Forget about the Grand Floridian or other deluxe Disney hotels, we have found a luxury hotel within Walt Disney World property that most guests visiting Disney might not have heard about.
For families looking for a luxury Disney stay, there is no better option than the 5-star Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Let me tell you why.
The Waldorf Astoria Orlando is one of the finest hotels we have stayed at in America. It provided us with a luxury escape away from the hustle and bustle of Disney, yet being on property it was still close enough to enjoy all of the attractions and sights that Walt Disney World had to offer.
I can’t recommend this hotel highly enough – it was so impressive and perfect for a luxury family holiday.
Once we had checked in, we honestly didn’t want to check out 14 days later.
Arrival and Check-In
We hired a car for our Orlando holiday from Alamo and the journey from Orlando International Airport to the Waldorf Astoria took approximately 30-35 minutes. The hotel is located with the Bonnet Creek area of Disney, an exclusive enclave of five luxury hotels and was just a five minute drive to Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
We were last in this part of Disney, back in 2010, shortly after the Hilton Bonnet Creek (now the Signia by Hilton) opened, and driving down through the expansive lush grounds leading to the hotel brought back so many great memories. Our excitement levels were even higher this time as we were staying at the Waldorf and it certainly made a great first impression with its spectacular entrance facade and fountain.
Our luggage was whisked away by the bell staff and this was the last we saw of it until we checked into our room, allowing us to start enjoying our holiday. The doormen handing out chilled bottles of water as we entered the hotel was a lovely first impression and a touch of just that level of luxury and attentive service that the Disney hotels will struggle to match.
I loved the large floor to ceiling windows toward the end of the lobby overlooking the hotel pool and grounds and the pianist playing on the grand piano in the lobby was such a delightful welcome to the hotel.
It was not just the stylish décor and ambience of the palatial lobby with its ornate Waldorf Astoria clock, mirror like marble floors and grand chandeliers that was impressive as we first walked through its doors – the staff impressed us too as they were so friendly.
We were personally welcomed to the resort on check-in by the staff, where they acknowledged our Hilton Gold status and instantly felt at home. Check-in was fast and efficient which was just what we needed after a long nine hour flight into Orlando from London with Virgin Atlantic and couldn’t wait to see our room. The girls set off with key cards in hand to find our room, a Deluxe Queen suite, one of the 500 rooms and suites at the hotel.
The hotel was undergoing a transformation during our stay and hotel corridors and rooms were being modernised. As you can see in the before and after, its a much more modern and contemporary look.
We stayed in one of their deluxe 2 queen bed suites, which at 945 square feet provided us with apartment sized accommodation and was perfect for a family of four.
As we opened the door to our suite we were taken by surprise just how large and impressive it was, with a living room, kitchen, dining area and a separate bedroom all of which was elegant and luxurious.
When we arrived in our room after a long day travelling, we were surprised with a lovely welcome amenity of soft drinks, cakes and a fruit platter and its these thoughtful little touches that really made the Waldorf Orlando stand out as a special place to stay.
Our room had all the comforts of home and more. The kitchen and dining area in our room especially with children was perfect, allowing us to enjoy breakfast and room service from the comfort of our room. The kitchen was well equipped with plenty of cupboard space, Nespresso machine to make hot drinks and a refrigerator.
Leading off the kitchen was a spacious living room with a large sofa which could also be converted into a bed (this room can sleep up to 6 people), armchair and a huge 55 inch TV which also offered the option to log into our Netflix account.
Some aspects of the room were showing their age but by the end of 2023 all of the bedrooms here at the Waldorf will be modernised as part of a huge renovation program currently underway at the hotel.
Our bedroom was spacious with two queen beds, a huge TV, seating area and spacious desk and was a similar size to the living room area of our suite but the highlight for me was definitely the opulent marble clad bathroom. With a large walk-in shower, oversized bathtub, plenty of counter top space but my favourite was the fact that the bathrooms here have designer toiletries from Aesop.
Another bonus of our suite was that we had great views of the Disney fireworks displays at night. From our room we could see the displays from the Epcot and Magic Kingdom Parks all without leaving our room. As well as having some of the best seats in the house for the firework displays our view over the pool areas and the gorgeous grounds of the hotel was beautiful.
We don’t tend to travel light when we go on holiday and our suite had the perfect amount of storage space for our clothes and luggage. Off the main bedroom area toward the bathroom was a walk-in style wardrobe, with plenty of hangers and an iron and ironing board. In addition, all rooms include their signature bathrobes and slippers, complimentary Wi-Fi and a safe which was large enough to fit a laptop.
It was so welcoming to return to our rooms each evening with a note of the next day’s weather and water by our beds as part of the evening turn down service. The beds in our suite were definitely as comfortable as they looked, with gorgeous soft white snuggly duvets and super soft bed linen ensuring that we all had great sleep each night of our stay so we were ready to explore the theme parks of Orlando.
Apart from being within touching distance to the Disney Parks, the biggest attraction of the hotel (from the kids’ perspective) were its swimming pools, which was one of the main reasons why we chose the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
Even with the lure of the nearby waterparks at Disney you didn’t really have to leave the pool complexes at the Waldorf Astoria and the adjacent Signia by Hilton because they were that good.
Upon arrival, a staff member would always welcome us to the pool with fresh towels and set up our loungers for us and even on weekends or on a busy Labor day holiday weekend there was always an abundance of loungers available around the inviting zero entry pool.
The pools here are gorgeous surrounded by palm trees, there is also a formal pool with private cabanas.
The girls couldn’t get enough of floating down the 3-acre lazy river at the Signia which was a 5 minute walk away, with its bubbling rapids, arched waterspouts and waterfalls – there was even a waterslide at the massive pool complex here which is why they spent so much time here, its great fun for kids.
Whilst the girls had fun at the Signia, we much preferred the calm surroundings on the pool deck of the Waldorf, although the Signia is a great hotel the levels of service at the Waldorf are much more attentive and exclusive. As we relaxed by the pool we were offered everything from complimentary iced waters and sun screen to aloe vera soothing gel.
One of the main reasons we tend to stay at luxury hotels around the world is because we spend a lot of time on property and the restaurants at the Waldorf Astoria did not disappoint.
Boasting eleven restaurants between the Signia and Waldorf hotels, with everything from authentic pan-Asian, Italian to fine dining along with poolside dining, bars and grab and go at Muse which was a great little store in the lobby of the Signia.
On the days where we didn’t have to leave early for the parks we enjoyed breakfast served in the relaxed yet elegant surroundings of the hotels Oscars restaurant.
We were greeted upon arrival and a beautiful buffet selection awaited us with lots of options from hot cooked breakfast to small pastries, a gluten free section, fresh fruit, yogurts and cereals. The chefs at the live cooking stations created omelettes and eggs to order and a separate waffle and pancake station which was a favourite stop off for both Chloe and Holly.
Breakfast at the Waldorf, although expensive at $40 per adult (12+) was worth every penny and a great way to start our day.
One area I really hope that the Waldorf will expand upon in the future for families is the introduction of character breakfasts. We visited Ravello at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando for their Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy & His Pals character breakfast which is highly recommended and it would have been so nice to experience something similar at the Waldorf, especially as an official Disney hotel.
On our relaxation days away from the theme parks, we had several lunches at Aquarmarine, which was a great way to cool off from the sun and we enjoyed excellent meals here. The menu was extensive with a fab kids menu. Some of our favourites were the burgers, chicken tenders, mac and cheese and pizzas and the poolside setting kept the kids happy.
Because the hotel is so close to Disney Springs, we dined at several of the restaurants there including the Boathouse, Paddlefish and Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin which were excellent, whilst the girls favourite was the fun filled Planet Hollywood.
Because of the renovations going on at the hotel not all the restaurants where operating as normal but we did dine at Sir Harry’s one evening which was good but the service was disappointing.
One evening we also tried the Harvest Bistro at the Signia which I wouldn’t recommend, service was really disappointing.
After long days at the theme parks, our favourite thing to do was to call room service, the waiter would set the dining table in our room, the food was always excellent and we would dine in the comfort of our suite.
What we loved about the Waldorf Astoria Orlando were the amount of facilities on offer at the hotel, and really sets this hotel apart from the rest. There was so many activities to take part in you really didn’t need to leave the resort including mini golf, kids arcade, shops, golf course, gym and a spa, but with the lure of Disney we didn’t get a chance to use lots of these great facilities.
One of the best perks of staying here is like a Walt Disney World hotel, we had early theme park entry. This allowed us to get into the Disney Parks, 30 minutes before their official opening to the public and at Disney this means a lot and allowed us to get on some of the most popular rides before the park actually opened.
The only disappointment was that the same benefit was not available for extended evening theme park hours which is available at the deluxe Disney hotels and villas and the Swan Dolphin hotels. I’m really surprised that two of the most deluxe hotels on Walt Disney World property, the Waldorf Astoria and the Four Seasons don’t have the same benefits as the Swan Dolphin.
The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service on a large luxury coach throughout the day to the four Disney theme parks and Disney Springs, so you don’t really need to hire a car if you are staying here. You also have the Waldorf house car available at no extra cost, and your own personal driver who will take you to any area of Disney such as the Boardwalk or to the parks if their bus schedule didn’t match your own.
One of our favourite things to do when we are in America is toasting marshmallows to make s’mores at the fire pit each evening. It’s these little memories and US traditions that make holidays like this so worthwhile and the girls loved late night swimming and movies by the pool.
There were lots of beautiful communal areas and artwork throughout the hotel. It amazes me just how large the hotel and their conference facilities are here in America. That’s what I found was the biggest difference between the Signia and Waldorf properties – the Signia was very loud and busy especially with conference attendees but as you stepped into the Waldorf it was always calm and luxurious.
When it comes to choosing a hotel in Walt Disney World, if you are looking for the best, then the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is by far my favourite. The combination of luxurious accommodation, facilities and impeccable service is what makes this five-star hotel a fantastic choice for families looking for a luxurious place to call home whilst on holiday in Orlando.
We will definitely return and can’t wait to see the hotel after its transformation is complete.