If you’re on a tight budget and you’re planning your first stay with the Mouse, be prepared to make a few sacrifices. In exchange for easy access to the theme parks and the privilege of being fully immersed in Disney magic, you’ll likely need to temporarily adapt to less space, fewer frills and higher prices than you may be accustomed to at home or outside of Disney World.
The good news is that making the decision to forgo a few creature comforts typically pays off in spades. In addition to free parking and free airport and resort-wide transportation, booking a cheap Disney World hotel means you will enjoy all the invaluable perks available to onsite resort guests, like early theme park entry, access to “free dining” offers and advance dibs on popular rides, attractions and dining reservations. Best of all, you will be able to absorb the joy on your children’s faces as they splash into a Disney dive-in movie, sleep like a royal prince or princess and take in the wonders of “The World.”
These cheap Disney World hotels for families deliver the biggest bang for your vacation buck.
Written by Jackie Perrin
Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Standard rooms are 277 square feet, contain mini-refrigerators and sleep up to four, with playful decor playing homage to favorite Disney and Disney Pixar films like "The Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid." More than double the size of a standard room, "The Lion King" and "Finding Nemo"-themed Family Suites accommodate up to six and feature a private bedroom with a door, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette with a microwave and a mini-refrigerator. Families can save money by eating in, or else head over to The Landscape of Flavors food court, which features a fresh beverage bar and five stations serving up a variety of tasty fare, from Tandoori shrimp to create-your-own-pasta. Guests enjoy private (versus shared) shuttle bus transportation to Disney's theme parks.
Disney's All-Star Music Resort
Five food court dining options and pizza delivery provide variety, as well as value, and budget-friendly perks like complimentary transportation and free parking give families good measure to strike up savings, along with a song, at this cheap Disney World hotel. Two themed pools and an onsite arcade provide a fun spot for the kids to kick back and cool off after a long day at the theme parks. At the main guitar-shaped Calypso Pool, families can enjoy free activities from mid-afternoon to late night.
Like the newer Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort offers Family Suites that sleep six. All-Star Music Suites feature five separate sleeping surfaces, compared to four at Art of Animation, and average $60 to $100 less per night, earning it Grammy-level status for cheap Disney World hotels.
Disney's Pop Century Resort
As a cheaper Disney World hotel, The Pop lacks some of the frills you might find in a Moderate or Deluxe Disney resort -- like a marina, bike rentals and waterslides -- but it still packs plenty of family appeal, with larger-than-life Disney theming, a cool "Hippy Dippy" pool and dozens of fun photo ops that set the scene for a memorable vacation. Pop Century guests enjoy private (versus shared) motor coach transportation to Disney's theme parks, as well as enhanced dining options at Everything Pop food court, making it one of the most attractive cheap Disney World hotels for families.
While on the small side (260 square feet versus 314- to 340-square-foot rooms you'll find at Moderate Disney resorts), rooms at The Pop are thoughtfully designed, with bright furnishings and family-friendly touches like in-room refrigerators, privacy curtains and disposable plastic cups, rather than breakable glasses. Rooms sleep up to four. Connecting rooms are also available.
Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
Aspiring celebrities and scrapbook-creators will find a multitude of Instagram-worthy photo opportunities, from the 35-foot-tall Buzz Lightyear to a humongous "Herbie the Love Bug" -- five times the size of the original.
A superbly themed food court provides variety, as well as value, and kids can hang out at an arcade, join in organized games or watch movies under the stars at a fantastically themed "Fantasia" pool. The resort is within walking distance of Disney's All-Star Sports Resort and Disney's All-Star Music Resort, which offer an expanded menu of food options for families seeking variety.
Accommodations are located in five pairs of three-story buildings, each adorned with larger-than-life icons paying homage to a range of popular Disney films, including "101 Dalmatians," "Toy Story," "Fantasia," "The Mighty Ducks" and "The Love Bug." Standard rooms (260 square feet) are basic and compact, but smartly designed for traveling families. They feature one king-size bed or two double beds, the latter sleeping up to four guests.
Disney's All Star-Sports Resort
Basic, but family-friendly accommodations are located in five pairs of three-story buildings, each adorned with larger-than-life images paying homage to a range of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, surfing and tennis. From gigantic 38-foot-tall surfboards festooning the facade of the "Surf's Up!" block to a colossal tennis ball can (capacity: nearly 9.5 million regulation size balls!), prominently positioned photo-ops abound.
Standard rooms are 260 square feet and sleep up to four guests, with a choice of one king-size bed or two double beds. A sports-themed food court serves up fan favorites like hot dogs, chicken wings, create-your-own burgers and gelato. A lively arcade and two themed pools will keep the kids cool and entertained after a long day at the theme parks, while a playground and a variety of sports "fields" provide space for active fun and games.
Shades of Green Resort
Accommodations are some of the most spacious on Disney property, with options ranging from standard 400- to 480-square-foot rooms, which sleep four to five, to Palm Suites accommodating up to 12 guests. The Palm Suite features two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a space-themed children's room outfitted with two sets of bunk beds and lockers. Guests enjoy early entry and late-stay theme park privileges via Disney's ExtraMagic Hours, private shuttle bus transportation to the theme parks, resort airline check-in service and use of Disney's resort-wide transportation system.