Walt Disney World On A Budget — Is A Value Resort Worth It?

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Toy Story Building at Disney's All-Star Movies Resort

Disney World Resort Hotels come in three categories: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Disney World’s Value Resorts open up the “staying on property experience” to a vast range of budgets. When trying to vacation at Disney World as economically as possible, the Value Resort Hotels (All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, Pop Century and–coming soon–The Art of Animation) are your best bets. I have visited Disney World and stayed off property to save money. Would I do it again? No Way.

When you stay on Disney World property you are immersed in the Disney experience from the moment you pull in the parking lot. All of the Value Resort exteriors are themed to their names. The architects did an amazing job. Seeing a giant smiling Disney character never gets old and makes finding the room easier. Even in the small hotel rooms, the bedspread, the art on the wall, the soap, and even the directions on how to use the phone are Disney themed. It’s amazing how our environment affects our mood, and we don’t even realize it. You know you are on vacation.

If theming doesn’t matter to you, the Disney World Resort benefits will: Extra Magic Hours and unlimited use of Disney Transportation. Since you are already on Disney property, getting around is so much easier! This reduces the stress of a Disney vacation. If you have a car, you can park for free at the parks. And if you purchase tickets as part of a vacation package, they are coded on to your room keys (also known as Key to the World cards), and you may purchase a Disney Dining Plan.

I also love the food courts at the Value Resorts. When you are wiped out at the end of the day, a plethora of food choices is easy to access. The food is good, too. Yes, the food courts can sometimes be loud, but you can take your tasty treats out by the pool and chill.

Disney Value Resort hotel rooms are not fancy, and they are small. I generally describe them as a clean, cute Motel 6. The water pressure isn’t great, and the towels have low thread count. But for the price, they are worth it.

If vacationing at Disney World on a budget — a Value Resort is the way to go. Which Value Resort is your favorite? Is it worth it to you to stay in a Value Resort to save money?

Everything Pop Food Court at Disney's Pop Century Resort

Room at Disney's All-Star Music Resort

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Posted on February 11, 2012

31 Responses to “Walt Disney World On A Budget — Is A Value Resort Worth It?”

  • We stayed at the All-Star Music Family Suites once and would do it again. For our family, having two bathrooms is the priority! It was nice and clean, we liked the food court, and had no problems with the buses.

  • I enjoy staying at the value resorts and don’t think they’re a bad deal. However, I still think that it’s unwise to dismiss staying offsite in the right situation. When you can get a sizable two-bedroom condo for the same price as a small room at a value resort, I’m not sure it’s such an easy decision. It’s nice to have Disney theming all the time, but the solution is just to spend nearly all the time in the parks. Being able to have a comfortable condo with a kitchen and separate bedrooms is worth the trip off-site for me, especially when the drive is just a few minutes away. Going to the parks can wear you out, so going back to a relaxing room is a nice bonus.

  • So worth it! We just made our first trip to Disney World and stayed at Pop Century. I had done a lot of research so the size of the room was not a shock. I would stay there again in a heart beat! We had a car but only used it to run to wal-mart and eat off property one time. The bus was super easy to ride and then we didn’t have to worry about losing our car or getting lost finding a park. Our next trip we are staying off property because it will be a reunion with 16 people and we want to stay together, have a kitchen and we will be visiting other attractions in the area. I honestly think I would rather still stay on property!

  • We’ll do values again once we’re past diapers and bottles. But for the next couple years, laundry and dishwasher outweigh EMH.

  • We have stayed at All Stars Movies a few times now. Since we spend most of our vacation in the parks, we only use the resort for sleeping, showering and using the pool. I love to be immersed in the Disney decor, we have had no problems with the buses and don’t see our car from the time we park until we load up again to come home. The food court has a nice selection and we seemed to get an even better value for our money. Many times my teenage daughter and I shared a meal because there was so much food. I personally would rather spend less money on my resort and spend it in the parks.

  • There is NO WAY I would stay at a value when vacation homes are so much cheaper and there extremely nice homes so close that you can be there faster in your car than you can get to a value on Disney transportation (it’s been timed.)

    • Did it cost you alot of money to park your car at these homes? Bet it cost lots of money to park at the parks each day too. The bus is free and no worries of parking fees or if you will even get to park for that matter.

      • There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to this question. Some people prefer one or the other. It doesn’t have to come down to an argument.

        For us, because we are a family of 5, the value resorts are very expensive. We either have to get a suite or 2 rooms. So, yes, for us getting a house off-site is much, much cheaper even when you figure in the $14/day for parking.

        We generally are able to find a 3 or 4 bedroom house within 15 minutes of the parks for $75-$100 per night. I realize it’s not for everybody and would never try to convince everybody. If I did, I would no longer be able find such good deals :)

  • We absolutely LOVE the Value resorts. We are commando-style tourists, so we only use the rooms for sleep & showers, and these make the most sense for us financially. Our oldest is a tween, so for our next trip we booked a Family Suite specifically for the extra bathroom and the extra sleep surface. Can’t wait!

    We love the food courts, too, and enjoy the variety available. We have been a little disappointed with the buses on our last couple of trips, so this time we’re renting a car.

    Finally, we always spend the extra few dollars for a preferred room, because the thought of walking another half-mile at the end of the night is not appealing. Of course, that’s not a concern if you’re driving and you can park right by your building, but on our trips when we’ve used the buses we felt it was worth it to save some steps for the little (and big) feet.

  • Thanks Caroline … great overview of the advantages of a Value resort at Disney. In my years of Dis experience, it’s become apparent that the line between an “off-propertarian” and an “on-propertarian” (no, not real words … yep, I made’em up) are drawn hard. For my family, if we were at any location that was not a Disney resort property (i.e. without Disney surrounding us, without cast members greeting us, without the Disney busses pulling in and out, and without that constant enveloping of all that is Disney), well … we just wouldn’t feel like it’s a Disney vacation. I know, for anyone on the “off” side of the conversation (and by “off”, I don’t suggest you, in your mental state, are “off” for not wanting to be on Dis property … no, not at all) this sounds nearly ludicrous. Yes, money can be saved in that you can pay the same price for a bigger room, you can get groceries and cook in your room, and you can drive in to the Disney parks on your own. But for our clan, that means we’re in Florida and “visiting Disney” … not really on a “Disney vacation”.

  • We are planning to stay at a value resort when we go December 2013. It’s good to hear some great reviews of the values.

  • My first on site stay was at All Star Movies. It was perfect for myself, husband, 2 year old and 6 year old.

    I have also stayed at Pop with just one of my kids and have a solo trip booked at All Star Music this year since it’s just me going and I want to save money for a Deluxe resort stay this fall.

    Now that we are older, the rooms are too small unless we book 2 rooms and the kids want pool slides which the values don’t have.

    I do think the values are perfect for just one or 2 people and as long as you just want a place to sleep and shower and don’t care that the towels are scratchy and the beds are hard.

    But if I want comfort and quiet, a value resort isn’t the place to stay for me.

  • I think any of the value resorts is a fine place to stay while at Disney World. However, Disney jacks up rates during popular times (the non-preferred rack rate at All-Stars during Christmas 2012 is $169 without taxes), and I don’t think the on-property rooms are always worth it.

    When I lived in Florida and would drive to Disney World, I would sometimes visit during very busy times (like July 4). The cheapest on-property rooms were $150+/night after taxes with a Passholder discount, and I couldn’t stomach that when I could go on Hotwire and get a decent room for $50/night. The on-site benefits weren’t worth $100/night to me on those trips, especially since I had free parking via my Annual Pass and did not need to rent a car.

    Fortunately, Disney World supports all sorts of different vacationing styles, and I’ve enjoyed the theme parks no matter where I’ve stayed.

  • I usually stay at the Value Resorts when I visit WDW on my own. Perfectly adequate accomodations and the price is right.

  • Will be trying All Star Music for a first time Value experience for solo OMDD trip. Will be scoping it out for future trips as the family grows. We typically have three generations touring together and have stayed at Fort Wilderness cabins (Moderate) in the past.

  • I respectfully disagree. We stayed at a value resort for a quick trip once. You basically get a Motel 9 room for quite a bit more. We swore that if we ever had a more limited budget, we’d sooner stay offsite. And we did just that this past Thanksgiving. We rented a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house with a private, heated pool for less than half what staying onsite in the cheapest room combination (we’re a family of 6).

    We were surprised to find that we missed nothing Disney had to offer as a perk. What is the piece of advice regarding EMH–avoid the park that offers them because they pull in more people? Yup. Avoided that park and accomplished just as much as if we had them. And, to boot, we were closer to the theme parks than any of the value resorts!

    It was also the most relaxing Disney vacation we ever had. I won’t say we’ll never stay onsite again, but I’m going to have a hard time spending that money when I received so much more offsite.

  • WE LOVE THE VALUE RESORTS AT DISNEY!!!!!!!It would not feel like a real Disney vacation if we did not stay inside Disney. We are only there to eat breakfast,use the pool and sleep. The rooms are nicely decorated…the pools are all nice…and we love the food courts. We ahve stayed in the more expensive resorts…Boardwalk,Port Orleans Riverside etc, and we always seem to gravitate back to the value resorts. You can’t beat the price and we love the atmosphere.

  • by Kevin Crossman on February 11, 2012, at 6:01 pm EDT

    We had a car and loved staying in the 1980s at Pop Century. We were just steps away from the door to car, which meant we saved all kinds of time getting to the parks. We did take the bus one day to MK, and were lucky that we only waited five minutes going and walkon leaving. But, man, was that bus crowded and uncomforatable.

    Anyway, we love the theme of Pop Century.

  • I have stayed at Value Resorts and had a great time. However, I would always choose off-property with small kids. Having a full kitchen and laundry facilities are a must for us. It’s also great to have separate rooms for the kids so everyone gets some decent sleep. As for transportation, every single place we have ever stayed off property has been closer to the parks than the Value Resorts. I love never having to mess with Disney transportation. Getting on to a crowded, slow Disney bus with our double stroller, all our stuff and two worn out little ones is not my idea of fun.

  • We stayed at Value Resorts about 8 times before switching to moderates. I know you can get nicer rooms off-property but the extra cost of the Disney rooms may not be actually that much depending on your situation. The first time I went it was with a friend; we flew in for three days. We looked at off-property rooms then realized that by the time we rented a car or paid for airport transfers both ways for two of us it was as cheap to stay on property…plus, if you are paying for two day park tickets, they are expensive and every extra hour (whether that is an EMH or the hour saved by being able to check in for your flight at the hotel) counted. We’ve never gone back. I can see, though, where if you are there for a long time, already have a vehicle, and don’t plan on using EMH because they are so early or late, why staying off-property may be appealing. We especially love being able to get the free dining that they sometimes offer as a promotion…that absolutely offsets the on-property cost and is actually why we switched away from Value (which offers free counter service when they are running the promotion) to moderate (which offers the regular plan).

  • I think that the value resorts are a good value most times of the year. We’ve stayed at All Star Sports once (during a Pop Warner/Cheerleader weekend – big mistake) and Pop Century several times. We have used Pop Century for three of our last four stays to make our trips affordable. After our last trip in June 2011, my wife said, “I dont want to come back unless we can at least afford to stay in a moderate resort.”

    Though we believe that the value resorts provide enough amenities for us (we’re not a “high maintenance” family), and they are well themed, they aren’t exactly relaxing for us. After a day in the parks, with all of its attendant audio/visual stimulation, our family needs an equally well-themed, yet low-key type of surrounding. For us, the moderate resorts provide this. We’ve stayed at Carribean Beach once and Port Orleans Riverside several times, and we find that we are much less wrung-out at the end of a day and the end of our trip if we spend another $50 – $60 a night and stay moderate. I realize that for some personalities bright, loud theming is an indispensable part of the Disney experience, but for us the quiet serenity of the Sassagula River is just the ticket after a day in the parks.

  • We stayed at Pop Century last October. Previous stays on site have been at: Boardwalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Wilderness Lodge. I liked the resort, more or less. The food court was good and the transportation to the parks was good. Squeezing four people into one of the hotel rooms, though, was tight. Next time we would either go for a bigger room, e.g., a deluxe resort, or two rooms at a value.

  • To me, Disney hotels=fewer ameneties, far more $$$$. Our first time staying on property was at Port Orleans, when my husband had to go to Orlando for a conference. The room was nice enough but nothing special. We’ve since done a 10-day Christmas stay at All Star Music and a week at Fort Wilderness campsites, both of which were okay but nothing special. We drive and don’t use Disney transportation much, and we avoid the EMH parks most of the time too, so it doesn’t make sense to me to stay onsite unless we’re taking advantage of a “free” dining promotion. I would MUCH rather save my dollars for extra days or meals (or to be able to swing another trip). And having a fridge, microwave, queen bed and free WiFi– or multiple bathrooms and bedrooms, a full kitchen and w/d, if we stay in a condo or rental home– is far more important to me and my family and our enjoyment of our vacation than a themed pool or even a theme park view.

  • As a family of six, we stayed at the All Star Music in a family suite. It is a little pricey, but it saved us money by not having to rent a mini van. Using the Disney Magic Express was easy and using the busses was a snap. It was nice not having to wiry about driving in the traffic or parking.The rooms have 2 bathrooms which was wo.fearful. The kids loved the pull out chair and ottomon that were plenty big enough for a 7 year old boy and a 15 year old girl. The kids loved the pools and the poolside entertainment. Movies at night and a party during the day. The food courts are very convenient and also hassle free. All of this hassle free is a big deal when you have a big family. I felt everything was under control and had a great time myself. We are returning again this summer and again staying in a family suite at All Star Music again. we are looking forward to another fun filled hassle free vacation.

  • A couple of things not mentioned about value resorts that should be considered…First, maximum occupancy is 4. If you are family of 5 like mine, then that rules out the value resorts. Yes, you can get a suite, but that’s a completely different price point and the comparison changes. Second, the beds are full size. The comfort of beds is important to us. I just don’t sleep as well in a full size bed as a queen. Third, no free internet. That may or may not be an important thing, but just about everywhere but Disney it’s a given that you’ll have free wi-fi.

  • I would love to stay on site, but we usually travel to Orlando on a timeshare exchange. We get a two- or even three-bedroom condo with two or three bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a sleeper sofa in the living room, and we’re usually no more than a ten-minute drive from the parks. And all that is for an exchange fee that would cover only two nights at a value resort during way off-peak season. We can’t really justify paying several hundred more dollars to stay on site. Last trip, we housed seven people in a three-bedroom condo that was literally a two- or three-minute drive from a Disney entrance, and had the added bonus of being just a few minutes down the highway from Universal.

  • Love love love the Values! For us its a must because we visit during the off season. Having EMHs makes all the difference when parks like the Studios are only open 9-7. These times are also when the Values are going for <$100/night, so its an easy choice to not stay offsite. I do agree with those who say staying offsite might because a possibility when Value rates reach in excess of $150/night.

  • Actually very beneficial ideas are given here.thank a person thus much.
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  • by Sarah Miller on August 4, 2013, at 5:37 pm EDT

    we are a family of six coming down in December. December 22nd to Jan 2nd. We looked into a Disney resort and meal plan. The “value” resort, a “family suite” was 430.00 a night!!! Our package total was just over 10,000 dollars!!! If you do not believe me, insert our travel dates and insert our childrens ages (16, 14, 11 and 9) We found a three bedroom two bath condo 3 miles from the park for 895.00. So, we could have paid 4,300.00 for a Disney room or 895.00 for three bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen and laundry right there? I don’t think so…there is NO way that the transportation is worth 3,000!!!