This Walt Disney World Good Neighbor is great: Hilton Buena Vista Palace
There is a plethora of options when it comes to choosing accommodations for your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. And did you know that there are even international chain hotels that can be reserved as part of a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package?
Walt Disney World has a variety of Good Neighbor hotels, which are known brands like Best Western, Hilton, and Marriott, located around Disney Springs. These hotels have partnership with Walt Disney World to offer some of the same perks you would find by staying at a Disney Resort – from Extra Magic Hours, theme park transportation, and FastPass service. (A note on all of those: not every Good Neighbor offers the same level of service when it comes to those perks. Your Wishes vacation experience architect is well-versed in which properties offer the most in amenities.)
For my family’s spring break vacation in 2019 we opted to do a split-stay between an on-property resort and a Good Neighbor. Because we weren’t going to the parks the first two days of our trip, but we still wanted to be in what I call “the Disney bubble,” we looked into Good Neighbor options at Disney Springs. We are Hilton Honors members, so we knew we’d prefer a Hilton-branded hotel option. In the end, we opted for Hilton Buena Vista Palace.
Located just steps from Disney Springs (in fact, there’s a foot bridge that will take you there), Hilton Buena Vista Palace is one of the Good Neighbor hotels that offers the most similarities with a Disney resort. A stay here will allow you to make FastPasses 60 days in advance of your travel dates, there is continuous theme park transportation to all four parks, and you will be able to access Extra Magic Hours. The only drawback to this property is you don’t get complimentary MagicBands. Because we also had an on property stay, we already had bands for use should we have decided to go into a park.
Entering the lobby of Hilton Buena Vista Palace, you’re met with a stunning chandelier, area attractions desk, lobby bar, and the check in desk. There was also a photo booth area adjacent to check in that served to entertain my sons while my husband and I got all of us checked in.
There are rooms that will sleep up to four guests, as well as one- and two-bedroom suites that will accommodate larger groups. Our family of four fit comfortably in a double queen room; this room also included a desk area, mini-fridge, comfortable chair and ottoman, and my favorite feature, a small balcony. The bathroom area also had a small closet, and the sink was located just outside the main bathroom door.
The balcony …. Sigh. It was small, but had a side table and two chairs. Our view was of other Good Neighbor hotels, but there are room with views of fireworks from Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Each night during our stay we would put the boys to bed, and then step outside to spend time just chatting with one another. That was honestly my favorite part of our stay. After a busy winter and spring, just being able to sit and talk with my husband was so nice! During our second night, we suddenly noticed something bright orange between hotels and were like “um, what is that??” Being from the foothills of North Carolina, we aren’t used to seeing the moon until it’s higher in the sky. It was incredible to see it just starting to peek over the horizon!
Kids (and adults) will love the pool area at Hilton Buena Vista Palace. There’s a main pool, but the shining star of the area is the zero-entry and heated lazy river. It took my oldest about 10-15 minutes to make a loop all the way around this river! Pool chaises and umbrellas were plentiful, and there are also cabanas you can rent.
Another fun Disney activity we hadn’t planned to take part in, but then opted to do at the last minute, was a character meal in the hotel’s main restaurant, Letterpress. Currently character meals featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald, are held on Sunday mornings. Reservations are not required, although you may have to wait a bit to be seated. Breakfast is served buffet-style, and there were both hot stations with carved meats, omelet station, and pastries and muffins. Characters rotate through to each table, posing for pictures or signing autographs. We had eaten dinner at Letterpress the night before and found the a la carte offerings during that meal to be excellent!
Near Letterpress is another dining location that offered quick meals, like sandwiches and pizza, and had grab-and-go pre-packaged items. There was also a Disney gift shop with all kinds of items you might need in the parks, including MagicBands!
Our stay at Hilton Buena Vista Palace was brief, and we all agreed it would definitely be a hotel we would like to stay in again during a future vacation. Our stay was covered by our Hilton Honors points, which might make it attractive to others who are a part of this reward program.
I’d love to share more with you about the perks of a Walt Disney World Resort hotel or Good Neighbor stay. You’re welcome to reach out to me via email or by visiting my Wishes Family Travel Facebook page!