I have always loved how Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa captures the essence of seaside resorts of the Victorian era – a playful blend of nostalgia and modernism. I reflect back when the “Grand” first opened its doors 25 years ago today. I was lucky enough to be invited to the media VIP preview June 26, 1988, as a young journalist. The opulent resort made a dramatic first impression — a black tie gala with VIPs like Burt Reynolds, Governor Bob Martinez, the late Frank Wells and several of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts in attendance. It was a night I will always remember. With its snow white towers and red shingled roofs, Disney’s five-story Grand Floridian remains the crown jewel of Walt Disney World Resort.
Nestled along the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, the 900 room flagship resort is a throwback to the splendor of an era long gone — like the resorts built by Henry Flagler at the end of the 19th century. While the resort has been enhanced through the years with a convention center, a spa and health club, Citricos, Victoria & Albert’s, a themed pool, suites and so much more, it never lost its elegance. A perfect snapshot of Florida’s past.