I’ve split this into two blogs as it’s quite a lot to take in, the next part will be up later this week.
Generally I spend time looking at reviews, reading forums and most recently, watching resort tours on YouTube.
Where you decide to stay depends entirely on the type of holiday you’re wanting to have.
Over the years I’ve stayed all over.. International Drive + area, Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista, onsite at Universal, Villas and Hotels. I’ve stayed in amazing places…..and some not so amazing.
I’ll give a description and some benefits about each of the areas you can stay in 🙂 (you can also stay a little further away from the parks if that’s what you’d like but for right now I’m going to focus on the areas that I’ve stayed in)
To disney – 20 minutes
to Universal – 5-10 minutes
To SeaWorld – 10 minutes
This is probably the number one area for tourists to stay. This is due to it’s affordability and close proximity to most of Orlando’s attractions. This area is very geared towards tourists and is lined with gift shops, restaurants and smaller attractions such as the infamous Wonderworks (upside down house) and the Orlando Eye.
The further north on International Drive you stay, the closer you are to Universal Studios, Wet n Wild and the Premium Outlets International Drive.
The further south you stay, the closer you are to the Orlando Eye, Pointe Orlando, Sea World and Disney.
Personally, I prefer to stay to the south side of International Drive and even just off of International Drive on Universal Boulevard… close to the Convention Center. This is purely because I find that it’s quieter. My personal favourite hotel in the International Drive area is the Hampton Inn near the convention center. This backs on to Bahama Breeze ( I 100% recommend this fabulous Caribbean restaurant – but be prepared as it can get very busy) and is a two minute walk to Pointe Orlando.
Other affordable and popular hotels on International Drive are
Most hotels on International Drive will offer shuttles to the parks. Some are free and some you’ll pay for, you can also take full advantage of the I-ride trolley and Lynx buses (which I’ll go into in more detail on my “getting around” blog)
Kissimmee – (dependant on area)
to disney – 15/ 20 minutes
to Seaworld – 20/ 30 minutes
to Universal Studios – 20 / 30 minutes
With each of these destinations just a short distance away from the attractions, they make the perfect place to stay. Not only is there plenty of choice with hotels, each area offers a huge array of fantastic villas, which are ideal for larger families or getting that “home away from home” feel.
With so many villas to choose from, where do you start ?
A good idea is to start with location, how far are you wanting to travel?
I use Orlando Villas which gives information on each of the villa communities.
Finding the perfect villa for you will take a bit of searching, there are plenty of websites and forums offering villa rentals and advice.
If booking through a travel agent, you can opt for a named villa, or for your villa to be allocated to you on arrival. If opting for an AOA, when you arrive at the airport you’ll be told where your villa is (this tends to be the cheaper option. Occasionally, travel agents may tell you where your Villa is before you arrive).