We're continuing our series on Disney World Resorts. Check out last week's post you're looking for information on staying off property (specifically the Shades of Green military family resort) or you want a balanced look at the pros and cons of staying at a Disney owned and operated resort.
This week we're going to cover Disney World's Value Resorts. In case you're new to this whole world of Disney vacation planning, Disney World divides their resort properties (hotels...not to be confused with the proper, full name of Disney World which is Walt Disney World Resort) into value, moderate and deluxe categories. Just to make things complicated, there are also DVC (Disney Vacation Club) resorts which is a timeshare sort of program we'll cover later.
Value resorts are the most economical rooms. They're also the smallest and usually the busiest of the resorts-often hosting larger groups like the annual cheerleading competition families and coaches. They're set up sort of like a motel with the room doors facing the outside rather than inside a hotel lobby or hallway. The amenities include pizza delivery, luggage delivery (hourly), food courts, pools and of course Disney transportation.
The value resorts include the original All-Star series...the All-Star Movies, All-Star Music and All-Star Sports resorts. The All-Star Resorts are all full of huge icons like Buzz and Woody, a giant jukebox and even Goliath-sized football helmets. One of the most common criticism of the All-Star resorts is that all three often share the same buses...so that when you board a Disney bus at the parks to go back to your resort, you may have to stop at two other resorts before finally making it to your stop. Usually at the end of the night and all day during busier times of year, the buses are separated by resort. I can't speak to whether or not this is really an issue because as an adult, I've only stayed at the All-Stars once and we used our own vehicle.
In addition to the All-Star resorts, Disney has a fourth value resort named Pop Century. It has five sections divided by decades from the 50's to the 90's with each section themed with giant icons like rubix cubes, yo-yos and bowling pins. Originally, earlier decades were to be built across the hourglass lake with a bridge that was to be named the "Generation Gap Bridge" but instead Disney built their most recent Disney Resort, the Art of Animation...now taking reservations for late 2012 vacations.
The Art of Animation is Disney's response to the need of larger families to have an economic place to stay on property. There are family suites in the All-Star Music Resort but not many so Disney dedicated over 1,100 rooms at the Art of Animation resort to family suites. Here's a list of the differences between standard rooms and suites in the value resorts...
Standard rooms have approximately 260 square feet each...Suites are about twice that
Standard rooms hold 4 people (and one child under 3)...Suites can hold 6 people (and one child under 3)
BASED ON THE TIME OF YEAR YOU GO...
Standard rooms range from $92-194/night...Suites range from $199-375/night
Standard rooms have...
-either two double beds or a single King
-in-room wall safe
-vanity area with one sink and a separate bathroom area with toilet and tub/shower
-bedrails and pack n plays are available free of charge upon request (it's a good idea to call ahead and request it so that you don't arrive to nothing)
-mini-refrigerators are also available upon request for a fee...$10.60 (with tax) per night
-separate living room and "master" bedroom
-both rooms have a 27" TV
-the master bedrooms have a queen size bed and desk
-the living rooms have a sofa that opens to a double bed and a chair/ottoman that each open to a single bed
-kitchenette with an under the counter refrigerator (much larger than the mini you can add to a standard room), microwave, sink and coffee maker
-two bathrooms-each like the standard room's bathrooms...a vanity area with one sink each and a separate toilet and tub/shower
In the end, the value resorts are well-themed, well-staffed and a great place to stay if you're a family on a budget...especially if it's your first time to Disney World because chances are you'll spend most of your time in the parks and just use the resort to sleep, clean up and change clothes. If, however, you have very small children and you KNOW they will not sleep in their strollers in the parks, be aware that the value resorts are all some of the furthest away from the parks-up to twenty minutes by bus so an afternoon nap at the resort will really cut into your time in the parks. It's doable but it's something you should consider.
On a personal note, I've stayed in value resorts both as a kid and as an adult. I remember playing in the All-Star Sports pool as a kid and it never crossed my mind that I was missing out because the value pools don't have slides like the moderate and deluxe resort pools. I wasn't big into sports but I thought the resort was "so cool!" because of all the huge icons. The thing I remember most about that trip was walking down Main St in Magic Kingdom and I don't think that would have changed if we had stayed somewhere with more amenities. As an adult, I've found Pop Century to be my favorite of the values (although I'm excited to check out the Art of Animation Resort soon!).
Finally, if you're a large family, consider booking two standard value rooms instead of just one suite. It's the same amount of space, basically the same amenities (minus the kitchenette) and you can request adjoining rooms...we've done this countless times when we went with friends and family and although they won't ever guarantee the request, we have never been disappointed. It would hold 8 people plus two children under 3 (one in each room) so if your family's too big for the suites but on a budget that prohibits the larger Disney Villas, two standard value rooms might be the best option for you!
Next week we'll cover Moderate Resorts...including our personal favorite, Port Orleans Riverside!