Orlando and Disney World Gay Resorts and Hotels

How to Decide to Stay in Downtown Orlando, Near Disney World, or Near Universal

City Skyline At Dusk
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With its world-renowned theme parks, few places in America have a more extensive and impressive selection of accommodations to choose from than Orlando, Florida. With a tremendous gay following, especially during early June's Orlando Gay Days at Walt Disney World, the city and nearby Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee communities (home to the major theme parks, and about a 30-minute drive south of downtown Orlando), are consistently LGBT-welcoming when it comes to hotels.

In Orlando, you would be hard-pressed to find a major hotel which had any issues with gay guests. The real difference is that some hotels prioritize creating a diverse and inclusive environment for their guests. A bit surprisingly, the area doesn't have many gay resorts or bed and breakfasts in the way that Fort Lauderdale and Key West do. There is the infamous gay party-plex, Parliament House, but otherwise, your options in this part of the world tend to be major mainstream brands, with just about every big hotelier represented in the region—even a posh Four Seasons Resort.

Downtown Orlando Or Near Disney World

Since it's about a half-hour drive between the major theme parks (Walt Disney World, Epcot, Aquatica, SeaWorld, Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) and downtown Orlando, where you stay depends most on what you plan to do.

Downtown Orlando actually has plenty of charm with world-class art museums, historic and gay-friendly districts like Thornton Park and the small, upscale community of Winter Park, and some of the liveliest gay clubbing in Florida.

But, if you're visiting the area primarily to partake of the theme parks, you should probably stay at a property near them. If you do not plan to leave the Disney or Universal Studios area, then you really don't even need a rental car. It is possible to rely on shuttles and taxis to get anywhere not within walking distance.

If you're not visiting the parks or only plan to go once or twice, and would much rather go to gay bars or clubs in downtown Orlando, then you should stay downtown. Same goes if you are in town for business or want to check out the arts scene. If you stay downtown, you may find it is a lot easier on your budget, although you might want a rental car if you are staying in Orlando proper, as distances among attractions, neighborhoods, restaurants, and bars can be considerable.

Check out some gay and gay-friendly resorts and hotels in the Orlando area including hotels near or in Walt Disney World, closer to the theme parks.

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Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney’s Contemporary Resort is one of the three original Disney resorts that opened in 1971 along with Disney World. It is one of the most iconic on-site Disney resorts with a monorail stop inside the lobby of the main building. One stop from there and you're at the Magic Kingdom.

Like all the other Disney Resort hotels, this resort comes complete with extra magic hours where the parks are open to Disney resort guests an extra hour some days before opening and others at closing. Combined with award-winning dining options, amazing views, and a huge pool, this resort is perfect for any Disney-fanatic.

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Grand Bohemian Hotel

Grand Bohemian Hotel
photo by Andrew Collins

Among properties in downtown Orlando, the Grand Bohemian Hotel is one of the most stylish and inviting. It's part of the gay-friendly Kessler Collection (which has other properties in Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina) as well as the Marriott-affiliated collection of distinctive independent hotels, the Autograph Collection.

The hotel has a one-of-a-kind art collection and gallery. This eco-conscious 247-room mid-rise is steps from Church Street Station and downtown Orlando's growing number of fine restaurants and cafes, and it's also just a 20-minute walk along the shore of rippling Lake Eola to reach the historic and charming Thornton Park neighborhood, which is another great dining hub.

Rooms have elegant, custom-designed leather headboards, velvet drapes, and sleek desks, plus lots of cushy perks like marble-accented baths, Bose CD radios, fluffy robes, and in some suites, Jacuzzis. The hotel's Boheme Restaurant is renowned for its Sunday jazz brunch and is an exceptional spot for dinner, serving first-rate contemporary American fare. The Bösendorfer Lounge is an inviting, elegant venue for sipping cocktails and listening to live piano cabaret. The lounge is quite popular with the local LGBT community. Other notable amenities include the full-service Poseidon Spa, a heated pool with grand views of the city skyline, and a 24-hour fitness center.

03 of 07

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort

Hard Rock Hotel
photo by Andrew Collins

For proximity to the attractions at Universal Orlando and nearby theme parks, the pet-friendly Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort is an excellent option, especially for adults, as this member of the edgy, music-themed, and nightlife-minded hotel brand has a decidedly grown-up vibe compared with other accommodations in the vicinity.

It's a sprawling 650-room resort that has early access to Islands of Adventure and express-ride privileges at Universal. From the hotel, you can easily get around the resort by bus or water taxi (it's a quick walk to either park, too).

The spacious rooms are decorated in striking cocoa, charcoal, and tan color schemes and have iHome clock radios, big flat-screen TVs, and impressive entertainment centers. There's a full slate of scene-y bars and restaurants, from the ubiquitous and touristy Hard Rock Cafe to a branch of the posh Palm Restaurant steakhouse, plus venues with live music and dancing.

A sandy beach fringes the giant 12,000-square-foot lagoon-inspired pool, and guests can access the Mandara Spa next door at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel for facials and massages. And, if you are traveling with a family, note that the Hard Rock has Camp Lil' Rock, which offers a range of supervised activities geared for the young ones.

04 of 07

Parliament House

Parliament House
photo by Andrew Collins

There are two main reasons to stay at Parliament House: It's an iconic gay entertainment complex that's been a fixture in Orlando since it opened back in the mid-70s, or you're on a tight budget.

This 112-room motel is bare-bones and the rooms are pretty dreary and dated, but the rates are fairly low. The staff is consistently sweet and friendly, and it is attached to a huge gay nightclub and cabaret. It's also a pretty optimum venue if you're in town hoping to get laid. This two-level motel surrounds a large, clothing-optional, cruise-y pool (guests can also sunbathe nude at a private beach at adjacent Rock Lake). Rooms have exterior entrances. Guys on the make as a signal will sometimes leave their window shades drawn and doors ajar to encourage visitors.

It's a legit motel, though, not a bathhouse. You can easily meet gay guys here, but plenty of guests stay here simply because the rates are low (less than $100). The rooms are literally steps from bar-hopping and an affordable American-fare restaurant. Rooms include standards, efficiencies, and suites (the latter two have microwaves and fridges). Rooms have free HBO and safes, but Wi-Fi costs extra (except in the small business center, where it's free).

Interestingly, the owners of Parliament House have also built an adjacent time-share for the LGBT community called The Gardens Orlando, consisting of 162 upscale one and two-bedroom condos. It's an impressive place, worth taking a look at if you're interested in spending time regularly in the Orlando area.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

B Resort and Spa in Walt Disney World

B Resort and Spa in Walt Disney World

B Resort and Spa in Walt Disney World

Located in the Walt Disney World Resort, the B Resort features 394 guest rooms and suites that exude stylish yet playful décor. The brand’s "Self-Expression Hospitality" invites guests to tailor experiences in an open environment where anyone can just "be."

B Resort and Spa features exciting amenities, including the B Indulged AVEDA full-service spa, a zero-entry pool, and American Kitchen, a fresh take on American dishes made with locally sourced ingredients from Florida farms.

Located on-property near Disney Springs, as a Disney resort, you get all the perks: complimentary shuttle service to and from all four theme parks and Disney Springs, priority seating for Disney dinner shows and theme park restaurants, and preferred tee times at Disney's golf courses.

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Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

The Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive is the 2019 official host hotel of GayDays Orlando. This annual expo will be held at the hotel entrance and hotel lobby. 

Located minutes from Universal Orlando, and Walt Disney World, this idyllic tropical paradise of lush gardens, romantic lagoons, and sparkling pools offers endless opportunities for both relaxation and recreation. Convenient amenities that make it easy to stay in or go out, include a shuttle to Universal Studios and SeaWorld, ample parking, on-site dining options, two heated pools, a state-of-the-art fitness center with saunas and steam rooms, and in-room movies on a 40-inch flat screen TV.

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Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress offers a more family-friendly option adjacent to Disney World that has plenty of luxury amenities that you might just forget about going to the parks—although Walt Disney World is a short drive away.

On-site, this Hyatt features the Jack Nicklaus golf course and the Marilyn Monroe spa, which has seven treatment rooms, a hair and nail salon, and massage services. A private lake, tennis courts, and an outdoor lagoon pool with a waterslide are available to enjoy. The resort offers on-site dining at six restaurants, hammocks, water sports, rock climbing, and a children’s play area. A balcony, in-room safe, iPod dock, and work desk are featured in all Grand Cypress rooms. Select rooms include access to the private club lounge.

Also, the resort offers Camp Hyatt, an exciting activities program designed to provide children (age 3 to 12) with endless fun and adventure—swimming, nature hiking, crafting, and scavenger hunting.

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