Thursday, 18 October 2018





In April/May 2018 I stayed offsite on a Walt Disney World trip for the first time ever.
The predominant reason was for the cost. It was considerably cheaper than staying at a Disney hotel but was still in the Disney area.

Here I will cover the key aspects of the hotel. A lot of this information you can pretty much apply to any of the Disney spring area hotels so you can decide if staying here or at another nearby hotel is for you.

Before we get started I just want to point out that some of the points may seem a little negative in this review, but please remember I have stayed on Disney property a number of times and so this is what I am comparing it to.

This isn't a bad hotel and if this is within your budget then go for it, however there are a few other things to consider.


Location 



Clarion Inn is in Lake Buena Vista, about halfway up Palm Parkway. (red line)
 It is roughly a 10 minute drive to Disney Springs or about a 25 minute walk (we walk fairly fast and are used to walking).

On the map you can see Disney Springs circled in the bottom left corner. The Clarion is marked with the red marker. This should give you an idea of how close to Disney it really is.

Now you may hear about 'Disney Springs area hotels'. These are all located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard which is marked in blue. These hotels (Hilton, B Resort, doubletree etc) offer extra benefits including extra magic hours and the option to book your fastpasses 60 days out like an official Disney hotel.

The Clarion doesn't come with these benefits but if you look on their website or some travel company sites it may be marked as a 'partner hotel', dont get this confused. It basically means it is in Lake Buena Vista and offers some sort of transportation to the parks (more on that later)

The road between these 2 areas, marked in green is a main road that is home to a number of restaurants including, denny's, mcdonalds etc, but we will talk more about that later. This area is only about a 10 minute walk from the Clarion.



Decor/Service


The hotel is set in beautiful grounds on Palm Parkway which itself is a lovely leafy street. 
Around the hotel you will find numerous plants, trees, landscaped grassy areas and fountains which really make this feel more than just a basic motel.



The rooms and public areas are simple in decor. Nothing lavish or overly decorated. If there was one thing I would like to improve, it is the lighting in the rooms themselves, which is pretty dull and yellowy. It doesn't help the decor and is a bit annoying for applying make up etc. Apart from that there are no complaints.


Every interaction we had with a member of staff was very good. They were all courteous and helpful. One lady even leant me her sellotape on the last day when I needed to seal a parcel up to post to my good friends at the Zadd Crew!

Rooms

This hotel is set out motel style so you walk alongside an outdoor path or veranda to your room. There are no interior hotel style rooms.

The rooms have pretty much everything you need for a Disney trip. Lets face it, you aren't going to be spending all day in there.

All rooms feature 2 double beds as you can see above, perfect for couples, families with children or friends who are happy to top and tail, lol.

Linens are nice, not scratchy or cheap and you get loads of pillows which I really appreciate. At home I usually sleep on 2 pillows but these were so plush I only used one! I literally shoved the rest on the floor every night.

There is a full sized wardrobe and 4 massive drawers which also have an open area on top which is good for storing things like makeup and straighteners etc.

The tv is a good size and had a number of channels including Disney and BBC news etc.

The vanity area, which is separated from the bedroom by sliding doors features a large sink. I have to say I did miss the 2 sinks you usually get in most Disney resorts. As there was 3 of us we had a lot of toiletries and this area got pretty messy on a daily basis.

Fridge and microwave

Directly next to the sink area is a fridge and microwave. The microwave we didn't use but the fridge was great for water, drinks and snacks. On top of this is a coffee machine which you can also use to heat water for tea. Coffee and tea were provided, though if you like proper milk you will need to buy some as you get creamer powder here (coffee mate). To be honest this is standard in all US hotels I have stayed in. There is also a bucket for ice. You can get this free from the ice machines dotted around on each floor of the hotel.

Tea and coffee area

There is a hairdryer in the sink area which is attached to the wall so you have to dry your hair there which can be difficult if multiple people are getting ready at the same time.

The actual bathroom has a smallish bath with an overhead shower and toilet.

Housekeeping provide you with plenty of soap and toilet roll. There was also shower gel but we didn't use this as we had our own.


Amenities 


The hotel itself has a bar which serves alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, and a buffet style restaurant where you can get breakfast or dinner. We didn't use this so I can't really comment.



There is a small convenience style shop which is a little overpriced, but if you need anything desperately you could use it. It has toiletries, snacks, chocolate, bakery items, drinks, alcohol and a few Disney and universal items as well.


There are 2 pools at the hotel. These never seemed particularly busy so could be a good place to chill out. I guess most people staying there are out all day at the parks.



There is also a lovely decking area that anyone could sit at. It isn't part of the bar or anything so you could take your own drinks and snacks there and have a rest or bite to eat.


Transportation/Getting Around

This hotel does provide a shuttle service to the Disney Parks and Sea World. The service however is very limited and only goes once a day to most parks so you really need to look at other options too and not just rely on this. We were hoping to utilise this service a lot but unfortunately it just wasn't very well timed.

Bus stop at the front of the hotel 

You can find the most up to date schedule here. Often you find the return shuttle is some time before park closing and the AM ones are after rope drop so you may want to make different arrangements so you can spend the maximum time in the parks. 

If the hotel shuttle doesn't fit your plan you could consider walking down to one of the Disney Springs area hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Its about a 15 - 20 min walk to the first hotel on the street (Best Western or Doubletree Hilton). Technically these buses are for guests of these hotels but we used them a couple times on our trip. The bus pick up area is just at the side of the main entrance and you don't have to show a room key or anything like that. The way I see it, its like the main Disney bus system, which anyone can use to get anywhere on property. 

If you are planning on using these buses at night, there are 2 that run. A and B. One visits all the hotels on one side of the street and one visits the other. So technically you can get either and just get it to the last hotel. If you get the A side  you will get off at the Best Western and then walk up the street to Palm Parkway, if you get the B side you will stay on until Hilton Doubletree and then cross over the street and walk up to Palm Parkway. 

Uber and Lyft are always reliable, quick and pretty cheap. We used these numerous times on our trip. To go to the waterparks, to go to Magic Kingdom and to Walmart. You can normally find promo codes online as well making it even cheaper. The prices are nothing like taxis back home. When I checked my online banking after taking a lyft to Typhoon Lagoon one day it had cost less that £5 for the 3 of us! Thats less than a bus. 

There is also the main public bus system which you could use.The Lynx bus. You can get the 50 bus from just across the street from the hotel and down about 100 yards. This will take you to Disney springs and then on to Magic Kingdom. Its $2 each way pp.

You could also get it on the same side of the street as the hotel to go to Seaworld if you are visiting there or Aquatica. And if you are wanting to go to international drive or to the outlets, you take the 50 to Seaworld and then change to the number 8. If you plan to do this, tell the driver when you get on as they will validate your ticket so you pay only $2 for both buses. Remember to have the correct dollars though. Drivers don't have change. You put your money in a machine.


What's Nearby

One of the Clarion's best features is where it is situated. The Clarion Inn is in a prime location. If you are driving you can be at the entrance to Walt Disney World in less than 10 minutes. (The top of the blue line on the map)



You are also within a 10 -15 minute walk to soooo many restaurants and bars as well as merchandise locations, a post office, and a 24 hour Walgreens (at the top of the green line on the map). Perfect if you forget any essentials or just need a few snacks. 




Nearby Restaurants include, Olive Garden which offers some great pasta and Italian dishes. There is also a Millers Ale House 10 minutes walk away which offers super cheap beer and food offers daily. We ended up eating here twice because we liked it so much. 



There is also a teppanyaki steak house, Chinese buffet and Brazilian restaurant about 150 yards down from the hotel entrance (on the red line on the map above). 


There is an Ihop, Perkins and a Denny's which is great for breakfast and both are literally at the end of the road. (at the end of the red line on the map above)



There is a McDonalds for those late night pit stops after the parks, also a subway and a dunkin doughnuts/baskin robins store if you fancy something sweet. 





And finally you can be at Sea World, Discovery Cove, I -drive, The Orlando Vineland Outlets or a huge Walmart within 10 minutes by a car.


So there you have it, everything I have to feed back after my stay at the Clarion Inn. Overall this hotels serves a purpose. It isn't luxurious or fancy but is a good base to rest your head after a long day at the parks.

If you aren't driving, you will need to factor in getting Ubers and Lyft etc as the shuttle service probably won't be much use and after a long day at the park you will just want to hit the pillow asap.

If you add this in as well as dining costs etc you may find that for UK guests it is more cost effective to book a Disney hotel when the free dining offer is available but at certain times of the year you may find staying offsite at somewhere like the Clarion could save you and your family a few £££'s





Have you stayed here? If you have let me know in the comments what you liked or didn't like and if you are planning to stay there and have anymore questions please do not hesitate to contact me via the form below or message me on Instagram

K x











#waltdisneyworld #disneyplanning #clarioninn #disneyhotels #disneytrip #orlando #florida #travel



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