With countless visits to the Walt Disney World Resort, I’ve settled my suitcase in almost every resort on property and many outside the gates as well. I rarely miss in my assumptions about staying in specific places, and I maintain definable expectations for various accommodations which can be useful when advising others about where to stay (and where to avoid).
However, I was most pleasantly surprised recently on an adult weekend getaway to Walt Disney World at the relatively new and luxurious Waldorf Astoria Orlando at Bonnet Creek. There’s certainly a mind picture most conjure up when even mentioning the name, “Waldorf Astoria,” and the high level of service, amenities and accommodations speak to that famous hotel on Park Avenue in New York City. Those images of grandeur and hospitality are consistent with one of the newest members of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts – Hilton’s luxury line. So, my mind was completely made up before I ever walked in the doors of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando based on reputation alone. Boy, was I ever wrong!
Don’t lose faith in me. My integrity as a quick and efficient judge of properties can still be intact. (I’m pleading with you since I claim to be a travel writer, after all.) There was much about the Waldorf Astoria Orlando that didn’t surprise me:
Just like the famous one at the flagship hotel in New York, a most beautiful and ornate clock “greeted” me in the lobby. (The clock melodiously struck the hour as I walked in…great timing.)
No less than five staff members welcomed me and asked if I needed assistance from the door to the front desk upon arrival. I felt as if they knew I was coming or knew who I was until I noticed that each guest was treated with similar attention. (Ego check.)
As I stepped into my suite, beautifully-appointed furnishings instantly made me feel relaxed and pampered, and the spacious rooms made me wish my family had accompanied me. (Ok…well, at least my husband.)
Impeccable service. Opulent surroundings. Lap of luxury accommodations. Check, check and check – I began to mentally nod as my expectations were met. Yet, my list of revelations quickly began to outweigh my suppositions as I explored and learned of this jewel of a resort tucked away amongst what has always been my “happy place” – Walt Disney World.
The Bonnet Creek sign is something I’ve always noticed on Buena Vista Drive between Downtown Disney and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However, I had no idea that the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and its sister property, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, was located down that drive. Adjacent to one another, both properties are surrounded on three sides by Walt Disney World property, and many iconic Disney landmarks can be seen from the balconies of both hotels — including Spaceship Earth at Epcot and the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So, for those of you who are familiar with staying near a Disney park, you’ll know that that usually means entertainment right from your balcony each evening with an amazing display of fireworks. I was unexpectedly delighted to view Epcot’s Illuminations fireworks display from the comfort of my balcony as I sipped the champagne I received upon entry back into the hotel that evening.
Although I’ve never stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, I have visited there, seen its indulgent lobby and know of the hotel’s history and reputation. Therefore, I honestly expected to be greeted with a similar stuffy, old-world environment. What I experienced was quite the opposite as the hotel took what was almost decadent about the flagship hotel and made it light, airy and distinctively Floridian. Although the hotel still embodies luxury, the general attitude of the property is approachable, casual and very family friendly.
Sprawled out on the ample desk in my suite, I began to take inventory on all those comforts and amenities which I have grown accustomed to at the Deluxe Resorts in the Walt Disney World Collection. Whether you drive or take the complimentary deluxe motorcoach, the convenience of being close to the Disney Parks is unmatched by hotels and resorts outside of Disney property. Fine and casual dining is abundant, unique and delicious, and an array of recreational opportunities is mere steps away. Yet, you’re probably asking how much you will pay for all of these extras and attention to detail, right? Well, that was probably the most surprising thing about the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, the rates were quite reasonable. For a two-queen standard room (with a Disney view), you’re looking at paying $297-349 per night (before taxes but no resort fees) during peak times of the year. For a two-queen standard room (with a garden view) at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, you’ll pay $595+ per night (before taxes and resort fees) during peak season. Of course, you are sacrificing a little in convenience but nothing in terms of posh surroundings, lavish amenities and quality service. In fact, as much as I am a huge fan of the Grand Floridian, my nod in those three categories would have to go to the Waldorf.
A family can enjoy a world separate and apart from Walt Disney World yet still remain right where the magic is in luxurious accommodations at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando at surprisingly affordable rates. If you have any questions about this property or anything related to traveling to or with Disney, please leave me a message in the comments section below or ask questions of my friends on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. And, stay tuned here on TravelingMom.com for more reviews and information about my stay at the Waldorf-Astoria Orlando.
As is customary with travel writing, I received a three-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, complimentary meals at two of its restaurants, service at its spa and recreational opportunities. However, my reviews remain objective and are not influenced by what was provided. In addition, although I am a member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, my opinions do not represent Disney.