For a variety of reasons, many visitors traveling to Disney World in Florida choose to stay in a hotel located outside the actual Disney theme parks. However, among the hotels near Disney World are a handful that bear an official seal of approval from Disney, granting access to benefits unavailable at other hotels. Choosing one of these hotels offers whatever benefits are to be gained by being near, but not actually in, Disney World, but with many of the same perks of being a guest of Disney.
Disney World extends some of the standard features available to guests at Disney's own hotels to "official" hotels located outside the park. However, these extras are not part of a fixed package, so one hotel might have more of these Disney extras than another. A typical extra is free access to the Walt Disney World Transportation System, a network including shuttle buses, water taxis and the Disney monorail. Less typical is access to the Magic Express, Disney's own airport shuttle. Another frequent Disney extra found in "official" outside hotels are desks in the lobby selling tickets to all of Disney's parks and attractions, thereby enabling guests to bypass long lines at the central ticket offices.
Lake Buena Vista Resort
Part of the Wyndham chain, this lakeside resort lies within walking distance of Downtown Disney's dining and shopping area. The resort consists of a high-rise tower attached to an older five-story motel building. Guest rooms and suites come appointed in a contemporary fashion with furniture befitting an middle-to-upper range hotel and modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi access. Rooms with views of Disney World, Orlando or the lake are priced somewhat higher than the "standard" room but are otherwise identical. Among the special features are Disney Character Breakfasts, held three times a week, where Donald Duck or Pluto might appear to entertain the kids during the morning meal.
Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort
Also located within walking distance of Downtown Disney is the Hilton, which caters primarily to a business-oriented crowd. For vacationers fixed on Disney World, however, this hotel offers the special bonus of being the only hotel outside of Disney World's own lodgings with an "Extra Magic Hour." This means Hilton guests have access to the exclusive, extended operating hours that Disney's parks run on a rotating basis, which is a sure means of bypassing crowds. Guest rooms are spacious and appointed in an upscale, Shaker fashion and come with all the amenities one might expect from a large, convention-oriented Hilton hotel.
Royal Plaza in the Walt Disney World Resort
One of the oldest hotels in the Lake Buena Vista area, the Royal Plaza is one of the more reasonably priced options near Disney World. The guest rooms and suites are among the more spacious of the Downtown Disney hotels and feature high-quality, contemporary furnishings and modern amenities such as plasma TVs. The poolside rooms come with either patios (ground level) or balconies (second floor). Golfers should take note that guests of the Royal Plaza enjoy preferred access to Disney's four golf courses.