Recently, on a solo trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to give the Pop Century Resort a try and was pleased with my experience! Plenty of people reading this have stayed at Value resorts dozens of nights and consider them their home resorts. Walt Disney World has five Value resorts: All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. My own familiarity with these resorts was minimal from having stayed at the All-Star Sports one time several years ago. But simply needing a place to sleep, preferably on property, I decided to give Pop Century a try.
Value resorts offer on-property accommodations for guests typically who prefer to spend all day in the parks, are on a budget, or those who are part of a large group. But as clean and casual options, anyone is, of course, welcome to stay.
The Value resorts still have many of the trademarks one associates with Walt Disney World. Magic Candle Company has scents themed after these resorts. ‘Century’ and ‘Animation’ come in candles, wax melts, air fresheners, room spray, and fragrance oil. The pool areas still have plenty of theming and are conveniently located. My room at the Pop Century was mostly white, and general areas did not have lush tropical plant life or the white sand beach of the Polynesian Village Resort, for example. However, my room and the resort's public areas were spotless and impeccably maintained. There were at least eight outlets in the room, most of which included USB ports.
The Skyliner provides transportation to two parks and several resorts at the Pop Century and Art of Animation (AOA), making large sections of Walt Disney World easily accessible. While Pop and AOA do not have full-service restaurants, a quick ride on the Skyliner makes options on Crescent Lake and the Riviera Resort readily available. Buses are also a transportation option, and, at the All-Stars, are the only option. However, from my experience, they run extremely well (especially compared to some Deluxe resorts). Staying at the All-Star Sports in 2018, I was talking to a cast member who indicated they tend to run buses almost non-stop, since Disney understands that many guests staying there intend to spend as much time as possible in the parks.
Monorails, buses, boats, and rideshare services (Lyft and Uber) make much of property easily accessible. I was able to wake up at Pop, take Lyft to the Polynesian with a mobile order for Capt. Cook’s, and take the Ferry to Magic Kingdom. Making a dining reservation at Whispering Canyon Café is a great way to still see and enjoy the Wilderness Lodge without paying a deluxe price. In no way does staying at a Value resort isolate you from the rest of what property has to offer.
And as of this writing, wdwinfo.com’s Resort Reviews and Ratings page put the Value resorts on par with many Moderate and Deluxe resorts in terms of an overall percentage rating. Pop Century and Art of Animation, in particular, have a higher satisfaction rating than the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Boardwalk Inn.
But it is important to also understand what keeps some guests from booking these resorts. Their theming is not subtle, with bright striking colors and sculptures representing different sports, movies, and favorite characters. With a reputation for booking large sports and school groups, they are seen as noisy places, in no way comporting with a magical vacation.
These concerns have varying degrees of validity. Perhaps not the most sophisticated with large statues of sporting equipment or characters from The Lion King, fun photo opportunities abound, and one is left with no doubt that they are, in fact, in Walt Disney World. With the amount of planning and expense which goes into a Disney vacation, that feeling of immersion is important. While I have not stayed while large sports or other groups are present, it is easy to see how noise would be an issue. Especially in buildings where the doors are on the outside (as opposed to an indoor hallway) and higher floors, as sound travels very easy. Requesting a higher floor and room far away from the lobby can help alleviate noise concerns.
On Disboards.com, there is a great Resorts Forum which has threads for each specific resort if one wants to explore further and ask questions. Giving the Values a try does not mean you necessarily have to book your entire vacation there. It could simply mean taking the Skyliner to the Art of Animation resort on your Epcot day and enjoying lunch at the Landscape of Flavors food court. After all, on a hot day in Florida, taking a lunch break at a nearby resort is extremely refreshing. Or it could mean flying in one day early and staying at All-Star Movies just to experience something different.
Are the All-Stars your go-to resorts? Have you enjoyed relying on Value accommodations while visiting Walt Disney World? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!