For many of us, the best family vacation ideas involve Disney, Universal, or one of the many other incredible theme parks around the country. And one of the biggest decisions you’ll make on any theme park vacation is where to stay. Many amusement park hotels come with major perks like early park admission, close proximity to all the action, and complimentary transportation—but these added conveniences can also mean a higher price tag than other hotels.
Cheap Theme Park Hotel Deals
You may be surprised to learn that not all theme park hotels are expensive, though, and even the most affordable ones offer a lot of the same perks as their pricier counterparts. From cheap Disney World hotels to affordable Dollywood accommodations, the cheapest theme park hotels offer a comfortable (and budget-friendly) place to start and end your day.
Walt Disney World Hotel Deals
Many words come to mind when thinking of “the most magical place on Earth,” but inexpensive is probably not one of them. Disney owns and operates nearly two dozen Disney World hotels in Orlando, though, and some of them are surprisingly on the affordable side. Here are our picks for the best Walt Disney World hotel deals.
FamilyVacationist Pick: Disney’s All-Star Resorts
The most wallet-friendly Disney World hotels are its All-Star Resorts, which are actually three separate Disney hotels: Disney’s All-Star Movies, Disney’s All-Star Music, and Disney’s All-Star Sports. These no-frills, motel-style resorts offers Disney’s standard perks like complimentary on-site transportation and early access to the parks. They also have swimming pools and on-site dining options.
All three of these Disney World hotels are kid-friendly and feature dive-in pool movie nights and other recreational activities too. For even bigger savings, be on the lookout for the release of seasonal specials that offer Disney World hotel deals with discounted rates.
Pro tip: You can often find good prices at Disney’s Pop Century hotel as well, and it’s an especially convenient option if you’re planning a trip around Disney’s Hollywood Studios (home of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) or EPCOT because there’s a Disney Skyliner station that will bring you directly to either park from the hotel.
Runner Up: Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
Disney World also has “partner resorts” that are separately owned and operated but still fall under the category of “official resorts.” The cheapest of these is Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, a centrally located hotel within a five-minute walk of Disney Springs. Wyndham Lake Buena Vista comes with the usual Disney perks, like extra park hours and complimentary transportation, and at a great price too.
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When not in your newly remodeled room, you can take advantage of the resort’s expansive pool area, including a waterside bar and restaurant. And unlike many other Disney World hotels, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista also features an on-site coffee shop, marketplace, and a CVS pharmacy vending machine.
Disneyland Hotel Deals
Disneyland in Anaheim is home to three on-site resorts that offer easy access to both of Disney’s California amusement parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. Unfortunately for those looking for a low price, these three resorts don’t offer much in the way of Disneyland hotel deals. And since they also offer very little in the way of additional perks, you can safely opt to stay at a neighboring hotel that’s also within walking distance in order to save money. With Disneyland being situated on a tourist-centric, walkable road, there are many national chain hotels within a mile radius of this great family vacation spot.
FamilyVacationist Pick: Hotel Lulu
A boutique hotel in the Best Western portfolio, Hotel Lulu is a short seven-minute walk to Disneyland. With an on-site bar, coffee shop, and pool, it has all the classic resort-style amenities while still being budget-friendly for families. Newly remodeled, the entire property has a warm and welcoming feeling. Even better, Disney theming is used throughout, so you’ll feel like you’re staying at a Disneyland hotel (without the hefty price tag).
Runner Up: Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim
Located quite literally across the street from the main pedestrian entrance of Disneyland, Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim has been a family-favorite for Disneyland hotel deals since the 1960s.
The hotel embraces a mid-century modern design and offers a variety of room layouts, from standard rooms to family suites, all of which have an in-room microwave, coffee maker, and mini-fridge. A highlight for many is the hotel’s expansive pirate-themed water playground, Castaway Cove, complete with numerous splash pads, a drench bucket, and slides. There’s also a quieter garden pool near building two.
Pro tip: For the optimal experience, opt for a room in the newly renovated Building 1.
Universal Orlando Hotel Deals
When you stay at one of the on-site Universal Orlando hotels, you get special perks like complimentary theme park transportation, early admission, and special discounts on room and ticket packages.
FamilyVacationist Pick: Endless Summer Resorts
The two newest hotels Universal Orlando Resort, Endless Summer Dockside Inn and Suites and Endless Summer Surfside Inn and Suites, also happen to be a great option for Universal Orlando hotel deals. You can often find nightly rates at these two hotels for under $100 per night.
The two Endless Summer hotels feature all the amenities you associate with a theme park resort stay: an expansive pool at each, several bars, on-site dining options, and full Starbucks coffee shops. Ideal for families, the rooms are delightfully large and well-themed. The quick service restaurants at each shine, too, with Dockside Inn and Suite’s fried chicken and waffles meal a popular option. Both are the only Universal Orlando hotels off the property’s walking path, but they do offer speedy transportation to the theme parks and City Walk via a complimentary shuttle.
Pro tip: Unlike other hotel family suites, these rooms feature a full privacy door to the main bedroom as well as a large living room area with a picnic table for dining.
Runner Up: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Retro-chic Cabana Bay is a short walk to the gates of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Guest rooms are bright and full of 1950s touches, and many of them offer spectacular views of Universal’s Volcano Bay water park in the distance.
Universal Studios Hollywood Hotel Deals
In the heart of Los Angeles, there’s no shortage of lodging options when visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. There aren’t any official resort hotels owned and operated by Universal Hollywood, and the two partner resorts on-site tend to be on the pricier side. For the best Universal Studios Hollywood hotel deals, you need to cast a wider net.
FamilyVacationist Pick: BLVD Hotel & Spa near Universal Studios Hollywood
Instead of one of the two on-site partner hotels, opt for the boutique BLVD Hotel and Spa. It’s just a 10-minute walk (or five-minute drive) from the amusement park, and the modern rooms come with contemporary furnishings and offer a mini-fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker. The impressive amenities include an outdoor pool, gym, in-room spa treatments, several dining options, and a trendy lounge.
SeaWorld Orlando Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld Orlando
The DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld Orlando is the amusement park’s official hotel partner and located just a short walk from the front gates. Lush tropical vibes are embraced throughout, and there are plenty of sweet amenities like an outdoor pool, on-site restaurants, free continental breakfast, and SeaWorld themed putt-putt course. Don’t forget to grab a complimentary warm cookie that the iconic brand is known for!
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This hotel is also within 15 minutes of the other major Orlando theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, should your vacation plans include multiple amusement parks.
Pro tip: When visiting for the holidays or the park’s annual Howl-O-Scream, SeaWorld Orlando hotel deals and discounts are readily available and may save you even more money.
SeaWorld San Diego Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: Comfort Inn and Suites SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld San Diego is located about 20 minutes northwest of downtown, making it easy to avoid those high-priced hotels in the heart of the city. And although SeaWorld doesn’t have an official hotel, Comfort Inn and Suites SeaWorld San Diego is a partner hotel located just minutes from the park.
The modern rooms are basic but provide everything you need including free WiFi and complimentary grab-and-go breakfast. For families, some rooms come equipped with children’s bunkbeds. The Comfort Inn and Suites is also close to both the airport and the many dining options at Fashion Valley Mall.
LEGOLAND Florida Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: Legoland Hotel
The LEGOLAND Florida Hotel is the first of the now three hotels at the amusement park and is located mere steps from the park’s entrance. It offers impeccably themed family-friendly rooms and suites, each one complete with its own LEGO model sets. Kids love that each room features its own distinct design, from the swashbuckling pirate rooms to the kingdom rooms fit for little princes and princesses.
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This an affordable theme park hotel with a true resort feel that includes nightly entertainment, character meet-and-greets, a resort pool, and a daily free breakfast buffet. The heated resort-style pool features soft LEGO bricks, allowing guests to let their imaginations run wild as they build in the water. Don’t miss the in-room treasure hunt with a LEGO prize that is complimentary with each stay.
Pro tip: Kids and adults alike will love relaxing at the hotel’s Skyline Lounge. In addition to local craft beers for the adults, the lounge serves a menu of unique mocktails for kids and a food menu that embraces organic Florida produce and vegetables.
Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel
By staying at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, you’ll not only be completely immersed in a whimsical world of all things berry during your visit, you’ll also be just steps from the theme park. Little travelers will enjoy the hotel’s Snoopy wing with upgraded accommodations themed to the PEANUTS gang. And because no trip to Knott’s Berry Farm is complete without sampling its namesake fruit, the on-site restaurant Amber Waves offers up boysenberry wings, boysenberry chipotle BBQ chicken pizza, and boysenberry cheesecake.
Pro tip: Spending the night at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel during the holidays (deemed Merry Farm) is an absolute must. The hotel is transformed with festive décor, and there are always a variety of Knott’s Berry Farm hotel deals and packages that include special perks.
Silver Dollar City Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: Silver Dollar City Campground Cabins
Located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Silver Dollar City is a unique theme park reminiscent of an 1800s village. The distinct theming is carried on in its owned and operated Silver Dollar City Campground Cabins. Rustic charm can be found at this property that offers authentic log cabin accommodations with premium amenities, including a general store, playgrounds, a pool, and walking paths. Free door-to-door shuttle service is provided to the theme park, and all cabins feature a fireplace.
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Pro tip: For the ultimate getaway, book the higher-end (but still affordable) premium loft cabins. These feature jetted tubs and can sleep up to six guests.
Hersheypark Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: Hershey Lodge
The sweetest place on Earth is home to a nearby official (and affordable) resort, Hershey Lodge, where they combine the charm of an old-school motor lodge with modern updates and amenities, including cozy nooks by a large stone fireplace. Hospitality is on the forefront and kicks in right when you check in and are handed a Hershey’s premium chocolate bar.
In addition to several standout dining options where chocolate is embraced throughout the menu, the property also features a water park themed to some of your favorite Hershey’s brand candies.
Dollywood Hotel Deals
FamilyVacationist Pick: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Pigeon Forge
In the heart of the Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is a family-friendly town home to hundreds of amusements and activities, including Dollywood. Many of the hotels in the area are dated, but the SpringHill Suites by Marriott is a breath of fresh mountain air. This all-suite hotel is just 10 minutes from Dollywood and features an on-site indoor and outdoor pool with a slide and whirlpool, a cozy lobby, and complimentary hot breakfast buffet each morning. It’s also within walking distance of many popular dining and shopping options.
Holiday World Hotel Deals
Family Vacationist Pick: Santa’s Lodge
It’s Christmas all year long in Santa Claus, Indiana, and Santa’s Lodge is the closest hotel you’ll find to Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. Located less than a mile away, Santa’s Lodge offers paddle-boating, zip lining, and even a rock-climbing. The resort, which keeps its Christmas décor up 365 days a year, exudes a welcoming wilderness lodge feel and was constructed from the hand-hewn timbers of a 19th century barn that once stood on the site.
Pro tip: Santa’s Lodge is especially great for those who love fishing. Guests have access to the hotel’s catch-and-release fishing lake for free. It’s also within close proximity to Lincoln State Park, where there are 10 miles of hiking trails to enjoy.