Cover image: a Mickey Pretzel and Vojito from the Silver Screen Spirits pool bar at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
If you’re hesitating to reserve All Star Resorts for a short or budget Walt Disney World trip, this is your sign to book it.
For those unfamiliar, the All Star Resorts are a family of hotels on Walt Disney World Resort property that fall into the “value” category, the lowest tier as far as price and amenities. “Moderate” and “deluxe” are our higher categories, with well rounded theming and often marquee pools and dining. It can be an intimidating decision — you’re already spending the money, why not pick a “moderate” hotel? I’m here to tell you that there’s still plenty to enjoy from an All Stars property.
That is, if you fit the right criteria. I’ve found that All Star Resorts are best for two person trips (couples, mother/daughter, etc.) with an agenda that isn’t based around resort time specifically. For example, if you know you want to catch an Eat to the Beat performance or see the Magic Kingdom’s Christmas decorations, and the resort isn’t part of the planning process, All Stars may fit the bill.
Something a “Disney bubble” resort does well is create the perception that it’s not crowded. Unless you’re staying somewhere with a particularly sought after dining option, even peak summer can feel intimate. You’ll see crowds in lobbies, but it’s nowhere near the shoulder to shoulder Magic Kingdom ferry you took earlier that day. There’s a perception that All Stars do not afford this same luxury as they skew towards families or school groups. While my first trip did have the occasional cheerleader practice, I still felt that cozy quietness walking the grounds.
If you are traveling during the sports season and this is a concern of yours, I would recommend requesting a room on the upper floors. The courtyards, which would otherwise be a relatively quiet space, were used by cheer teams to get their chants down. Even then, these groups typically have curfews, and aren’t keeping you up all night.
Dining and Drinks
Now, was your travel inspired by seeing craveable items from an Epcot food festival? Guilty. The Disney food community is massive, and those in the the fandom may plan a whole trip around dining. All Stars resorts only have the standard quick service cafeteria, which is seen as a con compared to the sit-down restaurants throughout other resorts. However, I find this to be a positive. If I’m excited to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival to the fullest, or have been saving up for signature dining like California Grill, I may never even use the cafeteria space. When I do, I appreciate the variety in tastes, portion sizes, and of course the ease (hello Mobile Order!)
And it’s not just the food we travel for… it’s the drinks. The All Star resorts do boast their own pool bars and even their own drink specials. While you don’t get the atmosphere that enhances some of Disney’s best known cocktails (any Jenn’s Tattoo fans?) you still get the friendly bartenders and something enjoyable to sip on.
Now, order your drink of choice and walk back to the room with me. All Star Resort rooms, while on the smallest end of Disney property hotels, don’t feel much smaller than a moderate. I recently stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter with my mom in their standard, 314 square foot room. We then did a trip at All Star Movies, staying in their 260 square foot room. We didn’t feel much difference, both having space to relax on our own beds (mine being a murphy bed in All Stars,) have our own sides of the bathroom vanity, and store our luggage comfortably. The toilet/shower area was the only place where we felt the difference in size, but with two of us, it was easy to look past.
If your group likes a resort day, I could see this being where All Stars loses points. I would consider Disney’s Coronado Springs my home resort, and something I love about it is that it feels grown up, and it takes effort to find things oversaturated in Disney characters. I unfortunately can’t give that same praise to All Star Resorts. The decor is youthful, negating my point about this being a good resort for a couple. While I have enjoyed the pools there as well, there aren’t hot tubs, which docks points from my mom.
However, the theming is still there if you want to find it. The All Star Music Broadway section has a well done city vibe, and the Love Bug and Toy Story areas at All Star Movies have some iconic centerpieces. When you aren’t spending a day at your hotel, walking past an oversized Buzz Lightyear to a clean, quiet room isn’t half bad.
So if you’re planning a whirlwind trip in the coming months — join me by the Fantasia pool with sangria and chicken tenders, and let’s toast to the All Stars Resort!
Hannah is an accidental internet meme, drummer, loud talker, and proud owner of a purse that functions as a working analog clock. She got the media writer gene from her dad, PF Wilson, another writer for Pop Culture Beast. Her favorite bands come and go on a seasonal rotation, but Marina & The Diamonds and Say Anything are here to say. She’s probably watching The Grand Budapest Hotel right now, but if she isn’t, she’s out photographing rock concerts.