Visitors Pick the World's Best Theme Park Hotel

December 18, 2022, 7:59 PM · Next up in Theme Park Insider's "Finals Week" is the contest to determine the Best Theme Park Hotel.

We finally got a full field of 10 finalists for this category, testifying to how wide-open this category can be. It makes sense. Most people experience multiple attractions and restaurants on a theme park vacation. But they tend to stay in just one hotel, leaving most of us with relatively limited experience to draw upon in this category when compared with others.

And when people find a great hotel, many of us really, really want to stick with it. These are 10 great hotels, in the collective opinion of Theme Park Insider readers. Which is the best? That's for you to help decide with you vote, below.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney's Grand Californian Resort at Disneyland

Disney's Grand Californian Resort

Disney's Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World

Disney's Polynesian Resort

Disney's Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

Hard Rock Hotel

Hotel MiraCosta at Tokyo Disney Resort

Hotel MiraCosta

Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando

Loews Portofino Bay

Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando

Loews Royal Pacific

Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World

Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

We will announced the winners of the 21st annual Theme Park Insider Awards on January 1, 2023. Feel free to campaign in the comments for your pick.

Previous categories: Best Holiday Event, Best Halloween Event, Best New Attraction

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Replies (9)

December 18, 2022 at 10:19 PM

I went with Animal Kingdom Lodge. The perks at the Universal hotels are nice, but take those away, and the hotels are just above-average IMO. AKL is in a league of its own with actual animals on-site and feels like an attraction in its own right.

December 19, 2022 at 1:20 PM

This is a tough one, but I do think it's tough to put Galactic Starcruiser in this category and is a bit strange not only because it's more than a hotel, but because so few people have actually experienced it and would be able to form an objective opinion about it (plenty are willing to offer their opinion of it having never stepped on board).

That aside, I had to vote for the only theme park hotel we consistently stay at when we visit Orlando, which is Royal Pacific. Yes, Disney's Poly does the tropical island theme better, but RPR is still a great hotel (with an awesome pool) and the unmatched perk of Unlimited Universal Express with typically a lower price tag than Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay gives it immense value.

I agree with James that AKL is probably the best WDW hotel, and agree that it's as much of an attraction as it is a hotel. However, when we're visiting theme parks, we tend to spend so much time in the parks that we just don't have time to spend in our hotel other than to sleep. The trip when we stayed at AKL (Savanah-side room), it was amazing to wake up and open our curtains to be greeted with giraffes and gazelles grazing, but it was just a small part of our days that it seemed wasteful to be spending 4-5 times what we would normally spend on a hotel in Orlando. As they say, it's an amazing place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

December 19, 2022 at 11:24 AM

I voted for Grand Californian Hotel, at Disneyland. It has a Wilderness Lodge Hotel feel, which is a hotel I also love. But having a separate entrance into California Adventure takes the cake for me. The proximity to both parks, and Downtown Disney, makes it easily accessible. The pool is very nice, and Napa Rose is an excellent restaurant. Grand Californian takes the prize for me.

December 19, 2022 at 1:10 PM

Because it is related to the topic at hand, it should be noted that Russell's multi-part review/feature regarding the WDW Galactic Starcruiser is exceptional. First, anyone who has invested time reading what he has offered up at TPI would acknowledge he is no Disney fanboy (or "Disney drone" as it were). His objectivity is beyond reproach. Second, he knows the Star Wars franchise backwards and forwards. His commentary of the experience comes from someone invested in the stories. The series is a must-read for any themed entertainment/Star Wars fan.

December 19, 2022 at 1:12 PM

I'm with Timbo--Grand Californian takes the cake because it's as nice as any of the other hotels (none of them are particularly luxurious as compared to real world hotels, especially given their obnoxious prices), but it's RIGHT THERE. We go to the park and at lunch we're back at the pool having drinks, and with a snap we're back in the park. A Disneyworld it might take you 45 minutes to get to and from your hotel.

December 19, 2022 at 1:40 PM

For me it all comes down to location and ease of getting to the main attractions, the parks.

I went for Royal Pacific on this one. I wouldn't call it the best, but it wins for me with ease of resort transportation and express. I think the water transport is an attraction on it's own and the lush landscaping of the waterway is on theme with the hotel, blending seamlessly into IOA. The names of the boats are also fun. The sushi bar and South Pacific theme give it a slight edge over Hard Rock & Portofino for me.

Animal Kingdom Lodge (savannah view) is really special, delivered some of the best experiences I've ever had at any hotel. But you're limited to bus transportation to get anywhere, even the other half of the Animal Kingdom resort. And the rooms were dark & crowded to me.

Agree with Russell that putting Star Cruiser on this list is a bold move. You don't go to Star Cruiser to stay at a hotel, you go to experience star wars. It has the best food and entertainment of the options mentioned, easily. But the rooms are more utilitarian than comfortable. And resort transportation is non-existent intentionally to isolate you in space. Even when they want folks to come/go, you are limited to ride shares and taxis if you didn't drive.

December 19, 2022 at 1:48 PM

We just booked a trip to Tokyo and after doing a lot of fawning over photos of Hotel MiraCosta, it deserves a shout for the same reason the Grand Californian (which is excellent) does: It's literally inside the theme park. The style might not be to everyone's taste, but it looks absolutely exceptional and you can't beat the convenience — or the views into one of the best theme parks int he world at night.

December 19, 2022 at 1:54 PM

This was hard for me but ultimately I went with Royal Pacific. My favorite to this day is still Animal Kingdom Lodge though. It is truly a spectacular hotel with amazing theme and food. However since we are voting best theme park hotel the practicality of the Royal Pacific being so close to the gate and the bonus of express passes makes it a better choice overall. If only Disney had built the lodge next to Animal Kingdom it would be the clear winner always I think.

December 20, 2022 at 1:07 AM

The only really flash ones I've been to are a couple of the Phantasialand hotels and Europa Park. How do they stack up against the nominees?

Phantasialand hotels had some great themimg.

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