In addition to the Magic Kingdom (see our guide here), nestled on the shores of Bay Lake (a huge man-made lake which shows how far Disney go to make perfect destinations – no lake? Let’s just make one!) are three amazing hotels at Disney – the Contemporary, the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian…
Each of the resorts, like the rest of Disney, has a very distinct theme and feel which starts outside in the design of the hotel itself, the grounds and amenities and then continues through the lobby, the restaurants, food and into the rooms themselves.
The three resorts benefit greatly from having the monorail connecting it to the other two, the Magic Kingdom and the transportation and ticket center. In addition, with a quick change of train you can also reach Epcot. Now, the infrastructure for transport at Disney world is amazing, free to ride buses take you everywhere, are pretty reliable and regular (at least at peak times), boats and I will cover the transport options and some tips in a future blog post, but suffice to say that the benefit of the monorail cannot be overstated! Especially if you have a stroller with young children, not having to fold it up, walking straight on and off and being within 5 minutes of the Magic Kingdom is soooo good!
One of the first resorts at Disney World. It is uniquely designed (“boxy”) and as with the others it is connected with the disney monorail, but with a twist – love that the monorail goes through the hotel! You don’t even have to go outside to a platform, just up the escalator and straight on to the platform… You get to watch the monorails come and go from the concourse in the hotel where all of the restaurants and shops are which the kids love….
The Contemporary: Chef Mickeys is one of, if not THE favorite restaurant for our kids and not just in Disney World. The food is buffet style (got to love the buffet with kids, right?) good selection and with the obligatory ice cream factory for the kids and assortment of desserts. It all sounds pretty standard so far, so why do the kids love it? 5 reasons actually…Mickey, Goofy, Minnie, Pluto and Donald that’s why! Character dining. It costs more of course but we have had some great times there, like the time Donald played boo with a one year old Cam who was doing his best to not freak out at his first sight of a 5ft duck!!! Donald would not give up until he got some kind of reaction, even running the length of the restaurant to “jump” on Cam!!! They are best buds now….Of all character dining spots chef Mickey’s takes the longest to see all of the characters (expect 1hr+) and is one of the most expensive but if you can make it, it is worth it if you have kids.
Fireworks at the California Grill. Again, this is an expensive option and honestly the food is a little overrated, but the location is great! Book a table and ask for a window seat (as with other restaurants the more in advance you book the better). There are not many places in Disney to see things from a height, the best views probably come from the top of the Tower of Terror right before it drops you (full description coming in a future post of best rides @Disney World) and Summit Plummet (120ft water slide at blizzard beach) but these really aren’t much use for viewing fireworks, so sitting at the California Grill enjoying a good meal, maybe a glass of wine and watching the incredible Disney Magic kingdom fireworks illuminate the skies above Cinderella’s castle is hard to beat.
Next up, The Polynesian. A really lovely resort and the theme is fantastic…more flower lei necklaces than you get in Hawaii!!! The beach location, the volcano swimming pool and the Spirit of Aloha show are all great but our top three things at the Polynesian are breakfast with Lilo & Stitch, Ohana, pineapple Dole ice cream of course and Club Disney.
Breakfast at Ohana is awesome. The food is good with the best fruit breads, excellent family style breakfasts and must have mickey waffles! Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, Pluto and Donald are there and while Stitch can be a handful he really is a little cutie! Look out for a more detailed review of Ohana in a future post (if it makes the top 10….;)
Dole pineapple ice cream. Head out the back doors of the Polynesian it is a great spot to cool down…yum!
Club Disney. This used to be called The Neverland Club and is a diamond at Disney. Great for a date night at one of the great restaurants or a walk along the lake shores? They would rather have kids meals and play in this super safe playhouse staffed with Disney helpers. Games and fun aplenty, usually lots of other kids to play with, movies, video games, art and crafts and no access for non-cast members (staff at Disney). The first time we took the kids, we talked about them and worried the whole time we were at the restaurant and went to pick them up an hour early – only to be greeted with “why are you here? We’re having fun! Come back later…still getting over that time!!!” Now this is a real treat for all of us!
Last up, Disney World’s flagship hotel – The Grand Floridian (The Grand). Now there are sooo many amazing things about this hotel I am going to dedicate an entire post to it as its own subject…it’s that good. But if I have to pick a top three (and I kinda do now I named the post) then here they are:
The Whole Resort. Bit of a cheat but the whole place is fantastic, seriously, just walk around – it is beautiful! The layout the Victorian theme which is classic and did I mention beautiful? But it’s a hotel right? The whole thing is gorgeous, the cast members, the service, the lobby which is STUNNING, the piano playing and band…ok so I got carried away, I will cover the detail in the separate blog, promise…
Narcoosees. There is a theme…restaurants, but it is one of the best and has to be mentioned. Out near the pier with views of the Magic Kingdom across Bay Lake the food here matches the views for sheer quality. It is fantastic. Although the chocolate crown at Citricos almost placed it higher (I’ll definitely be talking about that another time too!). The signature dish at Narcoosees of beef filet and lobster tail is heaven on a plate but be warned this is definitely at the top end for cost only beaten by Victoria and Alberts.
Finally, the beach and beachpool. We love the pool that is right next to the beach (there are two others which are also great). The beach pool views over the lake are spectacular at night, marshmallow toasting over a fire, a place to grab something to eat, a graduated entry for little ones to get in and out easily, waterfall, water slide (fun for us big kids too) and Disney cast members on hand throughout the day playing games with the kids in the afternoon – it doesn’t get much better than that after a morning/day at the parks or if you are taking a day off…
I would love to hear from you about your experiences at Disney World Resort Hotels.. or any resorts that you use for Disney x♥x