My girlfriend will be along for this update.
We’ll join her and Mary Poppins at the Grand Floridian Resort to check out 90% of Disney’s current construction projects.
Construction of the Grand Flo Villas seems to be going well, though it’s rare to actually see anyone working on them.
Not that it does many of us any good, but DVC here is slated for a late 2013 open.
I would guess that means early November. This could be it for a while on the DVC front – soft occupancy numbers have the suits concerned. But DVC revenue is a major driving force in the Parks and Resorts segment. Erase new DVC down payments and that segment looks weak, resulting in lower earnings forecasts and a lower stock price. So on one hand Disney would like to build DVC units at Fort Wilderness, the Polynesian, and elsewhere, but they also need people to purchase those units. And while South American attendance is only going up, less than 2% of DVC sales come from down south.
The view from your $932/night Standard Club Level room.
I’m sure it will all fit in once it’s completed.
Not so sure what they’re up to here. The beach area has been walled off for months and months.
With Gasparilla Grill and (No) Games reopening last month, Mizner’s Lounge has returned to its former glory. They now serve a limited food menu in addition to the standard drink menu.
You may remember that Disney moved Gasparilla’s tables and chairs into Mizner’s while Gasparilla was closed for refurbishment.
Otherwise, most of the main building is as we left it.
Sandy Cove was closed for refurbishment for some amount of time some amount of time ago, but has reopened with a much brighter look.
The lighting in here used to be pretty depressing.
Some of this resort merchandise is new…I think. I don’t remember all the brown stuff – mugs, bags, and shirts.
Not sure if that means we’ll be seeing a lot of brown at the DVC.
The original cream, blue, and pink merchandise seemed to fit the theme better.
With Kodak’s sponsorship going the way of Bell System’s, I wonder if Disney will continue selling the disposable cameras that nobody has used since the Bar Mitzvah circuit of 2004.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is Disney’s Flagship Resort and their Courtyard Pool smack dab in the middle of it has been behind these construction walls since August 24th.
It won’t reopen until the end of March. Universal is basically building the entire Transformers attraction in less time than it takes Disney to refurbish a quiet pool.
No restaurants in the DVC right?
Victoria & Albert’s:
Not even sure where to start.
Grand Floridian Cafe lunch:
I have a signed bottle of Lasseter Paysage I can open if anyone wants to come over. It’s better than Cars 2, but not by much.
The layout of the Grand Floridian Resort has always confused me a bit. Gasparilla Grill, the resort’s quick service, is located outside the main building. Well, it’s part of the main building, but you have to go outside to go inside it. Unless you’re dropping $72,000 for a room in the main building, it’s probably more convenient.
Gasparilla Grill and Games is now Gasparilla Island Grill.
The arcade portion is now much smaller and detached from the main dining room. This is by far the smallest arcade I’ve seen on property and one has to wonder if all arcades are on their way out.
Inside, the area is much more pleasant.
It used to look like this.
NASCAR sat right next to you while you tried to enjoy your lobster mac & cheese.
The new version is 1000x classier with posh chairs, chandeliers, and a brighter atmosphere.
New menu (some of the items on the right change even if the other items don’t):
And I apparently missed descriptions of items 1 through 3, even if the pictures are there. They are a:
Sirloin Swiss French Dip – Shaved Roast Beef, Swiss Cheese, and Onion Frites on a French Roll with Au Jus and French Fries – $8.99.
Vegetable Lasagna topped with Parmesan Cheese and served with Garlic Ciabatta Bread – $6.99.
Shrimp Stir Fry – Coconut Rice Topped with Shrimp and Peppers in a Garlic Ginger Sauce $8.49.
They had a nice presentation of the side dishes on the left along with the Kids Picks items and soups (soup of the day or chicken noddle).
Unfortunately, none of the items served out at the pool bar during Gasparilla’s refurbishment were added:
Several of those items, including the Crab Cake Sandwich pictured above, seemed more upscale than a Pork Flatbread or Reuben Hot Dog. And the Crab Cake Sandwich was quite good. All of the lobster items are off the menu. Word is that they had to throw out pounds and pounds of lobster in order to make the Lobster Macaroni & Cheese and Lobster Cobb Salad. One would think they could either make less or simply share product with Citricos upstairs or Narcoossee’s outside. But that makes too much sense doesn’t it?
I opted for the Shrimp Stir Fry this trip – Coconut rice topped with Shrimp and Peppers in a Garlic Ginger Sauce – $8.49.
They could have done a lot more with this one. There are six small-ish shrimp on the left. All of the dried coconut was bunched up on this side as well – making me think it was an afterthought merely sprinkled on top of the rice. It’s otherwise a lot of pepper on a bed of tasteless rice. The sauce had a bit of a tang, but there was nothing unique about it. It wasn’t a particularly filling meal and one of the worst I’ve had at the resorts, which usually serve better food than the theme parks. I think people staying at the Grand Floridian should expect some swankier items at their quick service. The Create Your Own Salad is a nice option, but they don’t even offer shrimp or salmon like they do at other resorts – only chicken or beef. Weird considering my shrimp stir fry.
The Tabbouleh Pita was better. I wouldn’t expect that a less than stellar meal at Gasparilla would be a deal breaker for anyone considering the Grand Floridian, but if you’re planning to visit the Monorail Deluxes, I’d plan a meal at Kona Cafe Sushi Bar, Contempo Cafe, or Captain Cook’s if you’re looking to do quick service. Lunch at Kona Cafe, The Wave, and Grand Floridian Cafe is also fairly inexpensive.
On the plus side, the interior redesign makes the space much more pleasant.
And of course, the seating area overlooking the water is still beautiful.
Narcoossee’s is also located out on the water to the right of the boat dock that takes guests to Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Resort.
Pricing is similar to Le Cellier, which we saw now has a more expensive “all day menu.” Since Narcoossee’s is outside of the theme parks at a ritzier locale, it would probably be a “nicer” meal. On the other hand, Le Cellier is so dark that other visitors won’t be able to see your Donald hat and Mickey Crocs. Just don’t talk about them because the tables are right on top of each other.
Another pleasant visit to the Grand Floridian, which isn’t as high brow as one might expect. Most of the people staying here probably can’t really afford it either. In the evening, things definitely “feel” a little more upscale though. That isn’t a bad thing by any means, but keep in mind that hundreds of people are going to be around dressed up for dinner at some of Disney’s most expensive restaurants.
The Polynesian remains my favorite Disney resort, but I would never pay that much money to stay there!
Changing gears, we’ll head over to Hollywood Studios, where the RFID turnstile conversion continues.
It’s been about five weeks since I’ve set foot in Hollywood Studios, but it might as well have been five years.
Nothing has changed.
Nothing is coming.
Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend was significantly busier than Disney was expecting, to the point where more people passed through Magic Kingdom’s turnstiles by 10:40am yesterday (Monday) than they were expecting for the entire day. Peak waits were: Dumbo: 110 minutes; Jungle Cruise: 90; Space Mountain: 140; Big Thunder: 120; Barnstormer: 70; Peter Pan’s Flight Pan: 90, Pooh: 75; Journey of the Little Mermaid: 120; Enchanted Tales with Belle: 70. Disney extended the close at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom on Saturday on the day of. They extended the close at Magic Kingdom on Sunday and today (Tuesday) as well. Crowds at all four Parks have been thousands higher than expected each of the last four days. Blame the College Program, South American tour groups, and the holiday. Things should die down by Thursday as we move into what is historically one of the least crowded weeks of the year. This past December was the busiest on record. January is looking to be the same.
Studios’ crowds eased in the afternoon – this is a 30 minute wait for Tower of Terror at 4pm.
But it “felt” quite busy at times as the tour groups marched around in waves. The tour groups clear out just in time for President’s Day Weekend.
Disney may have gotten a little too aggressive with their theater roll out of Disney classics in 3D. The Little Mermaid 3D was recently canceled.
Disney Jr. Live on Stage is closed for refurbishment through February 13th. Sophia and Doc McStuffins are slated to join the cast. I still haven’t seen a single piece of merchandise in the Parks for either.
Ralph and Vanellope continue greeting in the Animation Academy to lines that seem to be getting shorter. They continue greeting through 6pm. Sorcerer Mickey meets through close and Frozone and Mr. Incredible meet until at least 5:45pm. Visit after 5pm to find shorter waits without wasting time first thing in the morning. Lines are longest from 10am – 4pm.
Okay, I lied. This poster is new. The film comes out in November. Hopefully it was cheap to produce.
Merida merchandise is virtually gone from the Parks. Other than these dolls, there wasn’t any outside Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Today at The Emporium at Magic Kingdom, I didn’t see any.
This is the line for that Pirates of the Caribbean thing that we visited in November. This is easily a 45+ minute wait. It’s worth waiting 15 minutes for in the afternoon, but not much more than that. Unfortunately, the name recognition has caused waits to be 30 minutes most of the day with the extremely limited capacity. You can guarantee that virtually nobody knows what they’re in line for. Most visitors are going to want to prioritize Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror in the morning. Assuming you FASTPASS Toy Story Mania for around 9:45am – 10:45am, you could do Pirates after riding the three headliners in the standby lines on your way back to Toy Story. Otherwise, save it for as late in the evening as possible. Afternoon waits are going to be 20 to 45 minutes.
A 105 minute posted wait.
With an actual wait closer to 45.
A sizable crowd for the Backlot Tour right before it stops accepting people at 4:45pm.
Conversely, five people in line for the Cars meet.
Closer to 15 minutes for Phineas and Ferb.
As close as I’m getting to being on stage at Jedi Training Academy.
With a 20 minute wait at Star Tours.
Bus stops. Sorry the Studios update wasn’t more exciting. I’m trying to think of what could bring us back. Star Wars Weekends in May?
Oh, here are some 2013 plates.
The Magic Kingdom update may be slightly more interesting.