Deluxe Resorts Part Two

We are continuing our discussion from earlier in the week with the rest of the Disney Deluxe Resorts.  These are considered the Magic Kingdom Area Resorts because they access the flagship theme park by walkway, monorail or boat. Over in the Magic Kingdom Area you will find 4 Deluxe Resorts. Before I talk about the properties flagship monorail resorts that everyone thinks I am going to talk about what I think is Walt Disney World’s hidden gem resort.

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The Wilderness Lodge

The Wilderness Lodge is often one of the least expensive of the Deluxe Resorts often a few dollars more than the Moderates but it is one of my favorites. Especially at Christmastime. The theming is so much fun!  It is inspired by national-park lodges of the early 20th century. The hotel features exposed timber columns, log cabin–style facades, and dormer windows, and an 82-foot-tall stone fireplace in the lobby. It is my idea of glamping!!! It is just so charming and is right across Bay lake from the Magic Kingdom which is accessible by a delightful boat ride. Wilderness Lodge has two pools. The largest, Silver Creek Springs Pool, sits sits in the middle of the resort’s courtyard. The pool is surrounded by rock work and lush vegetation, to evoke a mountain stream. There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool and water player area. The other smaller pool is located on the far right of the resort, next to the Wilderness Lodge Villas.

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Just added to the pool area is the new Geyser Point Pool and Grille. It is an open air quick service facility with a selection of sandwiches and a GREAT lounge menu. This is another new spot I will be checking out on my next trip.

Other quick dining includes Roaring Fork is small counter service restaurant with a limited menu. The menu is made up of burgers, sandwiches, and flatbread pizza. There is also a pool bar and lounge.

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A family favorite is Whispering Canyon Cafe. With all you care to enjoy skillets at breakfast and dinner and a feisty rowdy staff this place is just pure fun! Make sure you ask for straws and ketchup!!!

Artist Point is a little more refined serving the best of Pacific Northweat cuisine. The cedar-plank salmon is a must-try, but the buffalo short rib runs a close second. The restaurant offers a terrific all-Pacific Northwest wine list.

Contemporary Resort 

The Contemporary Resort was the only hotel to be operating on opening day October 1 1971- The Contemporary Tower, (a collaboration with United States Steel Corporation)the most prominent of the resort’s four stand-alone buildings, was built as an A-Frame with outer walls which slope inwards around an inner atrium.. To construct the building, steel frames were erected on-site and modular pre-constructed rooms. The major advantage of Contemporary is that is a short walk to Walt Disney World’s flagship theme park, Magic Kingdom. If you don’t want to make the 10 minute walk you can also take a Monorail, which has a station inside the Contemporary’s lobby. It goes right through the building. The same Monorail can be also be used to ride to the Transportation And Ticket Center, here guests can transfer to another Monorail and ride to the front gate of Epcot.

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Contemporary has two pools. The largest, The Feature Pool, sits sits in the middle of the Contemporary tower and the Garden Wing. There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool and water player area. You can rent Cabanas for the day here.

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Dining options abound. On the first floor is The Wave . . . of American Flavors, a 220-seat “health-conscious 21st-century” restaurant. What does health-conscious mean in Disney-speak? You can still get bacon for breakfast, but the coffee it comes with is certified organic and bird-friendly. The Contempo Cafe, a counter-service restaurant on the fourth floor’s Grand Canyon Concourse, serves upscale sandwiches, salads, and flatbread pizzas. Chef Mickey’s, also on the fourth floor, hosts a popular character buffet at breakfast, brunch, and dinner. On the 15th floor, the award-winning California Grill serves contemporary American cuisine. This is a popular spot for engagements and celebrations with an incredible view of the fireworks.

The Polynesian Village Resort 

The Polynesian Village Resort is one of my favorite places to spend non-park time and I have never even stayed here! Located across the lake from the Magic Kingdom is offers unparalled views of the fireworks from the beach. The theming is so amazing everytime I grab a meal or catch the fireworks here it makes me want to plan my trip to the Pacific Islands that inspired it. The resort design and layout consists of 11 two and three story longhouses, spread throughout the property. The resort originally opened with 8 longhouses, Bali Hai, Bora Bora, Fiji, Hawaii, Maui, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. They have since added Oahu,  The Moorea, Pago Pago longhouses and 20 over-the-water Disney Vacation Club bungalows were called Bora Bora.

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The Polynesian Village Resort has 2 pools. The largest, Lava Pool, sits behind the Great Ceremonial House. The pool features a lava rock structure and a waterslide. There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool and water play area.The other smaller pool, the Oasis Pool, is located between the Samoa, and Hawaii, Longhouses.

In my opinion the Polynesian has the best dining options on property.

The Spirit of Aloha – Formerly the Polynesian Luau, this show features South Seas-island native dancing followed by an all-you-can-eat “Polynesian-style” meal. The dancing is interesting and largely authentic. The food is ok but you are definitely here for the atmosphere. The food at Ohana – inside the Great Ceremonial House  is much better (and if you want to catch a dinner show head to the Hoop De Doo at Ft. Wilderness)

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We all know Ohana means family and family means — Family style! A large open pit is the centerpiece of the room. Here the grilled foods are prepared with flair – as well as flare: from time to time the chef will pour some liquid on the fire, causing huge flames to shoot up. This is usually in response to something one of the strolling entertainers has said, evoking a sign from the fire gods. At any given moment, there may be a hula-hoop contest or a coconut race, where kids are invited to push coconuts around the dining room with broomsticks. Skewer service is the specialty here-there’s no menu. As soon as you’re seated, your server will begin to deliver food. First comes bread and a green salad, followed by honey-glazed chicken wings, pork fried dumplings, pineapple-coconut bread, and fresh pineapple. The main course is steak, pork loin, chicken, and grilled peel-and-eat shrimp, accompanied by stir-fried vegetables and lo mein noodles placed on a lazy Susan in the center of the table. During breakfast you can find Lilo and Stitch but the food is by no means as tasty as dinner! Reservations for Ohana are often difficult to get butthe nearby Kona Cafe is a great alternative. I actually prefer it for breakfast as long as I have someone to share with I have a hard time deciding between the Samoa Benedict, Pineapple Macadamia Nut Pancakes and Tonga Toast. For lunch the menu offers stir-fried Asian noodles, barbecued-pork taco, and sticky wings. For dinner try the pomegranate barbecued pork chop, ginger-crusted rib-eye with tamarind jus, and sustainable fish or sushi!

The Poly also has amazing counter service! Captain Cooks pulls the polynesian flavors into your favorite sandwiches and flatbreads. I love pineapple on anything! The pulled pork nachos are amazing. Also amazing are all the great places to grab a drink at the resort. The Barefoot Pool Bar has your favorite tropical drinks. The Tambu Lounge has some great apps and even better signature drinks. My favorite is the Lapu Lapu which happens to be served in a pineapple.

Off the Polynesian Village’s main lobby and featuring views of the marina and Seven Seas Lagoon, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a tiki bar with a legends and lore: It was started by Trader Sam, Adventureland’s famous “head” salesman,  Cocktails are the big draw, with names like Castaway Crush, Tahitian Torch, and the over-the-top Uh-Oa!—Myers’s and Bacardi rums mixed with various fruit juices and served in a communal tiki bowl with straws all around; Just about every drink has it’s own collectible mug and I am well on my way to having them all.

Another amazing feature of the resort is the pineapple lanai because Dole Whip!!

Grand Floridian 

The last and considered Disney’s flagship resort is the Grand Floridian. Inspired by the Hotel Del Coronado made famous by Some Like it Hot! The Grand Floridian integrates verandas, intricate latticework, dormers, and turrets beneath a red-shingle roof to capture the most memorable elements of 19th-century ocean-resort architecture. With the highest ratio of staff to guests, service is outstanding. The resort has several full-service restaurants, and others are a short monorail ride away. The hotel is connected directly to the Magic Kingdom by monorail and to other Disney World destinations by bus.

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Photo Credit: Disney Parks

The Grand Floridian’s Senses spa, modeled after Disney Cruise Line’s, is one of the best in the Orlando area. The resort’s pools are among the nicest on Disney property; the Courtyard Pool, large enough that local waterfowl mistake it for a lake, has a zero-entry ramp for small children to splash in. Cabanas are available to rent here, too. An Alice in Wonderland–themed splash area sits between the main building and the Villas. The other pool, the Beach Pool is located between the Main Building and the Villas. The Beach Pool is a 111,261-gallon pool overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon. Its main feature is a 181-foot water slide. The Beach Pool also has cabanas available for rent.

The rest of the Grand Floridian’s grounds are maintained to a very high standard. It’s a lovely resort to walk around during the evening, with romantic light levels and charming background music. A stroll from the marina, past the resort’s main buildings, and over to the Polynesian for a nightcap is a nice way to end the evening.

The Grand Floridian is home to Disney’s most exclusive and most expensive restaurant. With only 18 tables in the main dining room and Queen Victoria’s Room, a new private space with seating for eight, this is the top dining experience at Disney World. A winner of AAA’s Five-Diamond Award (the only restaurant in central Florida so honored), Victoria & Albert’s is civilized, lavish, and expensive. Fan of Downton Abbey? The waitstaff in the Queen Victoria Room expertly revive the European art of tableside finishes for each dish.The menu changes daily, but chef Scott Hunnel’s favorites include Jamison Farm lamb, Florida seafood, and Japanese Kobe beef.

Both Vicotria and Alberts and Citrico’s its upstairs neighbor offer exclusive Chef’s tables. Citrico’s offers a Mediterranean flare on steakhouse favorites. The food is not nearly as impressive as Narcoose’s, an upscale seafood restaurant located on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Narcoossee’s offers excellent service, a very good wine list- but also steep prices. But it is one of the few places at Disney with a seafood-centric menu, and one of the few places where you can get fresh steamed lobster. They also have excellent fireworks viewing.

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For something a little more casual check out the Grand Floridian Cafe. They pride themselves on American Classics reinvented. Though I haven’t been there in awhile I remember my parents loving dinner here so much they walked out to the hostess and made reservations for multiple nights.

1900 Park Faire is one of my favorite character dining experiences featuring Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins characters at breakfast and Cinderella’s family at dinner it is a little more unique. Standard buffet food with the exception of the exceptional strawberry soup!

Garden View Tea Room is home to traditional afternoon tea, served in grand British style. The menu includes a selection of international teas and an assortment of sandwiches and pastries.

Gasparilla Island Grill is the resort’s counter service restaurant. It has a decent selection of burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas. There’s also kid friendly items like chicken nuggets and hot dogs. Gasparilla is unique in that it is open 24 hours a day. But past 11:00 PM the menu is very limited.

Mizner’s Lounge is located on the second floor in Grand Floridian’s Main Building. Mizner’s has indoor seating and a full drink menu, with several beers, wines, and a selection of spirits. You can also hear live jazz music in this location during the day.  The Courtyard Pool Bar is located adjacent to the Courtyard Pool at the Grand Floridian. It also has a selection of beers, wines, and cocktails. Plus a small menu of burgers, flat bread pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and desserts is available. Beaches Pool Bar & Grill is located next to the Beach Pool. It also has a selection of alcoholic beverages and a dining menu of burgers, sushi, and salad.

Ready to book one of these or Disney’s other resorts contact me today christina@aywvacations.com.

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