The Walt Disney World Value Resorts are perfect for the kids and the kids-at-heart who appreciate all things quintessentially Disney. They’re also perfect for those who enjoy saving a couple of bucks while not sacrificing the conveniences and magic of staying on Disney property. They're ideal for first-time and repeat visitors who are planning to spend almost all of their time in the parks and thus only need the basics in terms of amenities.
Figuring out where to stay in Orlando will have a big impact on your trip's budget, as well as your vacation comfort. Disney has a nice variety of value hotels, each with similarities and differences. How do you choose which one is the best Walt Disney World Value Resort for your family? This post will help you decide!
We'll go over the amenities and benefits that make the Walt Disney World Value Resorts all equally awesome, as well as how to best choose the hotel for you. Once you've figured out your family's preferred pad, hop over and book it through us!
Overview of Walt Disney World Value Resorts
Walt Disney World Value Resorts are perfect for those on a budget. They provide Disney magic while still allowing you to save money. They are great for the avid Disney families or those who will be spending all of their time in the parks. There are five Walt Disney World Value Resorts:
- Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney's All-Star Music Resort
- Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney's Art of Animation Resort
- Disney's Pop Century Resort
Walt Disney World Value Hotel Amenities and Benefits
All of the Walt Disney World Value Resorts have the usual conveniences you would expect at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, such as mail, laundry, dry-cleaning, ATM, complimentary Wi-Fi, currency exchange, designated smoking areas and more. And don't let the "value" designation fool you! While these are the lowest price-point of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels, they are by no means low-tier. These services are much more efficient and of higher quality than other local budget hotels. Oh, and keep an eye out in the lobby for screens that interact with your MagicBand and feature your name, such as displaying you in the “Hall of Fame” at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort!
One of the big perks of staying at any Disney property is Early Theme Park Entry. As a replacement for Extra Magic Hours (which allowed an extra hour before opening or two hours after closing at one designated theme park each day), Disney introduced Early Theme Park Entry, which allows hotel guests to enter any park 30-minutes early, every day.
Leap over here to see all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotel benefits and amenities!
One of the big deciding factors in ranking these hotels is theming. Theming is how Disney uses a particular idea and décor to impact every detail of your stay. It’s part of the intangible magic that makes Disney feel like you are millions of miles away from the "real world."
One of the great things about Walt Disney World Value Resorts is they go all-in on Disney theming. While many of the moderate and deluxe resorts have more subtle Disney accents, the values are perfect for kids and kids-at-heart. Each of the All-Stars provides fun theming for music, movies and sports, so there's something for everyone. If you’ve got a tadpole who dreams of being the next LeBron James, All-Star Sports will be your paradise. If you and your significant frogger can’t get enough of the Disney classics, All-Star Movies is for you. Audio aficionados will love All-Star Music. Pop Century pays tribute to all the unfrogettable trends of the 1950s through the 1990s (Yo-yos and floppy disks, anyone?). And Art of Animation makes a big splash with tons of Disney theming, focusing on favorite films such as "Finding Nemo," "Cars," "The Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid."
Theming is the element that elevates staying somewhere off International Drive into a full Disney experience. Some people just want to be connected to the "magic," and it's the theming that provides it. Even if "theming" isn’t your thing, each one of these hotels will offer you outstanding value and experience.
Rooms at Walt Disney World Value Resorts are perfect for families. While all the value resorts offer standard rooms, a couple of them offer Family Suites that provide ample space. All-Star Music has the most affordable Family Suites on property, while Art of Animation has the majority of Family Suites, with three of its four sections exclusively offering suites. Value resorts are a great fit for larger families or groups.
Location and Transportation
The Walt Disney Value Resort hotels all offer free bus transportation to the theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs. Disney’s famous bus fleet takes you to and from your desired Disney destinations at nearly all hours of the day. At each bus stop, you'll see a video screen featuring estimated bus arrival times for each park!
Pop Century and Art of Animation also have access to Disney's Skyliner transportation system from the resorts to either EPCOT or Hollywood Studios via a gondola lift. Both resorts share the Skyliner station. Buses only run to those two parks if the Skyliner goes down (which can occur for weather). The Skyliner is a really fun way to travel around Disney World and is a huge perk for those two resorts.
The distances from each of the Walt Disney Value Resorts to each of the parks are fairly similar. There is, at most, a mile difference in hotel-to-park distances, with the exception of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is two miles closer to the Disney All-Star Resorts than Disney’s Pop Century or Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts.
Pools and Recreation
Cool by the Pool — Each Disney World hotel offers a pool for your water-time downtime (though none of the value resorts offer hot tubs or pool slides). Swimming is cool, but a great "plus” of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels are the cast member-hosted poolside activities offered nearly all day long at your resort hotel’s main pool area. Disney trivia, shirt tie-dying, sand art and more will keep your tadpoles hoppy while you get to sunbathe ... a win-win!
Movies Under the Stars — I can’t imagine a more frogtastic way to unwind after a day at the parks than with a Movie Under the Stars. Disney Value Resorts offer complimentary Disney movie screenings by the pools on most nights. Maybe you’ll get lucky and catch "The Princess and the Frog" during your stay!
Jogging Trail — My goodness, don’t we do enough hopping around as it is at Disney World? If you’ve got a little extra pep in your step, take a hike on the jogging trail at each one of the value resorts.
Arcade — The arcade is the perfect place to let my tadpoles play while I leap into the gift shop. They feature classic and new games to keep your tweens (or husbands) entertained! #pewpewpew
Dining and Shopping
Yum! Some of the best quick-service food on Disney property can be found in the food courts at the Walt Disney World Value Resorts. There are tons of options to satisfy the hunger of both you and your tadpoles. Adults can stop by the bar nearby the main pool at each hotel, as well. Our favorite would probably have to be The Landscape of Flavors food court at Art of Animation, which not only is larger and known for better offerings than the other value resorts but also is sectioned off by theme in the seating area, as well. I’m also a huge fan of Everything POP Shopping & Dining at Pop Century, which combines the food court and gift shop with a more open layout than the other Disney Value Resorts.
Speaking of shopping, what’s neat about the Disney Value hotels' gift shops is that most of them have special souvenirs unique to each resort. My personal favorite is the Art of Animation wooden picture frame I got a couple of years ago! Another great thing about the on-site shop is that you can take souvenirs straight back to your room — they stock many of the same items as what you’ll find in the parks. Resort gift shops also have sundries such as medicine, swimming diapers, sunscreen, snacks and sodas.
How to Pick the Best Walt Disney World Value Resort for You
When choosing a hotel, it's important to factor in everything that affects your stay. These are things such as room size, distance to the parks, the convenience of navigating the hotel, food court variety and theming. You want the best value for your money, and that value often comes in the little things. Know that you’ve made a good decision by choosing any of these hotels! For a broader look at all of the Disney hotels, amenities and distance to key attractions, hop over to our Disney Hotel Comparison chart.
For the sports fan — Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s All-Star Sports is one of the original value resorts. Sharing in the trend of oversized, colorful displays at the value resorts, this hotel features sky-high football helmets, tennis racquets, basketball hoops and more. Because the theming revolves around sports, there isn’t as much room for variety in décor as the other Disney Value Resorts. With that being said, it is the perfect option for your tadpole who may not be as sold on the fairytale Disney experience, and needs some touchdowns and slam dunks to balance out the princesses.
As a frog who can’t get enough SportsCenter, this is Leap’s preferred value resort hotel. My frog family’s favorite part is finding the decorative flags featuring our favorite teams that line the buildings — and catching Donald playing tennis while his silly nephews are on the other side of the court playing baseball!
All-Star Sports features the Surfboard Bay pool. True to its name, this pond is donned with surfboards, waves and shark fins. While this is the primary resort pool with the bar and rec activities, the Grand Slam pool is our personal favorite! Located in a quieter area, this pool looks like a baseball diamond with Goofy throwing the first pitch at its center. Yeeeeer out!
True for the trio of All-Star Resorts, Sports has nice, basic rooms adorned with plenty of stars and subtle hints at the resort’s overall theme. Rooms include two double beds, a TV, table and chairs, a dresser, a spot to hang clothes, a sink and a separate toilet and bath area. Currently, it's the last of the value resorts to undergo room refurbishments (all other value resorts have been fully updated).
While smaller than the standard rooms at the Moderate or Deluxe Resorts, All-Star Sports' hotel rooms make great use of space so your frog family won’t feel crowded. You’ll have a choice of Standard or Preferred rooms. The Preferred rooms are closer to the dining, shopping and transportation. They are often more convenient and are priced slightly more than Standard rooms. There is no difference in size between the two.
For the music lover — Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Whether or not you’re a musician, there’s no doubt you will enjoy Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Our Disney car karaoke professional, Lily, can’t get enough of this place. (Guess how many times I've heard "We Don't Talk About Bruno" from "Encanto" in the past months? Whatever your guess is — it's not high enough.)
The different areas will blow you away with their detail — from the street signs and billboards in the Broadway portion, down to the farmhouse fencing and cactus-heavy landscaping in the country-themed section. There are also maracas, electric guitars, jukeboxes and drum sets over three stories high! You’ll find the Three Caballeros rocking out at the center of the guitar-shaped Calypso pool, or you can hop on over to the smaller and less-crowded Piano pool to cool off.
The rooms at Music share a similar look with those at Sports, but with nods to the music motif. All-Star Music also has the most affordable Family Suites at Disney World — perfect for growing families with older tadpoles who need their own space. The Family Suites can sleep up to six adults. Sleeping arrangements include one queen bed and two queen-size Murphy beds.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t touch on the food court at All-Star Sports … we’ll cover that here. The trio of All-Star Resorts (Sports, Music and Movies) all have very similar dining areas. The food courts are divided into sections depending on which type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, as well as desserts and a “Market” with bottled beverages and other portable snacks. These resorts earn their “All-Star” name with the quality of quick-service food offered — a different menu at each hotel. One item they have in common is the gelato … and we HIGHLY recommend the Nutella flavor.
For the classic Disney movie buff — Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
All-Star Movies is the most classically Disney-esque of the Disney Value Resorts. We see All-Star Movies as the sweet spot for our family — there is the cool Mighty Ducks section for Tad, the adorable 101 Dalmatians area for Lily and the classic Fantasia buildings (complete with Sorcerer Mickey at the pool!) for my hubby and me. Not to mention, the Toy Story section of this resort makes you feel as though you are stepping straight into Andy’s room as you pose for pictures with Bo Peep, Buzz, Woody and the gang. Since Tad is our resident cinephile, this is his favorite of the All-Stars.
You can splash around either the Fantasia-themed pool or the secluded Duck Pond Pool. We recommend spending a mid-trip afternoon resting here while getting your vacay clothes clean at the nearby laundry facilities ... disguised as a Duck locker room!
Inside your resort room, you’ll find décor that features a film-strip banner along the wall featuring scenes from favorite Disney films. There are no Family Suites, but Standard or Preferred room options are available. Rooms have been refurbished with a more modern, space-efficient design in line with the similar Pop Century and All-Star Music updates.
Unlike the other All-Stars, the theming extends a little further to the food court, where you’ll find marquee lighting above you as you hop around picking out your favorite snack.
All-Star Movies is the best option out of the All-Stars that captures the major Disney essence that's fun for the whole frog family.
For the time traveler ;) — Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney's Pop Century Resort is a fun destination for all ages. This Disney Value Hotel is sectioned off by decades, with each area dedicated to one between the '50s and '90s. Adults will marvel at the nostalgia, while young ones will be wowed by the lively colors and ginormous Play-Doh container, yo-yos and foosball set between buildings.
It is a really great conversation starter for some impromptu family bonding, as your tadpoles will ask what that giant green square is next to the computer pool (a floppy disk). A great "plus" of this location is that it connects via walking trail to Disney’s Art of Animation if you wanted to take a peek or hop over to its food court! (Pool hopping is not allowed.)
Aside from our number one pick, this is the only other Walt Disney Value Resort hotel with three pools instead of two. You can visit the main Hippy Dippy pool in the heart of the ‘60s section, complete with floral water jets ... or head to the bowling pin or computer-shaped pools. Each area has a million details to marvel at while you stretch your frog legs in the sun. As you walk around the property, stop and read the signs that highlight memorable moments in pop culture history.
The Pop Century rooms have been upgraded with features such as under-bed luggage storage and some pop-art Mickey decor. Rooms come with the option of one king bed or one queen bed and one queen-size table bed (a neat fold-down Murphybed). Room choices include Preferred Pool View and Standard Pool View, in addition to Standard and Preferred.
Disney's Pop Century Resort is a long-time fan favorite, and we can't help but agree.
For the modern Disney fanatic — Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Having opened in 2012, Art of Animation is by far the newest of the Disney Value Hotels. This is reflected in the modern room fixtures, the immersive theming and the creative design. While All-Star Movies is more "classic Disney," Art of Animation will have your whole family leaping with joy when they see the modern Disney references.
Art of Animation is also a wonderful choice because of the well-appointed Family Suites. Three out of four sections of the hotel (Cars, Finding Nemo and The Lion King) are dedicated Family Suites. The Little Mermaid section offers Standard rooms only. The price of these good-sized Family Suites puts the room cost on the higher end of the “value” scale, yet, for large families or groups, they are perfect. (And for smaller travel parties, The Little Mermaid rooms hit that nice value price point, though they do book up quickly!)
Art of Animation has such immersive theming. Each one of the buildings features mesmerizing backdrops that transport you to where the respective films took place. In addition to finding enormous models of characters, you can take photos with endless film elements around every corner, such as a dinglehopper in The Little Mermaid area, the Finding Nemo seagulls chirping “MINE!” atop buildings, and a larger-than-life “elephant skeleton” being preyed on by evil hyenas in The Lion King portion. There's even ambient music piped in. We wish there was a PhotoPass photographer on-site just for these photo-ops alone! Truth be told, even when we aren't staying here, we often stop by to grab a Banana Cabana from The Drop Off bar and walk around to take it all in (and of course, snap some photos)!
Art of Animation has not one, not two, but THREE pools for you and your tadpoles to splash around in, and they are the most amazingly themed pools on property. The Big Blue Pool is the largest resort pool in Walt Disney World and features a splash area with a small playground. This is where the Drop Off bar is located, serving up delicious cocktails for all you mama and papa frogs out there — as well as some great smoothies for the little ones. For a more low-key option, head to either the Cozy Cone or Flippin’ Fins pools. If you’re making it a full pool day, the Cozy Cone pool offers cone-shaped cabanas that are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Dat-gum!
Theming makes its way into every detail of each room. Shower tiles feature movie backgrounds such as Ariel’s cavern of treasures. Colorful scenes cover the walls, and each room fixture has a nod to the film at hand — such as the "Car Wash" sign vanity in the Cars suites. At 277 square feet, these Standard rooms are larger than other Disney Value Hotels. The Family Suites offer three sleeping areas, two bathrooms and a kitchenette and sleep six. Note that the Standard rooms are priced higher than the other value hotels.
Well, that does it for our guide to Walt Disney World Value Resort hotels. What is your favorite Disney value resort? Do you have any questions about the Walt Disney World Value Resort hotels? Let us know in the comments below!