Walt Disney World is an awesome place. No ifs or ands. But, well, there are some buts.
One example? I love Disney but don’t want to eat, drink, breathe, absorb and excrete it for the entirety of my vacation. So, isn’t there someplace where I can escape for a while? No Mickey, no Donald, no need for this sweaty Magic Band?
Well, yes. Fortunately there are a variety of lodging options in and around Walt Disney World that don’t shout Disney 24/7/365 (and may be easier on your pocketbook).
But first – you need to give yourself permission to not be “all-Disney-all-the-time.” You’re just normal – you like ice cream, right? But you don’t eat it All. The. Time.
Good. Now that that’s out of the way, you’re free to explore non-Disney properties and not feel guilty about it.
If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World before – or perhaps have but stayed on-property (meaning within the grounds of the Walt Disney World Resort, where the theme parks are situated) and never left, you should take the time before your next visit to get to know the Disney Springs Resort Area, just a few miles from the Disney theme parks. There you’ll find a variety of non-Disney-branded inns and hotels, many of which are perfect for families.
One of these options is the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista hotel.
My family and I were recently hosted by Walt Disney World for a fantastic late February weekend with Traveling Dads, which we topped off by spending our last night in Orlando as guests of the Wyndham Garden LBV hotel. And not only was it fab, it was admittedly a nice break from the Disney hoopla.
First of all, it’s extremely convenient to both Highway 535 and the Disney theme parks. Second – and this is fantastic if you’re like me and hate traffic and parking when you’ve invested a ton in theme park passes and just want to get there – the Wyndham Garden LBV offers frequent shuttles to all the parks. Score!
Because we arrived at nighttime (greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic staff who were as fresh as the morning), we didn’t get a chance to see the attractive exterior garden area, the exercise room, or the huge swimming pool area until the next morning. When we walked out of our room in the morning, we were struck by the view of the landscaped courtyard. The swimming area would be great for little kids, as well as for parents of teens who may just want to let those teens head off on their own to the park for a few hours while mom and dad catch some rays.
We had a good-sized clean room with 2 double beds, a 37” flat-screen, the biggest “mini-fridge” I’d ever seen, a microwave, and huge dressers – all perfect for the four of us as we snuggled in that night with snacks to watch the Academy Awards show.
Keep in mind that there is a small fee for both self-parking ($8) and valet parking, plus there are add-on “resort fees” of the type that are getting a lot of criticism these days. And while there is an on-site restaurant, breakfast is not included with the room. That said, there are a TON of restaurants and eateries in and around the Disney Springs Resort area, and we had no waits either for dinner or breakfast when we went off-property.
And – almost forgot – the shower was awesome! I love me a shower with powerful pressure that beats on my skin to wake me up, and the one at the Wyndham exceeded my expectations in that department.
At the end of the day, if you get tired (like me) of the first rendition of “It’s a Small World” and can get quickly overwhelmed by symptoms of Mickeytosis or Disneyrrhea, don’t fret. You’re not less of a fan because you’d like to sleep somewhere away from all the Disney-palooza, and the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista is a close-but-not-too-close place to do it.