Weekly Top 10: The Best Theme Park Hotels in Orlando

April 6, 2015, 11:17 AM · Where's the best place to stay in Orlando? When you're visiting Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, staying at one of the resorts' on-site hotels offers multiple benefits that can help you get even more enjoyment from your theme park vacation. Our readers have rated all the Disney and Universal hotels, and today we present their collective favorites in our Weekly Top 10.

Remember that value and convenience win high ratings from our readers, as much as, if not more, than luxurious rooms and amenities. So our readers' Top 10 leaves off some hotels at the top of the price range in favor of less-expensive hotels that our readers believe provide better value.

Of course, since you are reading this, you are one of our readers, too. So you are invited to submit your own ratings and reviews for the theme park hotels you've visited. Just follow the links at the end of this post.

10. Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter

Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter

The French Quarter is our readers' favorite among the Disney Moderate Resorts.

9. Disney's Beach Club Resort

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Located just steps from the back entrance to Epcot and a short boat launch from Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Beach Club wins points for convenience.

8. Universal's Royal Pacific Resort

Universal's Royal Pacific Resort

All four of Universal's on-site hotels made out list, thanks to their proximity to the parks and the free front-of-line passes for their deluxe hotel guests.

7. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The Cabana Bay is the only Universal hotel that doesn't provide free Universal Express Unlimited passes to its guests, but its low prices and hip Googie-inspired decor pushed it into our top 10. (This is the least expensive option on the Top 10, and often by far less expensive than any of these other hotels.)

6. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a former winner of our Theme Park Insider Award for Best Hotel, and fans especially love the rooms where they can look out the windows to see the park's animals.

5. Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort

Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort

Sitting midway between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk offers perhaps the best blend of luxury and convenience to multiple parks at the Walt Disney World Resort.

4. Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

The Grand Floridian is our readers' favorite among the monorail resorts surrounding the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom.

3. Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

A bit more secluded than the monorail resorts, but just a short boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom, the Wilderness Lodge earns raves for its impressive lobby and grounds.

2. Universal's Hard Rock Hotel

Universal's Hard Rock Hotel

Universal Orlando's top two hotels are the top two hotels on our list. If you're looking for a non-stop party just steps from the parks, the Hard Rock is your choice.

1. Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel

Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel

Blending outstanding service, decor, luxury, and value, the Portofino Bay demonstrates that you really can have it all on vacation.

What's your favorite place to stay when visiting the parks in Orlando? Please tell us in the comments, and then be sure to rate and review all the places you've stayed, on our theme park hotel review pages.

Rate and Review:

Replies (13)

April 6, 2015 at 11:48 AM · Yes, a convenient location is a very important factor to me when booking a theme park resort hotel. Close proximity to the parks, via walking trails or a water taxi, helps tremendously in enhancing a vacation's leisure & relaxation. And, added benefits like Universal's Express Pass for it's deluxe hotels and affordable (even with paid parking) luxury at Portofino, Hard Rock & Royal Pacific make my decision easy. It's nice not to have to take a long drive or wait for a lengthy bus trip. But, at Disney, I'll book a moderate hotel since the resorts that are close to the parks are way overpriced in lieu of their amenities. So when I book Disney, value will trump location due to that "huge" price difference.
April 6, 2015 at 11:53 AM · I don't get why the Portofino was rated so highly. It just wasn't that great when we were there. The Royal Pacific is much nicer and cheaper. My favorite has to be Bay lake tower, though. It's location and it's view is hard to beat other than animal Kingdom Lodge.
April 6, 2015 at 12:29 PM · I found that staying at Lowe's Royal Pacific Resort provided the best value for a theme park stay. The cheapest of the on-site Universal hotels that still offers the unlimited front-of-the-line passes, I recently booked one night for $144 and got two days in the parks with no lines. Hard to beat that value, and with luxury included as well. Plus, at any time when we were tired it was a short 15 min walk to our room to take a break.
April 6, 2015 at 3:28 PM · I really do not get why Porfino and Wilderness Lodge are ranked so high. Also the Beach Club is WAY more luxurious in my opinion than the Boardwalk. There were a ton of resorts left off at Disney (many with 9 rating). I guess thats what makes the list interesting.

Best room for the price? Old Key West. Rooms are huge!

April 6, 2015 at 3:48 PM · Room size is the best way to enjoy a room. That's why I highly recommend a time share, but know what you're doing.
April 6, 2015 at 3:50 PM · I agree wholeheartedly with Robert's ratings. I have stayed in all but one of the above properties and he nailed it.
April 6, 2015 at 5:52 PM · To be fair, it's not *my* list - it's the list of everyone on the site who's rated the hotels over the past couple years. So, please, add to our lists by submitting your own ratings!
April 6, 2015 at 9:32 PM · Robert whats your personal top 10?
Grand floridian and polynesian are the 2 top resorts in orlando followed by the portofino bay imo
April 6, 2015 at 10:30 PM · I'd have to stay at more of them before I could give an answer. Thanks to the Universal Express deal, I tend to stay at the Universal Orlando hotels more often than at the Disney World ones, so I have more experience with them. (I have family in Orlando, so I usually end up staying with them during my trips to Central Florida.) All that said, I don't think you'd go wrong with any of the hotels on this list.

I also suspect that the Poly will recover in our ratings now that the refurbishments are wrapping up. Anytime a property undergoes a major refurb, it takes a beating in the ratings for a year or two before recovering, it seems.

April 7, 2015 at 10:21 AM · We've stayed at a few of these (PO:FQ, AKL, and Hard Rock), and have visited a number of the rest. To us, a room is more about a bed and shower than anything else, and so many of these resorts have features that don't appeal to the way that we visit Orlando. I would agree with other commenters that it's odd that Portofino Bay would be more highly rated than Royal Pacific. Both are a boat ride away from the parks (aside from the walk away from Hard Rock), yet Royal Pacific is always cheaper. Sure, there are a few nicer restaurants at Portofino Bay, but you don't have to be a resort guest to enjoy those.

Also, Art of Animation and Pop Century get ragged on because they're "value" resorts, but they're perfectly adequate, have nice pools and theming, and give you far more bang for you buck than any of the moderate or deluxe resorts on this list.

April 7, 2015 at 1:13 PM · The Polynesian, hands down. Not only is the vibe funky 70's, but the pool is fantastic and the grounds are beautiful. Best of all, if you plan carefully, you can get one of the ground floor rooms that open out onto the grass surrounding the pool. When at an amusement park do you get your own lawn to relax on?

Of course, the problem with any of the Disney hotels is the transportation. No matter how great the hotel, having to wait 30+ minutes to get on the monorail home in the evening is a nightmare . . .

April 7, 2015 at 2:16 PM · Portofino bay has larger rooms then the royal pacific and went through a recent refurbishment. It is also less crowded then the royal pacific. Also as an annual passholder, the rates of the royal pacific tend to be the same or higher then the portofino bay.

I agree Robert, that express pass is a helluva deal. Also, The resorts at universal are waay more affordable then an equivlent at disney, thats for sure.

April 11, 2015 at 11:24 PM · As a visitor who is planning to visit all 4 Disney parks and Universal's parks as well. Which in-property hotels would you recommend visiting? Disney's because they provide transportation to all of their parks and you save on renting a car or Universal's because you get the front of the line passes included and you save on buying those if you weren't staying at a Universal hotel. Which one is more nconvinient?

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