The Value Resorts at the Walt Disney World Resort provide guests the opportunity to step into a larger than life immersive atmosphere, chock full of your favorite Disney characters and nostalgia alike. Value resorts are pure Disney. They provide all of the magic, at a fraction of the cost of the Moderate Resorts and Deluxe Resorts. The best Disney World Value Resorts are great for visitors that are looking not only to save a few bucks, but are going to be spending the majority of their time in the theme parks. But what are the best Disney value resorts? We will answer that in this article!
So, if you are looking to stay on property, not break the bank, and get the full immersive Disney experience, a Disney Value Resort will be right up your alley.
In this “Best of” entry, we will be reviewing the best Disney Value Resorts and letting you know which ones we think are the best. We will discuss theming, rooms, pools, amenities, and other benefits of each resort. At the end of this article you will have a great idea of whether or not a value resort is right for you and your family and, if so, which one of these great resorts is the best fit.
The Basics of Disney Resorts
Before we get into the ins and outs of the Value Resorts at Walt Disney World and what are the best Disney value resorts, there are a bunch of amenities and extras that you get no matter where you stay. It does not matter if you are staying at the most expensive room at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, or pitching a tent at Fort Wilderness. Disney provides certain extras for all of their guests to ensure that everyone has a good time.
Pools and Pool Bar
Each Disney resort will be equipped with a main pool along with additional “quiet” pools. Now, the Value Resort pools do not come equipped with a hot tub or water slide, but they will have a splash area for the little kids. The best Disney value resorts will have pools with cool theming and will have a pool bar nearby to get a snack or frosty beverage to help you cool off during the hot Florida afternoons.
Each pool area will also have daily activities. Some will be free, such as trivia, and some will come at an additional charge, such as tie dye t-shirt making. So, no matter where you are staying, that mid-afternoon break or park free day can be enhanced with some time at your resort pool.
Who doesn’t like shopping? Especially for Disney souvenirs. All Disney resorts will have at least one gift shop where you can not only purchase Disney, Mickey, and resort specific branded items, but you will also be able to purchase snacks, beverages, and any toiletries or sundries that you may need. So, if you are at the pool and run out of sunscreen, the gift shop will have some for you.
Food Court/Quick Service Dining
When the time comes to get something to eat, you may not want to take the time to go to a full service sit down restaurant. You may just need something quick so you can get to the parks or back to the pool. The best Disney value resorts will have the biggest food courts of all of the resort categories. This is due to the fact that Value Resorts will not have a sit down at the resort, where the Moderate and Deluxe resorts will.
This does not mean that you will be subjected to chicken nuggets, burgers, and pizza. Disney has done a great job over the years of ensuring that the food courts and quick service options at all of their resorts have quality choices. Some resort food courts even have specialty “off menu” options – but you’ll have to discover those for yourself.
Your Disney resort comes fully equipped with an arcade full of games for those days where the weather might be bad or when you are simply just trying to take a break. It can be an overlooked part of your resort, but it will certainly come in handy if the kids need something to do for an hour.
Movies Under the Stars
Each evening, generally by the main pool area, your resort will play a movie for its guests. If you are lucky, and it is shown by the pool, you may even be able to swim and watch at the same time. Add in some complementary Pop Secret Popcorn, and your night is complete.
First, if you are flying into Orlando International Airport, Disney will provide you transportation both to and from your resort to the airport via Disney’s Magical Express. They’ll even take care of picking up your luggage and deliver it to your resort room. Second, you will have access to all of the transportation that will get you around the vastness that is the Walt Disney World Resort.
Primary transportation will be buses, however, you can make your way around via boat, monorail, and now Skyliner. Using Disney transportation can be a bit of hit or miss at times, and it might take you a bit longer than hopping in a car and driving somewhere, but it is all part of the experience of being at Disney. Where else can you ride a monorail and then go hop in a gondola in a matter of minutes?
Extra Magic Hours
Now we are getting to the fun stuff – theme parks! When you stay at a Disney resort, you will have access to generally one park per day, either an hour before park open or up to two hours after park close, where only guests staying at a Disney resort can be present. This is a huge advantage when you are unable to secure a fastpass for that E-Ticket attraction like Flight of Passage or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. You will be able to enter the park before the masses and ride without much of a wait.
Speaking of Fastpasses, everyone gets access to Fastpass, whether you are staying at one of the Disney resorts or not. However, if you are staying at a Disney resort, you will have access to book your Fastpasses 60 days in advance, and for the length of your trip. Whereas, guests not staying on Disney property can only book their Fastpasses 30 days in advance, and only one day at a time.
Disney Value Resorts
Now that you know what you get just for staying at a Disney Resort, we can now get into the nitty gritty of the Value Resorts and determine which is the best Disney value resorts at Walt Disney World.
Depending on who you talk to, there are either 5 or 6 Value Resorts at Walt Disney World. We take our info from Disney, and they say there are 6, so we will too. These resorts are: The All-Stars (All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, & All-Star Sports), Pop Century, and Art of Animation, and the Campsites at Fort Wilderness.
The Campsites is where people fall on one side or the other. Some people want to consider the Campsites at Fort Wilderness its own category as it is just that, campsites where you can put a tent or RV, not a “hotel”. It does have its own amenities, however, so we will consider it Value Resort #6.
What you get at a Disney Value Resort
So, you may be thinking now, I get all of this stuff just like everyone else, what will staying at one of the best Disney value resorts look like for me and my family. Well, fine vacationer, here is what a Value Resort will provide:
The best Disney value resorts will provide you just that, the best value, in a resort room on property. Generally a fraction of the price of even a moderate resort, you get a lot of bang for your vacationing buck. Especially if you are planning on spending the majority of your time in the theme parks, you may not want to break the bank on a room where you may simply shower and sleep.
The best Disney value resorts have theming like no other resort at Disney. Theming at the Value Resorts is large and in charge. With large statues and bright colors throughout the resort, it is a party for your senses. Whether you like nostalgic “decade based” icons or characters from your favorite Disney movies, the Value Resorts will provide you with decor for days. Now, with a lot of the refurbishments going on at all of the resorts, the resort rooms are becoming less themed, but the outside common areas still continue to provide larger than life theming at the Value Resorts.
Standard Rooms at the All-Stars and Pop Century will measure out at 260 square feet, while at Art of Animation, the same standard room will be just shy of 280 square feet. Not huge, but if you are just sleeping and showering here, it is plenty. All room sleep up to 4, in rooms that have been refurbished, the standard will be 2 queen beds, while in non-refurbished rooms, the standard is two full size beds.
King rooms are also available with a single king bed. Family Suites are also available at both All-Star Music and at Art of Animation. These family suites are over 500 square feet and will accommodate up to 6 people, with a queen bed in the master and different options of Murphy beds and pull out sofa beds to sleep the additional 4 people.
Pros and Cons of Disney Value Resorts
We will certainly get into the pros and cons of each individual resort as part of our best Disney value resorts review, as we want to provide an overall thought as compared to not only Moderate and Deluxe resorts, but in comparison to staying at a non-Disney Resort
- Overall Theming – The best Disney value resorts are the most “over the top” themed in all of Walt Disney World. Moderate and Deluxe Resorts each have their own individual themes, but they are more subdued than the Value Resorts. Which leads us to…
- Kid Friendly – With the larger than life statues, characters, and pop icons, the Value Resorts provide the sights and sounds kids will love. With pools, arcades, and play areas, there is something for all the kids
- Cost – With respect to Disney Resorts, the cost certainly is a value. Value Resorts come at a cost which is generally a fraction of a Moderate or Deluxe (exceptions being the family suites). You might be saying, but what about off property hotels, they are nicer and around the same price as a Value Resort. Yes, you can get something akin to a “Moderate” level resort outside of Disney for the price of a Value Resort, but you would not get all of the amenities that come with staying on Disney property.
- No Table Service Restaurants – Disney’s Value Resorts have limited dining options. Essentially, they will come only with a food court style restaurant. The food court offerings will be vast and tasty, and they allow you to get in and out quickly.
- Large Resort Layout – Value Resorts for the most part are large. So getting to the food court or bus stop might be a bit of a walk.
- Noise – Because Value Resorts are so kid friendly, they typically have a lot of kids. With having a lot of kids comes noise. With all of the play areas within the resorts, there are plenty of spots where kids can burn off a little energy they just got after eating in the food court.
- Limited Transportation (All-Stars Only) – All of the Value Resorts will only have one bus stop for access to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs, and that is located outside of the building that holds the check in center, gift shop, and food court. However, with the All-Star Resorts, all three of them at times will share a bus (which can lead to full buses very quick), whereas Pop Century and Art of Animation each have their own dedicated bus (they also have Skyliner access – more on that later)
The Best Disney Value Resorts – Our Top Five
Below you will find our picks for the top 5 best Disney value resorts and why we rank them where we do!
5. Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Coming in at number 5 on our list of best Disney value resorts is Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. All-Star Sports was actually the first Value Resort on Disney property, opening in 1994. As you can see, this Value Resort is dedicated to all things sports, with each wing of the resort dedicated to an individual sport – football, surfing, baseball, basketball, and tennis.
The main building at All-Star Sports is Stadium Hall. Here you will find the End Zone Food Court, Sport Goofy Gifts and Sundries, and the Game Point Arcade. Right outside of Stadium Hall you will find the Surfboard Bay and kiddie pools along with Grandstand Spirits, All-Star Sports’ pool bar.
If you are looking to be close to the action and not have to walk too far to Stadium Hall or the bus stop, you will want to book a preferred room, which are in buildings 1, & 6 in the Surf’s Up section,and buildings 7 & 10 in the Touchdown! section. All rooms at All-Star Sports are the same 260 square feet and have 2 double beds. Bathrooms in each room are split up into 2 sections – an open section that holds a sink and vanity area and a closed off area with toilet and tub/shower combo.
- Bus Route Location – When the All-Star Resorts have to share buses, All-Star Sports is the first of the three resorts on the route. So, you will be the first one on the bus in the morning and the first one off at night.
- Cost – All-Star Sports typically will have the lowest cost of any resort in Disney outside of renting a campsite at Ft. Wilderness.
- No Refurbished Rooms – All-Star Sports is the only one of the All-Star resorts to not have any refurbished rooms. So, in staying at All-Star Sports, you will get a room with carpeting and double beds instead of laminate flooring and queen beds, among other upgraded elements.
- Lack of “Disney” Theming – Although the Sports theme is abundant, it is not so much “Disney” as the other resorts on the best Disney value resorts list.
4. Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Breaking in the list of best Disney value resorts at number 4 is Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Opening right after All-Star Sports in November 1994 was All-Star Music. You’ll certainly have a rockin’ time staying in any of the All-Star Music wings – Calypso, Jazz Inn, Rock Inn , Country Fair, or Broadway Hotel.
The main building at All-Star Music is Melody Hall. Here you will find the Intermission Food Court, Maestro Mickey’s Gift Shop, and the Note’able Arcade. Right outside of Melody Hall you will find the guitar shaped Calypso pool (complete with 3 Caballero’s spray zone) and kiddie pool, along with Singing Spirits pool bar.
If you are looking to be close to the action and not have to walk too far to Stadium Hall or the bus stop, you will want to book a preferred room, which are in buildings 1, & 10 in the Calypso section, and buildings 2 & 9 in the Jazz Inn section. All standard rooms at All-Star Music are the same 260 square feet and have 2 double beds.
Bathrooms in each room are split up into 2 sections – an open section that holds a sink and vanity area and a closed off area with toilet and tub/shower combo. All-Star Music also has family suites available – we’ll talk about that more below.
Some Refurbished Rooms – This is both a pro and a con, as All-Star Music has not completed the refurbishment of their rooms as of this writing. As of March 2020, All-Star Music is currently under renovations to make all rooms refurbished rooms. Building 10 has been fully refurbished and buildings 8 & 9 are being worked on.
So, in staying at All-Star Music, you may be able to get a room with upgraded elements like laminate flooring and queen beds. However, if you are not staying in a refurbished room, you will get a room with carpeting and double beds.
Family Suites – For families that have more than 4 people, staying at Disney World without getting 2 rooms can be a feat in and of itself. Thankfully, All-Star Music has rooms that can accommodate families up to 7 (if one of the children is under 3 years old). These 520 square foot suites come with a master bedroom with a queen bed, a convertible sofa, a convertible twin chair and a convertible ottoman to sleep 6. it is also equipped with two bathrooms and a kitchenette.
Cost – Outside of the Family Suites, prices for rooms at All-Star Music are not that much more than All-Star Sports.
Transportation – Though not last on the All-Star route, All-Star Music is not first either, leading to some elongated wait times during the busier parts of the day
Lack of “Disney” Theming – Although the Music theme is abundant, it is not so much “Disney” as some of the other resorts
3. All-Star Movies
Right in the middle of our best Disney value resorts list at number 3 is Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. Opening a few years after the other 2 All-Star resorts in 1999 was All – Star Movies. You’ll feel like you are right in the middle of the set – whether it be for the Mighty Ducks, Fantasia, Toy Story, 101 Dalmatians, or the Luv Bug.
The main building at All-Star Music is Cinema Hall. Here you will find the World Premier Food Court, Donald’s Double Feature Gift Shop, and the Reel Fun Arcade. Step outside of Cinema Hall and you will be able to enjoy the Fantasia pool (with Sorcerer Mickey there spraying guests) and kiddie pool, along with Silver Screen Spirits pool bar.
If you don’t want to be too far from the set, and not have to walk too far to Cinema Hall or the bus stop, you will want to book a preferred room, which are in buildings 1 & 4 in the 101 Dalmatians section, buildings 5 & 8 in the Fantasia section, and buildings 9 & 10 in the Toy Story Inn section.
All standard rooms at All-Star movies are the same 260 square feet and have 2 double beds. Bathrooms in each room are split up into 2 sections – an open section that holds a sink and vanity area and a closed off area with toilet and tub/shower combo.
Refurbished Rooms – All – Star Movies is currently the only All-Star resort to have the whole resort complete with refurbished rooms. No matter which movie you end up as a star in, you will have a room with upgraded elements like laminate flooring and queen beds.
Cost – Prices for rooms at All – Star Movies are right in line with the other All-Star resorts.
Theming – Out of all the All-Star Resorts, All – Star Movies is the most “Disney” themed, as each wing is represented by a Disney or Pixar movie. As such, all of the larger than life statues surrounding the buildings will be from that specific movie
Transportation – For all of the good that comes with staying at All-Star Movies, the one major downfall is it’s spot on the bus route – last. So, for those times where these value resorts have to share a bus, you most likely will have to stand – but at least there are no additional stops on the way to your favorite theme park.
2. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Just missing the top spot, coming in as our number two on the best Disney value resorts is Art of Animation. This resort has it all – the largest pool in Disney, a great food court, pet friendly accommodations, family suites and it now has the Skyliner. Yes, I said it – The SKYLINER!! If you don’t know, the Skyliner is Disney’s newest mode of transportation – taking you to Epcot Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts.
Like I said, this resort has it all. You may be asking yourself, but why is it only number 2 on this list. Well, in our opinion, we are taking a couple of points off due to the fact that it is considered “Value Plus”. Since hitting the Disney scene in 2012 as the newest Value Resort offers guests more family suites than it does standard guest rooms – offering 1120 family suites vs. 984 standard rooms. Because of this, and the fact that Pop Century Resort is right next door, and Pop Century guests can access Art of Animation via walking bridge, it can only come in at number 2 on our best Disney value resorts list.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort features 4 separate sections, 3 of those sections (Lion King, Finding Nemo, & Cars) offer only family suites, and 1 section that offers only standard rooms (The Little Mermaid). Unlike other resorts, there are no preferred rooms at Art of Animation, as the only standard rooms are located farthest from the main building.
If you are looking to stay closest to all of the action, the Finding Nemo Suites are the closest. Animation Hall is the main building at Art of Animation, housing the Landscape of Flavors Food Court, Ink & Paint Shop, and the Pixel Play Arcade. If you are looking to swim, take a dip in the Big Blue Pool, the largest pool on Disney property. Be sure to cool down some more with a beverage from the Drop Off Pool Bar.
As this is a newer resort, the rooms have not been refurbished. However, the family suites still have that “deluxe resort” feel, albeit at prices closer to moderate resorts. This is where the Value Plus comes into play – because most of the rooms at Art of Animation are suites, they are pricier than standard rooms and more in line with what you will pay at the moderate resorts.
Family Suites – Similar to All-Star Music, Art of Animation has rooms that can accommodate families up to 7 (if one of the children is under 3 years old). These 520 square foot suites come with a master bedroom with a queen bed, a convertible sofa, and a convertible table bed to sleep 6. it is also equipped with two bathrooms and a kitchenette.
Theming – Similar to All-Star Movies, Art of Animation is definitely “Disney” themed, as each section is represented by a Disney or Pixar movie. Beyond the outside portion of the resort, each room is also extremely well themed around the movie it is named after. So whether you are looking for a giant sized Ursula, Ariel, Simba or Crush, or want to snap a pic with Lightning McQueen, Art of Animation is theming at its best.
Transportation – One word – SKYLINER. The Skyliner could be one of the biggest Walt Disney World upgrades in years. It allows guests to get to many points of the vast Disney Resort in a fraction of the time that it would take on a bus. Guests staying at Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort can get to Hollywood Studios in about 10 minutes. You would probably have to wait longer for bus transportation. If you do not want to take the Skyliner, bus service at Art of Animation is typically pretty good, as it does not share buses with any other resort.
Cost – As most of the rooms are Suites, Art of Animation is the most expensive of all Disney World Value Resorts. Standard rooms in the Little Mermaid section are also more expensive than similar rooms at the All-Star Resorts.
Room Categories – Following up on cost, the lack of standard rooms at Art of Animation is certainly not one of its high points. The lack of having only the rooms in the Little Mermaid section as standard really focuses the resort on larger families or families that want to have the extra space.
1. Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Topping our list as the best Disney value resorts is Disney’s Pop Century Resort. If you are a nostalgia junkie, or just want to “Remember When”, Pop Century is the resort for you. Take a step back into the ’50’s, ’60’s, 70’s, ’80’s & “90’s and relive the fun times of your childhood with icons such as the Rubik’s Cube, Duncan Yo-Yo, & Play Dough, along with Disney Characters such as Lady and the Tramp, Baloo, & Mogli.
What puts Pop Century at the top of the best Disney value resorts list is that we believe that it provides the best value out of all of the resorts in this Category. All 2,880 rooms at Pop Century are refurbished, the food court serves delicious food, bus transportation is plentiful, and you have access to the SKYLINER!!
It was a close call between Pop Century and Art of Animation for who earned the top spot on our list, but as Pop Century offers a resort full of refurbished rooms at a price point around the same as the Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, with more of those standard rooms, and the fact that you can experience everything that Art of Animation has to offer by taking the bridge over Hourglass Lake, it tops the list.
Enter Pop Century Resort through Classic Hall where you will find Everything Pop Shopping and Dining, along with the Fast Forward Arcade. Right through the back of the building you will be able to grab a drink at Petals Pool Bar and take a dip in the Hippy Dippy Pool, but watch out for the spraying flowers.
We have not mentioned any secondary pools at any of the other resorts, but another thing that sets Pop Century apart is their Bowling Pool. This pool, located in the ’50’s Section is shaped like a bowling pin and is only a short walk from Petals and Classic Hall.
If you want to be close to the Hippy Dippy Pool and Classic Hall, book a room in the ’60’s section or one in the front half of the ’50’s or ’70’s sections.
Transportation – One word – SKYLINER. The Skyliner could be one of the biggest Walt Disney World upgrades in years. It allows guests to get to many points of the vast Disney Resort in a fraction of the time that it would take on a bus. Guests staying at Art of Animation and Pop Century can make their way to the theme parks in 10-20 minutes. You would probably have to wait longer for bus transportation. If you do not want to take the Skyliner, bus service at Pop Century is good, as it does not share buses with any other resort.
Theming – Pop Century does a great job of mixing icons that are nostalgic to adults with the Disney characters that kids love. This is unlike any of the other Value Resorts which tend to either be themed without Disney characters or only Disney Characters which is one of the reasons it is the top pick for best Disney value resorts.
Pools: Pop Century is the only Value Resort that has two pools that could be considered “main” pools. The other resorts have their singular main pool and then another pool or two that would be considered “quiet” or “secondary”. This, along with the great Petals Pool Bar, makes the pool area at Pop Century great.
Price: We will put price in the cons section as, since the Skyliner became active, the prices for Pop Century rooms have gone up. They now tend to be $30 – $50 more per night than any of the All-Star resorts, which, considering all that you get at Pop, is actually not a bad deal. However, when you are paying $200+ for a “Value” resort, you may have reservations.
There you have it, our top five Best Disney Value Resorts. As you can see, Disney’s Value Resorts have a lot to offer guests. You don’t need to stay at a Deluxe Resort to take advantage of the many amenities that Disney has to offer. Sure, you don’t have the dining options that you would have at a Deluxe Resort, but you are also getting so much for your money, and for that reason, Value Resorts is the perfect name for this category.
So, where does your favorite Value Resort fall on our best Disney value resorts list? Do you prefer the theming of the Little Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation? Are your kids sports nuts and want to play on the football field at All-Star Sports? Do you want Skyliner access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios? Well, if any of these are your questions, there is a Value Resort for you.
If you enjoyed our Best Disney Value Resorts article, make sure to read our Best Disney Moderate Resorts Review. Also, be sure to follow us on Social Media and don’t forget to catch all of the podcasts on the Capture the Magic Network.