Info: 407-996-7300, www.comfortinnorlando.com.
5 * COMFORT SUITES MAINGATE
The Red Horse Inn's Southwestern motif includes a saddle in the lobby.
(Anne Mcdonough -- The Washington Post)
7888 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $59.99 (Travelocity).
Details: One of the newer properties along U.S. Highway 192 -- and one of the best. The 150 rooms have large sitting areas with pull-out couches, and the multi-mirrored bathrooms are family-friendly (plenty of counter space and lots of plugs). Kids can chill in the huge pool -- and the nearby mushroom fountain -- while Mom and Dad lounge at the poolside bar. A sunny breakfast room sits off the airy lobby, and the free waffles-and-bagel spread rocks. Bonus: The hotel sits far off the highway, so it's extra quiet.
Info: 407-390-9888, www.kisscomfortsuite.com.
6 DAYS INN MAINGATE WEST
7980 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $40.91 (Travelocity) to $41.24 (Travelweb).
Details: Culture at a chain hotel? Yes, indeed. The now-closed Splendid China theme park moved many of its Asian treasures to this secluded, woodsy property (same owners), filling the lobby and 333 rooms with Eastern artifacts like fans, Zen-like prints and sculptures. Also planned: an on-site Asian cultural center and martial arts and dance school. The rooms are standard in size and layout (and some smelled slightly fusty), but the exotic accouterments add an upscale touch. As does the gift shop, which sells Japanese and Chinese crafts, and the large pool area, which is distinguished by sky-high palm trees and lanterns. At night, nothing could be finer than rocking in the large wooden swing lit only by the glow of the moon and the lights above.
Info: 800-327-9173, www.dimgw.com.
7 HAMPTON INN ORLANDO-LAKE BUENA VISTA
8150 Palm Pkwy.
Price We Found: $53.10 (Travelweb).
Details: It had us at hello. After a look at the lobby -- with its plush chairs, fireplace and pretty breakfast buffet room -- we weren't surprised to find the 147 rooms similarly appointed. In fact, the whole place seems too tasteful for a Disney area chain hotel. Even the pool, though small, was gussied up with palm trees, red brick and flowers. The Disney parks are only a few minutes away, and even closer is a profusion of shops and restaurants.
Info: 407-465-8150, www.hamptoninnlbv.com.
8 * HOLIDAY INN MAINGATE EAST
5678 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $55 (Hotels.com) to $59.36 (Travelweb).
Details: This sprawling 614-room faux oasis requires a road map -- or a golf cart -- to get around. In addition to the two Olympic-size pools, with accompanying tot pools and food/drink chaise-lounge service, the hotel has lighted tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, poolside shuffleboard, a basketball hoop and more. Between laps, you can get hitched at the Little White Wedding Chapel -- that is, before it reverts back to a movie theater that shows free family-friendly flicks nightly. With their large windows and festive color scheme, the rooms are above par, but we're even bigger fans of the "playhouse" suites (themed for NASCAR, cowboys, etc., with bunk beds, Nintendo and fun phones) for kids. (On Jan. 1, the hotel will change owners and will be renamed Seralago.)
Info: 407-396-4488, www.orlandofamilyfunhotel.com.
9 HOLIDAY INN NIKKI BIRD RESORT
7300 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $50 (SideStep).
Details: It's tacky-looking (lots of exterior neon and polished metal) and has an ugly, loud lobby, but we loved this 530-room hotel's bright, tropical-hued rooms, its three pools set amid lush palmy landscaping, the cheery diner and the close proximity to Disney. The KidSuites are about $30 more a night but worth it -- children get their own bunk beds and TV/VCR and are separated by a wall from their folks. Kids eat free, plus it's one of the few spots we found that offers baby-sitting service.
Info: 407-396-7300, www.hicentralflorida.com.
10 HOWARD JOHNSON EXPRESS INN SUITES