When a Disney World vacation is planned, usually, guests will look to stay on the property. It makes sense as it’s good to be close to the action, but some may think it’s best to avoid the hassles of Disney and be off-property instead. True, it’s a longer journey, but some places can be better in terms of price, and in case Disney World isn’t all you want to see in Orlando.
Scores of options abound in Orlando, ranging from small motels to resorts that challenge WDW’s best. Some are technically Disney-owned but not considered Disney resorts or on Disney property, so they are not using their transport. It’s tricky to narrow down the best of the best, but from affordable fun options to truly epic vacation spots, here are ten of the best places to stay off-property but still enjoy the full fun of a Disney World trip.
10. The Grove Resort
Arguably the most overlooked and underrated family resort in Orlando, the Grove is just six miles from WDW, so shuttles can take about 20 minutes or so to get there. However, guests get access to a great resort highlighted by the Safari water park with several slides and access to a lake for an amazingly affordable price.
That’s not to mention an arcade with indoor mini-golf, three additional swimming pools, two good restaurants, and a market and regular shuttle service to the parks. It may not be as close as other spots, but still worth enjoying for the water park side alone.
9. Waldorf-Astoria Orlando
While considered an official Disney World hotel, this entry in the luxury hotel chain is off-property to count for this list. As you’d expect, it’s pretty upscale but close to Disney Springs and shuttle service to the parks as well as a fun “motorcoach” shuttle.
There are a dozen fantastic dining options, as well as a golf course, two pools, an arcade, a spa, and more. There’s also Early Entry to the parks and an official Disney merchandise store inside. So while it may be a bit more costly than other places on this list, it lives up to the promise of a fantastic resort to enjoy the Disney World experience if not at a Disney hotel.
8. JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes
Another lavish spot, this Marriott offering opens with a lavish interior, boasting a recent million-dollar renovation and a massive waterpark with two-story slides, a large river and more.
There are seven restaurants and good transport to all Orlando parks, with shuttles taking guests to the TTC for Disney World access. There are also some good golfing options, and wonderful to enjoy this spot for its luxury access at an affordable price to make for a great stay for any Orlando vacation.
7. Holiday Inn Orlando, Disney Springs
If you’re looking for a more affordable stay off Disney, you can’t go wrong with a Holiday Inn. This is a great one that’s just a ten-minute walk to Disney Springs, so you can find plenty of dining options (needed as there’s only one restaurant in the hotel itself).
The pool area isn’t fancy but still fun, and the lobby area is nice and bright. Best of all is the price, with some rooms coming in under a hundred dollars. Not only are there free shuttles to all four Disney parks, but you can also get early entry into them. That alone makes this a bargain spot that gets you more bang for your buck on a Disney trip.
6. Wyndham Garden, Lake Buena Vista
Another affordable spot, this Wyndham spot may be smaller than other places on this list, but still a great stay. There are five restaurants that offer a good range of dining, the rooms themselves are not lavish yet good for a stay, and the pool and small waterpark are fun.
There’s also a gym, basketball, and volleyball courts, and the friendly feel is good as the smaller setting makes it feel more intimate. It’s a ten-minute walk to Disney Springs, and a shuttle to the parks is included in the resort fee. If you don’t want a fancy place but still one with some great amenities, this is a good way to go.
5. Four Seasons Resort
Obviously, a Four Seasons resort has a high price tag and is meant for a luxury stay. So one in Orlando naturally is even better as this has often topped lists of the best hotels in Orlando. It’s a huge complex with plenty of walking around, including bridges covering the expansive pool area with a lazy river and a 5-acre water park.
The ten dining options range from fancy sit-down to quick lunches, with the rarity of a non-Disney resort boasting a character breakfast with Goofy and the like. There’s regular shuttle service to the parks and Early Entry as well, making this one of the best places in all of Orlando to enjoy a Disney trip.
4. Caribe Royale
The theming is obvious with the Caribbean setting. The dining options run from the upscale Venetian Chop House to the laid-back Tropicale and a bar by the pool. That pool area is terrific, and there’s also a sports complex, a large gym, a games room and more.
Note the shuttle only takes you to the Transportation And Ticket Center, not the main entrances to the parks, but still good in how close they are to WDW. There is a fee for resort and parking, so it might be best just to take a shuttle from the airport to here, but the wonderful theming showcases a fantastic stay matching the best Disney World spots.
3. Signia by Hilton Orlando
With over a thousand rooms, this is one of the biggest off-WDW property resorts in Orlando and among the best too. From the road, it may look like a standard hotel, albeit a fancy interior, but then you get to the outside and the massive three-acre pool complex. There’s not just a waterslide but a lazy river, hot tub, and cabanas, as well as an 18-hole golf course.
There are a whopping 12 restaurants to choose from, everything from a breakfast buffet to quick lunch to a four-star dinner. A 2019 renovation makes the rooms lavish with huge TVs, mini-fridges and more. A free shuttle takes you to all the parks and Disney Springs and even an official Disney merchandise store in the lobby. It’s a bit more expensive but still enough to do here to make it worthwhile as an off-property resort that’s a vacation in itself.
2. Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
One of the few places in Orlando that can rival a Disney deluxe resort, my family has stayed at the Grand Cypress a few times. Each time was absolutely amazing, with 800 rooms, a spacious open-air lobby, and a stunning pool area, including waterfalls, waterslides, and hot tubs. There are also walking trails, a miniature golf course, and quite close to Disney Springs.
The resort fee also includes renting bikes or boats, five restaurants and bars, and only 15 minutes to the parks with free shuttles. The terrific setting makes it feel like you’re on an island rather than in Orlando to make it better. Yes, it’s an expensive sport but still the most lavish an Orlando vacation can be without being on Disney property.
1. Orlando World Center Marriott
My family has stayed here twice for Thanksgiving WDW vacations and loved it each time. It’s only gotten better in the last few years as they took advantage of the pandemic for some needed renovations. That included upgrading the already terrific pool area to a mini-water park that has a 575-foot lazy river winding around the complex with a few waterslides and rivals even Stormalong Bay.
There’s also an 18-hole golf course and a luxury spa. There’s no need to go anywhere else to eat as a dozen restaurants ranging from a Japanese steak house to a mini-market are at hand. There’s even a fantastic light show by the pool with a shuttle service to the parks, making this a place so amazing you don’t even have to hit Disney to enjoy it.