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.





Category — d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

Amenities and Dining at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, Disney Springs Resort Area

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace in the Disney Springs Resort Area has both valet and self-parking.

If you are driving and self-parking, you may park in the port cochere until you have completed check-in.

There’s one large, obvious, ugly, and painfully distant self-parking area–on the left as you enter the property. A much better choice, once you have checked in and gotten your room key card, which also serves as your parking pass, is on the right when you drive in, but of course on the left as you drive away from the port cochere.

See the annotated image, where the better parking area is marked with red fill in the lower center.

This better parking area is also right next to the bus stop. Details on transportation to the theme parks from the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are here. Perhaps worth noting is that these Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are also served by the Minnie Van service, which can allay some transportation issues, especially to Magic Kingdom.

Also right in this area is the walkway to Disney Springs. Basically you go out to the road, turn left, and walk to the overpass. The furthest tower rooms are about a half mile walk to the nearest part of Disney Springs. Closer Island rooms are a quarter mile away.

The basics of the Hilton Buena Vista Palace’s services are around the lobby that you’ll find on the floor that comes off the port cochere. Check in is way at the back–by the windows.

You’ll find the bell stand on one side…

…and concierge services on the other. Around the corner from the concierge desk is the rental car desk.

There’s some seating on the way back to the check in area.

The check in area itself.

Also in the main lobby is this bar, Sunnies.

The lobby bar at night.

The lobby bar closed unreasonably early a couple of nights I was there–but there’s a second bar, Blue, more of a sports bar, down the hall and down some steps.

It has about a tenth–maybe a twentieth–the romance of the lobby bar.

There’s another bar at the pool.  I cover the pool at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace in detail here.

All other amenities (unless I am forgetting something) are either on, or accessed from, the Palace’s lowest level.  This is also the path from tower rooms to the pools, the bus stop, and the pathway to Disney Springs, so you’ll be down here a lot.

On the way to the bus stop you’ll find this gym.

Just outside is this outdoor lounging area, sometime used for events but otherwise more popular than you might think, given the Florida weather.

Back inside you’ll find a large gift shop…

…separated from an even larger grab and go and snack shop by this seating area, which could use some redecorating.

The grab and go shop keeps extended hours–it was open 24 hours one of my stays, and until 2a on another.

It offers, besides hot snacks, all kinds of cold items and shelf-stable snacks and drinks.

More shots of the grab and go area.

The featured dining venue at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is Letterpress.

It has character meals on Sunday mornings…

…and has, God bless it, book theming.

I think, though, that I am the only person to have actually read books in the restaurant.

The dinner menu.

The lunch and breakfast menu–Letterpress, by the way, serves breakfast all day, a practice I commend.

I had a nice salad…

…and fine steak for dinner…

…and the “Breakfast Standard” another day for lunch.

I’ve eaten in the past 6 months in all the Disney Springs hotels except for the Doubletree (I had Disney dining reservations my entire stay there), and Letterpress at the Palace is the best of the bunch. That said, dinner in Disney Springs is still your best bet.

Overall, including its pools, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace in the Disney Springs Resort Area has as strong a set of amenities as you’ll find among the Disney Springs Resort Area options. Both its pools and its table service dining are the best among these resorts, and the only thing obviously missing is outdoor sports courts for tennis or basketball, for which the Wyndham has the best offering.

 

 

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November 20, 2018   No Comments

Amenities and Dining at the Wyndham and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, Disney Springs Resort Area

The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista in the Disney Springs Resort Area are essentially the same resort, and share all the same amenities.

The name distinction comes from the two different room types you will find here, in the tower versus the wing buildings.  For simplicity, I will refer to both in the rest of this post as the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista.

The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in the Disney Springs Resort Area has both valet and self-parking.

If you are driving but self-parking, you may park in the port cochere until you have completed check-in, but if it is too crowded you’ll be given the code for the self parking and park there during check in.

This same front of the hotel area has the bus stop.

Details on transportation to the theme parks from the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are here.

Perhaps worth noting is that these Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are also served by the Minnie Van service, which can allay some transportation issues, especially to Magic Kingdom. This image is from the Wyndham check in desk.

Most of the Wyndham’s amenities are on the floor that comes off the port cochere, around the main lobby.

Back at the left is the check in area.

To its left are guest services and a rental car desk…

…and beyond it, in an area most guests except those staying in the east Garden wing won’t see, is a kids waiting area and a library.

Back in the lobby proper, there are many groups of comfortable chairs. I noted several guests napping in them, but am too kind to post those photos here.

Beyond this area is a Disney gift shop.

Inside the gift shop.

Diagonally across from this gift shop, near the entrance, is this much larger coffee shop and grab and go spot.

It includes a seating area, and offers various warm, shelf stable, and…

…cold drinks and snacks.

On the opposite side of the lobby space is this bar, which also serves food from the menu of the upstairs Lakeview restaurant. There’s another large bar and grill at the pool. I cover the pool at the Wyndham in detail in this post.

Upstairs is the Lakeview restaurant…

…which also serves character meals at a buffet breakfast Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Other days of the week see a breakfast with both buffet and a la carte options.

I dined on Lakeview food, but in the bar.

My wedge salad was fine…

…and my steak disappointing.

Links to menus for the Lakeview restaurant are here.

Downstairs at the lowest level you’ll find this gym…

…and outside flanking the pool you’ll find on one side these tennis courts…

…and these sports courts on the other side.

Overall, including the pools, the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista  in the Disney Springs Resort Area has a strong set of amenities.  Table service dining is undistinguished except by convenience–but there’s a ton of great options in nearby Disney Springs.

The Wyndham positions itself as the closest of these hotels to Disney Springs.  That may be true mathematically, but practically speaking, the Palace, Hilton, and Wyndham are all in easy walking distance. Disney Springs is also served by buses beginning in the late afternoon.

 

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November 7, 2018   No Comments

Amenities and Dining at the Holiday Inn Orlando, Disney Springs Resort Area

The Holiday Inn Orlando in the Disney Springs Resort Area has both valet and self-parking.

If you are driving, you will park in the port cochere until you have completed check-in.

Also in this area at the front of the resort is the bus stop.

Details on transportation to the theme parks from the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are here.

The lobby is just inside–with guest services on the left, and a small seating area on the right.

Around the corner is a couple of desks for airline check in and such, and next to it is a Hertz counter.

Nearby you’ll find a Disney gift shop.

More from the gift shop.

Around the corner is this gym.

Just beyond the lobby you’ll find this bar, which also serves lunch and dinner, and is right next to the pool.

In addition to the indoor seating, the bar has pool-side seats. (I cover the pool at the Holiday Inn Orlando in detail here.)

At the corner of the bar you’ll find this mini-shop with drinks and snacks, supplementing the Disney gift shop.

Back inside, most rooms at the Holiday Inn Orlando are in a tower with an atrium. The elevator bank is in the back corner of this area, and you walk around the dining room to get to it.

The dining room is open for breakfast and dinner. Dinner traffic is pretty light, so I actually ate in the bar.

The menu–I had the burger, and it was fine.

Breakfast is an at-first-glance expensive buffet….

…but kids 11 and under eat free. Note the asterisk–parents need to be eating too, and paying full price.  All the details to the asterisk–which strike me as reasonable– are here.

I’ve also seen a lot of deals for the Holiday inn Orlando fly by that offer free breakfast for everyone.

The breakfast itself is fine but undistinguished. There’s fresh Mickey waffles and an omelet station…

…fresh fruit…

…eggs, potatoes, and, not shown, french toast and pancakes…

…breakfast meats, and the usual cereals, pastries, and such.

The Holiday Inn Orlando in the Disney Springs Resort Area has all the basic amenities you’d expect from a hotel its size.  Dining is undistinguished except by convenience–but there’s a ton of great options in nearby Disney Springs, whose nearest part is about a third of a mile away, and which is served by buses beginning in the late afternoon.

 

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November 5, 2018   No Comments

Amenities and Dining at the B Resort & Spa, Disney Springs Resort Area

The B Resort & Spa in the Disney Springs Resort Area has both valet and self-parking.

If you are driving, you will park in the port cochere until you have completed check-in.

Also in this area at the front of the resort are some lovely flowers…

…and the bus stop. (Details on transportation to the theme parks from the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are here.) Note the whimsical seating.

There’s more of that outside–and even more inside.

Inside you will find the interesting and in many ways lovely lobby.  Dead ahead, backed by an image of fireworks, is the check-in desk.

To its side is the concierge service.

There are some particularly interesting seating areas near the lobby.

The lobby lighting is also often worth a second look.

Beyond the front desk area is this small business center.

Near the business center are the principal elevators for the tower (Lanai rooms are served by a different elevator).

There’s another tower elevator, with glass walls, at the very front of the building, with music that I’m quite sure someone will not find annoying, but in recompense some lovely views.

The upper floor elevator lobbies continue with the interesting furnishings…

…and add a carpet full of hidden mickeys.

Back downstairs, to the left of the lobby you will find a Disney gift shop.

The gift shops in the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels all give the appearance of being stocked, run, and staffed by Disney cast members…

…even to having rather familiar bags.

Beyond the gift shop, towards the B Resort’s Lanai building, is a second shop. The Pickup, with more food and drink options…

…including some hot food.

More from inside The Pickup:

The Pickup also has an exterior service window convenient to the B Resort’s pool.

Also outside by the pool is the spa and gym.  (I cover the pool at the B Resort & Spa in detail here.)

At the other end of the first floor is the B Resort & Spa’s full-service restaurant, the American Kitchen Bar & Grill.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I hear that the Kitchen launched with intentions of becoming destination dining, but with the massive improvements in dining at nearby Disney Springs over the past few years, that’s not on.

The bar.

The dining room.

The dinner menu.

I’ve eaten here a couple of times during my stays at the B Resort & Spa–an interestingly plated steak…

…chicken and waffles…

…a large salad.

I have to like any restaurant that serves its iced tea in a jar, and the American Kitchen is certainly convenient–and a step above what you’ll find at the other smaller Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, like the Doubletree, Holiday Inn, and Best Western. But folks, for dinner, if convenience is not an issue, Disney Springs is the way to go. The nearest part of Disney Springs is a half mile walk away, and the furthest a little more than a mile, but buses run there beginning in the late afternoon.

There’s some real charm and grace to the B Resort & Spa’s lobby, especially its decorations and furnishing, and the hotel has all the basic amenities that most would want.

 

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November 4, 2018   No Comments

Photo Tour of A Lanai Building Room at the B Resort & Spa, Disney Springs Resort Area

The B Resort & Spa in the Disney Springs Resort Area has several room types in two buildings–the main tower, and the Lanai building. Most rooms are in the main tower, and I have a photo tour of a B Resort tower room here.

The Lanai building at the B Resort & Spa is a two story wing that encircles the pool at the B Resort. Lanai rooms are available with a king bed, a king and a set of bunk beds, and two queens–as well as suites. There’s about 120 bays in the Lanai building, with fewer keys, as some of these rooms–especially poolside rooms–are multiple-bay suites.

More than half of the Lanai building rooms are separated from the parking lots of the B Resort just by the width of a narrow balcony and a sidewalk. While I don’t think first-timers should focus too much on views–they won’t be in their rooms enough–almost any view at the B Resort is better than these.

The rest of the rooms–about 50 bays, a few less keys–face the pool.  These are subject to pool noise, but do largely have better views, and the 20 or so on the first floor, which the B Resort markets as “Captivating Poolside Rooms,” have nice patios with pool entries. This photo tour is of a Captivating Poolside Room.

You will find an immediate difference from tower rooms as soon as you enter the space.

On one side you’ll find a closet, and a divided bath. Tower rooms have a wardrobe rather than a closet, and their baths are undivided.

Here’s one side of the closet.

Note the safe. My book is 6″ by 9″–so the safe is plenty big.

The far side of the closet.

The other side of this space has the sink…

…with these toiletries…

…and this flower, which I find charming. The sink itself has an annoying flat-bottomed shape–you’ll find similar sinks in Disney’s Contemporary Resort–which means that toothpaste tends to accumulate in it. I am not suggesting that you don’t brush your teeth–just that you’ll need to spend a little elbow grease persuading the toothpaste to go away.

Back in their own space you’ll find a tub-shower combo. Note the grab bar, which as far as I’m concerned should be in all tubs, not just those in accessible rooms. A nice touch.

Also in this space is the toilet.

Further in the room you’ll find two beds on one side.  The B Resort markets these as queens. My measurements–this is the third B Resort room I’ve stayed in and measured–mark the beds as a little smaller than that, but they are clearly larger than full beds.

The beds from the back of the room.

A closer view of one of these beds.

Between these beds is this bedside table, with a storage cubby below.  No drawer–there’s not a single drawer in this room, which I find curious.

The other side of the room has a couple of ottomans, more cubbies with a TV above, a desk and a mini-fridge.

The TV side from the back.

The moveable ottomans give your kids a place to sit beyond the beds and the desk chair.

The storage cubbies, with the TV above. The TV looks small in the image, but I got it as 47 inches, which is an adequate size these days. These cubbies, the one between the beds, and the closet, are the only storage spaces in this room. I suppose there is a market segment that is demanding that there be no drawers in their rooms–I just have yet to meet anyone in it.

The small desk has a glass top–not uncommon, but making optical mouses impossible to use.

Next to the desk is a cabinet with a Keurig coffee service above.

Inside the cabinet you’ll find this mini-fridge.

At the far end of the room you’ll find the door to the highlight of these spaces–the poolside patios.

Some views of my patio. Another is at the top of the page.  All patios have gates to the pool area.

These patios come in several sizes, and a couple have views of walls rather than the pool, but are mostly delightful.

Overall this is a spacious, and other than the absence of drawers, well-appointed room.  At around 355 square feet, the overall size is in the lower end of the Disney deluxe resort range. At around ~250 square feet, the size of the living area is comparable to or bigger than that in all Disney deluxe resorts except for the monorail resorts.

The amenities of this B Resort Lanai poolside room, with its divided bath, make it fine for families, although they will be challenged by the lack of storage (cubbies are not a great solution, and when used for storage add powerfully to visual clutter).

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book you into the B Resort & Spa or any other Disney World accommodations. Contact her using the form below!


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October 29, 2018   No Comments

Photo Tour of a Tower Room at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, Disney Springs Resort Area

The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista has two different accommodations buildings, and you book rooms in them via different websites.

The “Wyndham Garden” offerings are two full bed (or one king) rooms in low-rise buildings, with rooms accessed from exterior corridors; the “Wyndham” rooms are two queen (or one king) offerings accessed from interior corridors in the main mid-rise tower.

This photo tour is of a two queen room in the Wyndham tower.

At the entry, as is common, the closet is on one side and the bath on the other.

The bath is not divided and has just sink–making it fine for a couple (or conventioneers–the WYndham is also a convention hotel) but a little rough for a family.

Here’s the shower/tub part of the bath…

…and the toiletries offered.

The hair dryer hangs on the door.

On the other side of the entry hall is the closet and a small open storage area. The storage cubbies are worth noting ,as dresser storage in this room, while not terrible, is a bit scant.

The closet is fairly routine. Note the full length mirror in one of the doors.

Deeper in the room you’ll find two queens on one side.

The bed side from the back.

A closer view of one of the beds.

There’s a large bedside table between them with a drawer and a cubby below.

The drawer is large enough for your important books.

The other side of the room has a desk and a dresser thingy with storage and a mini-fridge, with a small-ish TV above. The connecting door, if present, is also on this side.

The desk has a shelf above and several small drawers.

The dresser thingy has a 37 inch TV–these days that’s pretty small.

Underneath the drawer area of the thingy are two ottomans. With no easy chair in the room, these are a good add.

One space in the dresser that looks like a drawer actually opens to a large safe.

The inside of the safe. My book is 6″ x 9,” so there’s plenty of room in here for a couple of laptops.

This leaves three medium-sized drawers, fine for couples, a bit scant for a family of four.

Next to the drawers is a pantry-style pull out.  You can move the stuff in this out (with the small TV there’s plenty of room on top of the dresser) and use it for storage instead.

You’d probably want to take the coffee service out, anyway, to use it.

Also in this dresser thingy is the mini-fridge.

Rare these days in mini-fridges is the small freezer compartment–not of much use with no microwave in the room.

The orientation of the tower means all views are OK–Disney Springs on one side, and some forested low rise office buildings and the Best Western on the other. There are no balconies in either Wyndham accommodation building.

At 325 square feet, these Wyndham Lake Buena Vista rooms are smaller than the smallest Disney World deluxe rooms, but the small bath area results in a 240 square foot living area, as large or larger than you’ll find in the Disney deluxes except those along the monorail. But the absence of a divided bath, extra sink, and an easy chair makes it hard for me to recommend this room for any but the smallest families–although the ottomans do help. Couples should do OK, but I’d still liked to have seen an easy chair between the bads and the window.

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book you into either Wyndham offering, or any other Disney World accommodations. Contact her using the form below!


 

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October 15, 2018   No Comments