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.





Review: The Waldorf Astoria Orlando in the Bonnet Creek Resort Area

By Dave Shute

THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO IN THE BONNET CREEK RESORT AREA

The Bonnet Creek Resort is an enclave with four hotels (soon to be five), surrounded by Disney World but not on Disney property.

Located adjacent to Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Pop Century Resorts in the area circled in the image, you’ll find in the Bonnet Creek Resort a Wyndham, Wyndham Grand, Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, and soon, a JW Marriott.

Earlier in 2019, guests staying at two of these hotels—the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando—gained access to the two most prized Disney World perks, access to FastPass+ booking 60 days before arrival, and eligibility to use Extra Magic Hours.

Because of this, I’m starting to cover these two hotels. I stayed in both in the spring of 2019, and my review of the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek begins here, and my review of the Waldorf Astoria begins on this page.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers standard rooms with a king bed or with two queen beds, and multiple suites, in a mid-rise block.

The best features of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando are its high level of guest services, large rooms, dining, reasonably central location especially close to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the broad range of strong amenities it offers.

Weaknesses include the un-divided baths, absence of balconies, a fairly pedestrian pool complex, and park transportation–its buses have too many stops, and run too infrequently.

My full review of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando has four pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO

Standard rooms with a king bed and rooms with two queens are available in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

There are also multiple suites, as the Hilton and Waldorf Astoria are major convention and meetings venues, with a large conference center between them. Note that many suites have balconies, but no standard rooms have them.

There are also some bookable views–e.g. a golf course view and a Disney view.

From some of the Disney view rooms you can see in the moderate distance the Epcot and Hollywood Studios fireworks, and far away Magic Kingdom fireworks.  The absence of balconies in standard rooms makes these views less fun.

The Waldorf Astoria website suggests standard rooms are 448 square feet. Mine measured to a bit smaller than that, but still very large.

The bed side of a Waldorf Astoria Orlando standard two queen room.

The undivided bath includes in one large space a single sink, a toilet, a tub, and a separate glassed-in shower.  The absence of a divided space–and the glass shower–makes the room less family-friendly than most Disney-owned options.

The main difference between these rooms and those in the next door Hilton is a nicer and larger overall bath, and a higher level of fit and finish.

A photo tour of a two queen room at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is here.

DINING AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando has a destination steakhouse, the Bull & Bear, a more family friendly restaurant, Oscar’s–well-known for its breakfast buffet–several bars, and another bar (and dining venue) at its pool complex.

Guests here also have easy access to even more dining at the next door Hilton.

There’s also a couple of small shops, and a Disney gift shop offering souvenirs, park tickets is nearby in the Hilton. Other typical amenities including a gym and a business center are also available.

The Waldorf Astoria Golf Club is just outside.

There’s more on dining and the other amenities at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando here.

THE POOL COMPLEX AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando pool complex is fairly pedestrian for a hotel of this class.

It includes a cabana-lined pool aimed at adults, and a larger pool with a zero entry aimed more at families, with a hot tub in between. A couple of fire pits, and distant fireworks views, add interest in the evening.

There’s a play lawn with available toys, but you’ll find no slides, no lazy river, but nice service.

However, all guests at the Waldorf Astoria are welcome to use the pool at the next door Hilton Bonnet Creek, which has a lazy river, a pool slide–rare at the non-Disney hotels–a kids pool, two hot tubs, and a zero entry area.

For more on the pool complex at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, see this.

THEME PARK TRANSPORTATION AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando shares buses with the next-door Hilton.

These buses depart too infrequently, and have too many theme park stops, to be a good option–although are better than most off-property hotel transportation options.

For example, in my last stay, Magic Kingdom buses left generally every thirty minutes (there were a few 60 minute intervals) and went next to the Waldorf Astoria.  From Magic Kingdom half went on to Epcot, then to Hollywood Studios, and the other half went on to Animal Kingdom. Buses to the Studios could take 45 minutes. Moreover as is the case with all non-Disney buses, Magic Kingdom buses dropped off at TTC, not the park itself.

Having a rental car, or using cabs, Uber or Lyft (or for a pricey variant of Lyft, a Minnie Van) is a better option.

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

Having your own car or a rental is a much better option. Self-parking at the Hilton garage next door is $27/night, and valet parking is $37/night. Parking at the theme parks is $25/day.

PRICING AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO

Pricing at the non-Disney 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 sometimes 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 Waldorf Astoria Orlando resort fee is (after tax) $$50.63 per night–among the highest resort fees at a Disney World hotel.

Base prices at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando (before any discounts you might find, but including resort fees and taxes) are generally comparable to the lower-priced Disney-owned deluxe resorts.

For families looking for a very high level of service and amenities, a wide range of dining options, and a pretty great pool (at the Hilton), the Waldorf Astoria can be a sound choice.  But the Four Seasons beats it at the luxury level, and if you won’t much need the Waldorf Astoria’s higher level of personal service and the extra space (and separate shower) in the bath,  you can access all these amenities simply by booking the Hilton.

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

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PHOTO TOUR OF A ROOM AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO

This review continues here.

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