I belong to a few online forms that are dedicated to the topic of runDisney. Undoubtedly the most asked question in threads on these forums is “Where should I stay for my upcoming runDisney race?” Often, runners are wanting to learn about Non Disney Owned and Operated Resorts when they pose this question. There are a set amount of on-property hotels and Disney does a good job of making information available on it’s own resort properties. However, finding info online about Non Disney Owned And Operated Resorts to stay at for a runDisney racecation can be a bit more of a challenge.
It can be hard to score a Disney Resort room during popular race weekends. The Disney resorts offer runner perks such as expo and race transportation, Magical Express, extra magic hours (Realistically, how many of these are you able to take advantage of on race weekends?), complementary bus service to and from the parks and the availability to pre-book dining and fastpass reservations all tied to a Magic Band. These are all solid reasons to book an Official Walt Disney World Resort room. There are however some Non Disney Owned and Operated Resorts giving “the mouse”a run for the money.
Hilton Bonnet Creek is one such resort.
For the purpose of this review I will be comparing the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort to a Disney Moderate Resort as they are similar in per night pricing.
Want a resort “Inside” the gates of Walt Disney World? You’ve got this with Hilton Bonnet Creek. The resort shares a property line with Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and many rooms offer views of Epcot’s Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime fireworks show. The children traveling with you (and yes the other adults too) will still get that ooh-ahh moment when driving under the illuminated Walt Disney World welcome arches on your way to check-in.
Like a Disney Owned and Operated moderate hotel room, the rooms at Bonnet Creek have daily housekeeping, complementary hair dryers, a mini fridge, alarm clock, flat screen TV, safe, coffee and tea maker, iron, wifi (part of your Resort Fee), sitting area and work space. Here’s where Bonnet Creek Rooms surpass a Disney Moderate Resort room, Bonnet Creek rooms are 414 square feet. The average for a Disney Moderate Room is 315 square feet. Bonnet Creek Resort Rooms have two pillow-topped queen beds. Super comfy! Beds can make or break a runDisney racecation for me. We runners are operating on minimal sleep with such early runDisney race start times and we need all the sleep we can get. Including naps! Disney Moderate Resort Rooms offer regular queen beds with Caribbean Beach Resort still offering only double beds. Bonnet Creek has Room Service. Most Disney Moderates do not with the exception of Coronado Springs.
Hilton Bonnet Creek offers guests complementary Mears bus transportation to and from all four of the Walt Disney World Theme parks as well as Downtown Disney with buses departing from the resort every 30 minutes.
Race Event Transportation
For the 2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend the Hilton Bonnet Creek provided complementary race transportation to and from the half marathon start and finish line. There was no transportation provided for the expo, 5K or 10K races during the weekend. Your own personal or rental car or cab service would have been required for the 5K and 10K races. The expo could be reached by taking bus transportation to the Magic Kingdom. You could then make the short walk to Disney’s Contemporary Resort to catch free Race Expo transportation.
These are all areas where Hilton Bonnet Creek matches Disney Owned and Operated Resorts. Here are some areas where it exceeds the perks offered by a Disney Resort.
This one is a biggie. When you’re bunking at a Disney Moderate Resort you are going to have limited dining options. Of the four Disney Moderate Resorts you are going to have two, maybe three dining options. At the Bonnet Creek Resort, which is comprised of both Hilton and the attached Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort, you have 13 Dining options which include 2 Signature Restaurants, 10 Casual Dining Options and Room Service.
Race Send Off
A gang of Disney Cast Members aren’t going to get dressed up for you at 3:30 AM holding signs and cheering for you as you board your bus and zoom towards your runDisney half marathon start line are they? Nope. Bonnet Creek staffers will. They’ll even slap a few glow bracelets onto your wrists and send you off with a good-luck high five.
This was especially helpful during my last stay here for the 2014 Wine & Dine Half Marathon aka Disney’s First Wet T-Shirt Contest. It poured the entire race and while we were patiently waiting in our corrals. I was able to score a free rain poncho from Runner’s Concierge before heading over to the start line. Thanks for being prepared when I was not Bonnet Creek!
Another thing you will not be getting from a Disney Moderate Resort on race morning is complementary breakfast. And we’re not talking heavy Mickey Waffles and sausage. We’re talking meticulously thought out runner food. The spread included coffee, tea, bottled water, energy bars, muffins, bananas, oatmeal, granola bars, and bagels with various spreads including jelly, cream cheese and peanut butter.
Swag is always a good thing and makes you feel like a valued customer.
The Hilton Bonnet Creek’s Orlando family resort pool area, was named #1 by TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Fantastic Pools. It’s easy to see why with a zero entry pool, lazy river, hot tubs and water slide. You also have access to two additional pools on the Waldorf Astoria side of the resort complex. Forget shelling out extra cash to visit a Disney water park when you have this in your backyard.
Ability to Earn a Free Return Stay
Runners who are staying at Bonnet Creek as part of runDisney Marathon Weekends have a chance to win a return weekend stay at the resort by predicting their half marathon finish time. Entry forms are included in the Runner Amenity bag given at check-in. You simply drop off your completed entry form and turn it in to Runner’s Concierge before the race. The runner closest to his or her finish time will be named the winner!
On Site Spa
That’s right. You’re gonna be tired, stiff and a little sore after completing 13.1 miles. Unlike Disney Moderate Resorts, Bonnet Creek has an on-site Spa located at the connected Waldorf Astoria Resort. Feel like you can’t make the walk over to the spa? Let the front drive team whisk you away in the resort shuttle.
Overall the value in relation to the price you pay at Hilton Bonnet Creek (Rooms start at $149 a night exclusive of taxes, daily resort charge, and parking) puts the resort in direct comparison with a Disney Moderate Resort but has the feel of a Disney Deluxe Resort.
Marathon Weekends pricing and activities are open to all guests participating in select runDisney races and staying at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek or the attached Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Rates start at $149 a night. To make a reservation, please visit www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com or www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Inside the gates of the Walt Disney World Resort
14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Ln.
Orlando, FL 32821
I was a guest of the Hilton Bonnet Creek and was provided with complementary accommodations. I was not required to write this post and no monetary compensation has been received. I have thousands of Hilton Honors Points that I have earned by paying my own money to stay at this particular resort because I love it so much.