The Grand Floridian across the Seven Seas Lagoon

Disney’s Grand Floridian – 5 Great Things

Disney's Grand FloridianOne of the best things about vacationing at Walt Disney World is the unbelievable selection of accommodations!  Where else on Earth can you visit Saratoga, Key West, Polynesia, New Orleans, the Caribbean, a National Park or an African savannah – all in a single location!  There is literally a place for every person’s taste and style from campsites to ultra-modern luxury.  How great is that?!?

If early 20th Century Victorian is your thing, you’ve got to love the Grand Floridian!  Romantic, charming, and brimming with delightful Disney details and whimsical touches, the Grand Floridian offers guests the perfect retreat from the busy and crowded parks – a place to relax in undeniably elegant style.Lobby of the Grand Floridian

The Lobby – One of the most stunning to be found!  Soaring ceilings, intricate details, ornate birdcages, spectacular floral arrangements…and music!  The Grand Floridian Lobby Society Orchestra – Yes!  I said Orchestra!!!  The tunes they play are anything but ordinary – you’ll hear ragtime, jazz, Dixie melodies, and familiar Disney tunes.  This special detail is one of the very best reasons to visit the Grand Floridian.

Shops in Disney's Grand FloridianThe Shops – Stroll among the Grand Floridian’s shops and find both the familiar and unique.  The usual sundries and souvenirs are available (Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop) and so much more!  There’s a Basin White store for bath and beauty, the Summer Lace shop for women’s apparel, Commander Porter’s for menswear, and M. Mouse Mercantile for children’s clothing, toys, and more.  Browsing or buying – I always enjoy the Grand Floridian’s shops!

The Restaurants – For a variety of dining experiences and flavors, the Grand Floridian cannot be beat!  Casual quick service, character meal, signature restaurants, and the very best in gourmet dining experiences can all be found at the Grand Flo!  Find the complete list here.  Most recently, our family enjoyed an evening with Cinderella, the Prince, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella at 1900 Park Fare.  Those details are here.1900 Park Fare Restaurant

The Pools – I like space and the pool areas at the Grand Floridian feel extra-spacious to me.  The main pool (Beach Pool) boasts a 181-foot long water slide and adjacent children’s play area and lounge for beverages and snacks.  The Courtyard Pool offers a quiet, serene swimming area with a nearby whirlpool spa.

The Location – Yes, I love that it’s on the monorail loop!  Easy access to the Magic Kingdom and the other monorail resorts for shopping, dining, and FUN!  One new, very cool additional perk of staying at the Grand Floridian is the walking path between this resort and the Polynesian!  How fun would it be to take a leisurely stroll over to the Poly for some Tonga Toast?!?  Or a Dole Whip (if you like those).

Floral Arrangement in the Grand FloridianSome people think the Grand Floridian is too formal or fancy or pink - I think it’s just right.  The perfect blend of relaxation (hello Senses Spa!), luxury, and amazing amenities – it’s also an absolute must-see during the holiday season!  The decorations will leave you speechless.

Have you visited the Grand Floridian?  What did you enjoy there? 

A Coach in the carpet at Disney's Grand Floridian Beautiful Carpet Details in the Grand Floridian


View of Cinderella Castle from Main Street U.S.A.

WDW Magic Kingdom’s Main Street U.S.A.

Balloon Vendor on Main Street U.S.A. Is there a better feeling in the World than stepping through the entrance to the Magic Kingdom and finding yourself on Main Street U.S.A?  That first moment when you pause to take it all in – The gorgeous colors – on the buildings, in store windows, floating in the hands of balloon vendors. The sounds – guests laughing, a piano playing, people singing, an old fashioned car horn.  The smell!  Delicious.  The view – Cinderella Castle’s majestic splendor in the distance – hands down, this moment is my favorite of every Walt Disney World vacation and never fails to make me a little misty.  While we’re thinking about this, let’s look at a few of my favorite things on Main Street U.S.A….The Emporium on Main Street U.S.A.

The buildings whisk you away to a perfect American small town, back in a simpler time – before our lives were filled with complex technological distractions.  Every detail of each storefront and window, each railing and shingle are perfect and, if you’re paying close attention, hold very important discoveries for guests to find.

The Main Street Vehicles are a wonderful treat – allowing children of all ages to experience early 20th Century transportation.  Catch a ride on a fire engine, a jitney, a horse-Vehicle on Main Street U.S.A.drawn car, or an omnibus and take a one-way ride to Cinderella Castle.

The entertainment along Main Street U.S.A. provides the perfect accompaniment for a stroll back in time.  The Dapper Dans croon their old-timey barbershop quartet favorites – and often delight onlookers by serenading guests celebrating a special occasion.  The Casey’s Corner Pianist (tucked around the corner at the Castle-end of Main Street on the left) amazes visitors with a huge repertoire of happy tunes!

The Dapper Dans in Magic Kingdom

There are plenty of excellent souvenir shops!  The Emporium on Main Street U.S.A.’s left side stretches nearly the entire length of the street – pins, shirts, snacks, batteries, toys – the Emporium’s a gigantic general store – Disney-style!  If you’re looking for a customized Earhat, there’s no better place to shop than The Chapeau – a Main Street classic!

Shops on Main Street USA

Main Street U.S.A. is a great place to visit when you’re hungry – any time of the day!  Catch some breakfast at the Main Street Bakery, lunch at the Crystal Palace with all your favorite friends from the Hundred Acre Wood (Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet usually), and dinner at Casey’s Corner for some super fancy hot dogs.  Need a sweet treat?  The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is a delicious way to beat the Florida heat any time of the day!

Main Street BakeryBaseball Player at Casey's CornerThe Plaza Ice Cream Parlor / Magic Kingdom

Let’s not forget the parades!  Main Street’s a great place to secure a spot for the Festival of Fantasy Parade in the afternoon and the Main Street Electrical Parade at night.  Stand on Main Street for Wishes - oooh and ahhhhh with the people around you during the fireworks.

As the place where every visitor begins and ends each visit to the Magic Kingdom, Main Street U.S.A. couldn’t be more perfect.

What’s your favorite part of Main Street?

Main Street at Night




Walt Disney World Summer Crowd

Walt Disney World – No Whining!

No Whining AllowedI don’t know if you belong to any of the Disney-related Facebook groups or Disney fan forums or not - I’ve joined a few and I’ve got to say, I’ve un-joined a couple pretty darn quick after reading some of the posts and comments…those folks can be vicious!  The level of negativity among some Disney “fans” is shocking to me.  They’re not all bad – some groups are made up of happy, Disney-loving, supportive, lovely people who interact politely, positively and with kindness (love you guys!).  Those other groups though…yikes!  Some of the things people complain about are, to me, ridiculous.  It gave me the idea for today’s post.  I want to talk about some particular Disney topics I would ban people from whining about if I could.  In fact, I’d make some guidelines for us all to live by – I’m, well…a bit bossy – and I like to tell people what to do!  So I’m here today with…

Lisa’s NO WHINING rules for Walt Disney World guests:

American Cockroach / Pest Control

Photo credit: Pest Control

1.  There was a bug in my room!  A. BUG.  I saw this one on a Facebook post.  Insect infestation?  Yes, absolutely you need to ask to change rooms. A single insect?  Deal with it.  Swat it with your shoe or be kind and escort it out the door, but no whining allowed!  Walt Disney World is located in Florida - the number and types of insects there are incredible!  Particularly the really big American cockroach affectionately called a Palmetto bug in the South – they’re common, huge, and disgusting – even with an excellent exterminator service, the odd Palmetto bug will make its way indoors.  The first time I saw one I thought it was a mouse – they’re that big.  No whining – you’re lucky it wasn’t a lizard – In the South, they like to come inside, too.

2.  The food in this restaurant was horrible!  Walt Disney World restaurants feed millions (and millions!) of people and generally do a great job catering to different tastes, diets, food allergies, Plate from Tutto Italiadietary restrictions, and so on.  There are restaurants in the parks I think are pretty bad – at the top of that list is Pizza Planet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I don’t eat there.  Do research!  The amount of Disney food information on the internet is staggering.  If you’re picky, don’t just show up at Walt Disney World and wing it – you’ll be disappointed.  Some people find wildly popular places like Le Cellier, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and ‘Ohana expensive and over-hyped (I love those places anyway).  Knowing that ahead of time will make you less likely to whine about it should you choose to dine there.

3. It rained every day!  Guess what?  It does that in Florida in the summertime.  Wear rain/water friendly footwear, bring a rain poncho, expect bad hair.  There’s still plenty of indoor fun to be had.  Visit your “must-do” outdoor rides and Walt Disney World Rainy Dayattractions first thing in the morning – generally, most of the rainstorm action happens in the afternoon.  If you go to Walt Disney World during hurricane season, you may be taking a bit of a risk.  If your vacation was completely ruined by a hurricane – you have my permission to whine loudly and at length.  Hurricanes are really awful.

4. A single Cast Member was less than magical.  Disney Cast Members are human.  They may work long hours, in the hot sun, dealing with all kinds of people (and may not, due to unknown circumstances in their home-life, be at their best on a given day) - I’ve seen quite a few guests that were difficult (to put it nicely) and made me feel sorry for some of the things Cast Members have to put up with.  Overall, Disney does a fantastic job hiring and training thousands of employees at each park.  One cranky employee should not “ruin your vacation” – move on, no whining!  You should never be treated in an openly rude way, not receive what was ordered in a Walt Disney World in the Summer Crowdsrestaurant, or be swindled (short-changed, overcharged, had items missing from your resort room) without asking immediately to speak to a manager.  Disney can’t address problems they don’t know about.

5. My feet hurt, I got sunburned, the pool was crowded, it was too hot, the bus service was slow, we had to wait in line too long, my favorite ride broke down (or was closed).  Yes, yes…know what?  That happens to everyone!  You are not alone.  Stop whining.  Remember – you’re on vacation to relax and have a great time.  Focus on the big picture!  Just because you entered the gates to Walt Disney World, there’s no special magic to keep your time there 100% free from a few dings and scratches.  If, in the end, you find that you’re just not a Disney person (that type of vacation is not for everyone), don’t go back, don’t torture yourself ever again - vacation somewhere else.  That’ll leave the place a little less crowded for those of us who really do find Walt Disney World the happiest place on Earth. Kids Walking at WDW with Oswald Hats

Need to lodge a legitimate complaint?  Check out my friend Jane’s (a.k.a. British Diva) Disney complaint tutorial here.

Please leave a whine-free comment!

Spaceship Earth across the World Showcase Lagoon

Epcot Food & Wine 2014 – Pick TEN?

World Showcase Lagoon ViewI can’t even begin to imagine the calories, the cash, and the intestinal fortitude it would take to sample all the special dishes at all the food booths at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  Think about it – there are more than 60 foods to choose from!  For our week at Walt Disney World in October, we’re committed to trying a decent number of different samples, but we had to have some semblance of a plan (it’s me, I’m the obsessive planner).

Because I will eat anything (Honest! With the exception of tuna casserole and black licorice) – I’m not at all a picky eater.  Raymond?  He’s much more selective about food.  Much better now than he used to be, when we got married 25 years ago I only needed to learn how to cook five World Showcase / Epcotthings and he was completely happy.  We’ve both come a long way since then – my cooking and his palate have both seen vast improvements!  Still, I thought it best for Raymond to peruse the food choices (all 60+ of them) and pick a top ten – a goal, if you will, for us to start with as we make our way around the World Showcase during the festival.

I’m pretty optimistic we’ll get to all ten, so I’ve thrown in a couple of my own to round out the selection to an even dozen.  Note:  We are highly gluten tolerant omnivores.  Here are our picks!

1.  Australia – Garlic Shrimp with roasted tomatoes, lemon myrtle and rapine (a.k.a. broccoli rabe).  For a first choice, I have to applaud Raymond’s bravery – I had to google lemon myrtle!  This World Showcase / Lagoonsounds completely delicious to me.

2. Brazil – Crispy Pork Belly – seriously…say it out loud now, “Crispy Pork Belly” – just saying it tastes delicious.  Can’t find fault with that choice!  (Good job, Honey!)

3. France: Boeuf Bourguignon: Braised short ribs in cabernet with mashed potatoes.  Sounds like another winner.  In fact, this recipe was on my 2014 Disney New Year’s Resolution list and I haven’t gotten around to cooking it yet – this will let me find out how it’s supposed to taste!

4. Greece – Griddled Greek Cheese with pistachios and honey.  This sounds amazingly delicious to me.  We are cheese people!  And, living in the South, we love our vittles griddled.

5. Hops & Barley – Baked Lobster Alfredo.  Let us pause for a moment and consider the potential for happiness this dish could provide.  Boy, oh, boy!  It better deliver!!!  The calorie count…no, don’t think about it.Italy Pavilion / Epcot's World Showcase

6. Italy – Ravioli alla Caprese:  Cheese ravioli, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil.  All things we love to eat, but this is one dish I’m iffy on.  It’s simple – so it’s got to be authentic and really fresh.  We’ll see, won’t we?

7. Morocco – Spicy Shrimp Roll with cilantro and mint sauce.  Well this certainly sounds tasty!  That’s two shrimp dishes – we can do a whole compare-and-contrast thing.

8. New Zealand – Venison Sausage with pickled mushrooms, baby arugula and black currant reduction.  Honestly, we all know that a mushroom, pickled or otherwise, will never pass beneath Raymond’s mustache.  I’ll be polishing those off.  Venison is very popular here in the Italy Pavilion RestaurantsSportsman’s Paradise, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s prepared by non-Louisianan chefs.

9.  Puerto Rico – Friturias: Sorullitos (sweet polenta fries) and bolitas de queso (cheese fritter with mayo ketchup).  Polenta’s a LOT like grits (which we eat every week at our house) and we’ve already confessed our love of cheese.  This ought to be amazing!

10. Scotland – Seared Sea Scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon.  If Raymond hadn’t picked this one, I would have waited in line all by my lonesome for this dish.  This is one I’m not going to want to share.

The next two are all mine, baby!

11. Hawaii -Kālua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole® Pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise.  Boom!  How can you go wrong with that?

12. Italy – Filetto di pollo, con funghi al marsala: Chicken tenderloin, cremini mushrooms, marsala sauce and ciabatta bread.  Ah, Italy – the source of all my most beloved foods!

What do you think?  Enough?  Too much?  Have you tried any of these and hated them?  Save us from ourselves – if you have intel, speak up and leave a comment!

Yikes – we haven’t even thought about beverages!  There’s a certain beer flight at the Farm Fresh booth I’ve gotta try!

The Disney Food Blog’s excellent Festival coverage is here.