A Photo tour of an off-property nearby hotel
Friday, September 12, 2003
Text and photos by Sue Holland , staff writer
The Hotel Royal Plaza is one of the seven non-Disney hotels located
next to Downtown Disney. While these hotels are all on Walt Disney World
property, they do not offer all of the perks available to people staying
in Disney's own resorts. However, they are a good alternative to an offsite
hotel located in Kissimmee or along International Drive.
The Hotel Royal Plaza.
Hotel Royal Plaza is the third hotel on your left as you drive down Hotel
Boulevard going away from Downtown Disney. It's not particularly attractive
from the outside, but, thankfully, once inside things are very nice. From
the outside the tall, pink hotel building looks pretty dated, but this
hotel has been here since the 1970s.
Hotel Royal Plaza lobbya simple, yet elegant area with plenty of
The lobby is simple yet elegant, with plenty of seating. The front desk
is rather small, with room for two to three employees working at most.
The weekend I was there the hotel was sold out, yet there was never a
long line to check in, unlike the Disney resorts. Bell services will store
your luggage or assist you to your room as needed.
Just off the lobby are two shopsone has Disney merchandise and
the other has sundries and more generic items. Also in the lobby is a
desk where park passes and tickets to area attractions can be purchased.
Giraffe Diner and Marketessen provide food options for hotel guests.
The hotel restaurant is called Giraffe Diner and is open from 6:30 a.m.
to 11 p.m. each day. It has a casual atmosphere and traditional American
menu, with a daily breakfast buffet. People not wanting a full-service
meal can grab a quick snack from the Marketessen right outside
the diner. This delicatessen-style café has self-service snacks and
light meals. Room service is also an option from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Giraffe's Tavern is the hotel's main restaurant.
Right next door to the restaurant is Giraffe's Tavern. This lounge has
historically been a popular after-work gathering spot for Pleasure Island
cast members. Light meals are available, and televisions are tuned to
the latest sports game.
Outside by the pool is SIPS Pool Bar. Fans are set up to help cool the
area in hot weather, and it's a great place for a tropical drink while
spending time by the pool.
Swimming pool and lanai rooms.
The swimming pool is quite large, especially considering there are only
394 rooms in the hotel. The pool deck area is also very large, which reduces
any feeling of being too crowded. While most of the rooms are in the tower
building, there are several located surrounding the pool in a two-story
section. Rooms that face the parking lot are the cheapest available, but
those facing the pool are more in demand. A ground floor pool-view room
has a private patio as well as direct access to the pool area.
Lifeguards were not on duty during my visit, but there is an employee
who will watch for lightning and close the pool when dangerous weather
is approaching. A decent-sized whirlpool spa is also located near the
The fitness center, near the pool, offers an array of equipment.
The hotel has four lighted tennis courts and a decent fitness center.
The fitness center can be found near the pool, and it is necessary to
walk outside to enter. They have two treadmills, two stationary bikes,
a stepper machine and a multistation resistance-training piece of equipment.
Televisions are located at both ends of the room, providing some diversion
to people putting in time on the treadmill or bikes. A scale is also located
here, for anyone wanting to check their weight during their trip!
Hotel Royal Plaza has more than 17,500 square feet of meeting space accommodating
up to 1,100 people at a time. Many guests first stay here due to a conference
they are attending, and since most rooms accommodate five people, it makes
bringing the rest of the family along pretty easy. While the businessperson
is attending meetings, all of Walt Disney World is a complimentary bus
ride away for the spouse and children.
Deluxe tower rooms provide more comfort than standard and superior rooms.
Standard and superior rooms feature two double beds and a sleep sofa,
while the deluxe tower rooms also have an oversized bathroom with a Roman
tub. Premier tower rooms are similar to deluxe but have a Whirlpool Roman
tub. Both the deluxe and premier rooms are available with one king bed
instead of the two doubles. The executive king tower suite features a
completely separate living room, instead of being one large room.
The sleep-sofa area is separated by a half wall.
The tower rooms have very small balconies that have room for one or two
people to stand. Views will vary, with many overlooking the highway. From
my room I had a direct view of the fireworks at Pleasure Island, which
was much nicer than watching semi-trucks rolling down Interstate 4. All
rooms come with a coffeemaker, mini-bar, hair dryer, large safe and Nintendo
(fee for use).
Guests can feel decadent dipping in their Roman tub.
Guests of the Hotel Royal Plaza do not receive the same perks as guests
staying at Disney resorts. Specifically, they cannot charge purchases
to their rooms, cannot have packages delivered to the hotel and are not
permitted to participate in the Extra Magic Hour where a park opens an
hour early each day.
Bus transportation is provided by a private company, rather than Disney,
and is not nearly as convenient. The buses stop at all seven hotels, which
can make the ride quite tedious. Once at the parks, the buses drop guests
off in the parking lot since there is not a bus stop set aside. Going
to the Magic Kingdom, guests are dropped off at the Ticket & Transportation
Center and have to join the other day visitors to get on a monorail or
ferry to complete their journey. In my opinion, when staying at the Hotel
Royal Plaza, a car is a must.
The bus schedule runs as follows, as of August 2003. Magic Kingdom, Epcot
and Disney-MGM Studios buses run every 30 minutes from one hour prior
to opening until two hours after the park closes. Animal Kingdom buses
run every 30 minutes starting one hour prior to opening through peak hours
then drops to every 60 minutes. At the end of the day, they resume buses
every 30 minutes for two hours before the park closes. It is essential
to check with the driver to see what time the bus will be leaving the
park, to avoid a wait of up to 60 minutes for the next one.
Going to the water parks is less convenient. There are only three times
guests can go to the water parks8:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.
Returning, buses do not pick guests up at the water parks until 2:15 p.m.
or 2:30 p.m., depending on the park, and run every 2 hours. It appears
the bus goes to both water parks, so not only do guests get to visit seven
hotels, they may also visit another water park before arriving at their
desired destination. Again, having a car or calling a taxi would eliminate
Buses do run to Pleasure Island nightly between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. Although
it is close enough to walk, when the weather is hot or rain threatens,
it's nice to have the option of the bus.
Overall, I found Hotel Royal Plaza to be a nice, comfortable hotel with
larger rooms than Disney resorts for the money charged. Current room rates
are available on the hotel's Web site () but be aware there is a $7 per
day resort fee in addition to the room rate. It would not be my first
choice hotel when booking a Walt Disney World vacation, because of the
transportation issues, unless I had my own car and did not plan to spend
time at the Magic Kingdom. However, for people willing to sacrifice the
transportation convenience in exchange for a nice hotel at a lower price
than Disney, the Hotel Royal Plaza might be just what they're looking
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since
her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning
more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in
1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at
the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but
she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly,
and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head
for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children
and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers.
Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park
Update: Walt Disney World.