OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S VALUE RESORTS
I’ve stayed at Disney’s Value Resorts more than 30 times since I opened this site.
These stays confirm the order in which the value resorts are recommended.
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is number one among the values.
- After Art of Animation, the rank is, in order, Pop Century, All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports, and All-Star Music.
After a period in which there were only minor differences among the value resorts at Walt Disney World, over the past couple of years some significant differences have emerged.
What has remained the same is first, visual kid appeal, with Art of Animation first, then Pop Century and All-Star Movies, and then the other two (All-Star Sport and Music) tied for last; and second, transportation convenience, with Art of Animation and Pop Century near-tied for first, and the three All-Stars near-tied for last.
What is new:
- Queen beds in some, but not all, value resort standard rooms. Full beds are now entirely gone in Pop Century and All-Star Movies, replaced with queens, and All-Star Music has begun a refurb that over the course of 2020 will yield more queens and fewer fulls there as well. All-Star Sports and Art of Animation will get queens as well, but the timeframe is unclear.
- A new transportation option serving Pop Century and Art of Animation, but not the All-Stars. The new Disney Skyliner gondola system now connects Pop Century and Art of Animation with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot (via Caribbean Beach), adding a fun and (usually) more pleasant and fast way to get to these parks other than buses, which continue to serve both these and the other parks
- An even wider range in prices. Among these five resorts, for standard four person rooms, Art of Animation has always been the most expensive, and the three All-Star tied for least expensive. However, coincident with the opening of the Skyliner, prices at Art of Animation and Pop Century went up much more for 2020 than did prices at the All-Stars. Standard rooms at Art of Animation are now on average in 2020 $80 more per night than the All-Stars, and $40 per night more than Pop Century. In fact, most of the year Art of Animation rooms are within 15% of the cost of the next higher room calls at Disney World, the moderate resorts.
Here’s 2020 prices at the values, and for comparison, the average of the moderates:
So the upshot is that while my basic order of recommended value resorts does not change, Pop Century looks more attractive than it had compared to Art of Animation, and All-Star Movies extends its lead among the All-Stars over Sports and the not-yet-refurbed parts of Music.
THE VALUE RESORTS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
There are currently 5 value resorts at Walt Disney World:
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, opened in April 1994
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, opened in November 1994
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, opened in January 1999
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort, opened in December 2003
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, opened in May 2012
The value resorts are the most recent resort class to have opened at Walt Disney World.
They were preceded by the deluxe class, open at Disney World’s own opening, the moderate class, which first opened in 1986, and the Disney Vacation Club resort class, first opened in 1991. See this for what you get by Disney World price class.
In the case of its launch of both the moderates and the values, Disney was concerned not only to successfully compete with off-site hotels (not hard, and devastatingly successful) but also to not lose revenue from guests trading down from the next higher resort price class.
Hence it tried to make pretty sharp lines between resort classes.
The sharp lines at the values–their most distinctively different features–are their larger than life statues of toys, Disney characters, and such, their absence of coffeemakers (except in Pop Century, All-Star Movies, and, soon, All-Star Music), and their just barely life-sized rooms.
You may never stay in a two-bed hotel room smaller than the rooms in the value resorts.
Standard rooms at the value resorts have ~260 square feet.
While this may not seem like much less than the moderates’ space of 314 square feet, almost all of the difference is in the living space.
The living space of the values is about 80% as big as that of the moderates. Most of this missing space comes from the part of the room you are in when you aren’t in bed!
Some of this is from a narrower room, but most is from a shorter room.
These rooms are fine for first time family visitors who can’t afford a deluxe, as they won’t be spending much time in them other than sleeping.
But I can’t recommend them for returning visitors, unless they plan to be in the parks all day. Returning visitors who are likely to spend more time goofing off in or near their rooms should avoid the values, unless they have stayed in a value before and hence know exactly what they are in for, or their kids are really little, or their party size is only 3 people.
Many standard value resort rooms have two full beds–you’ll find full beds in standard rooms in all of Art of Animation and All-Star Sports, and most of All-Star Music. However, refurbed rooms at Pop Century and All-Star Movies have queens! All-Star Music has now begun this refurb.
For more on comparative room sizes, see this.
The family suites at All-Star Music and at Art of Animation are a different story.
They sleep six in two connected spaces the size of ~two standard rooms, and are quite comfortable. Art of Animation has more comfortable beds, while Music suites are more flexible. Music suites are also much less expensive.
Note that the suites at Music are being refurbed as well, and it looks like refurbed suites will have beds as comfortable as those at Art of Animation, at the cost of losing a bit of flexibility.
Kid Appeal. Several of the deluxe resorts–notably, the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Polynesian Resort–have spectacular kid appeal. None of the moderates do.
This appeal comes from the approach to theming they all share: bright and vibrant exteriors, framing much larger than life objects of interest to kids.
These objects reinforce that these resorts were designed for the sake of kids…and not necessarily for adults!
Prices vary over the course of the year, but Art of Animation rooms are always the most expensive, and the All-Stars the least expensive.
Room basics are about the same except for refurbed Pop Century and All-Star Movies rooms (and soon All-Star Music)–you are paying more at Pop Century and Art of Animation for a more central location, for the Skyliner, and at Art of Animation for deeper and more pervasive Disney theming. Bus service is a little better at Pop and Art of Animation, as they don’t share buses as the All-Stars at times do.
Detailed reviews of each option can be found at the links; the hotels are listed in order of how strongly I recommend them.
Standard 4-person rooms:
- Art of Animation
- Pop Century (with queen beds)
- All-Star Movies (with queen beds)
- All-Star Sports
- All-Star Music (with queen beds emerging in refurbed rooms)
Six-person “Family Suites”
The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly, can book your Disney vacation into one of these value resorts–or any other Disney World option! Contact her using the form below.