Like sports? Welcome to your nirvana.
You know I love Disney, right? I’m generally pretty cynical when it comes to the motives of any large corporation, but I truly believe that Disney is one of the few that gets it right almost all of the time and I’ll happily fork over my money to the Mouse because of it. My experience with Disney resorts at all levels has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, as corny as it sounds, I really do consider Animal Kingdom Lodge to be my family’s second home. This time, I stayed at the All Star Sports. While there were a few things I didn’t love about Sports, overall I was happy with my stay.
The biggest issue I had was with theming. Really, I didn’t even realize before this trip how accustomed I was to being surrounded by a theme that I actually enjoy. Whether it’s Pop Century or the Grand Floridian, I’ve found that the theme of a resort really adds something to your stay, I just didn’t know how much until this trip. This wasn’t the case with All Stars Sports, unfortunately. To put it simply, I hated the theme. Now, let me say that if you love sports, you’ll probably like this place. But if you’re like me and you live by the adage “no sports with balls,” this resort might not be your cup of tea. I mean, it’s a pretty in-your-face kind of theme, right down to the wallpaper in the bathroom. For someone who can’t seem to go to a sporting event without a stray ball hitting her in the head, I didn’t care for it.
The other thing I didn’t like about Sports was the loud toilets. Now, I’ve stayed at Pop several times and don’t recall ever being woken up by the cacophony of flushing toilets, so perhaps this was related to our room location or is particular to the All Stars, but every morning it sounded like our neighbors were being flushed out into outer space. Granted, it gave us plenty of tired laughs and gave rise to a few funny lines that can’t be repeated here, but it was annoying. It’s not such a big deal if you don’t plan on sleeping past 7:00 a.m., but if you’ve been out late the night before and want to sleep in, it can be.
Other than the sound of toilets flushing, I didn’t notice any noise coming from the other rooms or the outside. I think this says a lot given that we had adjoining rooms and never heard our neighbors. The resort was, in fact, very quiet and peaceful, even the night of the marathon when people were getting in late. From what I’ve read, the doors have to be better insulated against the heat and cold since they lead right outside, so they’re also more soundproofed. This definitely seemed to be the case.
One huge plus was that the room was immaculate. I tend to notice grime and dirt even when I don’t want to and I didn’t see any in the room. No stray hairs, no overlooked spots in the bathroom. Nothing. The bed was comfortable and we were able to get the temperature in the room just right, sometimes a difficult task in hotel rooms. I think for us, two adults, the room was more than big enough. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend staying there as a family of four, although I might be concerned about sharing that space with a couple of teenagers as opposed to younger kids.
All of the values feature oversized icons based on that resort theme. They also have food courts which serve a variety of foods and activities that in this case, are geared more towards children. The lobby is attractive and the food court is fine. Neither felt overly crowded, although keep in mind this was a very slow time of year. I feel that Pop’s lobby is better designed and has a brighter, more open look, but that’s really a minor thing. The pools were very pretty and clean. In fact, the grounds were kept as nice as any deluxe resort I’ve stayed at. Someone is doing something right management-wise at this resort. Security was thorough but efficient, checking both room keys and parking passes, unlike a number of deluxe resorts I’ve stayed at. We did online check-in, so getting our room keys went very fast, maybe five minutes. We rented a car and did not take the buses, so I can’t talk about that. In general, I just prefer renting a car unless I’m at a monorail or Epcot resort.
Now for the practical stuff. Value rooms have two double beds. The rooms run around 260 square feet, so they are rather small. There is a tub/shower and toilet combination in one room and a single sink with a small counter outside of it. You’ll find a small safe (too small for a laptop) in the bathroom area and the usual open area for hanging clothes. There is a television (our room had not been refurbished yet and did not have a flat screen TV) with a combination dresser/hutch. There’s also a table with two chairs and a nightstand between the beds. Both beds have reading lamps over them. Refrigerators are not standard with value rooms. You’ll need to pay an additional $10 per night, although those with medical reasons may ask for one free of charge. A small number of value rooms have a king-sized bed only; you’ll need to request this in advance. All rooms open out to an outside corridor; none have balconies or patios.
I’m definitely the type of guest who prefers to stay on site, even at a resort where the theme isn’t my favorite, so I would stay at All Star Sports again. But I’m glad I learned just how important theming is to me on this trip. Next time, I’ll go with one that’s more my taste. I always say that the values truly are the best bet for your money on Disney property, so don’t hesitate to stay at one if that fits your budget. Even if you don’t love the theme, you’ll still get a clean room and all the benefits of staying at a more expensive resort for a fraction of the price.
Rooms start at around $58 a night during value season with a discount and top out during the busiest times of the year at just under $200. Always check to see if there are discounts available. You can contact a Disney certified travel agent or try on your own through Disney. Make sure you ask the Disney cast member when you call central reservations (407-WDISNEY) what discounts are available during your stay. If you go through the Disney website, make sure you click on the icons that say “special offers” or similar words. You can also check out websites like Passporter and Mousesavers. Of the three, the is the most active; you’ll find out about discounts there before some Disney independent travel agents have been notified.,