The Walt Disney World Resorts That Won’t Break the Bank

Hotels are usually the most important part when booking a family vacation. You want to find something cool, but also affordable. When you visit Walt Disney World theme parks, you have the choice of luxury, moderate, and economy hotels.

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

We’re going to list the four resorts that Walt Disney World offers and explain why we love them. Which will you choose?

1. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s newest resort hotel, Art of Animation, lets guests immerse themselves in the world of their favorite Disney and Disney•Pixar movies. The rooms are themed “The Little Mermaid”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Cars” and “The Lion King”. With oversized statues and scale replicas of characters from the movie, this resort lets you feel like you’re inside the movie.

At Art of Animation, it consists mainly of 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 “Finding Nemo” characters, and if you listen carefully, you might hear music underwater.

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Take a second to figure this out. Yes, music underwater, and it sounds so clear – trust us!

Art of Animation neighbors Disney’s POP Century Resort across the lake.

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

2. Disney’s POP Century Resort

Stroll across the bridge away from Art of Animation and you’ll find yourself strolling through the decades at Disney’s POP Century Resort.

Take a stroll through the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and relive the nostalgia that defined the generation. If you really want to feel old, take a stroll through the lobby, where you can see 20th-century pop culture in time capsules.

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

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The rooms at POP Century have been semi-recently renovated and have been remodeled to include a queen bed and an additional rollaway bed. The rooms have a modern look, with lots of white interiors and hardwood floors, while still keeping that Disney feel: a much needed upgrade from the previous interior.

The bathrooms are huge and have plenty of storage space, if you’re a big packer. A wooden sliding door separates the sleeping area from the bathroom, and the shower has a dual showerhead so you never want to step out.

INSIDER TIP: If you plan to stay here, we recommend a room near the Hippy Dippy pool. It will be closest to the Classic Hall, where the food court and buses are. This means a short walk to and from the bus stops, and after a long day in the parks, this short walk will save your life.

It should also be mentioned that POP Century sells Dole Whip. Enough said.

3. Disney All-Star Resorts

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

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Depending on where you stay, you may see larger than life football helmets and a life-size table football. You can 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 “Toy Story” characters.

The All-Star Resorts share a bus route most of the year, which means one bus will take you to all three locations. This can lead to crowded buses and long wait times. That would be the only negative to staying here. If you plan to stay at an All-Star Resort, check peak times to better plan your visit.

Again, the lines are part of the Disney experience.

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

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4. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort Campgrounds

Do you like the outdoors? Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Disney ownership? Well, you don’t have to go overboard.

In fact, you don’t even have to leave the 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 settling into your fully equipped campsite, stroll along the private trails, try your hand at archery, horseback riding, or canoeing, but be sure to stop at the nighttime campfire to enjoy a s’more with your friends, Chip and Dale.

No matter when you visit, be sure to visit Fort Wilderness campsites during 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 need all the amenities of a hotel room and still feel right at home in the outdoors.

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INSIDER TIP: This resort has an additional way to get around the Disney property. Fort Wilderness offers boats that take you to and from the Magic Kingdom, which means no more crowded buses, monorails, or ferries. If you can, take the boat early in the morning. You will probably be the only person on board and you might even have the boat all to yourself. Even if you don’t go to the parks, the boat ride offers scenic views that you can only get on the water. We also have to add that if camping life isn’t for you but you want that extra perk, take a bus to the resort outpost and have breakfast in Trailsend. This buffet is one of the best on the property and be sure to ask for the moonshine juice. Sorry friends, it’s alcohol free. Then, once you’re done, take the boat back to the park.

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

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All survey photos courtesy of Walt Disney World. This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.

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