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 did I mention that 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.
Outside the House of Mouse, the Nickelodeon Family Suites features two- and three-bedroom Kid Suites, multilevel water slides, extensive play areas, and an all-Nickelodeon decor. Floridays Resort Orlando features two- and three-bedroom suites with all the comforts of home, an inviting pool and play area, and grocery delivery. After top-to-bottom renovations and a change in ownership, the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorldoffers redesigned rooms with kitchenettes, spacious suites, beautifully landscaped grounds, a multitude of pools, play areas, and on-site dining options for the entire family, all within a minute or two of SeaWorld and I-Drive's various offerings.
- Best Inexpensive Hotels: That's easy: If you're going to stay on WDW property, you can't beat the prices at Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort, Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, and Disney's Pop Century Resort. Outside of Disney, the Comfort Suites Maingate Resort offers spacious rooms and plenty of amenities at reasonable rates. It's one of the nicest inexpensive properties in the Kissimmee area and is only 1 1/2 miles west of Disney.
- Best Budget Motels: The Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld offers a complimentary breakfast, a Shamu pool and splash zone, clean and comfortable rooms, a location close to I-Drive's attractions and restaurants, and rates that won't bust your budget. The new SpringHill Suites Orlando at SeaWorld sports oversized suites (with space for up to six), a chic and stylish decor, and a location that's practically on SeaWorld's doorstep. If you want to stay closer to Mickey, the Holiday Inn Main Gate East offers tons of recreational activities for kids and adults, good rooms, and a free shuttle service to the theme parks -- all at bargain rates.
- Best for Business Travelers: The Gaylord Palms, Marriott Orlando World Center, and Peabody Orlando offer full concierge service, excellent restaurants, spacious lounges, and an extensive array of business services, while the Hyatt Place Universal is a good option for the more budget-conscious business set.
- Best Location: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, and Disney's Bay Lake Tower are on the WDW monorail route, providing easy access to the parks. The Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Royal Pacific Resort are within walking distance of both Universal Orlando parks, and there's also boat service to the dock at CityWalk.
- Best Service: The elegant Peabody Orlando offers attentive pampering from one of the best staffs in the area. At the Reunion Resort Orlando, a personal concierge ensures guests are treated to top-notch service. At the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, attentive service is legendary, with a concierge staff trained to follow the standards of Les Clefs d'Or, an elite group of the world's top concierges.
- Best Pools: All of the Walt Disney World resorts have wonderfully whimsical, themed swimming pools, and usually of 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. Outside the Disney complex, the best resort pool in Orlando can be found 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, or the super kid-friendly water park-style pools at the Nickelodeon Family Suites.