by Jackie Perrin
The only Walt Disney World Value category property with family suites, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort welcomes budget-conscious travelers in a themed setting that’s simply melodious.
Opened in 1994, with a room refurbishment completed in 2012, the tropically landscaped 1,704-room Animal Kingdom-area resort is one of three Disney All-Star Value category offerings, featuring larger-than-life musical icons that are popular with families, as well as the many traveling youth groups that make it their Walt Disney World home-away-from-home.
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.
Melody Hall, the resort’s dining and activities hub, features a photo gallery of musical greats from Bruce Springsteen to Johnny Cash, and a seemingly ever-present soundtrack of tunes creates an atmosphere of continuous celebration throughout.
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.
Our Editor Loves
- Family suites with mini-kitchen
- Free activities at Calypso main pool
- Musical theme and larger than life icons
- All Inclusive Rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Renovated in 2012, accommodations are located in five pairs of three-story buildings, each adorned with larger than life musical icons playing homage to a range of musical genres, from country to rock n' roll.
Standard rooms are compact and basic, but smartly designed for traveling families, with child-friendly features like rounded furniture corners and paper cups instead of the glass versions commonly provided in upper-level Disney properties. DÃ©cor matches the musical theme -- headboards, curtains and linens are decorated with stars and musical notes and wallpaper and border designs feature images of performers and musical greats throughout the ages.
Most standard rooms (260 square feet) contain two double beds and sleep up to four, plus one crib sleeper for guests under the age of 3. Each room contains a single vanity positioned outside the bathroom (compared to the two found in most moderate and deluxe Disney properties), a combination TV cabinet/bureau, a hair dryer, a table with chairs, a mini-fridge, an alarm clock and a wall safe. Coffee makers are not available. Wi-Fi service is complimentary, and bed rails and playpens are available. There is a surcharge per person, per night for more than two adults in a standard room -- though honestly, more than a couple will stretch the limits physically, as well as figuratively. Connecting rooms are available.
In Standard Rooms, an extra small fee per night for a preferred location will get you close to Melody Hall, the main pool and the bus stop in either the Jazz or Calypso block. If you want to be near the action and don't mind commotion, a pool-facing Calypso room should do the trick. Upper-level Jazz Inn rooms tend to be a little quieter, and might be a more attractive choice for those with napping babies and toddlers.
For larger parties, All-Star Suites offer another attractive space-stretching solution. Created by merging two standard guestrooms, suites are 520 square feet in size and sleep up to six (including one crib sleeper for guests under the age of 3), and are located in the Jazz and Calypso buildings close to Melody Hall.
In addition to a bathroom, a private bedroom contains a desk with a chair, an upholstered chair and a small dresser with a flat-screen TV and a queen bed (compared to the double beds found in all other Value rooms), while a living room area doubles as another sleeping area, with a double sofa bed and two single beds -- one which pulls out of a chair and the other a convertible ottoman set-up.
A kitchenette, with a microwave, mini-fridge, coffee maker and disposable dishware, is located off the living area, and nearby, there's a second bathroom, providing added family appeal.
A single vanity is stationed outside the second bathroom, which makes getting ready in the morning easier for groups, and multiple shelves in the kitchenette create an atmosphere of order for larger families. A small table with two chairs provides limited seating for dining. For quick breakfasts and snacks, this shouldn't be an issue, but for families of four or more, finding suitable space for more extensive meals might get tricky.
In terms of suite sleeping arrangements, adults will be most comfortable in the bedroom, where a playpen can be stationed for smaller children, while the pullout couch and convertible chairs in the living area are suitable for kids, but might be considered restrictive by larger or older travelers. Suites sleep up to six with no surcharge for adult occupants.
I stayed 5 days here when I was moving my son down for the college program. It a great place to stay if your on a budget. The rooms are nice and the bed is comfy. You can tell that the rug was a little worn but for how many people are in and out of the room it understandable. The main building and food area was clean and very good food. Plus it Disney so the attention to detail is wonderful. I will look into staying again.
Very clean with good mattresses. No frills, but we only sleep there so who cares? No coffee maker although I understand there will be after the planned renovations. You get all the Disney bells and whistles like bus service everywhere and the magic bands.
Swaying palms and squirting statues of the Three Caballeros welcome vacationers to the liveliest of the Disney All-Star pools, the site of planned activities for overnight guests of Disney's All-Star Music, All-Star Sports and All-Star Movies Resorts.
Beginning around 2 p.m. daily, a full roster of activities gets underway on and around the guitar-shaped Calypso pool deck, ranging from treasure hunts and family trivia contests to bingo and dance parties, complete with hula-hoop contests and water balloon tosses. There's even an occasional "social hour" just for teens. In mid-afternoon, there's a "Changing of the Guard" ceremony, where kids are invited to dance with the morning lifeguards as they mark the end of their formal workday. After the sun sets, G- and PG-rated movies are displayed on an inflatable screen. Families can pull up a deck chair and take in the show or launch a raft and enjoy a floating water view.
Adjacent to the main guitar-shaped pool, a sizeable rectangular kiddie pool is comfortably shallow for small children. Plenty of lounge chairs are in the vicinity.
Between the Rock Inn and Broadway Hotel, you'll find the smaller Piano Pool. A grand piano shape and painted piano keys on the pool deck give the spot its trademark name.
Neither the Calypso Pool nor the Grand Piano Pool have slides (a feature exclusive to moderate and deluxe level Disney properties), but for most families, a multitude of planned pool activities makes up for it. At both pools, a restroom contains space for changing, as well as rental lockers, and nearby, a guest laundry facility provides coin-operated washers and dryers for those who want to get a load in while they lounge.
Life jackets are available at the Arcade with a Resort ID. Towels aren't provided on the pool deck, so bring one from your room. Swim diapers are required for non-potty trained children and can be purchased at Maestro Mickey's (open 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.), along with sunscreen, souvenirs and infant and toddler essentials. Pool hours are 8 a.m. to midnight, and lifeguard hours vary by the season.
Stationed between the Calypso and Jazz Inn sections, this playground, designed for kids ages 2 to 12, contains two climb and slide structures and is cushioned by a sandy bottom. There's some shade, but slather on the sunscreen to be safe.
Note'able Games Arcade
At this sizeable arcade, kids can take a break from the sun to play more than 80 games.
Intermission Food Court
Note: The Intermission Food Court will be temporarily closed from August to December 2014 for renovations. Guests can still order in-room pizza delivery at this time. The Gran amd Go Market will be in the Note'able Games Arcade during this time and a shuttle service to the other Disney All-Star Resorts will be provided, where guests can dine at the End Zone Food Court or the World Premier Food Court.
At this cheerful food court with a musical theme, four themed stations (Pizza Shop, Specialty Shop, Grill Shop, Bakery and Ice Cream Shop) provide variety for kids, as well as adults, and a chilled Grab and Go Market case adds additional options for pay and go guests, as well as those on a Disney Dining Plan.
For kids, Mickey Waffles with bacon and fruit for breakfast (Specialty Shop), grilled cheese or chicken nuggets (Grill Shop) and pasta with a meatball or cheese pizza (Pizza Shop) for lunch or dinner are reliable palate pleasers, while older children, as well as adults will enjoy the chicken quesadilla platter, pasta with meatballs, create-your-own salad options (with a choice of protein) and home-style dinners (baked chicken, roast turkey and grilled salmon). At the Specialty Shop, featured adult dinners (served 4:30 to 10 p.m.) include baked Mahi Mahi and chicken potpie. Kids lunches and dinners (ages 9 and under) come with grapes and carrot sticks, as well as a choice of milk, bottled water or apple juice. A cookie or a soft drink may be substituted.
A Grab and Go Market offers healthy snacks like fresh fruit cups, yogurt parfaits, whole fresh fruit and carrot and celery sticks, while Mickey bars from the freezer case, as well as homemade ice cream sandwiches and milkshakes from the Ice Cream Shop are popular vacation treats.
If you're dining with preschoolers, head to the back of the dining room, where you'll find a kid-sized table with chairs and coloring supplies and a TV playing cartoons. Ample high chairs and booster seats are available; seating choices include booths, as well as tables, and covered patio seating is available outdoors. The food court itself can be very busy during peak times, particularly in the morning. Escape the crowds by arriving early, or pick up ala carte items the night before and enjoy a peaceful meal in your room.
Food Court hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and specific hours vary by station. The Beverage Island is open from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Pizza Delivery and Pick-up
If you're too tired to trek to the Food Court, All-Star Pizza Delivery will deliver a variety of pizzas to your room, along with salads, sandwiches, dessert, beer, wine and soft drinks. Hours are 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. There is a minimum food order and a delivery fee and a service charge will be applied. Alternatively, you can skip the add-on charges and get a pie to go from the Food Court Pizza Station (open 4 p.m. to midnight). A pick-up window across from the Beverage Island makes it easy.
Singing Spirits Pool Bar
At this spirited watering hole with windows open to the food court, as well as the area just outside the Calypso Pool, you can order beer, wine and frozen alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. It's open daily noon to midnight, except Sundays, when it opens at 1 p.m.
Additional All-Star Dining Options
Food courts at the neighboring All-Star Movies and All-Star Sports resorts offer different decor and similar menus, with some additional options. Fan favorites include cheese steak subs at World Premier Food Court at Disney's All-Star Movies Resort and chicken wings at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort's End Zone Food Courts.
Tip: Purchase a refillable mug and receive unlimited hot and cold (non-alcoholic) drink refills at All-Star Resort Food Court beverage islands.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
In terms of service and staff friendliness, Disney's All-Star Music Resort delivers the experience you'd expect to find at a deluxe resort -- at a bargain price. Cast members are exceedingly helpful, whether they're delivering bedrails to your room at midnight or aiding your kids in the painstaking task of selecting the perfect take-home prize at the arcade. If you're celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, "Celebration" buttons are provided (with advance notice), and in the registration area, there's a mini kids theatre with stadium seating.
Overnight guests enjoy a number of special perks, like early-entry and late-stay theme park privileges (Extra Magic Hours), free onsite transportation, free parking, the ability to make FASTPASS+ reservations 60 days in advance and the opportunity to participate in a Disney Dining Plan with a Magic Your Way Package. Additional family-friendly privileges include online room check-in (up to 10 days in advance), resort airline check-in (a big help for families) and airport transportation service via Disney's Magical Express.
A paved jogging trail (approximately one mile) runs along West Buena Vista Drive, from Disney's All-Star Sports Resort to Disney's All-Star Movies Resort.
Kids Nite Out, an independent agency, provides in-room resort childcare. A four-hour minimum and a $10 caregiver transportation fee are required.
The Art of Smart Timing
When traveling to Walt Disney World Resort, it's best to avoid peak travel periods. Generally, these times include holidays and the summer months -- in other words, any time schools are out of session. If you do opt to visit in summertime, pack sunscreen, hydrate frequently and, unless you want to squander your souvenir money on ponchos at the parks, don't forget your raingear.
Fortunately for travelers on a budget, the least expensive times to visit Walt Disney World theme parks (Value Season) tend to coordinate with dates when crowds are the lightest. If your kids aren't in school yet, September is a great time to visit. Another prime time -- early December -- can be hit or miss at the Value Resorts, due to a typically heavy influx of traveling youth groups.
From Orlando International Airport (MCO), free roundtrip airport transportation via motor coach is available to guests (advance reservation required; limited hours) via Disney's Magical Express.
By car, take the South Exit Road from Orlando International Airport to SR 417 Toll Road (GreeneWay) West and follow signs to Walt Disney World/All-Star Music Resort.
Free transportation to and from all Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney is provided by bus. A bus stop is located just outside Melody Hall. The stop isn't covered, so be prepared to brave the elements. Ponchos and sunscreen are a World traveler's friends and for kids, activities, such as bubbles, will help to ease the wait. For those traveling with children under 3, a stroller is a must.
For Mom and Dad
At night, the Calypso Pool takes on a magical aura, with backlit palm trees, music and movie screenings. Grab a frozen drink and soak it up in a lounge chair while the kids swim, or celebrate the moment by signing up for a contest like, "Name that Singer" or "Disney Trivia," and show off your pop culture knowledge.