“ 1801 West Buena Vista Drive / Lake Buena Vista / FL 32830-1000 / Tel: (407) 939-6000. „
Every year millions of people decide to travel to the sunny state of Florida with the primary reason to visit the mouse! So naturally there are many hotels to choose from and the Disney company offer a wide range of hotels with prices ranging from budget (their word not mine) to ridiculously expensive (my words!)
The cheapest option of the Disney hotels is the all star hotels. They are three hotels set on the outskirts of the Disney estate near animal kingdom and Blizzard Beach and provide a convenient point to rest your head after a long day pounding the pavements of the theme parks. You will have seen the pictures with giant guitars, footballs and film characters outside portraying the All Star Movies, Sport and Music.
The prices range from around $70 a night upwards and as anyone knows you can get much cheaper outside the estate, so the question I will consider today is
IS IT WORTH IT?
First of all why did we choose the all stars hotel?
There are benefits of choosing a Disney hotel, but only if you are planning on seeing a lot of Disney while you are there,
1. If you like the mouse, you can not escape him there are mice everywhere from the décor to the merchandise shops and the accessibility to all things Disney.
2. Any shopping purchased within the Disney complex can be charged to your room (depending on what you arrange with the desk on arrival) and delivered so when you buy your 6 foot mouse you dont have to carry it around the park with you.
3. Depending on your package, free entry into the main parks maybe included. Worth it if you plan on doing lots of park hopping.
4. There is a free bus service between the hotels and all the parks definitely worth while considering.
5. Preferential early entry into the parks on specified days now this really does make you feel like a star, you turn up an hour or so before the opening time, the queues are already forming and you show your special little ticket, and almost with a little bow they respectfully let you through. Great stuff.
But for me that pretty much covers the upsides.
The problem with the all stars hotel is precisely that it is the budget end of Disneys hotel offering. The rooms are ok, pretty much standard for American hotel rooms so a good size for a family. They are decorated in Disney themes; we were staying in the All stars music, so there were musical instruments everywhere. However, the cleanliness in the room wasnt the best Ive experienced, on arrival there were dirty cotton buds on the bathroom floor and throughout the week the daily cleaning was haphazard to say the least. I do wonder whether it is our ignorance of American tipping culture and perhaps we should have been leaving a tip, but it was advertised as the staff coming in and even arranging any character Teddys that may have been lying around into funny positions. This happened once on the day we did leave a tip, but they still didnt clean the room properly.
The other aspect of any hotel is of course the food available. This is the one area that truly stressed me out. There were some good aspects, if you spent 10$ on a special mug at the beginning of your stay, you could fill it up with unlimited amounts throughout, and if you have enough room in your suitcase you could even bring it back with you next time! This also didnt seem to be policed, so Im sure no one would notice if you just popped in with a normal cup (but dont say I said so!). The variety of food available was actually quite good, loads of options from your standard burger and chips to healthy salads and meat counter. The only problem for me was that I hate motorway service stations and that is what it reminded me of. Hundreds of people, all milling around and it is a take a tray and fill it up kind of place. I was never able to relax, so we ate off site a lot.
There was the option of Pizza delivery within the hotel. This was great and very reasonable. We tried it once, my two girls who were very young at the time, were themeparked out and needed a quiet night and my husband wanted to go and see one of the night shows, so we had a girls night in, ordered the pizza which was huge, by UK standards it would have easily fed 4 adults but my kids had a great time eating 1 slice and then picking all the topping off. Youve never seen such a mess, but I did clean it up, not wanting to rely on the cleaners!
As with all hotels in the area, you have to have a swimming pool. Being the All star music, they had two, one in the shape of a piano and there are life guards available until late at night. This was actually really nice, because of the nature of Florida, during the day the hotels are usually pretty quiet, so we did spend a lovely afternoon by the pool.
They also have all the other things available to encourage you to spend money, games rooms, shops and other small stalls periodically popping around the area. They do have a launderette which I always vowed I would never use, because you dont go on holiday to wash clothes, but having kids sort of changes that and it was very good.
So was it worth it?
In a way, yes, it is very convenient staying in a Disney hotel it does make it easy to get in and out of the park and you can ditch the car for a few days. However I think if I went to Florida again, which I hope to, I would probably rent a villa, and dont think I would spend the extra money to stay on a Disney site. You also tend to concentrate solely on Disney when youre there and can neglect some of the other great parks around.
If you pay more money and stay at one of the other hotels you get the chance of seeing extra light shows from the comfort of your own room, not so at the All stars, they are miles away from anything except animal kingdom, which has no fireworks because of the animals.
So all in all, a great holiday in an ok hotel with a few good upsides.
Thank you for reading.