All I want for Christmas is a “me” day at Senses, a Disney Spa at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, which happens to open its doors today. A day of pampering and renewing is just the remedy from the pressures of the holiday season. I can see myself all wrapped up in a luxurious robe, kicking back on a heated lounger, or taking a dip in the whirlpool as I wait for my sugar exfoliation treatment. Ah, sounds lovely.
This full-service spa is an elegant oasis — and you feel it the moment you walk through the door. The level of service from the cast and the attention to detail in a sophisticated design are all Disney. With 15 treatment rooms, there is everything from rejuvenating citrus facials and herbal wraps to couple’s massages. Even young spa-goers can get the VIP treatment as their toes soak in a playful bright green pedi chair, just the right size. The organic and vegan product lines are an appreciated touch. I am so glad Disney reimagined this spa. It is a nice complement to the flagship resort and the nearby Wedding Pavilion. Hope Santa is reading this!
While we like the cute caramel apples, marshmallow snowmen and Mickey gingerbread cookies at Disneyland Resort, we love these yummy cupcakes – just the right amount of indulgence with a dollop of white chocolate mousse when you take that first bite.
If you’ve ever visited the Walt Disney World Resort during the holidays, then answer this question for me – which Disney resort has the best decorations?
This year, a total of 150 semi-trailer truckloads of decorations have been spread all over Walt Disney World Resort property, with holiday trees, lights, wreaths and garland creating some truly amazing holiday sights at our resorts – including the new decor at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (pictured above).
That said, here’s a look at some of our favorite holiday displays at Walt Disney World resorts:
If you’re still considering making a trip to Walt Disney World Resort during the holidays, don’t forget to check out Magic Your Way packages, which are available for stays most nights November 23 to December 20, 2012.
Join our discussion on holiday events at Disney Parks on Twitter by using the hashtag #DisneyHolidays.
When California Grill closes in late January for renovations, Yoshie has decided it’s time to take a break – the job of sushi chef involves many long hours of standing, and Yoshie says she’s ready to sit for a while.
She started at the California Grill back in 1995 when she convinced the chef to add sushi to the menu. And at the time, Yoshie was one of a handful of female sushi chefs in the U.S. “They said the temperature of a woman’s hands is too high to handle fresh fish,” says Yoshie with a shrug. But Yoshie proved the critics wrong as she created delectable sushi for a legion of fans.
Though we’ll miss Yoshie, sushi will stay on the menu, says Chef Brian Piasecki, with Yoshie’s protégés carrying on her work.
5 Questions With Yoshie
What is your favorite sushi to make?
My favorite sushi to make is actually a roll that is on the menu right now – it’s called the Dragon Roll and consists of two types of tuna, tempura shrimp, cucumber and red peppers topped with tobiko (flying fish roe). It is one of my favorites because it looks so beautiful and is truly an artful presentation.
Do you have a favorite moment from all your years at California Grill?
There have been so many over the past 17 years! One that stands out was just a few years ago when a woman came to the California Grill with her family and she was celebrating her 78th birthday. She was fascinated by what I was doing and came over and visited me. I asked her what her favorite type of sushi was and she said that she has never eaten sushi before! That was the perfect cue for me to make her something special to enjoy for her birthday. She was absolutely thrilled and couldn’t believe that she had gone her entire 78 years without enjoying this amazing culinary treat. It was very special to see her reaction and to have her experience this for the first time here at the California Grill.
A funny moment from your years at California Grill?
Probably one of the funniest stories was when I was serving a California roll to a guest and the gentleman actually though that the green wasabi (Japanese horseradish) on his plate was guacamole. Boy, was he surprised, but it was too late because he put the whole green ball in his mouth. He was okay, thank goodness, and we both got a great laugh afterwards.
What’s your favorite meal to cook at home?
I love having the whole family at home for a meal, and one of my favorite dishes to cook is a large pork roast that I can hand-shred for the whole family – along with homemade eggrolls.
I just want to be able to relax and enjoy spending time with my family, my husband, three children and all 10 grandchildren.
Fifty pounds of icing, 402 sugary flowers, 301 pounds of chocolate and 2,012 pieces of gingerbread – those are the ingredients for just one gingerbread display at Walt Disney World Resort: the life-size, edible, holiday gazebo in the lobby of Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.
Like Santa’s elves, the Disney chefs work many, many hours to create these spectacular sugary showpieces. Along with the gazebo at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, there’s Stitch’s Bakery Storefront, an-8-foot-tall replica of the Boardwalk Bakery that Stitch has taken over (you’ll see Lilo too) – where you can buy miniature gingerbread houses, stollen bread, gingerbread shingles and a limited edition pin featuring Stitch. You can see the gazebo and bakery through January 5.
Across the water at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the spinning holiday carousel is a holiday tradition, with life-size ponies made of chocolate and fondant, hand-painted Disney characters surrounded by snowflakes and a miniature Magic Kingdom Castle made out of gingerbread. This display took 96 pounds of bread flour, 36 pounds of honey, 100 pounds of eggs, 10 quarts of simple syrups, 50 pounds of dark chocolate and 100 pounds of confectioner’s sugar to make. And you can take home cookies, gingerbread houses, stollen and chocolate-covered cookie lollipops.
Next door at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, there’s a holiday village with a miniature train surrounded by sugar rock mountains. All sorts of sweets are for sale, from miniature gingerbread houses to gingerbread cupcakes, cookies, stollen bread and gingerbread men. Limited edition pins feature Ariel and the carousel or Ariel and the resort’s lighthouse. Both displays are in the lobbies until January 4.
Check out the video of the 17-foot-tall gingerbread holiday tree at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, featuring ornaments, candy canes and gifts. Inspired by the art of Disney legend Mary Blair (who designed the mural in the Contemporary concourse), it took 136 pounds of honey, 211 pounds of flour, 101 eggs, 1 pound of sugar syrup, 98 pounds of icing, 151 pounds of chocolate and more than 2,000 gingerbread shingles to create the tree. Guests can purchase sweet treats such as cookies, gingerbread houses, pretzel toffee crunch and a housemade gingerbread granola. The tree is up ‘til January 2.
Over at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the life-size gingerbread house is back, made with 1,050 pounds of honey, 700 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of powdered sugar…it takes about 400 hours to bake the gingerbread and another 160 hours to decorate! Guests can learn how to decorate a gingerbread house with the pros every day (except Sunday) in the lobby, and buy all sorts of goodies, from cookies to peppermint bark and lollipops, all made in the Grand’s bakery. You can see it until New Year’s Day.
There’s just one lavish display in the theme parks – Santa’s Bakeshop at Liberty Inn Restaurant at the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot. Made entirely of gingerbread, the life-sized structure took more than 800 pounds of sugar and more than 1,000 eggs. Guests can buy cookies, peppermint bark and hot and cold beverages from the gingerbread house. Check it out through December 30.
Join our discussion on holiday events at Disney Parks on Twitter by using the hashtag #DisneyHolidays.
If you plan to visit Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai`i, this winter, there’s an extra-special travel offer that will give you all the time you need to enjoy everything in and around Aulani. For a limited time, you can stay six nights for the price of five and receive a $150 one-time resort credit to spend as you like.
You can book this offer now through January 15, 2012. To book, call toll-free (866) 309-2384 and mention offer code S8O. This offer is available for stays January 8 through March 10, 2013, except February 16-18. As you probably have heard, Aulani has become so popular with guests of all ages that expansion work is underway as the resort enters its second year of operation.
And, as always, here’s some useful supporting information:
6 Nights for the Price 5 Nights with $150 One Time Resort Credit promotion for guests who stay five consecutive nights all between January 08, 2013 through March 10, 2013. Blackout Dates: February 16th, 2013 – February 18th, 2013. Book from November 20, 2012 – January 15, 2013. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited and room availability may vary by dates of stay. Excludes Resort fees and taxes. Not valid in combination with any other discounts or offers. Offer excludes suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas. Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room. Offer applied once per reservation. Check for offers for other lengths of stay. Advance reservations required. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Limit 2 rooms per reservation.
With the holidays approaching, many of us are looking forward to cool wintery days, hopefully filled with family, hot cocoa and warm hearts. A little over a year ago, my family and I were blessed with the opportunity to stay at the soon-to-be-opened Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Hawai’i was everything my family imagined and more.
We literally bumped into Imagineer Joe Rohde in the lobby and he took us on a walking tour of the main floor and gave us his thoughts and vision behind the making of the resort. Wow.
Our Moms Panelist Jill Cooper fell in love with Aulani after attending the grand opening events. She is planning another vacation to the lush resort that’s nestled between the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the emerald green mountains of Oahu.
She has a few tips for making your vacation to this enchanting destination even more memorable.
Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture. “Enjoy authentic Hawaiian music and dancing at the resort’s exclusive Starlit Hui. Take one of the free tours of Aulani’s art. The resort has one of the largest collections of contemporary Hawaiian art in the country. Learn a few words of the beautiful native tongue of Hawai’i in the Mo’ Olelo room.”
Fun for the kids. “Take your children to explore the offerings made just for them, throughout the resort. Have older children visit Painted Sky, the teen spa, and then have them relax at Rip Swirl, the smoothie bar! Tweens will enjoy the chance to meet their new friends at pool parties in the Waikolohe Valley. Aunty’s Beach House is for kids 3 to 12. They can spend hours in the dress-up room, science lab, high tech play area, and movie room if you let them!”
Fun for adults. “While your kids have their own fun, I highly recommend an escape to Laniwai, Aulani’s award-winning spa. I have never visited a more beautiful or welcoming place. Arrive early for your scheduled appointment so that you can take advantage of the relaxing outdoor hydrotherapy garden.”
Explore the island. “There are many adventures and tours you can book like kayaking right at the resort. Make sure to call in advance of your vacation to reserve your experience.”
Disney magic. “To me, Aulani is an immersive Hawaiian experience but you can also enjoy some traditional Disney fun here as well. Check the Daily ‘Iwa (a free guest newsletter) to see the times and locations when Disney characters will appear.”
A soothing escape into a world of pampering and relaxation is just steps away from Disney theme park fun at the newly re-imagined Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
The fully remodeled spa, now owned and operated by Disney, is set to open December 17.
I recently had a chance to duck in for a sneak peek and our Imagineers did a splendid job of blending Grand Floridian turn-of-the-century elegance with modern touches – plus a dash of Disney whimsy. Here are some of the highlights:
Spa-goers first walk through the new Victorian style entryway and indulge in a relax, renew, or imagine journey that’s determined by your treatment choice.
The centerpiece of the spa’s lobby is an original mural reflecting old Florida landscape and nature. Glass mosaic tiles in the Jacuzzi rooms further enhance the elegance and sophistication of the spa. All the senses are engaged in an ultimate relaxation experience – flavorful and soothing elixirs, color variations in lighting and orchestral music harmonize with the treatment selected.
Some 15 treatment rooms offer full-service pampering services such as watertherapy, sugar exfoliation body treatment, rejuvenating citrus facial, a restorative hand and foot ritual with Chinese Jasmine oils, plus a Magical Manicure or Princess Pedicure for youngsters. Lounges, whirlpools, and treatment rooms all provide rejuvenation through the healing nature of Florida citrus and botanicals.
The new menu of services also includes a signature 80-minute Grand Floridian treatment featuring a special aromatherapy massage.
Guests can book spa appointments at the new Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort beginning November 15, by calling 407-WDW-SPAS (407-939-7727) or learn more by visiting www.disneyworld.com/spas.
Incidentally, all of our spas, salons and fitness centers will be owned and operated by Disney beginning January 16. On that same day, the spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort will temporarily close for renovation and reopen in the summer as Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. More to come on that soon.