The two towers form a busy city unto themselves in a 500-acre plot east of SeaWorld. If you stay in one of them, you can use the main amenities of the other, which is a value, but you won’t be as close to the theme parks as you would at the newer JW at Walt Disney World. This JW’s 24,000-sq.-ft. pool area, landscaped with fake rocks, jungle greens, and a 1/4-mile lazy river, is deservedly jammed on hot days, while the Ritz’s water area is formal and refined. The JW’s rooms are more palatial than the norm in town (and have bathtubs) but their Old Florida-inflected style now feels dowdy. Meanwhile, the Ritz’ rooms completed a renovation in 2021 that filled them with soothing greys, putty colors, and dark woods, and the pampering and quality here are a notch higher than at the JW. The 40,000-sq.-ft. Ritz-Carlton spa is one of the city’s best. But none of it is cheap, it’s impersonally large (maybe you want that), and the remote location means you’ll have to drive somewhere every time your stomach rumbles if you want to escape high-priced resort food. That’s a flaw; you’ll spot guests coming back from local pizza joints and Wawa with cheaper provisions.

Both hotels have unobstructed views over a Greg Norman–designed golf course and a connected nature reserve (it’s much larger than you’d think—you could get lost during an evening wander) where every diversion, from fishing to biking, is offered. With so much choice in town, Grande Lakes is the resort you choose if you lean toward the Ritz and want to seal yourself away with rounds of golf and spa rubdowns, but if you’re eyeing its JW, that isn’t the best choice for theme parking or family frugality. Rates fluctuate wildly if there’s a conference. Resort fee warning: $40/night.