Four Seasons Orlando – a Review
I do very few posts that are pure hotel reviews – TripAdvisor is great if you’re just looking for reviews. But sometimes a hotel is the destination (Four Seasons Bora Bora), or a hotel stands out because of what they do wrong from a kid perspective (the Mauna Lani) or right from a kid perspective (the Rosewood Mayakoba), and I like to highlight it. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World (aka Four Seasons Orlando) did everything right.
When I planned a trip to Orlando this summer with my two oldest kids (7 and 9), the plan was to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for four nights and go to the nearby Universal Orlando parks for two days (Harry Potter!) and spend a day at one of the Disney parks. Then I read about the new Four Seasons resort at Disney World and figured that it made more sense to split our time between the Hard Rock and the Four Seasons. While we thoroughly enjoyed the Hard Rock Hotel – it’s a perfect place to stay if you’re going to Universal – we absolutely loved our two-night stay at the Four Seasons. In fact, the kids loved it so much that they voted not to go to Disney World or Epcot at all, since they wanted to spend the full two days at the hotel. What kind of a hotel makes kids forget about Disney World? Here’s what the Four Seasons Orlando did well:
Four Seasons Orlando: The Check In
As I was signing the necessary paperwork at the front desk, my kids were whisked away by Wayne the concierge and taken to a large interactive map of the resort in the lobby. Wayne used the touch screen to show the kids the entire resort and talked about all of the fun things to do, like the kid’s club, the waterslides, and the game room. I’ve never seen so much attention paid to the kids at check-in – such a cool touch.
Four Seasons Orlando: The Room
Not only were there kid-sized robes in the room, there were play things (a tutu/tiara set and a sword/eyepatch set), NatGeo Kids magazines, chocolate lollipops, and milk chilling in the refrigerator. Plus, the room was designed from a family perspective. The sinks and shower settings were easily reachable, and the king bed and very comfortable sofa pull-out could easily fit a family of four, if not five. We had plenty of room.
I hate coming into a room and seeing the mini-bar filled with things that we’re not going to touch. If there’s a refrigerator, I want to be able to use it for leftovers. The refrigerator had milk and waters, but still plenty of room for anything that we wanted to put in there.
At check in the kids were given Four Seasons passports. Each area of the hotel had a page, and the kids had to go to each spot in order to get stamps. When the passports were completed, they could take them to the front desk and receive a token for a free gelato. I loved the scavenger hunt aspect, but even more, I loved that they included the spa. How many luxury hotels want kids running into the spa to get stamps? Most hotels would be horrified at the thought, but the Four Seasons makes sure that kids are welcome everywhere.
Note: Four Seasons Orlando has now changed from passports to treasure maps. At check in kids receive a pirate treasure map and secret decoder glasses. They use the glasses to reveal a code word for each location on the map (The Spa, Fable, Ravello, etc.) and they have to give the code word to the host at each location to receive their special stamp. Once all 10 locations on the map are stamped, they can go to the front desk to redeem their “treasure,” a token for gelato at Lickety Split.
The Four Seasons Orlando Pools
There’s a large shallow infinity pool. There’s a meandering lazy river. There’s a water park. There’s an area for pool volleyball and basketball. And there are two very fun waterslides. We spent many, many hours roaming among them all, and just hanging out in a private teepee-shaped cabana next to the waterslides. So fun!
There are none of the fees or surcharges that other hotels have. Four Seasons Orlando doesn’t have a resort fee. If you want to use one of the cool cabanas around the pools, it’s included. There’s even free sunscreen by the pools. There’s no surcharge for the kids club – you can use it as much or as little as you want to – and the Hideout game room has a lot of activities for older kids at no cost. We took advantage of pretty much everything around the hotel except for the spa and our final bill only showed our room charges, taxes, and meals. And if my kids were still under five, their meals would have been free. The overall trend is for hotels to nickel and dime more and more, so it’s great that Four Seasons is bucking the trend.
The Four Seasons Orlando Restaurants
We had excellent breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the hotel. The food was excellent, and there were interesting choices on the kids’ menus, like pulled pork and Manchego mac & cheese. The kids loved all of the food. And Rachael our server at Ravello talked Harry Potter with my daughter for a good ten minutes – best service ever!
The Lickety Split coffee house is fun and very well designed. Since there was a Nespresso machine in the room I didn’t get coffee there, but the kids loved the gelato. They highly recommend the stracciatella and the birthday cake flavors!
My kids are a little old for the Kids for All Seasons kid’s club, but they loved the Hideout. The pinball, foosball, chess, interactive tables and board games were all fun. Note: I understand that pinball has now been replaced with virtual reality and more video games. Hmmmm.
I love when hotels can strike that perfect balance where they are luxurious AND comfortable, and kid-friendly without bothering their adult guests. A lot of the Four Seasons properties do this well, and Orlando is no exception. It’s undoubtedly a five-star hotel but my kids were comfortable everywhere. And as a parent I’m far more relaxed when I don’t have to be paranoid about my kids making a little noise or otherwise behaving like kids.
Four Seasons Orlando Costs
When we stayed at Four Seasons Orlando, rooms were as low as $397/night. A search of dates throughout 2022 however doesn’t show anything below $764 however. That’s annoying, since we’ve stayed at very few hotels around the world in that price range.
To bring down costs, look for sales (e.g. fourth night free) and be flexible with your dates. If you can’t find rates that fit into your budget, email the hotel and ask if there are any deals that you’re not seeing. You never know when a reservations agent will come through with a great deal.
I also like booking through Hotels.com since every tenth night is free. That’s like saving 10% on every hotel night.
Room with a View
We were in a Park View room. The view was great, and it was fun watching the Disney World fireworks in the distance at night. But we weren’t in the room all that much, so I would have been just as happy in a lower-priced Four Seasons Room, or Golden Oak or Lake View Rooms. Except…that the Park View rooms and suites now have in-room wine machines! You can pour a glass whenever you want without calling room service, and it’s charged to your room.
It sounds like you’ve done Orlando a few times with the kids. Living in Southern California we hadn’t really contemplated it but just booked a trip for 5 nights /4.5 days at the Four Seasons Orlando. We are working on trip details now and trying to sort out things like park tickets etc. Any highlight recommendations? How much time should we plan to spend at the pool:hotel vs parks? Disney is not known for their food so while we don’t need any fine dining with the kids we like to eat well- and not Rainforest Cafe style. Are my kids too young for Harry Potter or would you include it? (8,6 and 2.5)
Eric Stoen says
Every family’s different. My kids love the Harry Potter theme parks. I’ve been taking them since they were 3. Three was a little young to get the full experience – seven or eight is better since kids are tall enough to go on all the rides. Our kids are hit-and-miss on Disney. They love the idea of Disneyland / Disney World, but are usually satiated after 8 hours or so, whereas they could do Universal/Harry Potter for two full days. Universal has a lot to offer beyond Harry Potter, like Dr. Seuss, Simpsons, superheroes and Minions – probably something for each of the kids.
I would think you may be happy with a day at Disney World (as long as you’re so close) and a day at the hotel/pool. Then see what your kids vote for on Day 3. Universal is a little bit of a drive from the Four Seasons but I think it’s worth it since it’s so different. The food’s not necessarily better than Disney parks, but the Four Seasons food is good, and there are some restaurants at Universal City Walk and Downtown Disney that are a little better than Rainforest Cafe.
Would you skip Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcott or is there something the kids would enjoy (that they can’t do in CA)? I have been to Epcott only once a few years ago and maybe I didn’t see it right but I was bored and underwhelmed- though I’ve heard their fire works show is good. I was thinking 1 day Magic Kingdom, 1 day Harry Potter/universal , half day Animal Kingdom and 1.5 days hotel/pool….
Eric Stoen says
I’ve never been to Disney Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom so I can’t speak to those. I’ve taken my kids to Epcot twice, at 3 and 5, and they liked it. Having said that, when I gave them the option of going back to Epcot or staying at the Four Seasons for the day last year they chose FS. Epcot is still unique compared to anything in Anaheim. The new Frozen ride at the Norway pavilion is supposed to open around May 1.
Your schedule sounds good.
Fascinating. I took my five year old to Epcot and he hated it and was bored out of his mind. Magic Kingdom, however, was great. If you have the time, Legoland is a bit of a drive but thoroughly enjoyable for the sub-6 crowd. Shorter lines and waits and more manageable. Harry Potter world was great for my 8 year old. I was really glad we waited until he was 8 and had read the books.
We also have 3 kids (boys) and were wondering what you recommend for room accommodations. I was thinking 2 connecting rooms (1king and 1 double). Or do you think we can fit in one suite? Thanks much.
Eric Stoen says
You’ll need two rooms. The King/Double connecting rooms would be perfect. Four Seasons’ max occupancy (per fire code regulations) is two children and two adults per room, or three adults per room. A suite has the same restrictions.
Just a quick note to let you know that we are from Argentina and returning a second time to one of our favourite resorts worldwide. This time for 4 days, no Disney whatsoever, just enjoying the pools and great service and kid friendly hotel. We had such a great time last time with our very small 3 children. Thanks for the great article, it helped us decide on going again!
Mikaela Walker says
Visited Four Seasons Orlando this summer for a 2-night stay based on your recommendation. Unfortunately, the rain came along with us. There were a few hours of sunshine where we got to play in the lazy river and the splash park. We also had some great gelato and I taught my kids how to play pinball. I would definitely return and hopefully bring the sun this time.
Eric Stoen says
That’s too bad about the rain! Glad you enjoyed it anyway though. Timing is everything. This summer we spent 8 nights in the Maldives during rainy season and didn’t see any rain at all. The week before we were there, though, it poured for six days straight and people couldn’t do anything.
we are considering staying at this resort in a few weeks. we have three girls (age 6,4, and 2) and then myself and my husband. would you recommend two rooms or a suite is a better option?
Eric Stoen says
I asked Four Seasons Orlando about that earlier this year and they said that the max suite occupancy is 4 (because of fire dept regulations), so you’ll need to go with two rooms. If you call the hotel and they tell you differently, please let me know!
Yes I was under that assumption also until I received an email back from the hotel when i inquired about it with the response “Thank you for reaching out to us with your inquiry. You are able to reserve one room for a party of 5 with children of those ages at no additional cost. ”
So if that is the case, would you suggest two rooms still?
Eric Stoen says
Interesting! I’ll go back to my contact.
I’ve never had a chance to look at a suite there. I’d probably go for whichever option is less expensive. You won’t be in the room(s) that much anyway. If they’re the same price, I’d usually choose the two rooms. The beds will be permanent (no rollaways or fold-out couches) so everyone will sleep better. Just our experience. Not sure if that’s true with FS Orlando or not.
Eric Stoen says
OK, for future visitors, I verified that both are correct. The maximum occupancy is four, but if a child is under three the hotel’s reservation agents can request a waiver to allow all five people to sleep in one room – although it will be a little more cramped.
Hello! Very helpful review. My concern isn’t getting to the parks (will hop in an Uber or car from lobby) it’s getting back to the hotel at night with 3 kids and 1-2 strollers. Is it easy to grab car service from the parks? How is the Four Seasons shuttle?
Eric Stoen says
We’ve stayed at the Four Seasons several times and headed to Universal parks, but never to Disney parks. But I spoke with the hotel and this is what I found:
The Four Seasons has its own bus to the four main Disney parks. It’s a full bus – not a small shuttle – so there’s always plenty of room.
The bus hours run based on Disney hours so the schedule fluctuates. The bus is always available an hour before the park opening and an hour post-close. The bus transports guests every 30 mins to the Magic Kingdom Ticket & Transportation Center and every hour to the additional parks. It’s very easy to take, and the bus has plenty of stroller storage underneath. The driver assists with loading the items on when needed.
If you’re good with the bus schedule, it’s very easy to arrange to take the bus to the parks & back. However, if convenience is the main factor and you don’t want to wait for the bus, it’s easy to call a Mears car ($18 per trip back to FS) or take Uber or Lyft. Lyft also has the Minnie Van service now running to FS for a flat $25 fee. The Lyft Minnie Vans can seat up to 6. Here is info on the Minnie Van:
Jennie Grube says
It’s easy! They have their own bus and it’s no problem at all They will give you a schedule. We went with a 2, 6 and 8 year old. We loved the hotel and would stay again…