One of the biggest decisions in Orlando trip planning is where to stay. Should you stay inside a resort? Go to a nearby hotel? Find cheaper accommodations or even a condo? Perhaps you prefer to stay in a vacation home.
The choice is not always an obvious one given that each lodging option has its pros and cons and might be better suited to meet your needs — luxury experience or budget.
I’ll weigh the pros and cons of available options for staying in Orlando to help you choose the best fit for your getaway.
1. Staying at a Disney Resort
Pro: As a Disney Resort guest, you get extra perks. You get exclusive access to the parks with Extra Magic Hours, which allows for budget-stretching bonus time at Disney theme parks before or after normal operating hours. Free parking, use of Disney transportation and Disney’s Magical Express Service, as well as complimentary golf, all make a stay at Disney Resorts truly magical.
Con: A stay at Disney hotels and resorts can be two, sometimes even three times more expensive than other hotels located outside of Disney World. Many nearby non-Disney hotels also offer a complimentary shuttle to the parks, making transportation easy. Plus, if you manage your time wisely, making use of Disney perks like extra magic hours aren’t worth the cost of a resort stay.
2. Staying at Orlando Hotels
Pro: As there are a bounty of Orlando hotels, prices are competitive. Even high-end properties offer luxurious amenities, beautiful locations and a convenient gate to Orlando theme parks and attractions – all with nightly rates around $120. Moreover, accommodations can be just as good, if not better, than some Disney Resorts. Orlando hotels also work well for visitors who are looking for more than just a single theme park experience.
Con: Even with stunning poolscapes, family-friendly features and think-you’re-in-heaven creature comforts, Orlando hotels simply can’t compete with the level of access and amenities Disney Resorts and other theme park resorts, such as Universal’s Cabana Bay provide.
If it’s a theme park trip, I always seem to be more relaxed and rested when I stay on-site simply because everything feels taken care of and hassle-free. I’ve spent less-than-stress-free time in the car navigating Orlando highways, and dealt with Disney traffic enough to know there are better ways to vacation.
3. Staying at Orlando Condominiums
Pro: Orlando condominiums offer the best of both worlds: space and amenities. Reasonable rates on units make them a popular choice for visitors looking to stay off-site from theme parks but still take in all of the famed Orlando offerings.
Even better, the sprawling nature of Orlando condominium complexes pack in a lot to do. While not always as massive as theme park resorts, their aquatic amenities, on-site restaurants, spas and salons certainly cater to the whim of every guest.
Con: Truly, there are hardly any negatives to staying at an Orlando condo. Prices are right, amenities are impressive and service is attentive. My one suggestion: reserve a condo where units are not individually owned. Properties seem to run more efficiently and effectively when all condos are managed in one place, by one group.
4. Staying at Budget Orlando Hotels
Pro: In areas like the stretch of Highway 192 in Kissimmee, super-budget offerings start at $40 a night, and while fairly basic, they provide the necessary roof over your head. Many lower-priced hotels offer scheduled shuttles, with added bonuses like full complimentary breakfasts and upgraded room features adding to the attractiveness of the price.
Con: When choosing a basic-budget Orlando hotel, it’s best to do your homework. Sometimes these hotels can slack on cleanliness and service, but there are gems out there too. Location isn’t always ideal for the cheaper hotels, either, which sucks fun-time away from your vacation plans.
5. Staying at Orlando Vacation Homes
Pro: It’s impressive how far your money can go in terms of renting an Orlando vacation home. For as little as $150 a night, a three bedroom mini-mansion complete with small outdoor swimming pool can be yours. An entire house ensures everyone has plenty of space, and access to home-style creature comforts doesn’t hurt either.
Con: It’s all about location when you’re on vacation. Simply put, some Orlando vacation homes are not in super-convenient spots. Plus, as each is usually individually owned, décor and style can vary wildly. While the rates for these homes are fantastic, additional fees for cleaning and pool heat can add up to $130 or more.
Follow this pros and cons list of the best places to stay in Orlando to narrow down your options. You’re sure to find the perfect mix of amenities, comfort and conveniences that fit your Orlando vacation budget and preferences.
Ashley Dickey is Reserve Orlando‘s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.