Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando/Kissimmee, FL

This is my 49th trip to Disney since Feb 2000–and my FIRST off property stay for more than one night. lol. Originally I was to be in Coronado Springs Resort 12/27 – 1/3 with two kids and DH coming on on 12/31, but then DH decided he didn’t want to come down for just three days, and DS wanted to work for DH, so the trip dwindled to me and DD (age 13.) Annual Passes for me and kids expire on 12/30, and no military tix until after 1/3 so we were stuck having to buy tix as I was not renewing APs. (Doing DCL in March for Spring Break, and not even able to think about another trip until June thus making the APs a waste for six months.) So rather than do the CSR trip I decided to move it and find some place else to stay. Gaylord Palms is just a couple of miles from PC (no traffic either in this direction) so it seemed like a good idea to give it a try, plus one of my friends visited and liked it. Got a great rate, but the kicker is a $12/day parking fee plus a $15/day resort service fee. Not bad considering this is a “deluxe” property and its the holidays. Booked at GP 12/27-31 (four nights.)

Got to Gaylord Palms at 12:30pm-ish on Sunday. Check in a headache for vehicles–too many vehicles and not enough valets to move them around. Had to give keys to the valet who was playing vehicle tetris in moving cars up as guests came back from check in. Overall impression is that this is a beautiful hotel–with a lot of activities and things to do. Front desk pretty efficient even with a long line, and they upgraded me to the Emerald Bay section, which was nice–but I am over the courtyard and its somewhat noisy. Hopefully it will quiet down tonight or I’ll need earplugs. Lots of kids running around and I am still hearing screaming–we’re overlooking the pool and it is open 24/7. There are also groups here—I think there must be a soccer tournament somewhere. (DD thinks the ‘scenery” is pretty good!)

Tried to find parking close to the room–no way was that going to happen. Parking is a good 1/4-1/2 mile away from the elevator to this section, if you can find a spot. Finally found a spot and hauled stuff in–which was another issue too because finding the room was difficult due to the restaurants plopped in the atrium. (Can’t take a shortcut through a restaurant to get to your elevator.) After 20 minutes of walking (no exaggeration here) we got to our room. Room is pretty, and large with two queen beds. Not as big as the one I had at the Courtyard (Marriott) last night though.

Headed to Disney and MK. And reminded myself again of why I always stay on property–that MK parking lot is a good 20 minutes from the MK. Wait times at attractions were pretty long so we wandered around and went to DHS to see Osborne. Left there at 7:30pm (Fantasmic line not moving, and its not like we’ve never been there) and I went to the grocery store for some healthy food.

Left Winn Dixie in Lake Buena Vista at 8:30pm (could not bear the thought of WalMart in Kissimmee or Palm Parkways because it is so crowded down here) and finally got into the room at 9pm–absolutely NO PARKING at this stupid hotel in any of the designated guest parking lots. No traffic from LBV over here–a lot of my time was spend trying to find parking and then walking to the room. I had to go over to the convention center area (at least 1/4 mile in another direction through the convention center) to find a spot.

About 10:15pm we decide we want to find some food–only thing we had eaten today was burgers at the Plaza in the MK. There is a huge room service menu here, and prices make Disney look inexpensive and reasonable. (If you want a $43 steak you’ve found it, and all sides are ala carte. Yachtsman looks inexpensive in comparison.) We go downstairs and start the search for pizza or other QS food. Found plenty of empty pizza boxes in the trash from Dominoes, Papa John’s, etc. None from the resort. We go to the front desk to ask about where to get a sandwich or pizza and she tells me to call room service. The price for the room service pizza: $14 – but no size listed, and there’s a 21% service charge and a $3 delivery fee for all room service. Since its almost 11pm, and I’m not even sure I should be eating pizza this late, I had a cereal bar, an orange, and a glass of milk. (There is a fridge in the room, smaller than the dorm size ones at the Disney hotel but it works and will do just fine.)

Overall impression of this resort after 12 hours: It is beautiful in the public areas but HUGE. And so NOT ME. I want to leave. Soon. I call the front desk and ask if I have a penalty to depart early, and he tells me it is $50. I’m contemplating paying the fee to get the heck out of here. Then he asks me why I want to go–I tell him the parking situation is horrible and this place is just “not me”–its too big and loud. He asks me when I want to leave, and I ask to go a day early, and he waives the fee. So instead of four nights I am at three, but will eat the $50 departure fee if it is a bad stay. So as I type this, just two more days of horrible parking and screaming kids at midnight in the pool. DD is not terribly disappointed either. Problem here is me, not them (except for the screaming at the pool for the past two hours) and I have been going to Disney hotels too long. I want to walk up to a food court and order what I want, when I want it. I want to park my own car sort of close to my room or at least reasonably close to the main entrance–not the loading docks or where they park the semi’s making deliveries. I do not want to schlep through 4.5 acres of landscaping and buildings plopped in the path to the elevators to find the room, nor do I want to be on someone else’s schedule (like if I took their shuttle.) The time it takes the valet to get the car is what it would take me to get it myself, so I’m not going down that route either. I confess that I seriously contemplated using the valet to avoid the parking hassles, and I rarely use one.

While Gaylord Palms a much nicer hotel with much nicer services and amenities than any Disney resort, I think the convenience of being on Disney property with Disney service and proximity to the parks is well worth it. I am looking forward to leaving this hotel and not returning.

Time for bed although it is not very comfortable and the sheets are thin and sloppily put on. (I’ll excuse this, because typically I remake hotel beds except when they used fitted sheets.)

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