Better than Disney resorts? Our KidTripster mom thinks so!
From the outside, you would never know the beauty that the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld holds within. It sits directly across the street from SeaWorld, home of the Kraken Unleashed and Mako roller coasters plus, of course, sea creatures galore. It’s a perfect place to call “home” if you don’t want to be inundated by Mickey and company 24/7 but still need close proximity to all of Orlando’s theme parks. A true resort, the Renaissance boasts spacious rooms, multiple eateries, a spa, and a large pool complete with its own mini water park.
Where to stay?
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld has 781 rooms including 64 suites. The rooms are some of the largest in Orlando. The bathrooms are sizable, too, with double sinks, so multiple family members can get ready at once. Every room is equipped with a coffee maker and mini refrigerator. If you’d like a little outdoor space, reserve a room with an outward-facing balcony.
Kidtripster Tip: Ask for a room with a SeaWorld view.
Rooms start at $129/night, plus $25 daily resort fee which includes complimentary transportation to area parks, bottled water, and more.
Last year, we stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which is considered a value property. I think that the Renaissance is a better deal. The rooms alone are twice as big as the Little Mermaid rooms. The beds are bigger and more comfortable, the food tastier, and the overall stay is more relaxing with fewer crowds. Art of Animation is about a 20-minute ride to the Magic Kingdom, so just a little closer than the Renaissance. Still, if we were ever to go back to Disney World, we'd stay at the Renaissance again, hands down.
What to do?
The close proximity to several Orlando theme parks is what makes this property ideal. The shuttle (included in the resort fee) will transport you to the Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and the Orlando Vineland Outlets. The ride to Universal and Magic Kingdom is just under 30 minutes (with several stops at other hotels). Be sure to book your transportation the night before at the Navigator Desk.
KidTripster Tip: If you're wanting to visit other Disney parks, you can board buses from Magic Kingdom.
The Renaissance is a preferred partner with SeaWorld. Just by staying, each guest gets a free behind-the-scenes tour, a Quick Queue pass, early entry into the park, and exclusive discounts. Quick Queue allows you to skip the line at most of the popular rides, thus saving precious time. This pass was one of our favorite perks!
KidTripster Tip: Buy your SeaWorld tickets online at least 24 hours in advance to save $20/ticket.
After you hit the parks, return to the Renaissance for some poolside relaxation. Rent a large alligator or Shamu for floating or swim under a half dozen fountains. There’s also a separate area called the R Aqua Zone with two splash pads and three water slides – two for bigger kids and one for toddlers. My daughters loved the water slides; one went down the slides 20 times in a row! You’ll also find two giant Connect 4 games, ping pong, a pool table, and an arcade.
KidTripster Tip: Be sure to ask the front desk or concierge what’s happening during your stay. During the holidays and summer months, there are tons of activities geared toward families. Even during the off-season, you’ll still find family-friendly events like movies in the pool and painting parties.
Photo courtesy: SeaWorld Orlando
Where to eat?
You won’t go hungry at the Renaissance. Tradewinds is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offering upscale comfort food. My kids say it’s one of the best breakfast buffets that they’ve ever eaten with made-to-order chocolate chip pancakes and fresh honey from the comb to drizzle on biscuits.
KidTripster Tip: Try the honey! Renaissance chefs maintain two colonies of honeybees which live on the roof of the hotel. They harvest the honey as the combs allow and use it in recipes from salad dressings to breakfast smoothies.
Mist Sushi and Spirits is located in the middle of the atrium and is a perfect meeting place for those who are traveling in bigger groups. Here you can indulge in handcrafted cocktails and fresh sushi. Adjacent to Mist, you’ll find Boardwalk, serving up pub-style food. This restaurant was our favorite. The service was quick, the food was delicious, and TV monitors kept the sports enthusiasts in our family entertained.
Another good choice for lunch is Palms Pool Bar and Grill. This outdoor eatery is right next to the pool and serves up appetizers, salads, sandwiches, plus housemade chips. If your kids are like mine and don’t want to get out of the pool, this place is your go-to.
Need a caffeine? Look no farther than the on-site Starbucks. And if your sweet tooth is calling, try Toppers Creamery, where you can order smoothies and ice cream with all the toppings.
KidTripster Tip: Look for periodic “Kids Eat Free” offers online.
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld is about 14 miles from Orlando International Airport. There‘s no shuttle service from the airport. A taxi runs $50 to $60 one way.
My husband, daughters, and I agree that this is the best hotel that we have ever stayed at. The rooms are great, the service is stellar, and the amenities are excellent. And our girls will forever remember this hotel as the place where they learned to swim!
Holly Thiel Rake lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, two daughters, and dog. She loves planning vacations almost as much as taking them. When at home, she enjoys gardening.
This writer received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.