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Old 10-16-2011, 10:14 AM   #1
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What is the #1 off-site property?

Hi All,
We are thinking of staying off-site for the first time as a family. We love the convenience of the Magical Express and not having to worry about renting a car. That said, we just had our third child and feel like it might be time to look at the options off Disney property that might provide us will more space for our dollar. Does anyone have any recommendations? It's been quite some time since I've stayed elsewhere. Thanks so much!!!

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Old 10-16-2011, 10:37 AM   #2
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I would say that the one that gets talked about the most is Bonnet Creek which offers 2 -4 bedroom condos and is practically onsite (near CBR). There's also Windsor Hills which has 2-3 br condos, 3 br townhouses with private splash pools and 4-6 br pool homes. WH is about 5 -7 minutes from the AK parking lot. There's also many other condo type accomodations in the area: Vistanna, Floridays, Cypress Point, Silver Creek, Lake Buena Vista Village, the Fountains near Floridays etc. There's also lots of pool home subdivisions in the Windsor Hills area.
Here's a map with some of them marked. WHills is # 1, Bonnet Creek #118, Vistanna #114, Floridays / Fountains #121, LBVVillage #138, Silver Creek#19 and there's many others.
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Old 10-16-2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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If you want a hotel/resort that sleeps a large family we love Caribe Royale. A standard sleeps 6. Two Queens in the bedroom and a pullout double in the small living room area. There is only one bathroom. There are two TVís, microwave, small fridge and coffee maker in the room. The pool is wonderful, water falls, water slide and pool side bar where you can order light lunches. The hotel offers several restaurants. We usually pay around $100.00 a night. Check Mouse Savers they always have discounted room offered with them. We never pay rack rates here. The resort is a straight shot up World Drive to Epcot. The most is has ever taken us to drive to Epcot is 10 minutes. We often make it in 5.

If you are looking to spend less their sister property, Lake Buena Vista Suites, offers the same layout of rooms as Caribe Royale with a free decent hot breakfast buffet. However, the resort is not as upscale, has a boring pool area, and far less amenities. Rates start at about $80 a night here.

The Caribe Royale also offers villas. These are two bedrooms, two baths with a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. The master has a king size bed, spa tub and a shower and the room is huge! The second room has two queen size beds. There is also a pull out double bed in the sofa. Itís always spotless, with friendly helpful staff. The best part is this INCLUDES DAILY MAID SERVICE! They even do your dishes. You pay a bit more than an offsite condo about $170-$200 but I love this perk. To me this is the best of the offsite world because we get space, the amenities of a very nice hotel (spa, health club, room service ect) but without the huge Disney price tag.
The down side to The Caribe is I would not stay here without a car. They have a shuttle to the parks but its times are limited. Unlike so many other offsite resorts The Caribe Royale has NO resort or parking fee.

If you want an offsite condo we like Winsor Hills, World Quest and Bonnet Creek. You donít have to rent a car with Bonnet Creek as they have a pretty decent shuttle service to and from the parks. You do need transportation to and from the resort. Unless you plan on eating all your meals at WDW I would also use Garden Grocer if I didnít have a car at BC because there are not many food services available here. Of the three BC is, in my opinion, nicer but better rates can usually be found at the other two places.

Good luck with whatever you decided to do.
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Old 10-16-2011, 02:19 PM   #4
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We just got back from a great stay:Staybridge Suites

We just spent October 1st to October 8 at Staybridge Suites. It is on Apopka-Vineland and was about a minute from the turn into Disney. The drive to the parks was easy. There is a grocery store, Winn Dixie, across a quiet side street. a liquor store, too. It has very friendly staff and a pool/spa. We had the two bedroom trio suite where the master has a king bed, ensuite, and walk in closet. The other suite had two full beds, bathroom, and double closet. In between there are the living area and kitchen. Housekeeping put the dishes in the dishwasher and put it on everyday. Breakfast is included and it is great. We found the pool overheated but that was our only complaint. We had three adults and three kids, 9,7,3. To come home and be able to unwind in our own spaces was fabulous.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:40 PM   #5
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I've read a lot of good reviews about the Downtown Disney area hotels, particularly the Double Tree Guest Suites. It is the only all suite hotel in the Downtown Disney area and has suites that accommodate up to six people. They also have a children's check in desk in the lobby, a children's movie theater, a Disney gift shop, a basic but cute kiddie pool, and a small playground. The Downtown Disney hotels share a bus line that provides transportation to/from the Disney parks and they run every 30 minutes I believe. You can check out more info about this property on Mousesavers.com which is where I found out about it, and sometimes they offer promotional offers/discounts via this website. If you are leaning more towards a condo or vacation home, then I would look into either Wyndham Bonnett Creek or Windsor Hills. Wyndham Bonnett Creek is on Disney property but not owned or operated by Disney and Windsor Hills gets a lot of positive reviews on having nice, spacious accommodations for your dollar while being a close drive to the Disney parks. We are considering these options for our next Disney trip as well as it is hard to justify spending $200-$300/night again for a value resort family suite at Disney, even with free dining!
Good luck in whatever you decide.
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:40 PM   #6
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There are tons of great condo resorts in the Orlando area. The five top rated offsite condo resorts as rated by TUG members (timeshare users group) // I'm only including properties with lots of reviews are:

Marriott Cypress Harbor
Hilton Grand Vacation Club on I drive
Houses at Summer Bay Resort
Marriott Grand Vista
Hilton Grand Vacation Clubs at Sea World

These are listed in order by current TUG rating.

There are many many more absolutely terriffic places not in the top five that we've stayed at. I'm just listing these, though, as you were looking for a number 1 maybe based on some rating system, so these would probably be top condenders.
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Old 10-16-2011, 10:47 PM   #7
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IMHO I believe that Windsor Hills would be the best offsite stay. This is where we went last year and if I stay offsite again that is exactly where we will be going. So many options and such a nice resort.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:12 AM   #8
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We haven't stayed onsite and won't until our girls are older.

Last year we went with our 3 year old and 1 year old. We stayed in a 3 bedroom condo at Windsor Hills. It was great b/c we all had our own bedroom. That way the girls could sleep and nap without waking each other up. It was also nice to have a kitchen and washer and dryer.

The drive to the Parks was very quick.

We are going back in December. We had a great experience at Windsor Hills.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:35 AM   #9
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We are staying offsite for our first time next month. I did a bit of research on here, and decided Windsor Hills was best for our family. DH and DD are excited about the space. Last time we went, Kid #3 was under 3, and we stayed at Pop Century! This time we are renting a 3br 3ba townhouse with splash pool. DS and I are a tad hesitant to not be constantly immersed in the experience, no dining plan, etc. So, I'll give an honest review when we come back!

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Old 10-18-2011, 08:57 PM   #10
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Windsor Hills, while a nice choice, is too isolated and not the "resort feel" we like about staying in Orlando - especially near/at Disney. Our preference is the Lake Buena Vista / DTD area - in particular the Cypress Pointe planned development. Unlike 97% of Orlando area resorts this area was planned to offer everything you need in one area - pedestrian friendly! - that can include a fully sidewalk/crosswalk equipped 1 mile walk to DTD. Some of the best restaurants, stores and other features are right there - along with four outstanding timeshare/suite hotels as well as other more traditional hotels like the Country Inn and others. Cypress Pointe Resort (our favorite for over 19 years), Grande Villas Resort (formerly known as Cypress Pointe Grande Villas - recently renamed), Blue Tree Resort (aka Westgate/Bluetree) are three very nice 2 & 3 bedroom timeshares. All will be great experiences if you choose one. Plus the Staybridge Suites offers 1 & 2 bedroom units in a hotel type operation. All sit in the planned community with that pleasant ability to walk by fountains & ponds 1/3 mile to Giordano's or Steak & Shake (and MANY others) for a meal, or a stroll over to Wynn Dixie for reasonable priced groceries - Walgreens, a liquor store and a wonderful soft ice cream place (Tasty Treat) for a quick treat.

It is that ability to arrive, park the car & enjoy virtually every service you could want in a few minute walk that makes this a great location - maybe second to none. Plus you are on the Palm Parkway so Walmart is 3 minutes down the road - Seaworld and easy 8 minutes with no I-4 traffic - Universal Studios 10 minutes again with no I-4 needed. It really has perhaps THE most important feature of all besides great accommodations - it is close to EVERYTHING. We prefer that area and Cypress Pointe Resort in particular above all other places we've tried - including on-site - in Orlando. Highly recommend you look at it as an option.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:25 PM   #11
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Rather than best per say (did a previous post of the top five as rated by TUG), I'm going to mention three that are favorites of mine from the quality / price standpoint. (High quality and great prices -- always a favorite of mine -- love a great deal)

I think Cypress Pointe mentioned by the previous poster is definately one of these. We've stayed at Cypress Pointe / Cypress Pointe Grand Villas three different times too and really liked it. They have tons of three bederoom condos, so this is an excellent choice if you need a three bedroom. Note though one of the bedrooms is really small / just two twins, so we've always gone for a three bedroom when we stay here. There are also tons of good deals on this resort on Redweek.com and TUG2.net. It's pretty easy to find an owner rental for the week you want. And the last edition of the Unofficial Guide that I bought (a few years back) rated this property retail as one of the best deals in Orlando for price/quality. It gets good reviews on TUG (the timeshare users group too).

Another condo resort (We've stayed at this one four times) that is a little farther from Downtown Disney than Cypress Pointe is the Sheraton Vistana resort. The units themselves have been recently remodeled and are lovely (fabulous really). The landscaping here is so nice too (little man made lakes all over, giving almost everyone a waterview rather than a parkig lot view from their patio or balcony. We are a tennis playing family and they have eight clay tennis courts that we love. This is a large resort with organized activities, numerous pools and hot tubs, onsite resturants, etc.

Orange Lake is another huge condo resort that has built it's own waterpark area. We stayed there last March. It's the largest timeshare resort in the world, and they actually have a little shuttle that runs continuously to take people around to different areas of the resort.

I think my main reason is picking these is that I was looking for a high quality resort that I could also get a great deal on, and I've found these to be wonderful resorts with many owner rentals available for excellent prices.

Different people have different preferences. I have similar preferences to the poster above in prefering a timeshare condo resort to a home rental (more of a resort feel which we enjoy). // I'm definately not knocking a home rental, though, especially if you have a large group who all want to stay together. Also owner home rentals are typically less expensive than timeshare resort rental weeks for similar sized units (more staff and maintenance at timeshare resorts mean higher prices than home rentals, but are quite reasonable -- two bedroom condo owner rental for less than the cost of a Disney moderate hotel room).
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:47 PM   #12
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It really is hard to say what is THE BEST simply because there are so many places in the Orlando and Disney area, and everyone is looking at different criteria.

In general, I'll say there are 3 different categories of accommodations in the area. You have your traditional Hotel, Your Rental Home/Condo, and your Timeshare Resorts. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Some questions you may want to answer first to help get a better idea of what you are looking for, and therefor to help narrow down the choices.

1. Do you want/need Daily maid service? (rental homes and Timeshares often don't offer daily maid services.

2. Do your kids enjoy visiting the pool? Do they want slides? lazy rivers? etc.

3. Do you enjoy having a resort feel, or would you prefer being someplace that could be a bit more isolated and/or private?

4. Do you need/want a kitchen and/or Fridge? (Meals at your room? breakfast or snack before the parks? a place to keep leftovers from eating out?)

5. How comfortable are you with driving in the area? (ok short distances? prefer to rely on the hotel/resort shuttle to the parks? Don't have a problem driving a bit or dealing with traffic)

6. Do you want to be close enough to allow an easy/quick mid-day break back from the parks?

7. Do you want theming and/or entertainment available at the resort for the kids?

8. Do you like the idea on onsite restaurants at the hotel/resort?

9. Do you want/need a bar for your tasty adult beverages?

The answers to these questions could help steer our suggestions in a direction that suits your needs/desires.

Oh... and for the record, Someone mentioned that Wyndham Bonnett Creek doesn't have much in the way of onsite food available. With the opening of the Wyndham Grand Hotel at the resort around the beginning of the month, there is now several more onsite restaurant options available.
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Old 10-19-2011, 04:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by kkayluvsdis View Post
Hi All,
We are thinking of staying off-site for the first time as a family. We love the convenience of the Magical Express and not having to worry about renting a car. That said, we just had our third child and feel like it might be time to look at the options off Disney property that might provide us will more space for our dollar. Does anyone have any recommendations? It's been quite some time since I've stayed elsewhere. Thanks so much!!!

okay do you want a condo/timeshare - which is most of the other listing or a hotel?

orlando has some top hotels -
jw marriott
hilton -orlando at bonnet creek
waldorf astoria

now if you want a timeshares/condo - my list
Marriott Grande Vista
Marriott Cypress Harbour
Sheraton Vistana Resort (very close to Disney)
Wyndham Bonnet Creek - it has hotel and timeshare
Cypress Pointe
Grand Beach
Vacation Villa at Parkway
Windsor Hills - condo
Emerald island resort - houses

have not used this website -

have used these
www.tug2.net - you want the advertised section

do not stay at any thing with Westgate in the name.
Pat J

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Old 10-19-2011, 06:59 PM   #14
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Exclamation Best off site hotel ... hmm

Hiya Kelly!

It might not seem like it but you asked a very tough question because it is so subjective ... the whole one man's trash is another man's treasure sort of thing.

I don't have a lot to offer in this field because, like you, we have been On-Property people for a long time now ... however, I do want to leave you 2 potential points of advice!

1. My current girlfriend and her two kids have stayed at the Hilton in the hotel cluster located by DownTown Disney many times and she has nothing bad to say about it. She said the staff was friendly, the rooms were clean, and the hotel was pretty and from what I saw from her photos it does look like a nice place to stay. As far as price ... it depends on season and view but you all ready know that from Disney ^_^ but I'd say they range from the low to mid 200s. I'm not certain what your price range is

2. I speak from personal experience when I say AVOID ROYAL PLAZA HOTEL! Had a split say in April 2011 between them and Poly. They used to be a really nice hotel but over the past two or so years they have taken a nose dive! I don't know what the reason was; I assume it was a management change but whatever the reason was my dis-satisfaction dial got turned up A LOT! In my findings they usually do have a good price but the true cost isn't felt until you get there and find out what you have to deal with! If you are interested in specifics you can click my name and find my thread "Royal Plaza = Royal Pain" and read MY experiences and there is a recent post someone put up on her friend's experience.

I am sorry I can't be of more help to you!

Disney DieHard

Have A Magical Day!!!

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Old 10-19-2011, 07:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by DCTooTall View Post
Oh... and for the record, Someone mentioned that Wyndham Bonnett Creek doesn't have much in the way of onsite food available. With the opening of the Wyndham Grand Hotel at the resort around the beginning of the month, there is now several more onsite restaurant options available.
If I'm not mistaken, there will be FIVE food outlets at the Wyndham Grand. I believe Deej's recent review of the Wyndham Grand said one was not open yet, but around the end of October, they would all be open.

That's a big upgrade from the options available in the timeshare portion of the resort...although honestly, we go out for dinner and found what we wanted at the pool bars during the day.

There are LOTS of things that put Wyndham Bonnet Creek high on my list. Food is not one of them...but it's a great place to vacation!
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