Disney World Value Resort Rankings

Which Walt Disney World Value Resort hotel is best? This post answers that common question, with our clear-cut #1 Value Resort as well as the best of the rest. The Value Resorts are great hotels for people who won’t be in their rooms much, families with small children who enjoy Disney animated films, and guests doing Disney on a budget. While more expensive than off-site accommodations, they offer good value if you’re only visiting Walt Disney World when you travel to Orlando, as staying on-site allows you to utilize Disney transportation, including Disney’s Magical Express, meaning that you don’t need to rent a car if you stay at a Value Resort (or any Disney hotel, for that matter).

Let’s start by discussing some commonalities of the Value Resorts. All of the Value Resorts are large and spread out, and don’t have internal transportation. This means that if you get stuck in a remote room, you’ll have a bit of a hike to the lobby and bus transportation. Even in the worst case, we don’t consider it that long of a walk (they’re certainly less spread out than most of the Moderate Resorts), but if you are trying to herd around a slew of kids, you might disagree. At every Value Resort except Art of Animation, preferred rooms are available that are located closer to the lobby, but they have an additional cost. You can sort of game the system by using TouringPlans’ Hotel Room Selector to request a room with a better location that isn’t technically a preferred room.

Standard rooms are all fairly similar, too. It cannot be stressed enough that the Value Resorts are very basic accommodations in terms of the rooms. These rooms are small and along the lines of what you’d find at a nicer Best Western or Motel 6. Disney fans may gasp at that comparison, but we feel it’s true to an extent. The big way they deviate from other budget accommodations is that they include Disney decor, which alone is probably enough for the average Disney fan or guest to consider them a great deal superior to those other brands of hotels. The point is, at their core, these are not high-end hotel rooms, and in terms of pure value, you can typically do better by staying off site and use our frugal travel tips to score cheap accommodations.

Design, in general terms, is pretty consistent among the Value Resorts. All are very plain buildings that are dressed up with oversized icons that relate to the hotel name. They’re decorated, not themed. While the Moderate and Deluxe Resorts attempt to transport you to another time and place, the Value Resorts look more cartoonish. They’re style is very divisive, with some Disney fans finding them garish clutter tacked onto low-rate motel buildings and other fans finding them to be fun and whimsical ways to experience a Disney hotel on the cheap. If you are in the former camp, you probably already know Value Resorts are not for you, and there’s little point to this list of rankings for you. Regardless of how you feel about the Value Resorts, the fact is that they have plenty of fans, and many people, especially small children, prefer this larger-than-life style to the more elaborate and nuanced design of the higher-tier hotels.

We’ve stayed at each of the Value Resorts on numerous occasions (when we were still in college they were pretty much all we could afford!), and while their style isn’t our favorite, we can understand why they appeal to kids. We find the criticism to be a bit over the top and cynical, although critics of the Values do make some good points.

The All Star Resorts have more in common, too. They also used shared buses most of the year, which can be a big issue and time drain. While kids who are fans of sports, movies, or music may disagree, we feel that the decor is pretty much the same across the three resorts. Movies and Music seem very similar to one another (most Disney movies are musicals, so this makes sense), with Sports differing more. The All Star Resorts are also older than Pop Century or Art of Animation, and in many places, the age difference really shows.

With that said, let’s take a look at the rankings!

5. All Star Movies

Sorcerer Mickey Mouse directs a symphony of water in the pool at Disney's All Star Movies Resort.

If you’ve read our review, you know we think All Star Movies is the weakest resort at Walt Disney World. It has its fans, and more power to them, but given that All Star Sports is considerably better and has more or less the same theme for the same price, why bother with Movies? All Star Movies falls into last place because it’s so dated–even worse than the other All Stars. While I like a lot of the set pieces, the resort just feels like it hasn’t seen a top to bottom update since the 90s. The Mighty Ducks are still heavily showcased, despite no longer being relevant. Photos in the lobby are faded, as is hotel signage. Overall, it just really needs a refresh, and even if you’re fine with Value accommodations, you can do better elsewhere. All Star Movies is the last bus stop when buses are shared between the All Star Resorts, and it’s often skipped as a result if the bus fills up at Sports or Music.

4. All Star Music

All Star Music feels less dated than All Star Movies, and we think it just looks better, in general. It’s not really better by a wide margin, so if your kids are more interested in movies than music, opt for All Star Movies instead. We also prefer the guitar-shaped Calypso Pool to Movies’ pool, but again, it’s not by any wide margin. Music is the second bus stop when buses are shared, and it gets skipped on occasion as a result. Especially during the prime morning hours, this could be an issue. Bus stop order is another big reason why the All Star Resorts are ranked as they are.

3. All Star Sports

If you want to save as much money as possible but still stay on site, All Star Sports is the absolute best option. Its price is consistent with the other Value Resorts, which are all cheaper than Pop Century and Art of Animation. We give All Star Sports the nod over the other All Stars for two reasons: bus service and food court. When the All Star Resorts are sharing buses (which is often), All Star Sports is the first stop the buses make. During busy hours, the bus will often fill up completely at All Star Sports, skipping All Star Music and Movies completely. For this reason, the bus service at All Star Sports is the best of the three. As for food courts, All Star Sports’ End Zone Food Court was completely overhauled in 2013, and now is nicer and has a significantly improved menu. Other recent improvements and refurbishments at All Star Sports make it the “freshest” of the All Star Resorts, although its still a fairly bare-bones hotel.

2. Pop Century

Mickey Mouse at Disney's Pop Century Resort. Review: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/pop-century-review/

The long-time top pick for Value Resorts among Disney fans, Pop Century was dethroned when Art of Animation opened. While Art of Animation is now the consensus #1, I think Pop Century arguably is still #1. (Sarah strong disagrees–she far prefers Art of Animation.) It costs less per night than Art of Animation (still more than the All Stars, though), and some rooms are within walking distance of the Art of Animation food court, eliminating what would otherwise be a key advantage for Art of Animation. Pop Century’s stumble, we think, is that the cartoony, oversized icon style simply works better in the context of Disney animation. This style will most appeal to kids, and Disney characters will resonate with them more than pop culture references. In a way, it could be argued that this puts Pop Century in no man’s land: those going to the Value Resorts because they actually like the style will prefer Art of Animation, and those looking to save money are going to be better suited by All Star Sports. Personally, I think in terms of overall ‘value’ (not simply what’s cheapest), Pop Century excels and is worth the slight premium for superior dedicated bus service, better dining options, and better design.

1. Art of Animation

For the sake of this comparison, we’re only looking at the standard rooms in Art of Animation, all of which are in The Little Mermaid section of the hotel. While nice, the family suites (which are the majority of the hotel) arguably don’t even belong in the Value Resort category, since their nightly rate is considerably higher, approaching Deluxe Resort territory in some cases. Still, the areas outside these buildings are public areas enjoyed by all, and their design will likely make them winners among families. This is especially true of the Cars wing, which is the best area at any of the Value Resorts. Art of Animation also scores points for the Finding Nemo pool, which is the best pool at any Value Resort, and one of the better pools at Walt Disney World (if you don’t mind the noise). For a quieter option, the Cars pool is also exceptional. Landscape of Flavors, the food court at Art of Animation, is one of the better counter service restaurants on property (although it’s nearly as easy to dine at Landscape of Flavors if you’re staying at Pop Century), which is another strong selling point. While Art of Animation has a lot of strengths, ultimately it’s the design that we think wins it the top spot here. The big negative of Art of Animation is that it costs more per night than Pop Century and the All Stars. This per night difference can become significant when hotel discounts are offered, as The Little Mermaid rooms in Art of Animation are often blocked out from these discounts. (If this is true during your visit, strongly consider Pop Century instead.) While the style of the Value Resorts isn’t for everyone, those who do like this style will most likely prefer Art of Animation. The other Value Resorts really aren’t even close in terms of their decor, which we feel more than justifies the price difference–unless you are viewing the hotel as “just a place to sleep and shower.”

Tramp at Disney's Pop Century Resort. Review: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/pop-century-review/

So there’s our take. Whether a Value Resort is right for you in the first place is something you should also consider. If money is no object and you don’t have kids, we will say with almost complete certainty that you’re likely better off in a Moderate or Deluxe Resort. If money is an issue or you think your kids will prefer the Values, give them serious thought. If you’re somewhere in between these two extremes, we’d advise you to give serious thought to the Moderate Resorts (check out our rankings here), but cost more but offer more immersive theming and quality while still not breaking the bank.

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Your Thoughts…

Is it worth it to you to stay at a Value Resort, or would you rather just splurge and stay at a Moderate or Deluxe Resort? Which Value Resort is your favorite? Share where you normally choose to stay (and why!) in the comments!

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69 Responses to “Disney World Value Resort Rankings”

  1. wayne says:

    we stayed at most of the values, and the busing issue alone is why we stay at moderate resorts. I remember we were staying at All star Sports, and closed DHS we waited for 2 hours for a bus. Of course at the time we didn’t think about a taxi?

  2. Laura says:

    We love values. We stayed at a Moderate one time and hated it. I love the over the top theming and the basic food court.

    One of the things that has made me veto art of animation is the fact that all the regular rooms are in the Lion King section which is really far away (at least it looks far away on the map)from the food and the buses. It seems like a long way to walk with a small child after being in the parks all day. We just stayed at All Star Movies and, while we liked the icons, we didn’t enjoy the food court and how it was always filled with tour groups. I think Pop Century will be our number one choice from now on.

  3. Alex says:

    We stayed at Art of animation for a week in Early December, we LOVED it! Yes, it’s basic, but it had everything we needed with 2 young children. Never had an issue with buses/transport. Only complaint was the wifi was very patchy, which makes planning and making dining reservations and fast pass selections hard! But overall we loved it, we stayed in a suite and found that was great as everyone had their own space :) thanks for another great review.

  4. Mary L. says:

    Two words explain why I will never stay at a value resort again: Tour Groups!! Especially the teenage ones!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Ha, nothing is worse that All Star Sports during Pop Warner weekend. Thankfully, we haven’t encountered any of the other tour groups at the Values! Knock on wood.

      • Mary says:

        We stayed at Pop Century in January 2013 and the place was over-run with 15 year old girls from South America. They took up all the buses and overwhelmed the food court. Between them and the full size beds we’ll never go back to a value resort again.

  5. Isabelle B. says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for all this info!
    My husband and I have been to Disney World three times so far and have only stayed at the Value resorts. We stayed at All Star Movies the first time, Pop Century the second time and All Star Music the last time. We actually really liked All Star Movies and would not be opposed to staying there again. Music was okay but we probably won’t go back. We absolutely hated Pop Century!! We got horrible service from a lady at the front desk (I think her name was Stacy from New York! Still remember because that’s the one and only time we ever got a rude Disney employee!). The quickest way to get to our room was to walk through a parking lot. Also, we found the bus route to be sooo long to get to any parks (maybe it isn’t but it just seemed like it took longer to get anywhere). We’re from Canada so when we go to Disney we are on somewhat of a budget and don’t really spend significant time on our room so the Value resorts are fine with us. We were thinking of trying the All Star Sports next time and after reading your review I think we’ll do just that. Thanks again for all the info…I am not a big fan of your Pinterest page! Your photography work is amazing!!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the feedback! Sorry to hear that you had a negative experience at Pop Century. Did you contact Guest Relations about it? If not, you should (unless it has been a while).

  6. Isabelle B. says:


  7. Isabelle B. says:

    Correction to previous comment…I am NOW a big fan of your Pinterest page!! Sorry about the typo!

  8. Kara says:

    We just got back from Art of Animation (Little Mermaid room) about 2 weeks ago and we LOVED it! While the room was a little bit of a hike from the food court, big pool, and buses, the decor and staff were fabulous! We have 2 children under 6 and they loved it. My only regret is that we did not have more time to take advantage of all this hotel has to offer. The 8pm poolside movies are fantastic for the whole family, the kids can enjoy the movie/pool while the adults unwind with a nightcap from the pool bar. The food at landscape of flavors was delicious, something for everyone. I couldn’t believe the amazing desserts they had! The Mickey Cupcake was adorable and delicious! The room was a little cramped for 4 people, but we were barely in it. With older kids, or more than 4 people, I would recommend a family suite. I heard the Nemo ones were the nicest. And don’t forget the awesome arcade! So fun!

    • siobean says:

      Just wondered if you could answer a question for me please.We are staying in a little mermaid room for 2wks. I no the rooms don’t come with a fridge or tea and coffee facilities but are you able to hire them once you are there. We are flying from the UK so bring our electrical cool box is not an option. If you can reply i would be so grateful

      • Kendra says:

        When we were there in 2013 the Little Mermaid rooms DID have a fridge, definitely. But there wasn’t a coffee machine – we got our swill from the AoA food court in the mornings.

        Also, you can have groceries sent to your room via Peapod or other local grocery services.

  9. MrsM says:

    We stayed in the Lion King section with our 5 kids (one under 3) in July last year. The Grandmas also shared a room on the Little Mermaid section(standard room). It was wonderful! I’m not a big fan of typical kid food so I was really happy with the food selection. Our building was really close to the bus stop and buses came frequently. The Nemo pool was a lot of fun and the music under the water was a fun touch. Everything about our stay was wonderful and I liked this resort more than any other one I’ve stayed at. I would love to stay here again but our family will have outgrown the family suite by out next trip.

  10. Katherine says:

    Anyone know what’s going on with the painting of Cinderella castle? The blue was a silver metallic last time I saw it.

    • Mitch says:

      The silver paint is just a primer, it will be back to the original blue color soon.

      I know you are asking this question because value resorts immediately make us wonder about the current color of the castle spires

  11. Holly says:

    While noone enjoys deluxe accomodations as much as i do, I find spending a ton of money for a place I am hardly in to be foolish. I am very happy to plop my bags at any of the value resorts (AOA being my fave)and get to the parks as soon as possible. For me, I am very happy staying there- and by the way, the beds are super comfy!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, if you’re never going to be in the room, staying at a Deluxe Resort is crazy, even if it is closer to the parks. You’re paying A LOT for that proximity, and you could just stay in a significantly less expensive hotel and just take a cab everyday if time were an issue. Even with the cost of a cab, you’d still come out ahead!

  12. Mitch says:

    Bonnet Creek resort located adjacent to the Caribbean Beach and Pop Century offers 900 square ft 1 bedroom suites with California king sized beds, jacuzzi tubs, full kitchens, balconies, living and dining rooms, several pools, a lazy river, hot tubs, a spa, mini golf, and can be had for $99 per night. A mid-size rental car for at week in orlando runs about $125.

    The values cannot compete. Moderates and Deluxe are worth sacrificing the low cost and extra space and amenities of bonnet creek. All star sports… not so much.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If you’re looking at it solely from true value, most of the time off-site hotels are going to blow Disney hotels out of the water, even when you factor in rental car and parking (on the flip side, you can save more money by eating off-site if you’re so inclined).

      Regardless, some people are never going to stay off-site, so that never enters the equation. We’ll do off-site at every other location (especially Disneyland, where it just makes more sense), but the immersion at Walt Disney World is one of its strong selling points. That might be crazy to some people, but it’s a strong enough lure for us.

      • Don says:

        In my 50 years on this earth I have probably been to Disney World a dozen times. Growing up we always stayed off grounds, eating off grounds and saving money. In 2007 I decided to finally bite the bullet and stay on the grounds. We stayed at ‘Music’ in the family suite. Loved the room and hated the buses! Still hate those buses! But having spent that time on ‘grounds’ I will never venture off staying outside again. That lack of hassle, parking, traffic, traffic, traffic made it far better. Yes the meals are pricier by far, the hotels are pricier (even the ‘value’ hotels) but the experience was far better.

  13. Gary says:

    The thing I love about Pop Century is the bus service to and from the parks. Not having to stop at other resorts before I get to my destination has been the deciding factor for my last few trips. Art of Animation wasn’t open the last time I went so I don’t know if they have the same ’1 resort only’ shuttle system like Pop Century does.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    We stayed at Art of Animation in November with our two young children (5 and 1) and couldn’t have had a better experience! This was our first trip to Disney and we loved everything about this resort. Yes The Little Mermaid rooms were a bit of a hike but we knew that when we booked. Obviously the least expensive rooms were going to be the farthest away. The beautiful décor made the walk a fun one for us & our children. The food court was wonderful & everything was pretty tasty We walked over to Pop Century one evening and I couldn’t even believe that was a Disney resort. Everything was old & dated. It was very rundown and almost dirty looking. We ate in the dining area to change it up. The food choices were weird and very lacking. Many drink selection had run out and there were bags of trash sitting around. By the way that the common areas look I wouldn’t want to see the inside of the rooms. I am so happy we stayed at AOA. It was absolutely perfect in every single way.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      To an extent, Pop Century is dated as compared to Art of Animation (it’s over a decade older than Animation), but it sounds like a lot of your negative experience with the trash and food court isn’t the norm. If you had a great experience at Art of Animation, I’m not trying to suggest you should do Pop Century next time, just saying that it’s not as bad as your experience made it seem.

  15. Jessica says:

    My husband and I have stayed at both moderate (Caribbean Beach and Port Orleans Riverside)and value (All Stars, Pop Century) resorts. While the moderates are prettier and better themed and offer some slightly better amenities, we just can’t justify the price tag. We spend very little time at the hotel; we literally use it as a place to sleep, shower and store our stuff. We almost never eat at the food courts and we don’t spend much time by the pools. Since we spend so little of our time at the hotels, the values are a good fit for us. We prefer Pop because of the bus system, the proximity to Art of Animation (more than once, we have taken the Art bus and walked across the bridge to our rooms at Pop)and we thought the rooms were slightly nicer/newer than All Stars rooms. We would love to stay at the Deluxe resorts if money was no option, but the cost is too prohibitive. We can’t justify spending that much on a room, when we could use that money for food, souvenirs or just more days in the parks!!

    • Jessica says:

      Also, I should mention that we have never stayed at Art of Animation because the Little Mermaid rooms have been excluded from the deals we have used the last two times we went. However, we have visited the resort and it looks lovely! We certainly plan to stay there some day soon.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Good point about the rooms being excluded from discounts. I’ve gone back and added this to the post.

  16. Amy Wilson says:

    Two friends and I stayed at the Art of Animation resort last May, and I LOVED it. I’d never stayed at a value resort before – only other Disney resorts were Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside and Polynesian (but when I was about 5 yrs old). Every other time, my family stayed at the Doubletree.

    Yes, the decor at AoA is cheesy and clearly kid-oriented, but it’s DISNEY cheesy, so I love it. We were in the Little Mermaid rooms, so we had the farthest walk to the food and the buses, but it only took 5-7 minutes. And – bonus! – you get to walk by giant-sized snarfblats and dinglehoppers, which are both perfect photo ops.

    I do think that the Cars area has hands down the best themeing at that resort, but the Little Mermaid rooms were really cute. Landscape of Flavors had delicious food – seriously. And the Finding Nemo pool… awesome.

    I would DEFINITELY go back. Since I’m probably never going to have enough money to stay at a deluxe resort, I’m going with Art of Animation every time I’m at WDW.

  17. Blair says:

    I have friends with small boys who tend to suffer from a bit of “princess exhaustion” when at Disney if they aren’t careful. I recently recommended All Star Sports, the Cars section of Art of Animation, and the Toy Story area of All Star Movies for their next WDW trip to help counteract some of that. These resorts are really great for little guys! I know there’s a ton for boys to do at WDW, but in terms of marketing and character greets, there is defiantly more emphasis of the ladies, so some planning ahead really helps.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the tips on recommended rooms if you have boys!

      • Chantel Nawyn says:

        I let my 5 year old son pick the hotel for his first DWD trip(between All Star Sports and Caribbean Beach-I thought he would love the pirate ship pool) and he picked All Star Sports. He even saw pictures of AOA and asked if we could stay there next time, but he didn’t want to switch now. I agree it is a great place for boys and with being the 1st bus stop for the All Stars and with the renovated food court I am so glad that it is the value we picked.

        We are accidentally going to be there the weekend that Star Wars Weekend and the Flower and Garden festival overlap, hope the crowds are manageable!

  18. Kevin says:

    I’d keep Pop narrowly over AoA for 2 reasons – 1 is the long walk to the Little Mermaid rooms that Laura mentioned. It’s a haul at the end of the day. And the other is that there is still often a significant price premium for AoA (it hasn’t been included in any of the recent discounts, to my knowledge). At the same price as POP, it would be my #1, but for the higher price I’ll take POP.

    The food court at AoA is great, but we’ve eaten 2-3 meals at the food court in 4 WDW trips, so that’s not a big deal to us (and there is the bridge!).

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Good point about Art of Animation being excluded from many discounts, making it’s effective price even higher for many times during the year. Totally forgot about this. I’ve gone back and edited the post to mention it. Thanks!

  19. Don Livingston says:

    My family loves Pop. Great pool activities, Petals Pool Bar, running trail around hourglass lake, solid food court, great bus service, and some great values on rooms for AP guests. I’ve stayed at Art and Pop and feel Pop is the better deal for regular rooms. We can get a preferred pool room at Pop for the same price as a Mermaid room at Art.

  20. Spirit of 74 says:

    I’m probably not a voice that will get much props here, but I think staying at Disney’s motels (unless they are vastly discounted) is pretty insane.

    They are very basic and have no theming, just decoration, gaudy and over the top. They are loud and did I say basic?

    They are legitimately worth about $39-69 a night, but I believe the least expensive room in value season is now over $80 a night and most folks pay $100 or more. The convenience factor you mention is highly overrated unless you love standing on buses with folks who don’t all believe in the same levels of hygiene.

    Sure, you can save money on a rental car, but then you can’t visit UNI or SWO or BGT or even the local Chick-Fil-A for a reasonably priced quick meal.

    I know this is a DISNEY blog, Tom, but I believe in presenting the entire picture. The reality is people can Priceline hotels that blow away Disney’s deluxe resorts in service and amenities (no, MAGIC doesn’t count as an amenity) for the same price or less.

    I don’t know how you or anyone can advise staying at a Disney value resort when people can stay at resorts like DD Hilton, Bonnet Creek Hilton, Gaylord Palms, Sheraton LBV, Marriott World Center, Hyatt Grand Cypress, Omni Championsgate for the same or less by using PL — or renting a nearby vacation home or even just booking a resort like Swan/Dolphin. There is very little value in a Disney value resort. Sure, when they were offering them for $49 a night, maybe. But no savvy Mouse traveler would ever choose one at $100-plus a night. It isn’t a smart choice, it’s the opposite of that.

    And anyone spending that amount of scratch for a WDW value motel is never going to be wise enough to save money to visit the international parks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think these are fair points, and most of them have been made in the article. Especially stating that these are basically motel rooms (along the lines of a Best Western, but with Disney decor). In looking back, I think I’ve been pretty fair–I hardly gush over the value as the best option for guests. If I threw every piece of info about visiting into every post, each post would be interminably long (in other words, full detail on PL bidding is way beyond the scope of this post). However, since I do mention some benefits of staying on-site, I’ve gone back and edited the post to include a link to our ‘frugal travel tips,’ which covers that.

      I understand that you’re down on the Disney hotels, and I get that. By and large, they ARE way overpriced. With that said, many people–even informed ones–are just going to swallow that high price because that’s how they want to do Walt Disney World. I don’t think that makes them insane.

    • Kevin says:

      “They are legitimately worth about $39-69 a night, but I believe the least expensive room in value season is now over $80 a night and most folks pay $100 or more.”

      It’s hard to say what they are “worth”. It’s all supply and demand. I just stayed in a Best Western (of comparable or slightly lower quality than the WDW values) for just under $100/night. Was it “worth” that? Hard to say, but it was 2 miles from a ski resort during spring break, so that was the best price available.

  21. Spirit of 74 says:

    Just another comment since this story was just relayed to me, but friends of my family are at WDW as I type this. They are at AoA in a Cars suite to celebrate their grandson’s third birthday. They are paying over $300 a night for that ‘suite’ … their three day FLA resident tickets are $129 each.

    They are not happy campers that a long weekend trip for a young child’s birthday is going to cost over $2500 (no airfare, they drove from SoFla) between the ‘value resort’ and the ‘special’ resident tickets and the ‘must do’ character meals. … I don’t blame them as I could fly to HK for a week with 4-star hotel and decent meals for that. Oh, and do HKDL too!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I agree, the undiscounted price of those suites is insane, and given that they haven’t been discounted much (and based on the sheer number of people I’ve seen at Art of Animation), people are paying it. I actually like those rooms for what they are, but that price is way over the top for what purports to be Value accommodations.

      • Spirit of 74 says:

        I didn’t wish to be overly harsh, Tom. You absolutely didn’t present the case that the value ‘resorts’ are a true value. As to the Best Western/Motel 6 comparison, I have stayed at some wonderful BWs in the USA that in no way compare to Disney’s motels. I have no experience with Motel 6 whatsoever.

        I also can understand why someone might choose a WDW resort for a first trip or even a second or third. But many folks are simply addicted to the BRAND (want to debate that some people view Disney like a religion and whether that qualifies as insanity? :-) ) and may have 33 stays on property and none off.

        I’m also not someone who simply stays off-property and has a anti-Disney bias. I stayed on property almost exclusively from the late 80s to the early 00s. Indeed, I have stayed at EVERY WDW resort (from values to DVC) that was built pre-2009 with the exception of ASMovies and WLV. At just the WL and DAK Lodge I have stayed over 100 nights — each. I’ve also done many stays at Sports, Music and Pop.

        The thing is I’m a recovering Pixie Dust addict (at least in O-Town, just stayed at the lovely Sequoia Lodge at DLP) and I’ve gone through all the phases of addiction.

        I remember when the value resorts were just that. I remember when the food courts had wonderful food at much lower prices (a real prime rib dinner at Sports for $9.99 with two sides and cornbread), fresh made to order pizzas etc.

        Just like everything else at WDW, they have cut away all the deals in a never-ending zeal to take everyone’s last penny.

        I look at prices for these motels, and that is what they are, and I think ‘Only Disney’ could get away with those prices and convince people they are somehow getting a deal.

        I only stay on property now when I can get a 50-60% cast discount during the value seasons or using DVC points because there is no way I can possibly justify it. Even the deluxe resorts are largely that in name only. They are beautiful and themed, but they have the service of a 3-star Holiday Inn during the best of times.

        So … that is where I am coming from.

        Might I stay at a value resort again? Sure, if January comes like it did a few years ago and I can get $37 rooms at Pop, I’ll stay … maybe.

  22. MarkWDW85 says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said except for ranking AoA over Pop as a place to stay…

    If I’m visiting a resort to walk around, eat, photograph, take in the ambiance, etc. AoA would definitely be my first choice of the values. In fact, it’s probably the only value that I’d even consider doing that at. If I’m going to be staying at a value though, Pop is definitely my first choice – 2 reasons why:
    1) While I think AoA definitely has the nicest exterior theming of any of the value resorts, the rooms themselves are, IMHO, unbelievably & unpleasantly loud and tacky. I stayed in a Lion King room last summer and when I first walked into the room I felt like I had walked into a cartoon – not in a “Wow, this is really immersive!” way, but in a “This is completely tasteless” kind of way. I know you don’t stay at the value resorts for the decor, but AoA is just way too over the top for me.
    2) This will probably vary by provider, but I’ve noticed that with AT&T, I have poorer cell service at AoA than just about anywhere else in WDW. I’ve never had that problem at Pop.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      To your point about being tasteless, I think that’s in the eye of the beholder. Someone with a degree in design, etc., probably wouldn’t think so, but I doubt the average kid is going to be so discerning.

      In any case, I wouldn’t exactly call Pop the pinnacle of tasteful design. If you’re going down the road that the values go down, why not go all out?

      • MarkWDW85 says:

        Well, I guess like you said, it’s in the eye of the beholder. To me, the interior of the AoA rooms cross the line from “kitschy” to “unpleasant” that the other value resorts toe. I do think AoA has the nicest and best designed exterior theming; I just found the interior room designs to be offensively loud. And admittedly, The Lion King rooms are the only ones I’ve seen in person.

  23. Tom Phelps says:

    WOW! After reading the excellent post and the 37 responses above, I almost feel compelled to write a short novel about my WDW hotel experiences here. But I shall endeavor to stay somewhat on the topic at hand. Value and Value plus resorts. For me this post couldn’t have been more timely. We received our first ever pin# offer. Our September 2014 plan was to combine a Discovery Cove, Seaworld, and Aquatica vacation with a side trip to Typhoon Lagoon and a MNSSHP. After considering the so called Seaworld/Discovery Cove Partner hotels, I was unable to find any three star/eight or above rated hotels for less than $89.00 a night. So I was thinking (a dangerous past time I know) about staying at a Value Resort using our pin# discount. Two new value resorts, and one value plus resort have opened since our horrendous August 1997 experience at the All Star Sports.

    Our first and only sleepless night at a value resort was so bad that we feared for our lives and the kids. An all night drinking binge and body slam wrestling contest with musical accompaniment raged above our heads all night long. Coupled with a contest to see who could pile the furniture up the highest, jump off, and hit the floor making the loudest noise. After making up a secret door knock code with my wife, I went to the front desk and complained to a cast member. She courteously explained to me that despite Disney’s strict rules regarding the number of guests in a room, the value resorts were experiencing problems. The extremely cheap ($59.00 a night I believe) room rates had encouraged local groups of high school and college kids to all chip in a whopping eight dollars a piece to rent a room for the night for their drinking parties

    For ten or fifteen dollars more a night, we stayed in a new Disneyworld hotel called “The Coronado Resort and Convention Center.” Our wonderful stay there was only topped by our last four days at the Polynesian. Where (wait for it) my kids thoroughly enjoyed the DIVING BOARD, 10 FEET DEEP END and slide at the pool. That was the last year for a diving board or a 10 foot depth at any Disneyworld hotel for insurance reasons. This was our one and only triple resort hopping vacation at WDW.

    Many variables along with past Disney experiences go into a decision to stay on property; as well as the decision to stay at a Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resort. Tom, I know you have posted previously, your opinion that adults traveling without kids will most likely be happier in a Moderate Resort over a Value Resort. I certainly agree. Of course, on a strict apples to apples comparison, all WDW resorts are grossly over-priced! With the exception of the AOA, most value resort reviews I have read lately, rate them as a toss up to iffy at best. But before I take a second chance on a stay at a value resort, could you, Tom, or someone else please advise me how to find those $35.00 a night great value hotels in the WDW, Orlando, Seaworld area. I have tried Priceline, Hotels.com, Bookings.com, Expedia, Trip Advisor etc. I have yet to find one. Yes, I also tried those in the Unofficial 2014 Guide. Many thanks to Tom for the excellent and up to date Value & Value-Plus resort education. If anything I might go with the AOA. Although I am not sure I could get a good night’s sleep with Marvin, Nemo, and Dory’s fish eyes staring at me all night. Crush I don’t mind, he’s a really cool dude.
    OMG, I did write a small novel. Sorry.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Ha, thanks for the extensive feedback. In terms of the cheaper nightly rates for hotels around Orlando, I think it varies largely upon season. I also think that, to a degree, the days of insane hotel deals is over. Recently, I have been unable to score anywhere close to the types of deals I could get even a couple of years ago via Priceline and Hotwire. Rates are still *good*, but I remember getting 4* hotels in major cities for $40/night a few years ago. Now, the same categories are costing over double that in many cases.

      I could just have had really good luck before, or maybe I’m having really bad luck now. Who knows–what I’m doing is hardly a scientific experiment, just my anecdotal observation.

  24. Heath says:

    Great post, Tom. The values are definitely worth considering for some families, and we’ve had pretty good experiences with them- staying at AoA Mermaid & All Star Sports in the past, and with a Pop reservation on the horizon.

    I’m always amazed by people that complain about prices and claim they’re not getting a “value” (not just on resorts, but on food, tickets, etc.) Disney is all about supply and demand- if there’s a high demand and limited supply, prices will go up. Disney is clearly not in a position of having to give away hotel rooms or any other service they offer- they can still get high occupancy with high prices. Despite the monumental building projects taking place at Uni, or a plethora of off-site hotels, nobody can hold a candle to WDW just due to sheer size alone. If they were offering value rooms at $49 a night, they’d be booked solid a year or more in advance, and then people would complain about availability!

    It’s concerning to me too to see the price of a Disney vacation go up year after year, especially as services dwindle, but there are still plenty of people (like me) that are willing to pony up the extra cash. Even if your family can’t afford it anymore, there are people somewhere (Europe, Brazil) that are willing to visit here and pay the premium, so Disney has no incentive to significantly discount. Is Disney becoming a vacation for the 1%, or maybe the 10%- yes, but in a climate where they need to deliver quarterly results to shareholders, that’s reality.

  25. Brianne A says:

    Sadly still being in college as you said the value resorts are all we can afford right now too! We’re barely in the room since we plan 8 day trips, with 8 days worth of tickets to Disney and Universal, so we’re fine with a value type hotel room since staying with Disney we don’t need to rent a car! Even to get to Universal, Seaworld, etc. the staff at the resort can set up reservations with large charter buses that stop at the resorts every day. For $18 a day you can’t go wrong there either, it’s a great service they offer!

  26. Celia says:

    You mentioned a couple of times that Pop Century is more expensive than the All Stars. That is true if you are paying rack rate prices, but Pop Century is frequently less expensive than All Star Movies because Movies has been excluded from the last few rounds of room only discounts.

  27. FredK says:

    To be fair to Best Western, BW is much better than Motel 6. I’ve stayed at BW recently and Motel 6 a few year back. The accommodations are significantly different. Whereas Motel 6 might charge $60 a night in the Los Angeles market, BW typically charges $100 to $140 a night. The bedding and decor at BW are significantly different and better. They are posh by comparison. Motel 6 is barebones and very dirty.

    I visited Orlando and I have stayed at Motel 6 more than 10 years ago. I felt the price of $29 a night was worth it. However, now that I’m married with a kid, I upgraded my expectations. My next visit will be at the Disney’s Old Key West and I expect a much better experience. The way to afford it is own a timeshare. Trade your points for DVC. That’s how I did it affordably. I still have to pay a $199 transaction fee and a $95 resort fee, but I can stay 7 nights with free Magical Express transfer.

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  29. Mike says:


    My wife and I have become big fans of your blog. We find that your likes and dislikes usually line up with ours so your tips work for us. I have a question about the value resorts. We are DVC members but are making a quick trip down to Disney World in November for the Christmas Party. We want to save our points for a bigger trip so I booked into POP Century. I wanted to stay at AOA but since we are annual pass holders I will get the discount only at POP. In this article it said you can walk over to AOA for the food court. Is there any special requests for a room I should make that will put us closer to AOA? Thanks

  30. Elizabeth says:

    We have stayed at Pop Century 3 times now. The last time we stayed the bathtub had a very annoying slow drip that I had to listed to all night each night. I really think that they need to renovate these rooms. The curtain divider and bedspreads are so worn. We were in their preferred room as well. I also noticed that the soap that they give you isn’t anywhere near as big as it once was. It was once a full bar soap and now just a small round bar. We do love the value and convince if the busses as well as the fun giant themed characters etc. but even the kiddie wading pool seemed a little molded looking in all the pics I took. I didn’t notice it while I was there too much until I got my photos back. So….my opinion is that the Pop Century needs an overhaul.

  31. Jeany Sanchez says:

    Art Of Animation is number 1 in my list because it’s my favorite resort!

  32. Martha says:

    ooh…I’m really worried about the bus situation now.I’m taking my best friend, who is sickly and cannot stand for long periods of time (we have plans to rest constantly throughout the day so she can save her energy for standing in line at the parks). She says her worst fear would be waiting for transportation. I think she’ll be very disappointed and i hope the bus travel from the Music resort doesn’t make or break her first trip! Any tips? She’s very against renting a wheelchair for the whole week since she doesn’t want to be travelling on the buses with it (but i think it might be worth it since she’d be first on and guaranteed a seat). She’s also very embarrassed to even NEED a chair, and is very worried that people will judge her for a non-visible disability…

  33. Sharon says:

    We always stay at the Pop Century Resort and we just love it there so that is definitely my #1 value resort. Since we often travel with my father who is disabled, we get a preferred room and the last time we went we got a preferred pool view room and it was wonderful. I will always go with a preferred room now when we go. We decided to stay at a moderate resort one time but because of the cost we couldn’t upgrade to a preferred room and we were about as far from the front of the resort as you could be and still be in the resort so to me it’s worth it to pay the little extra for a preferred room at a value resort.

  34. Michael says:

    Last Jan 2013 my Fiancee and I booked a 9 day vacation at AOA in The Little Mermaid room, but when we checked in the cast member handed us a map and room cards…….as we were walking away I noticed the map had Jungle Trees and things all over it so i went back and asked her “Did we get the right room”?……she said “I am so sorry, but we gave away your little Mermaid room by accident” and Upgraded you to the full Family suite in the Lion King section”……she said it so apologetically and sincere.
    Needless to say I was very very happy and the room was so BIG and beautiful!:)………Thank You Disney!:)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Interestingly, you’re not the first person I’ve heard of this happening to. From what I understand, the Little Mermaid rooms are MUCH more popular than the suites, and Disney occasionally overbooks Mermaid and upgrades people to the suites. I certainly wouldn’t complain! :)

  35. Shelly says:

    I wish I had found your blog two days ago! I just booked an anniversary trip for my husband and I in November and we are staying at the all-star movies value resort. After reading all the comments above I’m so afraid it’s going to be horrible. I have been to Disneyland numerous times but this is our first trip to Disneyworld. I think my greatest concern is the transportation issue. Has anyone been in November who can tell me if they had issues getting to the parks. Thanks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      You should still be able to change your hotel. I’d call your travel agent (if you used one) or Disney directly to figure it out!

  36. Diana says:

    My 5 year old and i are going to WDW for the first time this Christmas for 10 days. I figured since it was our first time we would do the AOA and stay longer… We also did the meal plan. Should I consider upgrading since it will be so busy? ID really like to get a decent nights sleep at night so i can endure the long day at the parks.

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