Archive for December 2014

Grand Floridian - Garden View Tea Room

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What were two ladies to do? The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party didn’t “technically” begin until 7PM and we wanted to do our best to avoid the crowd overlap (day guests and party crowd) as much as possible. We needed a big meal, not in size, but in wow factor to set the tone for this holiday getaway.

Enter, Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Firstly, we loved Basin (specifically, our hearts swooned for the grapefruit salt scrub). The grandeur of this lobby will stop you in your hurried tracks on a normal day, but with the holiday in full effect, well, we stopped to snap photos of the main attraction from every angle. That tree with all her glorious Victorian themed goodness that my mother in law would simply love, save for the abundance of subtle bird theme throughout, literally took our breath away. The Grand Floridian’s tree was certainly grand in all ways.

The smell of the perfect in every way Gingerbread House hits you the moment you walk in. Turns out Kerry isn't too keen on that syrupy smell, but how can you not be completely taken by this little house. It's not so little, we joked our two year old niece could live inside quite comfortably. There was a line around the house to purchase holiday treats being sold out a window.

We checked in about 10 minutes early for our 4:05 ADR at the Garden View Tea Room and were told they were running a bit behind and would seat us as soon as possible. We were encouraged to enjoy the lobby while we waited. We took photos in front of the gingerbread house like Hansel and Gretel out for a stroll, hungry for just one bite. We were so smitten with the Grand that we had figuratively forgotten about that trail of tea scones until our bellies started to rumble. We waited a bit before planting ourselves beside the podium watching the guests inside lingering a bit too long over their tea, taking photos, soaking in the atmosphere. Who could blame them! The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra filed into place on the second level and this was the moment I had been envisioning; this grand setting, the festive near electric atmosphere off the lobby, the faint smell of gingerbread and that orchestra playing. It was perfection, except for one thing, we weren’t sitting yet and it was getting on towards 4:20.
In my head a big red “x” formed marking this waiting time as the first strike, until we were ushered into big comfy chairs at a table for four and our knowledgeable server knocked our socks off (if we had been wearing socks). Riley sized us up quickly. She knew we had been waiting, she sensed the need for bubbly, and she helped to personalize our Princess Kate Tea more to our taste so fast our head was spinning and it wasn’t from the champagne. We switched out the first course to sandwiches and chose a truly special Chai tea and the Eros for a seasonal citrus vanilla taste.

The sandwiches were yummy, though we felt somewhat lackluster. The standout for me was the curry chicken of the three choices (cucumber and egg salad). Any meh feeling completely went up in smoke when the cheese course arrived. Comprised of poached pears, walnuts, locally sourced honey with comb, cheddar biscuits, raisins on the vine, fig cake and three cheese choices; a stilton, a brie with mushroom  and a three cheddar wedge, this plate made us swoon and honest to goodness filled us to overflowing. Imagine our horrification when Riley informed us that, “ladies, you still have two course to go.” How could that possibly be?
We moved the plates the table beside us and made room for a strawberry tart and gingerbread scone with butter, strawberry jam, and apple butter. I adore gingerbread, but my sister in law is less keen because it borders on too sweet for her. The double strawberry on the plate seemed a bit too much strawberry, but the scone was perfect and warm and absorbed the apple butter with gusto. We were plain overstuffed and each had a bite for taste and moved it alongside the cheese plate to clear room on the table to bring the final course.

There were choices for dessert and we chose pastries; a chocolate ├ęclair, a lemon custard swan, and a white chocolate covered strawberry that was so divinely juicy and candy covered that we both forced ourselves to finish it.
We were quite pleased with our Garden View Tea Room experience. We felt thoroughly spoiled, full, and this certainly seemed more like an experience rather than a meal. Kerry has an affinity for all things London and lived there for a bit in college. She deemed this tea the "best tea" she has ever had! I'd say that is reason enough to encourage you to make some time for this in your next itinerary. This is not to be squeezed in, leave time to enjoy and digest, we both feel quite confident that you will not be disappointed.

We departed the Grand Floridian just before 6PM to head to the Christmas Party via monorail. We might as well have rolled each other out the door we were so full. From tea. We imagined telling my husband we were too full to finish our tea In reality when I was sharing this story with him, he did not believe me. Full from TEA!

Monorail to Magic Kingdom!

*Avoid the crowd overlap as much as possible IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A DAY TICKET. As tempting as it sounds to gain entrance to the park earlier than 7pm, without a day ticket and later in the day fast passes pre-arranged, the park can feel VERY busy and you could be looking at some long lines, not a lot of walking space, and some waiting around to do until the day guests file out.

*Photo Pass Photographers were available in the Grand Floridian Lobby!

*Listen to Riley, that Chai with the addition of just a tiny bit of cream (NOT MILK) will change your life. In fact, ASK for RILEY. She was incredible in all ways.

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Truly genuine

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Without fail, days before an event or a trip, Steve will pepper me with questions. Days before our wedding he asked for a complete run down of what the flowers  would look like, what colors, where would they be? 

I know. 

It was not surprising at all when last night he posed this one, "so I saw your itinerary and you guys are only going to one park???" 

Yes, we have one true park day on this two days and three nights adventure. It's full of extras and add ons that most people might overlook or skip completely on their visits because of one singular thing; they are too busy at the parks to pay attention. 

I gave him my best defense, we don't need a park, we have the spa! I detailed all the gingerbread, the treats, the snow on Main Street. I went so far as to show him the castle lit up in dream lights and said, "I can't wait to show this to Kerry!" 

My travel partner and I had a quick "wardrobe and expectations" call earlier this week. She is an immensely talented writer and I am hoping she might loan me her skills for a short piece on something about this experience. She asked me what I would like her to be tuned into, watching for, seeking out. I had no answer because I just don't want to ruin it for her. I want her true and genuine reaction to everything. People who love Disney say they cannot wait to bring their kids! I love bringing my kids and this weekend, my sister in law will be soaking in this experience much like a kid, at heart anyway. I am so looking forward to making magical memories with her and relishing in that breathtaking moment when she sees that unbelievable castle.  

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