Happy New Year! Hope this finds you happy and healthy (and not too hungover).
We had a lovely time ringing in the New Year at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. I had originally planned to join the madness that is Epcot on New Year's Eve, but after listening to The Dis podcast and hearing about the balloon drop at the Grand Floridian, we toyed with the idea of celebrating there. Add that to the fact that the Grand is my favorite Disney Resort, a climate controlled environment and no lines for the bathrooms, AND that John really doesn't tolerate crowds very well, our minds were made up.
John found a room the night before New Year's Eve using the Hotel Tonight app. We stayed at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. It was really nice and on Disney property, too! I'll write a separate post reviewing the hotel (this post is going to be long enough/photo heavy enough already). Even though we live less than 20 minutes away from WDW, I'd heard nightmares about traffic leaving the parks after midnight, and we knew we'd be imbibing, so staying close was worth the extra cost.
We (Thomas, or @tradzak of Instagram fame; and my fiancé John) arrived at the Grand Floridian around 7:00 pm. We parked in the Resort parking lot, and left a cooler bag with a bottle of nice champagne and some mini bottles of vodka and Fireball in the car.
The lobby was still decked out in it's holiday finery, and two big nets were strung up, filled with balloons.
The seating in the lobby was already pretty full, so we went up to check Mizner's. That was full too. Thankfully, the lounge at Citricos had a few empty tables.
If we had been hungry for dinner, this would have been perfect-- you can order off the full menu at any Disney Resort lounge. I didn't know what the crowd situation was going to be, and we couldn't get an ADR at either Citricos or Narcoossee's, so I ate beforehand. We just ordered drinks and a cheese plate.
The menus were specially printed for the evening, with cute little NYE graphics and the date stamped in the corner. One *might* have found it's way home in my bag...
They were just finishing up handing out hats in the lobby when we arrived. Luckily, we snagged a few.
Emi-Jay Skinny Hair Tie (These are seriously the best hair ties. They're having a sale until Monday, January 5th- a great time to stock up at a great price.)
After a few rounds of drinks, we decided to move locations to the lobby. There was a dance floor set up, and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra and the pianist were alternating playing music. This picture gives you an idea of how busy it was with more than two hours until midnight-- not too bad yet, but all of the seating was definitely full.
The Grand Floridian Tea Room was open for seating adjacent to the lobby, but we wanted to be in the thick of things-- lo and behold, a marble ledge was unoccupied, RIGHT in front of the Christmas tree, and RIGHT under the balloons. We posted up there and settled in for the next few hours.
Thomas did a clutch job of holding our spots as we'd make bathroom or drink runs.
"Draw me like one of your French girls."
BB Dakota Olsen Dress (a great party dress at a great price- and free shipping on every order. I've worn this for several different occasions.) Lilly Pulitzer Resort Chic Wedge in Gold (old, similar style here)
The Orchestra played on, and made for a very festive environment, which just begged for dancing.
Sadly, the 'dance floor' was more popular with the 10-and-under set most of the night. But it sure made for fun people watching!
I wandered around and took some pictures. My favorite merchandise shop was closed for the night-- love all the Lilly Pulitzer in there! The window displays were beautiful too, all color schemed like peacocks!
Hey Disney, if you're looking for someone to help curate the Lilly selections in your shops, call me up! I'll style windows, too. ;)
There were bars set up on either side of the lobby- the one next to grand staircase and main elevator had a consistent line, while the one next to our post was relatively quiet until an hour or so before midnight.
Around 11:00 we ended up going to Mizner's to grab a drink to bring down to the lobby, and that took a good 20 minutes. Plan ahead and bring your own booze, or order a few bottles of wine to keep from having to wait in the drink line throughout the night. Still, 20 minutes is NOTHING compared to how long you'd wait for a beer (or a bathroom!) in Epcot on NYE. There were also waiters circulating around the lobby, taking drink orders. They were swamped too.
I should mention that they probably frown upon the idea of byob- we had ours in a soft-sided cooler bag inside a Disney merch bag, so we weren't flaunting it around. That said, there was never any bag check, and we weren't the only ones with the idea. I saw quite a few paper grocery bags with drinks in them. To be fair, we did order many drinks from the hotel itself, so we weren't entire mooches. :)
Speaking of-- mini-bottle Fireball time!
Coach Legacy Gold Glitter Flat Zip E Reader iPad Tablet Wristlet (used as a purse)
Stella & Dot Renegade Cluster Bracelet in Rose Gold (love this, wear this with everything)
Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant Necklace in Gold (again, love this, wear this with everything)
The crowds started to really swell around 11:30. People camped out on the floor around the tree, and pulled up the children's sized chairs.
With about 15 minutes till midnight, we popped open the champagne. By this time, it had been in the cooler bag for a good 8 hours, and while it was still chilled, it wasn't as ice-cold as I prefer. So we added some ice cubes, 'cause we classy like that. I tried to ask a server for a bucket of ice, but with only 10 minutes to go, it wouldn't have made it in time. Next time, I'll ask for one around 10:30 or so.
We could hear the fireworks going off at the Magic Kingdom, and knew the hour was near! The Orchestra counted down 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
People were stomping on the balloons, and the lobby was filled with the echoing sounds of balloon pops. Thomas and I scrambled around to collect some to keep.
Kids, cover your eyes!! (Dad, you skip this next photo too, ok?!)
The only thing missing was the rest of our Dis-fam, Angie (@pangiehubbard on the IG) and Danny. But they were there in spirit (and FaceTime).
Stella & Dot earrings (old, but I LOVE these!)
No sooner had we rung in 2015, then the cleaning crews were making the rounds. And they were wearing festive hats!
We had already decided to hang around the Resort until 1 or so, to give MK traffic a chance to die down (since the Grand and MK all share the same exit road). So we headed to the 24-hour quick serve spot, Gasparilla Grill, and indulged in late night flatbread pizzas.
By the time we headed to the car, it was just after 1 am. Traffic was still pretty backed up on World Drive, but if you're at all familiar with the area, I would recommend doing what we did and loop around past Ft. Wilderness. It's kind of the back way out, and avoids the headache of World Drive.
Thomas dropped us off at our hotel, and John and I were up in our room by 1:38. Not too shabby for a New Year's Eve!
So, would I do NYE at the Grand Floridian again? Absolutely! While it definitely didn't have a younger-crowd-party vibe, it was classy and festive, and reminded me of how the 'show business elite' might have rang in the new year 'amidst the glitz and glitter of a bustling young movie talent at the hight of its golden age' at the Tip Top Club in the Hollywood Tower Hotel (study up on your Tower of Terror knowledge if you don't know).
I'd book a table for Citricos. In the past, they and Narcoossee's did a prix fixe dinner. Citricos wasn't offering that this year, but I believe Narcoossee's still was.
I'd prefer Citricos just to be more in the middle of the action, since Narcoossee's is set out on the water in a separate building. BUT, if you book the later seating at Narcoossee's, you'll get prime viewing for the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. But then, you'd miss the balloon drop in the lobby. Thomas and I had seen the fireworks the night before at MK (the SAME fireworks show they do on NYE-- just the test run), so our priority was the balloon drop.
Victoria & Alberts as also serving. If you're really looking for a luxe New Year's Eve experience, book and room at the Grand, do the early V&A dinner seating, and ring in the new year in the lobby. Swanky!
Or keep it more low key and kid friendly by hunkering down on a couch in the lobby early in the evening. Send someone to grab a large pizza from Gasparilla Grill, bring a cooler of beers and sodas, and you're all set. I saw families playing card games while waiting for midnight, and the kids loved cutting a rug on the dance floor.
Next year, I'm going to try to convince John to do New Year's at Epcot. We've already got a game plan- get a room at a Crescent Lake Resort, plan a sit down lunch and a late dinner at a lagoon-side restaurant, and embrace the party atmosphere while still having a chance for a respite from the maddening crowds with our ADRs. We'll see how that turns out.
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!