I’ve heard a lot of buzz around the Gaylord Resorts, admired stunning photographs of their massive atriums and listened to many travelers rave about their beautiful hotels, but I had never been to any of their four properties until just recently. I was excited to find out that the chain was recently acquired by Marriott Resorts and when an opportunity arose for us to visit the Gaylord Palms Resort during our trip to Disney World – I took it!
Located just 10 minutes from Walt Disney World Resort, Gaylord Palms is a massive location all its own. Located in Kissimmee, Florida, not even 5 miles from Epcot, this luxury resort is not your typical vacation spot and has recreated three of Florida’s famous environments and immerses you with real-life sights and sounds. How? Well, for starters, there are 15 baby alligators and 30 different species of turtles inside the Everglades atrium. More about that in just a bit.
The resort covers over 63 acres and essentially celebrates Florida with nods to Key West and the Everglades and infused with design elements from Spain and the old-world charm of St. Augustine.
Walking in is a treat in itself. The lobby is grand and luxurious with gorgeous decor and dim lighting. From there you can walk to a multitude of shops or take a walk through the Everglades.
The Gator Springs are located in the St. Augustine atrium and is home to alligators and turtles. Gatorland takes care of this section and are on-hand a couple of days during the week to answer any questions you may have. It’s a great experience for the whole family!
I still can’t get over how authentic this space is. The streets of the St. Augustine section are all cobblestone and there is even a replica of the Castillo de San Marcos (oldest Spanish for in the New World) where you can look at various artifacts and treasures.
We stayed in the 1 Bedroom Executive Suite (625 square feet) which provided us with loads of room for our family. There is a King size bed in the main bedroom and the living room has a pull-out sofa bed. The living area is separated from the bedroom which is oh so nice as it feels like you are in a mini apartment as opposed to being in a small room. The marble bathroom is spacious and gorgeous as well. The space and overall floor plan is great for families!
Other room types include regular guest rooms and accommodations in the Emerald Bay location.
Gaylord Resorts are affiliated with DreamWorks and offer many experiences throughout the day for kids. Characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar come out and interact with the children during activities such as the Splash ‘N’ Screen movie, Crack-A-Lackin’ Pool Party, Pool Games and Character Meet & Greets. The ShrekFeast is a MUST do, however unlike the other experiences, this one is available for an extra fee. It’s held at the Villa de Flora every Saturday and Sunday.
This is hands down the best character dining experience we’ve ever had. There are so many aspects it, that I decided to dedicate a video to it so that you can see just some of the things you can expect. Worth every penny!
Waterpark & Pool
The water park is FANTASTIC at Gaylord Palms! Cypress Springs is located just across from the main swimming pool, so there is no need to move if you’re enjoying the rays poolside.
The park includes 4 different water slides, a huge tree house playground and all sorts of fun features such as water swings, geysers and mini slides. My kids had such a blast here and cried when it was time to leave.
For drinks and snacks, the pool bar is your best bet. The food here is quite good and everything is fresh and tasty.
There are 7 dining options at the Gaylord Palms, including a Haagen Daaz ice cream shop: The Old Hickory Steakhouse, Wreckers Sports Bar, Villa de Flora, Sunset Sam’s, SORA, SandBar (located by the pool) and Java Coast. Although Villa de Flora looked very tempting with their Mediterranean dinner menu, since we had already enjoyed a fabulous breakfast there in the morning for the ShrekFest, we decided to try Sunset Sam’s in the Key West section. Talk about a show stopper! Directly in front of the restaurant is a huge indoor lake and smack in the middle – a 60′ sailboat. You could either dine on the sailboat or on the restaurant’s patio.
The kids wanted to watch the sailboat, so we ate outside instead. The food here was excellent!
This is one amazing resort and a must-experience for families! The ambience is luxurious, the service top-notch and the food is fantastic. You could easily spend 3-4 days here without leaving the property as there is so much to do and see. Highly recommend this resort!
Disclosure: Gaylord Palms provided our family with complimentary accommodations as well as the ShrekFest experience for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.