Are you planning a vacation to Orlando Florida and planning on visiting the theme parks? Are you doing it on a tight budget and looking to save wherever possible? Besides the price of tickets, your next biggest expense is your hotel room.
If you really want to save money on your hotel. You should book a non Disney or Universal hotel closest to the theme park you will be planning on visiting. However, if you want to stay on property and get the benefits that go along with it. Both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World have value (budget) resorts to pick from.
Disney technically has five value resorts. They are POP Century, Art of Animation, All Star Music, All Star Movies, and All Star Sports. Now for this comparison we are only looking at the three All Star Resort. Both POP and Art are on the higher end of the value pricing.
Universal Studios Orlando has two value resorts which are Endless Summer Dockside and Endless Summer Surfside. There are also two more cheaper resort options at Universal. However, Universal Studios categorizes them as Prime Value. Those two resorts are Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Aventura resort.
Below you will find a little overview of the All Star Resorts and Endless Summer Resorts. We will go over the amount of standard rooms, family suites, number of pools, whether there is a food court or sit down restaurant, and much more.
Endless Summer Resorts
Both Universal’s Endless Summer resorts are the newest resorts at Universal Studios Florida. Endless Summer Dockside Inn and Suites opened in December of 2020. It is the newest hotel to open at Universal Studios. It has 937 rooms between Standard and Family suites.
Standard rooms have two queen beds and a bathroom. The rooms come in at a whopping 313 square feet and are slightly larger than the two prime value rooms( Aventura And Cabana Bay) . The family suites are a little larger and have three queen beds, one bathroom, and kitchenette. The third bed is also in a separate room which is nice for mom and dad to have a little privacy when on vacation.
There is a food court at the resort. There’s not much of a selection but they do have your typical burgers and chicken fingers. Don’t worry though, there is something for everyone.
Now if you’re a fan of Starbucks. You’re in luck. You won’t need to travel far to get your caffeine fix. It’s right in the lobby.
There’s also three separate lounges throughout the resort. Grab your favorite frozen drink, cocktail, beer, or wine and relax by the huge pools.
Sadly, staying at either Endless Summer resorts only allow you to visit those pools. Unlike staying at any of the other Universal Resorts where you can pool hop. However, the pools are really nice and are perfect for a midday dip to escape that brutal Florida sun.
A stay at Endless Summer Resorts also gets you access to a fitness center at the Resorts. It’s a pretty decent size too. It’s not just one treadmill and some dumbbells. It’s the perfect size to help maintain your routine. You won’t find a fitness center in any value resorts over at WDW that’s for sure.
All Star Resorts
Walt Disney World is home to three All Star Resorts. They are All Star Music, Sports, and Movies. These are the cheapest Disney owned hotels to stay at. They are also the oldest value resorts.
All Star Sports and Music both opened in 1994. All Star Movies opened in 99 due to the need for more budget friendly prices. Most of the rooms have been updated since then too!
Sadly, I think Disney has forgotten about these hotels being budget friendly. Sure they are updated but it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to stay there.
Now the rooms are not big at all. They come in at 260 square feet. It can be a little tight for a family of four. However, you will probably only spend the night in the room so it doesn’t need to be huge. Each standard room has two queen beds. However, one is in the wall and used as a table when not in use. It is a great space saver and place to eat breakfast at. The rooms are pretty perfect for two people with the one bed acting as a table.
Around each All Star Resort you will find two pools. One main pool near the lobby and another one towards the back of the Resorts. Neither pool is very special. They are just your standard pools. However, they are themed around the different resorts and are a decent size.
When staying at an All Star Resort you can and should check out the other resorts pools. Be sure to walk around the other resorts as well. The over sized themes are quite the sight to see.
Each resort also has a food court. You will find plenty of options to choose from. It would be pretty difficult to not find something good to eat.
You can also find a secret menu if you know who to ask.
Each resort food court also has plenty of seating. It can get a little tight around dinner time but there should still be plenty of seating inside and outside.
You won’t find a fitness center at any of the All Star Resorts. However, you can take a nice walk around them that can add a couple of miles to your daily count. These resorts are very spread out. A walk from the Rock section at All Star Music to the main lobby can easily take you 5 minutes or longer depending on how fast you walk.
Getting to the parks
All Star Resorts
You only have two options when it comes to getting to the theme parks and Disney Springs. You can either take a Disney Bus or drive. Either option will work.
If you drive it will be a little quicker to get to the park and standard parking is free since you are staying at a Disney resort. Only problem with driving your own vehicle is you will be further away from the main entrance.
Buses drop you off closer to the front of the park. However, they are slower and more crowded especially in the morning and around park close. Even in the middle of the day you could be waiting 15 to 20 minutes for the next bus. If you drive you won’t have to wait. You’ll just have that long walk back to the car.
If you stay at an Endless Summer Resort you still only have two options to get to the theme parks. It’s either drive yourself or take a bus. Depending on the time of day one is definitely quicker than the other.
I have found the Universal buses to be a bit better than the Disney buses. They are just as crowded but seem to run more often.
Parking isn’t included with your stay so you will have to fork over $26 to park each day. Parking can be a huge pain in the morning. Plus leaving at the end of the night is a nightmare as well.
If you plan on staying till park close you are probably better off taking the bus. It could easily take you an hour to get back to the resort if you drive and stay till close.
All Star Resorts
As we stated earlier, the All Star Resorts are all value resorts. Compared to area hotels they are not a great value when you look at price. However, they are cheaper than the other Disney resorts.
A week-long stay in July will cost you $182 a night for a standard room at any of the All Star Resorts. To compare a stay at the other value resort POP Century is $223 for the same time period.
Endless Summer Resorts
Endless Summer Resorts are the value resorts at Universal Orlando and they really are a value. For a week-long stay in July it will cost you $165.00 per night. It is still a little on the pricier side of things but cheaper than a Disney Resort.
A stay at Universal’s Prime Value hotel Aventura would cost you $205 per night. Still not a bad price but $40 more per night. That $40 could almost cover the cost of lunch in the parks for a family of 4.
Some might say it’s not fair to compare a Disney Value resort to a Universal Value resort but I think it is. Universal value resorts are much cleaner and offer what seems to be a little more room. Disney Value resorts come in a little higher in price but do have that “Disney Magic”.
A stay at either resort wouldn’t be a bad idea for a family trying to stay to a tight budget. It’s no secret that a vacation to Universal or Disney World is very expensive. Staying at a value resort helps you save a little money while stay getting the benefits of staying on property.
Be sure to check out our other hotel reviews from around the Orlando Area. Most of the places we stay at are budget friendly and can have some really great deals depending on the time of year you visit.