The Grand Floridian is a Victorian-inspired masterpiece that most of us can’t afford to stay one night in. With the introduction of Afternoon Tea to the Disneyland Hotel a few years ago, we were curious about a tea service that has been in place for a while longer: Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room.
At the time we visited reservations could be made online and by phone but not through the Disney World app. Tea time is popular so we managed to snag the last spot of the day around 3pm. Do remember to arrive early and check in with the hostess as they will seat you as soon as a table opens up around the time of your reservation.
The atmosphere is a throwback to the Victorian era with plenty of lace doilies, flower arrangements, and white accents. This is the sort of place that could put off some people or make parents anxious since it seems so pristine. I think kids can have a lot of fun not only at tea but exploring the Grand Floridian, so don’t let the look of the place put you off. There is an orchestra on the upper floors playing music (why have just a pianist when you can have an orchestra!) and there are plenty of people milling around so it isn’t nearly as fussy as people think.
The Garden View Tea Room is in the back of the main lobby seating area. It is accessible from doors to the back as well as the front. We arrived by boat after spending the day at the Magic Kingdom so we came in the back and found the restaurant fairly easily. If you’re arriving by Monorail just take the elevator or stairs down to the first floor and head back towards the doors to the pools.
Tea service is split into different tiers with different prices. The dominating difference is how much food you get. The lower the price, the less food. This isn’t an incredibly pricy meal but it isn’t cheap either (we spent about $70 for two people eating from the second to highest menu option). Also, this isn’t really a meal. If you have a smaller appetite you can fill yourself up, but for many people this will seem more like an extravagant snack. We made sure to space our breakfast and snacks beforehand and planned on a light dinner so that we could take advantage of the meal without feeling too hungry or too full afterward.
The menu is basically an English high tea: finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Each person gets their choice of tea to go with their food. Unlike the Disneyland Hotel’s tea you cannot change teas or order extras. What you get at the beginning is what they’ll continue to serve you. There’s a pretty nice selection of tea and the servers are happy to offer suggestions if you’re uncertain, but I did miss the range of iced teas and the extensive knowledge of the Disneyland Hotel’s servers.
Because tables are small you’ll have your food served on a single tiered set of plates if possible. Busy Bumble and I ordered the same thing so it worked out easily for the two of us.
For our tea we each chose a black tea. Busy Bumble had a fragrant rose tea and I had the Garden Blend. Your tea comes in a large teapot with a cozy to keep it warm. As I said before, I would have like to change teas and try other types but there is a surcharge for each additional tea ordered.
We started with a selection of finger sandwiches, crisp lavosh crackers, cheese, and fresh fruit. If you’re hungry this is something you’ll want to make sure is included in your tea service. The sandwiches were traditional cucumber-cream cheese, egg salad, and curried chicken salad, all very good. The fresh fruit was wonderful on a hot and humid Florida afternoon. Busy Bumble is the cheese connoisseur so she especially liked the variety of cheeses plated for us.
We were each given a currant scone, served with apricot preserves, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream. While lovely I felt the scone was a little heavier than I expected and that there was a too little of the spreads for two people. What I really loved were the strawberry jam tarts. Like a sweet straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, these sweet jam filled goodies were good enough to steal. Their glossy, ruby red appearance is Instagram-worthy. I ate mine too fast to even take a picture. I would gladly purchase just a tray of these.
For your sweet you are given a choice: strawberries and cream, berry-lemon-vanilla trifle, or a chocolate swan cream puff. Since we’ve had the chocolate swan cream puff at Chefs de France we went for the strawberries and cream and the trifle. The strawberries and cream was simple but the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing. The cream wasn’t too cloying and balanced out the slight tartness of the berries. Busy Bumble was very fond of her trifle, which had a lemon scented vanilla custard and a mix of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.
Overall, while we enjoyed ourselves and the lovely food I think the Disneyland Hotel’s tea wins out over the Grand Floridian. While the price point at the Garden View is much easier to swallow I found myself missing its Californian counterpart.