Many years ago, Disney executives carefully combed through the financials of their vast theme park empire. In an unexpected turn of events, someone looked at the lucrative Parks & Resorts division’s balance sheet and said, “That’s not enough!” They saw an inequality on the ledger. Disney wasn’t satisfactorily catering to budget-conscious families. This enterprising cast member uncovered a new avenue for monetization. In that moment, the idea of the All-Star Resort was born.
Currently, three different All-Star properties are part of what Disney describes as the Value Resorts, the cheapest Disney hotels available on the Walt Disney World campus. You know them as Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. Theme park tourists who visit Walt Disney World regularly have almost certainly stayed in one of these properties at some point…but which one is the best value of the All-Star Resorts? Read on to find out...
The Basics on All-Star resorts
With Value Resorts, Disney’s offering cheap stays onsite as a way of enticing budget-minded travelers to stay at an official hotel. You’ll get all of the amenities of such as Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, 30 extra days on your FastPass+ booking window, free transportation to and from the parks, and the option of the Disney Dining Plan. That’s a lot of extras for a reasonably low hotel room cost.
The other thing that you should realize about all of the All-Star Resorts is that they’re similar in the most important ways. All of them are mediocre hotels with modest space. The basic rooms are 260 square feet, which means that they’re the equivalent of a modest Days Inn. While each hotel has a specific theme, the reality is that they fall far short of Moderate Resorts in this regard.
3) Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Let’s examine the three All-Star Resorts in chronological order. You may not realize it, but All-Star Sports was the first property to open to the public. It debuted in April of 1994, beating All-Star Music by about seven months.
What’s interesting about the timeline is that the theming at the Value Resorts basically mirrors the age of each hotel. With only one exception, each new resort had better theming than any that had come before it, which is a prolonged way of saying that All-Star Sports Resort has a dull theme. Don’t get me wrong. I love sports, almost obsessively. A lot of my (non-Disney) wardrobe is sports team-related. Still, All-Star Sports Resort is basically some giant helmets and a couple of statues of Disney ducks playing tennis. Let’s cut to the chase. You’re not staying here for the theme.
What does All-Star Sports Resort offer if not a quality theme? Well, the pools are nice, and it’s a great place to stay during busy seasons. The way that Disney routes the buses at the All-Star Resorts, Sports is usually the first one. That’s great when you’re traveling to a theme park, as there’s always space for you. On the way back, it bites you since you’re the last hotel to exit. So, the situation is good and bad.
You’re going to ride a bus with a mob of kids no matter what for reasons explained in a moment. You will get a seat on the bus most of the time, though, and you may not have to wait for stops at other All-Star Resorts, a net positive. Your bus trip might be loud, but it'll be quicker than at the other All-Stars.
As for the food, you'll eat at End Zone Food Court, which is close to the lobby. This Quick Service eatery is open from 6 a.m. until midnight, and so it covers most waking hours for all but the earliest of early risers and late night owls. The fare is standard for a Disney food court. It has sandwiches and pizza, nuggets and hot dogs. It even has some nicer fare such as a steak on the menu, and healthy options abound for those who eat smarter than me.
The real problem I have with All-Star Sports Resort is that it’s a place where Disney hosts a lot of groups for their sports-related events. Once you run into a swimming pool full of 10-year-old boys once, you’ll live in fear of that experience any time you return to Disney. It’s a shame because Surfboard Bay and Grand Slam Pool are both quality pools if not for all the chaotic congestion. If you’re a parent of a child this age, you may even see the situation as a net positive. Generally speaking, this IS a great resort for the parents of boys.
With a lack of a quality theme and group congestion issues, the only strong point of this resort is the price. Rack rates are as low as $106, and Disney still does $79 deals from time to time…but that’s true of most of the All-Star Resorts. For the same money, you can do better.