Orlando has around 133,000 hotel rooms—37,000 of them combined at Disney and Universal alone. As you can imagine, competition can be fierce, yet at properties where heavy turnover is a given, quality can nevertheless be lax. A little too often, you find yourself in a hotel shrugging and saying, “Eh, it does the job.” We can help you do better. We’ll show you the good places.
Most of Central Florida’s monolithic architecture steals and inflates Europe’s palatial traditions, often on such a scale that even a Texan would blush. But Orlando’s resorts rarely achieve true opulence, and hotels that pass themselves off as “deluxe” are actually just three-star. You usually won’t even find a minibar in your room. Often, when you pay for a fine Orlando hotel, you’re just paying for mood.

Following are a few key questions to ask:

How much space do I want? If you have kids with you, will a single room supply the elbow room everyone needs? Disney’s most affordable rooms, for example, have a maximum occupancy of four people in two double beds, so if your group exceeds that number, you’ll have to rent two rooms or upgrade to something more expensive. For most families, renting a home or condo solves the space issue, and usually for less money.

Will I need a car? Unless you’re a Disney-only type of person, you should have one. Cars enable you eat cheaper and see both Disney and Harry Potter as well as Orlando’s many other appealing diversions. No car, no freedom.

How much time will I spend at my accommodations? If your schedule is full, you’ll only use a room to hit the sack. Do you really need a fitness center after slogging miles around theme parks for 15 hours a day? No, you don’t.

Then grill your potential hotel: Is there a resort fee? It’s common, and it dramatically increases the cost. Is there a parking fee? It’s another way to hide the true price of a stay. Is breakfast included? If it’s “continental,” it could be instant coffee and a mound of stale muffins. What’s the view? Properties might boast a fireworks view—but neglect to mention it’s from 8 miles away.

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.