Orlando is, practically by definition, a family-friendly kind of place, which makes this category a particularly tough one to narrow down. All of the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts, for example, offer kid-friendly activities and theming; many even offer character meals and other character meet and greets. Even the most elite hotels in the area—places such as the Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria and Four Seasons—offer lots of special perks for pint-sized travelers and incentives for family vacationers. But whether you’re traveling with your own nuclear family—or with your extended one including grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles—value, convenience, transportation, room size and kid-friendly add-ons are all important. Some hotels even offer extras like pools with kid-friendly water slides, character-themed suites and on-site bowling alleys, which add to the vacation magic. Thus, the following is a list of stellar family-friendly hotels in the Orlando area.
Nickelodeon Suites Resort
Where else can you hang with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, eat breakfast with Dora the Explorer or SpongeBob SquarePants, play Double Dare, zip down water slides and get slimed by the pool? This ultra kid-friendly hotel is minutes from Walt Disney World and offers one-, two- and three-bedroom suites at a reasonable rate.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Here, kids have the chance to reside in the worlds of Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, with uniquely themed and spacious suites, which sleep up to six people (standard rooms are also available.) Guests staying anywhere on Disney property can also take advantage of the free Magical Express transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, as well as bonus park hours and complimentary transportation to all Disney parks.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
On the other side of town, find Universal’s value resort, a very family-friendly property with its own bowling alley, lazy river and character meet-and-greets. Modeled after a beach resort of the 1950s or 1960s, Cabana Bay offers both standard rooms and suites that sleep up to six people. As a Universal hotel guest, you’ll enjoy complimentary transportation to the parks as well as early park access.
CoCo Key Water Resort
With room rates beginning at $69, this water park hotel is a great choice for families of four or five. The mandatory resort fee of $22 per night covers admission for up to five people to the on-site water park, so you don’t even have to leave the hotel to find some water fun.
Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa
This resort offers spacious, condominium-style suites that include full kitchens and washer-dryers, all at very reasonable rates. Minutes from Disney World, the home-away-from-home property also includes a pirate-themed pool (complete with a pirate ship and water cannons!) and a kids’ club.