alone. It’s much better when shared with someone else. I kind of felt out of place going by myself, but I still enjoyed it very much. I go every time at WDW.

  22. Gail says

    Unfortunately, there is no longer a Princess Kate. They have revamped the menu and it is not what it used to be. We went on Saturday for my daughter’s birthday. She is diabetic and gluten free. Usually, she would get the cheese plate. It no longer exists. They serve cheese with the I want to say Derbyshire or Devonshire, and they only serve four sandwiches, not six. There is no a la carte menu. The pricing is over the top. They used to be quite reasonable. We’ve gone every year that they have been open. The tea was still wonderful, but it wasn’t worth the money.

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