Let me start by saying that I am a frequent Hilton guest and a HHonors Gold member so I am pretty loyal to the brand. This hotel did not disappoint as to what is generally delivered by Hilton. We booked this trip as a result of a time share promotion by Hilton Grand Vacations. It was really an offer we could not refuse and as frequent Disney visitors ready for another vacation the timing was good for us. We always stay on Disney property (Port Orleans, Beach Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge) so this was a change for us. There are definitely some pros and some cons to this resort. First, the grounds are beautiful and very very clean. The staff is friendly and accomodating and as we visited around the holidays - beautifully decorated. The prices for food/drinks - TOTALLY outrageous. Our room was not ready when we got it (around 2pm) and we were told housekeeping was working on it and it would be ready within the hour so we went to the pool bar with our 2 kids (5 and 11) to get a sandwich and drinks. Went back to the front desk at 3pm and were told they were almost done cleaning our room. It was not until 4pm (which, in their defense is the guaranteed check in time) that we were able to get it. Not a huge deal, however if the lady at 2:00 would have told us it may be awhile, we would have let our kids swim or stored our bags and went to a Disney park. Kind of a disappointing way to spend our first few hours of vacation. To kind of add insult to injury here, we were assurred someone would call me on my cell phone as soon as the room was ready - I proactively kept going to the desk and was finally checked in - it wasnt until 15 minutes after we were checked in AND in our room that someone called me to let us know the room was ready. This may not be a big deal to some people but I am admittedly type A and always trying to make the most of time ESPECIALLY on vacation so this was a little frustrating. The room itself was gorgeous and HUGE. We had a double deluxe suite with a Downtown Disney view and there are definitely no complaints with the room itself. I will say that the bathroom was a surprise considering the size of the room. It was literally the size of a powder room with a shower. For sharing a bathroom with 4 people - that was a little rough. The shower was GREAT - never wanted to get out of there and while the beds were not typical comfortable Hilton beds, they were fine - the pillows and linens were clean and soft.
As a HHonors Gold member we received access to the club floor. This was KEY for us as we were able to go in in the AM and get a nice breakfast. The nice surprise was the meat and cheese trays as I dont really like eggs and breakfast food, so I was able to make a turkey or ham sandwich for breakfast, any kind of drinks (soda, coffee, juice) yogurt and fruit - that was a HUGE savior for us and not only for saving money but convenience too. Loved this. The staff in the club room were very nice and friendly and like the rest of the hotel, it was clean and well done.
Ok - so here's where I have to put rubber to the road. Do you stay here if you are going to Disney? I say no - but that is just a preference thing and I will tell you why. First, the thing I liked is that even though I have kids, I dont prefer to be around a bunch of amped up screaming kids on vacation. This hotel is kid friendly and definitely Disney'esque however at the pool etc - there are not a ton of kids, which was actually refreshing after a day of kid mania. That said - it is a very boring kid pool (there are no water features, slides, anything kid - like so if your kids want to spend alot of time at the pool, they will get bored here).
Transportation. Where do I start. Downtown Disney Resorts operate a bus system separate from the Disney Transportation System that you are familiar with if you stay at Disney hotels. So what that means is this - the schedule is different and the STOPS are different. For example, the Hilton shares a bus with three other hotels. This means every time you go somewhere you have to stop at the other three hotels. That isn't THAT big of a deal because they are all right there. The real hassle is that there are 3 bus schedules. One that goes to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom - one that goes to Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and one that goes to the waterparks (but that one only runs twice in the morning and once at the end of the day....I'll get to that one in a minute). So- there are cases where after touring Magic Kingdom all day - you are EXHAUSTED and then have to get on the bus and drive to Animal Kingdom to get those people....or in reverse you get on at the Hilton, stop at three other hotels THEN stop at Epcot, THEN stop at Hollywood (I cant remember which comes first on the route but you get the idea). So the other option is to catch a bus at Downtown Disney. Well what nobody tells you is that you can not catch a bus from ANY theme park to get to Downtown Disney. You have to catch a bus to a hotel, then take a downtown disney bus from the hotel THEN walk back to the HIlton. We left Magic Kingdom after fireworks one night, had to walk to the Contemporary and take a bus to Downtown Disney that was BEYOND crowded. Had to stand while holding a stroller and it was a 25 minute trip (then had to walk to hotel). The waterpark. OMG. We went to Blizzard Beach one day and they only have 2 busses at 9 and 10am. If you want to leave in the afternoon you are kind of stuck as the only Hilton return bus is in the evening = so we had to take a bus from Blizzard Beach to Old Key West, catch a bus from there to Downtown Disney and then walk back to the hotel. Its a real pain and one that I am TOTALLY unwilling to deal with again. Again, it is a preference thing. Last time we stayed at Disney's Beach Club and could walk to Epcot in literally 3 minutes, take the monorail from Epcot to Magic Kingdom, and take a boat across to Hollywood Studios. The only time we had to get on a bus was to Animal Kingdom - so that DEFINITELY gets my vote. You pay for the convenience, don't get me wrong and again, we got this Hilton room for a STEAL so for the price - whatever, it was cheap, but the transportation kind of killed the magic for us.
So overall - as far as Hilton's go - this one is top notch. I would highly recommend to my company for business travel and may even be willing to stay a day or two with the family if traveling for non-Disney reasons - but if you are a Disney traveler you may want to consider staying at a Disney hotel if you can afford it. For me, it is worth the extra cost but like I say, if transportation issues do not bother you this is a fine choice!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ideally located in the Disney Springs™ area, the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista hotel is steps from exciting theme parks and popular tourist attractions. Shuttle transportation to Disney Theme Parks is included in your stay. On Sundays, take the kids to a Disney Character Breakfast. Relax in two outdoor, heated swimming pools, children's spray pool or tropical outdoor spa. Savor a variety of cuisines at one of the seven restaurants and lounges. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hilton In Walt Disney World Hotel Orlando
- Hilton Hotel Orlando
- Walt Disney Orlando
- Hilton Orlando