One of the best pieces of advice that you can ever get about sailing on a Disney Cruise is to arrive at the port the day before.
I know that sometimes this seems overly dramatic, but things happen, and yes people do miss their cruise. More often than you might think.
One way to save yourself from stress is to arrive the day before and stay in a hotel.
Not only do you know you are close to the port, but you can also spend some extra time relaxing before your cruise.
Many people choose to stay in Port Canaveral prior to their Disney Cruise, but there is another great solution that you may not have thought of.
Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.
If you have ever flown into or out of MCO you will have seen the Hyatt Regency.
It’s the huge hotel that looks out onto the interior of the airport between Terminals A and B.
For years I walked through the airport and wondered what the hotel was actually like.
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On my recent Disney Wish cruise, I decided to try out the hotel and the Disney Cruise Transfers to the port.
I have tried out every other variation of where to stay before a Disney Cruise:
- Stay at a Disney World Resort
- Stay close to Port Canaveral
- Stay at a Hotel Close to the Airport but take Disney transfers from MCO
These are all great options, but this time I decided I finally wanted to see whether a stay at Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport was a good choice.
And I was very pleasantly surprised.
You really can’t beat the location if you are traveling into or out of Orlando International. It’s just an escalator ride up from Level 3.
It doesn’t get any easier than that.
If you are arriving on a flight to the airport the day before your cruise, this really is an ideal place to stay.
The Hyatt has 445 Guestrooms which comprise 261 Kings, 161 two Queen, 21 accessible rooms, and 23 Suites.
Most of the rooms have balconies or patios.
We arrived pretty late in the evening as we had driven from Miami and then gone to Disney World for dinner.
I was pleasantly surprised by just how very good the service was.
The lady at the check-in desk was exceptionally welcoming and cheerfully explained what we needed to know about the Disney Cruise Transportation Service.
She helpfully provided spare luggage tags as at this point in my vacation I could no longer even remember if I had packed the ones I received through the mail.
We arrived pretty late as we had driven from Miami and then went to Disney World for dinner, so we didn’t get much of a chance to use the facilities at the hotel.
We did spend a bit of time at the Lobby Bar which had plenty of seating. It’s a good way to spend some time in the lobby area just people-watching with all the activity of the busy airport.
McCoy’s Bar & Grill is on the lobby level. It serves food 24 hours a day – this is an airport hotel after all.
It offers a varied menu of breakfast favorites, sandwiches, soups, and entrees. It even has an extensive sushi menu which is served from 5 pm to 10 pm.
If you just want to grab a snack McCoy’s Bar & Grill To Go is also available 24 hours a day.
If you are looking for something more upscale then the 9th-floor Hemisphere Restaurant has spectacular floor-to-ceiling views of the airport runways.
It’s a surprising place to find world-class dining but definitely worth checking out.
It is definitely on my radar for the next time I visit, and when I realized this was in the Hyatt Regency I wished that I had dined there instead of having my decidedly subpar experience at Cape May in Disney World!
As well as having a good selection of dining places within the hotel itself you could also just take the escalator down to the airport and check out what is available there.
The Hotel also has a rooftop swimming pool and a gym.
What Was The Room Like?
Our room was on the eighth floor and had a view of the inside of the airport.
I was excited to see the view, but as the balcony door wouldn’t open, the view was rather limited.
I have no idea if it is standard that the balconies are locked, and I forgot to enquire at the front desk.
The room was a very good size and comfortably furnished.
The bed was very comfortable and I particularly liked the headboard with the integral nightlights.
There was a microwave, refrigerator, and a coffee and tea maker. This was particularly welcome in the morning when I definitely needed a caffeine boost.
The couch was comfortable and the large table would have been great if we had ordered room service.
There was also a small desk and a definitely larger than standard for a hotel room television!
The bathroom was a good size, with a shower over the bath. The shower head was nicely upgraded and the water pressure and temperature controls were good.
The lighted mirror in the bathroom was also a nice feature.
The rooms are very well soundproofed – don’t worry that you are literally in the airport terminal, you really won’t be disturbed by the noise.
How To Book
You can book via DCL but you may well get a better rate by booking online.
This is a very popular hotel so make sure that you book as soon as you think that you may want to stay here. You are more likely to get better rates the earlier you book as well.
Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Parking
We had a rental car that we were going to return so we didn’t need to park our vehicle at the Hyatt Regency. However, if you do need to park your car then charges are $19 per day for regular parking and $25 for valet.
It was very easy to return our rental car. We used Hertz but there are many others also located in the airport.
Disney Cruise Transportation
This was the reason that we chose this hotel – the ease of taking Disney Cruise Transportation to the Port Canaveral port for our Disney Wish cruise.
The Hyatt Regency has had this arrangement with Disney Cruise Line for many years, and it is a very efficient system.
It is always best to book your Disney Cruise transfers before you arrive at the hotel. Call (800) 951-3532 to add ground transfers in advance.
You can also book them on the Disney Cruise App or if you are using a Travel Agent they can book it for you.
Each transfer costs $39 per person each way.
It may be possible to book at guest services when you arrive, but it may also be that it is sold out. So to be prepared is a good thing.
Let them know at the check-in desk that you have booked the Disney Cruise Transfers. They will then give you a form to fill in with your room number and how many pieces of luggage you would like for them to handle.
If you want the Hyatt to deal with your luggage you leave it in your stateroom and sometime after 8 am it magically gets transported to the port.
You will then not see it again until it arrives outside your stateroom door.
Note that you can also book transfers from Orlando International Airport even if you are not staying at the Hyatt. The cost is the same at $39 per person.
What Happens in the Morning
The system really is very streamlined and efficient, but it may involve some waiting around.
We were told to leave our luggage, with the Disney Cruise Line tags on, in our room by 8 am for the hotel to collect.
Remember of course, don’t pack essentials such as ID, passport, tickets, medications and anything else you need for boarding your Disney Cruise, as you will not be seeing this luggage again until some time in the afternoon when you have boarded the ship.
When you go down to the lobby you will see Disney Cast Members who are there to help you with the transportation process.
Walk a little way towards the Disney Cruise Line sign and line up.
There are Cast Members to check you in.
You will be given a boarding group. We were on the first bus, Tinkerbell.
If you aren’t on the first bus you do have to wait quite some time.
We went downstairs at 8 am and were checked in by 8.20 am. We then had to wait until 9 am to be shown to the first bus.
You will be accompanied downstairs in the elevator and walked to the Disney Bus.
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Arrival at Port Canaveral
The journey from Orlando International Airport to Port Canaveral takes approximately an hour.
The bus itself is nothing special. In fact for our journey both to the cruise and then back to a Disney Resort I would say that both buses were pretty old and the seats were worn.
The legroom isn’t great either so if you are tall you are going to be glad this isn’t a very long journey.
However, the excitement of the occasion was more than enough to compensate for the lack of bells and whistles on the bus. But really here, Disney used to do better.
We arrived at the Disney Cruise Terminal by 10 am.
There is nothing quite like the first glimpse of your Disney ship in port.
And then it gets even better as you get closer!
If you book Disney Cruise Transportation to Port Canaveral you have a Port Arrival Time for Group 3.
What this means is that as soon as you arrive you can line up for security and get straight into the terminal building.
Having Group 3 Boarding means that the only others who get on to the ship before you are Concierge Guests, Back to Back Cruisers, and Family of the Day.
In other words, you are one of the very first ones to board.
This was how empty it was when we arrived.
However, it does mean that you will be waiting at the Port Canaveral Terminal for approximately an hour before you board.
If you want to take a chance at getting an upgrade at the port then now is the time to go to Guest Services at the terminal.
You do have to pay for the upgrade, and over the years they have got increasingly difficult to get, but if you want to try then now is your time.
Gone are the days when you had to check in here. Now you just show your printed QR code on your documents or give the room number to the Cast Member as you go through the “ears”.
You will find your Keys to the World outside your stateroom on the Fish Extender.
Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport Day Pass Rooms
One of the dilemmas, when you return from your cruise, is how are you going to spend the time before your flight leaves MCO.
Really this depends upon what time your flight leaves, but remember that Disney Cruise Line does recommend that you do not book a flight to leave before 11.25 am on the day of embarkation.
Personally, I think that even that is too early and would make for a pretty stressful morning.
But you can have an irritating gap of time between disembarking your Disney Cruise and needing to board your flight.
One solution is to have a later flight and book a Day Use Room at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport.
This is a great way to relax whilst waiting for your flight. Orlando Airport is incredibly busy, and not a place you really want to spend a lot of time.
If you book a Day Use Room at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport you will have use of a room, the pool, gym, the restaurant and even room service.
Day Use Rooms at available from 10 am until 6 pm. Call 407 825 1234 to book.
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Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.