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…]

Review: Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has long been one of my favorite counter service locations.

The yummo Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Cook’s delicious cupcakes are a great reason to visit!

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village in addition to Aloha Isle at the Magic Kingdom. You can also find Dole Whip available intermittently at Animal Kingdom’s Tamu Tamu Refreshments, and at Epcot during some special events. On the upside, you can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

But the best part? The 24-hour access to Dole Whips is truly epic. (Note, they DO clean the Dole Whip machine for a few hours in the middle of the night once a week, so Avoid. That. Night.)

On a recent Disney World visit, I headed back to Captain Cook’s to try another fan favorite – the Pork Sandwich. That day I found a few more surprises waiting for me, and I can’t wait to tell you about them…

Atmosphere

Hidden toward the back of the resort on the first floor, it can be difficult to find Captain Cook’s. But forge ahead, my friends. It’s worth it. ;-)

Outside View

The restaurant is small, but well-organized. There are several different seating areas, so if the first one is full, just head to the next one to find a table.

Indoor Seating

Seating is both indoors and outdoors here, and you’ll find plenty of four-top square tables with padded chairs. Huge banana leaves and a woven motif dress the standard restaurant tables up a bit.

Along the wall, you’ll also find mixed seating with a couple of booth options. Windows along one wall let in plenty of light and also give you a view of the outdoor seating area.

Indoor Seating with a View

Outdoor tables and chairs are in close proximity to both the restaurant and the pool. With the big umbrellas and lush landscape, this is a terrific place to sit on those [Read more…]