Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress 30th Anniversary Celebration

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Celebrates 30 Years of Grand Excellence

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Anniversary Weekend Celebration Featuring La Coquina Sunday Brunch Encore
and Year-round Resort Stay and Dining Package
Known and awarded for its long-standing grandeur, pristine outdoor recreation, privacy, and uncompromising standard of service, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress celebrates 30 years of grand excellence throughout 2014.
To celebrate and honor this milestone anniversary, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress offers several experiences:
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
January 31 – February 2, 2014
Enjoy two nights in a deluxe guestroom with a $100 food and beverage credit for use during your stay at the resort’s award-winning restaurants including Cascade American Bistro, Hemingway’s, or the encore Sunday Brunch at La Coquina on February 2, 2014.
Rates start at $396.  Use special offer code 1984.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Hemingway’s 30th Anniversary Grand Three-Course Dinner
Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1, 2014
$84 per couple (plus tax and gratuity)
Retro Menu Highlights: Coconut Shrimp, Lobster Crusted Sea Bass, Baked Alaska Style Key Lime Pie, Duo Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Open for dinner at 6 p.m. nightly
Call to make reservations: 407.239. 3854 or make reservations online.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
La Coquina 30th Anniversary Encore Sunday Brunch
The one-time return of an award-winning classic
Sunday, February 2, 2014
$69 per person (plus tax and gratuity)
Retro Menu Highlights: Florida Greens,  Local Tomato Gazpacho, Truffled Pasta Pouch, Terrine of Goat Cheese, Seafood Bar, Beef Wellington, Parsley Crusted Rack of Lamb, Whole Roasted Dover Sole, Breast of Pheasant with Ravioli, Shrimp Scampi on Herb Breaded Tomatoes, Belgian Waffles with Devonshire Cream, Traditional Eggs Benedict, Array of Display of Cakes, Tortes, Petite Fours & Chocolate Truffles
Live entertainment; resort attire preferred
Open for seatings 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Call to make reservations: 407.239.3830
The celebration continues with the 30th Anniversary Grand Experience Getaway with room rates starting at $198.40 per night to include a $30 food and beverage credit, based on availability through December 20, 2014.   Use special offer code RTRO.
“As we celebrate 30 years of grand excellence at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, I look forward to capitalizing on the outstanding tradition of exceptional service of Orlando’s original luxury resort,” said Pat Engfer, area vice president and general manager. “Together, our dedicated team will continue to offer families and business travelers the highest quality resort experience in one of the nation’s most popular destinations.”
According to a special section published by The Times, today known as The West Orange Times, the magnificence of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was unveiled to the local community, the Central Florida tourism industry, and the world as Orlando’s original luxury resort on February 1, 1984.
 
“After the decision was made to create a topnotch resort, many months were spent in conferral with architects, engineers, and consultants.  Their instructions were to design the best vacation facility in the world.”
 
Site clearing began in June 1982 and was noted as the most impressive construction project in terms of speed, teamwork, and quality. 
 
“Public response to the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has been phenomenal.  The hotel’s occupancy level during the initial six weeks of operation has far exceeded projections.  The future looks very bright for this extraordinary beautiful new resort which is getting underway.”
 
More than 800 community leaders, elected officials, and invited guests were in attendance on February 1, 1984 for the official ribbon cutting ceremony in the signature atrium lobby to commence the award-winning history in the making of Orlando’s original luxury resort.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cyprus
Living up to its ‘cool pool’ designation, the lagoon pool remains the signature attraction at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress surrounded by private lush tropical landscaping, rock formations, modern lighting, and finishing touches.  Located along the 1,000 feet of white sandy beach of Lake Windsong, the 800,000 gallon, ½ acre, free-flowing lagoon pool boasts 12 waterfalls, heated and non-heated pools, two whirlpools.
Water Slide Tower Pavilion at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress SMALL
The new Water Slide Tower Pavilion, new Water Jet Splash Zone, and new children’s Rock Climbing Stations, complement resort favorites including the rope bridge, walking paths, and expansive, wrap-around sundecks, Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf, the Tennis and Racquet Club, and marked jogging, walking, and biking trails.
“The family vacation experience reaches new heights in Orlando with the new and enhanced activities just waiting for families to experience.  Inspired by classic design, coupled with the simplicity of timeless fun, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress provides guests countless opportunities to make lifetime memories,” Engfer continued.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Family favorite recreation activities include; S’mores pit with fireside marshmallow roasting fun, beach volleyball, tether ball, lounge seating and hammocks, watersports with paddleboats, kayaks, hydro bikes, canoes, aqua cycles and sailboats, old-fashioned, canopied surrey bikes, and Camp Hyatt kids’ activity programs. The 1,500 acre Grand Cypress resort offers families an upscale travel experience with well-appointed guest rooms and suites and a host of new family amenities and activities.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

About Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress –

Celebrating 30 Years of Grand Excellence

The award-winning, 1,500 acre Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is located one mile from Walt Disney World® and close to Universal Orlando® and SeaWorld® Orlando with a host of amenities and activities. Located along the 1,000 feet of white sandy beach of private Lake Windsong, the free-flowing lagoon pool boasts 12 waterfalls, heated and non-heated pools, two whirlpools, new Water Slide Tower Pavilion, new children’s Rock Climbing Stations, new interactive Water Jet Splash Zone, rope bridge, walking paths, and expansive, wrap-around sundecks.  New features complement the resort’s favorite activities including; S’mores pit, beach volleyball, tether ball, hammocks, watersports and marked jogging, walking, and biking trails.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is centrally located with convenient access to Orlando International Airport and Interstate 4 off Exit 68 in Lake Buena Vista. The resort’s address is One Grand Cypress Blvd., Orlando, Florida, USA 32836.
For more information; call 407.239.1234; visit GrandCypress.Hyatt.com; like Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on Facebook; and follow on Twitter at @HRGrandCypress.
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Our Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Staycation

We had the opportunity to have a really fun ‘staycation’ the weekend before Christmas together experiencing all great amenities and food that the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has to offer, and it was an amazing visit.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Located in the Lake Buena Vista area, the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is one mile away from the Walt Disney World Resort, however as the centerpiece of the 1,500-acre Grand Cypress Resort you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

When you first walk into the 18-story atrium lobby and are greeted by Merlot, the resident macaw, you know that you are in a really special place.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The rooms at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress are spacious at 360 square feet, and feature comfortable Hyatt Grand Beds, great amenities, and views you will love waking up to every morning!

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We had a Pool View which was absolutely beautiful, and by night we were able to watch to fireworks at both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom every night without having to leave our room!

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 Here’s a detailed look at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Room Amenities:

  • Separate work desk          
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron / ironing board
  • Coffee maker (Featuring Starbucks Coffee)
  • Cable / satellite TV channels
  • iHome™ alarm clock radio
  • Jack pack adaptor panel for multimedia plug n’ play
  • Voicemail
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Large, flat-screen television
  • Individual air conditioning control
  • Ceiling fans
  • Video checkout
  • In-room safe
  • Safety deposit box behind front desk
  • Mini-Fridge
  • Crib upon request
  • Maximum guests per room: 4
  • Chaise lounge
  • Spa toiletries

If you are looking for great food, you will definitely find it at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress!

We had an a wonderful dinner at Cascade American Bistro!

 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The restaurant setting is beautiful, the food was delicious, and the service was outstanding.

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I cannot recommend Cascade highly enough, especially their signature S’mores dessert! It was heaven in a Mason Jar!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

When we were relaxing by the gorgeous pool, we also took advantage of the pool-side service from the On the Rocks Poolside Lounge.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress My margarita was perfect and the Tri-Color Tortilla Chip trio was tasty with generous portions of each dip. The queso and guacamole were amazing!

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And in the lobby, Perks was a great place to grab a cup of Starbucks and pastry in the morning and as it transformed to Trellises Lounge in the evening it was a great place to grab a quick bite!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

We even ordered in-room dining one night, and it was a great way to relax after a busy day at the resort! With so many (even vegetarian) menu options, we found that we had a hard time deciding what we wanted to order! The in-room menu is extremely affordable and convenient, and something that we would definitely experience again!

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However, the star for us during our stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was the outdoor amenities and recreation options we were able to enjoy as a family!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

There is an affordable extra Resort Services Program charge at the resort, and with that guests get access to 

  • Health Club Open 24 Hours
  • Rock Climbing Walls
  • 9 Hole, Par 3 Pitch N’ Putt
  • Water sports: Canoe, Paddle Boat, Hydro Bike, Aquacycle, Sailboat, and Kayak
  • Bikes: Adult’s, Children’s, and Surreys
  • Golf Driving Range
  • Court Time at the Tennis Racquet Club
  • Daily Scheduled Shuttle Transportation to Walt Disney World Theme Parks,
  • Universal Studios/ Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld-Be sure to pick up your
  • boarding pass from our Lobby Concierge.
  • Wired and Wireless Internet
  • Free Local and Toll Free Telephone Service  

Zoe wanted to do something on her own, so she participated in Camp Hyatt for the day and had a blast!

Camp Hyatt is an interactive program exclusively for our guests ages 3-12. Our activities focus on the flora, fauna and culture of this unique part of the Sunshine State and includes a Fish Feeding Frenzy, Arcade Challenges, Boats and Bikes, Rock Climbing, Kids Crafts, Marshmallow Roasts, Scavenger Hunts, Short Chef Creations, Video Games and Pool and Beach Games.

Zoe wants to go back to the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress JUST to go back to Camp Hyatt!!!

We had such an awesome time exploring the resort as a family! We took our first family bike ride after Dave’s knee replacement surgery, played games, and played on the beach together.

 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

We had so much fun, that we never left the resort!

Here are some of our favorite Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Outdoor Activities:

Boating

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

A white sandy beach runs along Lake Windsong where you will find canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, a volleyball court, and much more.

Boating Hours: 8:00am – return by 5:30pm

Boating Rules: 18 & older for sailboats. 13 & older to be alone on the water in all other craft.

Anyone under 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age.

Pool, Water Slides, and More

Water Slide Tower Pavilion at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress SMALL

Pool Water Slide Hours: 9:00 am– 5:30pm

Rules: There is a minimum 44 inch height requirement for the pool water slide. Life jacket required for children between 44-48 in.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Water Jet Pad Hours: 8:00am – 10:00pm

Poolside Recreation Desk and Pool Towel Service

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

You can stop here for daily activity information, slide wristbands, pool towels, floats, sunscreen that you may have forgotten, and more!

Daily Hours: 8:00am – 5:30pm

Pool Towels are available outside of the On The Rocks bar after operating hours with your resort room key.

Biking

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Bicycles for all ages are available including family bikes, bikes with training wheels and adult bikes with child seats. Enjoy 9.2 miles of jogging and biking trails throughout the Grand Cypress Resort.

Hours: 8:00am – return by 5:30 pm

Rules: 13 & older to go biking alone. At least 18 years of age to drive a Surrey Bike. Anyone under 13 must

be accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age. Anyone younger than 16 must wear a helmet.

Pitch N’ Putt

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Visit our scenic par 3 executive course on Lake Windsong. Complimentary club rentals are available.

Hours: 8:00am– return by 5:30pm

Rules: 13 & younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age.

Rock Climbing Challenge

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Come climb the towers at the Grand Cypress! Lanes are available for all skill levels.

Hours: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Rules: Minimum/Maximum height and weight requirements vary. See attendant for more

information. Closed toe/heel shoes are required.

Fire Pit

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Located on the beach! S’mores Kits are available for purchase in the Palm Cafe, Trellises, or through Room Service for $10.

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Available Thursday thru Sunday at Dusk. Weather permitting.

You will also find tons of great ways to have some quiet time while you are enjoying the great outdoors!

At the pool there is a large grotto area full of super comfy chairs.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Then on the beach there are designated quiet areas and hammocks that you won’t ever want to leave!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The grounds of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress are lush, and full of amazing sculptures and statues. I had a really relaxing walk around the resort. It was so nice to steal a few moments for myself!

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We had an absolutely amazing and wonderful staycation at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, and if you are looking for a family experience to plus your visit to the Orlando Theme Parks I would absolutely recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Disclaimer: Through a partnership with the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, I received accommodations and a meal at the Resort. All opinions are my own.

 

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Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Chocolate Holiday Display

 It’s beginning to Choc-o-late like Christmas at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin!

Two time World Pastry Champion Chef constructs entire Holiday Scene out of nearly 2,000 pounds of chocolate

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Chef completes a 7-foot tall, 400-pound chocolate nutcracker sculpture to add to his annual Christmas display at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

 

It’s that time of year when holiday decorations are going up, and for the only two-time world pastry champion that means one thing – chocolate!  In order to give guests of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin a special treat for the holidays, Laurent Branlard – the hotel’s, executive pastry chef – just completed a 7-foot tall, 400-pound chocolate nutcracker that is part of an entire Christmas scene constructed out of nearly 2,000 lbs. of chocolate. 

The nutcracker took approximately 80 hours to complete and is vibrantly colored with reds, blues, and golds. Still, it is 100 percent edible.  

The nutcracker joins a Christmas scene, which will be displayed in the lobby of the hotel through December, that includes a life-sized Santa Claus, fireplace with stockings, Christmas tree, and toy train. 

 Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Branlard is renowned for intricate chocolate and sugar sculptures and this piece marks one his largest and most difficult ones to date. 

Just in case any chocolate lovers are thinking of taking on the challenge of consuming this enormous sweet, they should consider that the entire scene is more than 4 million calories! (Please note that the sculpture is not available for tasting.)

Walt Disney World Swan and
Swan and Dolphin Hotels

What: Chocolate Christmas Scene Sculpture by world champion pastry chef Laurent Branlard

 

Where:Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel (Swan wing lobby)

1200 Epcot Resorts Blvd.

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

 

When: Throughout December

For more details about all the holiday excitement at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel or to make room reservations, please visit www.santasfavoriteresort.com or call 1-800-227-1500.

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Holidays At Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Experience The Magic Of The Holidays

At Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Festive Caroling, Horse-drawn Carriage Rides, Bed-time Stories with Mrs. Claus, and

Many More Special Offerings to Celebrate the Holiday Season

 

This holiday season, guests of the Waldorf Astoria® Orlando will experience the magic of the holidays with a variety of unique activities, special holiday menus, and new family traditions. Additional delights include caroling in the lobby, story time with Mrs. Claus, and horse-drawn carriage rides on select nights. Holiday rates start at $199 per night through December 20, 2013.

In Orlando, there are memorable experiences for families around every corner, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom® and Holidays Around the World at Epcot®. If shopping is desired, the resort is only minutes from The Mall at Millennia, featuring Orlando’s largest collection of upscale shops and department stores.

 

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND ACTIVITIES

The Harvest Classic (Thursday, November 28) – This annual Waldorf Astoria Golf Club Harvest Classic is a great way to enjoy 18-holes for $75. Nike® rental clubs included. For tee times, please call the Golf Club at 407-597-3780. (Weather permitting)

Thanksgiving Family Golf Clinic (Saturday, November 30, 10am-11am) – The holiday family clinic is a great place to improve your strokes. Tee off with the family, participate in a complimentary putting contest and participate in the small group golf instruction from the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club PGA golf staff. Nike® golf clubs provided if needed. Beginner to moderate-based instruction provided. $25 per person. For reservations, please call the Golf Club at 407-597-3780. (Weather permitting)

Lighting of the Menorah (Nightly, November 27-December 5) Guest may join us nightly to share in the festival of lights. During the eight nights of Hanukkah, we will light a candle on the menorah outside of our lobby with all those who like to attend. Please contact the Concierge for more details.

Thanksgiving Weekend Fireworks Show (Saturday, November 30, 9:30pm– Bonnet Creek Resort continues the celebration with a private fireworks show for resort guests.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Oscar’s® (Thursday, November 28, 5pm-10pm– Thanksgiving Day, Oscar’s will present a traditional, holiday family dinner buffet. Menu will feature traditional Thanksgiving fare and is $49 per adult and $26 per child under 12. For guests who paid the resort fee, children under 12 are complimentary. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations are suggested: 407-597-5450.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Bull & Bear® (Thursday, November 28, 5pm-10pm– Guests can enjoy a four-course Thanksgiving dinner at Bull & Bear. This dining experience includes an extensive, traditional holiday meal with all the trimmings. The Bull & Bear a la carte menu will also be available. $95 per person. Wine pairing programs are available. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations required: 407-597-5409.

Thanksgiving Private Dining (Thursday, November 28, 5pm-10pm– Guests can experience a traditional family-style Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort and privacy of their suite. Menu includes choice of entrée along with additional special selections. $65 per person. Tax, delivery charge and gratuity are additional. Requests for Thanksgiving Private Dining must be received prior to 2pm Thanksgiving day to 407-597-5480.

 

HOLIDAY ACTIVITES FOR ALL AGES

Starting December 1 through December 28

 

Bring the holidays right into your guest room! (Daily, December 1-31Guests can experience the tradition of a beautifully ornamented Christmas tree in their room. Decorated table-top Christmas trees are available for purchase. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring the family together and embrace the holidays! Reservations required by calling Concierge.

A New You For the Holidays (Daily– The Waldorf Astoria® Spa is the perfect place to celebrate the holidays. Guests looking for a special hairstyle before a big night out, a manicure with some added sparkle, or just a moment of Zen to reflect on auld acquaintances will find the resort’s Spa a haven for pampering. To schedule an appointment, call 407-597-5360.

Twilight Golf (Daily, after 2 pm– Guests can take advantage of the Waldorf Astoria® Golf Club Twilight Package and enjoy 18-holes after 2 pm at a special rate. Nike® rental clubs included. (Weather permitting)

Live Entertainment at Peacock Alley (Sundays, 3pm-9pm; Mondays-Thursdays, 5pm-9pm; Fridays-Saturdays, 6pm-10pm– Enjoy live, nightly music while taking in the fabulous atmosphere of Peacock Alley.

Bar du Chocolat (Fridays and Saturdays, 6:30pm-10:30pm– A decadent selection of chocolate treats hand crafted by Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team. Highlights include chocolate truffles, exotic chocolate cakes, a rich selection of cookies, gourmet cocoa, pillows of chocolate mousse and bowls of beautiful bon-bons. [Priced per piece]

Royal Tea (Sundays, 3pm-5pm– Guests can experience finely prepared tea sandwiches and house-made pastries, while sipping premium hot tea and listening to live piano music.

Gift Wrapping Services (Daily, December 12-24– This year, we are offering holiday gift wrapping services for resort guests. This holiday service is available for a fee. Please contact the Concierge for additional details.

Holiday Caroling (Friday, December 20 & Tuesday, December 24, 6pm-8pm– The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing aloud for all to hear! Guests may join our Carolers for a little holiday merriment in the lobby.

Horse and Carriage Rides (Saturday, December 14, 21 & 28, 6pm-10pm) – Guests can enjoy a 30-minute enchanting trip around the Bonnet Creek Resort in our horse-drawn carriage while enjoying champagne and strawberries. Holiday cookies are available for children. It’s an incredible holiday affair perfect for the entire family. $75 per carriage. Reservations are recommended. Please contact the Concierge for details.

Mrs. Claus Holiday Photos in the Lobby (Tuesday, December 24, 4pm-6pm– Mrs. Claus will greet guests in the lobby on Christmas Eve for an opportunity to take photos and capture a magical family moment.

Mrs. Claus Holiday Tuck In (Tuesday, December 24, 6pm-11pm– Little ones can delight in a memorable Mrs. Claus Holiday Tuck-In, where they are visited by Mrs. Claus at bedtime. Complete with a snack and bedtime story, it’s an experience they will treasure forever. $49 per room. Advance reservations required. Please contact the Concierge for details.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dinner Buffet at Oscar’s® (Tuesday, December 24 & Wednesday, December 25, 5pm-10pm– On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Oscar’s will feature a holiday family buffet. This special feast will include classic holiday fare, new Waldorf Astoria traditions, and a special dessert finale. Holiday dinner buffet is $59 per person and $29 per child under 12. For guests who paid the resort fee, children under 12 are complimentary. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations: 407-597-5450.

Christmas Dinner at Bull & Bear® (Wednesday, December 25, 5pm-10pm– Guests can take pleasure in a four-course holiday dinner, served on Christmas Day at Bull & Bear. This dining experience includes a choice of entrees, along with special selections. The standard Bull & Bear a la carte menu will also be available. $105 per person. Wine pairing programs are available. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations required: 407-597-5409.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Private Dining (Tuesday, December 24 & Wednesday, December 25, 5pm-10pm– Guests can savor a traditional family-style Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in the luxurious comfort and privacy of their suite. Menu includes choice of entrée along with additional special selections. $70 per person. Tax, delivery charge and gratuity are additional. Requests for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Private Dining must be received prior to 2pm of the corresponding day to 407-597-5480.

Family Golf Clinic (Thursday, December 26, 10am-11am) – The holiday family clinic is a great place to improve your strokes. Tee off with the family, participate in a complimentary putting contest and participate in the small group golf instruction from the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club PGA golf staff. Nike® golf clubs provided if needed. Beginner to moderate-based instruction provided. $25 per person. For reservations, please call the Golf Club at 407-597-3780. (weather permitting)

 

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR

Starting December 28 through January 1

 

A Prelude to the Countdown Fireworks Show (Saturday, December 28, 9:30pm– Bonnet Creek Resort begins the celebration a few nights early – a prelude to the countdown – with a private fireworks show for resort guests. Best viewing areas include the pool deck, Sena terrace and Signature Island.

New Year’s Eve Buffet at Oscar’s® (Tuesday, December 31, 5pm-10pm– On New Year’s Eve, Oscar’s will serve a delectable dinner buffet. This special feast will include contemporary American dishes and a special dessert finale. $75 per person and $25 per child under 12. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations: 407-597-5450.

New Year’s Eve at Bull & Bear® (Tuesday, December 31, 5pm-10pm– Guests can celebrate the advent of the New Year with an exclusive prix fixe menu consisting of seven inspired and distinctive courses. Included with each reservation, is exclusive access to the dessert room and a private celebration at Sir Harry’s®. A vegetarian menu option will be made available, as well. $195 per person. Wine pairing programs are available. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations required: 407-597-5409.

New Year’s Day Breakfast and Brunch Buffet at Oscar’s® (Wednesday, January 1, 7am-1pm– On New Year’s Day morning, Oscar’s will serve a delicious breakfast and brunch buffet. For guests who paid the resort fee, children under 12 are complimentary. Tax and gratuity are additional. Reservations: 407-597-5450.

 

Christmas events are available to all guests of Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Fees may apply to select activities. Event schedule subject to change without notice.

 

Holiday rates start at $199 per night through December 20, 2013. For reservations, call 407-597-5500, or visitwww.waldorfastoriaorlando.com/christmas-holidays . For those wanting to give a special and flexible holiday gift, the hotel offers Waldorf Astoria Orlando Gift Cards. Visit www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com/resort/giftcard.

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About Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts WALDORF ASTORIA is Hilton Worldwide’s luxury brand of landmark hotels, with each one as singular and timeless as the brand’s namesake, The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. From classic elegance to modern grandeur, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts each represent worldly sophistication and unparalleled guest service. From sumptuous spas and culinary excellence to world-class golf, each hotel & resort offers the exquisite accommodations and signature accoutrements that define refinement and sophistication. Discover Waldorf Astoria by visiting www.waldorfastoria.com. Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is one of Hilton Worldwide’s ten market-leading brands.

About Hilton Worldwide

Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels. For 93 years, Hilton Worldwide has offered business and leisure travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value. The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands. Its brands are comprised of more than 3,800 hotels and timeshare properties, with 630,000 rooms in 90 countries and include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®. Visit www.hiltonworldwide.com for more information and connect with Hilton Worldwide at www.facebook.com/hiltonworldwidewww.twitter.com/hiltonworldwidewww.youtube.com/hiltonworldwide,www.flickr.com/hiltonworldwide and www.linkedin.com/company/hilton-worldwide.

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LEGOLAND Florida Hotel

LEGOLAND Florida Announces 

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel Opening in 2015

LEGOLAND Florida got even better after their brickbreaking announcement!

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The LEGOLAND Florida Hotel!

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel

Once the hotel opens in 2015, guests of LEGOLAND Florida will not have to leave the property for accommodations making the park a multi-day destination!

Play, eat, and sleep all in the same place…Yes, please!

With the hotel located so close to LEGOLAND Florida’s Main Entrance, it will add a lot to the energy and flow of the park. Not to mention the view you’ll have as a guest of the hotel!

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel
Plans for the LEGOLAND Florida Hotel

I can not WAIT for 2015 to get here so I can check out the LEGOLAND Florida Hotel!!!

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LEGOLAND Florida General Manager Adrian Jones officially announced the park’s much anticipated LEGOLAND Hotel will open in 2015. The announcement was made alongside community leaders with a ceremonial groundbreaking moment at the site where the hotel will be built, directly to the left of LEGOLAND Florida’s entrance, just steps from Lake Eloise.

 

“The opening of a LEGOLAND Hotel will transition LEGOLAND Florida from a single-day visit theme park to a multi-day resort destination,” said Jones. “This will serve as a catalyst for future economic development in Polk County.”

 

Welcoming guests with a multicolored exterior and entrance, the four-story LEGOLAND Hotel will immerse families with young children in the world of LEGO®, as an extension of the vibrant and interactive theme park experience. Created to bring children’s imaginations to life, the LEGO-themed hotel will feature 152 brightly colored and highly themed rooms and suites, LEGO décor; interactive play areas; a pool and a restaurant.

 

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel will add 250 construction-related jobs during the construction, and another 250 jobs to its employee base to staff the new hotel upon completion.

 

This will be the fifth LEGOLAND Hotel in the world joining LEGOLAND California, LEGOLAND Windsor and LEGOLAND Billund hotels. LEGOLAND Malaysia Hotel will soon open its doors.

 

At LEGOLAND Florida, families enjoy more than 50 rides, shows, attractions, a water park and the all-new LEGO World of Chima presented by Cartoon Network. At the World of Chima, the whole family can board an interactive splash battle ride, The Quest for CHI, and kid’s can splash and play in Cragger’s Swamp and race handheld rip-chord powered vehicles at the SpeedorzTM Arena.

Make sure you keep up with all the LEGOLAND Florida news by following them on Facebook and Twitter!

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel

LEGOLAND® Florida is a 150-acre interactive theme park dedicated to families with children between the ages of 2 and 12. With more than 50 rides, shows and attractions and a water park, LEGOLAND is geared towards family fun! There are currently five other LEGOLAND Parks in the world – LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad, LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark, LEGOLAND Deutschland near Günzburg, Germany and LEGOLAND Windsor outside of London and just opened LEGOLAND Malaysia —the sixth LEGOLAND Park and first in Asia. The LEGOLAND theme parks are a part of Merlin Entertainments Group, the second largest attractions operator in the world. For the most current information, log on to www.LEGOLAND.com.

 

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Westgate River Ranch Grand Re-Opening

Westgate River Ranch
Westgate River Ranch

Last weekend we were invited to take part in the Grand Re-Opening of Westgate River Ranch in River Ranch, FL. The ranch is the largest Dude Ranch East of the Mississippi and sits on 1,700 acres  in the Kissimmee River area. This resort features options that will suit everyone from those who like to rough it to those who are used to more upscale accommodations. There is tent camping, RV hookups, Glamping sites, traditional resort rooms, as well as cabins with studios, one and two bedroom units that can sleep up to ten guests.

At Westgate River Ranch you are able to experience as much or as little as you would like to with a la carte activity options. I will get more in depth with the numerous adventures available to guests in my next post as well as go in to more detail about what we experienced ourselves. To give you a quick taste of what is offered though, you can golf, fish, go on an airboat ride, swamp buggy, skeet and trap shooting, there is a ropes course, petting zoo, brand new adventure park including miniature golf, mechanical bull riding, zip line, rock climbing wall, bungee jumping for kids, horseback riding, golf, horseshoes and archery. Next month the ranch will play host to the Tough Mudder competition on November 2nd and 3rd.

Smokehouse Restaurant
Smokehouse Restaurant
General Store
General Store

Restaurants at the resort include the Smokehouse, which features a la carte menu for lunch and dinner and also offers a breakfast buffet with a great view of the water. We didn’t get an opportunity to eat here since our meals were catered for the weekend, but the menu looked great and I look forward to returning to try it next time. The General Store at Westgate River Ranch has options for doing your own grocery shopping if you’d like to cook your own meals if you are camping or in a cabin. You also can order pizza, sandwiches, salads, etc. from the General Store if you are staying in the Inn rooms and don’t have cooking facilities available to you or just choose to get take out. Snacks are also available for sale in the evening around the adventure park area and Saturday nights at the rodeo.

While at the resort we were able to tour the different types of rooms and campsites available to rent. Westgate River Ranch has campsites available to those who like to do traditional tent camping.  Bathrooms are available nearby for campers to use by the Trap and Skeet Range. For those who have pop up campers, motor homes or travel trailers, there are options for you too. RV hookups with water and electric are available with a dump station adjacent to the campsites for sewer. Glamping is the bridge type of accommodation for people who like to camp, but don’t want to give up creature comforts like electricity and air conditioning. These Glamping sites are awesome with either one or two beds, a ceiling fan, your own private bathroom with a key in a building close by, mini fridge, microwave, sitting area, board games included, as well as a grill for each site and a larger community campfire area.

Tent camping area
Tent camping area
RV site
RV site
RV hookup
RV hookup
RV setup
RV setup
Glamping area
Glamping area
Glamping grill
Glamping grill
Glamping tent
Glamping tent
Glamping tent ceiling fan
Glamping tent ceiling fan
Glamping tent mini fridge and microwave
Glamping tent mini fridge and microwave
Glamping tent portable a/c
Glamping tent portable a/c
Games in Glamping tent
Games in Glamping tent

If you are like me and are more inclined to stay in something with four walls and central a/c, then you’ve got plenty of choices at Westgate River Ranch, too. We stayed in a beautiful Inn room in the Lodge section of the resort that had been recently renovated. The room had a brand new 51″ tv (not that you’ll want to spend much time in your room with all the great activities, but it is still nice to have at night), new linens, floors, countertops, the works. If you are looking for something for a larger group, the Westgate River Ranch offers cabins that have studios, one or two bedrooms. The two bedrooms are considered lockoffs that consist of a one bedroom and a studio combined. The studios have a kitchenette and the one bedroom has a full kitchen so it is great to have that extra fridge space for snacks and drinks. The two bedroom has three full bathrooms and can sleep up to ten guests. The cabin we toured had a gorgeous wraparound porch with rocking chairs and a fantastic view of the buffalo at the ranch.

New Renovated Inn Room image courtesy Westgate River Ranch
New Renovated Inn Room image courtesy Westgate River Ranch
Single cabin
Single cabin
Cabin exterior
Cabin exterior
Cabin wraparound porch
Cabin wraparound porch
Buffalo outside the cabins
Buffalo outside the cabins
Cabin 1 bedroom 1st bath
Cabin 1 bedroom 1st bath
Cabin 1 bedroom 2nd bath
Cabin 1 bedroom 2nd bath
Cabin 1 bedroom 2nd bath jetted tub
Cabin 1 bedroom 2nd bath jetted tub
Cabin 1 bedroom 2nd shower
Cabin 1 bedroom 2nd shower
Cabin 1 bedroom desk area
Cabin 1 bedroom desk area
Cabin 1 bedroom king bed
Cabin 1 bedroom king bed
Cabin 1 bedroom kitchen
Cabin 1 bedroom kitchen
Cabin 1 bedroom laundry
Cabin 1 bedroom laundry
Cabin 1 bedroom living and dining area
Cabin 1 bedroom living and dining area
Cabin studio
Cabin studio
Cabin studio bathroom
Cabin studio bathroom
Cabin studio kitchenette
Cabin studio kitchenette
Cabin studio view from bathroom
Cabin studio view from bathroom

I cannot wait to go back to Westgate River Ranch for a girls getaway weekend or even a family reunion. There are great meeting spaces, so it is also perfect for a corporate retreat or even wedding. The choices of activities and types of lodging offered at Westgate River Ranch are diverse so there is sure to be something for the cowboy or cowgirl in all of us. I hope you take an opportunity to check out the resort for a stay soon or even just to experience the awesome recreation options they have or to see the rodeo and come out dancing some Saturday night. Please go check out Westgate River Ranch and let me know what you think!

Entrance
Entrance
East Corral
East Corral
Mom and me with John Wayne
Mom and me with John Wayne
John Wayne
John Wayne
Western and General Stores
Western and General Stores
Western Store
Western Store
Post Office
Post Office
Map of the Ranch
Map of the Ranch

Have you been to Westgate River Ranch before? Are you looking for a new adventure? This is the place for you just about an hour and a half from the Orlando area and about an hour from Tampa.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary lodging and meals in exchange for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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A Closer Look At The Villas At The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The Disney Vacation Club will be opening their 12th property, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on October 23, 2013, so I thought we would take a closer look at the rooms they’ll be offering.

The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Combining tons of Victorian elegance, fun Disney touches, and state of the art technology The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are beautiful!

We had a chance to tour the model rooms at the Disney Vacation Club Walt Disney World Preview Center, and while some of the finishes may be different when the resort opens I know I can’t wait to see the finished product.

httpv://youtu.be/qg9IWD2UyuE

There are four room types at the Villas, and they all feature crown molding, granite countertops, and a mirror TV in each bathroom in addition to what guests have come to expect from staying in a Disney Vacation Club room.

Room Types Available At

The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:

Deluxe Studio

  • Sleeps up to 5
  • 1 queen-size bed, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk size bed
  • Kitchenette
  • Small refrigerator
  • Wet bar
  • Flat panel TV and Blu-ray™ player
  • Full bathroom with separate tub and shower
  • Private porch or balcony

One-Bedroom Villa

  • Sleeps up to 5
  • 1 king-size bed, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk-size bed
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove and oven
  • Washer and dryer
  • Flat panel TV and Blu-ray player
  • Freestanding tub with air jets
  • Walk-in shower
  • Private porch or balcony
The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will feature many of the amenities guests have come to love at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa…especially the larger selection of H2O products found in each bathroom.

Two-Bedroom Villa

  • Sleeps up to 9
  • 1 king-size bed, 2 queen-size beds, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk-size bed
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove and oven
  • Washer and dryer
  • Flat panel TV and Blu-ray player
  • Freestanding tub with air jets
  • Walk-in shower
  • Private porch or balcony

Three-Bedroom Grand Villa

  • Sleeps up to 12
  • 1 king-size bed, 4 queen-size beds, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove and oven
  • Laundry room with washer and dryer
  • 4 bathrooms – 1 with whirlpool tub and shower, 1 with shower only, and 2 with combination tub/shower
  • Media room with home theater system including flat panel TV and Blu-ray player
  • Flat panel TV in living room and each bedroom, with Blu-ray player in living room
  • Dining room with dining table and chairs
  • Private porch or balcony

Cheryl shared some thoughts comparing The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to Bay Lake Tower in this DVC post, and I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the completed project!

I hope that you enjoyed this look around The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and don’t forget to join us on October 23rd

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Escaping to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Lobby
Wilderness Lodge Lobby

When someone asks me what I love most about Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, I almost always answer with the way it transports me to a different time and place. Part of what vacation is to me is that escapism.

I live here in Florida and to me, the Wilderness Lodge is the Walt Disney World resort that most makes me feel like I am in a completely different place. Maybe it is partially because I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest and this may just be a respectable facsimile of the real thing, but I’d never know any better. To me, this resort epitomizes that portion of the country. It speaks of adventure in its cavernous lobby, dramatic background music, and lush non-tropical surroundings.

I heard someone say a while back that the resorts around the Magic Kingdom were loosely themed around lands of the park. The Grand Floridian correlates to the Victorian stylings of Main Street USA, the Polynesian is modeled after the tropical themes of Adventureland, the Contemporary reflects the clean modern lines of Tomorrowland, and Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge exude the rustic spirit of Frontierland. One can absolutely see the parallels between the western feel of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (the wildest ride in the WILDERNESS!!!) and the Wilderness Lodge. From the rockwork, to the animals carved into the lodge pole pine beams in the lobby to the elements of railroad in the decor, it isn’t hard to see that the Wilderness Lodge was designed with Frontierland in mind.

Part of what makes this resort so fantastic, is the feeling of being surrounded by nature and wilderness. There is a babbling brook, the Silver Spring, that starts in the lobby and trips over rocks and even small waterfalls until it empties onto the shores of Bay Lake. A geyser spouts off hot water and steam several times throughout the day, lending the resort the feel of a National Park. Pine trees are prevalent throughout the resort, and animals, or at least representations of them, can be seen from before you even enter the lobby. Topiaries of birds and buffalo greet guests before they pull up to the magnificent entrance to the resort of the Wilderness Lodge. Wildflowers bloom and grasses grow in a way that feels very natural to the landscape and not overly manicured by the fabulous horticultural team at Disney.

Wilderness Lodge exterior at night
Wilderness Lodge exterior at night

There are so many great spots to just relax and enjoy the scenery at this resort. It always makes me way to just pull up a rocking chair and read a book, whether by the pool, out on the upper level balcony off the lobby, or in one of the hidden nooks hidden above the entrance to the lobby. I find myself slowing down to enjoy this resort more than others.  The resort lends itself to a pace where you can amble along the shore of the lake to discover the path to Fort Wilderness. If you want, of course, you have many recreation activities at your disposal from boating to biking, spa services, fitness center, and the Magic Kingdom is just a short 5-10 minute boat ride away.

I can remember the first time I stayed at the Wilderness Lodge the week before Christmas in 2008. It was the first time I ever stayed club level and it was amazing. Although this is not my favorite overall resort, at Christmas it wins for me, hands down. I don’t know if it is the fireplace, or the absolutely perfect background music, or the incredible 7 story tall Christmas tree in the atrium lobby, but it all adds up to what Christmas looks, smells, sounds and feels like in my book. This is the resort I must visit at some point during the Christmas season above all others at Walt Disney World. Maybe this is partially why I have such a great connection to this resort, due to the first stay being so magical. I almost always stay in a Courtyard view room and have lucked out with views of Bay Lake each time. I’ve even before fortunate enough to be able to lay in bed to watch the Electrical Water Pageant cruise by at night and open the doors to my balcony to enjoy the show.

Wilderness Lodge room
Wilderness Lodge room

The accommodations are some of the most affordable in the Deluxe resort category at Walt Disney World, and that may have something to do with why I have stayed here more than any other resort, other than Pop Century. I have stayed at least once a year since 2008, and don’t see that changing any time soon. I adore the peacefulness I feel when I set foot in the lobby. I look up at the totems and remember hearing their stories from Ranger Joe several times. If you haven’t met the Rangers at the resort, make sure to take time out to take the Wilderness Lodge tour, which is given at least once a week typically around 10am. The animals carved into the poles representing the different levels of elevation they would be found at in the mountains are beautiful. Similarly, the effort that went into creating the amazing fireplace cannot go unnoticed. The rockwork (some real and some faux) is stunning! Layers of rock are stacked on top of each other representing different strata of the Grand Canyon.

If you get an opportunity to stay here, I highly recommend the Wilderness Lodge. If not, please at least take the time to explore the resort. Take a few hours and come early or stay late after a reservation for a lively meal at Whispering Canyon Cafe, or a nice quiet dinner at Artist Point, the resort’s signature dining restaurant. Or even just come to enjoy a night cap at the Territory Lounge, but please come. Examine the Native American artifacts like the recreated headdress in the lobby, the display cases on the upper level by hopping on the elevator to the 3 – 6th floors, or find those hidden seating areas above the entrance. There are so many places to explore, including one of my all time favorites, the Carolwood Pacific Room in the Villas. You can read more about some of my favorite Quiet Places to Relax here. I just stayed at the Wilderness Lodge again for the sixth time last week, and I have another reservation coming up in November when friends are in town to visit. I cannot stress enough what a fantastic resort this is and that everyone should stay here at some point. Have you stayed at the Wilderness Lodge? What did you think?

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Party In Your PJs With Puss In Boots At Gaylord Palms Resort

Gaylord Palms

 Party In Your PJs With Puss In Boots At Gaylord Palms Resort

Pack your favorite pajamas to party with the most darling swashbuckler and all around coolest cat in Central Florida! Gaylord Palms invites guests and their families to a brand new DreamWorks Experience, the Puss in Boots & Friends’ Purrrrrrfect Pajama Party. Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 16 because this exclusive event will take place one night only!

Guests have one chance to participate in this purrrrrrfect family friendly adventure. Clad in your party pjs enjoy an exclusive meet & greet with your most admired feline hero, Puss in Boots. Package guests will want to bring their DreamWorks autograph book amenity for this one – and don’t forget a camera! Tap into your creative genius by decorating and customizing your very own Puss in Boots pillowcase while snacking on cookies and leche (milk). The party continues outside at Gaylord Palms’ Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park as you settle in for a Splash ‘N’ Screen viewing of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.’s Academy Award® nominated film, Puss in Boots.

Upon check-in, children will get their paws on some special gifts including their very own magic beans and a memento from DreamWorks’ most recent film, Rise of the Guardians. Additionally, package guests will embark on an adventure like no other in the Rise of the GuardiansAdventure Scavenger Hunt. Join forces with Jack Frost and the legendary Guardians to solve exciting puzzles, crack codes and find the clues needed to defeat the evil spirit, Pitch, and his devious plan to engulf the world in darkness and fear. Are you brave enough to take the challenge?

Why let the fun stop there? For an additional charge, guests can start the next day with a ShrekFeast Interactive Character BreakfastKids will love becoming an honorary Ogre and joining Shrek and friends for a fairytale feast fit for a king. Tableside hugs included! This experience features a Magic Fountain bubbling over with intoxicating chocolate potions and Shrek-shaped waffles with syrup.

The feline fiesta is part of The DreamWorks Experience and takes place at Gaylord Palms on Saturday, March 16. Visit www.gaylordpalms.com today to book your Puss in Boots & Friends’ Purrrrrrfect Pajama Party package. Package rates start at $189 per night for a family of four (exclusive of tax, resort fees and parking).

Gaylord Palms Resort is located five minutes from the gates of Walt Disney World at 6000 W. Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746. For more information, visit www.gaylordpalms.com or call 407-586-2000.

Be sure to “Like” Gaylord Palms on Facebook to get the most up-to-date information and promotions!

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Grand Floridian Resort Lobby’s Hosts Some Beautiful Hidden Gems

Grand Floridian Resort Lobby’s Hosts Some Beautiful Hidden Gems

The other night I was wandering around the lobby at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and as I was listening to the band play I stumbled upon something that I had never seemed to notice before.

As I was admiring the amazing tiles that can be found in the Grand Floridian’s Lobby, I looked a little closer and noticed something for the first time.  Hidden in the marble and stone floors of the resort were some of my most favorite characters.  At first I only noticed the silhouettes of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto in the entry of the lobby.  But as I was about to head out to my car, a friendly Grand Floridian cast member, who had seen me admiring the floor of the lobby, asked me if I had seen the other characters around the lobby.  And when I said that I hadn’t seen any of the other characters, he gave me a detailed tour of the lobby and made sure that I saw all the other hidden characters.  Also hidden in the lobby were Tinkerbell, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Peter Pan and Cinderella dancing at the Ball.

One of my favorite details can be found just above where you find Cinderella at the ball. If you go up the staircase, you will find in the carpet that Cinderella’s Carriage is waiting to whisk her home from her night.

I was amazed that even after all the times, and the countless times that I had walked through the lobby of the Grand Floridan, that I had never seen these hidden gems.

It was a great way to explore the Grand Floridian in a way that I hadn’t done before, and now I can’t wait to explore other resorts to see if I can find other hidden characters and gems!

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My Happy Place – It Must Be the Dole Whips

The sounds of steel guitars and ukuleles skip across the lagoon and you immediately think “mahalo.” Sun sets off to your left as you sway peacefully in a hammock between two palm trees on the beach and you truly believe you are in heaven. To me, these are just a couple of the things I equate with my happy place, otherwise known as Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Now for those of you who don’t know, I love almost all things Hawaiian. My house is decorated in Hawaiiana, with tropical accents, travel posters, surf boards large and small, hibiscus prints, and even some vintage maps of the islands. This is right up my alley, but let me explain why so many others agree with me in choosing the Polynesian as their favorite deluxe resort at Walt Disney World.

Boutiki

One of three resorts that opened at WDW in 1971, along with the Contemporary and Fort Wilderness, this classic features some of the most beautiful landscaping on property. The resort is situated on the shores of the man made Seven Seas Lagoon and is directly across the lagoon from the Magic Kingdom. It is one of the three monorail resorts that is accessible to the Magic Kingdom, and it also offers boat transportation. I personally prefer the peaceful cruise by resort launch to the theme park as it relaxes me and is often less crowded than the monorails tend to be. The main building, the Great Ceremonial House, is home to the shops and restaurants as well as the front desk and monorail station. There are two shops on the first level in Boutiki and the Wyland Gallery. Boutiki is where you find mostly the latest and greatest Disney gifts and apparel in addition to resort specific merchandise. The Wyland Gallery is home to beautiful oceanographic art, some even featuring Disney characters in the paintings and sculptures. Upstairs you find Samoa Snacks (appropriately named for snacks and drinks) and Trader Jack’s which is aimed more at the kids with clothing, toys and games.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort features standard rooms that accommodate up to five guests plus an infant under three with two queen sized beds and a day bed, in addition to club level rooms and larger suites that can accommodate up to nine plus an infant. This is the only one of the deluxe resorts that can guarantee the bedding of two queens and a day bed, whereas it is a request at the other deluxe resorts aside from Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges which offer two queen beds standard. The rooms are some of the largest at WDW and offer a mini fridge, coffeemaker, ceiling fan, full bath, desk area, complimentary wifi, and either a patio or a balcony.

Polynesian bed
Polynesian room
Polynesian room looking towards patio
Polynesian room day bed
Polynesian bathroom vanity
Polynesian fridge area
Polynesian room closets
Polynesian bathroom
Polynesian toilet room
Polynesian bathroom shower
Polynesian room tiki lamp
Polynesian room patio

A great draw to the resort is the variety of restaurants and bars between the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (a luau!!!), ‘Ohana, Kona Cafe, Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar, Capt. Cook’s, Barefoot Pool Bar, Tambu Lounge, and of course, private dining. Now, being that this is my favorite resort in all of Walt Disney World, I have experienced the majority of these dining experiences with the exception of ‘Ohana for the character breakfast, Kona Cafe for lunch and private dining (WDW’s nomenclature for room service).

Spirit of Aloha
Kona Cafe
Capt. Cook’s
‘Ohana

The Spirit of Aloha in Luau Cove was a great time with good food and fun for kids and the adults with a story at the beginning and more adult geared cultural information and dances towards the end of the show. Capt. Cook’s is a wonderful counter service location on the first level of the Great Ceremonial House, and is one of only a handful on property that is open 24 hours (the grill is usually closed from 11pm to 6:30am). One of my favorite things ever is here in the self serve dole whip, which you can get in either pineapple, vanilla, or my favorite twist. I have been known to take my dole whip creating to a whole new level. 😉

Kona Cafe is located on the second level of the Great Ceremonial House and features awesome meals for breakfast like the infamous Tonga Toast (which you can also get at Capt. Cook’s), a thick slice of sourdough bread stuffed with sauteed bananas and covered in cinnamon sugar. Another great breakfast find is Kona coffee in a French press and the pineapple macadamia nut pancakes. Lunch and dinner offer nice salads, sandwiches, pot stickers, coconut chicken and an awesome teriyaki strip steak. The adjacent Kona Island Coffee Bar in the morning and Sushi Bar at night, shares the same menu and also offers a few other grab and go items in the morning. The tuna poke at the Sushi Bar is one of my go to quick, but delicious sushi meals on property. It is awesome being able to watch the sushi chefs prepare your meal right in front of you if you are lucky enough to get a seat right at the counter.

Tonga Toast
Kona Cafe pineapple macadamia nut pancakes
Kona coffee
Kona Island Sushi Bar tuna poke

Now if you like meat ‘Ohana is the place for you to go for dinner. The restaurant has an open concept and serves their meals family style, bringing the meat straight from the open wood fire grills. Shrimp, pork, chicken and beef are served off of giant skewers that are brought table side by the servers. Side dishes are just as tasty as the meats and accompanying dipping sauces. The salad features a honey lime vinaigrette that is one of the best in my opinion. Coconut bread, asian noodles, pot stickers and broccoli are also served with the meal. And then comes dessert. The bread pudding. Oh my goodness the bread pudding. Now in general, I am not a fan of bananas cooked in things or banana flavored food, despite the fact I love bananas themselves, but the bread pudding at ‘Ohana and the Tonga Toast at either Capt. Cook’s or Kona seem to be the exception to the rule. I don’t know what they do to it, but that bread pudding is magical. Thank goodness it is all you care to eat because you will be asking (maybe even begging) for more! As I mentioned, I haven’t had the breakfast at ‘Ohana, but I have heard great things about it and have snuck in to take a few pictures for the sake of reporting back to you fine folks. It looks like it is a great time with Mickey and friends (please be aware characters may vary), which on the day I visited featured Mickey in a very festive Hawaiian shirt as well as Pluto, Lilo and Stitch.

‘Ohana breakfast
‘Ohana breakfast view
‘Ohana asian noodles and broccoli
‘Ohana dinner bread pudding

Tambu Lounge is probably my favorite place to stop for an adult beverage at Disney World. It offers great views of the grounds and even a peek at Cinderella Castle across the lagoon. On top of this, it also is home to one of my favorite drinks, the backscratcher. This is not for the faint of heart as it consists of rum, more rum and some Jack Daniels, along with some tropical fruit juice and is typically garnished with an orange, a cherry, and of course a backscratcher. No, I’m not kidding. The drink is served in a hurricane type glass and comes with a backscratcher, which is usually placed in your drink by the bartender. It is fruity, but not too sweet, and hits the spot if you are just looking for a nice drink to help you unwind while in this tropical paradise. They also make a killer zombie as well as the standard fare found in almost all the bars across property. If pool bars are more your thing, check out the Barefoot Pool Bar for gorgeous views of the Nanea Volcano Pool and the beach as well as the Magic Kingdom. If mom and dad want to have an evening to themselves while enjoying a few cocktails they can always look into enrolling the kids (ages 3-12) at the Neverland Club from 4pm – 12am. This is the Children’s Activity Center located right at the Polynesian and offers a kid’s club atmosphere with dinner, snack, movies, games, arts and crafts (call for pricing). Hey, parents are on vacation too you know!

Tambu Lounge
Backscratcher
Zombie
The Neverland Club
Nanea volcano pool

Speaking of pools, the Polynesian offers two: the aforementioned Nanea Volcano Pool, which is the main theme pool complete with a slide running down the volcano and zero entry at one end, and the quiet pool. For views, I don’t think the main pool can be beat with a beautiful panorama of the beach and lagoon as well as a direct sight line to Cinderella Castle. The only thing I feel the resort is lacking is a hot tub. They offer great private cabanas with poolside service, restrooms and showers by the pool, hammocks on the beach, lounge chairs and the bar. Other recreation options at the resort can be found in pool activities and games like trivia, name that tune, diving for toys in the pool and dance parties. The resort also has its own marina, called the Mikala Canoe Club. Sea Raycers, pontoon boats, Boston Whalers, sailboats and bicycles can all be rented here. For those who favor more of the indoor activities, the Polynesian also has an arcade called Moana Mickey’s, which is next to Capt. Cook’s on the first level of the Great Ceremonial House.

Mikala Canoe Club

The beach at the Polynesian is beautiful and offers sweeping views of the Magic Kingdom resort area with the Wedding Pavilion and Grand Floridian to the left, the Magic Kingdom straight ahead, and Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary to the right. One activity that I love to partake in when I stay at the Polynesian is the nightly movie on the beach. Each night (subject to cancellation due to inclement weather), the resort inflates a large movie screen and sets up lounge chairs on the beach for guests to watch a Disney movie free of charge. This is a great way to spend a nice evening at the resort relaxing after being on the go in the parks all day. Sometimes they even set up a small fire pit and sell smores kits or marshmallows to roast. Another classic, not to be missed nighttime display is the Electrical Water Pageant, which has been around since the 1970s, shortly after the resort opened. If you are lucky, you may even be able to time it right to where you can see Wishes from the beach of the Polynesian with the water pageant in front of you. Talk about magic!!!

combing the polynesian beach
Electrical water pageant and Wishes
Lobby
Polynesian beach featuring my hammock

I don’t know what it is about this resort that makes it just feel like home to me. Maybe it is the welcoming smell of grilled meats and the flickering tiki torches along with the mellifluous sounds of familiar (to me) Hawaiian music. Or it could be that I have a hammock on the beach that I have claimed as my own and I have spent many hours there enjoying the sounds of the faint train whistle off in the distance of the Magic Kingdom across the water. Perhaps it is the aesthetically pleasing tropical decor found across the common areas of the resort and in the rooms. Backscratchers are always a compelling draw, but no, I think it must be the dole whips. 🙂

me making my dole whip
me eating my dole whip
me with dole whip
dole whip

 

Please check out my youtube video of some more pictures from the Polynesian.

 

 

 

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