So the easy part is done: you finally convinced your family that your next vacation should be a Disney vacation. Now comes the hard part: how do you decide where to stay? We as DA’s understand that picking a favorite resort can be somewhat like picking a favorite sibling or kid. I mean, maybe there really is one that has a slight edge over the others, but ultimately, every resort captures our hearts in its own special way.
As a travel agent, I get asked this question a lot: what is the best value/moderate/deluxe resort at Disney World? With over 20 resorts throughout Disney World, each with distinct theming and offerings, it can be a really tough decision. For my next three articles, join me as we take a look at all the wonderful resorts at Walt Disney World and see which resort wins the day.
To start us off, let’s visit Disney’s Value Resorts. Value Resorts are typically the least expensive of all the resort categories. The theming is also more pronounced – you won’t doubt for a second that you are staying on Disney property because of the bright colors and larger-than-life Disney characters. Here are some other characteristics of Value Resorts:
- Standard rooms are smaller compared to the moderates and deluxe resorts, totaling about 260 square feet.
- Standard rooms have a maximum occupancy of 4 people (plus a child under 3 years old who will sleep in a crib).
- You can find either two double beds or a king-size bed in these rooms (unless you are in a family suite).
- The design of the room itself is clean and simple. For example, you won’t find an actual closet here; instead, you’ll have drawer space and a tall shelf with a rod where you can hang your clothing.
- Room doors face an outside walkway instead of an inside hallway.
- The resorts do not offer table service dining, although there are quick service food courts with many delicious options.
- They are no water slides at any of the pools.
- Transportation to all areas of Disney is done via bus transfers.
If you are spending most of your time in the parks and using your room primarily to unwind and swim in the pool, Value Resorts are a great choice. It still gives you the feel of Disney and you get access to Disney activities, transportation, amenities and onsite perks, but it also leaves you with more spending money for those souvenirs – a very important consideration in my book!
And so without further ado, here are the Disney Value Resorts:
- All-Star Sports. All-Star Sports is the first of the Value Resorts to be built by Disney in 1994. There are 1,920 rooms themed to different sports, including football, tennis, baseball, surfing/beach recreation, and basketball. As with all the Value Resorts, the outdoor decorations are kid-friendly and super-sized: think three-story high megaphones, basketball hoops, baseball bats, and surfboards scattered all across property. Their food court, End Zone, was completely renovated in 2013 and serves a wide variety of snacks and meals. The good thing about All-Star Sports, as with the other All-Star value resorts, is that it is slightly less expensive than Pop Century or Art of Animation. However, it is also worth noting that there can be quite a bit of group travel that is booked at this resort, so keep an eye out on what conventions and special events may be taking place during your travel to see if the hotel may be particularly crowded. Something else worth mentioning: while the All-Star resorts all share bus transportation, what sets All-Star Sports apart is that it is typically the first stop going to and coming back from the parks.
- All-Star Music. All-Star Music is the second of the All-Star resorts to be built and is dedicated to all things, well, musical. There are several themed buildings: Country, Broadway, Calypso, Rock, and Jazz. Instead of seeing over-sized surfboards and tennis balls, here you’ll see larger-than life jukeboxes, cowboy boots, maracas, electric guitars, drums, and more. What sets All-Star Music apart from its other All-Star siblings is that it is the only resort of the three to have family suites. The family suites can sleep 6 guests plus 1 child under three who will sleep in a crib. I especially love the theming of their Piano Pool, which has a big tiled piano across one end. You know, just in case you want to recreate that scene from the movie Big (which is not a Disney movie, but I digress).
- All-Star Movies. This is the third and final installment of the All Star resorts. It also has 1,920 rooms spread out over five buildings featuring 101 Dalmatians, Toy Story, Fantasia, The Mighty Ducks and Herbie: The Love Bug. A big pro for All-Star Movies: the Intermission Food Court is the most recent of all food court renovations with the All-Star resorts, having only been completed in 2014. In terms of theming, All-Star Movies would probably be my favorite of the All-Star resorts as well. Who can resist larger-than-life statues of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Herbie, the Mighty Ducks logo, and the magic brooms from Fantasia? The pool is also quite beautiful, which has Sorcerer Mickey as the centerpiece.
- Pop Century. Pop Century is dedicated to pop culture references over the decades. It’s a *nod nod wink wink* for those of us who can recognize some of the references throughout the buildings, like jukeboxes, 8-track tapes, sock hops, Sony Walkmans, floppy disks, and many more. One thing worth noting about Pop Century is that it is the largest resort on Disney property in terms of number of rooms. There are 2,880 rooms total, but don’t let this scare you – despite the large number of rooms, the layout at Pop Century is pretty close-knit. So whichever building you get assigned, chances are that it will be a relatively short walk to the resort’s pool, dining, and transportation areas. If you happen to eat at Pop Century’s food court, Everything Pop, make sure you try the tie dye cheesecake. Yum! Pricing for Pop Century is slightly more than at the All-Star Resorts, but on the flipside, there is bus transportation dedicated to the resort, so there is no bus sharing here.
- Art of Animation. And last but certainly not least, the Art of Animation is dedicated to the animation process and Disney’s most beloved animated movies. It is also the newest addition to the Value Resorts. There are four different sections on property, each focused on a Disney movie: Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, Cars, and Lion King. The first thing you’ll notice about Art of Animation is that the theming is bright, bold and impeccable. Each detail has been carefully designed, from the statues dedicated to the animated movies down to the feature pool and kids’ water play areas. Who wouldn’t want to stay overnight at the Cozy Cone Motel? Take a stroll into the Cars section and it’s as if you walked into a live action set of the movie. Not into Cars? Well, you can see Pride Rock for yourself instead! The Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation is also something to behold, as it is the largest pool in all Disney properties. If you ever stay there, stay underwater for a few seconds and listen – I won’t ruin the surprise! Their food court, Landscape of Flavors, also provides a wide variety of options for kids and adults. Like Pop Century, Art of Animation has its own bus transportation which is a pro. A small con would be that Art of Animation is the most expensive of the Value Resorts. Standard rooms can only be found in the Little Mermaid section, and oftentimes, these rooms are excluded from Disney promotions. The family suites, which can be found across the other three themed lands, are also at a higher price point compared to the family suites at All-Star Music. One other thing to consider about Art of Animation is that the theming within the rooms can be quite pronounced. For some, staying in a bright, bold-colored, Disney-themed bedroom might be just the ticket, but others may prefer the more subdued tones at the other Value Resorts.
So as I mentioned earlier, I get asked this question a lot – what is the best value/moderate/deluxe resort at Disney? For the Value Resorts, I would place Pop Century and Art of Animation as a tie. Art of Animation is the newest resort and has beautiful grounds, but if you are staying in a standard room, the walk to the bus stops can take a little longer as the suites are closest to the main hub. The bright colors and theming in the rooms may also be a consideration depending on what you are looking for. Pop Century on the other hand, has a slightly lower price point than Art of Animation, and most standard rooms are relatively close to the bus stop. (And there’s tie dye cheesecake.) Regardless of where you stay, one thing is for sure – the magic of Disney that we all know and love is ever present at all the Disney value resorts!
So now let me turn it over to you, dear Addicts: what is your favorite Walt Disney World Value Resort? Sound off in the comments!
Hi, I’m Myra and I’m a huge Disney nerd and addict! I’m also an independent travel agent at World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts. If you have any questions regarding your upcoming vacation, or if there’s anything I can do to help you book and plan your trip, visit my page or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My services are always free!
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