Walt Disney World resorts that won’t break the bank

Our favorite value resorts for the whole family

Tom Metevia/Graham Digital

Hotels are usually the most important part when booking a family vacation. You want to find something nice, but also affordable. When you visit the Walt Disney World theme parks, you have a choice between deluxe, moderate and value resorts.

If you ask us, why spend a ton of money when you’ll only be in the hotel room at night?

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We’re going to list the four value resorts Walt Disney World offers, and point out why we like them. Which will you choose?

1. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney's newest value resort hotel, Art of Animation, allows guests to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favorite Disney and Disney•Pixar films. The rooms are themed to "The Little Mermaid," "Finding Nemo," "Cars" and "The Lion King." With oversized statues and scale replicas of the movie characters, this resort allows you to feel like you are inside the movie.

At Art of Animation, it consists of mostly family suites, but also houses single rooms and offers a wide variety of food selections in the food court. The resort is home to the Big Blue Pool, where you can swim with the characters from “Finding Nemo,” and if you listen closely, you’ll be able to hear music, underwater.

Take a second to take that in. Yes, music underwater, and it sounds so clear -- take it from us!

Art of Animation is neighbor to Disney’s POP Century Resort across the lake.

INSIDER TIP: We like it here because of the option for taking two buses to get back to the resort. If the line for Art of Animation is long but the wait for POP Century is short, hop on the POP Century bus and take an evening stroll across the lake to get back to your resort. You'll get your steps in and not be stuck in a line all night.

2. Disney’s POP Century Resort

Take a walk across the bridge away from Art of Animation and you'll find yourself strolling through the decades at Disney's POP Century Resort.

Stroll through the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and relive the nostalgia that defined the generation. If you really want to feel old, walk through the lobby, where you can see 20th century pop culture in the time capsule displays.

Like the other resorts, you’ll find larger-than-life icons around the buildings. The nostalgia continues outside, where you can find a three-story-tall Mickey Mouse phone that stands outside one of the resort wings.

POP Century’s rooms have been renovated semi-recently, and they were remodeled to include one queen bed and an additional fold-down bed. The rooms have a modern look, with lots of white interior and hardwood floors, while keeping that Disney feel: A much-needed improvement over the previous interior.

The bathrooms are huge and have plenty of room for storage, if you’re a heavy packer. A sliding wooden door separates the sleeping area from the bathroom and the shower features a dual shower head so you may never want to get out.

INSIDER TIP: If you're planning on staying here, we recommend a room by the Hippy Dippy Pool. It will be closest to Classic Hall, where the food court and buses are. This means a short walk to and from bus stops and, after a long day in the parks, that short walk will be a life-saver.

We should also mention that POP Century sells Dole Whip. Enough said.

3. Disney’s All-Star Resorts

The All-Star Resorts consist of three separate resorts: All-Star Movies, All-Star Music and All-Star Sports. The All-Star Resorts have the most affordable rates on Disney property. As with all other value resorts, the theming is not subtle.

Depending on where you stay, you may see larger-than-life football helmets and a life-size foosball table. You may walk past giant instruments and a piano-shaped pool. Or if you find yourself at the All-Star Movies Resort, you'll share the space with "101 Dalmatians" and your favorite characters from "Toy Story."

The All-Star Resorts share a bus route most of the year, meaning one bus will take you to all three places. This can lead to crowded buses and long wait times. This would be the only negative to staying here. If you’re planning on staying at an All-Star Resort, check crowd times to better plan your visit.

Then again, lines are a part of the Disney experience.

INSIDER TIP: If you’re planning on staying at an All-Star Resort and don’t want to wait a long time for buses, keep this in mind: When the resorts are sharing a bus route, the order of drop-off and pickup is All-Star Sports and THEN All-Star Music -- and finally, All-Star Movies.

4. The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Do you love the outdoors? Are you looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Disney property? Well, you don’t have to go too far.

In fact, you don’t even have to leave Disney property. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground offers the beauty of the American frontier with wildlife roaming all around the resort’s 750 acres of forest.

After posting up at your fully equipped campsite, take a walk along the private trails, try your hand at archery, horseback riding or canoeing, but be sure to stop by the nightly campfire to enjoy a s’more with your pals, Chip and Dale.

No matter when you visit, be sure to check out the Campsites at Fort Wilderness around the Christmas holidays. We love seeing the giant inflatables and decorations campers put around their temporary homes.

This rustic retreat is definitely for those who don't require all the amenities of a hotel room, and feel right at home in the great outdoors.

INSIDER TIP: This resort has an additional way to get around Disney property. Fort Wilderness offers boats that take you to and from the the Magic Kingdom, which means no more crowded buses, monorails or ferries. If you can, take the boat early in the morning. You will most likely be the only person on-board and you might even have the boat to yourself. Even if you aren’t going to the parks, the boat ride offers a scenic view that you can only get while on the water. We should also add if the camping life isn’t for you but you want to experience this extra perk, take a bus to the outpost at the resort and grab breakfast at Trailsend. This buffet is one of the best on property, and be sure to ask for the moonshine juice. Sorry folks, it’s non-alcoholic. Then once you’re finished, take the boat to the park.

Have you stayed at any of these spots? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

All photos in the poll provided by Walt Disney World. This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.

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