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

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

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!

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February 5, 2019   No Comments

Review: The B Resort & Spa in the Disney Springs Resort Area

THE B RESORT & SPA

Guests at the B Resort & Spa, like those at the other six hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area, became eligible for FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours—the two most valued Disney World perks—in 2018, eligibility that will extend at least until 12/31/2019.

The extension of these perks to these hotels, owned by third parties but located on the far southeast corner of Disney property, made them much more interesting options for Disney World visitors.

The B Resort & Spa offer multiple room types in two different accommodations buildings, a mid-rise tower where the majority of rooms are found, and a two story option known as the “Lanai” building.

The best features of the B Resort & Spa are its fun and colorful decorating and design choices, especially in the lobby area, and the quality of its staff.

Uniquely among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, it offers a spa. Amenities otherwise are more than adequate, but not distinctive.

Weaknesses include the absence of balconies and of divided baths in tower rooms, and poor storage in all rooms. For a Disney Springs Resort Area hotel, the B Resort & Spa offers relatively high prices, and doesn’t quite have the comparative amenity level–especially in its pool complex–to justify them. It shares with all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels weak park transportation.

I’ve stayed at the B Resort & Spa three times, most recently in September, and my full review has five pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE B RESORT & SPA

The B Resort & Spa in the Disney Springs Resort Area has several room types in two buildings–the main tower and the Lanai building. Rooms with a king bed, a king and a set of bunk beds, two queens, and two queens with a fold-out couch are available–as well as suites.

The floor plan is of a typical B Resort & Spa tower room, with two queens and a small couch that folds out into a single bed. There’s small set of drawers in the wardrobe across from the couch–my Lanai room had no drawers at all. Each room has several other storage options–particularly cubby-style storage.

The bed side of B Resort & Spa tower room.

The bath is not divided, has no tub, and includes a glass enclosure to its large shower.  This makes it the opposite of family friendly.

A photo tour of a two queen tower room at the B Resort & Spa is here.

The one hundred or so Lanai building rooms are more usable, offering both divided baths…

…and, in about a quarter of them, pool-side patios. Another quarter have balconies overlooking the pool. The other half of Lanai rooms offer balconies or patios just ten feet from parking–I saw no one using these on my stays, so either my timing was off, the view kept people inside, or the spaces are locked off, as they are in tower rooms.

A photo tour of a two queen Lanai building room at the B Resort & Spa is here.

DINING AT THE B RESORT & SPA

The principal dining venue at the B Resort & Spa is the American Kitchen Bar & Grill.

The American Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a fine option.

It includes a bar, and there’s another bar–not always open on my visits–at the pool. Snacks, drinks, and grab and go items are available in a shop between the lobby and the pool.

The B Resort & Spa also has a Disney gift shop offering souvenirs, park tickets, and such.

There’s more on dining and the other amenities at the B Resort & Spa here.

THE POOL AT THE B RESORT & SPA

The B Resort & Spa’s pool is average among the Disney Springs Resort Area pools–better than those at the Best Western and Doubletree Suites, but not with as many amenities or as much kid appeal as those at the Hilton, Wyndham, or Hilton Buena Vista Palace.

It includes a traditional pool with a zero-entry section and water jets that kids can play in, and a small hot tub.

For more on the pool at the B Resort & Spa, see this.

THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION AT THE B RESORT & SPA

The B Resort & Spa, according to its marketing materials, “allows you to revel in the excitement of the theme parks, found just outside our doors.” In fact, the nearest theme park as the crow flies is two and a half miles away, with no walking paths, so you will need transportation.

The B Resort & Spa participates in a transportation program sponsored by all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. One group of buses serves the Hilton, Holiday Inn, B Resort & Spa, and Doubletree Suites, Palace, and another the other three hotels here.

Buses run about every thirty minutes, each serving two parks–so, for example, to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may have travel to the Magic Kingdom first.  Moreover, unlike the buses from Disney-owned resorts, Magic Kingdom buses drop off at the Transportation and Ticket Center, not the park itself, necessitating another transit, via monorail or ferry, to get to that park.

In addition to the theme park buses, buses to and from Disney Springs run through the evening.

On the important dimensions–frequency, and the time it takes to get to and return from the parks–the transportation system at the Disney Springs Resort Area is much worse than that at the Disney-owned resorts, but better than that at most off-site hotels.

Having your own car or a rental is a much better option. Self-parking at the B Resort & Spa is $22/night and valet parking is $28/night. Parking at the theme parks is $25/day.

For more on transportation at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, see this.

PRICING AT THE B RESORT & SPA

Pricing at the Disney Springs Resort Hotels is much less visible than that at the Disney-owned resorts, and multiple prices for the same room e.g. for non-refundable stays, stays by folk with AAA, etc. are common.  Discounts and deals are also common, and these hotels commonly show up on the various hotel deal sites.

Pricing for most of them is also obscured by mandatory “resort fees.”  Resort fees are a mandatory extra cost added every night of your stay, whether you like or not. I personally find mandatory resort fees a misleading and unethical practice.  A fee that is mandatory, and charged each night, should simply be rolled into the nightly room price.

The B Resort & Spa resort fee is (after tax) $33.75 per night–among the three highest Disney Springs Resort Area fees.

Prices at the B Resort & Spa (before any discounts you might find, but including resort fees and taxes) are generally among the highest of the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and are typically comparable to those for a Disney-owned moderate resort.

For those looking for a colorful and playful decor and generally sound amenities, other than perhaps the pool, the B Resort & Spa can be a reasonable option for couples, offering amenities somewhere between those of a Disney moderate and a Disney deluxe at a price commonly closer to that of a Disney moderate. For families, it is not quite as attractive for the price as several other Disney Springs Resort Area hotels.

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!

PHOTO TOUR OF A TOWER ROOM AT THE B RESORT & SPA

This review continues here.

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February 3, 2019   No Comments

Review: The Hilton Buena Vista Palace in the Disney Springs Resort Area

THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

Guests at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, like those at the other six hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area, became eligible for FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours—the two most valued Disney World perks—in 2018, eligibility that will extend at least until 12/31/2019.

The extension of these perks to these hotels, owned by third parties but located on the far southeast corner of Disney property, made them much more interesting options for Disney World visitors.

(Note that there’s three Hilton-flagged properties among the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels– the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, and also the Hilton Orlando, and the Doubletree Suites by Hilton.)

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace offer rooms with a king bed, or with two queen beds, in two different accommodations buildings, a mid-ride set of towers and a low rise known as the “Island” building.

The best features of the Hilton Buena Vista Palace are its family-friendly baths, balconies, nearness to Disney Springs, and the broad range of strong amenities it offers. More specifically, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is alone among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels in offering both balconies and divided baths in its standard rooms, has the best pool complex among these hotels, and has dining about as good as any of them.

Weaknesses include noise levels in Island building rooms, and, for Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, relatively high prices. It shares with all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels weak park transportation.

I’ve stayed at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace twice, most recently in November, and my full review has five pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace offers several room types in two principal groups of buildings–one the main tower, with multiple levels, and another a lower and somewhat distant accommodations building called the Island.

Rooms with a king bed and rooms with two queens are available, most with balconies.  When booking, you can select your building (tower or Island), beds, and also choose your view. The Hilton Buena Vista Palace is a significant convention hotel, and as in all such hotels, multiple suite options are also available, especially in the Island building.

Tower rooms offer one king or two queen beds, a divided bath, a balcony, and an easy chair. This combination makes them more livable and better appointed than any other Disney Springs Resort Area hotel.

The bed side of Hilton Buena Vista Palace two queen tower room.

The divided bath includes a sink and closet area off the main entry hall, and then beyond them a full bath with another sink. This makes the room much more family-friendly than many other Disney Springs Resort Area options.  Among standard rooms in the rest, you’ll find divided baths only in the Hilton Orlando and in Wyndham Garden rooms.

Above is the balcony, the image taken on not the loveliest day.  Among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, you’ll find balconies in standard rooms elsewhere only at the Holiday Inn and Best Western.

A photo tour of a two queen tower room at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is here.

Island building rooms with two queens offer the same room amenities in a slightly different room layout. They are more distant from most of the Hilton Buena Vista Palace’s guest amenities other than the pool and walkway to Disney Springs, and are also a bit noisy.

A photo tour of a two queen Island building room at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is here.

DINING AT THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

The principal dining venue at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is the Letterpress, on the lowest hotel level.

Letterpress serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also hosts character meals Sunday mornings. I’ve found it to be the most consistently good restaurant among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, but some will prefer the broader selection of options at the Hilton Orlando.

There’s bars both indoors and by the pool, with the pool serving an extensive dining menu as well, and snacks, drinks, and grab and go items are available in a shop near Letterpress that is open 24 hours some days and until 2a on other days.

There’s also a Disney gift shop offering souvenirs, park tickets, and such on this same level.

There’s more on dining and the other amenities at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace here.

THE POOLS AT THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace pool complex is the best among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels.

It includes a traditional pool, a lazy river pool, and a in a lobe off of the lazy river pool, a kids wading pool with water play features.  You’ll also find a hot tub, an extensive play area, and as noted above, a pool bar and grill.

For more on the pools at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, see this.

THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION AT THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace participates in a transportation program sponsored by all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. One group of buses serves the Best Western, the Wyndham, and the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, and another the other four hotels here.

Buses run about every thirty minutes, each serving two parks–so, for example, to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may have travel to the Magic Kingdom first.  Moreover, unlike the buses from Disney-owned resorts, Magic Kingdom buses drop off at the Transportation and Ticket Center, not the park itself, necessitating another transit, via monorail or ferry, to get to that park.

In addition to the theme park buses, buses to and from Disney Springs run through the evening.

On the important dimensions–frequency, and the time it takes to get to and return from the parks–the transportation system at the Disney Springs Resort Area is much worse than that at the Disney-owned resorts, but better than that at most off-site hotels.

Having your own car or a rental is a much better option. Self-parking at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace is $20/night and valet parking is $28/night. Parking at the theme parks is $25/day.

For more on transportation at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, see this.

PRICING AT THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

Pricing at the Disney Springs Resort Hotels is much less visible than that at the Disney-owned resorts, and multiple prices for the same room e.g. for non-refundable stays, stays by folk with AAA, etc. are common.  Discounts and deals are also common, and these hotels commonly show up on the various hotel deal sites.

Pricing for most of them is also obscured by mandatory “resort fees.”  Resort fees are a mandatory extra cost added every night of your stay, whether you like or not. I personally find mandatory resort fees a misleading and unethical practice.  A fee that is mandatory, and charged each night, should simply be rolled into the nightly room price.

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace resort fee is (after tax) $39.38 per night–tied with the Hilton Orlando as the highest among the Disney Springs Resort Area fees.

Prices at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace (before any discounts you might find, but including resort fees and taxes) are generally among the highest of the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and are typically comparable to those for a Disney-owned moderate resort.

For families looking for queen beds, a divided bath, a balcony, good dining, a great pool complex, and other strong amenities, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace can be a reasonable option, offering amenities somewhere between those of a Disney moderate and a Disney deluxe at a price commonly closer to that of a Disney moderate. Overall, it is the best choice among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your Disney World vacation at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace–or at any other Disney World hotel!  Contact here using the form below.

PHOTO TOUR OF A TOWER ROOM AT THE HILTON BUENA VISTA PALACE

This review continues here.

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January 30, 2019   No Comments

Review: The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Disney Springs Resort Area

THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA

Guests at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, like those at the other six hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area, became eligible for FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours—the two most valued Disney World perks—in 2018, eligibility that will extend at least until 12/31/2019.

The extension of these perks to these hotels, owned by third parties but located on the far southeast corner of Disney property, made them much more interesting options for Disney World visitors.

(Note that there’s three Hilton-flagged properties among the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels– the Hilton Orlando, and also the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Doubletree Suites by Hilton.)

The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista offer rooms with a king bed, or with two queen beds, in a long mid-rise block.

The best features of the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista are its family-friendly baths, nearness to Disney Springs, and the broad range of strong amenities it offers.

Weaknesses include the absence of balconies–a few rooms by the pool have patios–and, for Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, relatively high prices. It shares with all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels weak park transportation.

I’ve stayed at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista four times, most recently in July, and my full review has four pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA

Rooms with a king bed and rooms with two queens are available in the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista.

There are also some bookable views–e.g. a Disney Springs view (about a third of rooms here face the freeway, half the Wyndham, and a sixth Disney Springs). The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista is a major convention hotel, and as in all such hotels, multiple suite options are also available.

The bed side of Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista two queen room.

The divided bath includes a sink and closet area off the main entry hall, and then beyond them a full bath with another sink. This makes the room much more family-friendly than many other Disney Springs Resort Area options.  Among standard rooms in the rest, you’ll find divided baths only in the Hilton Place Lake Buena Vista and in Wyndham Garden rooms.

A photo tour of a two queen room at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista is here.

DINING AT THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA

The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista is distinct among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels in having three table service venues.

Covington Mill is the most family friendly, and serves breakfast and lunch–including a character breakfast on Sundays.

Available for dinner are two other restaurants, Andiamo and Benihana.

There’s bars both indoors and by the pool, and snacks, drinks, and grab and go items are available in a shop near Covington Mill that is open 24 hours a day.

There’s also a Disney gift shop offering souvenirs, park tickets and such off the lobby, and a resort-wear shop near it.

There’s more on dining and the other amenities at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista here.

THE POOLS AT THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA

The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista pool complex is in the top rank among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels.

It has two principal pools, a kids wading pool, a couple of hot tubs, and a pool bar. It perhaps is not quite as fun or interesting for kids as the pools at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and the Wyndham, but is more comparable to those than any of the other Disney Springs Resort Area pool hotel pool offerings.

For more on the pools at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, see this.

THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION AT THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA

The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista participates in a transportation program sponsored by all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. One group of buses serves the Hilton, Holiday Inn, B Resort, and Doubletree Suites, and another the other three hotels here.

Buses run about every thirty minutes, each serving two parks–so, for example, to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may have travel to the Magic Kingdom first.  Moreover, unlike the buses from Disney-owned resorts, Magic Kingdom buses drop off at the Transportation and Ticket Center, not the park itself, necessitating another transit, via monorail or ferry, to get to that park.

In addition to the theme park buses, buses to and from Disney Springs run through the evening.

On the important dimensions–frequency, and the time it takes to get to and return from the parks–the transportation system at the Disney Springs Resort Area is much worse than that at the Disney-owned resorts, but better than that at most off-site hotels.

Having your own car or a rental is a much better option. Self-parking at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista is $18/night and valet parking is $24/night. Parking at the theme parks is $25/day.

For more on transportation at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, see this.

PRICING AT THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA

Pricing at the Disney Springs Resort Hotels is much less visible than that at the Disney-owned resorts, and multiple prices for the same room e.g. for non-refundable stays, stays by folk with AAA, etc. are common.  Discounts and deals are also common, and these hotels commonly show up on the various hotel deal sites.

Pricing for most of them is also obscured by mandatory “resort fees.”  Resort fees are a mandatory extra cost added every night of your stay, whether you like or not. I personally find mandatory resort fees a misleading and unethical practice.  A fee that is mandatory, and charged each night, should simply be rolled into the nightly room price.

The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista resort fee is (after tax) $39.38 per night–tied with the Hilton Buena Vista Palace as the highest among the Disney Springs Resort Area fees.

Prices at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista (before any discounts you might find, but including resort fees and taxes) are generally higher than the average among the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and are typically comparable to those for a Disney-owned moderate resort.

For families looking for queen beds, lots of dining options, a nice pool complex, and other strong amenities, the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista can be a reasonable option, offering amenities somewhere between those of a Disney moderate and a Disney deluxe at a price commonly closer to that of a Disney moderate.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your Disney World vacation at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista–or at any other Disney World hotel!  Contact here using the form below.

PHOTO TOUR OF A ROOM AT THE HILTON ORLANDO LAKE BUENA VISTA 

This review continues here.

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January 29, 2019   No Comments

Review: The Wyndham and Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista in the Disney Springs Resort Area

THE WYNDHAM AND WYNDHAM GARDEN LAKE BUENA VISTA

Guests at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista and the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, like those at the other six hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area, became eligible for FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours—the two most valued Disney World perks—in 2018, eligibility that will extend at least until 12/31/2019.

The extension of these perks to these hotels, owned by third parties but located on the far southeast corner of Disney property, made them much more interesting options for Disney World visitors.

The Wyndham complex has two separately booked accommodations types that share all the same hotel amenities, but have very different rooms:

  • Rooms in the mid-rise tower, “Wyndham” rooms, are entered from a hall, have an undivided bath, and offer two queen beds or a king bed.
  • Rooms in the two low rise buildings on either side of the tower–“Wyndham Garden” rooms–are entered from an outdoor corridor, have a divided bath, and offer two full beds or a king bed.

In the rest of this review, I will refer to the whole thingy as the “Wyndham,” unless I am making distinctions about accommodation types.

The best features of the Wyndham are its amenities, particularly its pool complex, how close it is to Disney Springs (it is basically tied with the Hilton and the Hilton Buena Vista Palace for being the closest of these seven hotels to Disney Springs), and the price/value equation for those booking Wyndham Garden rooms, who get four-star amenities at a three star price.

Weaknesses include un-divided baths in tower Wyndham rooms, full beds in the Wyndham Garden rooms, no absence of balconies, and so-so dining. It shares with all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels weak transportation.

I’ve stayed at the Wyndham twice since guests at these hotels gained eligibility for FastPass+ at 60 days and EMH, and I consider it one of the top three Disney Springs Resort Area options (the other two are the Hilton and the Hilton Buena Vista Palace).

My full review has five pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE WYNDHAM AND WYNDHAM GARDEN LAKE BUENA VISTA

The Wyndham has two types of accommodations buildings: a mid rise tower, and low rise Garden wings, with distinct rooms in each.

The rooms are so distinct that when you try to book a room, you have to choose a hotel first–either the Wyndham, or the Wyndham Garden.

Wyndham accommodations. Wyndham rooms are in the central mid-rise tower (an image of the tower is near the top of this page).

Standard Wyndham tower rooms are entered from an interior corridor, and offer two queen beds or a king bed.

The bath has all the basics, but is not divided, making it less family friendly.

Views are fine, but no Wyndham rooms have balconies. These rooms do have a couple of ottomans nestled under the dresser, adding some seating flexibility (the only other seat is a desk chair).

At 325 square feet, these Wyndham 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 and an easy chair makes it hard for me to recommend this room for any but the smallest families–although the ottomans do help.

A photo tour of a two queen bed Wyndham tower room is here,

Wyndham Garden accommodations. Wyndham Garden rooms are in two separate low-rise wings, one on either side of the tower.

Some of these rooms have nice views of the lawns and pool area they enclose…

…other not so much.

Standard Wyndham Garden rooms are entered from an exterior corridor, and offer two full beds or a king bed.

Unlike Wyndham rooms, Wyndham Garden rooms offer a table and chairs, and also a divided bath–making the space overall much more family friendly.

At ~290 square feet, these rooms are larger than standard rooms in Disney’s value resorts, but smaller than those in its moderate resorts.  Bath sizes are comparable to those at the values, and the living area is about 30 square feet larger than the values, and 15 square feet smaller than the moderates.

All in–excepting the full beds, which are being replaced with queens at the values (Pop Century is done, and All-Star Movies about half done)–these Wyndham Garden rooms are more livable than Disney’s value resorts, and a step below accommodations in its moderates.

photo tour of a two full bed Wyndham Garden room is here.

DINING AT THE WYNDHAM AND WYNDHAM GARDEN LAKE BUENA VISTA

The principal dining venue at the Wyndham is the Lakeview Restaurant on the floor above the lobby, serving a breakfast buffet, and also dinner. Lakeview also offers character meals at a buffet breakfast Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Off the lobby is a bar that also serves the Lakeview menu, and an extensive shop offering snacks, drinks, and grab and go items. There’s also a Disney gift shop offering souvenirs, park tickets and such off the lobby.

The pool bar also offers an extensive menu.

I haven’t eaten enough at the Wyndham have a firm opinion, but was a bit disappointed by what I did experience.

There’s more on dining and the other amenities at the Wyndham here.

THE POOLS AT THE WYNDHAM AND WYNDHAM GARDEN LAKE BUENA VISTA

The Wyndham’s pool complex is one of its best features, and almost by itself puts the Wyndham among the top three Disney Springs Resort Area hotels (the other two in the top three are the Hilton and the Hilton Buena Vista Palace).

It features two principal pools plus a hot tub, and a nice bar and grill.

One of the pools is simpler, and thus tends to attract adults.

The other has a large rock with water sprays, and also a more structured play area.

The play area at night.

For more on the pools at the Wyndham, see this.

THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION AT THE WYNDHAM AND WYNDHAM GARDEN LAKE BUENA VISTA

The Wyndham participates in a transportation program sponsored by all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. One group of buses serves the Best Western, Wyndham, and Hilton Buena Vista Palace, and another the other four hotels here.

Buses run about every thirty minutes, each serving two parks–so, for example, to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may have travel to the Magic Kingdom first.  Moreover, unlike the buses from Disney-owned resorts, Magic Kingdom buses drop off at the Transportation and Ticket Center, not the park itself, necessitating another transit, via monorail or ferry, to get to that park.

In addition to the theme park buses, buses to and from Disney Springs run through the evening.

On the important dimensions–frequency, and the time it takes to get to and return from the parks–the transportation system at the Disney Springs Resort Area is much worse than that at the Disney-owned resorts, but better than that at most off-site hotels.

Having your own car or a rental is a much better option. Self-parking at the Wyndham (for either room type) is $15/night and valet parking is $20/night. Parking at the theme parks is $25/day.

For more on transportation at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, see this.

PRICING AT THE WYNDHAM AND WYNDHAM GARDEN LAKE BUENA VISTA

Pricing at the Disney Springs Resort Hotels is much less visible than that at the Disney-owned resorts, and multiple prices for the same room e.g. for non-refundable stays, stays by folk with AAA, etc. are common.  Discounts and deals are also routine, and these hotels commonly show up on the various hotel deal sites.

Pricing for most of them is also obscured by mandatory “resort fees.”  Resort fees are a mandatory extra cost added every night of your stay, whether you like or not. I personally find mandatory resort fees a misleading and unethical practice.  A fee that is mandatory, and charged each night, should simply be rolled into the nightly room price.

The Wyndham resort fee for either room type is (after tax) $28.12 per night–in the middle range among the Disney Springs Resort Area fees.

Prices for Wyndham Garden rooms at the Wyndham (before any discounts you might find, but including resort fees and taxes) are generally among the lowest among the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and are typically about five to ten percent more than what you would pay for a Disney-owned value resort.

Prices for tower rooms at the Wyndham are much higher, typically a bit more expensive than what you would pay for a Disney-owned moderate resort.

For families on a tight budget who can fit into full beds, the nice amenities here make Wyndham Garden Rooms a reasonable alternative to Disney value resorts. The value of the Wyndham rooms, which are much more expensive, is a little less clear cut, but if you can get them on a deal they may represent a reasonable alternative to Disney moderates. Transportation will be an issue in either offering.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your Disney World vacation at either Wyndham offering–or at any other Disney World hotel!  Contact here using the form below.

PHOTO TOUR OF A WYNDHAM ROOM

This review continues here.

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January 23, 2019   No Comments

Review: The Holiday Inn Orlando in the Disney Springs Resort Area

THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

Guests at the Holiday Inn Orlando, like those at the other six hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area, became eligible for FastPass+ at 60 days and Extra Magic Hours—the two most valued Disney World perks—in 2018, eligibility that will extend at least until 12/31/2019.

The extension of these perks to these hotels, owned by third parties but located on the far southeast corner of Disney property, made them much more interesting options for Disney World visitors.

(Note that there’s more than a dozen Holiday Inns in the Orlando area–only this one, which has Hotel Plaza Boulevard in its address, offers these distinctive Disney World perks.)

The Holiday Inn Orlando offer tower rooms with a king bed, or two queens. Similar “pool view” rooms are available in a six story building next to the tower.

The best features of the Holiday Inn Orlando are its microwaves and balconies–balconies are rare among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and microwaves even rarer–and its lower prices, commonly among the lowest of these seven hotels.

Weaknesses include un-divided baths, and so-so hotel amenities–all the basic amenities are here, but none is special, although the pool is strong for this price point. The Holiday Inn Orlando is in the middle of the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels for distance from Disney Springs itself. It shares with all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels weak transportation.

I’ve stayed at the Holiday Inn Orlando three times since guests at these hotels gained eligibility for FastPass+ at 60 days and EMH, and my full review has five pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

Standard rooms at the Holiday Inn Orlando offer one king bed, or two queen beds. These rooms were refurbed in 2018.

The bed side of a refurbed room.

Note the balcony–among the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, only the Holiday Inn, Best Western, and the Hilton Buena Vista Palace offer balconies in the vast majority of their rooms.

The undivided bath opens from the main entry hall. A divided bath would make this space much more livable–especially for families.

Pool view rooms are similar.

A photo tour of a two queen tower room at the Holiday Inn Orlando is here, and a photo tour of a pool view room at the Holiday Inn Orlando is here.

DINING AT THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

The principal dining venue at the Holiday Inn Orlando is the Palm Breezes Restaurant, serving a breakfast buffet, and also dinner.

A nearby bar serves lunch (and also the dinner menu), and is between the restaurant and pool, with outdoor seating by the pool.

Snacks, drinks, and grab and go items are available in a shop near the corner of the bar. There’s also a Disney gift shop offering souvenirs, park tickets and such off the lobby.

There’s more on dining and the other amenities at the Holiday Inn Orlando here.

THE POOL AT THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

The pool at the Holiday Inn Orlando has the basics–a pool and a hot tub–and adds to these water play jets, and games–during my stays, these included ping pong and cornhole.

The games and water play options make it middle-ranked among the Disney Springs Resort Area pools.

For more on the pool at the Holiday Inn Orlando, see this.

THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION AT THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

The Holiday Inn Orlando participates in a transportation program sponsored by all the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels. One group of buses serves the Hilton, Holiday Inn, B Resort, and Doubletree Suites, and another the other three hotels here.

Buses run about every thirty minutes, each serving two parks–so, for example, to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may have travel to the Magic Kingdom first.  Moreover, unlike the buses from Disney-owned resorts, Magic Kingdom buses drop off at the Transportation and Ticket Center, not the park itself, necessitating another transit, via monorail or ferry, to get to that park.

In addition to the theme park buses, buses to and from Disney Springs run through the evening.

On the important dimensions–frequency, and the time it takes to get to and return from the parks–the transportation system at the Disney Springs Resort Area is much worse than that at the Disney-owned resorts, but better than that at most off-site hotels.

Having your own car or a rental is a much better option. Self-parking at the Holiday Inn Orlando is $14/night and valet parking is $20/night. Parking at the theme parks is $25/day.

For more on transportation at the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, see this.

PRICING AT THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

Pricing at the Disney Springs Resort Hotels is much less visible than that at the Disney-owned resorts, and multiple prices for the same room e.g. for non-refundable stays, stays by folk with AAA, etc. are common.  Discounts and deals are also common, especially for the hotels like the Holiday Inn Orlando without significant convention business, and these hotels commonly show up on the various hotel deal sites.

Pricing for most of them is also obscured by mandatory “resort fees.”  Resort fees are a mandatory extra cost added every night of your stay, whether you like or not. I personally find mandatory resort fees a misleading and unethical practice.  A fee that is mandatory, and charged each night, should simply be rolled into the nightly room price.

The Holiday Inn Orlando resort fee is (after tax) $24.75 per night–in the lower range among the Disney Springs Resort Area fees.

Prices at the Holiday Inn Orlando (before any discounts you might find, but including resort fees and taxes) are generally among the lowest among the seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, and are typically about mid-way between those for a Disney-owned value resort and moderate resort.

For families on a tight budget who can find a deal that makes prices at the Holiday Inn Orlando more comparable to a Disney value resort, the opportunity to get queen beds (rare in standard rooms at the Disney values except at Pop Century and refurbed rooms at All-Star Movies), a balcony, and a more spacious room may trump the absence of a divided bath, so-so amenities (except the pool), and weak transportation.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your Disney World vacation at the Holiday Inn Orlando–or at any other Disney World hotel!  Contact here using the form below.

PHOTO TOUR OF A TOWER ROOM AT THE HOLIDAY INN ORLANDO

This review continues here.

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January 21, 2019   No Comments