Holiday Inn Club Vacations At Orange Lake Resort: A Review
January 12, 2018
When planning our Orlando adventure, I wanted to find an IHG hotel that would work for our family. With IHG rewards points saved up as well as 2 anniversary nights to use, we had the ability to stay for several nights for free. Our family likes to have separate sleeping areas as well as some type of kitchen facilities. I came across Holiday Inn Club Vacation Orange Lake through another travel blog. The property seemed perfect for us. Located right next to Walt Disney World resort, Orange Lake kept us close to places we wanted to visit, like visit Disney Springs.
Orange Lake is a giant vacation club resort, but you can still reserve villas within the property. There are benefits for being part of the Holiday Inn Vacation Club, but we weren’t interested in joining any club. Their staff will try and sell you on joining the club several times throughout your stay. We just politely said no thank you. Another way to avoid constant sales pitches during your stay is to just unplug the phone in your villa, which is what I did. Sorry, Holiday Inn!
There are several Villages within the property, each with their own facilities, like pools, tennis courts, and basketball courts. We stayed in the West Village, which expands across half the property. There is also a North Village and East Village, which are closer to River Island (see below).
We were assigned a villa in the West Village. This was great for us because we were super close to the check-in area as well as the village pool, a restaurant, and the tennis and basketball courts.
When you vacation with 4 kids, personal space is priceless and our villa had plenty of it. The villa came with 2 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a large living area with a decent sofa bed. Nobody ever wants to sleep on the sofa bed so we usually split the kids time between the sofa bed and regular bed. Since we stayed at 2 properties on this trip, each set of kids got the sofa bed at one resort.
Several restaurants are located on site within the Orange Lake property. Just outside of the property are endless dining options as well. Because our villa had a full kitchen, we didn’t want to go out very much. We ate breakfasts at the villa, bought plenty of food for lunches in, and only ventured out at night.
We ordered pizza from Giordano’s because nothing says Orlando vacation like Chicago Deep Dish pizza, right?! Our only dinner on property was at Breezes Restaurant and Bar, which was poolside in our village. Generally I’m not expecting too much with property run restaurants, but the food (and service) was excellent.
There was a marketplace located in our village to grab a coffee, souvenirs or items you forgot to pack. The market was overpriced, which is exactly what you would expect from this type of setup.
Pools and Amenities
One of the main pools for the property was located close to our villa, which was great. The weather during our stay was hit or miss so being close was great for when it poured. Tons of poolside seating meant never having to search for a place to catch some rays while the kids splashed away. Shuffleboard courts were located near the pool, which the kids thought was beyond awesome. I grew up playing shuffleboard, but I opted not to hustle my kids for their souvenir money this time. The pool was also located next to a giant arcade, but one walk through was enough as the costs to play games was insanely high, even for resort arcade standards.
The main draw of the Orange Lake property is River Island. River Island is a water park with extras like mini golf, a climbing wall, a giant inflatable water slide, and various other activities. Several restaurants, a sandwich shop, and a cafe serving Starbucks drinks and ice cream are also located within River Island.
This is where being part of the vacation club comes in handy. There are extra fees for admission to River Island, use of inner tubes and to participate in all the other various activities. It’s not cheap. Full disclosure: We were compensated free passes because I tried very hard to not pay for those passes. My guess is that is not usually offered, but you can try. All the kids loved the water park, especially the lazy river. The few water slides within the park were closed most of the time we visited. It looked like they were short staffed. I can’t think of another reason they would be closed in peak season.
If we had to pay full price for water park passes, I’m not sure we would have gone. Orlando is home to some of the best water parks in the country. The biggest draw of River Island is that it’s on property. River Island was crowded each time we visited so they are doing something right. Make sure to plan for the fees if you are planning to stay at Orange Lake.
Orange Lake provides free shuttles around the property, including stops at all pools, River Island, and all restaurants. We took the shuttle once. It’s a great option, but with so many stops, it takes forever to get anywhere on property. We had a rental van, which we utilized the rest of the time.
Holiday Inn Vacation Club
Because we didn’t participate in any sales pitch presentations or tours, I can’t review the vacation club program and how Holiday Inn compares to other clubs.
If you are looking for more than the average hotel for your family close to Disney, Orange Lake is an excellent option. With all the entertainment options in Orlando, you can have a great stay without paying for all the extra amenities at Orange Lake.
Where do you stay during your Orlando adventures? Let us know in the comments below!
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Kevin Payne is the co-founder and budgeting and family travel enthusiast behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com.
Kevin is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and travel. He is a regular contributor to Forbes Advisor, MoneyGeek, CreditCards.com, Credit Karma, Money Under 30, and Student Loan Planner.