This article is going to tick off some people; I just know it. But I’ve got to call them like I see them, and I am most decidedly not a fan of the Disney Slu -- er, Disney Value Resorts.
For those who are unaware, Disney breaks their resort options into 4 categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Home Away From Home or DVC. The higher the price, the better the location, the more transportation options available, the more recreation and dining options available, and the more spacious and luxurious are the accommodations.
Now, I realize that not everyone can afford to stay at the Grand Floridian. Heck, I’ve never even stayed at the Grand Floridian. But if I’m going to give you my honest opinion, I’m going to tell you to avoid the Value Resorts like the plague.
Do you know the old expression “You get what you pay for”? Disney takes this very seriously. If you want to stay on the monorail loop, you’re not going to be able to do so on a value budget. Your only Disney transportation option available at the Value Resorts (All Star Movies, Sports, and Music and Pop Century) is the Disney buses. And they cram as many people onto those puppies as they possibly can. This is not a very magical experience, trust me.
Are you hungry? I hope you like fast food, because there are no sit-down restaurants at the Value Resorts either, just crowded, noisy food courts. What fun.
Some people actually like the theming at these resorts. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. The buildings themselves are large boring rectangles, and Disney decorated them with huge, tacky “larger-than-life” icons. Okay, I’m being a bit of a snob on this one. Let’s move on.
The rooms: they’re small. 260 square feet, to be exact. I stayed in one by myself which wasn’t too bad, but I can’t imagine a family of four being crammed in there for a week. And the size might be the best thing I can say about my room. The mirrors were streaky, the bed linens were scratchy, there were rust stains in the toilet, the carpet looked a little worn, the windows did not open, and the walls were paper thin. There wasn’t even a hair dryer or iron in my room! Again, seriously lacking in the magic department.
Many claim that they don't really care where they stay because they will spend all day in the parks and just come back to their room to crash. My response to that is: "Um, you know you're on vacation, right?" Again, Disney has so much to offer outside the theme parks. Don't limit yourself like that!
In Disney’s higher end resorts, you’ll often encounter cast members (Disney employees) who have been with Disney for a long time. They are very experienced, and are committed to making your stay as wonderful as possible. I’m pretty sure the Value Resorts is where they go to be trained. If WDW were a hospital, the cast members at the Polynesian would be department heads, and those at the Value Resorts would be interns. This translates to longer lines at check-in, slower responses to guest requests, and occasionally some, shall we say, lackluster attitudes towards housekeeping.
I’m not saying that to have a great Disney vacation you need to shell out for the most expensive resorts on property. What I am saying is that when asked my opinion, I highly encourage people to save up for a few extra months, and stay at one of the Moderates instead of a value. The Moderates (Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs Resort and Caribbean Beach Resort) are themed so much more beautifully, the rooms are larger, and there are more dining and recreation options. Rooms at the Value Resorts start around $82 per night (not including tax and with no discounts), and Moderates start at $149. A $67 per night difference may sound like a lot, but when you look at the total you end up spending on your vacation, this number starts to decrease in importance. Also, discounts Disney occasionally runs can help narrow this price gap. Believe me when I tell you, the upgrade is worth the cost!