The Best Places to Stay in Orlando, Florida For Your Disney Vacation

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If there is one thing that I enjoy writing about here at Upgraded Points, it is family vacations to Walt Disney World — a destination that is always changing thanks to new rides, airline routes, hotel openings, strategies, and so much more.

As you probably already know, planning a trip to Orlando (like most family vacations) can be very time consuming and detail-oriented. We have already given you some great tips on making your trip to Disney as stress-free as possible as well as our Disney vacation packing list — now let’s dive in on where to stay in Orlando, FL.

Lodging Options Overview

Room at Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando.
Room at Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando. Image Credit: Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

One of the great things about Orlando is the plethora of family-friendly lodging options. If you thought that you would be limited to basic hotels, you are in for quite a surprise.

With everything from budget-friendly motels, to 5-star resorts, to condo rentals, there is something for every family and every budget. Heck, you could even rent an RV and drive it to the theme parks if you wanted!

For the purpose of this article we won’t be reviewing RV rental options (great idea though!), but we will go over why you should consider staying at a theme park property vs. a non-theme park property and whether or not renting a condo on Airbnb might make more sense for you.

But, before we jump into those details, it is important to take a step back and identify the needs of your group.

Group Priorities

As with any family or group traveling together, there will be multiple needs/requests/priorities to consider when booking your accommodations.

For example, if you are traveling with children for more than a few days, it might be nice to have a condo with a laundry setup and a kitchen.

Alternatively, if your group is a little bit older and plans to maximize your time in the parks, it might more advantageous to book a smaller hotel room closer to the parks.

Trip Duration

Airbnb Townhouse Orlando
Townhouses are a great option for families looking for extra space. Image Credit: Airbnb

One of the first and most important factors to consider when you start your research is how long your trip is going to be.

For vacations longer than 5 days, especially with a larger group, it may make more sense to rent a condo or house on Airbnb.

By doing so, your family will be able to take advantage of onsite laundry, a kitchen to prepare meals (big money saver), and be able to spread out more comfortably. Not to mention that the cost will be much less compared to booking multiple hotel rooms for a week or more, especially if you aren’t paying with points.

Of course, that is not a one-size-fits-all answer, as there are plenty of amazing hotels in the Orlando area where spending a week would be more than a pleasure (I’m looking at you Four Seasons)!

If you are only in town for a quick trip, certainly a hotel would be more convenient.

For example, my family and I found ourselves in Orlando for 2 days, thanks to a creative layover, and we opted to stay at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, which is an Official Walt Disney World Resort. While it wasn’t the cheapest option for us to use our Hilton Honors points at (and they charge for parking 🙄), it did provide us with a free shuttle to the parks and Extra Magic Hours at Epcot. These are perks we were happy to pay for to help us maximize our time at Mickey’s house. 

Hot Tip: By paying with points we avoided a $45 per day resort fee. These fees can really add up for big groups staying multiple nights. 

How Big Is Your Group?

large family group orlando
Renting a house on Airbnb was easier and cheaper for our large group compared to a hotel. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

This is another obvious one that can have a major impact on your budget — how many people are coming to Disney?

If it is just you and your small family or 4 or less, a basic hotel room is probably going to be fine. If you think you would benefit from a small kitchen, there are plenty of vacation clubs by Marriott, Hilton, Disney, etc. that have awesome suites at very competitive prices.

Obviously, when you start adding people to your group total, you can start to consider renting a house or condo for everyone to share. As I mentioned earlier, this can be a great way to cut down on costs while at the same time getting some extra perks like free laundry and a kitchen. You will also likely save on parking and resort fees if you were considering a hotel closer to the parks as an alternative.

Budget

While I did list the other factors first, I suppose your budget is actually the most important factor of all. If money is no issue, you will probably be quite happy putting up your extended family at the Ritz Carlton for 2 weeks, no? Regardless of whether you are paying for your stay with cash or points, you will have to weigh some costs/benefits.

On the higher end of things, you could stay at an official Disney property like the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, known for its grandeur and fine dining (you can even rent out the house yacht if you need), which starts at $600+ per night. Or, you could save a few dollars by staying in Kissimmee at a Howard Johnson for about $30 night.

Bottom Line: There are literally 10,000 lodging options on Hotels.com in the Orlando area when you consider hotel, motel, and private home rentals. Regardless of your budget, you should be able to find something that fits your family’s needs. 

Schedule

Hilton Bonnet Creek Pool Orlando
We take pool days very seriously in our family! Image Credit: Chris Hassan

Now that you have somewhat of an idea of the accommodation landscape, you can start to factor in your schedule while in Orlando. Do you plan on visiting the parks every day? Do you prefer to take some “off days” by the pool? By mapping out your daily schedule, you can identify what might be selling points for you and your family.

If you all plan on being at the parks from the rope drop to the grand finale of the fireworks each day, you probably don’t need to be paying for an elaborate resort with pools, golf courses, restaurants… and resort fees! On the other hand, if you plan on scheduling in some days by the pool, you should probably be staying somewhere you would enjoy lounging around. Hint: it might not be the Howard Johnson!

Priorities

Traveling with family or any group, you will quickly realize that different people will have different priorities. Some people would prefer to find the cheapest hotel room available and spend their money at the parks, while others may feel it worthwhile to splurge a little in order to have a more comfortable trip.

As you begin your research, you will start to notice that while some hotels may seem comparable at first glance, once you begin the booking process there are other perks (and fees) you may not have been expecting.

For example, you may find a hotel that you like but it has a $30 per day resort fee. At first, this may put you off, but after digging a little bit more, you may realize it could be worth it for your family. Maybe this resort fee covers breakfast and a shuttle to the park each day, which could easily offset the cost.

You will need to weigh your priorities. It is possible that your group doesn’t want to eat breakfast at the hotel and finds it more convenient to drive to the parks instead of taking the shuttle. Now that $30 fee is looking really expensive.

Hot Tip: In general, hotels that are closer to the parks will charge some sort of resort fee as well as a daily parking fee, often because they will offer a shuttle to the park. 

Rental Car

Minnie Van Orlando Lyft
You can order you own Minnie Van by using the Lyft app in Orlando. Image Credit: Disney

Piggybacking on the priorities topic, renting a car is a hot topic.

I, personally, always rent a car when we travel to Orlando, mostly because for convenience since we tend to be heavy packers and have lots of luggage with us, but also for flexibility — especially with 2 kids in car seats.

However, I know plenty of people who come to Orlando and never rent a car and love it. If you are staying at a Walt Disney Resort you can take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express airport shuttle and complimentary park transportation.

If you are staying off-property, especially on International Drive, you can certainly get by using taxis, Ubers/Lyfts, and public transportation.

By not renting a car you can also avoid parking fees at some of the resorts and daily parking at the parks.

Hot Tip: The Minnie Van is a fun way to get around Orlando and you can request them via the Lyft app. Just a heads up that they are about 3x the cost of a normal Lyft ride. 

Greater Orlando Area

If you are already considering staying off-property (at a non-Disney or Universal hotel), you will probably start seeing other towns pop up as potential places to stay.

While staying in Orlando will generally keep you closest to the parks (although not always the case!), there are plenty of alternatives that may give you a greater bang for your buck when it comes to daily rates.

And, the way I see it, as long as you are loading your family into the car, adding an extra 10 minutes to the drive probably isn’t going to be a deal-breaker if it means a cheaper and more comfortable place to stay.

Lake Buena Vista

If you are an Orlando first-timer, it might be worth your time to get settled in Lake Buena Vista which is in Southwest Orlando.

Known as the official mailing address for Disney World, this is where you will find some of the world’s most famous theme parks including Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot, as well as Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures.

Just 25 minutes from Orlando International Airport and minutes from the parks, it is hard to go wrong here.

This is likely where you would stay if you wanted to stay at an official park resort like the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal or Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Hot Tip: When you stay at an official park hotel or resort you get extra perks like extra hours at the park. Not only are you going to be closer to the parks, but you can also even beat the crowds without being there for the “rope drop.” 

Kissimmee

Staying in the same southwest region of Orlando, you will likely see Kissimmee pop up a lot during your research. Located just outside of Lake Buena Vista you will find quite the range of accommodations available while still being quite close to the parks.

This is a great location because you are still close to the action while saving some significant cash or points compared to being right at the parks.

There are plenty of nice resorts such as the Margaritaville Resort as well as more budget-friendly options like the Days Inn by Wyndham to choose from. You will also start to see more rental property options popup on sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.

Celebration

Celebration Florida
Celebration, Florida. Image Credit: The Architects Newspaper

Celebration is one of the most unique and charming little towns you will come across, mostly because it was originally designed by Disney as a quintessential American neighborhood.

Located south of Orlando, right near Kissimmee, you are just a short drive from the theme parks thanks to a straight shot down World Drive which connects you to Walt Disney World. 

Although this cute little town may feel exclusive, you can still find some great deals on hotels. For example, Marriott has the Bohemian Hotel Celebration, which is a category 5 Autograph Collection property, with nights starting at 30,000 points.

Even more budget-friendly is the 3-star Baymont by Wyndham Celebration which has rates starting at $60 per night.

Downtown Orlando

Like many downtown areas, you will find a nice concentration of shopping, restaurants, businesses, and hotels in Downtown Orlando while only being 20 minutes from the parks.

With plenty of options to keep a family busy outside of the parks, Downtown Orlando is a great option if members of your party don’t plan on hitting the parks with you every day and want to do some exploring by foot. Although you may be more susceptible to higher prices if a convention is in town or if the city is busy compared to some of the outskirt locations, there are still plenty of solid hotel options to chose from.

Thanks to hotels like Aloft Orlando Downtown and Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown, if you have points, you will have somewhere to stay.

International Drive

Icon Ferris Wheel Orlando
The Wheel at ICON Park. Image Credit: ICON Park Orlando

While not technically a neighborhood, I-Drive (as the locals call it), is Orlando’s version of the Vegas Strip. Here you will find an incredible amount of hotels, restaurants, shops, and attractions lined up for 11 miles, so it’s definitely a location worth considering.

Whether you want a ride on the Orlando Eye or head down to SeaWorld, getting settled on International Drive could be a smart move. Thanks to public transportation and (often) free hotel shuttles to the parks, you could get away with not needing a rental car.

If you are lucky, you could even find yourself a partner hotel like the Hilton which will get you early admission to the parks at Universal — a perk generally reserved for hotels closer to the parks.

Davenport

Davenport probably won’t be at the top of many lists, but I will add it here as a representative for the dozens of other towns in the area that could easily suit your family.

I chose Davenport because that is where we rented an Airbnb earlier this year when we traveled as a group of 12 adults and children. We did our due diligence with the research, and after deciding a rental property would fit our needs better, we ended up 30 minutes south of the parks in Davenport.

Like most of Florida, there are new developments popping up everywhere. We got a beautiful, brand-new, 4-bedroom condo with a pool for half the price of some of the options we were considering in Kissimmee.

Sure, 30 minutes may sound like a long drive, but when you consider that it takes 20 minutes to get to Disney from Downtown Orlando, 30 minutes seems worth the trade-off if you can find something you like.

Just like Davenport, there are plenty of other communities in the area that can provide outsized value if the circumstances are right.

Park Plans

If you have been following our tips, you should have a pretty good idea of which parks you plan on visiting during your trip and where in the Orlando area you will be driving to each day.

Walt Disney World

emily hassan enjoying a disney treat
Emily enjoying a classic Disney treat! Image Credit: Chris Hassan

Planning on only hitting Disney parks each day? Maybe it’s worth it to splurge on a Disney hotel so that you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and other perks.

Heck, staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is almost as much fun as going to the park itself!

Universal Studios

If your family is planning on spending more time at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, it might be worthwhile to look at some of their partner hotels.

Hotels like the Loews Royal Pacific Resort are within walking distance of the parks so you can head over early before the crowds, enjoy the day, have dinner at Universal CityWalk, and then walk back to your room.

SeaWorld

Excited to swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove or ride the Manta roller coaster? Consider staying nearby!

If you have some Marriott Bonvoy points to burn, there is a Renaissance right across the street with a fun, mini-water park for the kids.

Prefer spending Hilton Honors points? No Problem. There is a DoubleTree by Hilton right next door with 28 acres of family fun.

Multiple Parks

Toddler with Minion doll at Universal Orlando
Our family is a big fan of both Disney and Universal. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

If you are like me and my family, you probably like a mix of all of the parks. We generally stick to Disney and Universal. That means either staying close to one of those parks, or neither.

As I have made clear, I have no problem adding 10+ minutes to our commute if that means more bang for my buck when it comes to lodging.

While we did stay at an official Disney hotel on our last trip, my wife and I both agreed that we would probably choose a different location next time. The Hilton Bonnet Creek that we stayed at was excellent, but it was about 12,000 Hilton Honors points more expensive than the Parc Soleil by Hilton Grand Vacations that we had stayed at (and loved) previously.

The kicker is that the Parc Soleil is a vacation club, so most of the rooms have full kitchens, balconies, and free parking. At only 2 miles away from Disney, it is easy to see the value.

Bottom Line: There are so many options that you could spend months trying to find the perfect location to match your itinerary. Just do your due diligence and make sure that your family is comfortable. 

Onsite Properties

When you see those magical commercials for Walt Disney World with kids being greeted by Mickey at check-in, having breakfast with characters, and then being whisked off to the parks before everyone else — they are probably staying at an official Disney property.

That’s not to say that other hotels don’t offer cute little perks like this, but, like many things, nobody does it better than Disney.

While we did dip into some of the closest properties to the parks above, let’s dig into the details of what each of the big 3 (Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld) offers.

In the interest of keeping this post somewhat brief, I will only be including hotels that are physically on-property instead of hotels that happen to offer official perks. 

Walt Disney World Hotels

Disney actually has over 30 options for official “on-property” hotels. That isn’t even including hotels at Disney Springs and other locations that offer Extra Magic Hours and other perks.

You can find them all here and filter them by preference including if you want to arrive by monorail or the new Skyliner, coming fall 2019. For now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular options for families.

The iconic Swan and Dolphin Hotels - Orlando Florida
The iconic Swan and Dolphin Hotels. Image Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

The Swan is one of the most popular hotels at Disney for many reasons, but for the purpose of this site, it is due to the fact that you can redeem Marriott points to stay there. This is 1 of 2 Disney hotels where that is possible, the second being the sister hotel, the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.

The Swan is branded as a Westin hotel and has over a dozen dining options on-site as well as 5 pools and a 3-acre grotto. If you are paying with Marriott points you can expect to pay about 50,000 per night when standard rooms are available.

Rates start around $180 per night.

Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

The sister of the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, the Dolphin shares many aspects including the dining and recreation options.

This property is branded as a category 6 Sheraton, so you can also expect to pay about 50,000 Marriott points per night when standard rooms are available.

Rates start around $180 per night.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Closest to Epcot, this island-themed resort will transport you to the Caribbean with just a short ride on the new Skyliner.

With zero-entry pools, water slides, fishing, shopping, and characteristics from Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad, and Aruba, you may find yourself having 2 vacations in 1!

Rates start at a very reasonable $205 per night. 

Hot Tip: The new Skyliner gondola is slated to open in September 2019, and will be a great way to get to and around the parks!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort

Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge
It’s not every day that you get to see a giraffe outside of your balcony! Image Credit: Chris Hassan

Arguably the most exciting resort in all of Orlando, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort puts you in the heart of the African bush.

You will be surrounded by a lush landscape with over 200 animals throughout the property. Add in a great pool with a waterslide and award-winning dining, and it would be hard to not have a great time at this resort.

Rates start at $350 per night for a parking lot view but jump to well over $500 per night if you want a view of the savannah from your room.

Disney’s All-Star Resorts

Disney offers 3 different “All-Star” Resorts. These are themed resorts including Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, and Disney’s All-Star Music Resort.

These are a rare budget hotel under the Disney umbrella, and they get excellent reviews assuming you are going in with the right expectations. The hotel rooms are basic but modern. The dining is more of a food court than a fancy restaurant and the pool areas are family fun-based as opposed to a relaxing resort-style pool.

That being said, that is what a lot of people traveling to Disney are looking for, and you can’t beat the price and location.

Rates start at only $100!

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

A bit of a step up in terms of comfort and luxury, compared to the All-Star Resorts, the Coronado Springs Resort has just been renovated and has been getting excellent reviews.

With a Spanish and Mexican architectural vibe, the resort doesn’t scream “Disney” but still performs in the customer service areas. There is a club lounge, multiple pools, and a tapas restaurant on-site to keep you busy while away from the parks.

Reasonable rates, Disney perks, and an upscale feel make this an option worth considering for families and couples.

Rates start at $200 per night. 

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Take a step under the palm trees and relax at this South Pacific-inspired Disney property. Located along the monorail, you are just minutes from the parks while feeling miles away from everything.

The Polynesian now offers 2 renovated pools, fishing, campfire activities, and movies under the stars on top of some excellent dining options. You can have a character breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at ‘Ohana as well as grab a Dole Whip without leaving the building!

All that sounds great, but expect to pay for it!

Rates start at $500 per night. 

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Image Credit: Disney

One of Disney’s most iconic properties is the Grand Floridian. The classic Victorian design draws you in where there is a live orchestra serenading guests in the grand lobby. Just one stop away from Magic Kingdom on the monorail, you can even enjoy the fireworks from the hotel lawn.

While there is a spa for adults, this is also the newest Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique location for any aspiring princesses in your party. And don’t forget the food! Here you can find some excellent dining options including the famous, 5-diamond, fine dining restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s.

Rates start at $600 per night.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Think Pacific Northwest, national parks, big log cabins, and bubbling brooks and you will be picturing Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Grab a rocking chair and relax or head off down the many nature trails on site. With plenty of outdoor activities and hearty dining options, you will be sure to work up an appetite and satisfy it as well!

While this may bring up memories of camping, the price will remind you that this is still a very nice hotel!

Rates start around $400 per night.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

If you have ever taken the Monorail to Magic Kingdom, you have already been inside this hotel. The Monorail actually passes through the lobby of the Contemporary Resort, which is pretty cool.

Besides being walking distance from Magic Kingdom, you will have some excellent dining options (with incredible views) as well as pools with a waterslide and plenty of other resort activities.

While certainly not the cheapest option, all things considered (mostly the proximity to Magic Kingdom) the price is somewhat reasonable for a Disney property.

Rates start at $420 per night.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

If you are looking for some relaxation time before and after the parks, Disney’s Beach Club Resort may be a good choice for you.

With multiple pool options for the kids, whirlpool spas for the adults, fine dining, and plenty of activities, this New England-style resort is a charming choice for families.

It is also conveniently located within walking distance of Epcot and a boat ride from Hollywood Studios, as well as one of the stops on the Skyliner opening this fall.

Rates start at $411 per night.

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

The sister hotel of the Beach Club, the Yacht Club sticks with the New England nautical vibe and adds some luxurious features as well.

With plenty of dining options (everything from a seafood lounge to grab a lobster roll, a waterside bar, and a classic steakhouse) you won’t go hungry here.

You won’t get bored here either thanks to pools, cabanas, mini-golf, fishing, tennis, boat rentals and more! Not to mention you are still within walking distance to Epcot.

Rates start at $411 per night. 

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Sticking in the same neighborhood and ocean-theme, the BoardWalk Inn is inspired by the good ol’ days of Atlantic City and classic boardwalks.

Think Coney Island-style boardwalk with carnival games, seafood joints, and saltwater taffy just a short walk from Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

Of course, you can expect some fun when it comes to the carnival-themed pool which has its own 200-foot waterslide!

Rates start at $450 per night. 

Bottom Line: Disney has A LOT of options throughout Orlando and almost all of the hotels listed here also have Villas available which offer more space for families to share. 

Universal Hotels

While Universal doesn’t have as big of a footprint as Disney, they do offer some excellent lodging options often at a much lower cost than a comparable hotel at Disney.

Hot Tip: If you are a Universal fan and are planning on purchasing a Universal Express Unlimited pass, consider staying at one of Universal’s Premier hotels which gives them to guests complimentary — a savings of $129 per person!

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort — Surfside Inn and Suites

Universal, in general, tends to be more budget-friendly than Disney and the Surfside Inn and Suites is no exception. A fun, surf-vibe design will have you and your family feeling laid back and ready to vacation in no time.

The onsite cafe has a menu for everyone (with nothing on the menu costing over $12), there’s a surfboard-shaped pool out back, and a game room for some extra fun.

Like all of the official Universal hotels, guests will receive free bus transportation to the park and early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Rates start at $85 per night. 

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

A more “serene” option, the Aventura Hotel offers guests a bit of refuge from the hustle and bustle of busy park days — without being too far removed, physically. Within walking distance of Volcano Bay and with views of all 3 parks, you are close to the action while being able to relax in modern comfort.

Let the kids hang out in the pool and splash zone at Kids Camp and then head up to the rooftop bar for some evening cocktails. Guests also receive complimentary transportation and benefits to some local golf courses as well.

Rates start at $120 per night. 

Universal’s Cabana Beach Resort

Loews Cabana Hotel
Step back in time at this retro hotel. Image Credit: Loews Hotels

The fun, retro styling of the Cabana Beach Resort will remind you of classic Florida resorts from the ’50s and ’60s but with modern amenities.

A pair of massive pools, a lazy river, a great food court, and a bowling alley will certainly provide most families with plenty of options to keep busy.

This resort is also within walking distance of Volcano Bay and does come with complimentary transportation to the other Universal parks.

Rates start at $120 per night. 

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

The Carribean-inspired Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will have you relaxing in no time. With waterfalls and steel drums serenading you during your stay, you will be on island time in no time.

Take a dip in the 16,000 square foot pool with a real sand beach, or chill out in the hot tubs or cabanas.

This resort is also within walking distance of Volcano Bay and comes with complimentary water taxi or bus transportation to the other Universal parks.

Rates start at $168 per night. 

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

The Loews Royal Pacific Resort is one of Universal’s Premier hotels which means that guests receive all of the other perks, as well as Universal Express Unlimited passes. These are essentially Universal’s version of the FastPass+ except that you don’t need to schedule your rides, you can just show up and head to the front of the line. Normally, these cost $129 per day, so that is quite the value.

The resort gets great reviews thanks to its gorgeous South Seas motif which includes a lagoon-style pool with a white sand beach and plenty of palm trees to keep you cool. The dining scene is also a standout with a Minions character breakfast, a luau in the evenings, and plenty of other options throughout the day.

Guests can choose to get to the parks by walking, taking a boat, or a bus.

Rates start at $228 per night. 

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

The Hard Rock Hotel is another one of Universal’s Premier hotels, so you will get all of the perks by staying here.

Of course, you will also get the famous Hard Rock treatment with themed rooms, fun dining options, and a great pool scene — which includes underwater music.

Guests can choose to get to the parks by walking, taking a boat, or a bus.

Rates start at $252 per night. 

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Loews Portofino Hotel Orlando
Italy or Orlando? Image Credit: Loews Hotels

The final hotel in the Universal collection, the Loews Portofino, is an Italian seaside-themed destination full of good food and good times.

Guests give it great reviews for families thanks to the delicious Italian dining options and multiple pool options (including a Roman aqueduct-themed waterslide).

The fact that it is also a Universal Premier hotel means that a family of 4 receives 4 Universal Express Unlimited passes, a value of $516! 

Being within walking distance of the parks means that a mid-day break is always an option as well.

Rates start at $272 per night. 

Bottom Line: Official Universal hotels can offer some serious bang for your buck, especially if you were planning on purchasing Universal Express Unlimited passes separately. 

SeaWorld Hotels

SeaWorld has 16 official partner hotels, and the best part is that you can book 15 of them with points from some of the major hotel chains!

Some of the official partner hotels are actually on International Drive, so we will focus on some of the best options right next to the park.

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

Renaissance SeaWorld Orlando
Renaissance SeaWorld Orlando. Image Credit: Marriott

Located right across the street from SeaWorld, this Marriott property offers something for the whole family.

Oversized rooms, a water park for toddlers and teens, a spa, and 6 dining options, the Renaissance is a solid choice whether you are paying in cash or points.

This is a category 5 Marriott property, so you can expect to spend about 35,000 points, but that could fluctuate by 5,000 when the variable award chart kicks in in September 2019.

Rates start at about $110 per night. 

DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando

Also located within walking distance of SeaWorld, this Hilton property boasts 28 acres of resort activities including 2 pools and mini-golf. With an onsite pizzeria and their signature warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in, you won’t go hungry here.

This hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle to both SeaWorld and Universal properties, as well as a shuttle to Disney for an additional fee.

If you want to pay with your Hilton Honors points you can expect to pay about 26,000 points per night when standard rooms are available. 

Rates start around $74 per night. 

Fairfield Inn and Suites

While arguably not the most luxurious accommodations, the Fairfield Inn and Suites can be a solid option for families on who need a little extra space.

This recently renovated property is within walking distance of SeaWorld and offers a pool, game room, and complimentary breakfast. There is also a bar and grill on-site if you are hungry after the parks.

This is a category 4 Marriott property, so you can expect to spend about 25,000 points, but that could fluctuate by 5,000 when the variable award chart kicks in in September.

Rates start around $79 per night.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites offers some great value whether you are paying cash or with IHG points.

Guests can spread out in their suites complete with wet bars, Keurig coffee machines, microwaves, and refrigerators. A great resort-style pool and free breakfast while still being within walking distance of SeaWorld is a great combo.

If you want to pay with your IHG points you can expect to pay about 30,000 points per night when standard rooms are available.

Rates start around $85 per night. 

Hilton Grand Vacation at SeaWorld

Hilton Grand Vacation properties in Orlando are some of our favorite hotels thanks to the average room size and the fact that you don’t pay resort fees when booking with points.

The Hilton Grand Vacation at SeaWorld offers studios with kitchenettes, or 1 and 2-bedroom suites with full kitchens and balconies. The 33-acre resort has 3 pools, 5 whirlpools, 2 kids wading pools, and a waterfall feature. There is also a Children’s Activity Center, a playground, shuffleboard and tennis courts and much more.

If you want to pay with your Hilton Honors points you can expect to pay about 32,000 points per night when standard rooms are available. 

Rates start around $87 per night. 

Offsite Properties

If you were to search for somewhere to stay in Orlando on Hotels.com you get about 10,000 search results, and as you could guess, most of those are offsite hotels.

While there are plenty of great, independent hotels available, since we love points here at Upgraded Points, I am going to highlight some solid options from some of the major hotel chains.

Marriott Properties

Marriott offers over 90 options for hotels and resorts in the Orlando area. You could stay at a Courtyard for as little as 17,000 Marriott points per night or indulge at the Ritz-Carlton for 50,000 — which is actually a really good deal!

Hot Tip: See our guide on the best ways to earn lots of Marriott points to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses!

Here are a few options worth considering that I haven’t mentioned yet:

Residence Inn Near Universal Orlando

Residence Inns are almost always a good idea for families. Extra space, full kitchens, and free breakfast are lifesavers for parents traveling with young kids.

This property offers a free shuttle to SeaWorld and Universal as well as free parking and a decent pool.

Since it is a category 4 property it will only set you back 25,000 Marriott points per night.

Rates start around $115 per night.

Marriott’s Grande Vista

The Grand Vista is part of the Marriott Vacation Club, which means that all of the rooms are villas with full kitchens, laundry facilities, and living rooms.

The lakefront property is gorgeous and has a beautiful pool and multiple dining options.

Since it is a category 5 property, you can expect to pay around 35,000 points per night.

Rates start around $130 per night.

JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

JW Marriott Orlando
JW Marriott Orlando. Image Credit: Marriott.com

The JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton share a beautiful piece of property in Orlando and both are excellent values, especially compared to what you would pay to stay at a similar property in other cities.

Guests at the JW will have access to a stunning pool area with a lazy river, a world-class golf course, and excellent dining.

This category 6 property will set you back about 50,000 points, but consider paying cash if the price is right.

Rates start around $150 per night. 

Hyatt Properties

Hyatt has a much smaller footprint in Orlando compared to Marriott with only 10 hotels in the area. While there aren’t any luxury hotels like Park Hyatt or Andaz, there are still some solid options for families.

Hot Tip: Save on cash and use points instead! Check out our guide on boosting your Hyatt points balance.

Hyatt House across from Universal Orlando Resort

Just one mile from Universal, it is possible to walk to the park, but the hotel does offer a free shuttle as well.

This hotel offers modern rooms with kitchenettes, a nice pool, and free breakfast for guests.

If you want to pay with Hyatt points, a Studio Kitchenette Suite with 2 beds and a pullout sofa will cost you 12,000 points.

Rates start around $140 per night. 

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport

If you are getting in late or need to catch an early flight, the Hyatt Regency at MCO is a really nice option.

The rooms have been recently renovated, offer Hyatt Grand Beds, and 65″ TVs. So even though you are about 30 minutes from the parks, you will be very comfortable.

Standard rooms will cost you 12,000 points, which is a good deal.

Rates start around $189 per night. 

Hot Tip: With runway views from their soundproof rooms to a rooftop heated pools, this hotel is also heaven for #AvGeeks. 

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Cypress
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress pool. Image Credit: Hyatt

This may be the crown jewel of Hyatts in Orlando, and the reviews back it up.

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is a sprawling resort set on 1,500 acres with a private lake, a golf course, tennis courts, a spa, and a gorgeous lagoon-style pool.

Updated rooms (some are even “bi-level”) come with balconies and chaise lounges, and the hotel offers shuttle service to all of the parks. The shuttle cost is included in the $35 per day resort fee.

The food and beverage options aren’t lacking here either, whether you want a nice steak, some sushi, or a craft cocktail, you won’t have to look far.

If you want to pay with Hyatt points you will only need to fork over 12,000 per night.

Rates start at $149 per night. 

Hilton Properties

Like Marriott, Hilton has quite an impressive portfolio of properties in the Orlando area.

With options from DoubleTree to Hilton Vacation Clubs to a Waldorf, there is something for everyone.

Hampton Inn Orlando/Lake Buena Vista

Just minutes from the main gates of Disney courtesy of a free shuttle, this Hampton Inn can be a great value if you are not looking for a luxury property.

The rooms are modern, offer free Wi-Fi, and come with free cookies in the evening! With complimentary breakfast featuring Mickey Mouse waffles, it is easy to see why this is a popular option with families on the run.

If you have Hilton Honors points, you can expect to pay around 20,000 points per night.

Rates start around $75 per night. 

Parc Soleil by Hilton Grand Vacations

The Parc Soleil is one of our favorite resorts in Orlando and that is because, like most Hilton Grand Vacation properties, it offers outsized value.

This property offers studios with kitchenettes, as well as 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom suites with full kitchens, balconies, and in-unit laundry. Having a full kitchen and the option to wash the kids’ clothes is a major luxury when traveling as a family.

The resort itself is beautiful with a great zero-entry pool, waterslide, whirlpools, a playground, and grills if you want to cook outside for your family.

Free parking and no resort fees when you pay with points make this property stand out from the bunch.

Studio suites start around 40,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Rates start around $110 per night. 

Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Waldorf Astoria pool Orlando
Waldorf Astoria pool. Image Credit: Hilton

The most luxurious option for Hiltons in Orlando is the Waldorf Astoria. This property actually shares a lot of features with its neighbor, the Hilton at Bonnet Creek, where my family and I stayed recently.

The Waldorf is also an official Walt Disney World hotel, which means that guests can receive some excellent perks including FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance, Extra Magic Hours, and a free luxury coach transportation option to and from the parks.

At the hotel itself, you can relax by 2 serene pools with cabanas, poolside service, a golf course, and a kids club. Guests also have access to a lazy river next door at the Hilton.

With 12 dining options, you will not go hungry. And if you are looking for the best of the best, the #1 rated restaurant in Orlando (the Bull & Bear) is actually onsite.

You can stay in a standard room for about 58,000 Hilton Honors points.

Rates start around $195 per night. 

IHG Properties

IHG also has a pretty solid presence in Orlando with over 30 properties. While none of them are very aspirational properties like an InterContinental, there are still some excellent options and great value to be had.

Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites — Waterpark

Holiday Inn Orlando
This isn’t your average Holiday Inn! Image Credit: IHG

As you might be able to guess from the name, this Holiday Inn has its very own waterpark onsite and all of the rooms are suites — both of which are a big plus for families.

Choose from a 1=, 2-, or 3-bedroom suite and then enjoy your time by the pool and poolside bar after your day at the park, or head to the arcade or food court for a snack. On top of that, kids eat free at any time during the day at any of the on-property restaurants!

There is also a complimentary shuttle available to Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld.

Suites start at 30,000 IHG points per night.

Rates start at $60 per night. 

Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort

IHG is also in the vacation club game, and they have done a great job with this Holiday Inn at Orange Lake Resort. Located in Kissimmee, it is just minutes from Disney and the other parks.

Just like the other vacation clubs, you will have options from studios to 3-bedroom suites with full kitchens and laundry units.

This property gets excellent reviews because it has so much to offer, and it is really big. So big that they actually have an internal shuttle to help you get around the property!

Boasting 8 restaurants, 7 pools with waterslides, a massive lazy river, 4 golf courses, 3 arcades, 3 fitness centers, 2 mini-golf courses, and a kids program, you might forget about the theme parks right next door!

Guests love the fact that you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the rooms but complain that sometimes it can be a long walk to the pool depending on where you have been assigned.

A 2-bedroom villa will cost you about 40,000 IHG points per night.

Rates start around $110 per night for a standard room. 

Crowne Plaza Orlando — Universal Boulevard

The Crowne Plaza Orlando is located right near International Drive which will put you within easy access to all of the parks as well as other Orlando sites like the Orlando Eye.

With 2 pools available, 1 indoor and 1 outdoor (heated), be sure to swing by the Tiki Bar to grab a cocktail and relax in the Florida heat.

There is also a bar and grill onsite, but since you are so close to so many other restaurants, it may be worth it to go out and explore.

A standard king bedroom will set you back 35,000 IHG points per night.

Rates start at $115 per night. 

Home Rentals

As much as I love staying in and trying new hotels, renting a house or a condo just makes sense in so many situations, especially if you are traveling with multiple families.

When we have opted for renting a condo with friends, collectively we have saved almost 50% compared to booking hotel rooms individually. Add in the fact that there is always free parking, laundry, full kitchen, and often your own pool, and it is hard to argue against it.

Rental Websites

It feels like everyone is getting into the home rental game — even Marriott is jumping onboard. In Orlando, competition is fierce as there seems to be an endless supply of condos on the market competing against the traditional hotel models.

As always there are some big-name players, but there are also some local vendors that may be worth looking into if you have time to do your research.

If not, here are a few options to help you get your search started:

Final Thoughts

family memories at disney world
Creating family memories is what it is all about! Image Credit: Chris Hassan

If I have made one thing clear, it is that you will have plenty of options when you decide to start doing research on where to stay in Orlando!

Keeping everyone in your party happy will be the priority and with the examples laid out in this article, you should be able to accomplish that.

Whether you decide to splurge a little bit and stay at an official park hotel, cash in your points so that you can pay as little out-of-pocket as possible, or rent a house so that you can spread out, the most important thing is that you will be traveling and creating memories with your friends and family.

Do you have a favorite hotel in Orlando? Let us know in the comments!


FAQ

Where should I stay in Orlando?

With so many options, there is no right or wrong answer! Find somewhere that gets good reviews and is within your budget and you will probably be more than happy!

Where should I stay when visiting Disney parks?

Disney offers plenty of hotel options very close to the park that come with some excellent benefits. Scroll up to see some of our favorites.

Where should I stay when visiting Universal parks?

Universal has some excellent hotel partners, but if you want real perks, look at staying at one of the Loews hotels. The Premier hotels come with Universal Express Passes for your whole family!

Where should I stay when visiting SeaWorld parks?

SeaWorld has some great options, often within walking distance of the parks. Scroll up to see which ones you can book with points.

Do I need a rental car in Orlando?

If you stay at a hotel that offers a shuttle to the park, you probably could survive without a rental car. Thanks to delivery services and full-service hotels, you might not need to leave the hotel property.

Is it cheaper to stay offsite at Disney?

In most cases it is probably cheaper to stay offsite, however, the Disney All-Star resorts are quite reasonably priced.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

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