What Is the World's Best Theme Park Hotel?

December 14, 2020, 5:46 PM · What is the world's best theme park hotel? We asked Theme Park Insider's readers that question, and today we are announcing the 10 finalists that topped the vote in our recent survey of newsletter subscribers.

These 10 finalists will face off in a reader vote, starting today, for the 2021 Theme Park Insider Award for Best Restaurant. Your nominees are:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Walt Disney World Resort

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando Resort

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Contemporary Resort

Disney’s Grand Californian Resort, Disneyland Resort

Grand Californian Resort

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Walt Disney World Resort

Grand Floridian Resort

Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Orlando Resort

Hard Rock Hotel

Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta, Tokyo Disney Resort

Hotel MiraCosta

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal Orlando Resort

Portofino Bay Hotel

Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal Orlando Resort

Royal Pacific Resort

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Walt Disney World Resort

Wilderness Lodge

Now it is time to vote... and campaign in the comments. We will announce the winner on January 1, 2021.

Previously: What Is the World's Best Theme Park Restaurant?

Replies (17)

December 14, 2020 at 8:35 PM

Been lucky enough to stay at a number of these and for the sheer combination of wonderful theming, emersion in the total resort ambiance, amenities, and ease of accessing the parks my favorite is a likely dark horse here, Royal Pacific. I enjoy other themes offered in this list a little more more, and some are more immersive overall, and some offer better amenities, but we did Royal Pacific for the first time last year and it was amazing. My wife and I are HHN regulars and it will be our home resort from now on. Disney gets docked points for how hard it is to get to some parks from various resorts. Wilderness Lodge is probably the best actual standalone resort on this list but for the combination I absolutely love Royal Pacific

December 14, 2020 at 9:07 PM

Love ALL Universal Resorts, my favorite is Sapphire Falls. I don't stay there often because of no Express, but during the off season it is my go to resort, especially September HHN!

December 14, 2020 at 11:08 PM

Of these, I've only been to Royal Pacific, and while the free Express is nice, it's not what I'd call "world's best hotel". That honor goes to Grand Californian. How does it get any better than a hotel inside the park?

December 15, 2020 at 12:13 AM

Wilderness Lodge is wonderful. It gets my vote.

December 15, 2020 at 5:49 AM

James - it gets "better than a hotel inside the park" when that park is Tokyo DisneySea!

I've stayed in 3 of these and spent time in all but the Wilderness Lodge. Universal's are strong contenders for the aforementioned Express perk, but MiraCosta just blew me away - especially if you get can a view of Mediterranean Harbor.

December 15, 2020 at 6:06 AM

I’ve had the opportunity to stay at 7 of them. While they’re all great, my favorite is the Grand Californian, in Disneyland.

December 15, 2020 at 9:02 AM

We've stayed at many of these hotels, and have walked through all but one on this list. From a design and aesthetic perspective, I think I would give Animal Kingdom Lodge the edge because of its jaw-dropping lobby (a design motif later copied at other Disney resort hotels, including 2 others on this list) and lush Savanah teeming with wildlife.

However, for us, value always holds an important role in our vacations, and the Universal Orlando hotels that include Universal Express is a perk unequalled in the industry. While Royal Pacific can be best described as "Poly-lite", the UE perk in addition to rates that are typically on par with Disney moderate resorts (Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and Port Orleans) makes it difficult to not vote as the best theme park hotel in the world.

December 15, 2020 at 9:43 AM

@nrainon Seconded! It may not be the most fancy or elaborate, but overall I feel the most rested and energized after a stay at Royal Pacific. Somehow it carries a peaceful atmosphere which works very well with all that Universal offers a few minutes away.

December 15, 2020 at 9:54 AM

@Ben, I forgot that the Tokyo DisneySea hotel was inside the park too. I may have to log-out and nullify my vote...

December 15, 2020 at 11:15 AM

@Will - You beat me to it! Royal Pacific is one of the most relaxing hotels I've ever stayed in, especially considering its proximity to Universal. Add in the value of unlimited express and it's a slam-dunk as my favorite.

December 15, 2020 at 11:40 AM

Hard Rock the only Universal hotel I've stayed at but remember it as terrific from the theme to setting, great pool area and closeness to the parks.

Wilderness Lodge has been a favorite for years, I never get enough of the little stream in the lobby leading to river ending in the pool and terrific atmosphere. And no matter how many times I've seen it, the sight of the monorail coming into the Contemporary is iconic for any visitor.

While haven't stayed there, have visited Grand Californian and breathtaking too so these are all great choices.

December 15, 2020 at 11:46 AM

What an eclectic choice! As a bit of a skin-flint, I haven't stayed at many of these but I have stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The theming is out of this world, the Boma restaurant has a fantastic atmosphere and we did see a zebra & giraffe at the same time from the balcony. We also had Club level which was a nice touch. For pure opulence, The Grand Floridian is top of my "must stay at, even if it is one night only" wish list. One day, I will!

As guests, let's face it, we are spoilt for choice at WDW & Orlando Resort.

December 15, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Grand Californian wins for me, because if the kids are tired, or daddy needs a drink, or it's pool time, we can be back in the room in 10 minutes flat. No amenity can beat that ease of use.

December 15, 2020 at 1:54 PM

The fact that so few people will have experienced Tokyo disneysea and the miracosta makes this tough but it is clearly the hands down winner here. Only hotel inside a park,rooms looking straight onto the Venice canals. And PJs to wear during your stay. Miracosta for the win

December 15, 2020 at 3:44 PM

Having been in 5 and stayed the night in 2 of these contenders, the one I’d like to immediately cross off is royal pacific. It was nice and all, but the theme was lacking creativity and my rooms view left plenty to be desired. Grand Floridian and contemporary are nice but the latter especially is not my taste. That leaves wilderness and animal kingdom lodges. Wilderness was fantastic and something I’d absolutely love to stay at, but the magic of animals outside your room cannot be beat. Also, AKL has wilderness beat with food offerings

December 15, 2020 at 4:48 PM

I have place my vote for Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta (As I have looked at videos and images).

Of the hotels I have seen in person (and stayed at), Wilderness Lodge runs away, the isolation, the exteriors, the surrounding areas really take the theme to another level. Take the Disney signage off, give it a private road, and don't tell people its a theme hotel and many would say it makes sense.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Cabana Bay are underrated.

December 16, 2020 at 4:41 PM

They are all pretty terrific, but I wonder if people like Universal's more because they feel they get a better value out of it.

This was not a hard vote for me as I am going with my family favorite Animal Kingdom Lodge. It is gorgeous and has some of the best restaurants in any Disney resort.

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