Not all of Disney's value resorts are created equal! We all know the fabulous resorts at Walt Disney World, and while I have enjoyed the upscale and moderate hotels, I admit it, I have stayed many times at the so-called Disney value resorts. Hands down, my favorite value resort is Disney's Art of Animation, but is it really a "value resort?" I don’t think so, and here's why.
In November, I will be running my first Wine and Dine Half Marathon and I just booked Disney's All-Star Sports Resort for $92 a night. The same price was available at the All-Star Music Resort. The All-Star Movie Resort was $105, and Art of Animation was a whooping $255. Pop Century, just across the bridge from the Art of Animation, was listed at $106 a night. Of course, those prices fluctuate and you may find different rates by the time this article is published. Overall, however, Art of Animation is anything but a value resort when booking less than six month out.
The All Star-Resorts offer standard and preferred rooms, with the All-Star Music being the only resort also offering family suites. The preferred rooms are always located close to the main building and the pool. The suites at the All-Star Music Resort are year-round cheaper than those offered at Art of Animation.
The All-Star Resorts are Animal Kingdom-area resorts and feature larger-than-life music, movies and sports icons. Picture 40-foot guitars, footballs and a giant Buzz Lightyear, and you get the idea. The All-Star Music resort is probably the least appealing resort for little children due to the fact that the music theme is more interesting for the parents. All the resorts offer daily poolside activities such as trivia games, bingo and movies under the stars. Kids will have a good time at the Calypso pool, where The Three Caballeros shoot out streams of cold water (All-Star Music), the Fantasy Pool where Sorcerer Mickey rules (All-Star Movie) or the Surfboard Bay pool surrounded by giant shark fins and surfboards (All-Star Sports).
I personally love the All-Star Music Resort and when staying there request the Broadway Section of the resort. Right next to it, guests can enjoy the Piano Pool, which is much less crowded than the main guitar-shaped Calypso Pool. This grand piano-shaped swimming hole features black and white keys and is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a rundisney.com race or a long day at the parks. At the All-Star Sports I usually go for a room in building 8 or 9 for as long as they face the Grand Slam Pool.
There are no Jacuzzis at any of the All-Star Resorts but showers, storage lockers, restrooms, and laundry facilities are located at each of the pools.
Guest rooms are small at 260 square feet, however, most rooms feature double beds, a dresser, small table with two chairs, a nightstand with telephone and a digital alarm clock, a flat-panel TV, a mini-fridge, iron board, hair dryer and in-room safe.
The 192 family suites at the All-Star Music Resort measure roughly 520 square feet, and they come with a kitchenette with microwave, and coffeemaker. Sleeping accommodations include a queen bed in the bedroom, plus a pullout sleeper sofa and two chairs that convert to beds in the family room. The suites also feature flat-screen televisions in each room and two bathrooms.
Disney provides free bus service from the All-Star Resorts to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and Downtown Disney/Disney Springs. All-Star Resorts share bus service, and during a busy time of year this can add to your commuting time to the parks. Full buses may arrive at the All-Star Music because they have already have been loaded with guests at All-Star Sports, you get the picture! If you have your own car or rent a car, it is of course no issue.
Walkers, joggers and runners will love the 1-mile-long, paved jogging trail that connects the All-Star Resorts. There is no gym, fitness center, indoor pool, or spa at any of the All-Star Resorts.
A Word about Dining at Disney's Value Resorts:
There's no full-service restaurant at any of the Disney value resorts, including Disney's Art of Animation Resort. There is a food court with different stations selling the usual fare such as pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches and burgers.
I am not a big fan of the food courts at the All-Stars and Pop Century, however, the food court at the Art of Animation stands out. I love their tandoori station and the fact that this is the only food court on property where food is served on real plates and accompanied by actual silverware. The Indian dishes are served with Naan bread and a choice of two sides. Prices range from $8.49 to $10.49.
All food courts participate in the Disney Dining plan, and meals cost one Quick Service credit. If you are staying at Art of Animation and you are a fan of Indian food – go for it. Generally, however, you are better off eating elsewhere and using the Quick Service credit at Pecos Bill Tall Inn and Cafe at Magic Kingdom or at my all time favorite, The Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney.
So why am I not staying at my favorite All-Star this time even though prices were the same when I was booking? Well, the Intermission Food Court at the All-Star Music will be closed August 1st through December 20th for refurbishing. Bus service to the neighboring All-Star food courts will be available. If you prefer to walk, the nearest food court is at the All-Star Sports Resort. You can see a list of all closings and refurbishments here.
Liliane Opsomer is a freelance writer and the co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids,” a guidebook that provides planning and touring tips for a family vacation.