As the scorching hot Florida summer approaches, there is nothing that screams un-magical quite like trying to satisfy hungry tummies at the same time as the thousands of other Guests at the Magic Kingdom. While mobile ordering can serve to alleviate a bit of mealtime stress, sometimes the best, most relaxing option is to take a short break from the park entirely. Several inexpensive dining options are just a Monorail or ferry boat ride away, but perhaps one of the most overlooked choices resides at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
This deluxe-level resort offers up a number of luxury-class dining establishments that often overshadow its unassuming quick-service location. Gasparilla Island Grill is much like its namesake Florida barrier island, a laid-back place of tranquility known for its lovely beachside scenery. Located on the ground floor of the Grand Floridian, the restaurant faces the marina with both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon. Cinderella Castle can even be seen from the dockside tables!
While the interior design is not spectacular, what can be found on the menu is most certainly delightful. With a number of light sandwiches, there are filling options that will not leave patrons feeling over-full in the heat and humidity. The delicious Grilled Vegetable Sandwich includes marinated Portobello mushrooms, slices of fresh mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic glaze and served on a ciabatta-style roll. There are several other deli-style choices including a Smoked Ham Sandwich, Roasted Turkey Sandwich, Roast Beef Sandwich, Hot Italian Sandwich or the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Prosciutto.
While several of those alternatives look delicious, the sleeper hit at this establishment is the Blakened Fish “Reuben,” blackened fillets of Mahi Mahi topped with a vinegar-style cabbage slaw, served on marble rye, and accompanied by French fries. This sandwich is far better than it has any right to be and is absolutely a quick-service surprise.
Other menu options include a grilled Chicken and Brie Sandwich (grilled chicken, ham and brie on a brioche bun served with French fries), Artisanal Burger, Create Your Own Salad, several pizza selections and a number of sides.
The children’s menu includes an array of kid-friendly, choices: Uncrustables, all-beef hot dog, cheese burger, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, or for the more adventurous little ones, a child-sized version of the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich.
While in Walt Disney World, room should always be left for dessert and this is undeniably true at Gasparilla Island Grill. It would probably be best to survey the pastry and dessert cases prior to making meal selections just to be safe. Options range from a traditional, but still delicious chocolate chip cookie, all the way up to a Coconut Pot de Creme or Almond Fruit Tart. Danishes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies and other delicious morsels abound!
Another plus to be noted, Gasparilla Island Grill is open 24-hours a day. Breakfast is served from [6:30] AM – [11:00] AM, so it is a wonderful place to hop off of the Monorail and grab a Croissant Egg Sandwich, Mickey-shaped Waffles, a Fresh Baked Quiche, or one of their other hearty and delicious selections before heading to the Magic Kingdom. Lunch/Dinner options can be found from [11:00] AM – [11:30] PM. Then at [11:30] PM, the menu switches over to late-night dining, which means pizza only. These night-owl hours make this a great place to stop for a bite after Happily Ever After or even Extra Magic Hours.
Have you ventured over to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to enjoy a meal at the Gasparilla Island Grill? If so, what is your favorite item on the menu?
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Kendall and read her recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.