This past weekend, Gaylord Palms Resort invited my family and me to stay at their hotel and experience their Once Upon A Spring Event. This event will get you in the mood for tulips and chocolate bunnies; between the cookie decorating, scavenger hunts, and water park, we had the best weekend ever!
Gaylord Palms is situated outside of Orlando in Kissimmee, Florida, and is located very close to Walt Disney World (seriously, minutes away). Gaylord Palms is large and opulent, but from the road, you can’t tell what’s waiting for you inside. The moment you step through their massive revolving front door, you feel like you are in another place altogether. Just past the lobby, you will find yourself in an expansive atrium full of plants and animals; it’s truly magical and the perfect vacation destination.
Gaylord follows Marriott’s Commitment to Clean Standards, and I found the hotel to be clean and safe. Masks are required by anyone two and older while outside of their hotel rooms, hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the resort, social distancing measures are in place, and we found hand sanitizer and wipes in our room.
We arrived on Friday and immediately wanted to explore. My husband has never been to a Gaylord Resort before, and I think I heard an audible gasp when he opened our balcony door. The gardens inside the atrium of Gaylord Palms are lush and feature four areas: Key West, St. Augustine, Emerald Plaza, and the Everglades. There is even a boat, a restaurant called MOOR, inside of the hotel! We stayed in St. Augustine and had the perfect view of the atrium and, at night, the Springtime Light Display (more on that later).
My daughter was anxious to get a closer view of the atrium, so we headed downstairs to check it out.
During Once Upon A Spring, you will find the Eggspression Garden located in the middle of the atrium. This walkthrough experience full of oversized eggs and larger-than-life chocolate Easter Bunnies will get you in the mood for spring. Brooklyn loved this area, and we walked through it multiple times during our stay. We also participated in the Bunny Scavenger Hunt, which had us searching for Easter Bunnies throughout the resort! These activities helped give us a lay of the land and were a great way to kick off our trip.
As the evening turned into night, we put Brooklyn down for bed and headed out to our atrium facing balcony, where we were able to watch the Springtime Light Display. You can’t see the LED screens that hang from the St. Augustine Atrium ceiling during the day, but at night they come alive with flowers, bunnies, and all things spring. My husband and I really enjoyed sitting on our balcony and watching the lights.
On Saturday morning, we decided to have breakfast at Villa De Flora.
This newly renovated restaurant offered a breakfast buffet (where your food is served to you) and an opportunity to dine with the Easter Bunny! During our breakfast, we met the King of Easter, who kept Brooklyn laughing throughout our meal. There was a large variety of food at the buffet, and everything we tried was excellent.
After breakfast, we headed straight to Cypress Springs Water Park, and it did NOT disappoint. Honestly, I could write an entire post about how wonderful the water park at Gaylord Palms is, but I’ll leave it at this; my husband and I both agreed it is a place we will definitely have to visit again.
While we were there, Crystal River Rapids opened, and we were some of the first to experience it! This not-so-lazy river is perfect for everyone in the family, and we had an absolute blast. When we finally got my daughter out of the river, she and my husband enjoyed the zero-entry pool, and I was able to enjoy a drink poolside. I also caught a glimpse of the Springtime Pool Party (during the weekend from 12-4pm), full of games, dancing, and prizes.
The only way we could get Brooklyn away from the water park was with promises of Cookie Decorating. We changed into some dry closed and walked to Old Hickory, located in the Everglades (I think Everglades is my favorite section of the hotel!). Once we arrived, we decorated our own Easter Egg cookie, AND we got to meet the Easter Bunny.
After a quick afternoon nap (that water park wears you out), we enjoyed an evening production of Paint Me A Fairytale. This precious show is narrated by Mother Goose and tells the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, and Jack and the Beanstock and was the perfect way to end our Gaylord Palms stay. Once the production was over, Brooklyn was given a set of watercolors and a watercolor book depicting the show. This show runs daily during the weekend at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm and you can purchase tickets in advance.
If you think that the Gaylord Palms is “just another hotel outside of Disney World,” you would be completely wrong! This resort is a destination within itself, and we had such a magical weekend experiencing everything that it has to offer. Between the whimsical springtime activities, delicious restaurants, and incredible water park, I am already trying to convince my husband that we need another trip back to Gaylord Palms soon.
You can enjoy Gaylord Palm’s Once Upon A Spring Event from now until May 16!
Sending love and magic.