Walt Disney World offers hotels in 3 types of categories: Value, Moderate & Deluxe. They also offer accomodations in their Vacation Club Villas and Fort Wilderness Campground, but for the purpose of this site, I’ll only be reviewing the main hotels since that’s where our knowledge is.
I must make one important point: we’ve been able to make our Disney vacations so affordable by staying in the Value Resorts. While we would love to stay in a Deluxe hotel on the monorail, the truth is you’re not in your room that much. At 1/3 of the cost of the Deluxe hotels (or even cheaper!), the Value Resorts have unique themes brimming over with Disney touches throughout that the kids love – especially the hotel-size characters that adorn the stairwells and the perimeter of the pools. Also, we love the large food courts at the Value Resorts – there is a larger selection of food options and prices than at some of the Deluxe resorts. Staying at these hotels allows us to extend our Disney vacation longer and not feel guilty about not spending that much time in our room!
*Disney’s Pop Century Resorts
“Disney’s Pop Century Resort is a 2,880-room hotel featuring giant icons that salute many of the 20th-century popular culture crazes—including toys, gadgets, music, movies, fads and catch phrases.”
The Pop Century is our favorite hotel to stay at. Each of the four-story buildings is themed after a different decade and it’s iconic images and phrases (and of course what happened in the world of Disney that decade!). Our kids love seeing the larger-than-life replicas of Disney favorites scattered throughout the resort, such as Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, Lady (from Lady & the Tramp), Roger Rabbit, Mowgli and Baloo (from the Jungle Book) and so much more. It’s the newest of the value resorts and is set apart from other resorts, so it has a lighter traffic flow (compare to All-Star resorts below).
There are three pools, but the main pool outside Classic Hall (where registration and the food court are located) is huge and fantastic, with squirting flowers, a “Goofy” fountain and a shallow toddler pool outfitted with a plethora of beach balls for the kids to play with.
The official Disney site says that rates here start at $82 in low season, but we’ve stayed here for as low as $59/night with our Florida resident discount (Only one person in each room needs to have proof of Florida residence). If you enjoy Disney like we do and only use your room to sleep in at night and an occasional afternoon at the pool, Pop Century is a great option for an affordable and fun vacation.
*Disney’s All-Star Resorts
There are 3 All-Star Resorts at Disney World: Music, Movies and Sports. They are three separate hotels, but they are all on the same property. This can be beneficial because you can benefit from the different pools, food courts, playgrounds,etc. However, we feel this is more of a downfall than a benefit. There is a lot more congestion becuase of the large amount of people in one area.
One of the benefits of staying on Disney property is using their transportation for free. However, at times, they will use one bus for all three All-Star resorts, which means they fill up extremely quickly, causing you as a guest to have to either wait much longer than normal or be extra-squished with a lot of other guests who’ve been sweating in the parks all day.
Perhaps the biggest downfall of these resorts is that because of the reasonable price and the sheer amount of rooms in proximity to each other, the All-Star Resorts frequently host high school and college groups. Trust me, I speak from experience. I coached a college dance team for five years and we always stayed at the All-Star Resorts during the National College Cheer & Dance Competition. While it’s a blast to be surrounded by young athletes when you’re in that stage of life, a family on their only vacation of the year doesn’t always appreciate insanely loud cheerleaders practicing in the parking lot and running up and down the hallways outside your room into all hours of the night. Again, this was just my experience.
All that being said, the kids and I just stayed at the All Star Music in December because it was all that was available and it looked like it had just been renovated. If I had my choice of the three, it would be the All Star Movies, only because of all the great Disney movie touches all around, as opposed to giant bowling balls or maracas like you’d find at the other resorts. These are still a great value, just remember to ask lots of questions when making your reservations to see if the resort is hosting any large groups or events during the time you hope to stay there.
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