Ranking Disney World Value Resorts – PREP122

I've just recently returned from a Disney World trip and have now stayed at all of the Value Resorts, so I've got my ranking of those for you today.

I also have lots of news to discuss and a quick tip of the day.


These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

Value Resort overview

All Value Resorts have bright, colorful theming, are large (where available, I recommend Preferred Rooms to make your room closer to the main building and bus stop), have food courts and pizza delivery as food options (but no Table Service restaurants), use buses for transportation, and have themed pools (but no water slides).

All 3 All-Star Resorts are located next to each other, often share buses, and sometimes host big school groups for things like cheerleading competitions.

Art of Animation and Pop Century are located next to each other (you can use a bridge to walk between them), and have their own buses (they don't share with other resorts).

My Value Resort rankings

My rankings

I don't dislike any of the Value Resorts, but there are some pros/cons of each that make some better choices than others.

#5 - All-Star Movies
With its location at the end of the All-Star Resorts, All-Star Movies is last to be picked up and dropped off when sharing buses so I've put it last for that reason. However, I like the theming here a lot, including the food court which I find charming.

#4 - All-Star Sports
Though it's located first in the row of All-Star Resorts (and therefore first to be picked up and dropped off when sharing buses), it's also the most likely to host big school groups. Sometimes other All-Star Resorts have groups as well, but All-Star Sports has more than the others.

#3 - All-Star Music
I like that All-Star Music has suites in addition to standard rooms, and this resort is located in the middle of the other 2 All-Stars which means it's not last when sharing buses.

#2 - Art of Animation
The best theming and having direct buses make this one of my favorite Disney World resorts of all, but since most rooms are suites, the price point is much higher. The only standard rooms on property - the rooms located in the Little Mermaid section - are located really far away from the main building/bus stop, and are never part of promotions.

#1 - Pop Century
With the lowest (or nearly the lowest) prices for Disney World resort rooms, dedicated buses that don't share w/other resorts, and the ability to walk over to Art of Animation for things like the food court or to rent surrey bikes, Pop Century is my vote for best bang for your buck.

News

  • Purple MagicBands are now available as a color option to guests staying in Disney World resorts.
  • Rivers of Light is coming to Animal Kingdom starting on April 22.
  • Frozen Ever After should be opening at Epcot on May 27.
  • Disney Dining Plan costs have gone up $2-3 per person per day.
  • Joy and Sadness are coming to Epcot in April.

Quick tip of the day

When using online check-in for your Disney World resort, opt in to text messages to be notified when your resort room is ready. As long as you have your MagicBands, you'll be able to go to your room without stopping by the front desk.

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Leave a Reply

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Christie Shumate

I know this was posted a while back, but I now see notes about Pop Century undergoing refurbishment in the next year on their website. Do you have any info on that? Do you think you’d still recommend it, given the ongoing construction? Thanks!

Linda

Hi, my husband and I will be staying at PC in May. I am handicapped and would like to have our room closer to the bus stop. Do I have to pay the Premium Room rate to do so or can I request a room closer? Someone said the 700 and 800 buildings are the closest. Do they have the cheaper rooms also, and do the value resorts have elevators to the higher floors?

Matt

OK Shannon, we took a leap of faith. We booked a 7 night stay at Pop Century because of your ranking and we choose April 1-7 because of your calendar. I have never done a vacation based off one person, but what the heck, it’s Disney World, what could go wrong…… Thank you for all the information you have provided us, it was a great help in making this decision. We have been to WDW one other time and it started off bad, but then it got better. We stayed at Coronado Springs and booked an accessible room and when we got to our room, it was a queen bed and I couldn’t get my chair into the room. It took over 2 hours to get us into a room with 2 beds and that room was a non accessible room.

Carrie

You mentioned that because the Little Mermaid rooms at AOA usually don’t apply for the sales or promotions because they book up quickly. Do you know if this applies to the Free Dining Promotion? We’re trying to plan a trip in November in hopes of getting the free dining plan, and we were planning on getting 2 Little Mermaid rooms. Thanks!

Tawnia Lewis

Are there surrey bikes at Art of Animation? Please say yes! 🙂

#1 – Pop Century
With the lowest (or nearly the lowest) prices for Disney World resort rooms, dedicated buses that don’t share w/other resorts, and the ability to walk over to Art of Animation for things like the food court or to rent surrey bikes, Pop Century is my vote for best bang for your buck.

Tawnia Lewis

OVERJOYED!! thank you kindly 🙂 🙂 🙂 three smiles for you!

Lynn

Didn’t realize that AOA had dedicated buses. Thinking about going to WDW around the end of Feb 2017 for the first time. How long do you think the bus ride is to MK? (I have a little one with Autism, and a long bus ride might not work)
Also, do you have any recommendations for Disney travel agents? Figure I’d better ask the expert.

Sean

The ride from AOA to MK is about 10-15 minutes. The longest we’ve ever waited for a bus to show up is about 15 minutes. The only complaint I ever have is when leaving MK at then end of the day, the pick up for AOA is the farthest away from the park exit. Still, we’ve stayed at AOA 4 times and always had a great experience.

C. Williams

When using a Disney Planner do you tip or compensate them in any way? I have always planned myself but am thinking about using a planner this time.
Thanks!

Kelly

Is the 27th of May still a good day to plan for Frozen ever after? I can’t find it on the website anywhere so I’m wondering if they took it off? This is one of the last days we will be there and our very first trip!

Joanna

Good afternoon, and thanks for this amazing resource, Shannon!

I wanted to ask you about a discovery I made while pricing my 2017 vacation (and I know rates will be a bit higher, but it doesn’t hurt to get some ballpark figures here). We’re planning on getting a family suite in the Art of Animation resort in October. Now, I understand that the closer one stays to Halloween, the busier the Halloween party tends to be. I had assumed higher volume would mean higher prices, but I found that the week of Halloween the rates were much cheaper. I mean like, $50 a night cheaper! Can anyone offer any insight as why this might be? I’m checking all sorts of weeks for better rates because we’re lower income, but if my assumptions about the prices are this far off, I’d love to find out where my logic is failing me!

Thanks for any insight anyone can offer! ^.^

Michelle

Hey, Shannon! Love the site! I have seen your ranking of the value and moderate resorts, but you haven’t ranked the deluxe resorts, correct? I know your favorites are the Poly and the Beach Club, but I don’t think I’ve seen a podcast ranking all the deluxes side-by-side. Let me know if I’m missing it!

Buffi

For those of you who are McDonald’s lovers or might want to escape the Disney bubble without needing a car, All Star Sports might be a good option for you. My husband is a creature of habbit and loves his McD’s breakfast. (Please don’t judge.) 🙂 We stayed here last year, and hubby was able to walk about ten minutes to the nearby McD’s while the kids and I got ready in the hotel room. Happiness all around. Sports is the only resort you can do that from, so that worked out great for us.

Dizjunkiee

So happy to hear that Pop is at the top of your list for value resorts! My adult daughter and I are doing a split stay in May – first 4 nights at Pop, followed by 3 nights in a Savannah view studio at AKL via DVC point rental. Both of these resorts are new to us and we are excited to try them both out! Thanks for all you do to keep us in the know, Shannon!

Sarah Moore

I’m so sad! We are going may 10-16 and made these plans when frozen ever after was slated for Spring opening. I cannot believe we are missing this by 11 days!

Molly Hall

Same! We are going May 8-14 and I thought it would be open! Luckily my daughter doesn’t know about it but still!

Michele Clauser

Just wondering how long is the walk from POP to AoA? We are staying at POP on 4/30 and want to walk of to AoA Lanscape of Flavors for our first lunch while we wait for our room to be ready. So how far is the walk and how long does it take to go between the two resorts?

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