Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Resort Review: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

As promised, next up is my review of the Grand Floridian!

We stayed here in November of 2015. See? We don't go every year! We skipped 2016! Ha!

Once again, we arrived at night, so my pictures are a bit dark. All of the photos from all of these posts have been iPhone photos as well, so they aren't perfect, but you get the idea.

The lobby of the GF is by far and away the most impressive of the big three. It's stunning. You're often serenaded by live piano music, and it all just feels so grand. For some, that has been a complaint - that it all feels too grand, and even a bit stuffy. Just something to keep in mind.

Once again, the bedroom has a similar layout to both the Contemporary and the Poly. I'll go ahead and tell you now that the GF was by far my least favorite. I know. There are people (many that I know!) who absolutely LOVE it. In theory, this should be my favorite hotel. But it's just not. It's not only my least favorite of the big three, it's my least favorite of all the Disney hotels that I have stayed at AND visited. I know. I'm sorry.

Take all this with a grain of salt. We all have different opinions. I'll tell you why it was my least favorite though. First, the decor is lacking. It's doesn't really feel Disney to me. It's very...sparse feeling. It also feels old and tired, even though it's been refurbished. They could have done a MUCH better job in my opinion. The mauve and taupe color scheme just isn't for me.

The lighting in the bathroom was really poor. If you're practically blind, like me, this is a much bigger deal than it sounds like.

The balcony seemed (and in fact, I believe was) much smaller than the other two. It also feels super closed off for some reason. Many rooms had big pine trees obstructing their view of the magic kingdom. 

For good measure, here's the hall and front door.

The pool was nice, and my kids enjoyed it. We had a very hard time finding anywhere to sit as people had places towels over most of the chairs and then apparently left the area (while still claiming their chairs). I've heard that this is a big problem on cruises as well. There also isn't much shade. That said, the pool is still leaps and bounds better than the one at the Contemporary.

Finally, I had to share this, because I love it. If you're there during Christmas, they construct a life-sized gingerbread house. They sell shingles in the store just around the corner and they're great! You can even get them dipped in chocolate!

I'll be sharing more reviews, including a review of our afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian, soon! Let me know if you have any questions, or topics you'd like me to cover!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Resort Review: Disney's Contemporary Resort

Next up is my review of the Contemporary. I knew we would either love it or hate it, and I was honestly afraid that we might hate it. Why? Because I stayed here twenty something years ago when I was in the 5th grade. I can't believe I'm old enough to say I did something twenty plus years ago. Insert crying emoji here.

Anyway, I was nervous because my mom still talks about how loud the hotel was and how the Chef Mickey music woke us up at 6am every day (which was like 3am for us because we lived in California then). 

The check in process for our split stay was smooth. They texted us that our new room was ready along with the room number, floor number and a map. We still stopped in at the online check-in desk anyway. They were very polite and a manager came over to say hello and to make sure we were all taken care of.  Fantastic customer service yet again! 

So, again, we had a theme park view room, and the layout was almost identical to the layout at the Poly. The room is a bit more spacious though, and those couple of extra feet really do make a difference in the feel of the room. 

Again, we had two queen beds and the sofa (and again, the boys had to take turns because they both wanted it). We also had a large desk area with a mirror which is where I dried and curled my hair.  

The bathroom layout was a bit different. Gone was the spacious countertop, which was replaced with two very modern sinks. We developed a wet/dry system. One was used for water, the other for my makeup, ha! I had to put it somewhere!

The toilet was also in it's own room here as opposed to being right out in the open.

The entry, which I didn't really show in my post of the Poly was actually the same.

One negative difference was how looooow the ceilings are here. I actually cut my hand while wildly gesturing around. Of course, I'm so accident prone that its debilitating so there's no real surprise there. I'm probably the only person in the history of this hotel to pull that off.

(Sidenote: If you've never seen the video of the Contemporary being build you should watch it! It's on YouTube. They slid the rooms in like pods. It's really cool!).

I don't know if this is typical or not, but when we got to our room we had this great little welcome platter! One strawberry is missing because Chris got to it before I could snap a picture. ;-)

And here is my number one drawback...After staying at the Poly, this view is a bit lacking during the day. If you try to sit outside on the balcony, you're flooded with traffic noise and noise from the conference center below. The busses all stop right below you, so you have the vehicle noise and the people noise from that as well. It's definitely not the peaceful experience you get at the Poly.

Speaking of drawbacks, I have to mention the pool. It's awful. Chris took the kids one day while I was packing (we were leaving the next day) and they came back pretty disappointed. It was small, cold and chockfull of leaves, which explains why they were the only ones out there. Literally - no one else was there except a lifeguard. 

But on the flip side, the nighttime view from the Contemporary can't be beat!! (No zoom with this shot!).

Gorgeous! Also, you get all the sound from Wishes too, so you feel like you're right there in the park!

Our room was #4737 on the 11th floor which is the highest non-club level floor there. It was dead center of the building, right next to the elevators (the noise wasn't bad from that...but we sleep with a sound machine on via an app on our phones).

We never heard a peep from Chef Mickey's which was awesome! The rooms farther down would have had an even closer view than this.

After I post about the Grand Floridian I will be sharing my favorite Disney hotel thus far. I'm also going to include some info about our previous stays and some hotels we visited this trip (Wilderness Lodge, Caribbean Beach and Port Orleans Riverside). Be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Disney Review: The Polynesian Hotel

As the title implies, we visited Disney again this year! I posted all about it on Instagram but I received some requests for blog posts with more details than I could put on Insta, so I decided to do a series on our Disney trip to answer some of those questions. If you have any Disney related questions, you can send me an email or leave a comment on this post and I'll do my best to answer it! I have never been on a Disney cruise so I can't answer anything pertaining to those. ;-)

This year we did a split stay. We spent four nights at the Polynesian and three at the Contemporary. I will also be reviewing the Grand Floridian since we stayed there in November of 2015 and I never posted about it. These are the "big three" - the three hotels that are directly on the monorail that runs to Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center (where you can catch the other monorail line to Epcot).

I always check-in online prior to arriving at a Disney resort, and I had requested a specific building with a theme park view (since we had a theme park view room anyway). I found out that we didn't get the building I requested but I am SO GLAD! We ended up in the very best building they have (in my opinion). Here's a map with the layout of the Poly (I took a picture of it while we were there). 

We were put in Tuvalu, room 3414. I highly recommend this room. When looking at the map above, Tuvalu is the top left building and our room was the top right corner room. You'll see our view later. 

Back to check-in. This is the lobby at night, when we arrived. It's a beautiful lobby - smaller than the Grand Floridian or even than the Animal Kingdom Lodge (review HERE), but very pretty.  Check-in was a very smooth process, and they even gave both boys a Stitch! The night manager came over, and noticing the boys had their pin-trading lanyards on, gave them each a free pin!

I totally forgot to take my own pictures of our room, but these pictures from Disney's website are completely accurate. This is exactly what our room looked like on the inside:

We had two queen beds, a soft that folded out into a bed that our boys LOVED and took turns sleeping on, a deck (we were on the third floor, which is the top floor of Tuvalu) and a bathroom that looked just like the photo below.

There are two closets and a dresser under the tv with plenty of storage space for all of our stuff. Unlike most hotels, they actually provide plenty of hangers which is helpful!

The bathroom is also spacious with a good amount of counter space. The lighting is even pretty decent!

Our stay in Tuvalu was so peaceful. Chris took the kids to the pool twice in our four days there while I sat out on our balcony and watched the boats go by. It was so incredibly calm and beautiful. We watched the fireworks and the electrical water pageant from our balcony each night too:

Neither of these pictures are zoomed in! We really had a fantastic view from our room. The only views that would have been closer were from the bungalows and possibly Moorea - but their view would have been semi obstructed by the bungalows. 

Funny side note: We have never watched the fireworks from inside the park. I know. We're weird. But really, we hate crowds and the mad scramble to find a spot and then get out of the parks is just too much for me to be honest. We've always watched it from views like this instead. We actually have watched it twice from the monorail and once from inside Cinderella's castle.

Another thing I managed to not photograph is the pool (you can google it and see tons of great photos). It's a FANTASTIC pool! Our kids had a BLAST there! I stayed in the room most of the time when they went swimming because I burn easily and there wasn't a ton of shade. Also, I was battling bronchitis and really just needed to rest a bit! Once I did go sit in the outside seating area of the quick service restaurant which is located just outside of the pool area and I was able to watch them playing and going down the slide while I relaxed (Chris was with them). 

Another added benefit (of the silly variety) of staying at the Poly, is that you have access to the famous Dole Whip. There's a Pineapple Lanai right at the hotel (near the pool, no less) and yes, you can use snack credit's for them!

Also at the Poly are a couple of cute stores, a small grocery type store (they have refrigerated cases with salami, cheese milk, etc, and dry goods as well), and a variety of restaurants (our favorite being O'hana). I'll be sharing more about our dining experiences in another post.

If you have any questions about the Polynesian or requests of things for me to include in my upcoming Disney posts, please let me know! I'll be covering The Grand Floridian, The Contemporary, all of our dining, rides, park recommendations etc in upcoming posts. I may also include a Q&A post if I receive enough questions! =)

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