The Deal Mommy

6 Disney World Hotels I Don’t Recommend

After three recent Disney World visits (and six on property hotel stays) I’ve come to appreciate staying on site. Between extra magic hours, extravagant theming, amazing customer service and surprises even after you get home I understand the value of paying extra for on-site hotel stays. However, WHICH Disney World Hotel you pick will largely determine how much value you get for the extra cost. With that in mind I present six Disney World hotels that I DON’T recommend:

All Star Sports, April 2015

All Star Sports, April 2015

All Star Resorts (Music, Sports, and Movies)
I go back and forth on the All Star Resorts but have finally landed on “no”. Yes, there’s some theming and the staff is nice, but the rooms are tiny and the buses crowded. No amount of Disney art makes up for the plastic Motel 6 cups and budget feel. I’d either pay slightly more for a moderate or go off site.

View from the Walt Disney World Dolphin , April 2015

View from the Walt Disney World Dolphin , April 2015

The Swan and Dolphin
I’m going to get some pushback on this one, but hear me out. The hotels are perfectly nice and in a normal circumstance I’d recommend them. But this is Disney and there is absolutely no theming in the rooms or at the pool. Even if you redeem points you’re on the hook for $18/night parking and $23/night resort fee. I just can’t justify 10,000 StarPoints (or 8,000 if you spend five nights as one is free) that could have such better uses.

(PS: I’m fully aware Swan/Dolphin are Starwood properties. However, they show up in the Disney app, so to me they’re Disney.)

Saratoga Springs
I might put Old Key West on the list also, but only have firsthand experience with Saratoga. Again, perfectly nice, but the hotel is WAY on the fringes on Disney Property and really only convenient to Downtown Disney. Even in low season studios here can be over $300/night. I’ve stayed off property for 1/4 the price and gotten to the parks more quickly then from Saratoga.

So where DO I suggest? I’d either go moderate or (if money were absolutely no object) totally themed deluxe. Otherwise?  Off-site.  I’m sure you have thoughts on this topic and I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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23 thoughts on “6 Disney World Hotels I Don’t Recommend

  1. HaleyB

    Art of Annimation is my pick for Value, because newness helps offset those plastic cups ;), the other huge downside to All Stars is that this is where they put school groups (Pop Century to a lesser extent). Two points in favor of Values are the food courts and dedicated buses. You have to experience the shared buses to understand how great dedicated buses are (they do not go to other resorts). Food courts are really great with kids, and if you have an Annual Pass and the Tables in Wonderland card ($99) you get 20% discount in the Value food courts. I always recommend the upgraded room locations at Values; Close to main pool, buses, and main building.

    I find Moderates a waste of money. The amenities over a Value just don’t justify the extra cost. That said Coranado Springs is OK. They have a good pool/slide.

    My first choice for a family trip (with older kids) is the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but I also recommend a car rental. Cars are really cheap in Orlando, $8-$12 a day.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Haley,
      I didn’t have luck with buses: always combined all stars and packed! +1 on the school groups.

  2. Shannon

    Just redeemed 30,000 points (nights and flights deal) for five nights at the Swan. We stayed in a recently renovated room which was fairly spacious compared to comparable Disney hotels. The location was great if you love Epcot. My kids enjoyed the pool. Sure, there isn’t any theming, but no one complained. The resort fees are ridiculous. The Swan makes sense if you travel during high peak time when there are little discounts. We traveled during Easter.

    After missing our flight home because of the annoying toll roads, and spending over 24 hours on standby, next time, I’ll just stay at Riverside. Checking your bags at the resort is the absolute the best!

  3. Josh F

    I concur with your assessment of the All-Stars. If you’re going Budget, spend just a little bit more for Pop Century (or a bit more than that for AOA) – the minimal cost savings isn’t worth it.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Did you find Pop better than all stars? Pop, AOA, and Caribbean are on my list to try.

      1. Traci C

        Totally agree about Pop Century over Sports. They do have a dedicated bus. Sports was awful! Sharing with all the All Star was a nightmare. Thought we had a bus all by ourselves then another stop and on came the Senior class trip on board. Terrible. We also happened to go when the cheerleading competition was at Sports. We loved Pop Century.

  4. Andy

    Don’t knock Old Key West until you try it! Its a fantastic hotel and my personal favorite on property. Its actually pretty well located to all the parks, short of Animal Kingdom, but then again nothing is really close to that one besides AK lodge.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks for chiming in, Andy. Olivia’s cafe is one of my favorite Disney restaurants and everyone sleeps on it.

  5. Peter Krass

    Have you looked at renting DVC points and staying in a Deluxe that way. The points vary by time of year but it’s almost always cheaper than paid rates. At say 15 points a night and $13 pts per dollar you would be doing pretty well. If you can get value rooms at the Animal Kingdom for 9 points a night and spend $10 a point you are getting into the crazy value range.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Peter,
      I haven’t completed a rental yet, but that’s definitely on my to do list. Do you have a favorite site?

  6. Deborah

    Your article is very misleading. The Swan & Dolphin are on Disney property but not Disney owned so hence no Disney theming. The All Stars are very family friendly & I know lots of people that love them and won’t stay anywhere else. Not pleased with this article.

  7. sarah hirsch

    We have stayed at Disney World dozens of times and I have definitely found some resorts to be better for traveling well as a family than others. When I travel I like to feel that the cost of the room is worth every penny! I love the Art of Animation Resort for value, theme, convenience and service. We stayed in the Cars suites and had a blast!

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Sarah, AOA is on my list to try as I haven’t heard a single negative review. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Kathy

    Kidani is my favorite! I’m in the minority – not a fan of POR. Just too much walking to rooms in Alligator Bayou to the food court. Renting points is the way to go for deluxe – only way I can afford it. Last time at ASSp they all had their own buses – it wasn’t so bad

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  11. A.J.

    Interesting article. Been to Disney way too many times, so it was a fun read. While I kind of get the theming complaint about Swan and Dolphin, it’s surprising you can’t recommend them for location alone. Try pricing out Boardwalk or Yacht and Beach Club and 8,000 SPG points (5 nights) start to make a LOT of sense. That location allows for a quick boat ride or short walk to 2 of the 4 main parks, which is a huge perk, especially with small kids with afternoon naps. And with the recently renovated rooms at the Swan, I’d be willing to bet that some people would gladly give up theming for a little bit of luxury.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks, AJ. My beef with S/D is more the resort and parking fees. Not even Disney Hotels charge for parking! You could stay at a Downtown Disney hotel like the B and get a suite almost as close a bus ride for the same price.

  12. Trish Simmons

    I love pop didn’t think I would but that’s where my daughter made our reservations ,found out it was wonderful. On the other hand I hated CSR everything seemed far away and it’s so busy there. POR I have planned to stay there but finally going in nov. I would take any deluxe but key west and Saratoga I have visited both and didn’t care for getting to and from. Also think AKL is way away but I could deal with it we spent a lovely afternoon/evening there in the lounge and walking around inside and out it’s lovely.

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