Today was our last full day of our honeymoon, and we jammy packed it with activities. Unfortunately, we had a pretty awful experience during our one and only night at the Grand Floridian, but we didn’t let it ruin the whole day.
We woke up, I had the last of the cake topper for breakfast, and we said goodbye to our animal buddies outside the room at Animal Kingdom Villas. Then we packed all our luggage into the O Mobile and headed for the Grand Floridian for the free night they gave us for having a Disney wedding. I was awestruck when we pulled up to the hotel and a Concierge rep walked up to us and asked if we were Carrie and Patrick. Patrick pointed out that they’d seen our names at the guard gate and probably radioed ahead, but I was convinced we’d been recognized like celebrities.
The woman checking us in escorted us from the valet stand up to the concierge check-in desks on the fifth floor (Tip: I am super-cheap about valet and I never do it, even in LA, but we used valet at the Grand Floridian – the self-park lot is FAR away! I think it might technically be inside Ft. Wilderness… Both CMs were busy, so our escort took us to a sitting area and checked us in using all the documents on her clipboard – cool! I tried to get a turret suite, I really did, but she said they were all occupied. Boo!
We got immediate access to the concierge lounge, even though our room wasn’t ready, so we went down to the fourth floor for FREE BREAKFAST!
After breakfast (or Breakfast No. 2, if you count stale wedding cake) we walked around the entire fourth floor taking pictures because, well, not just anybody gets to take 86 bazillion pictures of hotel room doors and the lobby from the Concierge level.
Before heading out, we checked out the beach pool area (but all we have to show for it is this picture of a lamppost):
Then we were off to our date with an Imagineer! My co-workers gave us Dining with an Imagineer as a shower present a week before we left, and I managed to get the last two slots on the last available day during our trip. The lunch was held in the private Bamboo Room at the Brown Derby in DHS – a room, it turned out, our Imagineer helped design!
I guess they do these “private” lunches in groups of eight. It was us and a big family who seemed to think that dining with an Imagineer living in Orlando could help their daughter break into acting in Hollywood. As it turned out, our Imagineer (who was actually named Steve, my favorite nickname for any animal I meet) had dabbled briefly in acting, so his advice was along the lines of “Only do it if you really have absolutely nothing else you want to do, and you have a backup plan.” What’s funny is that his backup plan turned out to be Imagineering—while most of us can only dream of being an Imagineer!
Patrick and I, being the Disney nerds that we are, peppered Steve with insider questions about future and shelved projects, most of which he was forbidden to answer. Poop! We got used to hearing “I can neither confirm nor deny that…” He did tell us neat stories about his first Imagineering job (doing the African Outpost at Epcot) and his favorite job (decorating Castaway Cay). As it turns out, he was also the lead designer of Typhoon Lagoon, but I didn’t hold it against him…
Meanwhile, our waiter was delivering course after course of great Brown Derby food. I felt bad for Steve because his job was to talk to us the whole time, so he hardly had a chance to eat. At the end of each course, the waiter would come over to take his untouched plate, and he’d shovel in a bite or two and say, “Oh! Mmm! Delicious… now where was I?” I noticed a few longing glances at the food each time it was carried away.
We started with the Roasted Parsnip Soup with carmelized beet emulsion and chervil creme fraiche, followed by the Famous Brown Derby Cobb Salad, with a choice of three entrees: Grilled New York Strip Steak, Pan-Fired Black Grouper or the Noodle Bowl. The only thing I got a picture of was the Grapefruit Cake dessert, since I wasn’t eating it:
I think our lunch ran about a half an hour over (it was 2 1/2 hours all together), but Steve had arrived a little late because of some project he’d been working on. At the end he autographed a glass plate for each of us, and we got to take pictures with him.
Patrick and I wanted to get outta Hollywood Studios and back to the Grand Floridian as fast as possible, so we used the Rockin’ Rollercoaster FASTPASSes we’d collected earlier and picked up two souvenirs I’d been eyeing: a black-and-silver Star Wars shirt and two Mickey-glove oven mitts.
When we were poking around the Grand Floridian in September, on our Planning Session trip, we got to chat with the famous Grand Floridian greeter who shows up in many brides’ pictures because he helps carry their trains or get them in and out of vehicles. Two days after we got home, there was a news story about the long-time greeter at the Grand Floridian passing away. We were so sad… Well when we got back to the Grand Floridian this day, there he was! I guess he isn’t a long-time greeter at the Grand Floridian. Maybe he was recently transferred from the High School Musical Extravaganza… At any rate, we were so excited, we had to get a picture with him.
Before we headed to the room, I came up with the ultimate test of Concierge service and asked the CM for a lunch reservation at Le Cellier the next day. No dice… Harrumph – some $900 Concierge service that turned out to be!
We’d been assigned a room on the second floor of the main building. I wonder if this is where they stick all the Disney’s Fairy Tale Wedding comp-night guests? These turn up in lots of trip reports. We got a king room overlooking the Marina where they have Wishes dessert parties. In fact, a private party was held there that night, but it ended before the fireworks (?!?). We could even see Cinderella Castle in the distance.
And now, some gratuitous photos…
We decided to change and go swimming in the beach pool. It had been totally deserted that morning, but it was a pretty happening spot by the time we got there. It’s another of those 4-footer pools, so we mostly cruised around on our hands and/or knees.
I managed to over come my post-Crush ‘n’ Gusher trauma long enough to try the pool’s water slide, and I LOVED it! I think I went down it 20 times…
In fact, you have to click this link to see Janet2K’s awesome video of going down the slide (thanks, Janet2K!)
When the pool got too crowded, we headed over to the jacuzzi by the main pool… which we ended up sharing with 14 children.
Finally we dragged our prune-y bodies outta the water and went back to the room to dress for dinner. I also called about a discount code on a flyer in our room and ended up adding a night at the Polynesian to our September free-dining trip for cheap, cheap, cheap!
We got to watch this sunset:
When we were all dolled up, we walked around the corner to Citrico’s for our last dinner at Disney. Something weird happened – it was the first swanky restaurant we’d been to (including California Grill, Bistro de Paris, and Jiko) that actually enforced the “no hats” rule in the dress code and made us take off our bride and groom ears!
The hostesses seemed to feel really bad about having to ask us to take them off. We got a nice seat by the window and an able server. The atmosphere was lovely, but the meal didn’t knock our socks off. It wasn’t bad, just unremarkable.
We even passed on our free dessert (the dress code didn’t say we couldn’t wave our bride & groom hats under our server’s nose at every opportunity!) because nothing sounded good and we had plans for later…. So they sent us home with a bag of their biscotti – nice!
On the way back to our room we stopped at the concierge lounge to load up on treats for our Self-Service Dessert Party. We planned to sit on our balcony watching Wishes over Cinderella Castle and then the Electrical Water Pageant, which we’d so far missed at every opportunity. That was the plan, anyway…
As it turned out, the fireworks actually went off way to the left of the castle as it could be seen from our room – right behind a palm tree! We squished way over in the corner of our balcony and craned our necks.
Then we started to hear the Electrical Water Pageant, but apparently it doesn’t actually come around the horn to the Grand Floridian Marina, so we STILL have not seen the darn thing. About this time, we started to notice the smell of cigarette smoke in our room, and when we checked the hall it was really strong out there. No offense to the smokers out there, but the smell makes us sick, and we didn’t want to spend our only night in Concierge at the Grand Floridian sucking in fumes.
We called the front desk, and they said they’d investigate and call us back. When they didn’t call after a while, we called back and were told they’d found the person doing it and fined him for smoking in his room – eep! Moments later we were out on our balcony and we actually saw the guy in the room next door come out and light up again! (I guess he figured paying the penalty gave him carte blanche to smoke for the rest of the night…)
Patrick called over to him that this was a non-smoking hotel, and he shot back, “What, do you work here?” Patrick was like, “No, I’m a guest, and I’m paying to enjoy my stay here.” So then the guy goes, “Are you the one who called the hotel on me?” and Patrick retorts, “Yes, and I’ll do it again!”
I thought the guy was gonna come around the divider and start a fight! I started feeling really anxious and queasy, like our one night in this special place was getting ruined, fast. We called the front desk again and asked to be moved. They told us there were no other rooms, but that we could dial 0 for security if the guy got belligerent – because they’d experienced some “pushback” from him. Swell.
By this time the hall and our room smelled like a no-tell motel, and I thought I was gonna toss my cookies. Housekeeping had sprayed a sickly sweet deodorizer in the hall that made the smoke smell even worse. We called a second time and were told we could move to a non-concierge room in one of the other buildings, which didn’t sound too appealing at 10pm. Finally we got someone else on the line who magically discovered a handicapped-accessible room on the fourth floor of the main building, and she comped us our dinner at Citrico’s. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I kinda wish they’d given us a do-over night at the hotel…
They sent a bellman to move our stuff. The new room had two queen beds instead of a king and no jacuzzi tub, but at least we could breathe.
There was one bright spot in all of this: We’d been trying since Tuesday to meet up with the Roots, but soon after Jensey got sick, Nathan got sick, and we had to reschedule for September. But bless their hearts, they finished all 1,535 of our wedding pictures and delivered them on DVD to the Grand Floridian that night. Bell services brought the discs to us, and we stayed up til 1am looking at our pictures on the TV in the new room!