Today In Disney History ~ August 22nd
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a AAA Four Diamond Award–winning, Victorian themed luxury hotel and spa located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The property opened on June 28, 1988 as the Grand Floridian Beach Resort. The name changed to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa during the fall of 1997. The resort contains 867 rooms among six buildings at an average of 400 square feet (37 m2) per room. A standard room can sleep up to five people. The resort is owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
The Grand Floridian is categorized as a deluxe resort, one of four types of accommodations at the Florida site. It is also distinguished as Disney’s flagship and most opulent resort.The resort has received designation in the Florida Green Lodging Program.
The Grand Floridian was inspired by the Victorian era beach resorts built along Florida’s east coast during the late 19th century and early 20th century; its exterior is modeled after the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, California, with red gabled roofs and white walls. Additional design inspiration was taken from the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Florida. The resort’s outer lodge buildings — Sago Cay, Sugarloaf Key, Conch Key, Boca Chica and Big Pine Key—are named for islands in the Florida Keys. The hotel’s main building features a five story lobby, a replica cage elevator, stained glass domes, and Italian marble floors with inlays of various Disney characters. During daytime hours, a grand pianist performs in the main lobby while a house orchestra plays on the second floor balcony every evening.
Initially, Walt Disney wanted a Polynesian resort (reflecting Adventureland), the Contemporary Resort to echo Tomorrowland, and other resorts that mirrored the ‘lands’ of the Magic Kingdom. Main Street and The Grand Floridian act as analogous reflections. The resort was designed by the Disney company and executed by the architectural firm Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo.
Along with Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the Grand Floridian sits on the shores of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon near the Magic Kingdom. The hotel occupies land that had been earmarked for an Asian themed resort during the initial development of Walt Disney World Resort in the late 1960s. In 1988 The Beach Boys filmed a music video for their song Kokomo. In 1992, a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) convention center opened adjacent to the hotel, which contains a business center.
The hotel has completed some major renovations in recent years. Since 2007, all guestrooms, restaurants, retail shops, and common areas of the resort have been updated. In 2011, the Grand Floridian Spa and Health Club underwent an extensive 18 month remodel. In 2013, the hotel completed a remodel of all pool areas along with the installation of a beachside fire pit and children’s water area themed to Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.
TMSM Today in Graphic by Sherry Rinaldi DeHart