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. Luckily, Trekaroo knows the best Orlando resorts for families and we are thrilled to share our favorites with you!
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.
Best Orlando Resorts for Families- Getting the Lay of the Land
Walt Disney World
If this is your first visit to Orlando, Florida, you need to know that Walt Disney World is not technically 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, two water parks, a Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district, as well as a couple dozen hotels on resort property.
The Disney theme parks are actually quite far apart from each other. Within Walt Disney World, transportation between Disney’s hotels, parks, and the Disney Springs shopping area is free to anyone.
Disney used to offer an airport shuttle service called the Magical Express but as of January 1, 2022, this program is no longer offered unfortunately. MEARs has taken over the Magical Express location in the airport and does provide transportation services at various price points.
When booking a hotel to visit Universal Orlando, Disney World, SeaWorldor the Orange County Convention Center, look for properties with addresses in Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Kissimmee, and Celebration, Florida. All of these locations come together in the heart of the theme park/convention center
Several Disney hotel partners offer free or fee-based shuttle service to Walk Disney World. Properties closer to Universal Orlando will have complimentary shuttle service to the Universal Orlando attractions.
Beyond Disney World
Universal Orlando Resort, known especially for its Harry Potter attractions, thrill rides, and Universal’s 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 Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove are also in Orlando, but a little further south of Universal. The Orange County Convention Center, a popular destination for families attending big events like the annual volleyball tourmant in June that plays host to over 3,000 teams, is located about a mile from SeaWorld.
In all, it is about a 20-minute drive from Universal Orlando in the north to Walt Disney World in the south. When finding the right place to stay in Orlando there are many things to consider, including which theme park area you plan on spending the most time.
Other things to consider are resort ammenities. Since Orlando’s weather is quite hot for most of the year, a hotel with a great pool area is a top priority for many families. Many hotel pools stay open late in Orlando which means you can enjoy some pool time after a long, sweaty day at the parks.
If you are visiting Orlando in the summer, we highly suggest working a pool day or two into your vacation itinerary to give you a break between sweltering theme park days.
The Best Orlando Resorts for Families Off Theme Park Property
Orlando World Center Marriott
My kids’ top priority when staying at a resort is spending time at the pool. If your kids love pool time as much as mine, they may never want to leave the incredible pool area at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Their Falls Pool Oasis is an enormous pool complex with a zero-entry lagoon, waterfalls, huge TVs playing movies or sports, a water playground for the little ones, a couple 200-foot body slides and a towering 90-foot speed slide.
But they didn’t stop all the water fun there! This resort also built the new River Falls Water Park in 2022 which features three different slides, a splash area, and a lazy river. And since the water park is only open to hotel guests, you never wait more than a few minutes to ride the slides.
The resort also has a deck filled with games like corn hole, giant chess, giant Jenga, and ping pong. Plus there is also a championship golf course, mini golf cour, arcade, and volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts. There is even a laser light show at night!
Additional on-property amenities include a full service spa, fitness classes, and six restaurants (plus a Starbucks) ranging from steakhouse to sports bar.
This resort is very close to Walt Disney World (you can see Epcot’s sphere and Disney Springs from some of the upper level rooms). It even offers guests complimentary shuttle service to the Disney World theme parks as well as Disney Springs.
Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek
The Wyndham Bonnet Creek® is a great option for a large family looking for comfort and value near Disney World.
The convenient location is as close to Disney theme parks as any Disney-owned property. The condo-style accommodations have a full kitchen (which can be a huge cost saver), one or two bedrooms, living space, multiple bathrooms, and a balcony. There’s a jacuzzi tub 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 multiple outdoor pools, lazy rivers, water slides, miniature golf, a playground, and game rooms. There are also three restaurants on property, as well as a bar and a coffee shop.
Since this is more of a timeshare property, there isn’t daily housekeeping but the front desk and conceirge are still available to cater to your family’s needs.
There is a shuttle to Disney World for a fee, but it’s still cheaper than theme park parking!
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort
This isn’t the roadside Holiday Inn you remember from your childhood! Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort is a sprawling resort made up of four villages that sit on over 1,450 acres!
Choose from a more standard room that still includes a kitchenette and one or two beds or “go big” and book a 1700-square-foot, three-bedroom villa that sleeps seven or eight! In addition to full sized kitchens and living areas, the villas also have laundry which can really come in handy, especially on longer vacations.
The property has seven pools, a lazy river, waterslides, mini golf, arcades, playgrounds, golf courses and multiple restaurants onsite. If you want to tube in the Lazy River you will need to purchase a ‘Play Pass’ (1, 3 or 7 day) which will grant you unlimited access to mini golf, tube rental and the fun zone located within River Island.
There is an activity center for kids and teens with age-specific activities as well as tennis, basketball, raquetball, and volleyball. Plus, there are activities to enjoy on the 80-acre lake like paddleboats, kayaks, tubing, and water skiing.
The Par 3 Legends Walk golf course is lighted so you can play during the day or cooler night hours. Plus, kids under 12 play for free with paying adult!
Reunion Resort and Golf Club
If you’re looking for a hotel offering lots of space for the family to spread out at a reasonable price, check out Reunion Resort and Golf Club.
Located 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. This property is a bit further out from Disney World and Universal so a rental car is key, but if you were planning on heading to Legoland Florida as well, the location is actually very central.
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.
Red Lion Orlando Lake Buena Vista South
If you are on a tighter budget, the Red Lion Orlando Lake Buena Vista South is a great option. It 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.
Best Orlando Resorts for Families on Walt Disney World Resort Property
Picking the right place to stay inside of Walt Disney World Resort can be overwhelming, especially if its your first time visiting Disney World.
With 25 Disney-owned properties and many other partner hotels nearby, we’ve selected some of our favorites to help you narrow down which one is right for your family. I have stayed at several Disney World hotels and never been disappointed. Each has its own theme and benefits.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
All of Walt Disney World’s theme parks are quite spread out. Most people access the Magic Kingdom by monorail line, water taxi, or Disney bus transportation which can take some time and effort.
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 takes only 10 minutes to take the elevator downstairs and walk to the Magic Kingdom gates- you can’t get there any faster from any other property.
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 (California Grill), 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. Here is a comprehensive review of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
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.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- French Quarter
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 themed to look like a Mardi Gras float factory. It is open daily from 6am-midnight, serving American-Creole cuisine and NOLA quick bites.
Disney’s Sarasota Springs Resort & Spa
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.
Best Orlando Family Resorts at Universal Orlando
Loews Sapphire Falls
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is one of the newer 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 seven official Universal hotels. According to Trekaroo contributor Sarah Pittard, Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort has the “Best family pool at Universal Orlando” .
Guests at the seven Universal Hotels get exclusive theme park benefits including early admission to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water park one hour before the park opens to the general public.
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.
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Universal’s Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel gets a five out of five-star rating according to Trekaroo families love the beautiful grounds, spacious hip rooms, beautiful grounds, and three fabulous pools.
Families also love that 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 well over $100 per person for the day, and even more during peak season. 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 parks, 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.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
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, but they pay less than they would staying at the more “deluxe” Universal resort properties.
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 where everyone in the family can grab what they like.
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.
Special thanks to Holly Fink and Liling Pang who contributed to previous version of this article.
Disclosure: The authors and contributors to this post received complimentary stays at some of these properties in order to review them, but the opinions they shared are entirely their own.