Disneyâ€™s version of a budget resort features three distinct themes executed in the same hyperbolic style. Spread over a vast expanse, the resorts comprise 30 three-story motel-style guest-room buildings.
Although the three resorts are neighbors, each has its own lobby, food court, and registration area. The All-Star Music Resort features 40-foot guitars, maracas, and saxophones. Lobbies of all are loud (in both decibels and brightness) and cartoonish, with checkerboard walls and photographs of famous musicians. Thereâ€™s even a photo of Mickey Mouse with Alice Cooper. Each resort has two main pools; Musicâ€™s are shaped like musical instruments (the Piano Pool and the guitar-shaped Calypso Pool. All six pools feature plastic replicas of Disney characters, some shooting water pistols.
At 260 square feet, guest rooms at the All-Star Resorts are very small. Theyâ€™re so small that a family of four attempting to stay in one room might redefine â€œfamily valuesâ€ by weekâ€™s end. Each room has two double beds or one king bed, a separate vanity area, and a table and chairs. Most bedspreads feature musicians; most light fixtures are star-shaped. No rooms have balconies.
If youâ€™re planning to save for a Disney vacation, you may want to save enough for a bigger room at another resort if space is an important consideration. Also, the All-Stars are the noisiest Disney resorts, though guest rooms are well soundproofed and quiet.
To the rejoicing of parents everywhere, Disney has opened 192 family suites at its All-Star Music Resort. In the Jazz and Calypso buildings, these suites measure roughly 520 square feet, slightly larger than the cabins at Fort Wilderness. Each suite, formed from the combination of two formerly separate rooms, includes a kitchenette with mini-refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker. Sleeping accommodations include a queen bed in the bedroom, plus a pullout sleeper sofa and two chairs that convert to beds in the family room.
Weâ€™re not sure weâ€™d let adult friends (ones we want to keep, anyway) on the sofa bed or those chair beds, but theyâ€™re probably fine for children.
A hefty door separates the two rooms.
The suites also feature flat-screen televisions in each room, plus two bathroomsâ€”one more than the Fort Wilderness cabins. The suites cost anywhere from 25% to 40% less than the cabins, but they donâ€™t have the kitchen space or appliances to prepare anything more than rudimentary meals. If youâ€™re trying to save money by eating in your room, the cabins are your best bet. If you just want a little extra space and somewhere to nuke your Pop-Tarts in the morning, go with the All-Star suites.
Reader comments concerning the family suites have been generally positive, though measured. First, a Verona, Kentucky, mother of three:
We stayed at an All-Star Music family suite. We have a 15-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 2-year-old. The room was great, but it didnâ€™t accommodate us because we needed a â€œgrown-upâ€ room so we could relax after the little kids went to bed. People might want to book two individual rooms instead.
A mother of three from Clementon, New Jersey, is more enthusiastic:
We tried out the family suites at All-Star Music and loved them! Finally, parents can sleep in a queen bed and have their own room at Disney without breaking the bank. If you donâ€™t cook on vacation, the suites work out better than a Fort Wilderness cabin.
With a low staff-to-guest ratio, service is not the greatest. Also, there are no full-service restaurants, and the bus ride from the remote All-Stars to a full-service restaurant at another resort is about 45 minutes each way. There is, however, a McDonaldâ€™s about a quarter mile away. Bus service to the theme and water parks is pretty efficient.
Walking time to the bus stop from the most remote guest rooms is about 8 minutes.
We receive a lot of letters commenting on the All-Star Resorts.
From a family group of 13 from East Greenbush, New York:
The All-Star Resorts are perfectly family-oriented. Some nice touches that were not mentioned in your guideâ€”a small amphitheater set up in the lobby to occupy the kids while you check in, and soft sidewalk material surrounding the kiddie pool, which is only about 10 inches deep. And the playground has two separate jungle gymsâ€”one for older kids and one for younger kids.
Regardless of your personal preference, if youâ€™re going to stay at an All-Star Resort, stay at Sports. The sole reason is that the shuttle buses pick up and drop off at the All-Star Resorts in this order: Sports, Music, Movies. That little difference can mean a lot when traveling with kids or with a group.
A Canadian family had a tough experience:
The guide didnâ€™t prepare us for the large groups of students who take over the resorts. Theyâ€™re very noisy and very pushy when it comes to getting on buses. Our scariest experience was when we tried getting on a bus and got mobbed by about 100 students. We didnâ€™t know if our children would come out alive from the experience. We donâ€™t think we would go back to the All-Star Resorts for this reason (they offer packages to student groups). Also, the motel doesnâ€™t want to hear your complaints at all.
From a Massachusetts family of four:
I would never recommend the All-Star for a family. It was like dormitory living. O ur room was about 1 mile from the bus stop, and the room was tiny. Iâ€™m in the hotel business, and it was one of the smallest Iâ€™ve been in. You needed to step into the bathroom, shut the door, then step around the toilet that blocked half the tub.
From a North Adams, Massachusetts, dad:
We opted for the All-Star Music Family Suite this trip and were really pleased. The biggest advantage was the two full bathrooms. We were thinking about going to the Fort Wilderness Resort and renting a cabin (for the full kitchen and homey atmosphere), but between having a meal plan and then realizing that there would be two bathrooms in the Family Suite, we decided on that. It was about $300 less expensive than Fort Wilderness as well.
From a Skokie, Illinois, family of five:
We found the All-Star Music Family Suite to be very roomy for the six of us. Our teenagers and preteen were quite comfortable on the pullout sofa, chair, and ottoman. Having the two bathrooms was a must, and the kitchen area was great; lots of shelf space for the food we had delivered from GardenGrocer (theyâ€™re excellent, by the way). Our only complaint about the resort is that from 7:30 a.m. until midnight thereâ€™s always music playingâ€”it can get annoying to always have that beat going in the background. I did ask them to turn it down once, but that didnâ€™t work. The rooms are soundproofed but not enough; had to use earplugs. Also, the housekeeping was terrible. Could not get them to leave regular coffee and enough towels without calling several times. The bus service was very good, though; the Music Resort often had its own bus and didnâ€™t make stops at the other All-Star Resorts. Overall, it was a good experience.
Blog Posts About All Star Music
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's All-Star Music Resort||69% (-11%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||74% (+3%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (+10%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||95% (N/A)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's All-Star Music Resort||97% (-3%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||90% (+1%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||94% (+5%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||100% (N/A)|
Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Disney's All-Star Music Resort
Though the layouts of All-Star Resortsâ€™ Movies, Music, and Sports sections are different, the buildings are identical three-story, three-winged structures. The T-shaped buildings are further grouped into pairs, generally facing each other, and share a common subtheme. For example, thereâ€™s a Toy Story pair in the Movies section. In addition to being named by theme, such as Fantasia, buildings are numbered 1â€“10 in each section. Rooms are accessed via a motel-style outdoor walkway, but each building has an elevator.
Parking is plentiful, all in sprawling lots buffering the three sections.
A room near a parking lot means easier loading and unloading but also unsightly views of the lot during your stay. The resort offers a luggage service, but it often takes up to an hour for your bags to arrive.
The sure way to avoid a parking-lot vista is to request a room facing a courtyard or pool. The trade-off is noise. The sound of cars starting in the parking lot is no match for shrieking children or hooting teenagers in the pool. But donâ€™t count on a good view of the pool, even if your room faces it directly. The buildingsâ€™ themed facade decorations are placed on their widest faceâ€”the top of the Tâ€”which is also the side facing the pool or courtyard. In some cases, as with the surfboards in the Sports section, these significantly obstruct the view from nearby rooms. Floodlights are trained on these facades and if you step out of your room at night to view the action below, looking down may result in temporary blindness.
The sort of traveler you are should dictate the room you request at All-Star Resorts. If you choose the resort because youâ€™d rather spend time and money at the parks, opt to be near the bus stop, your link to the rest of the World. Note that buses leave from the central public buildings of each section, which are near the larger, noisier pools. If youâ€™re planning to return to your room for an afternoon nap, request a room farther from the pools. Also consider an upper-story room to minimize foot traffic past your door. On the other hand, if you choose All-Star for its kid-friendly aspects, consider roosting near the action. A bottom-floor room provides easy pool access, and a room looking out on a courtyard or pool allows you to keep an eye on children playing outside.
For travelers without young children (infants excluded), the best bets for privacy and quiet are buildings that overlook the forest behind the resort, Buildings 2â€“4 in All-Star Sports and 4â€“7 in All-Star Music. Interior-facing rooms in these buildings (and their partners) also fill the bill, since they overlook courtyards farthest from the large pools. The courtyards vary with theme but are generally only mildly amusing.
If youâ€™re traveling with children, opt for a section and building with a theme that appeals to your kids. Often, that will be a filmâ€”movies are the lifeblood of the Disney empireâ€”but it might be a sport.
If youâ€™re staying in Home Run Hotel, donâ€™t forget the ball and gloves to maximize the experience (just keep games of catch away from the pool). Older elementary- and middle-school children probably will want to spend hotel time in or near the bigger pools or arcades in nearby halls. Periodically, cadres of teenagersâ€”too cool for their younger siblingsâ€”effectively commandeer the smaller secondary pools. Playgrounds are tucked behind Building 9 in All-Star Music and behind Building 6 in All-Star Sports. Rooms facing these are ideal for families with children too young or timid for the often-chaotic larger pools. In All-Star Movies, the playground is nearer to the food court than to any rooms.
The following tip from a former All-Star Resorts cast member from Fayetteville, Georgia, illustrates just how big these resorts are:
Please tell your readers that rooms at the far end of the Mighty Ducks building of All-Star Movies are closer to the All-Star Music food court, pool, and buses than to All-Star Moviesâ€™ own facilities. Follow the walkway from the Ducks building north to All-Star Musicâ€™s Melody Hall.
The same reader also mentioned that All-Star Sports guests are usually the first to be picked up on the Disney bus route, even when the same bus services all three All-Star Resorts. During busier times of the year, Sports passengers can completely fill the first bus dispatched, resulting in longer waits at the other All-Star Resorts. Each All-Star Resort generally has its own separate bus for the return trip.
|Super-kid-friendly theme||Remote location|
|Low (for Disney) rates||Small guest rooms|
|Large swimming pools||No full-service dining|
|Food courts||Large, confusing layout|
|Convenient self-parking||Congested bus-loading areas|
|No character meals|
|Limited recreation options|
Disney's All-Star Music Resort Dining
|Magic Kingdom||6 minutes|
|Animal Kingdom||4 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||5 minutes|
|Quietness of Room||C|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|