Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney: A Trip Report - Day 4 - Staying Off Property

This trip my family did something unprecedented for us at least: we stayed "off property!" That's right, instead of staying at a Disney Resort and using Disney Transportation and Disney everything, we opted to stay at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort. (Before I move on in this post, I am not being paid to endorse this Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort. I was not compensated for my stay. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely they will ever know I wrote this review of them. *grins*)

Entering the lobby to check in!

I was apprehensive, to say the least, about not staying on a Disney property. All of my Walt Disney World experiences since high school have been staying on property and using Disney Transportation, so just the idea of driving ourselves to and from the parks seemed nerve-wracking. However, I was comforted by knowing that I'd get to try new forms of Disney Transportation: trams and the ferry!

Gorgeous Christmas Tree here just like we expect at Disney

Moving on! Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort has quite a few amenities which we were too busy to use, but if you are the type who likes to relax at your resort, you wouldn't be disappointed here! They have 5 pools, 8 hot tubs, a Lazy River, an "Interactive Wading Pool," activities, cabanas, game rooms, mini-golf, a playground, a fitness center, picnic and BBQ areas, places to dine and shop, and much more! I was thinking we were walking in to a glorified hotel. Nope. We were walking into a full blown RESORT with a capital R! On a side note: they do have a Disney Shuttle, but it is $6 per day per person.

I found some Hidden Mickeys in the lobby!

We opted to get a two bedroom unit which came with a master bedroom, a 2nd bedroom with 2 queen-sized beds, a sleeper sofa in the living room, a full kitchen, a dining room, and in room washer/dryer. It came fully stocked with toiletries, an alarm clock, iron & ironing board, cable TVs, DVD player, and best of all: FREE INTERNET ACCESS! Walking into our unit, we were stunned at how beautiful it was, and it was such a good price. Words can't quite describe what a photo tour can give you:

As we walked in, the kitchen and dining room were to the right.
The kitchen looked out toward the living room.
That couch was a queen-sized sleeper sofa, and there was a private balcony.
Through the living room was the master bedroom.
Through the master bedroom was the master bathroom with one full room for
a sink area and whirlpool tub. Oddly there was no door from the master
bedroom to this part of the bathroom, so when I took advantage of the tub,
we had to close the bedroom door. It felt very exposed.
Another view of that glorious whirlpool tub!
Through the whirlpool area was the toilet, shower, and another sink.
The master bathroom was so spacious, we could have put another bed
in there, and had a 3 bedroom unit!
To the left of the front door was the 2nd bedroom, laundry area, and bathroom. 
2nd bathroom was dull compared to the master bath! 

After seeing the photos with all the space we had for WAY less than a Disney Moderate or Deluxe Resort, you can see why our family of 5 loved staying here! The space alone was wonderful. The living room and extra bedroom allowed the kids to have rest time away from each other and distraction. The dining room table was my favorite afternoon & evening location. I loaded all of the day's photos from the DSLR to my iPad mini, so I could see them larger. Then I cleared off the "throw away" photos from the camera's memory. That way I could take tons of photos trying to get the "perfect shot" each day without running out of memory.

Having the kitchen was glorious! We made an order with Garden Grocer before our trip, and they delivered food to our resort for us. We could have driven to WalMart, but using GG meant we didn't have to take that time away from our vacation. This also allowed us to save money by allowing us to eat breakfast in our suite, pack snacks for later in the parks, and have evening snacks when we got back from a long day at the parks. Totino's Pizza Rolls were a family favorite for late night snacking after the kids had gone to bed.

Wyndham Bonnet Creek is within the Walt Disney World gate just like a Disney Resort. We found driving to and from the parks to be very easy and calmer than taking the bus. (My sister and I did take Disney busses on our trip after this one, and we were happy with them too, so I'm not slamming Disney busses by any means!) Getting in and out of Disney lots was simple due to the way Disney loads an entire row of parking at a time. There's no searching for a spot or really any waiting for a tram. The tram was usually waiting for us to load! Going back to the van was easy (can I say easy a few more times?!) as the trams were running constantly and efficiently. I do recommend bringing a light jacket though. What feels comfy walking around is like an Arctic breeze on the trams!

I'm sure you want to know the bad with the good though, right? Ok ok ok, let me fess up to the not so amazing parts of the resort.  The washer and dryer, while nice, were small and took a very long time to dry clothing.  That wasn't such a big deal as we'd wash and dry clothing mornings, during rest times, and in the evenings. The toiletries were not of high quality. If toilet paper needs to be cushy for your family to be happy, order some better stuff from Garden Grocer. Room service is only available on request for a fee, so we took care of our own trash. The linens were also lower quality, so the towels were not fluffy and soft, and the sheets were a bit rough. The pillows left something to be desired. After sleeping on the most comfortable bed in the world on the Disney Dream, the beds here were less than a dream, but I still got a good night's sleep every night.

Overall, I'd definitely stay at Wyndham Bonnet Creek again. I might would vacuum pack a pillow or two or maybe bring a set of sheets. However, the good outweighed the bad by so much that those items aren't a must.

Have you ever stayed off-property at Disney? Tell us in the comments where you love to stay when you visit Walt Disney World!

Next post we'll head back to Disney's Hollywood Studios to check out the Osborne Lights and ride a few more rides. 

I feel this post is too lacking in Disney photos, so here's my nephew playing
with one of the souvenirs he picked out along with some Mickey Milk!


  1. Uh, I went to Walmart twice on that trip. I saw all the Black Friday merchandise all wrapped up and #waitingforthechaos

  2. But otherwise, you know, good job

  3. Totally forgot that you went to WalMart! Whoops!

  4. We stayed there in 2011. We thought the resort itself was nice enough but we were NOT impressed with the staff or the treatment we received there. Sure isn't Disney!

    1. I definitely agree that the staff don't really have the Disney-vibe going for them. After check-in we didn't really see any staff though. It was a little too chilly for us to really want to be out at the pool, and we don't tend to stick to our resorts for more than relaxing in the room between parks. :) I had just had the Disney treatment on our cruise, so I think that made me not miss it as much. ;-)

  5. Could you email me the name of the condo owner. We are wanting to stay here. Loved your blog!

    1. I just sent you an email. For anyone else looking, we used Ken Price at It was a GREAT experience!