For our trip to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, my wife and I were on a bit of a shoestring budget. After all, the holidays are coming up, so Christmas shopping was more of a priority than this vacation. Trying to have our cake and eat it, too, though, we decided to save money wherever we could on this trip, and focus our dollars on experiencing the Festival. Thus, we made the fateful decision to stay at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort.
There was really no other option for us. We couldn’t swing a Moderate resort, and Pop Century, our home away from home, was booked solid. So, instead, we got a very good Annual Passholder rate at All-Star Sports at just $85 a night, including taxes. To stay anywhere else would have cost us at least $115 a night, so that was $30 a day that we could apply to the Marketplace booths. Sounds good, right?
We were planning to arrive at Walt Disney World late at night. Really late at night. So we booked our room and did the Online Check-In ahead of time, letting Disney know that we’d arrive after midnight. Weary from the road, the wife and I strolled into the lobby of All-Star Sports around 12:30 a.m. As always, there was a line at the check-in, but there were enough people there for us to get service right away. However, despite the fact that we did Online Check-In, no one had made up the folder to ease our check-in process.
The cast member who discovered this and checked us in could not have been more gracious about it. She apologized for the inconvenience, quickly got our folder together and explained everything necessary. We were placed in the far back of the resort, where they put the cheap folks. We ended up in Building 4, the Center Court building that is all the way around the back of the resort. I suppose in theory we could have been farther away from the main building, Stadium Hall, but it would have been difficult.
That was to be expected, however, for our low rate, and we were driving, so the hike to the buses was not a concern for us. If you were staying at All-Star Sports, however, and did not have a car, you would have to get a preferred room to avoid a huge hike back to your room from the bus stop.
The room itself, though, was a pleasant surprise. It had been several years since I had stayed in one of the All-Star resorts, and I was not expecting much. I was wrong. The room was nicely furnished, very clean, and had obviously been upgraded in the last few years. The TV/dresser assembly was similar to that you would find in Pop Century, with a large wooden entertainment center and a 42” television. All the typical Disney amenities were there: broadband internet (for a price), a safe, recycling bin, two double beds, a separate sink and mirror from the bathroom area. Everything was very clean and nicely arranged, including a towel Mickey on the bed when we arrived.
When we awoke the next morning, we wanted to grab some breakfast in our rooms before heading over to Epcot, since we were not making rope drop. Since I had a car, it was as easy to go to the McDonald’s just outside the gates of the All-Star resorts as it was to go to Stadium Hall. Easier, in fact, since I could drive thru at McDonald’s and be back at my room without parking or trying to wade through the lines in Stadium Hall.
This proved to be a wise decision, because my experiences at Everything Pop had spoiled me. Stadium Hall’s food court is about half the size of Everything Pop, and while it offers a similar style of food, the service was nowhere near on par. When we arrived back at the hotel on our first day there, we were hungry and looking for a quick dessert or snack. Unfortunately, the pastry case was practically empty, and the line for fresh ice cream sundaes was 15 people deep at 10 p.m. The snack cases were half full, but nothing interested us. I grabbed a couple of waters, and we relied on some snacks from our car to tide us over.
Then came the second problem. We decided to relax and watch some TV, but we could not locate the remote. We managed to turn the TV on manually and make it work, but that was an inconvenience we did not need. Eventually, we would call the front desk and get a remote, but should we have had to?
As I said, the beds and the room were fantastic. That’s the bottom line of what you should expect from All-Star Sports. We both slept well and enjoyed the time we spent in the room. However, none of the amenities of the resort, like the pools, the food court or the bus system were convenient enough for us to make them worthwhile. The buses were not needed because of our car, while the food court we tried to use, but it just did not fit what we were looking for at that time of day.
If you’re looking for a place to crash after going commando touring throughout the day, then All-Star Sports will offer a great value for your money. If, however, you want to be able to relax and enjoy your resort as much as the parks, then you will want to look at Pop Century or more likely a Moderate resort. All-Star Sports compares favorably with similarly priced offsite hotels, but if you’re paying to stay onsite, it’s probably worth an upgrade.