We are recently back from a Christmas week trip to Walt Disney World, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my 360 photos from the trip. But to start, I wanted to go over our hotel stays.
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We flew to Orlando on Sunday, December 19th and checked into the Clarion Suites in Kissimmee, located just south of the Animal Kingdom area. This hotel is not in the best shape. There appeared to be mold around the bathroom and my wife is not a fan of the window unit AC and would prefer Central AC.
The free breakfast is just a single entree, a side and a drink. You have to grab a menu order form from the front desk and check off your selection, don’t do what I tried to do and just grab a bag. Whoops. Once you fill it out, the person checks over the orders and then points you to their unavailable item list. The sandwiches are refrigerated and you have to warm them up yourself. Overall, it just wasn’t good.
So after breakfast Monday, my wife called around and found a room at the Cambria near the airport. We had also stayed at the Cambria in Anaheim and really liked it, so we knew this would work out. This location had just opened during the summer and was a very nice overall hotel.
We were able to go to the hotel and check in immediately, which was nice as my daughter was wanting to swim. The hotel lobby was very large and clean and includes a sitting area in front of a TV and electric fireplace, a bar area with restaurant, a snack stand where you could grab whatever you need to eat and take to the front desk to checkout.
Upon checking in, we went to the room to rest a bit while our daughter constantly asked about swimming. First impressions of the room was that it was very clean and very nice. The rooms had vinyl flooring, so you know nothing is getting trapped in dirty carpet, the walls around the shower were clean, bedding looked nice. The room also had a large TV, a desk and a wardrobe area with a mini fridge.
After a bit, I took my daughter down to the pool while my wife napped. The pool area was somewhat small, compared to the Anaheim Cambria pool, just a single pool and patio for sitting next to the pool as well as a covered patio area just outside of the pool fenced in area. We tried getting in and it was just too cold. Major disappointment when vacationing in Florida to not be able to get in. After a bit, rain started to come down and we just couldn’t catch a break.
We decided on having dinner at the lobby restaurant. The bartender doubles as the only server, so service was initially a little slow, but gave us time to review the menu. I chose the flat iron steak while my wife selected the salad with chicken. Everything was very well prepared. The food tasted delicious. We ended up having breakfast a couple times as well. It’s not free, but it’s definitely worth the price.
The drive to and from Disney was a bit longer than I desired, taking anywhere from 20-35 minutes, depending on time of day and direction you’re going. It’s also along the 528 highway, which is a tollway, so you’re paying tolls to get to and from the park. Having planned on staying by the parks, I wasn’t expecting this cost every day. I was going to get the visitor toll pass transponder from the vending machine upon arrival, but they only have a pickup location in the B side of the terminal and there’s no easy way to get over there once at the rental cars. If you have cash, you can pay cash for tolls, otherwise, the rental car company will charge $3.95 per day used plus cost of toll. If you don’t go through a toll, you don’t get charged that day. Once getting off I-4 and heading towards Disney World, we didn’t experience much traffic in the resort area. It helps that we went later in the morning and we left each park an hour or two before closing.
The Pros and Cons of the Cambria airport hotel: Pros – New, Clean, great value for the price (we paid $110/night Christmas week), easy access to the Airport – about a 10 minute drive, but most of that is getting around the airport. Cons – pool not heated, central air that cannot be controlled despite the thermostat giving the appearance it could, you basically have to take the tollway to get anywhere, far from Disney (not as far for other theme parks), no free breakfast (restaurant food is worth the cost though).
Overall, we had a great stay at the Cambria airport hotel. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend staying there the full week if you’re going to any of the Orlando area theme parks, simply because of distance and tolls. I would, however, recommend it for a place to stay if you are going to get in late and don’t want to pay the high price for the Hyatt inside the airport or drive to your theme park when you’d rather just get some rest.
If you’re ready to start exploring a Walt Disney World or Disneyland family vacation, I recommend checking out Undercover Tourist for your ticket options. I’ve already used them twice, once at Disneyland and once at Disney World and will plan to continue comparing their prices with other sites, however I usually come back to UT because they have the best deals and their instructions make it easy to add your tickets to the Disney apps.
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