Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Wander into Disney’s Grand Floridian (GF) and time starts to slip away — back to the Victorian era. Whether you’re stopping by for a respite or staying at the Grand, the breathtaking lobby will beckon you to sit a spell. While marveling at the ornate decor underneath stained glass domes, find a cozy chair, then listen to the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra (GFSO).
Let time go by at the GF Lobby.
THIS is one of my favorite places to relax while in Walt Disney World.
Grand Floridian’s second floor seating.
From their prime real estate on a second floor balcony, the Grand Floridian Orchestra perches high above the immense lobby. When the live music starts, it seems to float throughout the multi-storied room, where guests listen from elegant seats on the first and second floors.
Grand Floridian Lobby.
Others listen from Mizner’s Lounge nestled just behind the band.
Evenings at the Grand Floridan are even more enchanting once the band starts to play their ragtime, Dixie, and jazz music with some Disney tunes mixed into the playlist.
These refined musicians have been led by drummer Patrick Doyle. For 44 years, Patrick was a full time musician at Walt Disney World until he semi-retired in July 2016; he now plays two nights per week.
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
GF Trivia: The Tennessee Waltz was played every day for the “Teddy Bear Lady” as it was one of Lynn’s favorite songs. Lynn would visit the GF often with her husband, Bruce, and then daily after her beloved husband passed away. Last I had heard (and correct me if I’m wrong), she was in hospice care. Her visits are greatly missed by the Cast Members as well as many patrons of the Grand Floridian. If you have an update on this lovely lady, please share in the comments. I recall seeing her as she listened to the music on many of our GF stays and visits.
And don’t forget to request one of your favorite songs.
When You Wish Upon A Star.
Request your favorite tune!
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra Schedule
The current daily schedule has performances listed at 4PM, 5:20PM, 6:25PM, 7:35PM, and 9PM.
Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
Get ready to mark your Disney vacation calendars! On Sundays and Mondays, the following Grand Floridian Society Orchestra Band Members entertain guests:
- Bobby Pickwood – Bandleader/Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn
- Jeff Phillips – Piano
- Doug Mathews – String Bass
- Paul Parker – Drums
- Dick Fote – Trombone
- Gene Hunn – Flute, Clarinet, Bass, Tenor, and Soprano Saxophone
If you visit Tuesday through Saturday, the GFSO band members are:
- Patrick Doyle – Bandleader/Drums
- John Katalenic – Piano
- Charlie Silva – String Bass and Electric Bass
- Davy Jones – Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn
- Harold Johnson – Trombone/Vocal
- Rex Wertz – Flute, Clarinet, Bass, Tenor, and Soprano Saxophone
Dates, times, musicians are subject to change.
It’s difficult to find time to see and do everything at Walt Disney World; I get it. It’s also challenging to find time to rest on a vacation that mostly centers around theme parks. Spending time at the WDW resorts is a fun arrival day activity before your Disney days become crazy busy.
So, when you need to escape the throngs of crowds standing in loud queues, make your way to Disney’s Grand Floridian and let the sweet sounds of the Grand Floridian Society soothe your ears, your heart, and your soul.
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Ten Reasons to Stay and Play at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Stay and play at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) for an exotic escape from the stresses of the real world. With a unique setting, the resort is perfect for a weekend or week-long visit.
The immersive experience begins the moment you turn into the driveway of the safari themed lodge.
Landscaping at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
One of the ways that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge transporting guests to the Great Continent is through the exotic and lush landscaping painstakingly taken care of by Disney horticulturists. From pampas grass to yellow flame trees, the vegetation is reminiscent of Africa for an immersive experience.
I adore the tropical pool areas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have plenty of outdoor seating, including shade from the canopy of green trees! Uzima Springs at Jambo House is an over 200,000 gallon, zero-entry pool with a gentle water slide hidden within the Floridian palms.
Uzima Springs Pool.
Shady spots are easy to find!
If your room isn’t ready upon arrival, begin your stay with some poolside fun!
Banana Cabana. Cheers!
Cultural Representatives feature talks on their homeland — an informative session that takes guests on a journey through Africa. Look at the Recreation Calendar at your resort for times. These chats are held at Kidani Village’s Palace Library and Jambo House’s Sunset Lounge.
Go on a Cultural Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Fun activities are offered throughout the resort.
Watch for fun activities.
Campfires are always relaxing and cozy. Sit around the outdoor firepit at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to unwind in tropical surroundings. Watch for scheduled campfire activities once the current burn ban is lifted. African folktales are still being told at the Arusha Savanna Overlook.
Firepit with cozy rocking chairs.
You’ll find both quick service and table service restaurants within the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort. For fine dining, reserve a table at Jiko!
The Mara boasts a menu with some unique counter service offerings. I’m always hungry for a peanut butter brownie when staying at the Lodge.
More peanut butter!
AKL is also home to my favorite breakfast at Walt Disney World. With beautiful decor resembling an African marketplace and a scrumptious buffet, Boma with its wood-burning grill has remained consistently memorable throughout the years.
Breakfast at Boma is a must!
Don’t forget to try the Frunch. It’s included in your all-you-care-to-eat buffet.
Jungle Juice at Boma
While you can save money with a standard or pool view, the magic here is in the views of the savanna. However, if you won’t be spending a lot of time at the resort, go easier on your budget but allow time to view the animals from the public overlooks.
One of the best ways to stretch your budget is to play around with your vacation dates. If you can be flexible, you may find some great cost-savings. Try using Undercover Tourist to check room availability and pricing today: Save up to $660 on stays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!
Featuring handcrafted furniture, standard rooms are 344 square feet evoking a cozy safari lodge atmosphere.
Exotic decor in room.
Splurge on a Savanna View!
If you love animals, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge affords tremendous opportunities to view over 30 species day and night from public overlooks and private room balconies. We love to watch the animals (giraffe!!) roam on this 33-acre savanna!
Yes, Wanyama Safari is now open to all guests of Walt Disney World. However, it’s a definite advantage in convenience and time to stay at a resort with so many unique amenities. While the Wanyama Safari costs extra, it’s an amazing adventure that includes an afternoon safari followed by dinner at Jiko – The Cooking Place.
Architecture and Artwork
Don’t rush by the African artwork at this resort. You’ll find displays of beautiful, handcarved items throughout the hotel. Pair the decor with the impressive architecture and you have a place that makes jaws drop. It’s a truly unique destination right here in the United States.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby
Look up at the bridge!
Fun for Kids
Look for games, activities, the Hakuna Matata playground, a kiddie pool, and more at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. For a fun evening at the resort, take in a Movie Under the Stars.
Kids 2-12 years of age are welcome to play!
I hope you’ll find at least one reason to stop by or stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since opening in 2001, we’ve been repeat guests and will continue to return to this thatched-roof oasis!
Share your favorite reasons to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge! Contact Us, Follow Us on Twitter or comment below to let us know what you think!
Stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for Magic Kingdom Touring
Magic Kingdom fans may want to consider staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, including Bay Lake Tower, during their Walt Disney World (WDW) vacation. The close proximity of the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom (MK) adds an enticing level of convenience to your WDW trip. Walking to the Magic Kingdom is a time-saver and allows for flexibility in your MK touring plans.
If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, you’ve seen the nearby A-frame hotel that boasts a monorail running right through the atrium! While the unique shape and zipping monorail are what guests notice first, there are plenty more reasons to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
As one of the two original resorts (Disney’s Polynesian Village can also boast this title) on opening day October 1, 1971, the Contemporary also has bragging rights for the closest lodging to the iconic park, Magic Kingdom. An engineering marvel, each room was built off-site, trucked in, and slid into place. The contemporary design was created to mesh with the views of Tomorrowland. We see you, Space Mountain!
Stunning view of Space Mountain!
Painted for the resort opening, Disney Legend Mary Blair’s 90 ft. high mural can be found in the atrium.
Mary Blair Mural.
Bay Lake Tower, a Disney Vacation Club hotel, was added to the Contemporary Resort property in 2009.
Bay Lake Tower
For Walt Disney World guests focusing on touring the Magic Kingdom, the location of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is second to none.
It’s a short walk to the Magic Kingdom.
I love being able to walk into the Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hour in the early morning, return quickly to the resort for a mid-day break, and then get back to the MK for more evening touring.
Easy walk to the Magic Kingdom
But there are more perks to this location! Depending on your room location, you may be able to hear the Ferry boat’s whistle, see the monorail making part of its circular journey, watch the fireworks from your balcony, listen to the Walt Disney World Railroad whistle, and take in many other sights and sounds that are near and dear to Walt Disney World fans. We love the views of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon!
Listen to the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom from your balcony room.
For more fun on the water, take the Disney boat to Fort Wilderness and/or Wilderness Lodge. We recommend dining at Trail’s End buffet at Fort Wilderness for yummy but inexpensive food. And Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge is a hoot for the whole family!
If you can’t see Cinderella Castle and/or the fireworks from your room, visit the 4th Floor concourse. There’s an outdoor deck that is open to all guests. Just go out the door next to Fantasia Market.
Great view of the Magic Kingdom.
Don’t forget to view the Electrical Water Pageant from the Contemporary’s beach. It’s a 14-barge night-time spectacle that began in 1972.
Monorail service is offered to the Transportation and Ticket Center where guests can transfer to the Epcot monorail line. For dining and shopping at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, just hop on the monorail. If you prefer not to walk to the Magic Kingdom, the monorail also makes a stop there. However, this will take more time.
With two queens plus a day bed, the standard rooms are spacious at the Contemporary with 394 square feet.
Contemporary Resort Rooms are spacious.
Standard rooms at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Village are a bit larger.
It’s extremely easy to escape the Magic Kingdom and return to the Contemporary for some down time. With two pools, a splash pad, beach hammocks, an arcade, shops, and Boat Nook marina options (sailboats, fishing, waterskiing, tubing, parasailing), taking advantage of your resort amenities should be part of your Disney vacation. Yes, you can relax at WDW!
Boat Nook Marina
Amenities with no additional cost: Disney resort bus transportation, Disney’s Magical Express, Wi-Fi, standard parking, online check-in, resort airline check-in, fitness center, merchandise pickup, and more.
Extra cost amenities include: valet parking, laundry and dry-cleaning, spa, childcare, business center, arcade, and more.
Unwind at the arcade.
For a special occasion or just a vacation splurge, dining atop the Contemporary at the California Grill is a memorable experience. Time your meal so that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks while dining OR dine early and return to California Grill’s observation deck later in the evening. Early diners still get admittance to view the fireworks — just show your receipt at the 2nd floor restaurant’s check-in desk!
The gorgeous dining room at California Grill.
I highly recommend dining early, then taking the monorail for drinks and shopping at the Polynesian Village and/or Grand Floridian, and for the finale — returning for the fireworks. It’s a full evening of resort fun and especially perfect for a date night. 😉
Magic Kingdom Fireworks from California Grill Observation Deck
Another favorite Contemporary Resort activity for our family — Chef Mickey’s for dinner. Mickey cooks up breakfast too but we prefer the liveliness of this restaurant during the dinner hours. In the morning, we aren’t always awake enough to get into the full swing of napkin twirling! Try Chef Mickey’s on your Disney Arrival Day; you’ll get a delicious meal and some time with Mickey and his friends before you’ve even entered a Disney park.
Chef Mickey’s and Contempo Cafe
For quick-service dining, head to the Contempo Cafe. You’ll often find some unique cupcakes here. Our family recommends the sandwiches and flatbread pizzas.
Enjoy a sandwich at the Contempo Cafe.
On the lobby level, The Wave… of American Flavors serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy breakfast before heading to the Magic Kingdom!
The dining room is quiet during an early morning breakfast at The Wave.
On the first floor, Contemporary Grounds showcases bakery items and coffee. Plus, several bars and lounges are scattered throughout the resort.
The bustling 4th floor concourse is also home to Fantasia Market (snacks and sundries), Fantasia (toys and souvenirs), and Bayview Gifts (souvenirs, clothing, and more!). Bayview Gifts is also a convenient stop for a slice of fudge or a freshly baked cookie. Looking for Pandora charms (I love the Cinderella slipper, I got recently!) or a new Disney Dooney and Bourke bag? This is a great place to shop for those pricier items.
Shop at Fantasia for toys and souvenirs.
Of course, toy monorails and the Contemporary Resort playset are especially popular! This was one of our son’s favorite toys.
One of our son’s favorite toys!
Sorry, we had to reach this topic, didn’t we?! How much does it cost to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort?
Of course, the tower rooms overlooking the Magic Kingdom are the priciest option.
As of May, 2017, standard garden view rooms begin at $378 plus tax per night. And that coveted theme park view? $585 per night plus tax. Get current rates here.
Sticker shock, I know.
Shake off that shock and try out these budgeting tips:
- Try to find a Special Offer and use a discount. Disney Visa cardholders and Annual Passholders sometimes receive enticing discounts too. My favorite place to watch for Disney resort discounts is mousesavers.com.
- Watch for seasonal pricing. Looking ahead for 2017, Friday and Saturday nights in July and August are cheaper than any other summer nights. Also price out the last week of August, September 1-21, October 15-19, 22-26, 29-November 2, November 13-16, 19-20, 26-30, and December 3-7 for lower prices. Stay away from holidays where even standard rooms begin near $500 per night.
- Plan to stay here for a couple of nights and tour the Magic Kingdom during your brief stay. You can concentrate on the Magic Kingdom during a short visit to Walt Disney World or resort hop to a less expensive hotel during a longer visit. When we recently stayed at the Contemporary, we stayed at a moderate resort for the bulk of our trip and then transferred to the Contemporary for a two-night stay to celebrate Michael’s birthday.
Monorail traveling through the Contemporary Resort.
Our family avoided staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for many years. One reason for not considering this deluxe resort at Walt Disney World was due to the high balcony floors and open atrium. You see, I have a fear of heights and the thought of staying there with a small child made me even more uncomfortable.
I’m glad we finally gave this resort a try. For me, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is all about the location next to the Magic Kingdom.
Walkway from Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Still, I’m not a huge fan of the contemporary design and the outdoor pool area seems uninviting compared to other resort pools on property. I would stay here again for a couple of nights, especially on a quick weekend visit with plans to only visit the Magic Kingdom. Read more perks of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? Is it on your radar for a future visit? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Frunch used to be on the menu at Boma inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Served during breakfast hours, this juice concoction was a family favorite!
While it’s similar to Jungle Juice found at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (and Stitch Juice at ‘Ohana), it is not the same recipe. Jungle Juice is made with passionfruit, orange, and guava juices. This POG juice is the version that Boma is now dishing out. Both variations are refreshing and delicious!
But do you remember Frunch?
Frunch Recipe from Boma
This holiday season we decided to make Frunch. We love this blend of tropical beverages. And just like we used to savor at Boma, it was SOOO good!
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups fresh orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups mango juice
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed
- 1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
- 4 Tablespoons grenadine
Mix all ingredients together. Serve over ice in a tall glass. Serves 8.
Frunch recipe from Disney’s Boma
I think we’ll have to make Jungle Juice next!
Do you prefer Frunch or Jungle Juice?
Only a few short days until New Year’s Eve, and I’m already exhausted from the seemingly never-ending holiday preparations. Additionally, I am struggling with keeping my immune system from crashing given that everyone around me (including my wife!) has been or is getting sick. It generally isn’t Christmas for me unless I have some sort of upper respiratory ailment. 😉
This time of year, however, does provide me with an opportunity to reflect upon something I am going to term as the Holiday Aesthetic at the Disney Parks.
Dream Lights on Cinderella’s Castle
Holiday Aesthetic at Walt Disney World
Having experienced a dozen or so excursions to WDW during the holiday season, including one at Disneyland, I am keenly aware that the look and feel of the parks and resorts is strikingly different from November through early January.
Garlands and wreaths on Main Street, Magic Kingdom.
Aesthetic as a noun indicates the presence of a set of principles governing the idea of beauty at a given time and place or underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist.
Aesthetic as an adjective apparently can refer to the study of the mind and emotions as they are related to a sense of beauty or the appreciation of beauty.
From my perspective, the Disney Holiday Aesthetic can and should be inclusive of both definitions.
Christmas Tree at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
There can be no doubt that from their inception in the 1950’s, every design detail related to Disney Parks and Resorts around the globe has been planned from a specific set of principles. Those initial principles are very clearly Walt’s. It might be debated as to how much of those principles remain as the Disney company has moved past the millennium, but that is a topic for another day.
Whimsical Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club
The specifics of the look and feel of the Disney Parks and Resorts has been studied and extensively written about in various mediums for decades. Frequently, these musings make mention of individual perceptions and emotions as they relate to the appreciation of architectural design and seasonal decor.
I am a Behavior Analyst and concerned with human behavior that is objective as well as measurable. For this reason, The Holiday Aesthetic of WDW for me is difficult to operationalize. However, I am keenly aware that it is something tangible that has always affected me in a visceral manner.
Enjoy a holiday meal at Biergarten
Here are a few more visually represented quintessential examples of the Disney Holiday Aesthetic from my perspective.
The Magic Kingdom’s Holiday Decor
Port Orleans French Quarter
The Grand Floridian’s Tree
Now you can save on MVMCP Tickets: Save $7 on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket!
What are your favorite holiday decorations at the WDW Parks and Resorts?
Whether you are a first time visitor or a die-hard repeat guest, you’ve probably stood at a store’s counter during a Walt Disney World visit and purchased Mickey Ears or a WDW t-shirt. At least once!
Find Unique Souvenirs at Walt Disney World
When it’s time to bring home a piece of the magic for yourself or a loved one back at home, consider looking for unique souvenirs.
For the Chef in your family, any Ratatouille item would be welcome.
Ratatouille Travel Mug
THE BOATHOUSE in Disney Springs sells merchandise for boating fans. I’m partial to these themed rubber duckies!
Themed Rubber Duckies at THE BOATHOUSE
Instead of grabbing the first Mickey mug that catches your eye, consider collecting items specific to your favorite Walt Disney World resort.
All-Star Resort Mug
Memento Mori in the Magic Kingdom shelves some interesting items for fans of the Haunted Mansion. How about some wine glasses for your next dinner party?
Wine glasses from Memento Mori.
Epcot can keep shoppers (like myself) happy all day! Look through World Showcase for a multitude of goodies. Maple syrup from Canada is a delicious treat to take home with you.
Maple syrup sold in Epcot’s Canada pavilion.
Feeling sporty? The United Kingdom in Epcot sells balls for soccer/football fans.
It’s “game on” with this Rose and Crown themed soccer ball.
Outdoorsy types will love this folding chair complete with side table and cup holder. Great for camping, tailgating, or hanging out in the back yard!
Yep, it’s not all Mickey themed merchandise. We’ll be back with more unique items soon.
What do you shop for in Walt Disney World?