Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida? Perhaps you are also considering other central Florida entertainment options such as Sea World or Universal. Maybe you’re looking to save money. If so, you may want to consider hotels outside of Disney World, for easier access to everything central Florida has to offer. Here are 10 of our favorite places to stay outside of the Disney World Resort.
1) Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel – Opened in 2001, the Hard Rock Hotel is both Universal’s least expensive on-site resort and the closest to its theme parks. The exterior has a California Mission theme while the interior is a tribute to all things rock-n-roll. The pool is an attraction in itself, with a 250-foot water slide, a sand beach and underwater speakers so you can hear music while you’re swimming. Hard Rock is a good value, compared to Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club resorts. Nightly rates start at $260.
2) CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort – Not far from Universal Orlando, CoCo Key combines a tropical-themed hotel with a water park featuring 3 pools and 14 waterslides, as well as food and arcade options. The guest rooms are unusually spacious. Shuttle service to area attractions is offered. Rates begin at $75 per night.
3) Nickelodeon Suites Resort – This resort is as kid-friendly as they come. If your kids like SpongeBob Squarepants or Dora the Explorer, this is the place to be! A daily character breakfast is offered. Guests can choose from among 777 suites, featuring 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms. This resort has two pools, with play areas for kids and adults. Rates start at $150 per night.
4) B Resort – Located only 5 miles from Disney, the B Resort has a great vibe! Targeting couples, families and business travelers, guests rooms offer views of downtown Orlando, area lakes and theme parks. Rooms are spacious and with plenty of storage. The pool has a zero-entry with interactive water features. The B Resort offers bus service to Disney. Nightly rates begin at $135.
5) Four Seasons Resort – OK, the Four Seasons resort is technically on Disney property, but it is not owned by Disney. If you are looking for the ultimate deluxe hotel experience, this is the place for you. The comfort, service and amenities surpass anything Disney offers. Standard rooms average 500 square feet, most with an 80 square foot balcony. The resort’s 5 acre pool area has a lazy river, a splash zone and two waterslides. Two on-site restaurants serve Spanish and Italian food. Nightly rates begin at $500.
6) Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas – The Sheraton Vistana emphasis is on selling timeshares, but nightly rentals are available. The villas come in one, two or three bedrooms and are quite spacious. Each villa has a full kitchen plus washer and dryer. There are seven swimming pools, four playgrounds, two restaurants and myriad other amenities. *Special note: Vistana is highly secure with locked gates bordering all public areas. Rates per night start at $127.
7) Gaylord Palms – The Gaylord has a huge convention center, but still is a nice (if also pricey) family resort. The theme is tri-fold Florida, with a Key West wing, an Everglades swamp and a St. Augustine Spanish theme. The rooms are spacious and nice, giving guests a retreat from the bustling theme parks. Rates begin at $257 per night.
8) Orange Lake Resort – This is a timeshare property, but you can rent directly through the resort. You could spend your entire vacation here, although it is located only 10 minutes from the Disney theme parks. There are 10 pools, two mini waterparks and 54 holes of golf available. If that’s not enough, you can try waterskiing, tubing, fishing and other water activities on the 80-acre lake. The suites and studios offer fully-equipped kitchens. If you’d rather not cook on vacation, try one of the seven restaurants across the resort. Nightly rates begin at $107.
9) Clarion Suites Maingate – Starting at $99 per night, Clarion Suites offer shuttle service to Disney, Universal and Sea World. There are 150 spacious suites, each with a kitchenette and ample bathroom space for families. Nearby are several chain restaurants and a Winn-Dixie Marketplace. The main pool is heated with plenty of lounge chairs. There’s also a kiddie pool, hot tub and a poolside bar.
10) Vacation Homes – In the Disney World area, there are more than 26,000 rental homes available for weekly rentals. Owners make these homes available to vacationers throughout the year. Some owners deal directly with renters, while others use property-management companies. These vacation homes are great for large families and allow you to spread out and relax when you’re not out enjoying the central Florida attractions. Many come with a private pool, which is a huge plus. Things to consider: How close is the vacation home to Disney and the other theme parks? Is there a fenced back yard? Are linens provided? How about wifi? How much per week? How much down? What if something goes wrong during our stay? When is check-in/checkout?
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