Southern victorian paradise
The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is probably one of the most recognizable resorts on property aside from the Contemporary, and to be fair, you have to go through that one to get to the Magic Kingdom. When you see it, you think opulence, luxury, soft white towels and a string quartet. And I mean, you're not wrong, except the string quartet is actually the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. Although I have never spent the night at the Grand Floridian (as a local, $600 a night to stay in a hotel that is an hour or less away from your house is a little bougie), I have spent a lot of time there.
There is a cute little Basin store near the monorail entrance, Summer Lace, which is a primarily female-centric shop that sells brands like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines and classic Disney Dooney and Pandora as well as the Disney H2O spa products.
Additionally there is the Garden View tea room, my personal favorite, where you can have afternoon tea with (or without) champagne, little sandwiches, scones, tarts and a variety of teas. My friends and I did the Derbyshire tea which was $50 a person and included tea, finger sandwiches, pastries, scones and Veuve Clicquot champagne. I will definitely be doing a full feature on the tea room with more pictures and information!
A little more affordable option is the Bedfordshire tea, which is $35 and includes the tea, sandwiches, scones and dessert choice of pastry or trifle. I am definitely looking forward to going back and trying the Bedfordshire tea. It's fun to get dressed up for a tea party and take lots of pictures during the tea and then wandering around the Grand and take in all the hustle and bustle of people. While we were there we saw engagement pictures being taken, a Disney commercial being filmed and all sorts of other magic.
If you want a full meal instead of baby sandwiches, I definitely recommend the Grand Floridian Cafe for lunch. Back when I still ate meat, I loved the Lobster thermidor burger (Artisanal 7-oz Burger Patty and Lobster-Parmesan Thermidor Sauce on a Seared Brioche Bun served with Cafe Signature Seasoned French Fries, $24). They had chunks of lobster and house-made chips when I had it, but I'm sure it's still amazing.
I can't wait for my next trip to the cafe so I can try the Spinach-Ricotta Ravioli (Tuscan Kale, Seared Alba Mushrooms, Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Creamy Herb Pesto, and Warmed Tomato Vinaigrette, $19). They also have an amazing breakfast and their lobster benedict is so savory (Two-poached Eggs, Toasted English Muffin, Lobster, Asparagus, and Hollandaise served with Marinated Tomato Salad). The Brioche french toast is also exemplary is you're craving a sweeter take on breakfast. It's simple, yet still a culinary masterpiece in its own right.
Some free fun includes walking around and seeing all of the gorgeous decorations that are put up throughout the year, especially the gingerbread houses during Christmastime. They are definitely worth a short monorail trip from the transportation and ticket center. The Disney tv specials also feature more in-depth information about these gingerbread masterpieces including their creation, inspiration and the tons of ingredients needed.
Sometimes the magic of Disney is just being able to sit back and watch the experiences around you; the kids who are so excited they don't know what to do with themselves, the newlyweds starting their next big adventure, the grandparents who get to see the joy in the faces of their families. It is a little awe-inspiring how much the experiences we locals take for granted, mean to someone else.