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Walt Disney World: Value vs Deluxe Hotels

mickey all star2

Ready for more Disney talk? I could seriously talk about our trip to Walt Disney World for Food Blog Forum again and again and again. It was such an amazing experience.

Before heading to Walt Disney World, I set a few goals: to make sure that I did enough that I could write about it in different fashions (check!), to have an unforgettable time (check!) and to see as much as we could (check!). So in planning the trip, I decided we would try a value hotel before checking into the deluxe hotel provided by the conference. Hello, comparison!

Magic Kingdom Gates - Sarah by the Sea

I have to confess that as we approached the Magic Kingdom gates, which we had to go through to get to the hotels, I squealed a bit. And cheered. The excitement was just bubbling over for all of us. I’d only been to Disney once when I was six. It was the first trip for my husband, Shawn, and for the kids as well — which made it so special.

So, what about the hotels?

All-Star Movies Resort

Our first stop at Disney World was the All-Star Movies Resort, which I booked for one night’s stay before the conference. All-Star Movies is a value hotel, which means a lower nightly rate, fewer amenities and a location that’s farther from the attractions.The hotel is broken up into several buildings that are designated by movie themes. We were in the Herby section.

all star 3

The courtyards were really imaginatively decorated. The car coming out of the building? Pretty awesome.

all star 2

And there was a center area perfect for photo ops too. This might be a value resort, but Disney has made efforts to make it a fantastical experience.

all star

As for the rooms? They carry on the All-Star theme with star bedding, a star headboard and, of course, a Mickey shaped towel creation on the bed. It was cute. But it is in the rooms that you start to see where the value designation comes in. The rooms are small — with just enough room for these two beds, a small eating table and a dresser with a television on top. The bathroom is equally as small and to the point. It was separated into two parts — the sink area which doubled as the closet and safe area and the shower/toilet area. The room didn’t have a tub.

As for the rest of the All-Star Movies Resort, there was a Fantasia themed pool (very fun with spraying water and Mickey decor) and a cafeteria-style restaurant (think self-service). If you choose not to go with a meal plan, food can be pretty darn pricey too. There was also quite a few fun things offered too — like group games and activities by the pool and movie nights.

To get to the theme parks, Disney offers shuttle service (buses) from the All-Star hotels.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Next up? A few nights at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This was the chosen hotel for conference goers and was included in the nominal registration fee I paid. The Polynesian is a deluxe resort on Disney’s property that’s close to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

polynesian sign

The resort has a South Pacific theme. Cast members at the Polynesian hand out flower leis, wear Hawaiian shirts and say “aloha!” instead of hello. It really makes the experience all the more special. At the Polynesian, the property is decorated to look like a Hawaiian resort with carefully selected flowers, palm trees, torches and more. There is also a man-made sandy beach.


The rooms also continue the theme with bedding, curtains and furniture in the same South Pacific-style. The room was spacious — probably at least three or four times bigger than the one at the All-Star Movies Resort. And it also had a balcony that overlooked the tropical courtyard. Very pretty — and a great  place for enjoying breakfast. There was also plenty of seating, a desk, dresser, closet, refrigerator and more. And the bathroom? It was not only large but also had a tub (score!).

mickey polynesian

Like the All-Star, we were greeted with a towel Mickey on the bed. But there were many more amenities at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. There are two pools — one with a volcano and slide and one that was a little quieter (we went with the quieter one during our stay). There’s also an arcade, cabanas, four options for dining as well as a dinner show and lounge. There’s so much going on there — it’s incredible.

Also, there are many options to get from the Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot including the nearby Monorail and a ferry. Plus, you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach area.

The Bottom Line on Value vs. Deluxe Hotels

I bet you are wondering which hotel I liked better. Well, it’s hard to say. The All-Star Movies Resort (value) was more cost effective, and it still had so much fun and excitement to offer. It was well done and really ramped up the kids’ excitement (and the adults too). But the food options (or lack thereof) and mini bathroom weren’t as fun.

As for the Polynesian (deluxe), there was so much going on that it was a little overwhelming. Also, it was harder to find your way around since the buildings all looked similar and only had small signs by the tropical entrances to tell you the building names (read: lots of leaves!). But the dining options, generously sized rooms and in-room refrigerator did make the experience even better. Also, the transportation options to get to the Magic Kingdom were way more fun.

I liked both hotels, but if I had a bigger travel budget, I would definitely opt for the deluxe hotel. However, for a more wallet-friendly experience, the value was great too and I would be happy to stay there again.

In the end, I think it really does come down to two things: how much  you want to spend and how big of a room and bathroom you will be comfortable in.

Have you stayed at a Disney World hotel before? Which one — and what did you think?

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I paid for our stay at the All-Star Movies Resort. The cost of our stay at the Polynesian was included in my Food Blog Forum registration fee, which was nominal. Nevertheless, all opinions are my own.


Tuesday 20th of November 2012

I think this is a great line up of the Disney hotels. It is also very informative. My family and I have stayed in Disney many times. We love going back each year to see any little updates to the parks. Thanks again for sharing this information.