Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Checking into Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
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?
9 thoughts on “Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Checking into Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort”
My family and I stayed in All Star Sports last October. We stayed in the Hoops Hotel section facing the woods (thanks to Touring Plans room request service). It was pretty and quiet. I do have a few tips to add. I don’t know if it is the same at other resort quick service locations, but when we came early for breakfast our only option was the bounty platter or possibly Mickey waffles. The other stations that had more interesting options were not going to be open for another 15 minutes or so. Since getting to the park well before rope drope was important, we just dealt with it instead of waiting. The other thing worth noting is that from where our room was, the easiest way to get to the food court/main building/bus stop was to walk by the Surf buildings. Unless you really want to be by the pool, I would think twice about picking these rooms since quite a few people are going to be walking past your door all day, especially if you are on the first floor.
We just got back from staying at Pop Century and I can tell you that none of the hot food stations opened for breakfast until 7:00 AM. We did morning EMH three days of our trip and our only options were cold cereal, pastries, or something from the refrigerated section. We didn’t mind as we used snack credits for breakfast on most mornings. We did get hour breakfasts on a few of our later mornings.
We stayed there in late August and loved it. Granted, it was just me and my 9 yr old son. We stayed on the backside of Home Run Hotel, and it was very quiet. One good thing about that spot was that we weren’t that far away from the bus stop for All Star Music and actually took their bus on two occasions after waiting for the Sports bus that never seemed to come. Never went to the food court for breakfast since we brought cereal and ate in the room. Would definitely stay there again since we were on a rope drop/park closing trip.
We stayed there with my two nieces 12 & 10 at the time. We wanted to stay at Art of Animation but could only get in at Sports. We were disappointed about that but it ended up being just fine. Our room was third floor facing the baseball pool. They would do life guard drills early in the morning and, yes it was loud pretty late into the night, but we were out pretty late anyway. We actually had a lot of fun there and the rooms and facilities were fine. Being the first on and off the bus was nice too.
Good article, I’ve always been curious about the All Stars resorts. Thanks for writing this!
A non-obvious item worth noting but not specifically mentioned on the article: no hot tubs. All 5 value resorts all have an abundance of pools, but if you want to relax in the Jacuzzi after a long day in the parks, you’re out of luck.
The All Star Sports Resort was my second-to-last choice, next to the campsites–until we arrived. For our first-ever trip, my daughter and I ended up being moved there from Pop in 2017 so we could take advantage of Free Dining. With the money we saved ($800 for Free Dining and another $275 moving from Pop to Sports), we were able to spend a bit more on VIP packages and souvenirs in the parks. We opted to use a grocery delivery service to pre-order a case of bottled water, some bananas and other snacks to be delivered to the room the day we arrived. We decided not only are we taking another trip, but we’ll staying at Sports again.
Because it was our first trip, we soon realized that, to us, this resort was pretty magnificent, and with just two of us, the small rooms and overall noise (most talked-about con on reviews) were a non-issue. We were up early, going to the parks, and returning late. On nights we skipped fireworks and returned before 8pm, my daughter wanted to swim in the pools. I will say that the bathrooms are definitely small. That is no joke. The rooms could use some more storage as well; once we utilized the table with chairs to put some of our snacks on, our room became pretty cluttered pretty quickly. It would be nice to have more shelving around the bathroom sink (separate from the bathroom) – that was another spot that became pretty cluttered with all of our travel-sized items. There is a space to hang your clothes, coats, and some hangers and a few drawers, as well as some small shelves around the entertainment center. Using these made the room look cluttered as well, but since it was just us, it didn’t bother us too much. There is a safe in the room with a key, and that was helpful because we didn’t want to carry cash or valuables all day long.
We did not experience much noise in our Preferred Room at the Surfs Up building. We were on the backside of Surfs Up, on the second floor, with a view of trees and the backside of another wing, and even being close to the elevators, we hardly heard or saw anyone from our room while we were in it.
If we were to spend time at the resort, it would be by one of the pools, or at the food court, and noise was just part of the culture and it didn’t bother us one bit. Most guests are going to sleep between 11-1 because they’re getting up early for EMH.
As far as dining, while there is no Table Service Restaurant at the All Star Resorts, we did not mind one bit because we were on the go. We used the opportunities we had to visit some of the hundreds of restaurants on property outside of our resort, including dining options at other resorts like Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. We did have quite a few meals (breakfasts and a couple dinners) at the Food Court. We were on the Disney Dining Plan at the time, and the meals we didn’t use credits for were typically breakfasts at the resort (I didn’t use credits for anything under $15) and we were pretty satisfied with what they had to offer – usually it was eggs, but most importantly coffee!! 😀
Despite all of the planning and scheduling we did, we still had lots of flexibility and used our extra time to really take advantage of our time in the parks. On the days we opted to return to the resort for a rest period, transportation (by bus) was a little slower than in the mornings or at night when it was less crowded, and strangely enough, took a lot longer than expected, and wasn’t really worth the short break we had. Uber was very good to us, and it was always less than 2 minutes from when I’d order an Uber to when they arrived to pick us up.
I would recommend All Star Sports (or Music or Movies) to anyone looking to take a first trip, or even a solo trip, and does not plan on spending more than 1-2 days outside of the parks. Especially if you have not been to a moderate or deluxe resort because you won’t know what you’re missing. If you have more than 2 adults (kids over 9), I would balance out your preferences and ask how much time you plan on spending at your resort. You can get adjoining rooms to accommodate more people; the pools are more than adequate and have no bearing on room size or dining offerings; so if you’re spending time to swim, it’s great – and there is a full bar next to the pool. If you have more than one non-park day and plan on spending time to go to restaurants and spas at your resort, this is not the resort for you, however, if you’re still on a budget, save the money, hop on a bus and go “resort hopping” during the day. All Star Sports is great for making that trip happen on a budget. Don’t get discouraged if this is the only way you can make your trip happen. You will still be treated like royalty.