By Dalia Colon for the CheapTickets Travel Blog
With the price of tickets to Walt Disney World, soaring into the triple digits earlier this year, parkgoers need to be savvier than ever about where they stay. Consider hotels just outside Disney World, but not technically on the park's property. Here's a rundown of some of our favorite resorts within a 10-minute drive of the park, all bookable on CheapTickets. All offer free shuttle service to Disney and are so chockfull of amenities that they just might be the second happiest place on earth.
Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek: This lakeside hotel gets high marks for its helpful staff, surrounding woodlands and swimming pools for every age and interest. At mealtime, enjoy the casual Italian fare of the resort's Tesoro Cove, or send the kids to the game room while you enjoy a grown-up meal in the upscale Deep Blu Seafood Grille--just two of many options. Then after dark, chill at the fire pit before heading back to your room with its Mediterranean-inspired decor. When booking, consider the Orlando Family Getaway Package, which includes kid-friendly add-ons like breakfast for the family, an in-room movie, pizza and snacks.
Nickelodeon Family Suites Resort: This popular hotel is a destination unto itself and a favorite staycation spot for Florida families. Choose a one-, two- or three-bedroom suite with family-friendly perks like a full kitchen, sleeper sofa and even a Nick-themed kids' room with bunk beds. The hotel's public areas are loaded with kid-friendly perks like character dining in the restaurant, a 4-D theater, a Ninja Turtles-themed laser maze and a kids' spa. And yes, there's always the potential for green slime. By the end of their stay, your kids will be asking, "Mickey who?"
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek: For something more low-key and less, well, green-slimy, this contemporary hotel is a great option. It's nestled in the Bonnet Creek Nature Preserve, with plenty of grownup relaxation including a lazy river, poolside cabana rentals and access to golf course and spa at the adjacent Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Amenities like a water slide and free kids' meals make it a family-friendly option.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress: If walking around Disney doesn't tire you out, this resort that's big on recreation has plenty of ways to channel your energy. In addition to the usual pool and tennis courts, activities like rock climbing, bike rentals and water sports in the hotel's private lake are included in the resort fee. Private balconies and a kids' camp for an additional charge are nice perks, too.
Orlando World Center Marriott: With 1,889 guest rooms and 120 suites, this massive resort is so full of things to do that you won't need to leave to be amused. The hotels's Falls Pool Oasis water park will leave the kids exhausted before they even reach the Disney gates, while grown-up features like an 18-hole golf course, spa and sports bar keep parents happy. The resort is also big on special events, from poolside movies in summer to Santa reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas inside a two-ton gingerbread house in the lobby at holiday time. Ask about the Family Connecting Room Package, which allows room for everyone to spread out.
Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center: Winter is the best time to visit this sprawling resort, when more than 2 million lights deck out the 63-acre property and a tubing hill covered with real snow beckons adventure seekers. Also enjoy breakfast with Mrs. Claus, appearances by Santa and more. Ask about the Disney Tickets Vacation Package, which includes accommodations and tickets for the family. Amenities like an on-site water park, adults-on pool and the atrium full of lush greenery make for a pleasant summertime stay.