The majority of families visiting Disney World have a maximum budget they need to stay under. The good news is that Disney has accommodations for every price range; with the most inexpensive being their line of Value Resorts.
There are five Disney World Value Resorts: the All-Star Movies Resort, the All-Star Music Resort, the All-Star Sports Resort, the Pop Century Resort and the new Art of Animation Resort. Each of these properties offer complimentary airport transportation, shuttle bus service within the resort, extended theme park hours, and free package delivery to your hotel so you don’t have to carry your souvenirs around the park all day.
All in all, value resorts provide the most important amenities for your stay. Keeping in mind that families are only in their hotel room at night, each value resort has enough dining and entertainment options to satisfy the kids for several hours. They all have on-site swimming pools, playgrounds, arcades and food courts.
While the listed amenities are similar across all five properties, you will notice the Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts are by far the most popular choices. The AoA property is the newest one, so it is no surprise that it draws the lion’s share of attention these days. The Pop Century resort opened in 2003 (renovated in 2010) and has been a consistent success ever since.
With both of these resorts you will pay a small premium per night compared to the other value resort options. The Art of Animation charges, on average, $179 per room night, and the Pop Century charges $170. The All-Star family of resorts charge an average of $159 per night in comparison. Is the added expense worth it? Here are some of the benefits families mention for paying the higher price…
For the Pop Century Resort:
- Updated rooms from completed renovation in December 2010.
- Great swimming pools. Pop Century features 3 different swimming pools – the main flower-shaped Hippy Dippy Pool, a smaller bowling-themed pool and even a Computer Pool shaped like a monitor. Little ones can play in the Goofy Kiddie Spray Area, which is an interactive play fountain.
- Timely bus service. This is one of the best “secrets” about Pop Century. Because they do not share a bus route with other value resorts so the wait times are much shorter.
- Better room layouts. Some travelers are convinced that the rooms at Pop Century are larger than those at the other value resorts. This may or may not be true, but even the feeling of more space can be gratifying.
- Extensive food court. There is something for everyone at the food court located in the resort’s Classic Hall. Choose from several dining stations including the Pizza & Pasta Shop, Grill Shop, Ethnic Shop, Sandwich & Salad Shop, Healthy Choices, and more.
For the Art of Animation Resort:
- New construction, so the grounds are very clean.
- Fun room themes (Cars, Nemo, Lion King) and comfortable beds.
- Choice of 3 wonderful swimming pools: The Flippin’ Fins, Big Blue, and Cozy Cone.
- 2 bathroom family suite upgrades available.
Despite the “fun factor” involved with staying at AoA, there are drawbacks to choosing the latest and greatest value resort. Some families do not like the immense size of the resort, which contributes to longer lines and noise levels in the common areas. And depending on your room location, you might need a 5-7 minute walk to get to the main dining hall and pool.
Overall: Pop Century is still the best value resort.
If you look past the novelty of AoA you are ultimately paying more for the same amenities at Pop Century. That is an important consideration since this review is focused on value resorts. Pop Century might even be a better value now that the crowds are flocking to the newer property. This should result on thinner crowds and less noise at Pop Century, making it the perfect escape after a long day at the parks. If you look around at the comments people are making about Pop Century you will likely agree that is well worth considering as the Best Disney Value Resort.