Picking a hotel is one of the most important aspects of planning an Orlando vacation. That’s especially true if you’re headed to one or more of the Orlando theme parks, where the special perks offered by on-site Disney World hotels and Universal Orlando hotels can make a big difference in the quality of your trip.
And while staying at the more expensive theme park hotels can mean forking over hundreds of dollars per night for the convenience of being nearer to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando, some of the best theme park hotels in Orlando actually don’t cost a fortune.
My Favorite Cheap Theme Park Hotels in Orlando
The cheaper theme park hotels in Orlando are often located a little farther away from the park entrances, but they always offer complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks, so it’s not a deal breaker for most families looking for budget accommodations that still come with theme park perks like extra time in the parks reserved exclusively for hotel guests.
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If you’re looking for a cheap Orlando hotel on a trip that’s geared around theme park fun, avoid the temptation to stay at a budget hotel that’s not affiliated with the theme parks—even if it’s super close to the action. The cheapest hotels in the Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld resort families are among the most affordable hotels in Orlando, and these on-site properties generally offer great deals along with bonus park time and free transportation. Annual pass holders, AAA members, and those with AARP discounts can often save even more.
Cheapest Disney World Hotels in Orlando
If you’re looking at a Walt Disney World vacation, there are a lot of benefits to staying at an on-site Disney hotel. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options, however, because there are more than 30 hotels affiliated with Disney. Here are my three hotels that are heavy with perks but light on your wallet.
My Top Pick: Disney’s Pop Century Resort
When it comes to cheap Disney hotels, the best one at Walt Disney World is Pop Century. While this Orlando hotel doesn’t have direct walking access to any of the theme parks, it does have a Disney Skyliner station that can take you to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (home of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) and EPCOT.
Pop Century has standard rooms with two beds and a large bathrooms. Each of the rooms have recently been refurbished, too, adding wood flooring, a Murphy bed, and a completely redesigned bathroom with increased storage.
Runner Up: Disney’s All-Star Resorts
Disney’s All-Star Resorts is actually three separate hotels: Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. Each Disney World property features larger-than-life icons in the different categories. Kids especially love these Orlando hotels for the photo ops. None of the three hotels have direct access to any of the Disney water parks or theme parks, but complimentary buses are provided for guests.
Luxury on a Budget: Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts
If you’ve ever taken the boats from EPCOT to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ve passed by Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts. The sister towers are actually owned by Marriott, which means you could use your points to stay here. The rooms are spacious and come with plush bedding. Some rooms also have a balcony. Both the Swan and Dolphin have plenty of dining options, large pools, and direct access to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios via boat or walking path.
Cheapest Universal Orlando Hotels
There are four different price tiers for hotels at Universal Orlando Resort: Value, Prime Value, Preferred, and Premier. Each tier comes with varying levels of perks, but for the best combination of price and perks, here are my three picks.
My Top Pick: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
If you want to stay at a cheap Orlando hotel and still be close to the action at Universal Orlando Resort, put Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort at the top of your list. Many of the rooms have views of Universal’s Volcano Bay water park, which is one of the best theme park hotel views you’ll ever find.
The retro-themed Cabana Bay is just a short walk to the gates of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and the guest rooms have fun pop art, bright-colored furniture, and adorable 1950s touches that make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Runner Up: Universal’s Endless Summer Resorts
Families who need a little extra room should consider staying at either of Universal Orlando’s two Endless Summer resorts, Dockside Inn and Suites and Surfside Inn and Suites. These value hotels are the farthest away from the parks but still come with benefits such as complimentary shuttles and early park admission.
These are the cheapest hotels in Orlando operated by Universal, and while they are on other side of I-4 (about 10 minutes from the entrance to Universal Orlando Resort), they’re an incredible value for those looking to save some money. Each hotel has a pool and quick service restaurant for when the parks get a little too crowded, too.
Luxury on a Budget: Universal’s Aventura Hotel
If you want to live a little fancier lifestyle while on vacation, but still be mindful of your budget, Universal’s Aventura Hotel is a sweet blend of affordable and luxurious. The sleek, modern hotel is known for its reliance on technology, demonstrated by the robot who roams the lobby interacting with guests. Each room at this Orlando hotel has an iPad that controls everything from the lights to the TV. Most rooms at Aventura have great views of either the Universal theme parks or Volcano Bay.
Cheapest SeaWorld Orlando Hotels
SeaWorld Orlando is a one-day park for many tourist in Orlando, but people often add a day at Discovery Cove as well. If that’s you, then consider staying as close as possible to both parks for easy access. Here are three cheap SeaWorld hotels that I personally recommend.
My Top Pick: DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld
DoubleTree hotels are great for families, not just for the warm cookies at check-in but for the consistency across properties to make inviting rooms that don’t blow a budget. The DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld does all of that. Most of the rooms have recently been remodeled with wood flooring and an upgraded bathroom. You can choose to have your room face SeaWorld or the Orlando city skyline, and either way it’s a good view.
Runner Up: Hilton Garden Inn Orlando at SeaWorld
At the Hilton Garden Inn Orlando at SeaWorld you’ll have all of the basic amenities of home while in a spacious hotel room just a few minutes away from both SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. Rooms come with two queen beds or one king. If you didn’t get enough water time at SeaWorld, you can take a dive into the outdoor pool at this Orlando hotel when your time at the theme parks is done.
Luxury on a Budget: Hilton Grand Vacations at SeaWorld
If you’re traveling with a larger family or just want more room consider a staying at the Hilton Grand Vacations at SeaWorld. The hotel has everything from standard guest rooms all the way up to three bedroom villas with full kitchens. The lakefront hotel also has two large pools and an outdoor patio complete with fire-pits for hanging out at after a day at the theme parks.