Lodging in Orlando

by Pamela Wright

It's no surprise that Orlando, one of the top vacation destinations in the country and home to Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios and a slew of other attractions, is chock-full of places to stay. In fact, according to the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau website, there are more than 440 lodging choices in the city. Whew. You can make better sense of it and narrow down your choices by pinpointing particular locations, like the International Drive corridor, downtown, Universal Orlando area and Disney World resort.

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Disney World Resorts

There are 25 official Disney World hotels linked to the resort's theme parks, water parks, golf courses and entertainment complexes by buses, monorails and boats. The lodgings are generally themed and clustered around a particular park. For example, the closest lodgings to Magic Kingdom include Disney's Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian and the Wilderness Lodge. For lodgings close to Epcot, consider Old Key West Villas, Disney's Boardwalk Villas, Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, All-Star Movies Resort and Coronado Springs are closest to Animal Kingdom. Each area has lodging options at a variety of price points. For example, if you want to stay near Epcot, you could choose Saratoga Springs, one of Disney's deluxe villa properties, the mid-priced Beach Club Resort, the moderately priced Port Orleans Resort or the value-priced Pop Century Resort.

International Drive

International Drive, or I-Drive as it's locally dubbed, is a 10-mile-long strip loaded with restaurants, shops and more than 100 hotels. Most of the major chain hotels, like Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, Homewood Suites, Best Western and La Quinta are here. The Embassy Suites International Drive South, walking distance to the Pointe Orlando entertainment complex, has two swimming pools, free shuttles to Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios, free hot breakfast, free evening receptions, a fitness center and on-site restaurant and lounge. The Homewood Suites by Hilton on International Drive has one- and two-bedroom suites with full kitchens and separate living and dining areas. A complimentary hot breakfast and free shuttle to theme parks also are offered.

Downtown Orlando

If you're looking for a somewhat quieter setting, away from the hustle and bustle of I-Drive and theme parks, consider staying in downtown Orlando. The Eo Inn & Spa is a boutique hotel overlooking Lake Eola, about 20 minutes from Disney World. The AAA four-diamond Grand Bohemian Hotel, with 247 guestrooms, is decorated with antiques, original art and mosaic tiles. The hotel has an outdoor pool, full-service spa, restaurant and fitness center.

Universal Studios Resort Lodgings

Universal Studios has three on-site hotels. The Italian-themed Loews Portofino Bay Resort has three swimming pools, three restaurants, a game room, planned kids activities and themed kids suites. The Hard Rock Hotel is filled with rock and roll memorabilia; it has planned kids activities, restaurant and lounges, and a 12,000-square-foot sand beach pool. The South Seas-themed Loews Royal Pacific Resort has a sandy beach pool, fitness center, kids camp, weekly luaus and Jurassic Park-themed kids suites.

About the Author

Pamela Wright is a freelance writer, author of more than two dozen guidebooks, and hundreds of articles. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including "National Geographic Traveler," "Family Circle," "Family Fun," "Backpacker," "Hemispheres," "Cooking Light," "Yankee" and more. An active member of the Society of American Travel Writers, she holds a Bachelor's from Michigan State University

Photo Credits

  • Theme Park Ride image by sonya etchison from Fotolia.com