Hotel Review: Hilton Buena Vista Palace at Disney Springs

by LivingByDisney

One of the biggest decisions of planning your Walt Disney World vacation is deciding where to stay. I’ve been making an ongoing effort to review and cover more of the hotel options for people visiting Orlando.

I recently had the opportunity to stay and review for you guys the Hilton Buena Vista Palace resort. This hotel has a lot to offer guests so read on to find out if it might be a good choice for your next Disney World vacation.

Hilton Buena Vista Palace has given me a special offer code to get two free passes to Disney’s water parks during your stay! Click here to apply the code: Hilton LivingbyDisney Offer

 

What Does “Disney” Resort Mean?

Before we start, let me clarify something that’s new. We used to use the terms “off-site” and “on-site” to categorize Disney owned hotels versus others. But that’s really changed in the last year or so. Now when you go to book a Disney vacation package there are three categories of hotels:

  1. Disney Resorts: The ones that Disney owns.
  2. Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels: Owned by other Hotel chains that are official WDW resorts with partnerships with Disney that give their guests access to some of Disney’s resort amenities.
  3. Good Neighbor Hotels: Area hotels owned by third-party chains who have agreements with Disney including having authorized ticket sellers on the property, but don’t offer any of Disney’s amenities.

The Hilton Buena Vista Palace falls into the category of a Disney Springs resort which means not only is it on Disney property, but it offers many of the same amenities you get when staying at a Disney owned resort including:

  • Fastpass Booking window of 60 days
  • Extra Magic Hours in the parks

Nice welcome gift for me!

Quick Summary Review

We will break down all the details below, but if you’re looking for a high-level overall review here’s a summary:

Hilton Buena Vista Palace gives you solid value, offering a deluxe resort feel for a low-moderate resort price tag. Because it hosts a mix of business travelers and park guests, the overall vibe is classy and more adult. This wouldn’t be the best choice for a family with very young children who wanted to be immersed in Disney characters for their whole stay. But it’s perfect for those that prefer to get away to a quieter hotel when they leave the parks, who want a posh feel for a mid-range budget, and don’t mind being a little farther away to have that.

Pros:

  • Deluxe feel for a moderate (or less) price tag
  • Extra Magic Hours benefits
  • 60 day Fastpass booking window
  • Quieter resort with less theme park crowds
  • Larger standard room sizes
  • Walking distance to Disney Springs
  • Theme and feel more for adults and older teens

Cons:

  • No option for Disney transportation or Airport transport
  • Can’t use Disney Dining Plan or other vacation packages
  • Shared bus service creates longer travel times
  • No Disney characters in hotel decor, less appeal for young children

 

Location

Hilton Buena Vista Palace is located directly across the street from Disney Springs, close to the Marketplace side (where Earl of Sandwich is). It’s connected to Disney Springs by an overhead pedestrian walkway that crosses over the traffic at the intersection. At a leisurely walking pace, it took me about 10 minutes to get from the hotel lobby to Disney Springs.

This means you’ll have walking access to Disney Springs, but all theme parks will require your own vehicle, taxi service, or use of the Resorts’s shuttle service (more on this later).

NOTE: The names can be super confusing because there are two Hilton hotels in Disney Springs. This is for the Hilton Buena Vista Palace, not the Hilton Lake Buena Vista.

I know. So confusing!

Just make sure the word Palace is in the title and you’ll have the right one.

Hotel Category and Rating

Hilton Buena Vista Palace is a three-star hotel with an upscale feel. If you wanted to compare it to a Disney resort, I’d say the quality level is on par with the Contemporary Resort, (very close to the Grand Floridian) making it fall in between a Deluxe level and a Moderate level. But it’s pricing isn’t the same as those. (More on this as we continue.)

It’s an interior tower hotel with inside rooms, concierge service, superior bedding, table service dining options, room service, a lobby lounge, large pool, and water area.

 

Main Lobby and Lounge

When you first enter the hotel you’ll be on the third floor. This is where the main lobby is located with check-in desk, concierge, bell services for luggage help, several common areas for working or lounging, as well as the main lobby bar.

Rooms

I stayed in a standard King room that sleeps three, with a pull out sofa bed. They also have “two queens” bedrooms that are also standard and sleep 5 with the sofa bed. The majority of rooms have their own balcony. The standard room size is pretty large at 400 sq ft. Compare that to Disney’s averages which are:

  • Value: 260 Sq ft
  • Moderate: 315 sqft
  • Deluxe 340-440 sqft

So the sizing is comparable to the Disney deluxe level resorts.

 

The Disney Springs view includes a great view of the pool area

 

All standard rooms come with:

  • A work desk and desk chair
  • Plush pillow-top bedding and Hilton Serenity beds
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • Pacific Coast down pillows and duvet Coffeemaker
  • Safe
  • Hairdryer
  • HD TV
  • Sitting area

The upgrades to standard size rooms involve your view. Some of the options:

  • Resort View: pool, grounds, water fountain
  • Disney Springs View: This is what I had, you look over the pool toward the Marketplace.
  • Fireworks View: Look towards Epcot and can see the fireworks each night.

Here’s a look at my Standard King room with pull out sofa and Disney Springs view (pictured above):

 

 

 

Pool Areas

They have a gorgeous pool area, with a large regular pool, a huge lazy river with tubes, and a zero entry shallow area with splash pad for little ones.

They were very generous and set me up with a poolside cabana for the day. It was super nice with large shaded seating, a ceiling fan, TV, fridge and safe to keep your valuables locked up if everyone’s in the water. They bring you a cold water dispenser and a fresh fruit plate as well.

Main pool area

Lazy river

My private cabana

The poolside bar is called Shades, and they had several tasty options on the menu. The stand out favorites for me was the Wayfinder drink which is huge and served in a full pineapple, and the Cobb salad which, this may sound strange, but it still remains one of the best salads I’ve had in Orlando. I will totally be back for that one.

Awesome “Wayfinder” drink served at the pool bar

My food from the pool bar called Shades

Cabana pricing

Pool bar menu

 

Food and Dining Options

Hilton Buena Vista Palace has a quick food spot, a table service restaurant, a full lobby lounge/bar, and a full room service menu. The quick food spot is called Citrus 28.

Quick food at Citrus 28

Quick food menu

 

They have a wide variety of made to order options as well as grab-and-go food choices. Best of all it’s a Starbucks offering their brand of coffee as well as some of the coffee drinks. Lots of pastries and baked goods that were fresh, as well as a bulk candy area.

Candy shop area

Quick food options for purchase

 

The table service restaurant is called Letterpress. It offers a full menu all day long, including brunch until 1 pm. Breakfast and brunch have both a buffet and a la carte menu items. I had breakfast there and loved the bookish, library feel to the decor. The ascetic is too cute. I recommend the Bourbon Butter Pancakes.

Bourbon Pancakes at Letterpress

Omelet station for the breakfast buffet

Letterpress menu

 

 

They also host a character buffet every Sunday morning.

Note: the character buffet is only on Sunday’s but you don’t have to be staying at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace to try it. It’s hosted by Minnie who has a few of her friends along with her. Now, there’s a lot of character meal options in the parks, so I wouldn’t say you need to run out and book this one, but it does have a few things going for it. One, it’s cheaper than many of the ones offered in the parks, at $30 for adults versus the $50 price tag you’ll pay otherwise. It also isn’t nearly as busy as the ones in the Disney parks and resorts, so you don’t have to have a reservation for it making it a great last-minute option, or good if you’re visiting during a busy season and you weren’t able to get into some of the other character meals.

 

Transportation

They do offer a bus shuttle that will take you to the parks on a 30-minute rotation. They seemed fairly reliable, however, my recommendation would be to have your own transportation. The reason why is that the buses for Hilton are shared with several of the Disney Springs area hotels, and you’ll have lots of additional pick-ups and drop-offs to add to the length of your travel time.

It’s doable, but not the best use of your vacation time. It’s something you’ll have to weigh in decided where to stay. But keep in mind that the savings of staying at the Hilton BVP versus a Disney owned resort may mean you can rent a car and still come out ahead in savings.

 

 

Rates and Value

Like anything else in travel, prices fluctuate a lot. So you’ll have to search your specific dates for comparisons. But in general, I’ve found the Hilton BVP to be in between a value and a moderate in pricing. But keep in mind you’re getting a deluxe level experience for that slightly-lower-than-moderate pricetag. Here’s a comparison I did on Kayak for a few nights in January to give you an idea of ranges. Also, keep in mind if you have travel points you can use or Hilton Honors points you can use them at this location as well.

Price comparisons

 

Hilton Buena Vista Palace has given me a special offer code to get two free passes to Disney’s water parks during your stay! Click here to apply the code: Hilton LivingbyDisney Offer

Make sure you check that Pros/Cons list up top to get a good overview of all these details. I honestly really loved staying here.

***Please note my stay and food was comped by Hilton, but this review is my own unbiased opinion.

Thanks to Hilton for inviting me to check out their beautiful resort! You can check their website here.

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