Part of the joy of staying on property at Walt Disney World resort hotels is the immersive theme of each resort hotel. And while you won’t find some of the amenities offered at Deluxe or some Moderate resorts at Value resorts, Value resorts do have some unique hidden gems just waiting to be found.
Here are some of my favorites extras you can find at Walt Disney World value resorts.
All-Star Movies At All-Star Movies, look for the vintage movie posters lining the front wall in World Premiere Food Court. All-Star Movies is also home to an “interactive fountain” water feature for kids near the Fantasia Pool (just look for the giant icebergs). Also in that area is a shallow wading pool area for the non-swimmer (and swim diaper) set.
And for fans of Disney Cruise Line, you can spot a Golden Mickey prop in the Cinema Hall building.
Over at All-Star Music, look up when you are in Maestro Mickey’s gift shop. The walls have all sorts of platinum record props.
A more subtle detail that I absolutely love about All-Star Music is the attention to landscaping that goes with the theme of each section. The Calypso buildings are surrounded by tropical foliage. In Jazz Inn, the area has a New Orleans theme, complete with a courtyard and fountain. When you get back into Country Fair, there are cacti completing the western theme. Also back in Country Fair, there is a small, shaded picnic area, perfect for people who want a quiet meal.
Moving on to All-Star Sports, while adults are busy checking in, the kids can enjoy a giant game of Connect Four in the lobby. (Okay, who am I kidding? I enjoy playing a game or two when I’m there!) Along the walls in Stadium Hall, there are two display cases for All-Star Sports Hall of Fame. When I visited recently, they had images of the male and female winner from this year’s Marathon Weekend, but the digital displays in there allow them to be changed out periodically.
And while the All-Star Resorts have a variety of sculptures of different characters located around the hotels, my favorite is at All-Star Sports where a very frustrated “Donald QuackEnroe” is up against his nephews in a game of….tennis?
On a recent trip to Pop Century, I noticed a sign in the lobby advertising a Shadow Box Tour at 3:00 PM. With so many unique items squeezed into each of the shadow boxes along the timeline that stretches across the lobby, this is a great way to spend some time beating the afternoon heat. Also in the lobby area, there is a hopscotch board. Go ahead and give it a go. You know you want to!
Probably my favorite hidden gem at Pop Century is the outdoor game of Twister hidden back in the 1970s area. You won’t find it on the resort map, so you will need to do a bit of looking, but the bright color of its seating area makes it fairly easy to find. It has a weatherproof spinner and the traditional Twister mat, plus a seating area when it isn’t your turn to get twisted.
Although technically a Value Resort, Art of Animation has so many extra perks that it is a step beyond the other Value resorts.
You can easily spend an hour looking at the extensive decorations in the Cars section. All your friends from Radiator Springs are there, plus little touches for added interest. Make sure to check out the post cards in the window of the Cozy Cone Motel office and enjoy the humor of Fillmore’s extensive bumper sticker collection.
And one extra treat that I love about Value resorts is watching decorations or arrangements of stuffed animals in room windows. If you ever get a chance to wander a Value resort during mid to late December, you may even see some incredibly creative holiday displays! There’s a lot more hidden at the Value resorts that I haven’t even touched on, but don’t take my word for it – head on over and walk around to explore on your own. You’ll never know what you may find!
Speaking of Cars, make sure you also take a look at the central chandelier in the main Lobby area. Decorated with concept art, some images are signed by some famous Disney names. Hopefully new autographs will continue to be added over time.
One of the biggest surprises to me was the extensive Business Center resources at this resort. While most “business centers” at comparably priced hotels in Orlando include a web terminal and hopefully a printer, the Business Center at Art of Animation includes web terminals, a copy machine, and a fax machine. There is also a place to print out your boarding pass. More than Just a Pretty Face Aside from the visual appeal, Value resorts also offer a variety of activities including afternoon Pool Parties and evening Movies Under the Stars. Take a look at the activity board located near the main pool at each resort for a list of activities and times. Not on the list, but equally amusing are the 6:00 PM dance interludes at Pop (where everyone can do “The Hustle”) and Art of Animation (for a very spirited gathering for the “Chicken Dance”). Once you are all warmed up, take a brisk walk out on the jogging trails at these resorts. My favorite area is anywhere around Hourglass Lake with its beautiful views on one side and signs with trivia about time periods (for Pop Century) or Disney animation (for Art of Animation) on the other.
Please welcome Julia Mascardo to the TouringPlans blog team. Julia has editorial experience in everything from technical publications to cookbooks. You can also find her work at DisneyFoodBlog.com.
Check out more great theming in the gallery below: