I made a short escape to visit Orlando, Florida before the Christmas holidays.

I did not initially plan to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.  We had two nights at the Hilton Grand Vacations Suite at Sea World, in part using the Hilton Aspire resort credit.  I wanted to tack on an extra night without spending a bundle, but the property didn’t have a standard award (and its premium award pricing is outrageously ridiculous).  Waldorf Astoria Orlando had a “standard” award night, so I decided to hotel hop for our last day in Orlando.

Confirmed Reservation (or is it?)

I booked a standard 2 queen-beds room type (for 3 of us).  When I checked the reservation on the Hilton app the day before, I saw that we had been upgraded to a 1-King bed suite.  A 1-bed room wasn’t going to work for us.  Sometimes these automatic upgrades don’t always work out. No big deal.  I figured I can get it all sorted out at check-in.

Check In

There was no line at check-in.  This was great compared to the experience at HGV Hotel at Seaworld just days earlier.  The check-in staff welcomed us and let us know that we had been upgraded.  I let her know that I had booked a 2 queen-beds room type and if she could downgrade us back to our original reservation. She looked up some things in the system, but then apologetically said that all the rooms with 2 beds were sold out for the night.  “What?”, I thought, “That’s my confirmed room type.”

She reassured me that it’s a good upgrade, though it was a little hard to see how it was the better option when we now only have one bed for 3 guests.  Thankfully, she added that there is a sofa and it’s a pull-out bed too. We could work with that.  While she was processing the check-in, I suddenly remembered that the hotel offers rooms with a “Disney View” (which means, to me, a view of the fireworks at night).  It was a long shot, but I asked if our room has that view since I’m a huge Disney fan.

She looked at the computer again and shook her head, and added that those Disney facing rooms are very popular.  She paused, said, “hold on” and made a call asking if a room is ready.  When she hung up, she let us know that she got us a room with a Disney view.  She handed us our key cards to a room on the 5th floor.  I knew from the app that we were previously assigned to the 11th floor, but it mattered not.  We got the Disney view!  I thanked her.  She added that she thinks I will really enjoy the room.

 

Click on any of the images for an enlarged view.

Hotel (In Pictures)

The hotel lobby is certainly very grand. There is a Peacock Alley Lounge located on the other side of the lobby.

Hotel lobby

Decorations

The Upgrade! 

I didn’t know it at the time during check-in, but she had upgraded us to “The Deluxe King Suite with Balcony“.  With balcony!   There are suites without balcony and she got us a room with a balcony!   It was perfect for the fireworks viewing I was planning to do.

The Room in Pictures

Dining space

Pullout Sofa Bed

Living Room

Bedroom (King Bed Type)

Your Choice of Shower

Vanity Area

 

Outside Views

Building View

Day View

Evening View

Pool Cabana

Hotel Pool

Can You See Disney Fireworks from the Balcony?

Yes, you can!  I looked up the Disney Parks firework schedule and settled in.  I waited at the scheduled time for the first fireworks of the night, except…nothing happened.  Since the weather was good in Orlando (low 50s) even during winter, I grabbed a windbreaker and waited for the next scheduled one.  It was one of those quiet nights, with the occasional laughter coming up from the pool area below.   It was nice to look out and reflect on the year gone by.

The Disney fireworks had always been memorable to me.  I just wanted to see it again.  They are always better live than in pictures, but this one is my favorite:

View of fireworks (from balcony)

 

Other notables:

Self parking at Waldorf Astoria Orlando?

For those driving in, there is no self parking option at Waldorf Astoria Orlando.  The hotel only offers valet parking, at $37 daily fee per night.  There is self parking at the next door hotel Hilton Bonnet Creek.  For most, the difference is not worth the hassle. Hilton Bonnet Creek charges you $29 per day to “self-park”.

After I settled in, I took the walk through the long hallway connected by ballrooms to take a look at the Hilton’s Bonnet Creek next door. It’s an easy 8-10 minutes walk.

What does the hotel resort fee covers?

If you stay at this hotel, note that the hotel charges a $45 resort fee daily.  With the exception of one hotel in Hawaii (which was actually worth it), I think all resort fees should be eliminated.  They cover “things” that just aren’t all that useful to the average guest.

Click on image to view larger image.

 

Overall Thoughts

I had a great stay at Waldorf Astoria Orlando.  I lucked out and I was really thrilled about the suite upgrade.  It was a very comfortable stay.  I can see why this hotel resort is often ranked as one of the top 10 resorts in the Orlando-Walt Disney World Area.

I will say that if my goal is to visit either the Disney Parks or Universal Studios, I likely won’t book a stay here.  The reasons are simple:  I’d be spending all day at the parks and there are more affordable hotel options in the area.  That said, Waldorf Astoria Orlando is a grand hotel, and it’s got the classical, luxurious feel.  It is a perfect place to stay for a special occasion, whereas the next door Hilton’s Bonnet Creek is more family friendly.  That might also factor in a family’s decision on where to stay.

The location is convenient for those who wants to visit the parks. The hotel offers complimentary transportation to the Disney Parks and the local Disney Spring area.

 

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