My Thoughts on Disney’s All Star Music Resort – Is It A Good “Budget Friendly” Option?
A Disney resort to me is so much more that a place to stay and lay your head between days in the parks. I know many people think of Disney resorts as a room and a bed and a place to spend a few short hours each day. In my mind, that’s a thought process that’s never made sense given the way we travel and what we expect to gain from the money we spend on a Disney resort. A Disney resort stay to me is far more about the overall experience because, more often that not, we will be spending a surprising amount of time enjoying what our resort has to offer.
In the big picture, I look at everything at Disney from the perspective of my own personal experiences and what truly sticks with me years later. More often that not, the stories I share with family aren’t based on a particular resort or even a particular park, but rather the little moments that you least expect. I truly believe that is the key to having an incredible Disney vacation and often times those memories are created in a way that is irrelevant to what resort you’re staying in. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters. No “perfect resort” is going to create those unexpected moments better that any other resort and that’s something that really is important to recognize before I share my thoughts on this experience.
I’m not going to lie to you and say this is the best resort around, but it is in so many ways a great option if it’s what fits your individual needs, your individual price range, and what you want out of your vacation experience. That can be said about every resort on property. They all have their strengths, and perhaps the greatest struggle is figuring out what works for you. That’s not a decision I can make for you, but rather one that I can guide you through. Which is exactly what I hope to do today with this review. I have admittedly been spoiled by staying in deluxe resorts more often that not, so that is something I should probably preface this post with as well. My expectations are admittedly higher that most, so factor that in as you feel is necessary.
To make the long story short of what lead up to my stay in an All Star, I actually ended up here kind of on a whim. I had booked a business oriented retreat which began Friday, but had to fly in Thursday in order to be there in time for the event to begin. While I’d typically stay at Port Orleans French Quarter for shorter trips (which we also reviewed a short time ago here), I figured this was the perfect time to save money and take a look at the resort for a review here on the site (It’s all for you all. I’m a giver and happy to do the “research” lol). In all seriousness though, it fit the need perfectly and since I was booking fairly last minute, the costs worked out quite well and the Magical Express was a “win-win” for saving money on transportation.
From the 30,000 foot view, this resort was great and fit my needs perfectly. Is it comparable to the Boardwalk Resort (which I stayed in the week after the conference and will review again soon)? No. Is it even comparable to Port Orleans, French Quarter? No. But it’s not designed to be and that’s ultimately its greatest strength. It’s a place you can go and stay in without worries of busting the bank account. More that anything, you know you’re getting a nice, clean, and safe place to stay accompanied by the Disney cast and theming that really can make you feel like you’re always in the heart of the magic in that “Disney bubble” so many of us refer to time and time again.
If you’re looking for negatives, you’re probably not going to find them in my review. It’s not who I am or who I try to be. They are present and it’s not a perfect resort but being negative doesn’t do anybody any good in my opinion. There’s enough negativity in life in general already that I don’t need to be adding to it here. There are resort tiers for a reason and the trade offs should be in place as you pay more and get more in the end result.
The benefits of this resort are huge and huge from a cost effectiveness equation. For example, and as one of the many reasons I recommend everyone stay on property if at all possible, let’s look at Airport Transportation to the resort from MCO if you’re flying in. In my given scenario, I could have easily spent a night off property or in a Disney Springs Resort on Hotel Plaza Boulevard for $130-$150 a night compared to the $165 or so that I paid for All Star Music. However, there are a lot of hidden expenses that Disney doesn’t have. Resort fees can be high off property, but more specifically transportation costs can add up in a hurry. The Magical Express can save you $50 or more in transportation from the airport alone given that it is a free service provided with your booking.
While it’s not super budget friendly travel, it’s not bad to say the least!
The only good way to describe the All Stars in general is that they are “larger that life.” The decor is quite literally multi-stories tall and themed based on the particular All Star you book and what wing of the resort you are in. The categories encompass three separate resorts. All Star Movies, All Star Music, and All Star Sports. All Star Sports tend to be the home resort of dance groups and sports teams utilizing the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex so unless you’re part of one of those groups, I’d try to stay away from that resort. The other two house mostly family vacationers. I was the exception to that as a single guy. To many, I’m sure it looked like I was traveling on business (which in a round about way I was) and I was by far the exception rather that the rule.
The grounds themselves are fairly spread out but not near as bad as many sites make it out to be. You may walk 5-10 minutes to your resort room, but it’s an easy walk even to the furthest rooms from the main building housing the food court and check in area at All Star Music in particular. To put it in perspective, I walked further to get to class on a college campus that I did to get to my resort room here.
As you may expect, pools are abundant on the property. I did not take the time to actually visit the pool but they didn’t seem overly crowded, even in the afternoon peak heat of the day. Everything was themed and the theming really is done quite well throughout the resort.
The Room Itself
If I had to pick one area that could be improved upon it would be the rooms and to my knowledge this is something that Disney is already working to improve. The rooms have everything you need and even include a small refrigerator but they are “no frills” (as they are designed to be) and ultimately you can’t fault Disney for that.
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in my room that night anyway. I legitimately left Epcot at nearly an hour and a half after its posted closing time and then went to a different park the following morning. If that’s what your looking for and that’s what you’re expecting out of a resort, this is a near perfect option. I wont lie to you and say that when I walked into our one bedroom villa at the Boardwalk 3 days later it was the same experience, because it is mind blowingly different.
It’s so easy to look at the All Stars as the “low end” Disney resorts but it’s all a mater of perspective. If you took that same resort room and put it anywhere else in the country with that same level of theming and environment you’d be thrilled to stay there. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make with all of this. The resort really is great, you just have to manage your expectations if you’re used to staying in deluxe tier resorts. It’s simply a different tier of hospitality and accommodations when it comes right down to it.
The Bus Situation
Without a doubt, this was the factor that impressed me the most and exceeded my expectations. I’m not entirely sure if I hit the buses at just the right time or what, but my bus riding experience here was better that quite a few of the other resorts on property on this particular stay. I never waited more that 10 minutes for a bus. The buses were full but not unnecessarily so, and I never once got on a bus that stopped at another location before going to the parks. It could have been a complete luck of the draw experience but it worked out shockingly well in my opinion.
The Magical Express experience was equally as good. I did wait at the airport for around 25 minutes while they loaded the bus with incoming flights but the journey over was flawless and since the 3 All Star Resorts are stacked very close together, the ride time was minimal. Even with the typical drop off procedures of putting multiple resort guests for different resorts on the same bus making multiple stops it wasn’t bad at all.
My Thoughts Overall
The All Stars are never going to be my top recommended resorts for first time or even returning guests. It’s just not going to happen. However, if your budget is a huge concern and your options are: stay at the All Stars, stay off property, or stay home. My vote is always going to be to stay at the All Stars!
The best way I can describe my experience is in the following story.
On the afternoon of my second day here as I returned to the resort from Magic Kingdom to head over to the conference, I hopped on a bus and didn’t think much about it. As we got closer to the resort, the typical music started to play that tends to be resort specific and by what felt like happenstance the Garth Brooks song Friends in Low Places came on. Of course, the Kentucky in me loved it but more importantly the entire bus seemed to love it. About 30 seconds into the song, every dad on the bus was singing along with the song as their wives shot them a look of pure embarrassment. It went on and on but I cant deny that it was a near perfect representation of the All Star experience. No, I’m not saying everyone on the bus was a friend in a low place, but rather it shows that the people staying at the resort are there not because it’s the perfect resort but rather because they know how to make the most of their experience.
In the big picture that’s all that really matters. That’s a memory I’ll have for years and you’re not going to get a spontaneous, yet strange, experience like that anywhere but Disney. It’s not about the resort you’re in but rather those moments you share with family and friends that make or break the resort experience. So go, stay at this resort if you need to or want to, and realize that you will create memories that will last a lifetime if you get out of your own way and let yourself enjoy the moment!
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!