[TLDR: If your main destination is Disney World, your safest, happiest, budget-minded choice is to book a hotel at the actual WDW property, not at Hotel Plaza in Disney Springs.]
I wish our latest stay in Orlando had been at a Disney-owned hotel.
I’ve spent many happy overnights and vacations at hotels on the Disney property. Even their budget-priced “All Star _____” hotels can provide a great experience, especially for families. Fun rooms, refillable beverage cups, and frequent shuttles to the parks are among the many benefits. Also, the hotel staff are just as happy, helpful, and smiling as Disney cast members everywhere at Disney World.
So, after staying at the B Resort at Disney Springs, my recommendation is: Book your Disney vacation at a Disney-owned hotel. Really.
QUICK TIPS FOR ORLANDO VISITORS (2024 update)
- Avoid anything priced under $100/night, and carefully read reviews for hotels under $150/night. Some hotels and motels are shady; in some cases, they’re used as housing by multiple hospitality workers. After all, those rooms can be cheaper than apartment rentals.
- Be careful with Airbnb. Our first experience with an Orlando-area Airbnb was straight out of the scams list. But, when we reported the problems that prevented us from staying there for even one night, Airbnb declined to refund the $1600+ we’d paid in advance. We’re still hoping they make this right, and will update this post when they do. (By contrast, our experiences with Vrbo were positive, with an instant refund when a site wasn’t as described. However, even Vrbo has had a few problems.)
- Ask about parking fees and housekeeping fees that may not be included in the price you see on the website.
- Universal’s Endless Summer resorts are budget-priced (and affordable, most of the year) and very nice, with steady, free shuttles to and from Universal’s theme parks. However, parking there costs $15/night, so factor that into your budget. (We still think those Universal hotels are a great place to stay – among the very best in Orlando – and we plan to return there on our next visit.)
- Also, shop around. It’s almost always less expensive to reserve your room through a site like Kayak or Super.com, and most hotel staff with tell you that. However, many discount sites have a “no cancellations” policy, so compare all of your options before booking.
- If you don’t mind a lengthy drive (an hour or so) to and from Disney, the very best deal in the Orlando area might be up in Sanford, at the Extended Stay America Premier Suites. (Make sure it’s their “Premier Suites” hotel, not a generic Extended Stay America.) We’ve stayed there several times and like it. Bonus: Free grab-and-go breakfast is included, and parking is free as well.
Here’s our story from early in 2022: For a business trip, we needed to stay in Orlando, preferably near Disney World. However, Disney’s own hotels were booked solid. So were most good, affordable hotels within 45 minutes of Disney World.
During that visit, we found what looked like a great Priceline deal at Disney Springs, but it wasn’t. In fact, when we checked into the hotel, we realized it was going to cost us about double what we’d expected based on Priceline’s “Express Deals” price.
That was sticker shock, to put it mildly. Worse, when we immediately called Priceline, to either have the rate adjusted (to what was quoted) or our money returned, their agent immediately turned defensive and then hung up on us. Twice.*
I’m writing this so you don’t make similar booking mistakes.
Ask these questions before booking a room at a Disney-vicinity hotel or motel
Here are a few things to know before booking a room, sight unseen (or worse, through a Priceline “Express Deal”), in the Disney Springs (FL) area.
- Almost all hotels near Walt Disney World (but not actual Disney-owned hotels on the Disney property) charge their hotel guests a per-night parking fee, even if you self-park in their parking lot. In 2022, at the B Resort, the fee was $23.95 per night. If you’re booking a hotel anywhere near Disney World, ask about their parking fees.
- B Resort charged us a per-day fee for housekeeping services. In nearly two weeks at the hotel, a member of housekeeping knocked on our door just once – a few hours before we checked out – to ask if we needed trash emptied or fresh towels. So, ask if your hotel charges housekeeping fees or other hotel fees not mentioned on the hotel’s website or the booking services’ websites. (Our total fees, added to our daily room fee: $65 per day.)
- Ask about the view (and traffic noise levels) in your hotel room. When we stayed at the B Resort, the view from our 15th floor tower room was lovely in some – but not all – directions.
The blue balloon is an attraction at Disney Springs, and it goes up & down throughout the day. You can get great views – and photos – if you ride in it.
Here’s a photo from inside the hotel’s glass-walled elevator. It’s a spectacular view!
However, this next photo shows the view from our hotel room. It wasn’t nearly as nice as the view from inside the elevator.
Fortunately, our room wasn’t on the side directly facing I-4 (the six-lane highway clearest at the middle right of that photo). Had we been on that side, the sound of trucks and cars might have been annoying. (Florida does not require car inspections. Expect some really noisy – or nonexistent – mufflers.)
But is a busy interstate highway the view you’ll want when you’re paying for a four-figure (or more) Disney vacation? If not, be sure to mention this when you make your reservation.
It’s not just Disney Springs…
Note that the hotel nearest us, on the other side of I-4, is a Fairfield by Marriott. If you’re booking there, or at any other “convenient to I-4” or “convenient to Disney World,” it’s equally important to ask about your view.
But here’s another issue we had at the B Resort, and it’s one other guests have complained about: The proximity of towers.
You can see one (closer than it looks in the photo) that was near our hotel room. I’m pretty sure it’s why tower room guests – paying some of the higher prices for B Resort rooms – have intermittent wifi and phone service: It’s a sea of signals there.
In my case, my phone calls were dropped every four or five minutes. The in-room TV’s wifi connection was unreliable. And trying to get online with my laptop…? Most days, I didn’t even try. It was that challenging to stay online.
So, if you’re planning a Disney World vacation, be sure to ask questions about your hotel before you make your reservation.
If you make non-refundable reservations (through a site like Priceline) and then discover steep parking fees, etc., and – to make matters worse – you’ve brought your family to a hotel with a not-so-magical view of busy highways… you may wish you’d asked more questions, first.
To be frank, we’ll never trust Priceline again. Had we booked this same visit directly with B Resort, we’d have saved a LOT. (Yes, the desk clerk explained that. He was not happy with Priceline.) He said we’d probably have had free breakfasts in their restaurant, as well.