We stayed here with our 2 children (ages 5 and 2) for 2 weeks from 23rd June - 7th July, and we were delighted with the hotel from beginning to end, and without a doubt would stay here again the next time we go to Florida.
Before we travelled I e mailed ahead with some requests for my room. I asked for a room that was not on the ground floor, a room with 2 beds instead of one bed, and I asked for a fridge and a micriowave as I thought that they would be handy with the kids. The hotel replied the next day to say that they could accommodate all of these requests, and on arrival the room was exactly as I had asked for.
Lots of reviews mention the free cookies at check in. They are delicious and a nice treat on arrival.
This hotel is a large resort. It has 19 motel style building. There vary between 2 and 3 stories high. There is also the big tower in the middle. I'm not sure what the difference is between the tower rooms and the rooms in the smaller buildings. We were in one of the smaller buildings, number 11, and it was excellent. We were on 3rd floor but there was a lift. The external corridors in the smaller building are probably not as smart as the internal corridors in the tower, but who goes on holiday to look at the corridors?
Our room, number 1167, had 2 large beds that were very comfortable, a large flat screen TV, plenty of storage space, a bathroom and vanity area, and a fridge and microwave. The vanity area can be separated from the rest of the room by sliding doors, but we kept these open.
The room was cleaned every day and the bed linen and towels are changed as often as you like.
The Air Conditioning in the room was a god send in the heat.
Our room faced the parking lot but this was not a problem. The pools are open until midnight and, while not terribly noisy, there was still noise from them. Our room was nice and quiet, and also had good views of the fireworks at Seaworld every night.
Lots of reviews talk about there being a smell form the tap water. I agree that there is a smell, but it is not a dirty smell. Some reviews also talk about the carpets smelling musty, but I disagree with this as ours was very fresh and clean.
I will split the rest of this review into sections.
There are 3 pools spread throughout the complex, all open until midnight. We found it was good to go for a swim later at night when it was darker and the sun was down a bit, and it was a good way to relax after a day in the theme parks.
The main pool has a pool bar.
There is crazy golf, putting, giant chess, table tennis, and a pool table. There is also a kids club that has a full programme of activities, though we didn't use this.
There is a large spa area, but again we didn't use it.
There is no Wi-Fi in the rooms, though it is free in the lobby and the signal is good. You tend to see people sitting in the lobby on their iPads/iPhones/laptops...
There is also a laundry, though I'm not sure how much this is.
There is a shop selling a range of things from snacks to gifts.
Max's Deli sells breakfast wraps, sandwiches, pizza, and you can buy cereal, fruit, yoghurt, sweets, donuts, drinks, Starbucks coffee and so on. The food is good and is reasonably priced.
Bangli restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. The food is very nice and the prices are surprisingly cheap.
We did not use the Bamboo Grille so cannot comment.
Straight across the road from the hotel is a restaurant called the Village inn. This is open from breakfast until late. The menu is varied and it is very cheap. You can get a filling breakfast for $5. On a Wednesday they do free pie - it's worth a try!
Round the corner there is an Italian restaurant called DelMonicos (or something like that). The food here is outstanding, though it is a bit more pricey.
We chose not to hire a car. This was the first time I had been to Florida without a car, so I was a bit unsure about how to get to the theme parks, but it is easy and there are lots of choices.
There are 2 options to get to the Disney parks. First, you could use the free shuttle put on by the hotel. Buses to the Magic Kingdom leave at 7.30am and 11.20am, to Animal Kingdom leave at 7.30am, to Epcot leave at 9am and 11.20am, and to Hollywood Studios leave at 9am.
On the way back buses leave the Magic Kingdom at 5.45pm, 7pm, 9.45pm, and on late opening night there are also buses at 11.35pm and 12.50am. These buses all leave from Bus Lane 32.
Buses from the Animal Kingdom leave at 5.30pm from Bus Lane 32, from Epcot at 4.10pm and 10pm from Bus Lane 52, and from Hollywood Studios at 3.55pm, 7.20pm, and on late night openings there is a bus at 11.20pm, all from Bus Lane 53,
We didn't use any of these buses because we didn't want to follow a schedule or set timings, so I can't comment on the speed or reliability of these buses.
To get to Disney we used public transport. Come out the hotel and cross the road to the bus stop, and take Lynx Bus 111 straight to the Disney Ticket and Transport Centre. From here you can use the free Disney transport to go to whichever park you want. It is a flat fare of $2 and kids are free. The journey takes around 30 minutes. Buses leave from outside the hotel every half hour, at roughly 15 and 45 minutes past the hour, and leaving Disney on the way back they leave at roughly 10 and 40 minutes past the hour.
There are 2 options to get to Universal/Islands of Adventure. The I-Bus stopps right outside the hotel (Stop 29). You can take the I-Bus north on the red line to Stop 7, then transfer onto the green line to stop G4. From here it is a 10 minute walk to the parks.
The I-bus red line comes every 15-20 minutes, and the green line every 25-30 minutes. The cost is a flat fare of $1.25 (you need the exact fare) and under 12s are free.
We went to Universal this way the first time and it ook a while because you need to change buses.
A better way to get there is to use the hotel's free shuttle. These leave the hotel at 10am and 11.40am, and leave Universal to bring you back at 6.10pm and 8.10pm from Bus Lane 50. This takes you door to door in less than 15 minutes. If you want to use this bus you need to book your place on it in advance as places are limited.
There are 3 options for Seaworld. You can get the I-Bus south to Stop 33, take the hotel's free shuttle (loads of departures daily), but the best way is to walk. There is a gate at the back of the hotel that takes you to the Seaworld car park. You are there in 5 minutes.
To get to Aquatica you can take thre I-Bus south to Stop 34, or take the hotel shuttle (again, loads of departures daily).
The Expedia Desk is in the lobby, and is where you need to go to book your place on the shuttle bus to Universal.
They will also give you free fast passes for Seaworld so that you don't have to stand in the queues, but these are limited so get in there early to make sure you get yours. We unfortunately missed out on this as we didn't know they were limited.
The Expedia Deask will sell you a 2 week unlimited I-Bus pass for $17. We bought these and got our moneys worth, and it saves you looking for the exact change every time. You cannot buy these on the I-Bus.
All in all, this is a fantastic hotel in a good spot. There are a couple of areas that mean i didn't scopre the hotel as 5 star.
1. Don't restrict the Wi-Fi to the lobby. I would expect this to be available free if chage in the bedrooms as well
2. I suppose this isn't really the hotel's fault, but the rooms lacked somewhere to sit. There are chairs, but it would be nice to have a balcony
3. I didn't have a car so it didn't impact me, but parking is around $15 per day. This would add around £140 to the cost of a 2 week holiday there. I would expect this to be free for guests
If you are looking for a large hotel in a good location for Orlando's theme parks then this is an excellent choice.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC