10 Tips and Secrets for Walt Disney World’s Value Resorts

Credit: Disney Dining

Once you decide to vacation at Walt Disney World, you need to book your hotel. Several factors, such as location, price, and amenities, will likely influence your selection. Don’t rule out Walt Disney World Value Resorts, even if you have extra money to spend. Before booking, consider these tips and secrets about staying at these inexpensive resorts.

10. Incredible Theming

Imagineers excel at creating vivid themes and designing resorts to reflect them. At Disney’s All-Star Resorts, you’ll find tiny details and huge sculptures related to either music, sports, or movies. Disney’s Pop Century Resort pays homage to fads and trends from the 1950s through the 1990s in bold, colorful fashion. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort explores classic animated films like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid and puts guests in the middle of them with immersive décor and larger than life sculptures that form an imaginative landscape. No matter what value resort you choose, you’ll be certain to experience awesome theming.

9. Finding Hidden Mickeys

While wandering through a value resort hotel, be sure to search for Hidden Mickeys, those three Mickey-shaped circles that appear in all sorts of places. Maybe you’ve noticed them at the theme parks, but did you realize they’re hiding at value resorts, too? An example of Hidden Mickeys can be found on the drum set at Jazz Inn in the All-Star Music Resort; just look at the wing nuts holding the cymbals in place. There are others, so grab your group and get searching.

8. Saving Money Equals Crowding

Value resorts typically cost around 50% less than moderate resorts and 70% to 83% less than deluxe ones. Walt Disney World built value resorts to make a Disney vacation accessible for those with limited budgets. Their low pricing invites multitudes of people from all over the world to descend upon value resort hotels during peak season. If you don’t mind crowds, then you’ll have no problem at a value resort. Otherwise, consider booking your trip in an off-peak season, especially if you can’t afford moderate or deluxe options.

7. Location, Location, Location?

The Walt Disney World value resorts don’t reside in the middle of the action. In fact, they were constructed much closer to the edge of the Disney property, away from the major waterways, parks, shows, and attractions. The Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts surround a lake not far from Hollywood Studios, and the All-Star Resorts are situated near Blizzard Beach, but these parks aren’t accessible by foot. Unfortunately, you’ll have to rely upon Disney transportation to go anywhere, unless you brought a vehicle.

6. Transportation Options

Using the bus system or driving your own vehicle are the only transportation options for a few of the value resorts. Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort do have a Skyliner connection with is a huge perk at these two resorts! Regardless of what transportation you use, those with restaurant or special event reservations should plan at least an hour of travel time, maybe more. While there is an overnight parking fee for Disney Resort guests, drivers need not worry about paying for parking at theme parks, because resort guests receive complimentary parking privileges within the parks.

5. Ditch the Preferred Rooms

Unless a member of your party has limited mobility, you should consider avoiding preferred rooms. These rooms aren’t any different than standard ones, except they cost more and are located closer to the resort hub. Preferred rooms place you near gift shops, pools, food courts, bus stops, etc. If you don’t mind staying in a high traffic area, then book one of these rooms. Just remember that traffic becomes pretty thick in the mornings and evenings, so if you like to turn in early or sleep in late, you may be awakened by squealing children or rowdy teens. Since you’ll be walking around all day, what’s a few more steps to reach a quiet room?

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4. Large Families

In the past, groups with more than four members might have been forced to book two rooms, since not many family suites were available at value resorts. Moderate and deluxe resort hotels offered additional suites, but the costs of staying there made a Disney vacation difficult for some. In response to this growing need, Imagineers originally designed 192 family suites at the All-Star Music Resort and then added 1,120 with the construction of the Art of Animation Resort. Each suite can host up to 6 adults and one child under 3 years old in a crib.

3. Food Court Blues

The food courts become overcrowded during peak season, leading to lengthy waiting for meals, but this can be avoided by eating breakfast early or dinner late. Also, no table-service restaurants exist at value resorts, so you must reserve tables at the theme parks, other resorts, or Disney Springs if you want higher quality dining. The menus at all value resorts feature fast food favorites such as eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes, burgers, pasta, pizza, and the like with some variation. Overall, the food is good, but not spectacular. Value resorts also provide refillable mugs, which are useful in avoiding expensive beverage prices. You can fill up your mug at your resort and take it with you to the theme parks, but remember that you can’t refill it in a park, and you’ll have to carry it around all day.

2. Drawing Class at the Art of Animation Resort

Have a budding artist in your family? Or maybe your kids just like to doodle and want to sketch their favorite Disney characters. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort offers drawing classes to visitors of all ages and invites kids who dare to share their work the opportunity to compete for the “Sketch Artist of the Day” award. The resort even provides pencils and paper, so don’t worry about packing supplies from home. Whether or not your children choose to enter their work in the daily contest, it’s great to know that the instructors don’t pressure the kids to create “perfect” art. These cast members only strive to help guests enjoy the drawing process, and they always encourage their students to practice.

1. Gigantic Pools

All the value resort pools are huge, mainly because these hotels collectively lodge the greatest number of guests at Walt Disney World. Nevertheless, the pools can become crammed with people. Waiting until most guests are visiting theme parks before you swim, play, or soak will thin out the crowds. All the value resort pools are great, but one stands out from the rest. The Big Blue Pool at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort reigns as the largest pool at Walt Disney World Resorts. In addition to being the biggest, it also includes the only underwater speaker system that broadcasts Disney songs all day long. This pool’s zero-depth entry design gradually slopes to deeper waters, so you don’t have to worry about weak swimmers jumping in too deep. The pool’s oceanic décor features Finding Nemo and submerges you in Disney imagination, creating a truly immersive experience for young and old alike.

About D.W. Noonan

D.W. Noonan was blindsided by the magical universe of Walt Disney when he married a dedicated Disneyphile in 1994. His wonderful wife dragged him into countless days of binge-watching great Disney films. As children began showing up in the Noonan home, D.W.'s growing passion for all things Disney led him to vacationing with his family in Walt Disney World each year and taking a journey to visit Disneyland. He is especially proud of his two teenage daughters, who danced for Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World in 2015. Though D.W. lives in Maryland, he longs to hear these familiar words when he returns to the resort: "Welcome home."