Close-Up! The 2015 Disney World Resort Gingerbread Displays

All over the World, it’s GINGERBREAD TIME!!! It’s a wonderful holiday tradition to feast your eyes on the larger-than-life Gingerbread Displays at several Deluxe Disney World Resorts before you feast your tummy on all the festive treats available during your visit!

Disney World Gingerbread House Tour

Disney World Gingerbread House Tour

We’re going to take you on a visit to the major Gingerbread hot spots in Disney World, and we’ll start our Gingerbread tour at the Epcot area resorts…

Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

My  personal favorite is the Gingerbread Carousel found at the Beach Club. I always love to spot the new horses each year making their way on the Merry-Go-Round!

Beach Club Gingerbread Carousel

Beach Club Gingerbread Carousel

We’d love to introduce you to this year’s team of horses… here’s Julia! [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Please join us for dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe!

The Grand Floridian Cafe doesn’t garner the headlines of the Grand Floridian Resort’s signature restaurants — Narcoossee’s and Citricos — or the AAA 5 Diamond experience, Victoria and Albert’s. And, of course, there is always the unique-to-the-Grand-Floridian experience of Afternoon Tea in the Garden View Tea Room. And though 1900 Park Fare, like the Grand Floridian Cafe, is also a 1-Credit Table Service restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s better known for being a character meal and buffet option.

The Grand Floridian Cafe offers guests an opportunity to spend some time at Disney World’s flagship resort at a more modest price point than its counterpart table service restaurants. But since it tends to get a bit overshadowed by the other options (even though we think it’s a hidden gem), we’re back for a visit to take a look around and explore the current dinner offerings at the Grand Floridian Cafe.

Atmosphere

It’s quite a “grand” stroll through the entire lobby to find the Grand Floridian Cafe.

Grand Floridian Cafe sign at entrance

Grand Floridian Cafe sign at entrance

Head left at the back of the lobby, pass one of the merchandise shops, and its entrance is one of the last things you’ll see before your next step is outside. [Read more…]

Review: Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

It’s time for lunch at Gasparilla Island Grill in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort!

The Grand Floridian dining scene is primarily defined by unique dining experiences such as Victoria and Albert’s (Disney World’s AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant) and Afternoon Tea as well as two signature restaurants (Citricos and Narcoossee’s) and character meals at 1900 Park Fare. It’s also home to one of my very favorite Disney meals in all of history: the Grand Floridian Burger at the resort’s more casual Table Service restaurant, the Grand Floridian Cafe (the name doesn’t convey the highlight of the dish: it’s the lobster-topped burger you may have heard about).

Even among all that, the Grand Floridian still remains a place where you can grab a quick Counter Service bite 24 hours a day thanks to to Gasparilla Island Grill.

Gasparilla Island Grill sign

Gasparilla Island Grill sign

The last time we paid a visit it had recently been through a refurbishment, changing from Gasparilla Grill and Games to its current name. While not much has changed in the way of atmosphere since that visit, the menu differs somewhat from its immediate post-refurb offerings, so we’re back to grab a quick bite (or three!) at Gasparilla Island Grill!

Gasaprilla Island Grill entrance

Gasaprilla Island Grill entrance

Atmosphere

The general vibe at Gasparilla Island Grill is decidedly — and expectedly — Floridian! Creamy colors, pale greens, and lots of natural sunlight keep it airy, while the lush, darker greens and palms associated with the state of Florida are represented in the seating decor.

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Gasparilla Island Grill indoor seating

Second seating area

Second seating area

At the same time, the resort’s Victorian style is reflected in the light fixtures (check out those hidden Mickeys!), and by a small display of dish and glassware.

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Dish display

Dish display

Dish display

Dish display

Though not known for tons of Disney detailing, the basic scene here is very pleasant in that it’s fresh, clean, and simple.

Perhaps the most unique feature to Gasparilla is the amount of high-backed booths lining the perimeter. They do allow for a certain feeling of privacy in what can be a bustling place, depending on the time of day.

Booth seating

Booth seating

Outdoor seating is also available; however, it wasn’t much in use on the day my friend and I visited, due to to some classic spring showers.

Outdoor seating in the rain

Outdoor seating on a rainy day

Once the rain lightened up, I stepped outside once more to [Read more…]

Review: The NEW Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today we’re headed to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort to check out the newly renovated Gasparilla Island Grill!

This counter service spot, tucked in a corner off of the first floor lobby, offers counter service fare.

Open 24 hours a day, it’s a great amenity for guests who arrive early or late in the day for their Disney visit. It’s also a good option for revelers who are enjoying late or early Extra Magic Hours!

The big news regarding Gasparilla, however, is the recently completed refurbishment that has changed the spot up a bit.

Gasparilla Sign

Let’s head in to see what has changed about this counter service oasis amid the finery of one of Disney’s most expensive resorts.

Atmosphere

The Grand Floridian is undergoing lots of construction and refurbishment lately. In addition to the new Disney Vacation Club villas being built and the Beach Pool Bar undergoing updates, Gasparilla was closed from late summer 2012 until early this year, as the space (and the name!) was given an overhaul.

From the outside, however, it still looks very much the same as before. You enter the restaurant through doors from an outside terrace.

Terrace Leading to Gasparilla Island Grill

One complaint guests had about the previous incarnation of this spot was the “Grill and Games” combo. An assortment of arcade games shared space with the seating area. Though convenient for parents, it could get a little loud at times.

The arcade has now been relocated to an adjacent space where the Grand Floridian’s kids’ club used to be. With the arcade gone, the restaurant has been rechristened “Gasparilla Island Grill.” As with many spots around the Grand Floridian, this one takes its name from a Florida locale, Gasparilla Island, a gulf barrier island located on the state’s southwest coast.

Gasparilla Island Grill Entrance

Guests familiar with the old layout of Gasparilla will immediately notice the change to the restaurant’s look. The green and burgundy palette has been replaced with a simpler, more modern green and blue combination.

The seating has been greatly expanded as well, although the actual ordering area remains very similar.

View of the Restaurant Through the Seating Area

Ornate touches remain, however, and these chandeliers are a nice new (almost steampunky) touch. Check out the [Read more…]

News! 2013 Citricos Wine Dinners in Walt Disney World

Fun news for anyone heading to Disney World soon!

Citricos at the Grand Floridian Resort has announced monthly wine dinners for 2013.

At this time, the first four wine dinners have been confirmed. For a special evening, book one of these fabulous events!

Dates

Jan 23rd- Willamette Valley Vineyards
Feb 8th- Foxen Vineyard
April 11th- Santa Barbara/Lafond Winery
May 2nd- [Read more…]

New Menu: Grand Floridian’s Beach Pool Bar

Disney chefs worked behind the scenes on new menu items for the Grand Floridian Beach Pool Bar at the Grand Floridian, which recently re-opened! Courtesy of Chef Jack Butler, we have all the details!

Beach Pool Bar Under Construction

After new recipes are developed, they are tested to see which menu items are most popular with guests. Testing took place at Gasparilla Grill before it closed for refurbishment this month.

Gasparilla Entrance

The new menu at the Beach Pool Bar now replaces Gasparilla as the go-to counter-service location for Grand Floridian during renovations. As always during refurbs and menu updates, this is all subject to change.

Let’s check it out!

New Menu Items

Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad with Red Onion Vinaigrette ($7.19)
Chunks of watermelon, feta cheese crumbles, grape tomatoes, and shaved red onion on a base of arugula.

Grilled chicken Caesar salad ($8.39)
This is a holdover from Gasparilla. You can now sub out the chicken for grilled shrimp for an additional charge.

Crab Cake Sandwich ($9.99).
Served with a corn tartar sauce and cucumber salad. The cake itself is an un-breaded version of the Grand Floridian Cafe crab cake.

Crab Cakes at Grand Floridian Cafe

Citrus Chicken Salad Sandwich ($8.99)
Shredded chicken with a citrus tarragon [Read more…]

Guest Review: Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table

Thanks to Lynleigh Cooper for reviewing her experience at the Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table!

When my uncle first told me he would be taking my cousin and me to the Chef’s Table at Victoria and Albert’s, I was a little apprehensive. My taste buds are certainly not adventurous, and I rarely ever experience “fine dining.” I’m a steak and potatoes kind of girl through and through, and I certainly didn’t want my uncle to pay so much for a meal I would eat very little of. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about, as The Chef’s Table turned out to be the best dining experience I’ve ever had.

Victoria and Albert's Entrance

The one piece of advice I can give on booking the Chef’s Table is to call right when the lines open 180 days out. Work your other ADRs around this one; don’t lock yourself into one date if possible.

We arrived at about 5:15 to the resort and went directly to check in. (Valet parking is complementary for Chef’s Table guests, so no worries there!) And after being introduced to the maître d’hotel, we were escorted through [Read more…]

Guest Review: Narcoossee’s

A big thanks to Mary Giordano, who has been kind enough to review another special dining opportunity in the Grand Floridian Resort, Narcoossee’s! You can see Mary’s other guest review for Disney Food Blog here. Take it away, Mary!

Narcoossee’s, known for its extensive seafood menu, is located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. It is just one of the resort’s three signature dining locations (the others being Citricos and Victoria & Albert’s). While planning my recent trip, I called ahead soon enough and booked dinner reservations at a premier time during the Wishes fireworks. It didn’t take long for Narcoossee’s to earn not one, but two “Best of” awards in [Read more…]

Guest Review: Grand Floridian Cafe

Thanks to Heather Montgomery from Running With Sass for this great review of lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe in Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort!

The Grand Floridian Café is located on the bottom floor toward the back of the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. We arrived five minutes early for our 12:45 reservation and were immediately seated after being greeted by a friendly hostess. I was very happy to see we were being seated in the back along the windows looking out over the beautiful Grand Floridian gardens. Having just arrived in Disney World and checked into the Grand Floridian, we were very excited to have our first meal of the trip.

Atmosphere
This café fits in so well with the Victorian era décor. It uses a lot of light colors and florals in its palette, and it also gives off a relaxed vibe for those wanting to escape the busyness of the parks for a little while.

Cafe Atmosphere

All of the tables had a cute little vase on them with a beautiful [Read more…]

Review: Citricos

It’s “discreet;” that’s why you didn’t hear about Citricos until you’d been going to Disney World for years. At least, that was my story! When I finally found this restaurant, I knew I’d stumbled onto a gem.

Atmosphere
Located in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, tucked up into the corner between Mizner’s Lounge and Victoria & Albert’s, Citricos looks like a giant living room. In fact, you might mistake it for a seating/lounge area for Victoria & Albert’s until you realize that there is actually a kitchen back there!

Citricos Dining Room

The long, open style of the restaurant and big, cushy chairs really do scream “comfy living area” vs. “hoity toity restaurant,” so you definitely know you’ll be at ease. In fact, as soon as I first sat on the chairs during my first visit to Citricos, I knew instantly that this was going to be a [Read more…]