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Looking for the best Orlando family resorts for your vacation? With so many places to stay in Orlando, the decision on where to stay can be overwhelming. Whether you are looking for a hotel near Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando, we have you covered! Our goal is to help you figure out the best place to stay in during your Central Florida family vacation.
Understanding Where to Stay in Orlando
Walt Disney World
If this is your first visit to Orlando, Florida, you need to know that Walt Disney World is not actually in Orlando. It’s in Lake Buena Vista, about 30 minutes southwest of downtown Orlando and 30 minutes west of Orlando International Airport. Secondly, you should know that the Walt Disney World Resort is huge. It is a sprawling area the size of San Francisco or Manhattan. There are four Disney theme parks and two water parks.
The Disney theme parks are actually quite far apart from each other. If you’re staying at any of the 25 official Disney World Resort properties you can enjoy free transportation from the Orlando Airport. Within Walt Disney World, transportation between Disney’s hotels, parks, and the Disney Springs shopping area is free to anyone.
Orlando family resorts and hotels that serve visitors to Walt Disney World could have an address in Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Kissimmee, and Celebration. Disney hotel partners often offer free or fee-based shuttle service to a location in Walt Disney World that will allow you to then utilized Disney’s free transportation system. These hotels tend to offer great value and more space. They are also perfect for families looking to have a few non-theme park days to enjoy their hotel or other things to do in Orlando.
Beyond Disney World
Universal Orlando Resort, with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Universal Volcano Bay water park, is located on the south side of Orlando (northeast of Walt Disney World). There is a cluster of hotels centered around this area.
SeaWorld and Discovery Cove are also in Orlando but a little further south of Universal. It’s about a 20-minute drive between these three core attractions.
When finding the right places to stay in Orlando, consider which theme park you’re going to spend the most time. Also, consider how important perks like early admission or tickets to special events are to you. Or if you simply just want to stay at an Orlando hotel with waterslides and a lazy river.
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Places to Stay in Orlando at the Walt Disney World Resort
Picking the right place to stay in Walt Disney World can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time to Walt Disney World. With 25 Disney-owned properties and many other partner hotels nearby, we’ve selected some of our favorites to help you decide which property is right for your family.
For Easy Access to Disney’s Magic Kingdom
“Located right inside the parking lot of Bay Lake Tower is a walking path to Magic Kingdom. In fact, we were able to walk to the front gates of Magic Kingdom from our room on the 16th floor in about 10 minutes.”
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is a little set apart from the other Disney theme parks. It’s connected to a few Disney hotels by a monorail line and free Disney bus transportation and water taxis service. For guests who want to wake up and stumble right into the heart of Walt Disney World, the Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom. It also happens to be one of our favorite Disney resorts.
This Disney Vacation Club property has 295 studios and multi-bedroom family suites accommodating up to nine people. The rooms are equipped with kitchenettes, complimentary wifi, and great views of the Magic Kingdom. The swimming pool has a popular water slide for families to enjoy.
The hotel also offers an award-winning restaurant, white-sand beaches, campfires, movie screenings under the stars, a 24-hour arcade, a community hall with family activities, and a fitness center. Other amenities include yoga classes, cabanas, fishing, motorized bike rentals, tennis courts, and jogging trails. There is truly something for everyone at this special Disney resort. For parents who want a break, childcare services are available.
For the Family That Enjoys Nature (Disney style)
If you have an active child, or you’re active parents, Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is an ideal choice for a unique experience. Themed as a resort from the North Woods, this is a cozy hotel for adventurous types. It’s also one of the most interesting properties on Disney grounds.
This hotel offers views of woodlands, trails, and meadows you are welcome to explore. You’ll also have access to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort with amenities including a children’s activity center, restaurant, and a pool with a waterslide. The decor pays homage to the 1860’s railroad hotels of the American West. You’ll find signs of the Pacific Northwest when you enter the lobby, including a working fireplace that is reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, totems, and tepee chandeliers.
As part of Disney Vacation Club, the Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge provides spacious two-bedroom villas, which sleep up to eight people. Rooms include kitchenettes for in-room meals so you and the family can eat in or enjoy on-site dining. In case you’re the general public can book rooms at a Disney Vacation Club property.
For Old World Charm and Being Close to Good Food (at Disney Springs)
“Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter is a lovely rendition of New Orleans with its iron railings and pastel colored buildings. This resort offers a food court themed to a mardi gras float factory. One of the yummiest snacks in all of Walt Disney World can be found here- fresh, hot beignets!” – disgurumom
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter is reminiscent of New Orlean’s French Quarter. It has cobblestone streets, gas lamps, wrought-iron balconies, and magnolia blossoms. The convenient location along the Sassagoula River is serviced by water taxi. Hop on one to get to Disney Springs where there lots of dining and shopping options.
The hotel even has a landscaped Sassagoula River for full impact where families can take horse-drawn carriage rides. The hotel is incredibly family-friendly, offering New Orleans-decorated 1,008 accommodations in seven buildings, most of which sleep up to four or five guests. Guests have access to bikes, boats, carriage rides, cane pole fishing, and a pool with a waterslide. The resort even features a jazz club called Scat Cat’s Club which parents will love.
The food court at Port Orleans French Quarter is called “Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory”. It is open daily from 6am-midnight, serving American-Creole cuisine and NOLA quick bites.
For the Larger Family Who Wants to Stay in a Disney Property
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is inspired by historic Saratoga Springs, New York. This Victorian-style resort offers families a relaxed but fun environment. This Disney hotel is located on 107 acres and offers 1,320 units, from studios to three-bedroom treehouse villas.
Elevated 10 feet off the ground, the 3-bedroom Treehouse Villas offer fully equipped kitchens, flat-screen TVs, private decks, and charcoal grills. Many villas provide washers and dryers, with the largest option sleeping up to nine guests. The hotel also features a full-service spa and two pools with a waterslide, whirlpool spas, and aqua-play areas. It’s also a boat ride away from Disney Springs where guests can pick from a multitude of restaurants.
Places to Stay in Orlando Near Walt Disney World Resort
For the Large Family Looking for Comfort and Value Near Disney
“Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort is a great compromise between the prices of Disney hotels and the easy access of staying on property.” – CourtneyCP
The Wyndham Bonnet Creek® has so much to offer traveling families. The convenient location is as close to Disney theme parks as any Disney-owned property. The condo-style accommodations have a full kitchen where you can make healthy meals, two bedrooms, living space, two bathrooms, free wifi, and a balcony. There’s a jacuzzi in the master bedroom suite which is fantastic after a day out in the amusement parks.
Lots of fun activities and amenities are right on the property. Highlights include five outdoor pool areas, miniature golf, and club rooms. The free shuttle to Disney parks makes it easy to get around.
Trekaroo Tip: How to save on an Orlando vacation rental
We found the lowest prices for Wyndham Bonnet Creek on TripBound. On top of that, Trekaroo readers always get an additional 10% discount on any vacation rental booking on TripBound when using our affliate link.
For the Family Who Loves Lazy Rivers and Golfing
If you’re looking for a hotel offering lots of space for the family to spread out at a fantastic price, check out Reunion Resort and Golf Club.
Reunion Resort Savings Tip:
To finding the best price on a 2 or 3 bedroom vacation condos at Reunion resort, go to Tripbound first. You can usually snag 30-50% savings there. And Trekaroo families get an additional 10% off when using our affiliate link.
Located just 20 minutes from Walt Disney World, Reunion is a huge property with luxury suites and condos and even 2 or 3 bedroom villas and private vacation homes. Rooms are fully equipped with all the amenities a family would need from large living room space to inside and outside dining areas, full kitchen, and washer and dryer in the room.
There are 11 pools on property – a large tropical waterpark with three slides, a water playground, a 1,000-foot lazy river, as well as tennis courts. Reunion Resort also offers daily lawn games including giant checkers, corn hole, mega Jenga, horseshoes, hula hoops, and jump ropes. There are also bike rentals, activity trails, and community playgrounds. The resort also has a variety of onsite dining options that families of all sizes and budgets will appreciate. Or you can grocery shop and self-cater daily.
Golfers are in paradise here playing on three award-winning courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer. While you golf, you can drop them off your kids at Kids Crew – a special club just for guests ages 4-12. Kids will spend the day enjoying activities from scavenger hunts and nature hikes and time in the pool. Registration is required and kids must be potty-trained to attend.
For the Disney Bound Family Looking for a Great Deal
The Red Lion Orlando Lake Buena Vista South recently underwent a $31 million top to bottom renovation. The king and two queen hotel rooms are spacious and clean. There are also a handful of junior and executive suites with kitchenettes. In the middle courtyard, there is a pool and a lazy river with a water slide.
Although it is priced as a budget property, the hospitality includes a few nice touches. Every morning guests enjoy made-to-order espresso coffee drinks served in the lobby. Cascadia Soapery’s handcrafted soaps and shampoos are lovely. A hot breakfast buffet is served every morning at the on-property restaurant for a nominal fee.
Red Lion Orlando Buena Vista South even offers a free shuttle from the hotel to Epcot Center or Hollywood Studios in the mornings and evenings. Free parking, free wifi, a fitness center, guest laundry, are all included with your stay.
For the Family Who Loves Lavish Accommodations for Less
“For the 110 days between the last and first day of school, Omni (Orlando Resort at Championsgate) offers you a chance to experience non-stop fun with; sushi making, S’mores, dive-in movies, food tastings, cooking demonstrations and much more. The words “I’m bored” will not be heard during your stay. ”
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, is also in nearby Kissimmee. This is a lovely hotel tucked behind formal arches. The welcoming lobby is adorned with fancy chandeliers and a marble floor and overlooks a lazy river, swimming pools, whirlpools, and a perfect skyline view.
The hotel consists of 16 stories, with two and three-bedroom villas off with full kitchens and washer/dryer. Each room consists of big beds, a master bath, a flat-screen TV, and wifi. At Zen, you can enjoy unique, yummy Chinese dishes, as well as sushi on a boat.
The resort offers shuttle service to the Disney parks as well. The hotel also has the Mokara Spa & Salon and an 18-hole golf course.
Places to Stay in Orlando Near Universal Orlando
For a Luxury Stay and Universal Theme Park Perks
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is the newest hotel at Universal Orlando and it’s pretty fantastic. It’s a Caribbean-inspired luxury hotel with 1,000 rooms. Each room has a mini-fridge, free Wi-Fi and a rollaway bed or sleeper sofa.
The hotel also offers on-site dining, a large swimming pool surrounded by waterfalls and a waterslide. Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort is one of six official Universal hotels. According to Trekaroo contributor Sarah Pittard, Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort has the “Best family pool at Universal Orlando” .
Guests at the six Universal Hotels get exclusive theme park benefits including early admission to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water theme park one hour before park opening. All six also screen dive-in movies in the evenings in their pools.
There’s also a coffee shop for an easy breakfast in the morning if you are aiming to enter the park early. In addition, the hotel has an arcade game room. Complimentary shuttle services and water taxis shuttle visitors to the Universal’s theme parks, waterpark and Universal CityWalk. Be sure to make time to enjoy the hotel’s pool and waterslide as it is truly a spectacle in the most exciting sense of the word.
For the Family Who’ll Splurge to Get to the Front Of Every Line
“As first time visitors to Universal Orlando, we wanted to maximize convenience and polish off our week in Orlando with luxurious amenities, excellent service and beautiful surroundings. The Loews Portofino nailed it!”
Universal’s Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel gets a five out of five-star rating according to Trekaroo families not just because it’s a beautiful grounds, spacious hip rooms, beautiful grounds, and three fabulous pools. Families love their room comes with Unlimited Express Passes that gets you to the front of the line at almost every ride at Universal Orlando. The value of this pass is $89/person for the day. This perk is in addition to being able to get into Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure an hour early.
Club Level access offers free coffee and non-alcoholic drinks all day. At breakfast, enjoy free continental breakfast. At midday, snacks and appetizers include salad, cheese platters, meatballs, pasta. There is an open bar (wine and beer) in the evening. And let’s not forget dessert! Before you realize it, you’ve made more than made up for the premium you pay to stay in a club level room.
Although this Universal Orlando property is the furthest from the theme park, getting there is a pleasant stroll along beautifully landscaped gardens or a peaceful canal boat ride away (free). If you enjoy Italian food, you’ll find an Italian deli, pizzeria, gelato bar, and pasta bar offering kid-friendly dining. Trattoria del Porto (casual), Mama Della’s, and Bice serve an exquisite menu.
For the Family Looking for Universal Orlando Perks on a Budget
– Karyn Locke
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a great budget-friendly option. Families still get the perk of early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay Waterpark.
The property has a fun 50’s and 60’s retro theme and every room has a small kitchenette that is separated from the bedroom by a sliding wall divider. It’s perfect if you’d like to save by self-catering breakfast or lunch. If you’re too tired to cook or go to Universal City Walk for dinner, there is a food court style restaurant on property.
There are two large pools including a lazy river and water slides. There is also a free shuttle service to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure which runs every 15 minutes. Just park your car avoid paying for parking at the theme parks.
Special thanks to Liling Pang who updated this post for 2019.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which help to keep Trekaroo free to our readers. The authors and contributors to this post received complimentary stays at some of these properties, but the opinions they shared are entirely their own.