Monday, August 17, 2009

Cheaper Is Good! An Overview Of The Value Resorts

Pop Century and the All-Star Resorts are members of the category of resorts Disney defines as "Value Resorts." These are the least expensive of the Disney Resorts and their standard room rate is just around $80-100 per night. However, many times of the year, these rooms are discounted quite nicely and can be found for between $60 and $70 per night. This is a fabulous price for a Disney room and the resorts should not disappoint you as far as atmosphere, cleanliness and service.

There are many sites out there that describe the resorts for you in detail, so I will not endeavor to do so for you here. The official Disney site will give you a basic overview, and then sites like AllEars.net can help with even more honest details that don't have to toe the company line. If you prefer print, the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the Passporter guide both have excellent resort overviews. Rather than repeat the information easily found in these fine sources, we'll break down some pros and cons for families. Because each family is different, your "pro" may be my "con," so feel free to shuffle them around. Regardless, this list should help you narrow down your choices.

Pros To Staying At A Value Resort
  • Cost - These resorts are the cheapest on property.
  • Fun Factor - Value resorts are packed with whimsy and fun. Younger kids will love the oversized objects that adorn the resorts. Older kids and adults will enjoy seeing familiar objects from their everyday worlds (past and present) blown up to a disproportionate size and the bright colors could cheer any mood.
  • Sense of Community - Again, this depends on your style, but these resorts are often packed with families so it isn't hard to make new friends at the pool any given day. Great for the more social folks in the room.
Cons To Staying At A Value Resort
  • No Refrigerators - This may not seem like a big deal, but mini-fridges are extra at these resorts. $10 a day. So if you want to save money by keeping your own water, milk, and string cheese in the room, you are doing it the old fashioned way... a cooler with ice, which will obviously need to be changed out often. Of course, there are ways around the cost of the fridge. Medical conditions get a pass for obvious reasons.
  • Outside Hallways - I don't know about you, but I always feel more secure in a hotel where I enter my room from inside the building. It means there are more controlled entrances and exits to the whole facility. You might feel safer if you request a room up a floor (or two), but the issue then becomes dealing with the next "con" on our list...
  • Centrally Located Elevators - The elevators for each building are in the center. Your room, however, might not be. It might be just up from a stairwell, but if you have strollers... ugh. No fun. And if you request a room right by the elevator, you're going to get lots of foot traffic going right by your room. So add on even more walking around than you had before we started.
  • Smaller Beds - The Value resorts have double beds. For a family of four, this can be a bit cozy. There are some rooms with King beds, but these won't be of much interest to families of three or more, unless the third is an infant and you cosleep.
  • Food Choices - All you have is a food court at each of these resorts. No table service meals at all. This may not matter to you, and the food courts are large with a lot of variety. You will not be lacking choices for food... rest assured.
  • No Hot Tubs - You probably won't miss it too much, but it's really nice to be able to get a soak in after a long day of walking. This is one thing we liked to do after the kids were asleep in a moderate or deluxe... take turns going out for a swim/soak. The Value resorts do still have pools, however, so all is not lost.
  • Buses - Pop Century buses are fine. They can get crowded, like all resort buses can. The issue with the All-Star buses is they serve all three resorts. I found this very tedious and time-consuming. Having a car would overcome this rather easily though. Parking is free for resort guests. If you know a car is not an option and you want to stay at the All-Star Resorts, I would throw my recommendation in with that of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World... choose Sports. It's the first to pick up (better chance of getting a seat) and first to drop off. (YAY, you're home!)
You'll notice that although I list more cons, in reality, those cons are minimal. And the single pro of low cost is often enough to overide those. Because the rooms are smaller, I think these resorts are more suited to families of three or families with older children who will spend more time in the parks. The Value choices are not geared as much for spending hours of lazing about the resort, although there is plenty to do should you choose to do so.
TIP: There are two prices for rooms at Value resorts: Standard and Preferred. To the best of my ability, I can only determine one difference between the two, and that is location of the rooms in relation to the main building. These are really large resorts, and if you expect to use the main building a great deal (food court, shopping, and bus stop), you may wish to pay the higher rate for Preferred. If you don't mind a little walking and/or you have a car on property, save your pennies and go with Standard.
Each room has the essentials, including a small table and two chairs. Pack and Plays are available upon request. The space in the room is used to its maximum potential, and we've always had enough room to unpack and feel at home. So although you won't get the luxury and scenery of the Moderate and Deluxe resorts, you can still expect a clean, comfortable stay. You also get all the perks of being onsite at Disney, including Extra Magic Hours allowing you to enjoy the parks a bit longer and package delivery to your resort for any souvenirs you may purchase.

It should be noted that All Star Music now offers Family Suites as well, and there are rumors of more of these being created at other Value resorts. They consist essentially of two rooms blended into one with a kitchenette added... a nice feature. The master suite has a flat screen tv. The price for these is a little more than double a standard room rate, and availability is very limited. They only sleep six, though, so unless the kitchenette is important to you, two adjoining rooms might do the trick for you instead.

Do you have pros or cons to these resorts that I haven't mentioned? Please share them with us as a comment!

6 comments:

disneynorth said...

Great article Elizabeth!

I wanted to point out that some of the cons also apply to Moderate resorts:
--Outside hallways: I have stayed at both Coronado and Port Orleans, which have outdoor entrances to the rooms
--Same goes with Centrally located elevators
--Buses: This actually applies to some Moderate and Deluxe hotels. I had an unfortunate experience this past May while staying at the Boardwalk. The buses that serviced the Boardwalk also serviced, the Swan, the Dolphin AND the Yacht and Beach Club. And most times the Boardwalk was last! What we found was we would get off at the Swan and walk over the bridge to the Boardwalk. Talk about a pain!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for your comment and your compliment! This is all very true. (*vigorously nodding about the Boardwalk bit*) We will be posting similar articles on moderates and deluxes in the future and you will absolutely see these on the list.

B said...

This is a great article! I have that as a pro-you can take lots of perspective shots with those oversized objects.

Don't take the bridge to look at the 20s, 30s...it's creepy!

M.Sedlar said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information!! I'm staying at the Pop Century in January, and my wife is a type 1 diabetic. Her insulin needs to be refrigerated, and I wasn't aware the fridges were an additional cost. Yikes. Medical conditions get a pass?

Elizabeth said...

They absolutely do get a pass. No questions asked. You should have it noted on your reservation that you need one and then request it again when you arrive for checkin. We had ours plugged in within ten minutes of checking in.

table top fridge said...

your blog is amazing. new follower!

Post a Comment