With so many wonderful resorts and hotels in Orlando it can be hard to select the right one for your family. To make the most of your time it is ideal for your hotel to be near the theme parks. Whether you’re heading to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, or a bit of it all, you have plenty of options.
I’ve spent my entire life in Orlando, and spent over a decade working in the tourism industry. And with that, one of my favorite indulges is spending a night or two in an Orlando hotel. So take it from a local expert, here are the best Orlando hotels for families close to the theme parks.
Best Hotels for Families at Walt Disney World
Let’s start off with hotels at Walt Disney World that are great for families. Every one of these hotels comes with perks including early entry into the theme parks, as well as complimentary transportation to all the Disney theme parks, water park(s), and Disney Springs.
There are two types of hotels on Disney property. Those that are owned and operated by Disney, and those that are not but have an agreement with Disney to have many of the same perks. These Lake Buena Vista hotels are budget-friendly, more on that in a moment.
Transportation at Disney-owned hotels is the best available. The buses are more frequent and drop off is at the terminals closest to each park’s entrance. Plus, many of them have magical transportation options like water taxis, monorail, and the Disney Skyliner.
Disney’s Art of Animation
Best for: Family suites and Skyliner access to EPCOT & Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Enjoy all the perks of a Disney owned hotel plus the theming of Disney animated movies your kids will love. The majority of the rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation are family suites, with a seperate sleeping area for parents. Plus, you can hop on the Disney Skyliner for access to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
There are multiple pools at Art of Animation. The main pool is full activity though it does lack a water slide.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Best for: Great pool and Skyliner access to EPCOT & Disney’s Hollywood Studios
For a tropical atmoshpere, multiple pools, and convenient transportation, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a great choice for families. The rooms are a little larger than the Value resorts and there are more dining choices. These features make it one of the best family hotels at Disney World.
You can hop on the Disney Skyliner for access to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it is a direct route since Caribbean Beach Station is the hub for the Disney Skyliner. This resort is a bit spread out so be prepared for some walking.
The main outdoor pool has a small water slide and has Spanish fort theming, giving it a slight water park feel. There are additional small quiet pools at each section of the guest room buildings.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Best for: Southern charm and boat transportation to Disney Springs
Beloved by many fans, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is wonderful for families. The pool has a waterslide and there are smaller quiet pools around the resort too.
The grounds of the resort make for a lovely stroll as you head to and from your room, and you can walk over to Disney’s French Quarter Resort to change things up. A relaxing boat ride takes you to Disney Springs when you’re ready for shopping or a delicious brunch.
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Category: Deluxe Villa
Best for: Spacious accomodations and relaxation
Although it is a Disney Vacation Club resort, Old Key West is available for any Disney guest to book a stay. These are the largest Deluxe Villas offered by Disney.
You can book a studio all the way up to a three bedroom grand villa, perfect if you’ve got multiple families or multiple generations together. This laid-back resort is a bit spread out, but endless activities await.
Enjoy the convenience of a washer and dryer when you book a one bedroom or larger villa. And the large soaking tubs are great for little ones, or for adults to have a soak after a long day at the theme parks.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Best for: Tropical Disney ambiance and access to Magic Kingdom
This resort is one of the most romantic places at Walt Disney World, and yet it is also perfect for families. With new Moana details in the rooms and one of the best pools on Disney property, your kids are sure to love it.
The tropical grounds are gorgeous. Bask in the magic as you soak in the hot tubs and main pool with a view of Cinderella Castle in the distance. Plus, you can access the Magic Kingdom by monorail and by boat.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Best for: Classic Walt Disney World ambiance and access to Magic Kingdom
It is one of the most iconic buildings at the Walt Disney World Resort, with the monorail running right through it. The Contemporary isn’t very whimsical, but in recent years the decor has changed to pay homage to the history of Walt Disney World.
Kids will love seeing the monorail run right through the building, and it’s the closest hotel to the Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Best for: Grotto pool, dining, Marriott points, and access to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
Right in the very center of Walt Disney World stand three hotels that make up one incredible resort complex. Of the three, the Walt Disney World Dolphin is the most family friendly, though you can’t go wrong with the Swan or Swan Reserve either.
The Dolphin is the largest and houses the most dining options, and is closest to the grotto pool. Plus the spa is truly immersive and rejuvenating.
You can walk or take a boat to EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Best for: Resort amenities, proximity to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
Located on the edge of Disney property, the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is part of a magical neighborhood of resorts. The resort pool is loved by families of all ages, plus there are family acitvities throughout the day. You can enjoy complimentary bus transportation to the Disney theme parks too.
Best Hotels for Families at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando has grown over the years to multiple resorts and hotels. Once upon a time their focus was on Premier resorts. However, there is now a great collection of family-friendly resorts. Each Universal Orlando hotel includes complimentary transportation to CityWalk and the theme parks, and some are even within walking distance. You also receive early entry into the parks each morning.
Although I only included one Premier resort in this list of family-friendly hotels in Orlando, you may be interested in the family themed rooms at some of the Universal Orlando Premier Hotels.
These rooms decorated based on the hotels’ theme and are available in limited numbers, and with an upcharge.
- Jurassic World™ Kids’ Suites at Loews Royal Pacific Resort
- Future Rock Star Suites at Hard Rock Hotel
- Despicable Me Kids’ Suites at Loews Portofino Bay Resort
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort
Best for: Beach atmosphere and family suites
If you grew up in Orlando, like I did, you probably remember Wet n’ Wild water park. On this hallowed ground stands Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. This family-friendly resort is comprised of two buildings across the street from each other, with their own pool, lobby, and casual dining.
Although it is just outside the Universal Orlando bubble, it is owned by Universal and includes continous bus service and early morning entry.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Category: Prime Value
Best for: Resort amenities, family suites, pathway to Volcano Bay
If I had to pick the most family-friendly resort at Universal Orlando this would be it! Cabana Bay is nostalgic themed like a classy roadside motel in the 1960’s, but it has a load of modern resort amenities. Two massive pools — one with a waterslide, one with a mini lazy river — a bowling alley, and more await.
If I had to pick the most family-friendly resort at Universal Orlando this would be it!
Cabana Bay is nostalgic themed like a classy roadside motel in the 1960’s, but it has a load of modern resort amenities. Two massive pools — one with a waterslide, one with a mini lazy river — a bowling alley, and more await.
The arcade game room and bowling alley are awesome features that extend the fun for families.
You can book standard rooms or family suites. And there is a convenient walkway leading right into Universal’s Volcano Bay.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Best for: Pool, dining, boat transportation to Universal CityWalk and theme parks
This Caribbean themed resort is wonderful for relaxation, while offering convenient boat transportation to the theme parks, and a walkway to Universal’s Volcano Bay. The standard rooms are comfortable, or you can upgrade to one of the Kids’ Suites.
You may even catch glimpses of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the distance.
The pool here is massive with tropical touches you’d expect at a waterpark. Sapphire Falls is a great choice if you want something nicer that the Value level, but not the full cost of the Premier level resorts.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Best for: Unlimited Express Pass, pool, and boat transportation to Universal CityWalk and theme parks
The biggest perk of Universal’s Premier Resorts is the Unlimited Express Pass. Skip the regular lines at most popular attractions in Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with this included benefit.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort is the most family-friendly of the Premier level hotels at Universal Orlando Resort. Its tropical theme and wonderful pool are immersive.
Enjoy boat transportation to the theme parks, and a walkway to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Best Off-Property Hotels for Families
Caribe Royale Resort
Category: All suite resort
Best for: Spacious suites, resort amenities, proximity to Walt Disney World and SeaWorld
The best feature of Caribe Royale Resort is that every room is a suite. A separate living area makes a great gathering place and transforms into a comfy sleep area for the kids. And the suites were just fully renovated.
The resort pool is lots of fun too, with a separate fenced in wading pool for tiny tikes. There is a resort fee but it includes bike rental, catch and release fishing, game equipment, and more.
Gaylord Palms Resort
Category: Deluxe resort
Best for: Resort amenities, multiple pools, mini water park, and dining
There is so much to do at Gaylord Palms Resort you may decide to just spent your time in Orlando here and not set foot in the theme parks. With such great resort amenities does come a higher price tag. But if you’re looking for a family-friendly resort in Orlando that is immersive and full of things to do, you’ve found it!
Multiple swimming pools include a mini water park, and even if it rains you’ve got a massive atrium area to explore, and lots of dining options.
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
Best for: Resort pool and walking distance to SeaWorld Orlando
I love exploring SeaWorld Orlando with my son, especially because of all the family-friendly fun during the holidays. No matter the time of year, the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld is a great choice. It has aquatic themed so your kids will love the decor everywhere including inside the spacious rooms. The atrium lobby is unique and the pool is refreshing, complete with a fantastic water playground.
Plus, you can walk right across the street to SeaWorld Orlando, and can enjoy a few perks like priority entry to SeaWorld® Orlando and Aquatica Orlando® on select dates, 10% off dining at SeaWorld® Orlando, Aquatica Orlando® and Discovery Cove®, and 10% off merchandise purchases of $50 or more at SeaWorld® Orlando, Aquatica Orlando® and Discovery Cove®.
Drury Inn and Suites near Universal Orlando
Best for: Included breakfast and evening snacks, proximity to Universal Orlando
As a family it can be tough to indulge in an Orlando getaway, and still stay on budget. Drury Inn and Suites near Universal Orlando is a great choice because of the included hot breakfast every morning and the 5:30 Kickback® in the evening, and the complimentary shuttle to Universal Orlando. The rooms are pretty basic, but for sticking to your budget you’ll find this hotel to be just right.
Tips and Information About Family-Friendly Hotels in Orlando
- Double check each hotel’s website for parking fees and / or resort fees.
- If you have a tiny tike with you, check on availability of bed rails or a rollaway bed, and any charges there may be.
- Most hotels have a mini refrigerator or beverage cooler in the room. Microwaves are generally not included.
- Wanna bring your pup with you? Plan a Getaway with Your Pup at These Dog-Friendly Hotels
All images by Dani Meyering