By Jennifer Cavagnaro
I wasn’t raised with a ton of money. My mom was single and she saved for years in order to bring my brother and I to Disney World at the age of 10. I remember every single minute. We stayed at the All-Star Sports Resort (a well-known value resort on the Walt Disney World property) and we only went to the Magic Kingdom. It was extremely hot out and after only a few hours of rides, my brother and I begged to go back to the hotel and play in the pool.
Fast forward 22 years… I’m a mom of 4 children and a true Disney lover! You might be thinking: “Four children? At Disney World? This woman is nuts!” Truthfully, I can’t argue with you there! I think my first trip to Disney as a mom was in 2009, when Brianna was 1. We stayed at the All Star Sports hotel, as it was the only one that I knew about and it brought back so many memories. Since then, I can’t even count the amount of times that we have been. (Hey… it’s only 3 hours away and very convenient!).
We have always stayed at the value resorts. I may be somewhat of an expert.
There are currently 5:
- Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
They are all basically the same, with different themes. They are extremely kid-friendly with bright, vibrant Disney Characters in front of each building and throughout the property. Each resort has a huge lobby which consists of an arcade, a gift shop and a cafeteria-style dining hall.
Since the resorts are on the Disney property, they provide free bus transportation to and from the theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs. Chase, my 3 year old, thinks the “Diddee Bus” is the highlight of the trip! Quick tip: The 3 All-Star resorts share a bus, so if you are taking the bus back from Animal Kingdom (for example), it makes 3 stops. Pop Century is stand-alone and only has the one stop.
Over the past 8 years, we have typically bounced around the value resorts, favoring Pop Century as it was the newest. Then came Mia… dun dun dunnnnnn! Mia is my 4th and last baby, and her presence at Disney demands a suite. Ah, shucks. This means we just had to stay at the brand-spanking new value resort: The Art of Imagination. It’s geared towards large families that need suites. The first time we stayed there, I was pregnant with Mia and we still qualified for a standard room. I picked the Little Mermaid building, of course. A little tip: It’s SUPER far from the lobby. My Fitbit loved it. My pregnant and swollen ankles? Not so much.
After I had Mia, I chose the Finding Nemo building which happens to be a “preferred” building. This means that it’s close to that fabulous lobby that I mentioned before. The suite was FANTASTIC. Two bathrooms, master bedroom, a little kitchen area, a table turns into a bed, a sleeper sofa… need I say more? This suite fit all 6 of us as well as my babysitter!
Pricing and Tips:
- The value resorts offer specials throughout the year. Typically, the best and lowest prices are offered during non-peak season (in order to bring in guests).
- I have seen regular rooms at the All-Star resorts for as low at $87 per night
- The suites tend to be more expensive (considerably, in my opinion!)
- Staying at the Art of Imagination for a family of 6 in March averages $435 a night ($470 per night for a preferred room)
- Florida residents save more: $377/night for standard and $392 for a preferred room.
- The average meal costs $10-$15 per person (give or take!)
- The refillable cups are $17.99 for the length of your stay (I believe around $8.99 for 1 day if you choose to pay daily) and can be used as many times as you’d like. They are electronic now, you cannot bring your cup back from a previous stay.
- The dining plan is HIGHLY recommended, especially if you are a foodie. This can only be booked with a package but saves a ton of money, especially if you do the Character Dining restaurants. There are various pricing tiers for this option.
If you’re looking to stay on the Walt Disney Property, yet needing to save a few bucks, I highly recommend any of the 5 value resorts.