Wait…The Best Theme Park Hotel In The U.S. Is NOT In Disney World?

While Orlando’s theme parks get a lot of attention, the resorts are also something to behold!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Whether you’re just using it as a spot to rest your head between park days, you head back for a break in the pool on the daily, or you spend an entire day at your resort, Disney World’s hotels make it so that you never have to leave the “magic.” Plus, even Universal Orlando has some pretty swanky hotels too! And, recently, USA Today set out to see what readers thought were the BEST theme park hotels in the country and the answer might surprise you!

You might already be thinking of some obvious choices for winners when it comes to theme park hotels, but — just wait — here’s a breakdown of USA Today’s Top  10 Theme Park Hotels in 2022!

10. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Coming in at number 10 on USA Today’s list is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. YES — number 10 (!!).

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

This classic Disney World hotel is themed to the Polynesian islands, and features some of Disney World’s best pools, and amazing food!

See a FULL REVIEW of our mos recent stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort here!

9. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel — Universal Orlando

Next on their list was Universal Orlando’s Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. This Italian-inspired hotel almost makes you forget you’re in Central Florida!

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

The hotel features tons of different dining options, and great decor like cobblestone streets, a waterside piazza, and Italian Cypress Trees.

See our full review from our most recent stay HERE!

8. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

At number 8, USA Today had Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. This hotel also does a great job of convincing you you’re not in Florida and has beautiful nature walks and amazing pools inspired by America’s Northwest!

Wilderness Lodge Waterfall

7. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Next on USA Today’s List is Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort! This hotel located in Orlando is retro-themed straight out of the 50s and 60s. They even have a bowling alley and Universal Studios’ first lazy river.

©Universal Orlando

6. Dollywood Cabins

Number 6 on USA Today’s list is the Dollywood Cabins in Tennessee! These cabins can sleep up to 22 people in the Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. They include kitchens, jacuzzis, fireplaces, wrap-around decks, and are located near several attractions in the area.

©Dolly Parton

5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Next on the list is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This super unique hotel has hundreds of animals that can walk right up to your window. You’ll find unique food options and the 11,000 square foot pool is a crowd-pleaser for all families that visit.

Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby

4. Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts

Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts are next on the list. These are located near EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and feature luxurious rooms and suites. They have tons of conference spaces, lounges, restaurants, and a fitness center.

Swan and Dolphin Resorts

3. LEGOLAND Hotel — LEGOLAND Florida

Now for the top 3! Coming in at number 3 is the LEGOLAND Hotel at LEGOLAND Florida. This hotel is a great option for families with kids, and there is so much to do. They have separate sleeping areas for kids in every room, nightly entertainment, and LEGO Master Model Builder Workshops. The rooms also come in a variety of themes!


2. Hotel Breakers — Cedar Point

Number 2 on the list is Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point. This hotel is right on the water, and near Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores. They have a full-service beachfront bar, outdoor pools, and an arcade!

©Cedar Point

1. Dollywood Dreammore Resort + Spa

Number 1 on USA Today’s List of Best Theme Park Hotels is the Dollywood Dreammore Resort and Spa! Located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, this hotel has an interactive splash pad, a zero-entry pool, and transportation to the park!

©Dolly Parton

So, all in all, only 4 Disney World hotels and 2 Universal Orlando hotels made the list — and not even in the top 3! According to USA Today, the process of deciding the official rankings began with a panel of experts who partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees. From there, the initial nominees were selected, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Do you agree with these rankings? If not, what hotel do you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned to AllEars for more of the latest theme park news and updates!

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10 Replies to “Wait…The Best Theme Park Hotel In The U.S. Is NOT In Disney World?”

  1. Have to disagree on Dream More Resort beating out Wilderness Lodge. Prices are definitely lower at Dolly’s hotel and while very nice, just doesn’t beat Wilderness Lodge, which has better theming, more and better dining options, and the beautiful location on Bay Lake. The new resort hotel at Dollywood coming to Dollywood, however, may rival Wilderness.

  2. Nice to see AK lodge so high on the list. Disney could perhaps increase their rankings if they would give back some of the perks that they took away. Free resort parking for guests for example, seems like a no brainer way to get guests back. And of course bring back the real extended magic hours.

  3. Dolly’s truly a remarkable person and it speaks volumes that she has 2- resorts in this list. Not bad for a little ole country girl from the Tennessee mountains. If you want to learn how to be a good person, just read up on Dolly’s life and what all her charity has done for people. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Dollywood theme park, but I will always be a huge fan of this fine lady.

  4. You hit the nail on the head, extremely relaxing, safe, clean and ultra friendly! And much cheaper then WDW!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Dollywood is going to try to transition to a destination resort near Disney levels in the coming years. They may need a second theme park or other type of major attraction to achieve that because I’m not sure just a bunch of rooms or cabins will be enough to do that by itself, but having visited Dollywood for the first time last summer, I can say that the park is definitely a step in the right direction, and the area is more affordable right now than the Orlando area is for more of the country east of the Mississippi.

  6. WDW has been sinking for several years. The decline will occur much faster now due to getting involved with politics.

  7. We stayed at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort in 2018 and I would agree it is one of the best. It has a good variety of rooms to choose from and certainly has the hospitality of Dolly everywhere you go (right down to the afternoon complimentary “Miss Dolly’s Pink Lemonade”.
    The one drawback is there are limited places to eat. I recall only one restaurant (Song & Hearth) which is only a buffet. The other place is a quick-go Starbucks style place to get breakfast, snacks, pizza and ice cream. There is also a lounge with bites to eat and poolside ordering.

    But overall it is a beautiful resort and they are suppose to double in size soon with another resort Nextdoor.

  8. This is no surprise, the number 1 spot also gives you front of the line access at the theme park. And really is an amazing resort with lots of entertainment in both the hotel and theme park. Really they both do much better than Disney at this point in time and are more affordable.