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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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