Monday, May 16, 2022

Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Review


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On our recent trip to WDW, we had the opportunity to stay, however briefly, at the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista hotel.  This hotel is located in the Disney Springs area, which is its own category of hotel on the Walt Disney World booking page.  Think of them as somewhat between your "normal" Walt Disney World resort and the good neighbor hotels in the area.

We weren't originally scheduled to stay here, but we shifted our plans up a day to accommodate the incredibly high price of airfare, and our regular resort wouldn't be ready until the next day.  We ended up getting a better deal to fly in a day early AND pay for an extra night at this hotel for what it would have cost to leave on our original departure day.  But that's a complaint for another day.

The Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista is on the long list of hotels that falls under the umbrella of "Disney resort" for the purposes of park related perks - specifically, access to early theme park entry as well as complimentary Disney transportation to the parks.  

I don't really have much to say about our room (which is probably not something I should admit in a hotel review) but it was your basic mid-tier hotel room.  Not a lot of theming in the room (certainly not a "Disney resort" in that respect, though there was a nice photo opportunity with a droid set up in the lobby area).  The rooms are 300 square feet and the one we stayed in had two double beds.  The entrance to the room is from the outside, as opposed to an inside hallway - some people might have a preference here which is why I mention it.

I should also note that we stayed at the Wyndham GARDEN, and there is also simply a Wyndham Lake Buena Vista.  I'm not sure how big the rooms are in that section, but they have queen beds.  They also have a "lake house theme" according to the Wyndham website, as well as view of Disney Springs.  These are probably "nicer" rooms in that respect, and cost slightly more accordingly.  We'll talk more about that below.  But all the other amenities and such are exactly the same - there is only one lobby and check in desk, for example.

There are two main selling points for this resort (and similar ones in the area) and they are proximity to Disney Springs (it's implied in the name "Disney Springs area" but it is easily within walking distance) as well as being less expensive than a more traditional Disney resort.  We will discuss both of these aspects here to hopefully help you make a decision about where to stay.

First as it relates to location, if you're interested in Disney Springs, it's hard to stay at a better location.  You can walk from the resort to Disney Springs in less than ten minutes.  That walk includes going up and over a major road, so you don't have to risk crossing heavy traffic.  This is a major benefit, and saves you the trouble of taking a bus from a different resort or driving and having to navigate the parking garages.  

The question then becomes whether that benefit is worth staying at a resort like this.  That will be up to individual taste, but as you might be able to tell from our post on Disney Springs, we wouldn't say it's worth going out of your way to see.  That essentially means that if you're staying here, you are passing up the opportunity to stay someplace else, and if given the choice, I would always rather stay within close proximity to the parks rather than a shopping and restaurant district.  Your mileage may vary.

So then it comes down to cost.  I checked a random day in July for these purposes, and a standard room here was priced at $125 (the non-Garden side of the hotel was $145 for the same night, for what it's worth).  For comparison's sake, that same night at Disney's All Star Sports (a value resort with 266 square foot rooms) was $166, and Coronado Springs (a moderate with 315 square foot rooms) was $253.  

A room a Wyndham Garden is in between these two in terms of size, but less expensive than a value Disney resort.  Objectively, that makes the value of the Wyndham Garden pretty good!  You can still get some Disney amenities (Disney lite?) but stay in a nicer room for a lower price.  But I would suggest that a room off property would be even less expensive, so if you're looking for a hotel further away to save money, this might not be the place for you.

I mentioned the Disney transportation above.  Just a note here, for those used to staying on property - you probably know to go to the bus stop, look at the board showing arrival times, and just get on the next available bus.  This isn't the case with the Wyndham Garden - they have transportation, but it has to be booked in advance, and it runs every hour on the hour.  I don't know if the booking times actually fill up, but when I picked our time, every hour was available on the website, so I suspect it would need to be very crowded to even approach that problem.  You also have to choose a return time, though that can be modified.  This wasn't a big issue for us, but it is definitely not the same as on property transportation so be aware.

As with anything, your personal preferences will dictate how much money you want to spend here, versus what you get for staying on property.  The Wyndham Garden and other Disney Springs area hotels sort of split the difference between on property and off.  That puts them in a unique position, but for me, I would choose either one or the other.  Unless you really love Disney Springs and plan to spend a lot of time there, in which case, this is a very nice place to stay.

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