Hotels in Orlando
If only all family-geared Orlando hotels were so fully conceived.
Besides the proximity to Orlando-area theme parks such as Walt Disney World Resort (there's a free shuttle from the resort), the main draw at Mystic Dunes is the 18-hole, par-71 golf course. Designed by Gary Koch, the links offer wetlands and cypress forests in the back nine.
With the lagoon-style pool, complete with beaches, palm trees, and an abandoned prop plane, the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando brings the South Pacific to life. Yet steps from the resort is easy access to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Citywalk.
A towering lobby filled with totem poles, a replica geyser, and a waterfall-fed rock pool—this Orlando fantasy channels America's national parks to uncanny effect. Take a ride on a pony or in a horse-drawn carriage.
The closest to the action of the three on-site Universal hotels, the Spanish Mission–style Hard Rock, managed by Loews, is a 10-minute walk from Universal Studios and from the CityWalk nightlife zone.
The hotel has a lush atrium and rooms, two on-site pools, a Canyon Ranch spa, golf putting course, and croquet lawn.
With gas lamps and wicker chairs in this sprawling neo-Victorian manse, Cindarella, Prince Charming, and the wicked stepsisters feel right at home. There are, or course, thoroughly modern elements: suites big enough for eight, a walk-in pool with a waterfall, and after-dark kids' activities.
The time: 1940. The place: Walt Disney World's version of the Jersey Shore, complete with a boardwalk, surrey bikes, and saltwater taffy. The rooms: think old-fashioned floral.
This pyramid-shaped resort on 1,500 acres underwent a $65 million renovation in 2009.
This 2009 resort is located within the gates of Walt Disney World, but thanks to the 482-acre nature preserve that surrounds it, it feels far removed. Pedestrian paths and jogging trails connect the Waldorf to the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, whose amenities are open to Waldorf guests.
The hotel has the advantages of a Disney property (i.e., early entry to a different park each day) but more flexible pricing.
From your balcony at this African-themed Orlando lodge, you just might spot a giraffe, bongo, or wildebeest roaming the surrounding savannah. Dinner stars Kenyan-coffee-braised short ribs and Swahili shrimp curry. At dusk, don night-vision goggles and tour the grounds by open-air truck.
Nautical-crisp digs on Orlando's Crescent Lake. When you're not conquering the World, you can take out one of the resort's pontoon boats, or tackle the three-acre pool complex—climb a ship's mast to get to the top of the waterslide.