Thinking about doing a non-Disney hotel during your Walt Disney World vacation? Whether off-site or on-site, there are a lot of options that offer excellent accommodations and better value for money than many Disney hotels. In this post, we take a look at the best non-Disney hotels around Walt Disney World. (Including some that are technically within Walt Disney World; off-site has become synonymous with third party among Disney fans, so that’s how we’re using it here.)
What we do not cover in this post is whether you should stay off-site to begin with. This post assumes that you’ve already made that decision, but we want to stress that it’s not a decision you should make lightly. In our Off-Site v. On-Site at Walt Disney World post, we cover the pros and cons of staying off-site. So, before you’re tempted by phrases like “value for money” and “superior bedding & amenities” make sure you understand just what you might be giving up by going off-site. To that point, unless you’re on a budget, we think most first-timers are better served staying on-site.
Additionally, with some 330+ hotels in Orlando, it would literally take an entire year of testing to come up with a comprehensive list. Since I don’t live in Florida and don’t want to risk my safety or well-being with the likes of the 1-star Kuality Inn, that’s not my goal. Rather, I want to rank some of the off-site hotels at which I’ve stayed, knowing a comprehensive list is a fool’s errand that never will–or should–happen. Consider this a work-in-progress, though. As we stay in more off-site/non-Disney/third party hotels, we’ll update and re-rank this list.
With those caveats out of the way, let’s take a look at which hotels made the cut. Click on any of the hotel names to see more photos and read a full review…
10. ??? – This is sort of a cop out. However, with several top-tier properties on my list of places to stay, I feel like #10 should be an empty chair, set aside for the likes of the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Marriott’s Cypress Harbour, Gaylord Palms, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, etc. I’ve visited a couple of these, but have yet to stay at any of them, and I’m confident at least one would claim a slot on this list. Probably a few more than one, actually.
9.Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace – Given the divisive response to my review and mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, I sort of feel bad about including this. Not bad enough to leave it off, as this is my opinion, not crowd-sourced malarky. Besides, what does the general public know? You people are the ones who make every Transformers film a huge box office success. I’ll trust my own experience. 😉 Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace has an impressive slate of amenities, is an easy walk to Disney Springs, and has some of the best rooms at Walt Disney World. Then there’s Recreation Island (the pool), lush landscaping, and nicely done interior design. All of that, plus great bang for buck.
8.B Resort & Spa – I know a hotel is cool if it makes me feel out of place. B Resort isn’t quite that hip, but it’s without a doubt a chic boutique hotel. With trendy atmosphere and nice rough-around-the-edges style, it’s unlike anything else at Walt Disney World and feels more like something you’d find in Miami. This alone differentiates it from most other options. While I wouldn’t say it’s nearly as posh as something like the Waldorf Astoria, it brings to the table a totally different aesthetic and vibe. Prices are very competitive considering its quality and on-site location at Walt Disney World, too. It’s definitely not for everyone, namely, families with small children. Conventioneers or honeymooners looking to go out after the parks close and have a good time at Disney Springs will enjoy it.
7. Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Like many of the best off-site hotels, the Hilton Orlando LBV is a great value for money option offering an exceptional location within walking distance of Disney Springs and solid amenities at a reasonable price. One of the biggest selling points here is the bedding. Everything has been recently upgraded: Pacific Coast Touch of Down pillows, European 250 thread count linens, and Hilton Serenity Beds with pillow-top mattresses that will have you screaming SERENITY NOW! There are also something like 7 restaurants in the hotel, which overall features a sleek, modern style.
6. Floridays Resort Orlando – There are two villa-style properties on this list, with Floridays being the cheaper option of the two. Floridays makes the list solely because of its value proposition, which offers some incredibly nice villa accommodations for shockingly low prices. Rooms that are far nicer than they have any business being at this price point. To be sure, it’s not a hotel that’s going to be featured on any Travel Channel specials covering the ritziest hotels in the world, but the value here is too good to ignore, especially given the solid quality.
5. Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort – One of the more well-rounded hotels on this list in terms of balancing price point, room quality, amenities quality, and location, the Wyndham Bonnet Creek snuck up on this list higher than I originally expected it would. It checks off every box that it should, and at the end of the day, there is a lot to be said for reliable, upscale accommodations. However, due its relatively bland style and lack of a wow-factor, it can’t climb above #5.
4.Swan & Dolphin Resorts – The most “Disney” of the third party options (besides maybe Shades of Green, which doesn’t make the list because it’s not open to the public), Swan & Dolphin is perhaps the best compromise between Disney and non-Disney hotels. Essentially one in the same, the Swan & Dolphin are great options if you’re looking for a luxury experience or walking-distance proximity to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at a lower price point. The resort fees here do bug me, but the fact remains that prices at the Swan & Dolphin are significantly better than comparable Disney-owned hotels even with added costs factored in, and the amenities give virtually every Disney-owned hotel a run for its money.
3. Villas at Grand Cypress – Among other awards it’s received, this is a AAA Four-Diamond luxury golf resort: sort of like Disney Vacation Club on steroids, set on a golf course. It’s the #1 hotel of them all in Orlando, with an average score of 5/5. The Villas at Grand Cypress absolutely lived up to the expectations set by its prestige. The problems are two-fold: price and golf. It’s expensive, and unless you or someone in your party is a serious golfer, you aren’t going to be taking advantage of its main amenities (45 holes of golf around which the resort lies) to its fullest. Those two factors knock it out of the top spot, but all of its many pros keep it in the top 3.
2.Waldorf Astoria Orlando – Now that Statler & Waldorf have opened a hotel in the name of synergy, I’d say it paves the way for Rizzo the Rat to open a pizza parlor. Arguably one of the most iconic hotel labels in the world, the Waldorf Astoria offers exceptional quality at prices (~$300/night) that won’t make you sell a kidney to afford a stay here. The hotel is superior to a Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World in nearly every regard aside from theming, making those prices not at all unreasonable. One of the most luxurious hotels in all of Central Florida, the Waldorf Astoria is arguably the best overall option on this list. I just happen to prefer the #1 choice…
1.Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – I have to admit that I’m a total sucker for Hyatt. If there’s such a thing as a “Hyatt Fanboy” (I doubt there is), you could call me one. I think it’s an exceptionally well-managed chain that strives to offer exceptional service, accommodations, and unique style. This is especially true in its Regency, Grand, and Park lines. The Hyatt at Grand Cypress is no exception, with the most robust slate of activities and amenities at any hotel at which we’ve stayed in Orlando. The pool and water play areas even give the Yacht & Beach Club a run for their money. Chic style, top-notch service, exquisite dining, and great rooms–this Hyatt has a lot to offer. The price is certainly higher than other off-site options, but as far as luxury resort hotels go, it’s by no means bad.
That’s a look at this work-in-progress list, thus far. Each of these hotels has a lot to offer, and the value proposition is definitely better than staying on-site. Of course, that means missing out on Disney’s Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, Disney transportation, expanded FastPass+ booking window, etc., all of which cumulatively are why we typically opt to pay more and stay in a Disney hotel. If you determine off-site is right for you, these are great options! We will keep this list updated as we try out more hotels around Walt Disney World!
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Do you have a favorite non-Disney hotel in Orlando? Thoughts on any of the hotels on our list if you’ve stayed at them? Considering one of these or a different off-site hotel? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!