Gasparilla Grill and Games at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa closed for refurbishment August 24 – December 17, 2012.  The massive refurbishment of the facility consisted of enhancements to the Grill, main pool, refurbishment and re-branding of the Spa (now Senses—A Disney Spa), and the on-going construction of a “secret building” next to the main Grand Floridian building.  On a few recent visits to the Grand I was able to capture some before and after photos of the project.

During the extensive refurbishment, guests at the Grand were unable to grab treats in their 24-hour Quick-Service location.

The fine prints leads you to a bar or a lounge for food!

If you’ve been to Beaches Pool Bar before, there wasn’t much around.  It was quite laid back and you truly had a beach to relax near (if you dared).  The only other excitement was the recent addition of the children’s activities.

Instead of viewing a beach, you can see what Gasparilla will look like in postcard form.


Beach’s Pool Bar’s new Quick-Service location

The Grand traditionally only featured offerings from their Private Dining staff (and at the Private Dining prices!)  Now, you can enjoy many of the standard quick-service offerings (sandwiches, pastries, etc.) pool side.  While this did help during the Gasparilla refurbishment, I can’t see waiting in line (in the hot Florida sun or pouring rain) at your resort unless you’re already enjoying the pool.  Despite the addition of a pool-side refillable drink station for the resort mug, it isn’t going to make me go out of my way to enjoy it.  Personally, I’d just jump the bus or the monorail and dine at my park of choice instead.  However, if relaxing at the resort this is a great step in the sake of convenience!


What if you are looking for that early morning quick service meal?  Or a snack late at night after a long day in the parks? … and it’s pouring rain!  Well, Mizner’s Lounge was converted into a unique “Miznerilla’s” quick service option for guests.


Choices again included the standard quick service fair and often required the Cast Members to literally run food up and down out of the Grand Floridian’s main kitchen.  While it might be convenient for you, it definitely wasn’t for those seeking a wonderful cocktail instead of a meal.  Mizner’s Loung became compressed alongside the existing Citrico’s bar and limited lounge area.  Not only did it cramp diners waiting for a table, but increased the amount of traffic around the dignified Victoria & Albert’s.

The back of the Grand Floridian main building and covered outside dining area.

Naturally after so many visits to the Grand Floridian during the refurbishment, I was excited to learn Gasparilla Island Grill has finally re-opened!  Let’s check it out.

Gasparilla Grill & Games is now Gasperilla Island Grill!


Or is it? (Someone still needs to order new floor mats)

As I walked in, I was really impressed.  I like the change in styling and color selection; it gives a nice clean and crisp look.

Gasperilla now has a nice, clean, “Panera Bread” like feel to it.

Gone is the detailed floor tile patterns of brown, cream, burgundy, and teal.  The walls have been detailed to highlight the raised and (now painted blue) ceiling.

Elaborate new light fixtures throughout the dining room
New seating includes more tables and booths
Check out the healthy options of whole fruit or bottles of wine.

Gasparilla Island Grill uses the new video menu technology to enhance their offerings with photographs.  Lunch and dinner offerings include Boursin Cheese steak, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Pepperoni and BBQ Pork Flat Breads, Vegetable Lasagna, and Vegetable Stir Fry to name a few.

Create-Your-Own-Salad has become a staple of most Resort quick service locations (Value, Moderate, and some Deluxe depending upon space available).
Proteins available only include chicken or steak (no salmon) like many others offer.


Even with all of the paint, some things haven’t changed.  You still queue up at either the grill or the salad station (if not both) to order your meal(s).  Instead of being given a ticket and a pager, you are instead given a  table number.  With this giant number you proceed to their Grab and Go Market to get any other goodies (perhaps your drinks or desserts) before checking out with a cashier.

Adult meal sides on the left and Kid’s Pics sides on the right


Despite all of the changes, Cast Member costumes have not yet changed.
But look, this guy is using the new “Touch To Pay” feature of MyMagic+ to pay for his beer!


Expanded seating and dining layout feels very open and welcoming.

The wait for your meal hopefully won’t be too extensive.  During my visit the restaurant was quite busy and I saw two leaders running food along with the Cast Members.  You can also grab your drink and relax while you wait.  In fact, the Grand Floridian has one of the flashiest beverage stations at Walt Disney World.

The improved beverage island. Check out their coffee and tea selections. (Remember, all refills included with your Resort Refillable Mug!)


Nice selection of Twinings tea (no Nestcafe tea to be found here.)


Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Americana Espresso. Just push a button!


These trash cans are a very similar in style to Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (except there’s no spot for your dishes.)


Nearly every fountain drink in offered at Walt Disney World.
Anyone notice a key variety that’s missing but standard at all Value and Moderate Resorts?


A quiet, small walkway allows for even more seating away from the serving area.


The walkway leads you to the very small and limited arcade. This must be the only thing that isn’t Grand at the Grand Floridian anymore.


Overall, I was highly impressed with the changes made as I visited the new Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort & Spa.  I have to say that after the success of Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, I figured this would be the next Resort quick service location to serve meals on melamine.  I also though they would try to incorporate more of the healthy and build-your-own options offered at Landscape of Flavors.  They didn’t do that either, but space is also limited.  One warning, if you time your visit to Gasparilla poorly, you’ll be waiting in a long line of conventioneers.  This might be worse than waiting behind a group of cheerleaders at the All-Star Resorts.  I’m sure the Chefs had a lot to work through and the opening of the location was the priority over a large menu change.  It really should be interesting to see what changes they make come this fall.

So, what do you think about the recent changes to Gasparilla?  Do you think they live up to Grand expectations?

Have questions about Disney dining?  Are you seeking restaurant recommendations?  Do you have Disney Dining Plan questions?  Please send emails to [email protected]!  You will get a response and they might be used in an upcoming article.