One of the neat side benefits of staying at a Disney World Resort was the weird infatuation I developed with hotel architecture. Yes, you go to Disney parks and you know they create little lands to get away — make believe worlds that seem somehow cleaner and nicer than the places they represent.
But I was impressed with the little worlds created for the resorts themselves — how the Contemporary Resort, for instance, nailed a certain mid-century modern motif, complete with the vision of a future when monorails would actually pass through buildings to connect the world around.
I liked how that Polynesian Resort nailed the 1950s tiki room obsession, and I could just see whole cocktail parties laid out with pineapples on skewers topped off with sweet cherries and dipped into strong drinks. The Grand Floridian was this opulent palace that somehow seemed modern at the same time — a place you’d bring your grandmother for tea but also want to stay for dinner.
While we visited the parks and the resorts, we used a great phone app to find dinner menus at the resorts and spent some time visiting them instead of the parks, just we could see these little worlds up close. I was more impressed with the old-timey feel of the Grand Floridian than I thought I would be. I envisioned stuffy but found myself wondering if we shouldn’t stay there next time. Plus, the food wasn’t half bad.
I didn’t give my daughter enough credit. I thought she might be a little bored from the architecture tour, but she enjoyed hopping around from resort to resort, discovering how each place was built to mimic the “real world” and how each hotel had its own theme. Plus, the train ride between them was fun and offered some of the best views around. If you’re looking for a different way to view Disney, I’d definitely recommend a casual tour, with some restaurant hopping thrown in for good measure.
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!