With Disney hotel prices at an all-time high, in addition to the (relatively) new parking fees, staying off site is becoming more and more popular choice when planning a WDW vacation. We ourselves, have not stayed on property in over a year as it can be difficult to justify the extra cost with so many great off site options out there. The added parking fee really rubbed us the wrong way as well.
Today we are going to take a look at what we feel is one of the better options when staying off site. The Hyatt Regency Orlando is located about 15 minutes from Walt Disney World on International Drive. It’s actually very close to Universal Orlando making it a great pick if you are planning to visit both Universal and Disney during your trip.
The 4 star hotel offers resort style amenities and deluxe caliber accommodations at very reasonable prices. During a recent trip, we booked this hotel through Priceline Express Deals for $80 a night, and that was on the weekend. There are a few caveats to this price however. First, is the ridiculously high resort fee of $28 a night. In addition to that, overnight parking is another $25 a night. Still, even with these factored in, you are looking at $133 a night for a deluxe caliber hotel.
The other caveat is that this rate was booked through Priceline Express Deals. We have found that these deals are the very best way to get the cheapest price possible for our trips. The issue for many however, is that most good deals are not released until 2 – 4 weeks out. Many people don’t want to wait that close to a trip to book there hotel and we get that. If you don’t mind this however though, there are some truly great bargains to be had out there. Tom from Disney Tourist Blog has a great post explaining how to go about using these priceline deals to your full advantage here.
Getting past the cost, lets take a closer look at the hotel itself. We’ll start with some of the common areas which are, as expected for a 4 star hotel, very nice.
The lobby is a large open area, finished with lots of fancy tile, wall claddings and a large chandelier. Its a pretty generic “fancy hotel lobby” but its still nice.
The hotel offers several dining options. There are 3 full service restaurants ranging from fancy to diner food. There are also 2 interior bars, as well as a poolside quick service restaurant and bar.
Lastly, there is a 24 hour market (pictured above) which offers various sandwiches and grab and go items.
Here we see the lounge area outside of the market.
As with the other common areas, its pretty generic but nice. Obviously, one of the big things our are sacrificing by staying off Disney property is theme. This is why its somewhat surprising to us that Disney has been leaning towards the more generic hotel room look with all its most recent room renovations. Don’t get me wrong, they have made the rooms technically nicer, but they are doing so by sacrificing the main thing that sets them apart from off site competition.
The hotel also features a full service spa and nail salon to help you relax, as well as a large gym if you need to get your workout in.
Moving on, lets head up to our room and see how that fares.
When entering the room, the bathroom will be immediately on your left and a nice sized closet on your right.
There is a safe in the closet should you wish to lock up any of your valuables.
Moving forward you will come to a vanity located outside the bathroom. This is nice to have when multiple people are all trying to get ready at the same time. Below the counter is a mini fridge, along with some “free” water and coffee supplies. There is also an ice bucket should you need it.
The rooms themselves are quite spacious.
Everything was exceptionally clean and well maintained. There was no obvious wear in any of the furniture, nor any chipped paint on the walls or ceilings. The room was very well lit with several right LED lamps throughout. The bright blue’s of the carpet went well with the white walls and ceilings and, along with a few colorful pillows and chairs, added a splash of character to the room.
The bed was super comfortable. Easily one of the more comfortable beds I’ve encountered at any hotel room.
We also really appreciated the alarm clock having several charging outlets for all of our electronics.
Its hard to tell from the photos but the television was huge. I didn’t measure its exact size but I would guess it was around 60″. I have a 49″ at home and it was noticeably bigger than that.
Speaking of tv, lets move on to perhaps the coolest part of the entire room.
That’s right, there is a tv inside of the bathroom mirror! It’s totally over the top and unnecessary, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was awesome.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch golf while they take a shower? Also, through what I can only assume is sorcery, the center mirror with the tv does not even fog up (my camera lens couldn’t say the same thing).
Amazing mirror aside, the rest of the bathroom is just fine.
For as fancy as the rest of the room is, I was a bit disappointed not to have a walk in shower. That being said, the tub nice and wide, and the water pressure was great. There was no shortage of hot water either. As with the rest of the room, everything was very clean.
Soap, shampoo, conditioner and bodywash are provided if you didn’t bring your own. There was also a little container on the bathroom sink containing hand lotion, cotton balls and q-tips. A nice touch.
Plenty of towels and washcloths are provided in the cabinets below this sink.
Our room was on the 12th floor, giving us a nice view of the pool down below.
This is no where near the top of the building which goes up to 28 floors I believe. Speaking of the pool, lets take a closer look at that. A nice pool is a must for us when choosing a hotel and the one here definitely fits the bill.
In additional to being very large, the pool area also has a few things to help it stand out. A water slide, splash pad and grotto all add fun to the pool area. Bridges separating these areas add a nice touch as well.
There is also a small kids pool with some fun statues in the area. The pool is also Mickey shaped which adds a little bit of theme to the area.
It really is a very nice pool area. If you want to avoid the crowds, or specifically lots of kids, you can head up to the rooftop pool at the 4th floor instead. Its a much more laid back area and still really nice.
Now, while this review has been pretty overwhelmingly positive so far, there are definitely a few drawbacks to consider if staying here.
First, and probably most important, is location. You will need to rent a car if staying here for a primarily Walt Disney World vacation. It’s about a 20 minute drive to the Magic Kingdom, and about 15 minutes to the other 3 parks.
Also, I know the “Disney bubble” is a big deal for a lot of folks on their Disney trips. If staying here, you will be required to drive on I-4 both too and from Disney property each day. It will be very clear that you are no longer in the bubble. The roads immediately outside of the hotel are a bit of a mess too with lots of wacky traffic patterns and stoplights. The Orlando Convention Center is right there as well so if there is a show going on traffic can be really bad.
Another drawback is the distance from the hotel lobby to the self parking garage. You are looking at a roughly 5 minute walk from the lobby doors to the garage entrance. In the photo below, the garage is on the far right. You can see the covered path leading to the hotel entrance just above the pool area. What you can see here is probably about 2/3 the total walk.
It’s not crazy long but after a long day in the parks its definitely noticeable. You can opt to valet park if you like but its $15 a day more expensive, and you don’t have in / out privileges.
The last of the drawbacks are the ones you will get staying anywhere off site for a WDW vacation. You will not be able to book your fastpasses until 30 days out, rather than the 60 days you are allowed when staying on property. Basically, you can rule out getting fastpasses for Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash or 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Also, unless you have a season pass, you will have to pay to park at the Disney theme parks. This is not an issue for us (since we are AP holders) but it could potentially add an extra $150 onto your trip.
Overall, we are big fans of the Hyatt Regency Orlando. We strongly suggest considering it, IF you can get find it for a good rate. For the price we paid for it, we could not recommend it enough. The rooms are luxurious and clean. The common areas are nice with plenty of dining options. And the pool area is one of the nicer ones we’ve encountered in the Orlando area.
The typical non-discount rate for the hotel is more in the $180 – $230 a night range depending on the dates of your stay. We do have a harder time recommending this hotel at this price point. For not much more you would likely be able to stay at either the Swan or Dolphin on property which obviously has a much more favorable location.
That being said, even the full price rates are not ridiculous by any means. The rooms are every bit as nice Disney Deluxe Hotels (and nicer than some of them) for a fraction of the cost. If you can find a deal like we did, they are cheaper than a full price rate at the Disney All-Star resorts which is just crazy! If you can get that kind of deal, we think you should absolutely consider it!