Disney All Star Resorts

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Aug 142012
 

Disney’s All Star Resorts were the first of the Disney Value Resorts to be built. Though the newer Pop Century Resort and the yet to be completed Art of Animation Resort are shiny and new, there is nothing lacking in the fun and function of the All Star Resorts.

There is a lot of information to cover about the Disney All Star Resorts, so I’ve broken the information up into sections. For more information, see the individual All Star Resort pages (linked in the sections below). There is a Q&A located at the bottom. Feel free to post questions in the comment thread, or email me through the contact page. Specific All Star Resort questions will be answered on the specific resort’s page.

Disney All Star Resorts Address & Contact Information:

Disney’s All Star Movies Resort

1901 West Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

(407) 939-7000

Disney’s All Star Music Resort

1801 West Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

(407) 939-6000

Disney’s All Star Sports Resort

1701 West Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

(407) 939-5000

Disney’s All Star Hotel Rates

The Disney All Star Resort rates start at $84 per night (value season, weeknight) for a standard room, $99 for a preferred room (value season, weeknight), and $198 for a family suite (All Star Music only- value season, weeknight).  These rates are what are currently published for the value season of 2012. Rates go up from there. High speed internet, refrigerator, additional adults, etc are extra. Special offers may be available during your stay- always check before booking!

Disney’s All Star Resorts Location

The Disney All Star Resorts are located in the Animal Kingdom resort area. They are also near Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach (water park) and the Wide World of Sports complex.

Check In/Check Out Times and Locations at Disney’s All Star Resorts

Check in is at 4pm, check out is at 11am

Check in/Check out at All Star Movies is at the front desk in Cinema Hall, the main building

Check in/Check out at All Star Music is at the front desk in Melody Hall, the main building

Check in/Check out at All Star Sports is at the front desk in Stadium Hall , the main building

You can also check in online 10 days before your arrival date, but you’ll still need to stop at the front desk to show your ID and collect your room key. Express Checkout is also available. If you choose Express Checkout, your final receipt will be hung on your door by 8am of the day that you’re checking out. Disney resorts use a credit card like room key, which you can keep as a souvenir. You can also have your room key (known as the Key To The World) hold your park tickets and run a certain amount of credit on it so that you can leave your real credit cards in your room safe. I highly recommend verifying with the front desk whether you’re Express Checkout or not before the end of your stay.

How to get to the main buildings to check in/check out:

You’ll enter the Disney All Star Resorts area from Osceola Pkwy. The name of the road is W Buena Vista Dr, and the entrance will be well labeled. Soon after that, you’ll go through a security check point, where a guard will check your name against a list of people checking in that day. If you choose to drive to the parks, you’ll pass through this check point while entering and exiting the hotel. More on that below.

Once you’re through the security check point, follow the road and signs to the All Star Resort that you’re staying in- All Star Sports is first (one of the first things that you’ll see is a huge Coke cup), followed by All Star Music, and then All Star Movies is last.  There is only one entrance to the All Star Resorts area- Osceola Pkwy. While All Star Movies is very near Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy (192), there is no connecting road.

Follow the signs to the main entrance of your respective hotel section.

Transportation To and From The Disney All Star Resorts

All Disney World Resort hotels offer free transportation to and from every attraction on property, as well as to and from the Orlando International Airport. Sadly, they don’t offer free transportation to and from train or bus stations or to non-Disney owned hotels and theme parks.

Transportation To and From the Parks:

Buses:

The All Star Resorts are landlocked, so the only form of Disney Transportation available from these hotels is the bus. Disney Transportation buses run every 20 minutes and pick up/drop off by the main lobby of each hotel section. For All Star Movies, this is Cinema Hall, for All Star Music, it’s Melody Hall, and for All Star Sports, it’s Stadium Hall.

During normal crowd conditions, each of the resort sections will have its own bus picking up at the main building. However, during particularly slow or busy times, the buses will often combine routes and pick up/drop off at each of the locations on the same run. Buses can become crowded easily and may sometimes fill to capacity before you can board. There is plenty of standing room only, however, so if you’re traveling to Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, standing may be a fine option as those two parks are very near the All Star Resorts. The Magic Kingdom and Epcot are a bit farther, so you may want to wait the 20 extra minutes for the next bus or plan your days to avoid peak hours for travel.

Guests with disabilities are given preference. There are several seats on each bus which can be flipped up to make room for scooters and wheel chairs. If a guest with a scooter or wheel chair is boarding, anyone who is currently occupying those seats will be asked to move- so, if you can’t stand for a bus ride, try to pick one of the seats that aren’t movable (hint- these seats are nearest the center bus entrance, and have signs above them). The bus lowers and has a platform to allow easy entry for scooters and wheelchairs.

The bus stops at the theme parks are well marked by signs, but at all of the parks and Downtown Disney, the Value Resort bus stops are the furthest distance from the park entrance- except at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We’ve never taken the bus to DHS, but I’ve read from several people that the Value Resort buses are actually the closest to the entrance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This doesn’t mean much, however, as the bus stops there are the farthest from the park entrance of any park.

Car:

If you drove down or rented a car, you can also drive to the theme parks. When you check into the hotel, let them know that you will be driving to the parks so that they can provide you with a parking pass. This will give you free parking at the parks (I think they currently charge $12 a day if you don’t have a free parking pass). It also will speed your way through the security booth when entering and the resort grounds. Without this pass, you’ll need to show your room key card (you may still need to do this) until the security guard becomes familiar enough with your car and face to wave you through. Alternatively, there is a separate lane that has a pole that you can put your room key card into and it will raise the barricade to let you through. Don’t forget to take back your key before you drive through!

The theme parks all have good signage, so you don’t really need a map to get around (just remember that your hotel is near Animal Kingdom when you want to come back!), but it’s still helpful to study one before you leave and/or bring a map with you. Just in case. Not all GPS units can find what you want (Disney World may look like a vibrant city, but it’s entirely private property)- so if you’re relying on a GPS, make sure that you have addresses for EVERYTHING, and try programming them in before you leave home- just to make sure that the unit will actually recognize the addresses.

To and From Other On Property Attractions:

Disney World provides free transportation to every attraction on property- not just the theme parks. Each of the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach) has bus service, as well as Downtown Disney (both West Side and Marketplace).

For mini-golf, it’s a little more complicated. To get to Winter Summerland mini-golf (HIGHLY recommended- both courses are awesome), you’ll need to take the bus to Blizzard Beach and then walk across the street. For Fantasia Gardens mini-golf, your best bet is to take the resort bus to Downtown Disney and from there catch a bus to the Swan and Dolphin. It’s a very short walk from the Swan to Fantasia Gardens. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are both very near, but unless you know a way to sneak out the back of either park, you’re much better off just going to the Swan.

To get to the big boy golf courses (Disney’s Palm Golf Course, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, Disney’s Osprey Ridge Golf Course, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course), you’ll need to take a taxi. Never fear, however, as all you need to do is go to the Valet or Bell Services to have a cab called for you and to receive a voucher for a free ride. You can get a voucher for the return trip from the Pro Shop.

To and From Off Property Attractions:

Disney World does not provide any transportation to or from any off property attractions except for the Orlando International Airport. If you want to visit Universal Studios, Gatorland, or anything else that isn’t part of Disney World property, you will need to either drive yourself (you can rent a car on property- ask at the front desk, the rentals are not at your resort, but they’ll send a complimentary shuttle out to you), take a cab (there are almost always cabs waiting in the parking lot outside of the main building), or hire a company such as Mears.

To book a ride with Mears, you can either visit MearsTransportation.com or dial one of the numbers below:

Mears Representative:

(407) 423-5566

Luxury Sedan Reservations:

(407) 423-5566

Airport and Attraction Shuttle Reservations:

(407) 423-5566

Group Transportation Sales:

(407) 839-1570

Taxicab Dispatch:

(407) 422-2222

Disney All Star Resort History

Each of the Disney All Star Resorts have a bit of their own history. All Star Sports, the Surf’s Up section, was the first of the Value resorts to open on Disney World property. Surf’s Up opened in April 1994. All Star Music was the next to open, opening its doors in November of 1994. All Star Movies came in dead last, only opening in January of 1999.

The All Star Resort had the only Value hotels until Pop Century Resort opened in 2006.

Benefits of Staying at Disney’s All Star Resorts

Benefits to All Disney Hotel Guests:

*Ticket Convenience -when you stay on property, you can have your park ticket combined into your room key. You can even have a credit card hooked up to your room key (up to $500 at a Value resort- the amount goes up at Moderates and Deluxes), leaving you free to lock up your wallet in the hotel safe, or keep your credit card numbers away from prying eyes. This is only an option however- you absolutely are not required to do so.

If you sign up for the Disney Dining Plan, that can go on your room key too!

*Free Parking -a $12 value per day at the parks

* Package Delivery -any purchases that you make at the parks or at DownTown Disney can be sent back to your hotel to be picked up at the gift shop by 3pm the following day (don’t send packages back on your last day)

*Free Transportation -the Disney World resorts all offer free bus service to and from the hotels and parks as well as DownTown Disney, the water parks, and have cab vouchers for transportation to and from the Golf courses (full fledged golf- mini-golf uses the buses)

*Airport Shuttle -Disney offers a free shuttle between the Orlando Airport and their resort hotels called the Magical Express.

*Extra Magic Hours -Those staying in Disney Resorts can enter the theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom) an hour early on select mornings, or stay up to 3 hours after the official park closing on select evenings. Most rides remain open during this time, and it’s especially beneficial during the busy parts of the year.

*Incredible Theming -The magic of the parks can dissipate quickly when you have to battle Orlando traffic to stay in a plain Jane hotel with only one plain swimming pool. When you stay on property, it’s like the magic never ends, whether you drive or take the transportation. You’re still cared for as Disney’s special guest- because you are!

*Mickey Mouse Wake Up Calls -Think you can get Mickey to call and wake up your kids when you stay at a HoJo’s? No, I didn’t think so either.

*Park Info at Your Fingertips -not only does Disney have a special resort-only TV channel where they run all the info on all the parks and activities on property 24/7, as well as a constantly running Top Ten channel, but with a single button on your in room phone you can book a meal reservation, get park hours, directions to the parks, or any other Disney World related information that you need- usually given by a real live person!

*Good Food, Conveniently -While many hotels have a restaurant or two, each Disney hotel has at least a food court, and a snack bar, if not an actual restaurant (Moderates have one food court and restaurant, Deluxes usually have two restaurants and a food court). But the one food court has several sections, usually offering a variety of pizza, pasta, burgers, hot dogs, soups, salads, Asian, and a fantastic dessert and baked goods section.

*Lack of Pests -While staying on property, you’ll notice a large number of various bird species and cute little lizards. Disney has some of the best pest control that I’ve ever seen. While the properties aren’t totally bug free, there are considerably fewer than what we experience up in the NorthEast, and you can rest safe from your fears of huge Florida bugs. Those birds and lizards aren’t just for decoration, or even part of the natural population- Disney brings in many species specifically to act as a sort of decorative pest control. While I can’t guarantee that all of their efforts are environmentally friendly, I’m certain that the Disney company goes much farther in natural pest control than any other theme park.

Benefits of Staying in the Disney All Star Resorts

3 Resorts In One- as all of the All Star hotels are part of one All Star Resort, you can hop from one sections pools, food court, arcade, and gift shop to another. This is particularly fun for foodies, as the menus vary slightly from one resort to another.

Park Preference- The All Star is nice and close to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as well as Blizzard Beach and Winter Summerland Mini Golf.

Fast Food Junkies- The only McDonald’s on Disney property is located at the end of the lane that the All Stars are located on. It’s close enough to walk to easily.

Photo Ops- The depth and fun of the theming is great for photo ops. Have your picture taken with Herbie the Love Bug, inside a tennis ball can (stairwell), or sitting on Goofy at the Mighty Ducks Pond/Pool (his kneepad and skate form a perfect chair).

Disney’s All Star Hotel Themes

The All Star Sports Resort themes include Football, Tennis, Basketball, Baseball, and Surfing.

The All Star Music Resort themes include Rock, Jazz, Calypso, Country, and Broadway.

The All Star Movies Resort themes include The Mighty Ducks, 101 Dalmations, Toy Story, Fantasia, and (Herbie) The Love Bug.

For more information, see the individual resort pages.

Disney’s All Star Resorts Rooms

Disney’s All Star Resort rooms are comfortable, and about standard with more budget conscious hotels such as Quality Inn, and a little nicer than the truly budget hotels such as Red Roof or Super 8.

Standard Rooms

The Disney All Star standard rooms are the smallest resort rooms on Disney World property (at least, of the hotels that are owned by Disney). They are 260 square feet. Yes, they ARE small, but they’re not super tiny, and are plenty comfortable for a couple traveling alone, and are adequate with one or two small children along. If you have teenagers, you may want to look into the family suites,  or upgrade to a moderate or deluxe hotel.

The standard rooms have two double beds (or one King in the case of a handicap accessible room), a bedside stand with a radio alarm clock, a tv, dresser, open closet area with sink, bathroom with bath/shower and toilet, a small table and two chairs, a mirror above the sink, and usually a mirror on the wall above the table. They are carpeted, and the entrance to all rooms is from the outside.

If I remember correctly, the rooms had a hair dryer, iron, and ironing board in the room (the sink and closet area are in the same section- the hair dryer was near the sink, and the iron and ironing board in the open closet area). However, if you do not find these in your room, you can request them from the front desk. Soap and shampoo are provided.

Recently, Walt Disney World has added complimentary Wi-Fi to all of their resorts, including the All Star Resorts.

Preferred Rooms

Preferred rooms at the All Star Resorts are the same as standard rooms, with the exception of location. Preferred rooms are located closer to the pools and the main building, which houses the front desk, gift shop, food court, and bus stop.  If you’re just booking a room and request a standard room (preferred costs approximately $10 more per day), you may still be put into a preferred room upon arrival. Rest assured that you will only be charged the preferred rate if you specifically request a preferred room.

Family Suites

There are some family suites available in the All Star Music Resort. All Star Movies and All Star Sports are strictly rooms only. The only other family suites are at Art of Animation and a few Deluxe resorts. The suites combined two rooms into one, turning one room into a master bedroom with a queen size bed and a master bath, and the other room into a kitchenette, bathroom, and living room area, which contains a pull out sofa, a convertible ottoman, and a chair sleeper. The family suites can sleep 6 plus an infant in a Pak ‘n Play crib. The kitchenette contains a microwave and mini-fridge.

Pools and Playgrounds (All Star Resorts Playgrounds: All Star Resorts Pools:)

All three of the All Star Resort hotels have pools and playgrounds.

The All Star Sports Resort pools are located in Surf’s Up and the Homerun Hotel, and the playground is between building 6 of Surf’s Up and building 7 of Touchdown!

The All Star Music Resort pools are located in Calypso and the smaller Piano Pool is centered between all the other sections. The playground is between building 9 of Jazz Inn and building 10 of Calypso.

The All Star Movies Resort pools are located in Fantasia and The Mighty Ducks, with the playground between building 8 of Fantasia, Cinema Hall (the main building), and the Toy Story section.

Laundry at Disney All Star Resorts

Each of the All Star hotels have their own laundry buildings. Currently, the laundry buildings are located in the same vicinity as the pools, with the exception of All Star Movies, where the second laundry building is located between Cinema Hall and Toy Story rather than in the Fantasia section (I believe this based on the maps provided. Please double check this before booking if it’s very important to you.).

Parking at Disney All Star Hotel

Parking at the All Star Resorts is free. There is one main gate for all three of the All Star hotels, and you will have to pass through a security check point to get to them. If you are checking in, or visiting (the food court or friends who are staying there, etc), you will have to go through the manned section of the security booth. If you have already checked in, you will have (if you informed them that you have a vehicle at check in) a parking pass to put on your dashboard, and use your room key to go through the automated gate. You may, of course, choose to go through the manned section, but you’ll still need your room key or ID, so it doesn’t really save you effort or time unless there’s a long line at the automated gate (not likely).

If you are checking in, follow the signs to the main building of the resort that you’re staying at. Cinema Hall for Movies, Celebrity Hall for Sports, and Melody Hall for Music. Park in the Check In parking area (the parking lot across from the main entrance) and go through the check in process. When you come out, you’ll want to:

Check the resort map that they gave you at check in and consult your room/building number. Determine, based on the map, which parking lot is closest to your room, then park THERE. While the assigned lot to your building is USUALLY the closest to your room, it isn’t always. For example, if your room is in the back of a building, it may be closer to park in the adjoining section’s lot.

Parking at the All Stars can get pretty confusing because the parking lots of various hotels and sections get meshed together. Pay close attention and drive carefully. Even if you’ve gotten the hang of where to go, someone else likely won’t, and it’s difficult to give adequate attention to both looking for a location and keeping an eye on surrounding traffic.

Lobby and Check In/Check Out

The Check In desk is located in the main building of each resort. When you first arrive, this is where you want to go. It’s hard to get lost, but if you do get lost, look for the signs for the Front Desk, DVC (always near check in) or Check In. If you still can’t find it, there is a main hall that runs from the front near the bus stop to the back near the pool. The gift shop and food court are on one side, the check in area is on the other.

Check in is from 4pm on, and check out is 11am.

You can get online check in 10 days out from your arrival date. You will still have to go to the front desk to show your ID and collect your maps, room key, tickets (if purchasing there), etc, but it’s a separate line and usually goes much more quickly than normal check in. (Note that I did say “usually”. Our last time was extremely slow and we had a trainee handling it. However, we did get an incredible room upgrade that made the wait worth it. As always, nothing is guaranteed, but it never hurts to ask.)

You can get express check out as well, if you’re paying by credit card. What this means is that if you haven’t charged anything to your room, you’re free to just up and leave on your check out day. No need to wait in line at the check out desk, and Disney considers your room keys to be your souvenirs, so you never have to turn those in. They’ll simply stop working after the official check out time. If you HAVE charged anything to your room, you’ll want to wait until your receipt is hung on your door so that you can double check your expenses and take care of any discrepancies before you leave. Disney does guarantee that the receipt (if there is one) will be on your door by a certain time, but that time has changed throughout the years. On our last stay, I believe the time was 9am. If you’re using Express Check Out, then I suggest asking the front desk what time the receipt is guaranteed by. Actually, I suggest double checking with the front desk before you leave whether you have express check out or not. It’s generally assumed to be automatic if you’re paying by credit card, but it’s always best to verify these things in case there is a mix up.

Arcades at Disney’s All Star Resorts

There is an arcade at each of the three All Star Resorts. All Star Sports has Game Point Arcade, All Star Music has Note’able Arcade, All Star Movies has Reel Fun Arcade. All of the arcades can be found in the main building, across from the food court.

The arcades are adequate, but a bit of a let down after you’ve played at the Pop Century arcade.

Food Court and Gift Shop at Disney All Star Resorts

The food courts at the All Stars are some of the best food courts on Disney property. A lot of it is fast food, but it’s a much higher quality than the international chains. In fact, the Mushroom Swiss Bacon Burger that we had at All Star Sports is one of the best burgers that I’ve ever had, even though I don’t like Swiss cheese. They have good turkey dinners, the pasta is literally debatable (I’m not thrilled, but my husband craves it), non-salad vegetables are in short supply, but with Disney’s new health incentives, hopefully that will change. I really like their green beans, when they don’t do the almond slivers.

The gift shops are great. You can get liquor (beer and wine are available in the food court), first aid supplies, cold meds, etc. Nummy candy, the best chocolate covered pretzels EVAR, great t-shirts, cute mugs, enough toys to keep your demanding child occupied for a week’s vacation, charm bracelet supplies, etc. Several times, we’ve made a special trip to DownTown Disney to pick up an item, only to walk into the resort gift shop and see that very same item sitting on a shelf.

All Star Sports has End Zone Foodcourt and Sport Goofy Gifts and Sundries. All Star Music has Intermission Food Court and Maestro Mickey’s. All Star Movies has World Premier Food Court and Donald’s Double Feature.

What Do The All Star Resorts Food Courts And Gift Shops Look Like

The All Star Food Courts and Gift Shops are as well themed as the rest of the resorts. Check the individual resort pages for more info/pictures.

What Rooms To Ask For At Disney’s All Star Resorts

What kind of rooms you should ask for at a Disney’s All Star resort depends entirely on your vacation wants and needs.

For example, if you’re flying down and home and not renting a car, you’ll probably be taking the Disney World Transportation buses. Since the buses pick up and drop off at the front of the main building, you’ll probably want rooms as close to the main building as possible. These would be the “preferred” rooms, and you’ll want to specify that when making your reservations. These do cost $10 more per day. If you don’t want to pay that, you’ll have to ask for “as close to the bus stop as possible”, but without requesting preferred. You’re not guaranteed close rooms this way, but the resorts aren’t so huge that it’s a major inconvenience to walk the length of another building or two.

If you have mobility issues, you’ll want to request the handicap accessible rooms. These can also cost approximately $10 more dollars per day, so keep that in mind if the room isn’t strictly necessary.

Theming can be a big deal to people, so check out pictures and descriptions of each of the sections of the hotels to pick your favorite. Disney can’t and won’t guarantee a particular room or section to any guest, but they will take requests into consideration when assigning rooms. If it’s a really big deal and they assign you to a room that you don’t like, you can request, again, in person, the room or section that you wanted.

If you want quiet and privacy, you’ll want rooms that are far away from the pools.  In All Star Movies, Toy Story is the furthest and most private (there’s actually a door/gateway separating it from the rest of the resort) section from the other sections (and is on the far end of the set of 3 All Star Resorts). In All Star Music, Country Fair is the furthest section, and in All Star Sports, Hoops Hotel actually backs up to a line of trees.

What Not To Miss At Disney’s All Star Resorts

Everything. Every section is exceptionally themed. Pay attention even to the sidewalks. For example, at The Mighty Ducks there are snowflakes imprinted in the cement near the pool, and seashells imprinted in the sidewalks in the Surf’s Up area. The food court is good, the atmosphere is festive. There are statues hidden around in little nooks. While the All Stars are not as glamorous as the more expensive hotels, they did NOT skimp a bit on theming.

Other Tips and Questions/Answers

Where can I smoke at the All Star Resort?

There is no smoking in any of the resort rooms, and smoking outside of the rooms must be done in the designated smoking areas. In All Star Sports, that’s a spot near the pool at Homerun Hotel, near Surf’s Up and the main building, and Mount Mickey- which is the center of the other hotel sections. In All Star Music, that’s near Calypso and the main building, the back of Country Fair, and near the pool near Jazz Inn. In AS Movies, that’s between 101 Dalmations and The Mighty Ducks, two between The Love Bug and Fantasia, and one between Toy Story and the main building.

Are there private balconies at the All Star Resort?

No. All of the balconies at the All Star Resorts are common walk ways, since, as at a motel, the room entrances are all from the outside.

 Are the disabled rooms farther away than the standard rooms?

I’ve not seen a map of the disabled/handicap accessible rooms at the All Star Resorts. However, in 2011, my husband and I were given a handicap accessible room at the All Star Sports in Surf’s Up. It was the second room CLOSEST to the main building, which contains the front desk, food court, arcade, gift shop, and opens into the bus stop. All handicap accessible rooms are on the first floor (All Star hotels do not have elevators), but I don’t know if they are scattered throughout the entire resort, or if they are all located in what would be considered “preferred” rooms, which are closest to the action. If this is a concern for you, I suggest making a request to be near the main building when you book your room.

Do you have any questions or comments about the Disney’s All Star Resorts in Walt Disney World? Please ask or tell us about it in the comments below! (individual All Star Resort pages going up soon)