Planning for a magical stay at the Happiest Place on Earth can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many fantastic options available from the style and decor of the hotel, to the meal package, to the park hopper option, to whose autograph to stand in line for first. Walt Disney Resorts in Florida really does cater to the entire world allowing for anyone on any budget the opportunity to experience the magic.
My family and I traveled down to Walt Disney World in September of 2008. In attendance was myself, along with my husband, two year old daughter and mother. We had planned to book the trip online through Disney’s website and pay for it month by month before departing. This option is excellent for families who are working on a tight monthly budget.
After confirming that we all indeed want to go to Walt Disney World, I began my long journey of planning the trip. Now, keep in mind, it was only a long journey for me because I chose to indulge in the process. I researched the hotels, the restaurants and each park so I knew everything we planned to participate in and everything we would have to save for next time. If extensive planning is not your cup of tea, Walt Disney World is still only a click of the mouse away for booking your dream vacation.
We chose to stay in an All-Star resort as this was our first big family vacation, and the decor and price were appealing enough for us all. I originally booked us in the All Star Sports as my husband liked the oversized baseballs and footballs and other sports decor on the outside. However, about 2 weeks after booking, I received a coupon that was eligible for part of our stay, so I called to find out more. I was able to use the coupon if I switched over to the All Star Movies resort. Considering they are all within walking distance and all on the same street, I had no problem making that change.
The Disney website shows pictures of all their resorts and hotels, and to my surprise, the pictures and the actual appearance were equally amazing. When we arrived to the All Star Movies resort, I proceeded to check in with my husband. We were greeted by a cast member at check in who was very friendly. She confirmed all our info and even made reference to a previous note I had submitted with my reservation that my husband and I would be celebrating our anniversary. She quickly handled our check process and then proceeded to contact “mousekeeping” to arrange a special surprise for us on the night we planned to celebrate the anniversary. At this time we also picked up our complimentary anniversary buttons which let cast members know that we were extra special.
Upon check in, I requested bed rails for my two year old who would be sharing a bed with my mother. We also requested a complimentary refrigerator to keep my mother’s medications cold. A regular refrigerator can be acquired for a $25 fee, however, if you need one for medical purposes or even for a nursing mother to store milk, ask about receiving a complimentary one.
After check in, we proceeded back to our car and drove to our building which happened to be the Toy Story building (the one we were hoping to be in). To our amazement we were greeted by a giant Woody and Buzz, and atop our roof were the toy soldiers from the movie. We noticed along the way that many windows had dresses hanging in them. Later we found out that guests could request for a princess dress to be purchased and charged to their account for their little princess upon arrival. We also found out later in our stay what our special surprise was. After a long day at the park, we came back to the hotel room to find that Mickey and Minnie Mouse had broke into our hotel room and left a balloon and an autographed photo of themselves on our bed personalized to us for our anniversary.
The hotel itself was a standard hotel room with two double beds. The decor keeps in line with the theme which makes the stay festive at all times. We had a small table and chair set along with a TV, the complimentary fridge, and hair dryer.
Since it is a budget hotel on Disney property, other amenities such as complimentary breakfast, ironing board, microwave, etc are not included. But the All Star Resorts make up for it in the friendly staff, amazing pools, on site gift shop and food court. The All Star Resorts all have a main pool and many also have smaller pools as well. Each are designed on a grand scale to live up to Walt Disney’s dream. The pools are a great place to come and cool off mid day while taking a break from the parks.
As I mentioned, the All Star Movies resort also has a food court. Keeping to the theme of the movies, there are several fast food (or quick meals as WDW calls them) venues to choose from. One of your wisest purchases of your trip will be the souvenir cup that can be purchases for about $13 and allows unlimited refills on drinks from the soda fountain corral. This does not include milk or juice, so parents will still have to bring their own or buy them at the food court (which is a bit overpriced).
Another fabulous amenity to the resorts at Walt Disney World, including the All Star Movies, is the available transportation system. From the All Star Movies, you can drive your own car and receive free parking at each park, or you can take the bus transport which runs various buses for various locations. Keep in mind, this can be a bit of a hassle if you are carrying a stroller and lots of other baggage.
The All Star Movies resort also participates in the Extra Magic Hours. This is a service provided to all guests who stay on Disney property. Each day one of the parks will open early or close later providing the resort guests extra time for magic. To participate in this perk, resort guests must show their room key/park ticket to the appropriate cast members at the park. Resort guests have different park tickets than off property guests. This feature is extremely appealing to the budget conscious family as it provides for additional time in the parks, and let’s face it: at Disney, time is money.
Finally, as with any resort including the All Star Movies resort, if you make a purchase at one of the parks but would rather not have to lug it around all day, you can request that your purchase be delivered from the park to your hotel. This usually takes 24-48 hours, so don’t choose this option towards the end of your trip. But we all know that it is never fun to carry around a bunch of shopping bags while trying to wait in line for Space Mountain. So remember this service when you do find that must have Mickey item.
Overall, the All Star Resorts of Walt Disney World are the perfect option for families watching their pennies. It is a budget friendly option that provides the bare necessities of any standard hotel but provides much more magic and charm. If you have time between park hopping, remember to drive down to the other All Star Resorts and check them out. Each one is so elaborately designed in the structures and appearance that walking the grounds is a fun outing of its own.
So when you do start planning your magical experience to Walt Disney World in Florida, keep the All Star Movies resort in mind. It is where practicality and imagination meet to provide you with a magical journey.