When you plan a Disneyland or Walt Disney World trip with your family, you’ll be faced with many options for where to stay. Most families know about the on-property Disney hotels, but there are also so many options for off-property hotels.
To make things more confusing, some of these hotels have been designated Disney Good Neighbor Hotels, or are located on Disney property. Here’s our guide to understanding Disney Good Neighbor Resorts and other off-property hotels.
Disclosure: We’ve stayed at some of these hotels at no cost and some at our own cost. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
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Understanding Disney Good Neighbor Hotels and Other Off-Property Hotels
What are the Disney Good Neighbor Hotels?
When you are booking your off-property Disney hotel, you may see the designation “Disney Good Neighbor Hotel”. This designation is offered at both the Walt Disney World resort in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California.
Good Neighbor Hotels aren’t official Disney hotels, and they aren’t located directly on the Disney property. However, they can be a great option for families.
If you are considering a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel, know that they’ve been vetted by Disney for high standards. They will need to provide information onsite about Walt Disney World or Disneyland, will have a guest services desk that helps you with your Disney vacation and sell Disney park tickets, and will offer transportation to the parks (or are within walking distance, in the case of Disneyland). Keep in mind, however, that you may have to pay extra for this transportation.
Because these resorts are off property, you won’t have the same benefits as on-property resorts. This means that you won’t have access to the Magical Express, and will be able to book your FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance rather than 60 days. You also won’t be able to purchase the Disney Dining Plan.
These hotels are also off property, so you’ll either need to take the shuttle or rent a car. They do offer transportation to the parks, but there may be a fee, and you will have to follow their schedule.
Why Stay at a Disney Good Neighbor Resort?
There are lots of great reasons to stay at a Disney Good Neighbor Resort, however. You’ll know that these hotels have been vetted, so they will definitely be high-quality family-friendly resorts.
In addition, many of these resorts offer kitchens/kitchenettes and may have suites that give families more room to spread out. Some of them may also have free breakfast, so you can save money. If you have a kitchen, you can even prepare some meals in your room.
Recently, I had the opportunity to stay at the Embassy Suites Orlando-International Drive South/Convention Center. This Disney World Good Neighbor Resort is conveniently located right on International Drive and offers suites with a living room.
These suites at the Embassy Suites give families more room and privacy. There’s a table in the room, as well as a microwave and mini-fridge. The resort has free breakfast, as well as an evening reception with drinks and snacks. This property offers both an indoor and outdoor pool.
I also had the chance to tour the Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando Theme Parks, another Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel. This suite hotel offers free breakfast daily, a manager reception on several evenings per week, and kitchens in the rooms. Guests can get grocery delivery, to make it easier to prepare meals.
The Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels
The Swan and Dolphin Resorts can be a great option for families. These two sister resorts are often confusing for guests because they are located right on Disney property, but aren’t Disney on-property resorts.
Located by the Boardwalk area at Walt Disney World, the Swan and Dolphin utilize Disney transportation to and from the parks. However, you won’t be able to take Disney’s Magical Express from the airport.
Guests staying at the Swan and Dolphin won’t receive MagicBands but are able to book FastPasses within the 60-day booking window. The resorts are gorgeous, with great amenities, and the rooms are very comfortable.
If you do decide to stay at these hotels, it’s important to know that these resorts are more convention/adult-oriented. While they are definitely kid-friendly, they don’t have the fun themes that the on-property Disney resorts have. Despite that, they can definitely be a great option, and a good combination of on and off property benefits.
The Disney Springs Area Resorts
There are also seven Disney Springs area resorts, that are located by Disney Springs and offer benefits to guests. These seven resorts are the following:
- B Resort and Spa
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
There are some additional benefits to staying at these resorts, beyond the close proximity to the Disney theme parks. For example, through 2020, guests staying at the Disney Springs Area Resorts can book their FastPass allocations 60 days in advance, just like on-property guests. You will need to make sure that you book your hotel appropriately to get this benefit, so check before committing.
In addition, you’ll be able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. You do need a valid ticket and may need to get a voucher from your hotel to utilize this benefit.
Additional Hotels at Walt Disney World
There are other hotels at Walt Disney World that you may consider. These hotels are within the gates of Walt Disney World but aren’t owned or operated by Disney.
Included in this group are the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort, the Waldorf Astoria, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, and the Wyndham Grand Hotel Bonnet Creek.
During a Thanksgiving vacation several years ago, we stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort. This hotel is located past the gates of Walt Disney World but doesn’t utilize the Magical Express. For our stay, we took a rideshare to the hotel.
The property offers a lazy river and pool area, as well as multiple restaurants. A shuttle takes you to Walt Disney World theme parks as well as Disney Springs.
Have you stayed at a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel or another off-property hotel affiliated with Disney?