While I am a big advocate of staying onsite for your Walt Disney World vacation in one of Disney’s owned and operated resorts, there are some occasions where a stay at an offsite hotel is necessary. You may have points or rewards to stay at a national chain hotel; you may need a larger room accommodation than is available at a Disney resort; you may be visiting multiple Orlando points of interest and parks so you need a central location; or it may be that Disney is filled and there are no rooms available at a resort or price point you are looking for. Whatever the reason Orlando offers some fantastic hotel options. Recently, I had the opportunity to tour several offsite resorts as part of a Travel Agent Education Program and I was very impressed with their amenities and rooms. Here are my top 10 choices for best off property resorts:
10. Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista is one of the Disney Springs area hotels that offers you some of the benefits similar to staying on site at Walt Disney World. For a temporary period you can make your FastPasses 60 days in advance if you are staying at this hotel and have theme park admission. This hotel has 2 sections, the Wyndham and the Wyndham Garden. While the rates are lower at the Garden section it is more like a motel, so I recommend staying in the Wyndham portion which is a tower. The rooms have a clean modern feel and the resort has some nice amenities including a Disney gift shop, a nice pool area with play area that they call their “Oasis Aquatic Playground,” and they do offer a character breakfast on select days. The hotel backs up to a lake so it is a bit quieter than the Disney Springs hotels on the other side of the street. Transportation is via the shared Disney Springs hotel shuttle which makes multiple hotel stops before reaching a park drop off destination.
9. The B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista
Similar to the Wyndham, the B is in the Disney Springs area and offers the temporary perk of being able to book FastPasses in advance along with Extra Magic Hours. The hotel has a very modern look to it, and the pool area is enclosed in a courtyard which eliminates some of the street noise from the busier roads behind the hotel. There are some nice lounging areas outside in the pool courtyard to enjoy. Like the other Disney Springs hotels there is a Disney Gift Shop and options to buy tickets at the hotel. I really liked the looks of the restaurant at this hotel—it was a local foods/farm to table restaurant. The B shares a Disney Springs shuttle to the parks with the other hotels here.
8. Hilton Lake Buena Vista Palace
My favorite of the Disney Springs area hotels is the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Palace. It was the most conveniently located to Disney Springs and just adjacent to the pedestrian bridge leading over to the Springs. Various room types are offered here to accommodate different sizes of families and vacation needs. A character dining experience is offered in the hotel restaurant, and the food offerings here were varied and plenty. The icing on the cake for this hotel was the pool area which was very much resort like. It was in the center of the resort surrounded by a lagoon which made it quiet & peaceful despite the location at the intersection of two busy roads. There was a swimming area, a lazy river, a lawn set up with games like corn hole and ladder ball, and the pool area offered private cabanas. This would definitely be my top pick to stay in the Disney Springs resort area.
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7. Wyndham Bonnet Creek
The Bonnet Creek Resort area is carved out of Disney property and surrounded on all sides by Disney resorts, so you know it is in a prime location with convenience to the parks. They do offer a shuttle to the parks, but like all of the off property resorts it does not run as regularly or as conveniently as Disney transportation. The Wyndham Bonnet Creek has two areas: the Wyndham Resort and the time share property. They share amenities so there are multiple pools at the resort to enjoy including one themed as a pirate ship. There is a small spa that was well appointed, and some excellent dining options including a great seafood option that is award winning in Orlando, Deep Blu. The other portion of the resort offers multi-room villa accommodations great for larger families.
6. Waldorf Astoria Orlando
The Waldorf Astoria is one of three luxury hotels that make my list. The Waldorf is also located in Bonnet Creek, so an excellent location. There is shuttle transportation to the parks, concierge services, excellent dining options and an amazing spa. It is a sister resort to the Hilton Bonnet Creek (connected by a massive convention center) so you can share the amenities next door as well. The Waldorf Astoria offers a kids club too. Located on a golf course you have the option to play while you stay, and there are some recreation options included like bicycles to ride. The pool here is upscale and feels very quiet and more oriented toward adults, but children are definitely welcome. Some rooms offer distant fireworks views (from multiple parks). And the dining is superb with famed restaurants like the Bull & Bear.
5. Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World
The Four Seasons is another luxury option in an excellent location. Situated inside the Golden Oaks community, the Four Seasons is just behind the Magic Kingdom Park. They offer transportation to the parks, but again, it isn’t regular or as convenient as the onsite properties. Four Seasons offers several room categories and types, and I really like their option for connecting rooms. Some rooms feature great views of the theme parks and fireworks. Dining here is spectacular as well with several options available. There is a spa and a salon that does princess makeovers for your little ones. While the Four Seasons feels very upscale from the moment you enter, it is very kid friendly with lots of activities offered for little ones at their kids club, along with tweens & teens at some of their game rooms. The pool area is massive and beautiful—there is an adult-only area, a fun lazy river, and a kid friendly pool with a great slide.
4. JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Just outside of the Disney bubble sits the JW Marriott and its sister resort the Ritz Carlton. The JW is the more budget friendly of the two, but still offers a top rate experience for families. The rooms are beautifully appointed and have several options to accommodate larger families. The Club Level here is also very impressive. Like the Hilton and the Waldorf Astoria, if you stay at the JW Marriott you can also use the amenities at the Ritz-Carlton—they are connected by a convention center. The JW Marriott has a beautiful pool with lots of entertainment, and there is also a golf course on property if you care to play. The location of the JW Marriott is great for vacations where you are combining multiple Orlando destinations, especially Sea World which is very close by.
3. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
I was so impressed with the Ritz-Carlton. This amazingly beautiful resort had something for everyone. Relaxing adult areas like a lounge and an amazing spa. The pool area is fantastic for families, and if you need a change of scenery you can walk over to the JW Marriott and try out their pool. The Ritz-Carlton had the most amazing kids club I’ve seen, Ritz Kids. There were animals inside (in cages), amazing counselors, great programming and even a garden. Dining here is fantastic with the resort managing its own garden/mini-farm. We were told you can even tour it. The other thing I really liked here was the recreation center Grande Lakes Sports where you could schedule all kinds of activities like kayak eco-tours, nature safaris, and mountain biking on their trail. Tennis, bocce, pedal boats, and surrey bikes round out more offerings . . . not to mention the golf. I could stay at the Ritz-Carlton and never need to leave for any other activity!
2. Gaylord Palms
This amazing Marriott brand resort is just outside Walt Disney World proper, so it is convenient to the parks and offers shuttle transportation. Like all of the Gaylord properties, it has breathtaking atriums that bring the outside in. The theme is Florida with sections of the resort paying homage to St. Augustine and its history, the Everglades natural beauty, and the fun nature of Key West. You’ll find foliage, water features and animals inside the atriums. Dining here is fantastic with signature restaurants, a great sports bar and good grab and go options too. Outside the pool area is a playground for kids and adults. There is a “normal” pool but you’ll also find a FlowRider and a massive water play area with slides, splash zones and more. If you stay here you need to schedule at least a day or two to explore the resort and enjoy that pool area. Room options vary as far as views and sizes.
1. Hilton Bonnet Creek
My top pick for an off property hotel stay is the Hilton Bonnet Creek. In that same great location as the Wyndham Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria, it is essentially on Disney property and very convenient to the parks as far as distance, but the shuttle schedule varies. The Hilton has well-appointed rooms that would be very comfortable for families or couples. The lobby has a beautiful lounge that has screened in areas to let a bit of the outside in. The pool area is huge—there is a lazy river that goes around the pools and lets you out into various pool areas. And there are plenty of comfortable lounge chairs. As the sister resort to the Waldorf Astoria you can also walk over there to dine or check out additional amenities. I was very impressed with the dining at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, and they have an amazing deal for children to dine free at some meals. The meal that I ate at the Harvest Bistro was delicious and very creative—I would go back just to eat there. While you don’t get some of the temporary perks here that the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Palace and other Disney Springs resorts currently have—the resort experience here far exceeded those. I would not hesitate to stay here if the occasion came about.
Have you stayed off site for your Walt Disney World Vacation? What is your favorite off property hotel?