Comparing Orlando’s Value Resorts Part 2: Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
This summer, I was able to take my first major vacation in a while, and where better for a theme park fanatic to visit than Orlando? However, the costs of flights, park tickets, transportation, accommodations and food can quickly add up, so it’s important to save money whenever possible when planning a trip like this. An area where I typically opt to cut costs is hotels, I really only need a place to sleep for the night, and to store whatever souvenirs I gather during my trip of course. So, when planning my Orlando trip, I knew I wanted to stay at a value resort for both the Disney and Universal parks. You can of course save even more money by staying off the resort property, but I believe the benefits of staying at a park-owned resort are definitely worth it. Let’s take a look at some of the other amenities and see how these affordable accommodations stack up. Don’t miss part one of the series here!
This is Part 2 of my series on covering Orlando’s value resorts. In Part 1 I reviewed my experience staying at Universal’s newest resort, but in this edition we’ll be moving down International Drive to the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World. Specifically to the All-Star Movies Resort, one of the newly renovated Disney resorts. In the summer of 2019, I stayed at the All-Star Sports Resort, which was not renovated at the time, and given the similarities between the two resorts, I can make a fair comparison on the differences before and after the renovation.
The All-Star resorts are the least expensive of any Disney-owned hotel on their property, and when I stayed at the resort for two nights this June, the prices actually varied per day. On Thursday, the room was $182 for the night, but on Friday the price moved up to $212 for the night. This is an example of the tiered price system that the resort hotels use for peak travel times, and it’s an important trend to note. Not only will crowds be lower at the parks on weekdays, but the cost for the resorts will also likely be cheaper. In this series’ last article, I mentioned that Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites, a value resort with similar amenities, was only $116 per night, so let’s take a look at what’s offered at the All-Star Movies Resort, and see if it’s worth the higher price.
Something that I appreciate about the Disney value resorts, and specifically the All-Stars, is that they undoubtedly have the most “Disney” feel to them. There are larger-than-life statues of characters all around the resort, decorations devoted to the movies, and the areas of the hotel are all themed to Disney properties. While the higher-end resorts are highly themed as well, they are not themed to Disney itself, which may be a positive or a negative depending on what you are looking for in your hotel stay. Personally, I love this detail because it really adds to the “Disney bubble” feeling of being at Walt Disney World, and makes me feel connected to the parks even when I am not there yet. At All-Star Movies, the themed areas of the hotel are Toy Story, Fantasia, 101 Dalmations, Herbie the Love Bug and The Mighty Ducks.
Let’s take a look at the rooms themselves. At the All-Star Movies Resort, there are two types of rooms, Standard and Preferred. I stayed in a Preferred room, just because that was the only option available at the time I booked my stay, but it’s important to note that there is no actual difference between the room types except for their location on the hotel property. They both offer 1 King Bed or 1 Queen-Size Table Bed and 1 Queen Bed, the difference is that the Preferred rooms are closer to the lobby as well as the dining and shopping area and the bus transportation. The Preferred room is also more expensive than the Standard room, so in my opinion, unless being closer to the lobby is a necessity for you or someone in your party, it’s not worth the upgrade.
In addition to the bed(s), each room has a dresser with drawers and a laptop-sized safe, a small closet area, some shelves with a small fridge and coffee maker, iron and ironing board, towel hooks, a flatscreen TV, a bathroom vanity, and a separate bathroom with a toilet and shower.
Something to note is that in the rooms with the Queen-Size beds, one of them is a table bed, so it folds up into the wall and the attached table folds out for extra space when the bed is not in use. I found the beds to be very comfortable, and even when the bed was folded down, I thought there was plenty of room to walk around. The renovation also brings hardwood floors, which in addition to being easier to keep clean than the carpets that were there previously, also keeps the room cooler.
There is also now a nice mural above the fold-out bed when it is extended, and an extra small light fixture. The rooms are very well-lit, and there is ample space for storage in many places around the room. There are also plenty of outlets and USB-A chargers for any technology recharging needs.
The central lobby area of the hotel, called Cinema Hall, contains the check-in desk and seating area with a small TV playing Disney films. There is a calendar of events in the lobby telling guests about the offerings at the hotel, like tie-dying shirts by the pool, or movie nights with a large projection screen. The Premiere Food Court is the dining area at the hotel, offering quick service options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While it is not running currently due to pandemic restrictions, there is also a secret menu available in the food court that can be accessed by asking a cast member about it. I won’t say too much about what’s available, but make it a point to ask a Cast Member about it on your visit!
The two meals I ate at the food court were one breakfast and one dinner, the classic Mickey waffles were as good as ever, and the pizza slice was pretty good as well. Some of the offerings include hamburgers, rotisserie chicken, pizza, pasta, barbecued ribs, sandwiches, salads, baked goods, fruit, and dinner specials. Silver Screen Spirits is the hotel’s pool bar and offers a continental breakfast, and other smaller menu items throughout the day. The pool is very large, and while I did not have time to go during my stay, is very well themed and has a large poolside area as well. In the lobby, there is a connected gift shop with All-Star branded merchandise, as well as some food and travel items. There is also an arcade room, but during the pandemic it has been closed.
Hotel guests have access to the Disney transportation buses and Disney’s Magical Express (though Magical Express is retiring at the end of 2021), and both are a very valuable resource. Unlike the majority of the Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World is enormous, and the bus service is a necessity unless you are travelling with a vehicle, which will cost $15 a night for parking. The buses go to the parks, the waterparks, and Disney Springs, all within a 15-20 minute ride at most.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the All-Star Movies Resort, and I would recommend it to anyone staying at Walt Disney World. However, looking beyond the actual hotel, it is difficult to continue to recommend staying on-site when amenities like the Magical Express, complimentary Magic Bands, and Extra Magic Hours are being retired. Currently, this resort is about equal in price with off-property resorts, and for the Disney factor as well as the transportation, I think it is worth it for now. It’s almost impossible for me to compare the All-Star Movies Resort to Universal’s Surfside resort just because of the special feeling I get when on Disney property, but if I had to choose, I would go with Universal’s Surfside resort because of the amenities, price and value of the room. However, like I have said, both resorts are exactly what I look for in value resorts and am looking forward to staying at both of these resorts again.
Have you had the chance to stay at one of the value resorts in Orlando? Let us know your experience in the comments!