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Lake Buena Vista, Orlando Travel Guide

Lake Buena Vista Summary


  • Close to Disney (10- to 20-minute-drive to the parks)
  • Character-driven theme atmosphere is generally less pervasive than at Disney properties.
  • Convenient to Downtown Disney's shopping and restaurants (five- to 10-minute drive)
  • Hotels tend to be less expensive than equivalent Disney properties.
  • Treelined streets feel more residential than the four-lane highways running through Disney World.
  • Large selection of moderately priced restaurants


  • Character-driven theme atmosphere is generally less pervasive than at Disney properties.
  • Guests at these hotels don't get all the standard park-related perks and conveniences available to guests at Disney-owned hotels; that said, most offer a free shuttle to the parks.
  • Relatively far from the Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom (each is a 10- to 15-minute drive, depending on traffic)

What It's Like

Lake Buena Vista is a municipality southeast of Orlando mostly comprised of Walt Disney World itself. But it also includes a smaller area outside the Disney gates that's home to some 10 or 12 non-Disney hotels, mostly on or near busy, treelined Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Some of these are designated "official" Disney hotels, which means that their guests may enjoy some, but not all, of the extra perks of staying at a Disney property, like free shuttle services. "Official" or not, proximity to the parks is a clear virtue of the hotels in this area. In fact, this is an ideal location for those who want to be near the Disney action but don't want the full-immersion Mickey experience.

Where to Stay

The resorts outside of Disney tend to be a little less expensive -- typically 20 to 30 percent less -- than the Disney properties offering equivalent levels of luxury, service, and amenities. Another way to look at the trade-off is this: At any given price level, guests of these hotels give up some or all of the Disney perks and conveniences in exchange for marginally better rooms and/or amenities.

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