April 2013: This choice is simple – all Disney’s economy hotels are the same. Almost.
Rooms are the same size; check-in is the same; restaurants – cafeteria-style – are virtually the same. Key differences: Pools reflect the individual themes, as do giant fiberglass (maybe it’s plastic) renditions of smaller objects, such as three-story guitars, 40-foot toys, etc. People who love sports stay at All-Star Sports Resort; people who love music stay at All-Star Music Resort; etc. Rates start above $100 per night depending on current deals, if any.
Each resort is huge. Size varies a bit, but expect 2,000 hotel rooms. Busses pick up close to most rooms, but check-in, gift shop, restaurant and bar are all located in a single spot. If planning to visit them often, request a room nearby. In some cases, but most notably Art of Animation resort, you may want to request a specific themed area.
Disney’s economy resorts include:
A warning to aficionados who don’t want to miss a game: In a sports bar, patrons watch actual sports with real teams; but at Disney’s All-Star Sports, it’s a comic-themed tribute. Giant TVs don’t actually broadcast events from around the world. Buildings honor five major games – baseball, basketball, football, tennis, and surfing. (Surfing rather than, say, soccer?) If a theme requires athletes, expect to see fiberglass versions of your favorite Disney characters playing the game.
If there was any doubt before, it’s clear in All-Star Music: Disney tries to be all things to all people. Here it hits the big sub-themes on individual buildings: Rock ‘n roll, jazz, country, show tunes, and calypso. Okay, calypso doesn’t have a huge audience, but the theme allows Disney to create colorful buildings with huge mariachis.
Top choice of true Disney fans and kids, All-Star Movies focuses solidly on Disney movies, and reproduces classic scenes and characters from popular animated films. If planning to take a deep dive into all things Disney, this one does more of it than any other resort on property, regardless of price.
The one economy hotel that breaks a bit from celebrating a guest’s favorite pastime, Pop Century highlights fads, with an emphasis many times on Disney-inspired fads, or non-Disney fads that showed up in Disney films. Giant recreations include Big Wheels tricycles, foosball, yo-yos, Play-Doh, and bowling pins.
Art of Animation
Disney’s newest value resort, Art of Animation opened in 2012. In addition to rooms as noted above, it
also has suites. While All-Star Movies tends to focus on traditional Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Art of Animation leans toward specific movies, specifically, The Little Mermaid, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King. Building lobbies are somewhat stark once inside, but the four areas – especially Cars – has a great theme for kids (and adults) who loved that movie.