Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





The Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels For First Time Visitors to Disney World



By Dave Shute

THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS FOR FIRST TIME FAMILY VISITORS

Since this site began—more than a decade ago—I have always presented first time visitors to Walt Disney World clear choices based on specific criteria, recommending the best, and ranking the rest.

My intent is to simplify planning, and to cut through the clutter, the wishy-washy-ness, and the interminable lists of pros and cons that all too often get provided.

Until recently, the seven hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area–owned by third parties, but on Disney World property– had been on my “why bother” list so far as detailed coverage and reviews go, as they did not offer enough distinct benefits on the positive side to make up for their missing perks and sometimes so-so amenities, even though they often have very competitive prices.

However, the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels now have access—at least through December 31, 2019—to the two most valuable perks available at an Orlando hotel, FastPass+ booking at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours, so they are not nearly as dismissible as before.

Once this access was announced, I stayed in each of these again (I’d stayed in many before), and because at several hotels I needed to stay in room variants, and one room type got refurbed after my initial stay, over the last nine months I’ve stayed in twelve different rooms at the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels.

The rankings of them that come out of these stays are below (detailed reviews of each with floor plans, photos and extensive descriptions begin at the links in the rankings), and after the rankings you’ll find other comparative material, so that you can learn a little more about these hotels

For ranking purposes I’ve divided the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels into higher and lower priced offerings. The Wyndham shows up twice, as it has two room types with two very different price points.

RANKING OF HIGHER-PRICED DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

  1. The Hilton Buena Vista Palace
  2. The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
  3. The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista (tower rooms)
  4. The B Resort & Spa

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace pretty easily leads this list, with the best rooms and best pool complex. It is also tied with the Hilton and Wyndham for being closest to Disney Springs, and is—by a bit—the closest drive to the parks (if you travel via Disney Vacation Club Way). It is in the top three for dining as well.

RANKING OF LOWER-PRICED DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

  1. The Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista (if you can fit into its full beds)
  2. Holiday Inn Orlando
  3. Doubletree Suites by Hilton Orlando
  4. Best Western Lake Buena Vista (probably best avoided by most during construction)

The Wyndham has two types of rooms at starkly different price points, so the Wyndham as a complex shows up on both lists. Garden rooms at the Wyndham offer four star amenities (they share in all Wyndham amenities) at a three star price, so, as long as you can fit into their full beds, they are an easy choice for the first rank. If you need queen beds, the Holiday Inn is the best lower-priced choice that offers queen beds—you will lose the divided bath and the Wyndham’s much better pool, but gain—besides the queens—a balcony.

Note that both higher and lower priced hotels commonly show up with deals. I’ve seen in particular nice deals go by for the B Resort & Spa, and for the Holiday Inn.  Deals can affect the relative ranking of these hotels.

Probably a more important question is whether you should book any of these rooms at all. I have always advocated that first-time visitors stay in Disney owned rooms, mostly because of the perks they offer, but also for their look and feel—in my book, we call this “the Disney Bubble.”

The extension in 2018 of FastPass+ booking rights at 60 days and Extra Magic Hour access to these hotels makes these hotels much more viable options, but they still suffer from comparatively weak transportation, multiple extra fees (especially resort fees, except at the Doubletree Suites which honorably does not charge them), so-so locations, less interesting architecture with no visual theming, and are palpably “outside the Disney bubble.”

That said, I can think of four great reasons for staying in them—and you, dear reader, may have more; if so, pop them into the comment form at the bottom of this page!

  • You are paying for your stay with points—especially Hilton Honors points. The Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Hilton are great choices, especially when free!
  • Your preferred Disney-owned moderate or value resort is sold out, and you don’t like—or can’t find—Disney-owned alternatives
  • You need more space than a value resort offers, and so are willing to investigate lower-priced Disney Springs hotels to get a similarly priced room with more space
  • You want something a bit more like a Disney deluxe, but don’t see the value of paying two to three times more to get one.

This last is the toughest case, as the distinguishing features of the Disney deluxes, like balconies, easier access to at least one theme park, fun transportation options, great adult dining, and great kid dining (yes, I know about the exceptions) simply are not generally present among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels.

(Reviews that say “X Disney Springs Resort Area hotel is comparable to a Disney deluxe” were written either by someone with slender experience, or by someone who was comped. I’ve stayed in more than 160 different Disney World-owned rooms, suites, cabins, studios, villas, and campsites, and have paid for every experience I report about out of my own pocket. As a result, I can tell you with conviction that the top three higher priced Disney Springs Resort Area hotels have amenities largely between those of a Disney moderate and a Disney deluxe–the B Resort is a little lower on the scale, because of its so-so pool.)

But on the other hand, is the Grand Floridian really worth two and half times more per night than the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, the Hilton, or tower rooms at the Wyndham?

My advice on this value question would be to stay at a Disney-owned resort trip on your first stay, and then look carefully at my detailed reviews of the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels before choosing it for a later trip based on value for money compared to a Disney deluxe.

KID APPEAL AMONG THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

Kid appeal, as defined on this site, is principally visual, and about how the execution of a resort’s architecture and decoration—especially its theming—captures the imagination of younger visitors.

By this standard, no Disney Springs Resort Area hotel has much kid appeal. Using less strong standards, the best are the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Wyndham.

Most of the exterior architecture here ranges from forgettable to brutish, with the best being the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Best Western, and the worst the Hilton and the Doubletree Suites.

Interior–B Resort & Spa

There’s no distinctively kid-appealing interiors, either, other than perhaps the B Resort & Spa, which has playful and colorful decorating choices.

Where there’s not much kid appeal to otherwise distinguish hotels, pools and character meals can help a bit. The most kid-friendly pools among Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are those at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Wyndham, with the Hilton a close third.

You’ll find character meals at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, Hilton, and Wyndham.

So these three are the hotels with the strongest kid appeal.

CONVENIENCE AMONG THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

Convenience on this site means relative transportation ease in carrying out its itineraries.

For those using the Disney Springs Resort Area bus system, there’s not much to distinguish the hotels, but those on the northern route—the Best Western, Wyndham, and Hilton Buena Vista Palace—have a minor advantage from having just three hotel bus stops, rather than the four you’ll find on the southern route.

For those driving to the parks, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is closer to the theme parks than the rest, and the Wyndham and Hilton are nearly as close. The Best Western and Doubletree Suites are the furthest.

So on convenience, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, Wyndham and Hilton are best.

ROOM QUALITY AMONG THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

All the standard rooms among the Disney Springs Resort Area are sound, and larger than all Disney-owned standard value and moderate resort rooms. All except Garden building rooms at the Wyndham offer queen beds. For families, the best rooms will have divided baths, balconies, and seating beyond a simple desk chair.

Floor Plan–Buena Vista Palace Tower Room

Among all the major standard room options among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, only the Hilton Buena Vista Palace offers all three. In fact, standard rooms at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace are the only rooms that offer both balconies and divided baths (the hundred or so Lanai building rooms at the B Resort & Spa do as well, but tower rooms there offer neither).

Standard rooms with divided baths are available at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, the Hilton, in Garden building rooms at the Wyndham (but not Wyndham tower rooms) and Lanai building rooms at the B Resort & Spa (but not tower rooms). Particularly awkward on this front are undivided baths in larger five and six person rooms filled to their capacity at the Doubletree Suites, Best Western, and B Resort & Spa.

Standard rooms with balconies are available at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, Holiday Inn, and Best Western. Standard tower rooms at the B Resort & Spa appear when you enter them to have small balconies, but in fact these are locked off and inaccessible. The smaller number of Lanai rooms at the B have balconies or patios, but half are ten feet from the parking lot.

Standard rooms with seating other than a desk chair are available at these hotels all but the Holiday Inn—although at the Holiday Inn, you can bring in the balcony chairs. Wyndham tower and many B Resort & Spa rooms offer not chairs, but ottomans.

Hilton Buena Vista Palace offers the best standard rooms.

DINING AT THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

I rank Disney Springs Resort Area hotels higher on dining for families based on extended hours in their grab and go offerings, substantial food menus in their pool bars, sound table service offerings, and—to a lesser extent—character meals.

Based on this, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Wyndham stand out, and the Hilton is a near third. None of the other Disney Springs Resort Area hotels is even close.

Based purely on the quality and range of options for dinner for adults, the top three would be the Hilton, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, and the B Resort & Spa. That said, the best approach for table service dinner for adults at a Disney Springs Resort Area hotel is to head to one of the great options in Disney Springs itself, not to eat at the hotel.

THE POOLS AT THE DISNEY SPRINGS RESORT AREA HOTELS

The best family pool offerings are at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace (with its lazy river pool and kid’s pool with a splash area and zero entry) and at the Wyndham with its distinctive kids play area.

Kids Play Area--The Wyndham

Kids Play Area–The Wyndham

The Hilton has the next best pool complex, and the worst pool is at the Best Western.

Note that Kelly, the long time travel agent partner of this site, can book you a room in any Disney World hotel.  Contact her using the form below!

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

OTHER KEY PAGES FOR WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

RELATED STUFF

0 comments

Have a thought or a question?...

Comment by typing in the form below.

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2019 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.