After staying on site at Walt Disney World for our first twenty trips, we decided to take a chance and see what it is like to stay at an off site, non-Disney owned resort for our 21st trip to The World.
We did some research starting with Mousesavers.com to look into the resorts they recommended and where they were located in the Disney area. Staying at the end of August made for some pretty good deals, since southern schools were already back in session, thus “tourist” season was over. We decided on a one bedroom suite at Buena Vista Suites on World Center Drive, about a mile outside of Disney property. Two queen beds, a double pull out couch and a free breakfast for only $99 a night seemed too good to be true. Was it?
It didn’t exactly feel “magical” pulling up to check in and walking through the lobby, but it was neat and quiet and fresh looking.
We were given our room key cards (oh yeah, no magic bands here!) and told the best place to park. (Parking was free for this hotel also, another plus). We were on the 5th floor and our view was of a power substation. Not exactly magical either.
However, we were within sight of Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs)…
As well as Epcot…
The room itself was clean and up-to-date. Although there was enough sleeping space for 3 adult couples, the addition of all of the luggage made things a bit cramped. The location of the bathroom and sink area, between the bedroom and the living room, was awkward when 4 people were trying to get ready for bed in the evening or out the door in the morning at the same time. Still the price was right. So far money well spent and we were all looking forward to a free breakfast in the morning!
Wellllll, I’ve had worse “free breakfasts”. Thinking back, it really was just fine and certainly more than the usual free Continental Breakfast consisting of bagels and coffee. Scrambled eggs, either bacon, sausage or ham, roasted potatoes, waffles or French toast sticks, oatmeal and cold cereals. (I never did see any toast though…)
There were some different pastries each morning and a very limited selection of fresh/canned fruit.
A couple of fruit juices and coffee, really what more did you need?
It was nothing fancy, but we paid less for a night at this hotel AND breakfast the next morning than it would have cost the 4 of us just to eat at Crystal Palace! Other than the one little girl who sneezed into the tray of potatoes, it all was perfectly acceptable.
The other odd couple of things were that we were given a $25 food/beverage credit to use at their bar. Well, I don’t know if it was because it was “off-season” or what, but the bar was never open!
Also, they said that they had Starbucks coffee available in the lobby. This was their “Starbucks”:
This particular hotel did not have a very big pool, and it was not always open. If swim time is important to your family, there are probably better off site pool options.
So would I recommend staying at The Buena Vista Suites on World Center Drive? Absolutely. The price is the best selling point. You are no farther away than many of the on-site resorts at a fraction of the cost. And if you have older kids or a larger family, it’s a no-brainer. This hotel was clean and extremely quiet (we had no idea anyone else was staying there until we went to breakfast in the mornings). And breakfast was…adequate and free.
All in all, our first stay in an off site hotel for a Walt Disney World trip was perfectly fine. It was clean, inexpensive, and very near the Disney Theme parks as long as you have a car. How about you? Have you ventured to a non-Disney resort on your Disney vacations? Let us know what you thought. Would never hear of such a thing? Let us know that as well!