Disney World in a Weekend: Hyatt Regeny Grand Cypress in Orlando (Part 1)

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One of the biggest perks from being an active member in the frequent flyer community has been the friendships I have made along the way. As luck would have it, many of those friendships are with other traveling families. After having hung out (sans kids) at various MegaDos and similar events with a core group of people, a few of us decided it was time to plan a joint family trip. As the lack of luck would have it, a wedding that many were attending got planned over the weekend the trip was scheduled for, so in the end it was just my family and one other that were able to hang out this time. However, we decided that two families was a party, and we were going to continue on with our planned trip to Disney World for the weekend.

Disney in a weekend with young kids may sound crazy to some, but to us it sounded perfect. We decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando since I had won a couple free nights there via a charity auction a while back, and the nights were about to expire. It also would give me a chance to put my Hyatt Diamond benefits to good use. I am a huge fan of staying on Disney property with young children who still need naps in the afternoon, but I’m also not opposed to taking advantage of a good deal to stay close, but not too close, to all the Disney action.

Hyatt Grand Cypress location and overview:

The Hyatt Grand Cypress is very close to the Disney parks – not walking distance, but very reasonable driving distance. Depending on the park you are heading to, I would say it is an average of about a ten minute drive to get there, most of which is spent driving on Disney property. Of course traffic and/or parking delays could add to that a bit, but it did not take much time at all to drive to the parks in the morning. However, driving does mean that you now have a parking fee at Disney each day, and naturally you need a rental car as well.

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The hotel is quite large and feels more secluded than it is. It has 800+ rooms, a kind of hybrid atrium style design, a lake, a golf course, several pools, a water slide, a Regency Club, Camp Hyatt, and more. It does charge a $12 per day self-parking fee and a resort fee of about $25 per day. Those are relatively substantial costs that need to be factored into the overall value. We had two of our three nights covered via the charity auction certificate, but the additional night that we paid out of pocket was about $225 + taxes/fees. The hotel did tell us when we checked in that they were waiving the resort fee “since it was our first time at the property”. I’m not sure if that was the real reason, if it was related to our Diamond status, the substantial renovations going on, or something else, but that was our experience. Our friends there the same weekend did not have the fee waived, but they did get some other fairly generous compensation in the end for some issues they had with their stay (more on that later).

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Disney transportation options:

Other than driving yourself, you can take a complimentary shuttle from the hotel to Disney. While I think it is great that the hotel offers a shuttle, it is far from flawless. We didn’t use it as we had a car, but our friends did use it some when their schedule didn’t line up with ours.  The shuttle to the Magic Kingdom Ticket and Transportation Center departs at 8:50AM and 10:00AM. It picks up at the same location at 6:00PM, 8:00PM, 9:45PM, and certain days at 11:15PM. This means you can’t get there for when the parks open, and you can’t use them to return to the hotel after lunch for a nap. This service would be much more useful it it were continuously running every 60 or 90 minutes in both directions throughout the day. However, with such a limited schedule it isn’t really practical for families with young children who can’t stay at the park all day.

We didn’t use a cab, but our friends looked into it and said to estimate about $25 – $30 for each trip, again not a great option either. I think most families with young kids who stay here will want their own car to go to and from the parks.

The rooms:

When we added a paid third night (which we actually used as the first night of our stay) to our two night certificate, I used a confirmed Diamond suite upgrade with that first night.  The hotel graciously allowed us to keep the suite all three nights. By looking at the website, our suite appears to have been the Executive Suite. Call us spoiled, but we do much better when we have ample space for us and our kiddo. What we lost by not being on Disney property, we made up for with additional space in the room. As you likely know, when you travel with a young kid you do actually spend a fair amount of time in the room with naps, downtime, etc. so the room matters more than when you are on an “adults only” trip that allows you to spend the bulk of your time out and about.

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The suite had a full sized king bedroom, full bathroom, and balcony on one side, and then had another full sized room and bathroom devoted to the living area on the other side. The sofa did convert to a bed.

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We had two issues with the suite. The first was that both bathrooms only had showers. It is clear to me that this was designed more of a conference hotel than a family hotel, but given the proximity to so many theme parks (and presumably families with children), it would be super helpful to have a bath tub instead of a shower.  Update: the hotel reports having tub/baths in rooms with double beds, so take that into consideration when booking your room.

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The other issue was that the rooms of the suite were connected with two doors that only opened from one side. At one point our daughter shut the door to the living portion of the room with no one in it, and the keys for the rooms were all in the living room. This meant we couldn’t get in there without calling security. Had she shut herself in a different room than us with the keys it could have been a very scary situation. Since these rooms are not true connecting rooms, but instead one suite, I would much prefer if it were not possible for that situation to transpire. A normal door between the rooms that opens from both sides would be a better option in my view.

Despite that issue, the suite was perfect for hosting an impromptu “kids party”, complete with an explosion of toys!

20130516-105612.jpgWe did enjoy the balcony, both to overlook the beautiful resort, and to see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom at night. That said, balconies and young kids do make me nervous so we did not use it very much.

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Dining options:

As is often the case for us on trips with our kiddo, we ended up just having dinner in the room most nights. By that point in the day we were totally pooped, and even staying awake to eat room service was a bit of a challenge. This hotel, like most/all Hyatts, has put an emphasis on healthy dining options for kiddos. This is a fantastic thing in my book, but can make it a little harder to order for a kid that is already wiped out and fussy. Sometimes a chicken finger will get consumed whereas a healthy veggie and noodle dish or salad might be passed on by a cranky kiddo. So, I love the healthy options, but they can be a double edged sword if your kiddo is not in the best of moods to begin with.  I think they will be even better for us as C gets a bit older, but again I really do like the effort Hyatt has put into this initiative.

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The first night she fell asleep before her sunflower-butter and jelly sandwich with edamame could get delivered (though she ate it for breakfast happily the next day), and the second night she ate some of her noodle dish, but I may have eaten more of it than she did.

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According to the hotel’s website, there are tons of restaurant and dining options within the hotel, but many of them were not operational during our visit due to the renovations.  This didn’t impact us very much, but the other family we traveled with had this to say, “the lunch solution was to use what would charitably be described as a 1980s cafeteria with terrible food and service.”  Eek – glad we didn’t eat lunch there!  Do note though that this is a primarily a temporary issue that should be much better now that renovations are complete.

In part two of this review I cover the Regency Club, the awesome pools, getting Disney tickets from the hotel, and other pretty cool amenities they offer.  Have you stayed here before?  If so, what did you think of your stay?

Comments

  1. I just spent a weekend there in a regular room and it seems the renovations are finally done. I do wish they had more dining options for lunch and breakfast- but the person I talked to said that when they did it was underused. I did appreciate having a mini fridge in the room- and since I had a car- a trip to the store stocked up the food situation. I love the bike trail. And since I am only a lowly Platinum- they reduced the
    fee to 15 a day.
    I am dismayed by the charge for parking- but all of the hotels in the area now do it.

  2. Thanks for the interesting review. I’m actually in the process of planning a (very!) impromptu family trip to Disney World and Universal for Memorial Day weekend, and the Hyatt Grand Cypress was in the running for where we would stay. The pool looked amazing, and it would have given us a chance to use our Suite upgrade before it expired. However, in the end I couldn’t resist the Four Points Sheraton, which was surprisingly only 10k Starpoints for the three nights.

  3. I stayed there one year ago for two nights and they were undergoing renovations then, too. There was mention of renovations on the hotel’s website when I booked, but I don’t see anything on their site for what is currently going on. I also have a charity auction certificate which I will be using in November.

    I agree with you in that the shuttle to Disney is lacking. Since I rely on shuttle service to the parks, it is a huge negative for me. Their shuttle takes you to the Transportation and Ticket Center which means you have to transfer to Disney’s transportation to get to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Downtown Disney. I have been spoiled by the Waldorf Orlando and Hilton Bonnet Creek which have a much nicer bus and it runs every half hour and goes to all four parks and Downtown Disney.

    One of the other things I did not like about this property are the fees they add on. I also found the resort fee expensive for what is offered. Other than the pool, I did not see many guests using the amenities that the resort fee is supposed to cover. And there is no reason that they should be charging their guests to park since their property is so large.

    My last stay was in a standard King bed room. I loved it. I prefer a shower without a tub, but I can see why you don’t. I thought the decor and layout was great.

    The food was ok. I was disappointed that some of the restaurants were closed the days I was there. From other reviews I’ve read, this seems the norm.

    What I like most about this property is that it seems far removed from all the Disney craziness. The grounds are beautiful and is a great place to relax after running around the parks all day.

  4. When I lived in FL we used to park at Downtown Disney and take their Disney Bus to Disney. Parking is free and so is the bus. I can’t remember if we had to transfer buses or if the bus from Downtown Disney took us straight to where we wanted to go. It does kill some time, but if you want to save some cash it’s one of the only ways to do so when it comes to Disney.

  5. I recently stayed here in Jan 2013 for a conference. So the renovations going on didn’t really bother me as I was in a conference room all day, they were renovating one of the pools at the time, and one restaurant was closed. I enjoyed the hotel, like the champagne at check-in (both times I had to check in), for our conference they waived the resort fee. The catering for the conference was pretty good for conference food. I did pay extra for fireworks view ($15 per night), but never got to see them. Then I had to re-check back in when my flights home got cancelled due to weather, they did give me an upgraded fireworks view room on my extra night. I utilized the service if you need extra ammenities, as I needed a few things for the extra night, so that is a nice service that Hyatt provides. I do agree the shuttle is certainly not up to par, and if I were there to go to Disneyworld, I probably would stay at a Disney property, or plan on renting a car. It cost my co-worker $20 for a Taxi to downtown Disney, which I think is less than 5miles from the hotel

  6. @Ken- You can’t take a Disney bus from Downtown Disney directly to a Park, as I discovered this past November, for the exact reason parking is free…We had gone to dinner in Downtown Disney from our hotel and were trying to get to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Christmas Party But you just take a bus to a hotel and transfer…

  7. We appreciate you taking the time to review our resort. Our property is adjacent to Disney but we are not a Disney hotel. Our room rates tend to be considerably lower than Disney hotels of our size. Our shuttle to the Magic Kingdom ticket a d transportation center departs at 8:50am and 10::00am only. It picks up at the same location at 6:00pm, 8:00pm, 9:45pm and certain days 11:15pm. We have tried to pick the times by heavy usage. The bus schedule does not work for everyone but for the majority of our guests.
    Our 1500 acre resort has numerous activities. These include: our 800,000 gallon main swimming pool, smaller heated pool, 120′ tower water slide, splash zone splash pad for the younger kids, four rock climbing walls, par 3 pitch and putt golf course, hard and clay tennis courts, racquetball courts, basketball court, paddle boats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, water trikes, health club and driving range. All these are part of our daily resort fee. Resorts in this area all charge a resort fee but none offer nearly as many amenities. We are a destination resort. We hope our guests will take full advantage of all that we have to offer. If only going to theme parks is the family plan then the fee would seem high but our guests that do utilize our amenities feel that it is a value compared to the fee paid and what is offered at surrounding hotels.
    Our renovations are complete. We have redone our lobby and pool areas. We have added a new pool bar with six 60″ LED TVs and expanded pool service for drinks and lunch.
    Just a note on our rooms and suites. Our double bedded rooms all have tub showers. Our king bedded rooms have stall showers. Our suite parlors have smaller stall showers. Our suites can be either one or two bedrooms. That is why the doors lock one way. If you have a one bedroom suite, there is no access to the adjoining room. There are two doors between rooms for that reason.
    If you have any further comments or questions, please let me know. It would be my pleasure to assist.

    Steven M. Ballot
    Guest Relations
    Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
    Steven.Ballot@Hyatt.com

    • Steven, helpful info – thank you and glad to hear the renovations are complete! I do understand that you are not a Disney Resort, though it would be a reasonable assumption that many families that stay there will visit Disney during their trip. I think the resort is beautiful and worth spending some time at, but I do think that a more robust Disney transportation schedule would be much appreciated and a good selling point for those who want to visit Disney, but also want the amenities and peaceful separation that come from being at a non-Disney resort. Again, thanks for stopping by and weighing in.

  8. Harv, correct. I plan to cover the redemption options in Part 2, but thanks for adding this here as I think there was a comment about it possibly being a 4. Don’t want anyone to get confused! 😉

  9. While the hotel sounds quite nice, it doesn’t sound convenient for Disney. All I saw were reasons not to stay there. The only reasons to really consider it is if you are staying for a conference or blindly loyal to Hyatt. Even in the latter case, I think convenience and the benefits of an on property hotel outweigh that. With Disney, you don’t need a car but if you stay here, you do if you want convenience. Then again you pay for that in parking fees (at both disney and the hotel) + resort fees. That ends up being an additional $70 a day or so.

    • Shane, your analysis of my impression is pretty much correct. It is a lovely hotel with great amenities, but if you are solely on a Disney focused trip then it probably isn’t the best option. If Disney is just a part of what you want to do, and you will use the resort amenities it can be a great option.

  10. A couple corrections to things that have been said in the comments section..

    Not all Resorts in the area Charge a “Resort Fee”.. For example All Hotels that are Disney Owned Do NOT charge a resort fee. (this includes the Value resorts all the way up to the Grand Floridan) So when a resort tells you that all the Hotels in the area charge this… They are simply wrong. Disney is the single largest Hotel operator in the Orlando Florida area so even the Term “Most resorts charge this fee” is incorrect.

    Also No Disney hotels charge you for Parking either. The Disney Theme parks will also not charge you for parking if you are staying at a Disney owned Hotel. So if you stay at an non-disey Hotel that charges you parking… You will be paying for parking TWICE (once at hotel and again at Disney Park). Factor that into your price comparison.

    I have stayed at the Hyatt Grand Cypress at least 20 times in the past 5 years. I have hosted 5 different meetings in their meeting space and it is fantastic hotel. The rooms are very well maintained and taken care of. The resort used to not have a parking fee and used to not have a Resort Fee. We have actually stopped going to this hotel because they have added those two fee’s.

    • Trey, thanks for weighing in with your experience! I am with you on greatly disliking extra fees. I also think the hotel is beautiful and a good fit for some, but the Disney hotels certainly have their advantages as well. Thanks again!

  11. Great review!

    I used to love this resort. As an Orlandoan, it was my go-to spot for a weekend getaway for years. The pool, the food, and the rooms were the big draws.

    First, I have to acknowledge that maintenance has been extraordinary over the 30 or so years this resort has been open. It still looks and feels fresh and gently elegant, even with its size. Service, too, has remained consistently good, and the pool is still my favorite in Central Florida.

    That said, the food took a serious downward turn that it is only now beginning to recover from, and the loss of the fine dining restaurant, La Cocina, makes the resort less appealing to me.

    But the thing that has killed the resort for me is the loss of tubs in King rooms. I come here for a romantic weekend with my wife, and we both like baths (bubble, if possible). Eliminating tubs in ALL suites and king-bedded rooms (seriously, they want us to sleep in separate beds, or not enjoy the luxury of a suite, in order to have a tub?) is one of the strangest, cookie-cutter, trend-of-the-moment-following moves I have ever seen a hotel make, and it has turned us off completely from a property we had felt so warmly, even proprietary, towards.

    We used to come as often as three times a year, and we have not been back since they made the change. I don’t understand why — when they did the renovation — they didn’t give people a choice in each category, leaving some units with tub/shower combos, and others with shower-only. That way everyone gets what they want.

  12. I have been to this amazing resort for three years in a row. We always have an amazing time there. I just recently went the last weekend of July 2014. Stayed there for 3 days then went on a disney cruise. There is south to do there from bike riding paddle boating and great breakfast ! We got free resort, parking, breakfast for all nights and one night free because we arrived at 4 in the morning due to bad airline delays. They wanted to make us feel better, so it was great customer service!! The first two time we stayed do a week and did the disneyworld thing:) we will never stay at any other resort when we visit Florida! Can’t wait to go back!

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