Ahh…Disney’s All-Star Resorts. With their bright bold colors, over-sized pop culture icons, and low price tag, these Disney Value resorts are a popular option for families, young adults, and large groups. If you have only stayed at a Moderate or Deluxe resort, you might wonder: How is a Disney All-Star Resort different?
The lower room rates should be a clear sign that you will be offered fewer amenities than the pricier resort categories. For instance All-Star Resorts have smaller rooms, no full-service restaurants on site, only offer bus transportation (instead of boat or monorail options), and have no water features that accommodate boating, fishing, and so on. The All-Star Resorts do offer a feature pool with lifeguards, daily activities, and a nearby pool bar plus additional quiet pools on opposite ends of the resort, a food court, a gift shop, and in-room pizza delivery. Simply put, Value resorts like Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort offer a “more fun less frills” atmosphere. Aside from these basic differences, there are a few other things that you might wish to know before checking in to Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort that aren’t quite as obvious by looking at a list of amenities.
1) It Is LOUD
If your only experiences with Disney resorts are with moderates and deluxes, you will be shocked by how different the vibe can be at an All-Star Resort. At any moment, from early mornings to after the parks close, there can be an active atmosphere around the resort. A major complaint we hear from guests returning from trips to any of the All-Star Resorts, including Sports, is of the large number of school and youth groups that stay there, from groups on property for cheerleading competitions and Pop Warner football squads to the ever-present international youth tour groups. This is something that is not necessarily a bad thing if you know what to expect and are down with it. In fact, another complaint we hear is that things seem to shut down by late in the evening at the majority of Disney resorts. Guests who have been in the parks until closing often return to desolate resorts with no open dining establishments and seemingly every other guest asleep for the night. Not at All-Star Sports. At 10 PM, 11 PM, or even later there is usually a festive atmosphere. We are not saying the resort is one big college frat party, but at any given moment you could find a group of students hanging out on the food court patio, another group of kids playing a pickup football game on the giant replica field, and a few adults sitting on patio chairs outside of their room with a cooler.
At times it is nice to return from Extra Magic Hours or a night at Disney Springs and not feel the need to tiptoe past every room in fear of waking up a family of four. That having been said, parents of a small child who is trying to sleep on the first floor while there is a football game going on outside might not be so upbeat about the arrangement.
2) Yet Some Spots Are Surprisingly Secluded
This is not to say that every single room at All-Star Sports has a party going on outside. There are plenty of rooms that face a wooded area and/or a parking lot and these rooms, especially those on the upper floors, can be downright secluded. The majority of the noise and “action” happens at ground level on the main walkways, the courtyards between buildings, and around the main Surfboard Bay pool and Stadium Hall outside the food court, so the farther away from these areas you get, the quieter your night will be. Now there is certainly no guarantee that you aren’t going to end up with rowdy neighbors nearby on your floor or even above or below your room, and it is certainly possible that people will walk by your room causing a ruckus, but by and large you an be assured a reasonably peaceful night’s sleep if you go vertical and far-flung. If this is important to you, use TouringPlans’ Room Request feature (an awesome tool that you should always be using before a trip) and find some rooms that fit the description. I’m thinking specifically about rooms like Hoops Hotel 3332 or Center Court 4332 that are high up and look directly at trees.
3) Views Can Differ Greatly from Room to Room
Oh yeah, speaking of those room views, this may shock you but the view from out your room window can vary greatly and certainly can not be boiled down to Disney’s standard/preferred “courtyard, pool, or parking area” view. Take for instance Homerun Hotel. Some rooms face the quiet pool, themed like the diamond and outfield of a baseball stadium (complete with a grandstand), with a picturesque view of the football & helmet theming of the Touchdown buildings behind it. It is a view perfectly fit for a Disney Parks promotional image of the resort. Here are the views from two adjacent rooms on the first floor.
Yes, those two rooms, seeming to all the world like they have identical views, range from “postcard” to “back of a plastic bat.” The bat room might be desirable to you if you are looking for something to block out the sun most of the day, but I think that most people interested in hotel room views would prefer the other view. The point of all this is that if you care at all about what you see outside your window, use the Hotel Room Views and Room Request (or, at least, just pick an upstairs room facing trees if that’s your thing).
4) Themes Range from Surprisingly Tasteful to Kitschy and Outdated
At a resort like Pop Century, all of the decade buildings are basically the same except with different over-sized icons towering over the same trees and flowerbeds. All-Star Sports adds a little bit of extra pizazz to the theme. The Surf’s Up section, around the main pool specifically, is themed with not only extra large surfboards but also nautical wood posts and a boardwalk-motif sidewalk.
Other parts of the resort woefully show their age. This is specifically noticeable in the baseball section. The rooftops of the “Homerun Hotel” feature pennants from Major League ballclubs as they appeared circa 1994. Included among the pennants are about two dozen outdated logos including the defunct Montreal Expos and, perhaps most embarrassingly, the California Angels logo from before Disney bought the team and switched their name to Anaheim (and then later sold the team and changed their name to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Angels; Disney is using their logo from 4 team names ago!).
It’s even worse if you’re a hockey fan. Their section isn’t even located inside the Sports resort, you need to go to the next-door Movies resort’s Mighty Ducks section for that!
5) Bus Service is Not that Bad
While the Walt Disney World Resort’s transportation system has its share of faults and flaws, on my most recent visit, bus service to and from Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort was as efficient as could be expected. At most peak times, the resort is serviced by one dedicated bus (i.e., no stopping at the other two All-Star resorts) and when the bus is assigned to more than one resort, All-Star Sports is normally the first stop. This means that buses are always arriving at the bus stop empty and crowded buses are always dropping you off first, if you’re staying at All-Star Sports. Queues for the buses are assigned to all theme parks and major destinations, however it should be noted that the queues are not covered and thus are uncomfortably hot and/or wet approximately 300 to 350 days of the year.
Is Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort the best resort on property? Absolutely not…but if you’re looking for a fun resort with plenty of Disney magic (and most importantly, Disney resort perks) without breaking the bank, then it is perfect. After all, that’s what the Value Resorts are all about. Plus you can enjoy a pick-up soccer game with some international high school students after a long day at the park. And who wouldn’t want to do that?