disney’s grand floridian resort

manda jayne events blog

Closing out my series on Disney World meeting space, we have the Grand Floridian. The Grand Floridian is the flagship resort of the park. It’s one of the oldest resorts and it has a sophisticated Victorian theme. The resort sits on the Seven Seas Lagoon and is only a short monorail hop from the Magic Kingdom. This resort just oozes luxury (at least for a Disney Vacation) – I like to just sit in the lobby and people watch (and let’s be real – I’m secretly judging some of the people I see: “Seriously – YOU paid $500+ a night to stay here!?!”).

The meeting space is gorgeous. It’s a little more sophisticated than the whimsical BoardWalk Inn, but more old-fashioned and classic than the Contemporary Resort (that’s the one that was “Contemporary” in the 70s when it opened, and the monorail just passes right through the atrium). There’s 40,000 square feet of meeting space in the on-site convention center, including the 18,000+ square foot Grand Floridian Ballroom:

disney's grand floridian | amanda jayne events blog

That’s pretty, right? For an interior ballroom with no windows? The carpet actually works here (although I’ve already mentioned that I’m not particularly bothered by garish hotel carpets they way some people are).

But I was more interested in some of the smaller spaces with more character (although not necessarily characters like Minnie or Mickey – although I’m sure Disney could make that happen for you) so I was shown the Whitehall room and patio. The meeting room is octagonal and has some nice details, particularly the ceiling. The room holds about 50 guests, so it would be perfect for a shower or small party, or a small wedding ceremony.

manda jayne events blog

manda jayne events blog

But the real draw for this space is the private patio accessed from the room. It’s partially covered (with ceiling fans which hopefully help with the central Florida humidity – I went in early June and felt like I was melting).

manda jayne events blog

But check out this view!

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort | amanda jayne events blog

Yes – I would love a view of the monorail because I’m a nerd like that. But I actually meant this view:

jDisney's Grand Floridian Resort | amanda jayne events blog

That, my friends, is the Magic Kingdom, and that’s not even zoomed in! That might not seem that impressive, but wouldn’t it be fun to watch the nightly fireworks from here on your private patio?

For a less-private event space, (also outdoors), you can reserve space at the marina:

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort | amanda jayne events blog

And of course, all of these locations (and everything else within the Grand Floridian) is within walking distance of the Disney Wedding Pavilion, which I did not get to peek in (unfortunately), but this 43 second video sums it up nicely:

One thing to note about the wedding pavilion is that it is literally next door to the Grand Floridian, including the Grand Floridian Disney Vacation Club construction. That must not have been pleasant for some of the brides who have had their view of the beautiful red and white hotel obstructed, but the construction is almost over and shouldn’t affect weddings for much longer.

manda jayne events blog

What are your thoughts? Would you have a wedding or event at the Grand Floridian?

Read my other posts on events at Epcot and the BoardWalk Inn.


the attic at disney’s boardwalk inn

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour some of the event space at Disney World. As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I’m intrigued by Disney from a purely hospitality standpoint (intrigued sounds better than obsessed, right?). While most people think of the theme parks as the most exciting place to hold an event, the bulk of available space within Disney World is actually in its resort hotels, which have tons of fun details that enhance the environment.

Epcot is my favorite Disney park, and I was excited to see some different options for hosting an event within Epcot. But right outside of Epcot are the Epcot area resorts and there are a few different event spaces, including my favorite: The Attic at the Boardwalk Inn.

The Epcot Area resorts include the BoardWalk Inn and the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts, plus the Dolphin and the Swan (which are owned by Starwood, not Disney, so they don’t have all of the same on-site benefits as Disney owned resorts). All of these resorts are located within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios (which I still call MGM). So these resorts would be my first choice of accommodations were money no object since they are all in the “deluxe” category – the rack rate for a standard room at the BoardWalk Inn is $405/night.

The deluxe resorts are the most themed of the Disney hotels, and Disney takes the little details very seriously. The theme of the BoardWalk Inn is turn-of-the-century Atlantic City. There is an actual boardwalk and the resort is on Crescent Lake. The boardwalk itself has carnival games and entertainers which add to the charm.

The BoardWalk Inn has a conference center with 20,000 square feet of meeting space on one level, including the 10,000 square foot Promenade Ballroom. The decor is very whimsical, which may not be appropriate for your meeting, but is a breath of fresh air compared to most ballrooms.

Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The space that I really loved though was The Attic. The Attic is in the main hotel building. It is a bit challenging to get there, it is quite a hike from the elevator which might be a deal breaker if your guests were older or not as mobile. But once you arrive, you find a small little room filled with charm. The room itself is small, maximum capacity is 50 guests, but there is an adjacent covered porch which gives you some room to spread out if the heat isn’t too overbearing (which can be a problem in Orlando).  The Attic has views of Crescent Lake, the boardwalk and Epcot.

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

Wouldn’t you love to watch the Epcot fireworks from here?

The existing furniture on the patio is wicker, indoors it’s covered upholstered chairs. There’s an indoor bar that can be used for your event. The rooms are filled with antiques that fit the turn-of-the-century theme, such as carousel horses.

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The pros of the space are its charm and the Disney details. The cons are that it’s out of the way and difficult to find (I would recommend using lots of signage if I were hosting an event). There’s also only one bathroom which isn’t too much of an issue since the capacity is so small, but still isn’t ideal.

I think this space would be perfect for a bridal or baby shower – it would be perfectly on theme and you wouldn’t have to add to the existing decor.  It would also be nice for a small, intimate wedding (remember, only 50 guests). Corporate events might be a good fit for the space, depending on how the guests took to the theme of the space. The proximity to Epcot is definitely a huge plus.

Check back later today for my post on event space at the Grand Floridian Resort.

hosting an event at epcot

My husband says that I’m obsessed with Disney World. I would not agree with the word obsessed, but I am more than a little intrigued by their entire operation as a hospitality company. This is all because my husband and I went to Disney World on vacation last year (one more time just the two of us before we have kids – I swear!) and I probably over-prepared and planned for the trip (Hey – I am a planner by profession), and in doing so learned so much more than most visitors do about the company and their philosophy surrounding hospitality.

I recently had the opportunity to tour some of the meeting space that Disney has on site. I was only on a site visit, so I didn’t have the opportunity to experience the service and execution, but I wanted to write about the space.

The first thing to know about hosting a meeting or event at Disney is that they will treat you differently based on whether you are hosting your entire meeting on Disney property, or just part of it. Meaning, if you are hosting a large conference with sleeping rooms at one of the resorts and you want to host a welcome reception, you will have many more options available to you because you have those sleeping rooms at a Disney resort. However, let’s say you were hosting an event at a nearby hotel not on Disney property, such as the Hilton or the Omni, but you wanted to host a welcome reception at Disney because it’s so close. You will still have several options available, but not as many, since they prefer to reserve some of the prime event locations for their on-site guests.

The majority of the event space at Disney World is located in the resort hotels, not the parks themselves. There are no private event spaces in Magic Kingdom at all, there are some spaces in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, but the most common option for theme park events is in Epcot. That’s great for me because Epcot is my favorite Disney park and always has been. Ever since I visited the park as a little girl, I’ve loved Epcot. Now as an adult, I could ride Spaceship Earth over and over again. Soarin’ is my favorite ride in all of Disney. I could spend days meandering around the World Showcase. Long story short: I love Epcot!

The spaces that I toured in Epcot were the ones that are available to groups without sleeping room blocks. There are many other exciting places to hold events beyond these if you are hosting your entire meeting at Disney.

The Odyssey Pavilion is located right in between Future World and the World Showcase, specifically between the Test Track attraction and the Mexico pavilion. The building itself has an interesting history – it used to be a restaurant and then it became a multi-group event space, now it’s available for meetings and events and is sometimes used for special programs.

The space is a bit dated looking, but if you’re concerned with that, Disney is happy to use some Disney magic to transform it with lighting and decor. The food and beverage options for this space have an international flair owing to the proximity to the world showcase. The best part of this venue would be only having to step outside to be able to view the Illuminations nightly fireworks show.

I assume this looks much better without the house lights on!

I assume this looks much better without the house lights on!

The other space I toured in Epcot is the Norway Lounge which is located above the Maelstrom ride (who knew?!).  Again, this space is rather dated as well (and much smaller – maximum capacity is 120 for a reception or 80 for a seated meal), but it’s pretty neat to be in one of the world showcase buildings. While there are windows that overlook the rest of the park, you wouldn’t be able to view the fireworks from the building.

Neither space is really all that impressive on its own – you are paying for the opportunity to have a private event inside Epcot. Don’t forget, there are plenty of other options available if you are hosting a meeting or event with sleeping rooms – in Epcot alone you can host an event in nearly every world showcase pavilion.

But if you are having your event at one of the non-Disney hotels and want to have an event inside the park, this is a great option, especially if you want your group to eat together and then go out and explore the park on their own.

Related: The Attic and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort