Where to stay in Orlando – Best areas & hotels

por Postcards from IvI

 Orlando is one of the most visited destinations in the United States for being the city where the famous Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks are located. When planning a trip to the theme parks one of the important things is to choose where to stay in Orlando so you can get around easily and have an amazing vacation. 

Where to stay in Orlando?

If you’re visiting Orlando’s theme parks, there are basically 3 options when it comes to accommodation: staying inside Disney World Resort, staying inside Universal or staying outside the theme parks. 

1. BEST HOTELS INSIDE DISNEY WORLD

 Disney has many hotels to choose from. Thy are classified as: value (USD$120 – $200), moderate (USD$200 – $400) or deluxe (USD$ 400 – $700). All the lodging options in Disney can be found at Disney World website, the only page where you can book these hotels. Each hotel is unique and has a theme, like Disney’s Art of Animation Resort where rooms are themed to Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Little Mermaid.

On the other hand, there are other hotels that are within the Disney World Resort and have the same benefits as any Disney hotel but belong to big hotel chains such as Wyndham or Hilton and can be booked in sites like booking.com.

Advantages of staying inside Disney World:

Early access to Fast Pass+ reservation up to 60 days before your arrival (compared to 30 days for people not staying at Disney hotels)

Complimentary transportation to Disney parks. All hotels in Disney have free shuttles to all Disney World parks, which is ideal if you don’t have a car.

Extra Magic Hours. All Disney hotel guests can enjoy extra time at one of the theme parks each day.

Magic Band. All Disney guests get a bracelet that is used to enter the theme parks, unlock your hotel room, buy food and other services. 

Disadvantages of staying inside Disney World:

The price. Hotels within Disney are expensive.

Paid parking in value and moderate hotels. If you have a car you’ll have to pay extra for hotel parking.

Suggested hotels in Disney World:

*all prices shown are from rooms with two double beds (room capacity: 4 adults).

 One of the best Disney Value Resorts you can find inside Disney World Resort are the Disney’s All-Star which are divided into: All-Star Movies (movie theme), All-Star Music (music theme) and All-Star Sports (sports theme). They are basic hotels (motel type) but are decorated with Disney characters and have all the benefits of staying inside Disney hotels. Prices may vary greatly depending on the date of your visit but in general it is quite economical for groups of 4 people.

This hotel is located in Lake Buena Vista which is a very comfortable area to stay if you are going to visit the Disney theme parks. It has all the benefits and services of Disney World hotels.

Click here to see more details of the hotel on BookingWhere to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

Another of the hotels you can find in Lake Buena Vista is the Hilton. It is a modern hotel, and has 7 restaurants and 2 outdoor pools. It is also connected to Disney Springs, which is Disney’s shopping center, full of shops and restaurants.

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit Disney parks

2. BEST HOTELS INSIDE UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Like Disney, Universal Studios also offers hotels within its resort and these have their benefits. Universal Studios has only 2 parks (not counting the water park), which can be visited in 1 or 2 days. So staying inside Universal is not the best option unless you only plan to visit Universal theme parks.

Advantages of staying inside Universal:

Free transportation to Universal parks.

Early entry to Universal Studios to access The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay.

In selected hotels you receive a free Universal Express Unlimited pass that allows you to avoid regular lines at attractions. 

Disadvantages of staying inside Universal:

The price. Like Disney hotels, the price of hotels inside Universal is high.

Suggested hotels in Universal Studios:

*all prices shown are from rooms with two double beds (room capacity: 4 adults).

 A beach-themed hotel with excellent quality price relationship. It has all the benefits of Universal hotels except the Universal Express Pass.

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit the Universal parks

 A hotel located just in front Volcano Bay, the newest park in Universal Studios. It has an eighties theme and is super colorful. It has all the benefits of Universal hotels except the Universal Express Pass.

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

 A luxury hotel with pure rock vibes. The Hard Rock includes all the benefits of Universal hotels including the Universal Express pass.

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

3. BEST HOTELS IN ORLANDO OUTSIDE DISNEY AND UNIVERSAL:

 In addition to accommodation within the parks, there are many great hotels, hostels and apartments outside them. The great benefit is that the prices of accommodation outside the parks are much lower. There are several areas that are close to the parks and are the most convenient to find accommodation.

  • Lake Buena Vista is the area where the parks are located, so any hotel here will be very close to the parks. In addition there are many shops, restaurants and other services.
  • Celebration is a small area designed by Disney World. You will find houses, shops, lodging and restaurants.
  • Kissimmee is the area with the cheapest accommodation and is also very close to the parks.

Advantages of staying outside the parks:

The price. Hotels outside the parks are much cheaper.

Despite not being inside Disney, some hotels offer free transfer to the parks.

Disadvantages of staying outside the parks:

Not having extra time in Disney parks or Universal. 

You can’t get early access to Fast Pass+ reservation. The regular time to book the FP is up to 30 days before your arrival.

Not having the free transportation to the parks. The alternative is to go in Uber, Lyft, or rent a car. The price for parking in the parks is USD$25 per day.

Best hotels in Orlando near the parks:

*all prices shown are from rooms with two double beds (room capacity: 4 adults).

It is a classic motel with rooms arranged around the pool. The hotel is located on the highway in Celebration so it is very close to Disney parks and several shops and restaurants. They offer free transfer to Disney parks at 8 AM and hotel parking is free. I stayed at this hotel 3 nights and honestly the rooms are a bit old but the price is very cheap and the location of the hotel is great if you have a car. The price includes a basic breakfast of coffee, bagels and cereals (don’t expect quality).

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.

A few meters from the Rodeway Inn you can find Motel 6 which has the same style but with slightly more modern rooms. 

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

This hotel is located very close to Universal Studios. It offers free transfer to the parks at a certain time and free parking. 

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

A 4 star hotel which offers a really good price and amazing service. It is located near Universal Studios and has 2 swimming pools, 3 restaurants and free shuttle service to Universal Orlando and SeaWorld.

Click here to see more details of the hotel on Booking.Where to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

Apartments with capacity for up to 5 people. Staying in apartments is a good option if you want to cook some nights at home and save money. You can also check apartments available on Airbnb and use this discount of USD $18 Where to stay in Orlando to visit the parks

Should you stay inside or outside Disney World?

Both options have their benefits. Staying inside a Disney World hotel makes the experience of visiting the parks even more magical because each hotel is set with movie characters, the staff is super friendly and Disney services are great. It is the best option if you can spend money in one of these hotels. 

 Staying outside the parks is great too because you can find amazing hotels with noticeably lower prices. Tickets to the theme parks are quite expensive and staying outside Disney or Universal saves some money.

No matter which hotel you choose, visiting the theme parks in Orlando is an incredible experience and you will have fun wherever you sleep.


I hope this information helps you choose where to stay in Orlando! If you have questions please leave your comment below.

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