Orlando is the Theme Park Capital of the World and The City Beautiful, a town perfectly situated between Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts. If you’re planning a vacation to the Orlando area, you’re not alone — it’s one of the country’s top vacation destinations. There’s so much to see and do in Orlando, and you want to make the most of the time you have in town. This is why it’s important to find a hotel in a neighborhood that keeps you right in the middle of the action you and your family want. When you’re deciding where to stay in Orlando, consider these areas near central Florida theme parks.
Disney World Resorts
With theme parks, shopping and entertainment districts and hotels stretched across 40 square miles, spending your entire vacation on Disney property is easy to do. The resorts range from value properties like All-Star Resorts to deluxe retreats, including classic Disney hotels like Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Wilderness Lodge. Staying on Disney property or in rentals near Disney World offers several advantages that save you time. In most cases, you just hop on the monorail or a Disney bus to get to the parks so you don’t have to deal with traffic in the area. In fact, you can skip driving all together since the hotels have airport transportation service. Resort guests also enjoy Extra Magic Hours, MagicBands and priority access to FastPass and dining reservations.
International Drive North
Orlando offers vacationers more than the Disney experience. If your plans also include a visit to Universal Studios, check out the hotels and resorts available on International Drive. This major boulevard east of Walt Disney World is home to national chain hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. You also find amusement park-style rides, and a multi-story McDonald’s restaurant. The hotels along the northern section of International Drive are located close to the gates of Universal Studios, and I-Drive’s proximity to I-4 makes the area convenient for visiting any part of the city.
International Drive South
The south section of I-Drive runs from Sand Lake Road to World Center Drive south of I-4. Like the northern part of the road, this section has a selection of chain hotels and restaurants. There is also a miniature golf facility and minor attractions. If your vacation plans include a visit to one of Sea World’s parks or a stop at the convention center, consider staying at a property in the area. International Drive also leads to one of Orlando’s outlet malls. There’s still plenty to see and do on the south side of the road, but there tends to be less traffic here.
Kissimmee may not have the name recognition as Orlando, but this town to the south of Lake Buena Vista is just as close to the parks. U.S. 192, which runs from U.S. 27 in neighboring Polk County to the beach in Indialantic, is the main road through the town and home to a variety of local and chain hotels. If you’re willing to stay farther away from Disney’s gates, you can find budget-friendly rooms here. As a bonus, you can spend a few hours at Old Town, a local entertainment center with a brick-paved street, carnival games, amusement park-style rides and boutiques.
Maingate refers to the section of Kissimmee located closest to Disney property, and some hotels in the area are actually closer than Orlando sites. In fact, Maingate East hotels offer convenient access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, while Maingate West hotels are closer to Animal Kingdom. The properties here range from lakeside hotels and quaint motels to contemporary condos and golf resorts. If you decide to stay here, just keep in mind that the hotels in Maingate are not actually on Disney property, and guests do not enjoy the same perks as Disney guests.
Like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios has its own resort properties located near the original Universal Park and Islands of Adventure. The themed hotels provide easy access to the parks via boats, but they also have partner hotels in the Orlando area so that guests can enjoy their time in Orlando while staying within their budgets. Universal Studios is a short drive away from the Disney resort via I-4, so it’s an option if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation at Walt Disney World or plan to divide your time between Disney and Universal.
Located 20 miles north east of Walt Disney World and Lake Buena Vista, Orlando’s urban core has its own collection of luxury and boutique hotels nestled between galleries, theaters and nightclubs. If you’re looking for luxury digs and can live without your favorite characters, consider downtown. The Ritz Carlton Orlando, the Waldorf Astoria and Four Seasons Resort Orlando are all part of the skyline here. Downtown is also home to some local parks where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks ad resorts.