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When taking the kids on an Orlando vacation, it's important to keep them entertained at every moment. Luckily, once the theme parks close, you will find the Orlando area offers a plethora of resorts and hotels that not only tolerate children, but cater to them. Check out Travel Channel and Oyster.com's top picks for kid-friendly Orlando resorts.
From the gazelles and giraffes freely roaming the grounds to the enormous pool with a water slide, the safari-themed Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge was designed to amaze and delight children. Throughout the day, staff members lead (free) educational activities for children like craft-making, African drumming, or mini-lessons about the where giraffes come from. Here, even the learning is captivating.
It's not exactly luxurious -- the bedding is sub par and crowds are a constant -- but the 727-room Wilderness Lodge is still a superb family resort. It has lake access, hiking trails, a standout pool and water slide, free daily kids' activities, a great gym, and elaborate, Western frontier decor (including an exploding geyser) to keep kids enthralled -- all just 5 minutes from the Magic Kingdom.
This sprawling 411-room resort located 15 minutes south of Disney is one of Orlando's priciest condo properties outside of Disney -- but you get a lot of fun for the money. It offers beautiful, kitchen-equipped, one-bedroom villas; daily kids' activities; a top-notch water park with water slides, shallow play areas and life guards on duty; excellent restaurants; and polished service. In short: a great place to take the kids.
You know when you stay at a hotel with "Nickelodeon" in its name that you're in for a kid-tastic treat. Dedicated entirely to children's comfort and entertainment, "Nick Hotel," as it slangily refers to itself, is literally made for families. Accommodations are configured to give parents and children separate bedrooms, with plenty of shared living space and the convenience of kitchenettes. The entertainment and on-site amenities are unmatched outside of Disney and include 2 water parks, a mall, and -- during the busiest seasons -- activities like live entertainment at the pool and Studio Nick.
Designed to evoke an old town in the Mississippi Delta, the huge, 2,048-room Riverside is one of Disney's best values. Its guest rooms aren't as new as those at the Coronado, for example, but its central location, fun pool complex, large rooms that sleep 5, and beautiful setting make it a great family pick for the price.
JW isn't remarkably kid-friendly by the impossible standards of some Disney and Universal Studios hotels -- where kids can get a wake-up call from their favorite movie character -- but by any other standard it's an excellent choice for families, especially those looking for a little more luxury from their Orlando vacation. Its virtues include big rooms, a winding lazy-river pool, kids' menus available for in-room dining, arts and crafts activities, Saturday evening film screenings and good dining variety.
The pros: It has 3 enormous pools and a massive arcade. The cons: The guest rooms are small (and often noisy) and the on-site food options are limited. On balance, a fine landing pad for families spending most of their time (and money) at the parks.
Because all 3 Universal hotels have very similar features and services, families will do fine at any one of them; picking is really a question of priorities. Portofino Bay has the classiest, most grown-up atmosphere, which may not be a great fit for small children. The Hard Rock's rock-and-roll theme is well suited for teens. The Royal Pacific, meanwhile, has an easygoing atmosphere ideal for guests with youngsters in tow. Kids can dine with their favorite Universal character at the hotel restaurant (say, Spider-Man or the Cat in the Hat), attend twice-weekly luau shows and zap bad guys in the video arcade. Suites have separate rooms with kid-friendly themes (like Jurassic Park), and the thrills of Universal Studios are just a 10-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride away.