Staying at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa


Building 6, one of the Outer Buildings of the Grand Floridian Resort

July 24 – 28, my family had the opportunity to do something that my wife Cindy and I had thought we likely wouldn’t do until we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in 12 years: we were given an opportunity, along with our daughter Sophie, to stay at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the signature resort in Walt Disney World, and some would say, the signature resort at any of the Disney parks.

I’m not going to debate which resort is better than the other — although, a comparison between the Grand Floridian and the Grand Californian, which we had the pleasure to stay at in June, is in order — but for today’s post, I’m going to give you a review of room 5511, which is where we stayed for our four nights at the resort.

The picture you see above is of building 6, which is directly opposite the building we were in, which was building 5.  One of the neat things about where we were staying is it was right by the area where you could rent the boats to take on the Seven Seas Lagoon, but even cooler than that, it had a great vantage point of Cinderella Castle, and we could see the fireworks from the seating areas they have right there.

Upon entering our room, though, we were struck by the old world charm that the Grand Floridian gave us.  We weren’t in a hotel — in fact, the argument could be made that we weren’t even in a resort anymore.  All of a sudden, we had walked into an English bedroom, although with two queen size beds, but it had a sitting area also, and a place to work, and watch TV.

Our room came with two queen size beds, perfect for our family of 3!

Our room came with two queen size beds, perfect for our family of 3!

Although it felt to me like we had left the world of Disney and had transported back to old world England, the picture above and the two below reminded us that our Disney touches were still to be experienced!


A closeup of our towel Mickey Mouse.

Mickey was to be found on the lamp too!

Mickey was to be found on the lamp too!

One of my favorite parts of the whole room was this wonderful chair and ottoman.  They were very comfortable, as was the bed, by the way, and I enjoyed winding down from our day in the parks by relaxing in the chair while the girls were getting ready for bed.


This chair and ottoman were incredibly comfortable to sit in and relax, in my opinion!

The bathroom was your standard bathroom, except it had double sinks which was nice, and in a first for me, it had a phone in the bathroom by the shower!


Sophie by the sinks.


The door to the bathroom — plenty of mirrors for Sophie!


The soaps and shampoo were quite nice!

One side note about the Grand Floridian — the towels were bigger than the towels that we had seen at other resorts.  They were softer than those, too, but overall, they were still just standard hotel towels in my opinion.


The area down there is where you could see Wishes over the Castle at night. This is the view from our balcony.


There has been some discussion about the refrigerators at the Disney resorts. Ours worked well, so I took a picture!


If we forget where we are staying, we could look at this picture to remember! It’s better than pinching ourselves to see if we were dreaming!

In addition to the room, which was really nice, we were within a really short distance from the Gasparilla Grill, which is the equivalent of a counter service restaurant.  It’s open 24 hours a day, though, so you can go for a snack at any time!

The lobby of the Grand Floridian is absolutely incredible.  It almost is worth taking the monorail over to it just to see what it’s like.  Words don’t do justice, so I’m going to close by sharing these photos.  I hope you have enjoyed looking at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and that you plan on staying there once.  It’s definitely worth adding to your Disney Bucket List!

Sophie sitting at this awesome telephone table!

Sophie sitting at this awesome telephone table!

The lobby elevator that travels just to the second floor.

The lobby elevator that travels just to the second floor.

One of the chandeliers in the lobby.

One of the chandeliers in the lobby.

The intricate stained glass in the ceiling of the lobby.

The intricate stained glass in the ceiling of the lobby.

Citrico's is located on the 2nd floor of the lobby.

Citricos is located on the 2nd floor of the lobby.

Victoria & Alberts Restaurant - located on the 2nd floor of the lobby.

Victoria & Alberts Restaurant – located on the 2nd floor of the lobby.

The orchestra performed excellently -- I loved listening to them!

The orchestra performed excellently — I loved listening to them!

Disneyland – The Grand Californian Hotel

The Grand Californian Hotel welcomes you home!

The Grand Californian Hotel welcomes you home!

By Mike Ellis.

The Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland is the premier place to stay at the Resort.  Luxury abounds at this picturesque resort, but even more so, the location next to Disney’s California Adventure Park — with it’s own entrance in — seals the deal for us as a great place to stay.  Let’s dive in and look at some of the incredible things that await you and your family if you visit here!

Read More

Magical Blogorail Red – First Time Planning Tips!

MBRed Logo 2013 Welcome to those of you joining me from Growing Up Disney and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When it comes to Disney planning, we have all been first time Disney trip people at one time in our lives.  I remember the first trip my wife, daughter, and I took to Walt Disney World and stayed on property, back in 2007.  We were originally going to stay at one of the Value resorts, probably one of the All-Star resorts, but we didn’t like the idea of sharing a bus stop with the other resorts, so we decided to do a moderate resort, Coronado Springs Resort, and had the best time.  So, with all of that being said, here are my top five first time planning tips!

Top Five First Time Planning Tips!

Number 1: Take plenty of notes from Disney websites you frequent.  When we were planning our trip back in 2007, we looked at the Disney website constantly for information.  We looked at all of the different resorts, decided quickly which ones were out of our budget range, and took notes on the pros and cons for the various ones.  In the end we chose Coronado Springs Resort because of the theming, the pool, and because it felt far enough away where we thought we would have our own space.

Number 2: Get plenty of input from everyone on what they are most looking forward to.  Unless it is a surprise trip, you will want to get input from everyone about what they want to do on your vacation.  It’s important to remember that it is everyone’s vacation, so while you may be the one doing all the planning, bring the others into the group as well so that you can make them excited for the trip as well!  If you have a lot of generations going on your trip, I have a special multi-generational trip planning post that I wrote that may help as well.

Number 3: Decide what restaurants you want to eat at, and decide if you want to invest in the Disney Dining Plan for your trip.  Part of the magic of Disney for us is the character interactions we can get with the special Disney characters.  A lot of the time we take advantage of making character dining reservations so we can enjoy our meal, meet our favorite characters, get their autographs, and not have to wait in lines to see them!  It’s the best of both worlds!

Number 4: Take time to stop and see everything!  Far too often people think of Disney World as a place for great rides and shows, and forget that there are thousands of other things to experience and enjoy at the parks.  Take time to stop, slow down, and experience the magic that is created just by being there.  Don’t be in such a rush to go from attraction to attraction to try and get as many thrill rides in as you can that you miss out on the wonderful moments that often last in your memory far longer than remembering your trip on Space Mountain.

Number 5: If you still find yourself stressed out, worried about your vacation and feeling like you are going to spend a lot of money and not get the vacation you want out of it — if you are at that point, feel free to reach out to an Authorized Disney Travel Planner for help.  The beauty of a travel planner is that we will do as much or as little for you as you need; even if it’s just to be there to calm you down.  If you need someone to help you with your planning, a Disney Travel Planner is the right way to go.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Donna Kay.

Red Map Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
3rd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
4th Stop ~ Colorado Mountain Mom
Final Stop ~ A World View

How Free Disney Dining Can Save you money!

disney-free-dining-pixie-vacations As you all know, a few weeks ago Disney released the coveted Free Dining plan for resort stays September 2-25, 2013 at select Walt Disney World resort locations.  Depending on the resort category that you stay at, you will receive either the quick-service dining plan or the “plus” dining plan for free!  We were running some numbers the other day, and wanted to share with you a potential vacation you could take during this time and show you how little it really is to be able to afford a great Disney vacation!

In my hypothetical family example, I have two parents, one junior (age 11) and one child (age 6).  They are looking to stay at Walt Disney World from September 2nd – 8th, 2013, and they are looking to stay at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, which would result in them being eligible for the free Quick-Service dining plan.  In addition, they are looking at 6 days of park tickets without the Park Hopper or Water Park Fun and More add-ons.

For this example, the cost of their vacation would be $1,893.91 — and if you calculate the price per person per day, it works out to a great Disney vacation for just $78.91 per person, per day!  If you decided that you wanted to upgrade from the Quick Service dining plan to the “Plus” dining plan, your cost would rise to $2,235.13 for the total package, but the cost per person per day is only $93.13!  I don’t know about you, but that cost seems incredible to me!  If you were to book the same package and pay for the Quick-Service dining plan, you would pay $2,653.07 — which is $110.54 per person per night.  As a result, the savings for this hypothetical family works out to a staggering $759.16!  That is a huge deal!

If you have any interest in getting a specific quote for a Disney trip, please feel free to submit a quote request via our quote request form!  To start the process, just click on the image below to go to the form.  Thanks, and let me help you create some Disney Magic for you and your family!


Thanks for stopping by, I’m looking forward to helping you plan your perfect Disney vacation!  Keep in mind that Disney also released special room rate discounts of up to 30% which are in effect from August 15 – September 28, 2013, so feel free to ask about that as well!

28 Days: The Grand Quest at the Grand Californian Resort!

Image ©Disney Vacation Club

Image ©Disney Vacation Club

At the Grand Californian Resort and Spa, there is a resort activity that is just up our alley, and is something that I think we will check out one day.  I am referring to the Grand Quest Scavenger Hunt.

Starting at Guest Services, where you check-in and receive your instructions, the Grand Quest takes you around the resort, looking for clues and secret answers in this scavenger hunt.  Designed for resort guests with children aged three to twelve, the Grand Quest is something that I think we are going to find the time to do during one of our non-park days.  At the end of your quest, your young adventurer will receive a special treat.  I will let you know what we thought of the Grand Quest — and what the treat was — when we complete the quest!

For now, though, please let me know if you have done the quest, and if so, what did you think of it?  Let me know in the comments, please, and thanks for stopping by!