Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is a theme park inside a resort inside a theme park. Four Seasons Orlando is the perfect place to take in Disney World without having to spend too much time (if any) at the Disney parks. Certainly, there is so much to do at Four Seasons Orlando that there is no need to visit the parks every day of the trip.
We stayed at Four Seasons Orlando in April 2019 for five nights in a Park View Room. This was our second trip to Four Seasons Orlando, having stayed there the year before around the same time. We decided to return to Four Seasons Orlando because it had become our favourite resort in Disney World, if not the continental United States. It is that good.
Pool and Grounds: Four Seasons Orlando
The pools at Four Seasons Orlando are incredible. As snowbirds who sunbathe all day when we are on vacation, the Four Seasons Orlando is paradise. Not to mention, the food, drinks, and service at the pools are the epitome of the Four Seasons brand. If you have experienced the quality of Four Seasons’ personal service, expect the same level of excellence poolside. However, if you have never experienced Four Seasons’ service, prepare to be amazed. The staff treat their guests like royalty. In fact, supposedly, there was a Saudi prince staying in the Presidential Suite when we were there.
There are four large pools at Four Seasons Orlando. A lazy river, a family-friendly pool, an adult-only pool and a splash pool for kids. Typically we hung out at the adult pool or one of the many little secluded yurts scattered around the leafy lazy river area.
The adult pool is an infinity pool located at the edge of a small lake. There is an adult-only hot tub too. The adult pool had floaters to use which had nice headrests. There were high-end loungers scattered around the pool and loungers facing the lake. In addition, there were private cabanas to rent. We never rented a cabana. However, whenever it poured rain, we were allowed to use a cabana, which was very nice. We would just wait out the storm under a roof on a comfy daybed. The staff even made up the couch for us. No charge of course.
At the adult pool, it felt like there were four guests for every one staff member, even on a busy Saturday. In any event, someone attended the towel stand at all times. But the best part of the adult pool was the sense of quiet and calm. Talking on a cell phone is banned. Most of the 2-15 guests at any given time were napping couples, and there was usually only one or two people swimming in the adult pool at a time. We never once had to share the hot tub with anyone else. Check out my video tour of the Four Seasons Orlando adult pool here.
The loungers at the adult pool had better cushions than all the other pools. We also liked that the adult pool had a neat little bridge that was connected to the lakeside bar and grill, PB&G, in case you wanted to grab your own drink at the bar or have a sit-down lunch outside (but under the shade).
It seemed like all the staff at all the pools were recent college graduates working their way up the corporate ladder, which showed in the sense of pride in their work. They took the time to smile and greet me by name when I came and left. Whenever we entered any of the new pool areas, staff would immediately walk us to our area and make up our towels and take our drink or dining order. Staff always ensured we had a drink (including free ice water, which they bring you without even asking) and that my towels were fresh and dry. Never once did I think I was being ignored. They even went out of their way to retrieve a bottle of spray sunscreen when I asked where I could buy one. I was not even surprised when the staff member quickly returned and rejected my gesture to sign for the bottle, advising that it was free (there is free classic sunscreen lotion pumps at the towel stands too). We also liked that the servers always updated our check every order and then put fresh copies of the check near our lounger so we could sign and leave whenever we wanted without having to wait to have our server bring us the check.
We did not spend all day at the adult pool. We would take breaks to leisurely float down the stunning lazy river. It’s a very long lazy river for a hotel, taking about eight minutes per lap on a complimentary inner tube. All in all, the lazy river provided theme park quality entertainment without having to leave the resort. It was never too busy. Check out my video of a whole lap of the Four Seasons Orlando lazy river here.
The gardens and foliage around the lazy river are extraordinary. It seemed like I was paddling through lush mangroves the entire ride. There is beautiful landscaping at every nook and cranny. It seemed Four Seasons spared no expense. In fact, I was even told Four Seasons had to redo the landscaping because the first effort wasn’t good enough for their very high standards.
Beware, the worst part of the lazy river for me at least was that there were water guns hidden among the twists and turns. Several times, little kids mowed me down with water while I was trying to sip on my cold beer. Although, I’m sure the kids had fun.
For the really hot parts of the day, we moved our setup from the adult pool to the jungle around the lazy river, setting down at peaceful yurt (outdoor day bed) covered by shade. We liked how big and comfortable the yurts were. In fact, we liked the yurts so much the first time we went to Four Seasons Orlando that we bought one for our summer home!
We were also entertained by the two waterpark quality water slides at the Four Seasons Orlando. The water slides are located near the lazy river in an old pirate-themed castle. You have to walk up several flights of stairs but there is a lifeguard at the top ensuring everyone’s safety. I liked that the water slides didn’t cut up your back and there was never a lineup. Kids will like that you can race your brother or sister by starting down each slide at the exact same time (although I’m told the yellow one is slightly slower). These are the longest waterslides at any hotel in Orlando by far.
The pirate castle had various games like foosball, ping pong, checkers, cornhole and pool tables to keep everyone entertained. Nobody really played any of the games though. Most people we just going to the pirate castle to get on the water slide. It was too hot I guess.
Just below the pirate castle is the children’s splash pad. We didn’t spend any time there (we don’t have kids) but it looked very elaborate and fun for children and civilized for their parents. There were a few lifeguards watching all the swimmers and there were comfortable yurts and daybeds for parents to relax in and out of the central Florida sun. The splash pool was far busier than the adult pool or the lazy river.
Not far from the splash pad is the large family pool. The family pool is a huge infinity pool right beside the PB&J restaurant. There were rows upon rows of elevated seating, so there was never issue with finding a lounger. I think that even if the resort was at 100% capacity, there would still be lots of seating available at the family pool. You never have to “get there early” to get your own space. The family pool had a small slide for very young children, and various secluded corners and grottos to have your own space. There is also a giant movie screen for swim-up movie nights. There is also two hot tubs.
Near the base of the waterslides is an outdoor theatre, and a full-size basketball court and a volleyball court. Suffice to say, the Four Seasons Orlando has lots of activities to entertain everyone. Although it was just simply too hot to play basketball or volleyball. I never really saw anyone else playing either. Perhaps in the early evening when it is cooler more people played basketball; I did see lights.
Across from the splash pool is a free to play arcade and movie area called the Hideout. This place was stocked. The picture below does not do it justice (there were lots of kids so I didnt want to take any photos). The Hideout had four or five top of the line Avengers pinball and arcade games, oversized iPads, computers, big-screen TVs and every video games console. I would have loved this place when I was younger. Parents will love that the hideout is supervised by Four Seasons staff and because they won’t have to give their kids money to play the arcade games (like they do at the Disney hotel arcades). It’s free.
Four Seasons Orlando: Rooms
We were married at a Four Seasons, and return often, so they always upgrade our room (we usually send a note reminding them when we book a trip). To that end, we paid for a Golden Oak View Room but were upgraded to a Park View Room. However, on the last night of our trip, we were downgraded back to a Golden Oak View Room because there was no Park View Room available that night, which was a bummer and put a damper on our trip. It was a real shame because the Park View Room was far superior. However, it was a blessing in disguise because I got a chance to compare the rooms for writing this blog post.
Park View Room vs Golden Oak View Room at the Four Seasons Orlando
Spend the extra money and go for the Park View Room at the Four Seasons Orlando. The view from the Park View Rooms is incredible and the price is worth it. All you see for miles and miles is lush foliage, various lakes, a golf course, and if you look from right to left on the horizon on a clear day, I think you can see all four “castles” at Disney World (i.e. Epcot ball, Cinderellas Castle, the Tower of Tower and the Tree of Life). You can actually watch two different fireworks shows, but the Magic Kingdom is the closest view. On the contrary, the Golden Oak View Room view is not good. Golden Oak View Rooms are on the opposite side of the resort; it is a view of a parking lot and an unfinished housing development. Beyond that is the sights of Orlando in the distance, which are not nearly as pleasant as the lush foliage on the other side of the resort. I don’t believe you can see anything Disney related from the Golden Oak View Rooms.
The interior of the Golden Oak View Rooms and Park View Rooms are identical in square footage (550 sq. ft.) and layout. There is a walk-in closet, bathroom with separate marble shower, double vanity (with tv in the mirror) plus a separate tub, and toilet room. There is a king bed and a sofa bed option or two queens and a sofa bed. There are cabinets and ample closet space on the various walls, a fridge, a bose speaker, a nice-sized TV and a wine dispenser. The wine dispenser is great. The wine is fresh and delicious and it is cool to use, at least for a novelty. Curtains and lights are manipulated by a smart system. Complimentary Nespresso and bottles of water are included and they will provide free milk or cream for your coffee if asked. Housekeeping will transform the sofa into a bed at turndown service or bring a crib to the room. I can confirm the rooms are probably ten times nicer than any Disney property. The Four Seasons finishes, appliances and other gadgets, ceiling height and bathrooms blow Disney out of the water. There can be no comparison. Take for example the Grand Floridian bathrooms. There is no shower, only an ugly tub and cheap showerhead just below a very low ceiling. Contrariwise, Four Seasons Orlando has a separate marble shower with a high-end shower head and a separate room with its own soaker tub.
My biggest pet peeve about hotels is the sound you can hear in your room from your neighbours and in the hall. This was not an issue at Four Seasons Orlando. I never heard my neighbours and I never heard anyone in the hall. There is actually a little foyer outside of each room, so I think that cuts down on the noise. Not to mention none of the rooms are connected. In comparison, you can hear your neighbour’s conversations in the rooms and people getting off the elevator in the deluxe Disney hotel standard rooms because those rooms are connected by a door and there is no foyer.
The one other difference between the Golden Oak View Room and Park View Room was the apparent upkeep of the Golden Oak View Room. There was a broken toilet part and light fixture on the Golden Oak View Room terrace, but there were was nothing broken in my Park View room. In addition, I don’t think there was a wine dispenser in the Golden Oak View Room.
If I could change two things about the Four Seasons Orlando rooms, I would have the Four Seasons pipe in the music from the parks during the fireworks on a channel on the TV and add a hidden mickey or some tiny bit of Disney magic somewhere in the room. Im sure this is not impossible; after all, there is a Disney desk at reception and other Disney licenced things in the resort-like a character breakfast and something called “Magical Moments Makeovers”, which is Four Seasons Orlando’s take on the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Four Seasons Orlando: Restaurants, Bars and Food
There are three restaurants at the Four Seasons Orlando proper: Capa, Revello and PB&J. Capa is the steakhouse located on the top floor of Four Seasons Orlando. The food was OK, the ambience was a bit too dark. The only time I would recommend going there is to see the fireworks from the terrace at Capa. Still, we had more fun watching the fireworks from our own terrace with a glass of wine from the machine. We much preferred Revello, which is an Italian restaurant. The pizza and the appetizers were very good, and it is a much nicer venue than Capa and more lively. Note that neither Capa nor Revello takes the Disney dining plan. Revello doubles as a character buffet in the morning, and the food there was excellent too, albeit very expensive. PB&J is the family-friendly friendly restaurant near the lake. We liked their burgers. Walk a scenic trail for five minutes to the Four Seasons golf course clubhouse for the famous Cuban sandwiches.
We had coffee in the morning at Lickety Split. This small cafe also serves light wraps and sandwiches, but definitely come for the creamy gelato. After dinner, we had drinks at the lobby bar, which had several big-screen televisions to watch sports (we had a Final Four game for my alma mater MSU one night, and a Maple Leafs hockey game another night) and it was a fun scene. The place was packed, and the bartenders were fun and innovative. We had a nice burger dinner there too. They even have a nice terrace with really comfy outdoor sofas and a cigar menu.
We ate from in-room dining every morning. We liked every item just OK but enjoyed the eggs benedict. We also ate pretty much every lunch from the pool menu (kids menu pictured below), which was suspiciously delicious. There was a gluten-free menu too (attached below). No wonder we had lunch on our loungers every day.
All in all, the dining at Four Seasons is mixed. The restaurants are good, not great. There is nothing special here. However, lunch by the pool is excellent. Venture out of the hotel to Disney Springs for better food and a better scene. I will never not recommend The Boathouse or the Food Trucks.
Four Seasons Orlando: Main Building
The main building at the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World is ugly. It’s a weird shade of beige and purple and brown, and there is no architectural significance. This is probably because they had to make terraces in every room, which make almost any building look bad.
Nonetheless, save for the reception area, the interior of the main building is stunning. High-end marble, wallpaper and luxury carpet flow throughout. However, the main reception area is underwhelming. The ceiling is low, the light fixture looks cheap and the actual room is quite small. Unlike the deluxe Disney hotels, this is not a grand entrance. I think they really missed the mark here.
Comparing the main building at Four Seasons Orlando versus some of the deluxe hotels at Disney World like the Grand Floridian or the Wilderness Lodge is not even fair. The gulf is enormous. For a truly magical feeling when you first arrive on your vacation, stay at an official Disney deluxe hotel. For true luxury, stay at the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World.
We tried the spa and the gym, and both were up to the standards of the Four Seasons brand and the very expensive price of this hotel in particular. The spa will even do an outdoor massage by the pool. We also liked the various stores on property, including a few clothes stores, a children’s store and a gift shop which had books and magazines for sale for reading at the pool. Wifi was fast and dependable. We used the Four Seasons black car (I think it was Yukon or Mercdez GLS) to get to the airport and the parks, which was very pleasant, and arrived in less than a minute. However, we prefer using Disney’s Minnie Vans service because the drivers are more personable. The price and service is comparable either way.
The landscaping around the resort is incredible. Four Seasons went all out making the outside areas stunning. There are dozens of gardens, lakes and rivers and little secluded areas with seating scattered thoughtfully everywhere you turn.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World: Worth it?
Four Seasons Orlando is absolutely worth the money. The amenities, pool and rooms are far, far superior to anything else in the Disney World area, including the deluxe Disney World hotels. I read somewhere that Bob Iger was embarrassed when he toured the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World.
If the price of a deluxe Disney hotel is similar to the Four Seasons on your next trip, definitely go for it. Although the transportation options at Four Seasons are weak compared to Disney hotels, in the age of Uber, you won’t have any trouble getting to the parks. It’s like a five-minute drive to each park or you can use the awesome Minnie Van service. Remember, the monorail is outdated and slow. The buses are good for going to close parks but aren’t fun when you are going somewhere really far.
Even though the lobbies and architecture are much better at Disney, if you are looking for the best, most luxurious hotel near Disney, the Four Seasons is the only choice. The pools are incredible and worth the trip alone. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, you don’t even need to go to the parks – the pools are that good. Moreover, the rooms at Four Seasons Orlando are truly five-star, whereas the rooms at Disney are pretty bad. Make sure you spring for a Park View room. You won’t be disappointed.