• Best for Families: Every Disney resort caters to families, with special menus for kids, video-game arcades, free transportation to the parks, extensive recreational facilities, and, in some cases, character meals. Some, however, stand out in particular. Disney's Beach Club Resort boasts a laid-back seaside charm, a multitude of kid-friendly dining options, and one of the coolest pools on Disney property, making it a favorite with families—and Epcot is literally just steps away. To enjoy wilderness of a different kind, try Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, where the animals of the African savanna seemingly come right up to your doorstep. If you prefer the rustic and woodsy feel of the Pacific Northwest's national parks, head to Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

  • Best Pools: All of the Walt Disney World resorts have wonderfully whimsical, themed swimming pools, and usually of irregular Olympic size. Arguably, the best is shared by Disney's Beach Club Resort and Disney's Yacht Club Resort: Stormalong Bay, a 3-acre free-form pool and water park, stretches between them, including a shipwreck for exploring and sand-bottom pools for a toe-tickling experience. On the extreme end of the indulgence spectrum, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, on Walt Disney World property, unfailingly indulges with a level of luxury that stands tall above the rest of this tourist-mill town. Just outside the Disney property boundary, the best resort pool in Orlando can be found nearby at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort. It's a half-acre, lagoonlike, water-world pool that flows through rock grottoes, is spanned by a rope bridge, and has 12 waterfalls and two steep water slides. The 24,000-square-foot lazy river pool shared by the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando at Grande Lakes, however, definitely provides some stiff competition. Not to be ignored is the rock-'n'-roll pool at Universal's Hard Rock Hotel, with its underwater sound system and fantastic landscaping.

  • Inside the Theme Park Resorts: Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which opened in 1971, have become architectural landmarks, and their location on the monorail system makes a vacation easy and fun, but Disney’s Art of Animation Resort represents the newest and best of the resort’s lowest-priced rooms. Universal’s Sapphire Falls Resort applies a layer of Caribbean style to the budget category and its 16-story Aventura Hotel is brand new and, uniquely for the theme park hotels, a tower. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando, on Walt Disney World property, delivers a level of luxury that’s a revelation among theme park hotels. The two hotels at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort are now the Orlando theme parks’ king and queen of budget lodging. 

  • Full-Service Resorts Outside the Parks: A terrific location close to Disney and a contemporary style all its own make the newly built JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa a new name to beat among Orlando’s luxury resorts, while the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress offers a full slate of activities and an epic pool complex.  Exquisite restaurants and unbeatable pool areas make the Grande Lakes’ JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton two names to beat among Orlando’s luxury resorts, while the Waldorf Astoria translates Park Avenue pomp to Florida style. Taking theme-park flair to a hospitality extreme, the colossal atrium of Gaylord Palms is like a big top for eye candy.

  • Affordability Without Sacrifice: Not all affordable hotels are shabby. Brand new builds include Aloft Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Element Orlando Universal Blvd. in the shadow of the ICON wheel, and Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossings Town Center, the newest (and longest) name among the quickly growing cluster of affordable hotels just out Disney’s western gate. Or rent a full house, as tastefully furnished as if you lived there—Orlando’s crop of management companies make the process easier and more reliable than renting an Airbnb.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.