Orlando is not like other US tourism destinations. It’s spread out. Oodles of time and energy will be wasted if your hotel is not in the area of the attractions that interest you most. Hotels in Orlando are as varied as the cereal aisle in your local grocery store. With the hope of helping you figure out where to stay in Orlando, I will simply briefly breakdown each district.
This district is the most popular district, although two others are gaining more ground. In my personal opinion, if your primary focus on your trip to Orlando is Disney then there is no reason not to stay on Disney property. Staying in Lake Buena Vista still offers nearby convenience and low hotel rates, but the extra perks such as Disney transportation and extra magic hours, are not there.
Pros: Convenient location to Disney parks + awesome Disney benefits when staying on Walt Disney World property
Cons: Higher prices + only two night time entertainment areas / dining areas
This district is growing in popularity due to the magic spell that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has cast. Just like hotels on Disney property, hotels on Universal property offer special perks. This district is best suited for visitors with older kids, about age 12 and older, and for visitors without kids. If you choose to spend less money on a hotel and stay in the Kirkman area you will find more traffic and less options within walking distance.
Pros: Convenient location to Universal’s theme parks + great access to Universal City Walk
Cons: Higher prices + not much is easily accessed in the surrounding Kirkman Road area
International Drive / Sea World
I-Drive is over 10 miles long. In all actuality, Sea World and I-Drive could be considered their own districts. I recommend this area for those who desire budget friendly Orlando hotels and for those who plan on doing a little bit of everything while in Orlando. This district is also home to the Orlando / Orange County Convention Center. You will find lots of little attractions along I-Drive (such as WonderWorks, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Fun Spot, WhirleyDome) and a variety of dining options including Pointe Orlando and Restaurant Row.
Pros: Centrally located, but in an occasionally congested area + lots of dining and entertainment options
Cons: High traffic area, no on property perks, certain spots in this area are not always the safest (the closer you are to Sea World and the Convention Center the better)
These districts cover the attractions areas. There are accommodations available in Orlando and its suburbs that are not right next to the attractions. If you want to explore all of Central Florida (museums, the beach, small businesses, farmers markets) then you may want to consider Lake Mary, Altamonte, Winter Park, or Downtown Orlando.
Always do your research – googlemaps and other such websites make it so easy to know exactly where everything is located.
Disney, Universal, and Sea World all have ticket pricing that encourages you to buy multiple days at their parks. Buying one day tickets to each park is the most expensive way to visit Orlando. I highly recommend choosing one of the three properties and focusing on one at a time on separate vacations.
Avoid Interstate 4 (I-4) as much as humanly possible!!!! Which is another reason why staying on Disney or on Universal property is so valuable. Whatever you decide, enjoy yourself and thisfloridalife.
Staying off-property at Walt Disney World (momssimpleguidetodisney.com)