It’s summer, and you know what that means! Your kids want to go to Disney World. Planning a trip to Disney World can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to figure out where to stay. Disney properties are booking far in advance thanks to the last few years. Disney superfans itching to get back to their travel plans since the pandemic are making for limited availability, everywhere.

Something you may not realize is that there are other options that aren’t directly on the Disney property, but are very, very close: Disney Good Neighbor hotels. There are dozens of hotels near Disney World that get the “Good Neighbor” distinction. They typically have services that assist with planning your day at the park, and they offer transportation that makes getting there easy. We recently visited The Caribe Royale—a completely renovated property with a villa and suite-only experience. That’s right, every offering is a one bedroom suite or two bedroom villa—and there are so many reasons to stay here.

Caribe Royale

Let’s get this part out of the way: yes, Disney World is amazing. It’s like nothing your kids have ever seen, and there is absolutely nothing like being submerged in that theme park, with happiness everywhere. Disney works very hard to make each guest’s experience “magical”—and it shows. But realistically, sometimes you want a break from the ears. A Disney Good Neighbor Hotel offers that. You get the best of both worlds; time at the park, and time to decompress away from the crowds.

We arrived to an incredible lobby, with help from the start. The crew at the Caribe Royale quickly makes sure you have everything set for your Disney visit; that you’ve remembered to book your reservations to the park (some people don’t know they have to do this!) and understand the hotel’s shuttle schedule. The sweeping lobby opens into a view of a pool that will make any kid gasp. Really. It’s that good.

Caribe Royale

The hotel recently underwent a $127M renovation, and it shows. Each room is a villa, or as I like to call it, a parents’ dream. Our kids had their own half of a suite with a couch and their own TV. This means, the adults actually got to watch a Liam Neeson R-rated thriller and drink tequila while our kids watched The LEGO Movie in the other room. The dream. Our room had two queen beds with an incredible view of the pool, so when the kids joined us to sleep, they had their own bed. The hotel also offers two-bedroom villas for families who need more space.

Maria Guido

Maria Guido

There are several dining options so you don’t really need to leave the property for food. There is a casual restaurant by the pool that has your usual burger, tacos, and salad fare. There’s also an incredible dining option if you want to splurge—The Venetian Chop House, with a menu by celebrity chef David Hackett. Be prepared to pay NYC fine dining prices. It was expensive. But the food was absolutely incredible and the cocktails were perfect. They also have a very reasonably-priced kids’ menu, which was a plus.

There is also so much to do that makes this hotel a destination on its own—even if you aren’t going to Disney. The main pool has a 75-foot waterslide, and there are luxurious treatments at The Island Spa, bike rentals, catch-and-release fishing, tennis and basketball courts, and movie nights under the stars. There was also a small arcade our kids loved.

The biggest indicator we’d chosen the right hotel? Our kids were begging to get back to the pool by the end of our day at Disney.

I mean, it’s a really good pool.

Here’s a complete list of all participating Disney Good Neighbor Hotels. 

Editor’s note: This trip was paid for by Caribe Royale Orlando, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

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