Do you go to Disney World for the food? Likely not, if you are from New York City. Or San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, London. But, whether or not food is the main draw, you will need to eat while you are there and if you are staying in the Grand Floridian, you can eat quite well.
Foodie, vegetarian, picky eater? The Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World has you covered.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the premiere Disney World hotel, a Victorian inspired hotel with dining options that run the gamut from fine to character to casual. What doesn’t change much is the price; no matter what you choose, you will be spending quite a bit of money. I got a salad to go from Gasparilla Island Grill and while I was impressed that I could have vegan “Chick’n Chunks,” the salad, with fresh mixed greens, was no bargain at $11.59 (grilled steak on a salad was the same price incidentally). And the only vegetarian sandwich, a vegetable wrap, is for kids 9 and under only.
For late night, when the kids are asleep (or with a babysitter, or at the evening supervised Lil’s Playhouse, a short walk away at the Polynesian Village Resort), slip down to Mizner’s Lounge, which has pretty decent cocktails. There are also several vegetarian appetizers here (available from 5-10 p.m. only): an artisan cheese board, an heirloom apple and arugula salad and Arancini rice balls with a spicy dipping sauce.
Citricos, one of the fine dining restaurants, is open for dinner only. It has wild halibut for $40 and tofu ratatouille for $30. If you also got an appetizer – there’s a vegetarian celery root soup with pickled fennel for $13, or a green salad for $14 – you will be spending a ton of dough. There is a pretty extensive kids’ menu, for kids 9 and under.
There is also a dress code, so if you have teens who wear ripped jeans, make sure they pack something appropriate.
Last time I stayed at the Grand Floridian, we had dinner at the top restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s. This is a six-course affair and they will accommodate special food requests in advance. Everything is in advance, of course; you must have a reservation before you arrive (see below). From a sample vegetarian menu, one course is porcini mushroom soup with wild mushroom bread pudding; there are three more savory courses, plus a cheese plate and dessert.
Narcoossee’s specializes in seafood and a view of the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom; time your visit accordingly. It is open for Sunday brunch and dinner daily. This is not the place for vegetarians who don’t eat seafood, although there is a lovely beet and feta salad with spinach. Entrees include local grouper ($45) and scallops ($46). The lobster macaroni and cheese ($18) is intended as a side dish and it is too rich for one person. If you have a group, get one for the table; it is decadent and delicious.
There is a veggie burger on the children’s menu, along with a kid’s meal of oven roasted wild shrimp. But that meal, which comes with a drink and vegetable side, is $17.
Character meals are all about the special guests, not the food. Honestly, when my kids were little, they would have eaten liver, or dirt, just to meet and greet a Disney princess. 1900 Park Fare has a Supercalifragilistic breakfast buffet enlivened by Mary Poppins and her friends. And you can eat more than a spoonful of sugar: the buffet includes cheese grits, plenty of fresh fruit and made to order omelets. Bonus – there’s no lining up to meet the characters; they go from table to table, giving everyone a chance.
At dinner, Cinderella and Prince Charming are the hosts, so bring those princess or royal costumes. The dinner buffet includes a taco bar for kids, sustainable catfish, lots of salads and butternut squash ravioli, along with plenty of meat options. The buffet costs $35-$60 for adults, and alcoholic drinks are extra. One surprise here – the prices vary depending on time of year.
Diet and Wallet Busting
It’s hard to say no to dessert when you’re on vacation and there are delectable choices everywhere you go. From the warm chocolate banana torte at Citricos to the candy bar with homemade gelato at Narcoossee’s, there are temptations aplenty. Luckily, the resort has a fitness center and running trail where you can burn a few calories.
Make a Reservation
Maybe you’ve heard that Disney World is popular pretty much 365 days a year? Well, the dining options are equally popular. If you plan on eating sometime between 6 and 8pm, you will need a reservation at one of the ‘fine’ dining establishments – and people make these months in advance. If you are good at advance planning, you can make reservations up to 180 days in advance at some of the restaurants.