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 Sports Resort features huge sports icons: bright football helmets, tennis rackets, and baseball batsâ€”all taller than the buildings they adorn. Similarly, the All-Star Music Resort features 40-foot guitars, maracas, and saxophones, while the All-Star Movies Resort showcases giant popcorn boxes and icons from Disney films. Lobbies of all are loud (in both decibels and brightness) and cartoonish, with checkerboard walls and photographs of famous athletes, musicians, or film stars. 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), and one of Moviesâ€™ is star-shaped. 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 athletes, movie stars, or 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.
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.
An Orland Park, Illinois, family had a tough time with their All-Star neighbors, copying us on a letter to Disney: I am not a person who usually complains, but I had to write and tell you how extremely disappointed I was with the accommodations we had at the All-Star Sports. I was expecting that a Disney resort would be geared toward families. Boy, was I mistaken! What we mostly had staying with us were young teenagers who were extremely loud and foul-mouthed. We could hardly get any rest.
We had groups of people outside our room partying on the football field one night until midnight before someone finally closed them down. Then in the morning (one time as early as 6:30 a.m.), we had cheerleaders practicing right outside our door, shouting their cheers.
A Canadian family had a similar 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. O ur 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.
But a Baltimore family had a very positive experience: We decided early on that weâ€™d rather spend more money on food than lodging. We love to eat and figured that we wouldnâ€™t spend that much time in the room, so we picked the All-Star Movies Resort.
We were pleasantly surprised. Yes, the rooms are small. But the overall magic there is amazing. The lobby played Disney movies, which is perfect if you get up early and the buses arenâ€™t running yet. There are great photo ops everywhere (Donald and Daisy were awesome).
Itâ€™s heaven for fans of Fantasia 2000. Customer service was impeccable.
Everyone seems to bust on the food court, whichâ€”letâ€™s face itâ€”is crap . . . except for the refrigerator cases, where you can buy fresh-tasting (albeit expensive) fruit, water, healthy snacks, and great chicken-salad sandwiches. Further, despite forewarnings of loud children, we were in the Love Bug building and found it very quiet.
The express-checkout service was also a godsend.
From a 20-something woman from Georgetown, Texas: We stayed at the All-Star Movies Resort, which was great for us. The room was small, but it was just my sister and me, so we did fine. It didnâ€™t have a lot of amenities, but we probably wouldnâ€™t have taken advantage of them anyway. The food court was very convenient.
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. O ur 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) [see page 410]. O ur 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. O verall, it was a good experience.
From a young Washington, D.C., couple: Many rooms at All-Star Movies are closer to All-Star Music for food and shuttle pickups. Knowing this gives you twice as many options for shuttle-bus return trips from the parks.
Finally, a dad from Rogers, Arkansas, had this to say: Make sure that people understand how inconvenient the shuttle service becomes when you have to share one bus for all three All-Star Resorts. This one issue ruined what was an otherwise very pleasant experience. For this reason alone, I will never stay at the All-Star Resorts again.
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's All-Star Sports Resort||50% (-10%)|
|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 Sports Resort||80% (0%)|
|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 Sports 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 Sports Resort Dining
|Magic Kingdom||6 minutes|
|Animal Kingdom||4 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||5 minutes|
|Quietness of Room||C|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|