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All Star Resorts -- A Relook

Jack Spence Masthead

I recently stayed at the Coronado Springs Resort to see what had changed since my last review several years earlier. Today I will be revisiting the All Star Resorts to take another look at these value properties. The last time I visited here was in April, 2011.

When I first started visiting Disney World, my only lodging options were the Contemporary and the Polynesian. As the years went by, I’ve always been fortunate enough to be able to afford the other deluxe resorts as they were added to the lineup. It wasn’t until I moved to Orlando and began writing for AllEars that I stayed at the All Stars for the first time. And I have to tell you. I like them " a lot. In fact, I occasionally stop by for lunch in one of their food courts simply because I enjoy the atmosphere here. The All Star Sports, Music, and Movies are a hoot! They’re fun! They’re crazy. In fact, I would recommend to any Disney fanatic to stop by for a visit one afternoon to experience their over-the-top architecture. It’s worth your time to see how Disney has themed these imaginative resorts.

In reality, not much has changed since my last review three years ago so this will not be a full review. But it’s always nice to know what’s going on if this is your Disney resort of choice. To see what I wrote three years ago, click here.

The All Star Sports Resort was the first of the three to open (April 29, 1994) and this is where you’ll see the biggest change. After 20 years, Disney has decided it’s time to give the food court a new look and feel. And I’m glad they did. The food ordering stations were beginning to look dated and a little dingy. The new look is a lot brighter and less busy. The first picture was taken before the remodel, the second, after. Both were shot from approximately the same angle.


Old All Star Sports Food Court

New All Star Sports Food Court


However the biggest change can be seen out in the dining area. Once again, the Imagineers have gone for a less busy look. The old dining room featured a huge mural of sports figures. There were also room dividers topped with acrylic silhouettes of more athletes.


Old All Star Sports Dining Room

Old All Star Sports Dining Room

Old All Star Sports Dining Room


All of this has been replaced with brightly colored pictures of the Fab Five engaged in a variety of sports activities. These graphics are a lot more fun and a lot more kid friendly.


New All Star Sports Dining Room

New All Star Sports Dining Room

New All Star Sports Dining Room

New All Star Sports Dining Room


I spoke with a manager at the All Star Sports Resort and was told that the food courts at Music and Movies Resorts will also be seeing similar refurbishments in the months to come.

A special note… The Hidden Mickey Guy, Steve Barrett, has been immortalized at the All Star Sports Resort food court. A caricature of him can be found on one of the new wall dividers.


Steve Barrett

Steve Barrett caricature


This next change is not restricted to just the All Star Sports Resort, but to ALL Disney resorts that offer beverage stations. You can no longer get unlimited refills with a standard beverage purchase. Your paper cup now has a microchip attached the bottom of it. When filling your cup for the first time, a small computer screen above the dispenser will inform you that you have three refills remaining for the next two hours (which is more than generous). When you return for a second helping, you are told you have two refills remaining until x-o’clock. And so on. If you want unlimited refills, you need to buy a Rapid Fill plastic mug. And don’t think about using your own cup to steal beverages. Without this microchip, you get zip. Which seems more than fair to me.


Beverage Station


Another change can be seen in the Portrait Hall of all three lobby areas. In the past, photographs of recognizable people were displayed. Now the pictures are larger and more generic.


Portrait Hall

Portrait Hall


Even though the All Stars are divided into three sections (Sports, Music, and Movies), and each have their own check-in desks, it is considered one giant resort. This means that all All Star guests can use all of the common/public areas " like the swimming pools and play areas. However, I discovered a kink in this policy that even the resort’s management wasn’t aware of.

As you may know, all Disney resorts now use the Magic Band, armband, as a room key.


Arm Band


Before Magic Bands, the All Star laundry rooms were unlocked each day from 8am to 10pm. After hours, they required a room card key to enter.


Laundry Room


Now, all All Star laundry rooms are locked 24/7 and require an armband for access. However, your Magic Band will ONLY unlock the laundry rooms in your resort (Sports, Music, or Movies). For example, if you’re staying at Music, you cannot use the laundry facilities at Sports, even if you’re enjoying the Sports pool.

I discovered this while trying to take pictures of the various laundry rooms and could not gain access to some of them. It took me over an hour of discussions with several managers to finally find out what was going on. And it was news to them too. I don’t know if this policy will change in the future, but that’s the way it is now.

On this last visit, I stayed at Music. The room has changed a bit. The first thing you’ll notice is the bedspread is missing and has been replaced with a simple throw. This gives the room a cleaner, more contemporary look. You’ll also notice the room colors are different. The headboard and nightstand are the same.


Old Bed

New Bed


The chest-of-drawers and television stand are identical except a refrigerator has replaced the interior shelves.


Old Chest

New Chest


Speaking of the television, when you turn it on, your senses are no longer assaulted with Stacy telling you about the top 10 things to see and do at Disney. Instead, you are greeted to a simple information channel. If you want to find Stacy, you need to change channels. In addition, every time you turn the TV on, the volume is reset to its lowest setting. This is fantastic as you won’t blast out others in the room who may be sleeping.

The table and mirror are the same but the chairs are new. I prefer the new chairs as they have a cushioned seat.


Old Table

New Table


All of the furniture in the All Stars have laminate surfaces. This allows adults to relax when their kids put wet items on the table and chest-of-drawers.

The old carpet was brighter and a little more festive. It also featured Mickeys in the design. The new carpet is darker and features stars. I think I prefer the old carpet style.


Old Carpet

New Carpet


The ceiling wallpaper boarder is new and more colorful. It now displays the resorts icons which is a nice touch.


Old Wallpaper


New Wallpaper


The drapes have also changed. Gone are the musical features in favor of simple stripes.


Old Drapes

New Drapes


My previous room had a picture of Donald Duck. My new room had a picture of Mickey Mouse. Although I don’t know for certain, I suspect that the pictures change from room to room and have nothing to do with the upgrade.


Donald Picture

Mickey Picture


The only difference I could find in the bath area was the shower curtain. Gone is the plain design for one that features the resort’s icons.


New Shower Curtain


That’s it for the room. Now I’ll take a walk around the resorts and point out a few more changes.

Currently, Mickey is missing from Mount Mickey at All Star Sports. I’m assuming he’s backstage being refurbished.


Mount Mickey

Mount Mickey


Right after I took the above picture, a family walked up to this empty pedestal and encouraged their teenaged daughters to climb up for a photo op. Once on top, each girl took a one-legged “sports” pose. I just cringed.

PLEASE. Do not encourage your children to act irresponsibly. These girls had absolutely no business being atop this high pedestal. I don’t care that there were no signs posted. Common sense tells you that this is a dangerous stunt. If they had fallen, they could have been injured seriously and their hard-earned vacation would have gone down the drain.

In the Touchdown! Section of All Star Sports, the three-dimensional X’s and O’s have been replaced by a football play embedded in the turf. I suspect this change was made for safety reasons.


X's and O's

Football Play


In the Broadway section of Music, the marquees that anchored the main entrances to the buildings have been upgraded. In years past, the marquee surface was full of small holes and “Beauty and the Beast” was the only show spotlighted. Today, the marquee surfaces are solid. In addition, Disney has had many more Broadway shows since the construction of this resort and their posters have been added to the lineup.


Old Marquee

New Marquee

New Marquee


Over at All Star Movies, Herbie is missing from The Winner’s Circle. Once again, I’m assuming that he’s just backstage being refurbished as the plaque describing him is still present.


Winner's Circle

Winner's Circle

Winner's Circle


As you can see, the changes to this resort are minor. This whimsical place is still as much fun as it always was.

To wrap things up, I would like to give my recommendations of which of the fifteen themed areas are best depending on your needs. A particular section can be requested when making your reservation, but not guaranteed.

If you want to be close to the food court, bus stop, and the major pool, stay in the Surf’s Up (Sports), Calypso (Music), or Fantasia (Movies) sections.


Surf's Up

Calypso

Fantasia


If you have young children, I suggest the Toy Story (Movies) section. Your kids can easily relate to the film characters and there is a play area nearby.


Toy Story

Toy Story


If you’re a smoker, the Broadway (Music) section is nice. This area has a lovely secluded park that is wonderful for a relaxing break.


Broadway


If you like to eat alfresco, try the Country Fair (Music) section. There are a number of picnic tables under numerous shade trees. This is a wonderful spot.


Country Fair


If you want a quiet swim, the Mighty Ducks (Movies) section features the least used pool.


Mighty Ducks


If you plan on doing laundry while on vacation, the Mighty Ducks (Movies) and Baseball (Sports) sections are closest to the least busy facilities.


Mighty Ducks

Baseball

RELATED LINKS:
** Reader Reviews All Star Movies

** Reader Reviews All Star Music

** Reader Reviews All Star Sports


That’s it for my relook at the All Star Resort. Check back next week when I start my Tomorrowland series.



The previous post in this blog was I Miss the Little Things.

The next post in this blog is Tomorrowland - Part One.

Comments (26)

JaySwash:

Another great read Jack, thanks.

I would have loved the All Star resort areas as a kid, it was exactly how I imagined WDW would be like waaaay back then. Some of the parts look like something out of a Scooby Doo cartoon. Heh.

When we hit WDW in 3 weeks (WOOO!) the older boys and I are planning on taking a bus tour of the various hotels during our first night while the grandparents relax. Seems like there is a lot of interesting things to see. =)

Jack's Comment:

I think "true Disney fans" should visit all of the resorts, even if they're not staying there. They all are interesting and it's fun to see how Disney has made them all unique. However, this is difficult without a car as it is impossible to go from resort to resort on the bus system.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! I enjoy seeing the resort changes throughout the years. As far as the All Star resorts, I have stayed at Music a few times and Movies once. I liked both.
I think the theme to each of the 3 All Star resorts is cute. I have never minded the over the top architecture. I have always found it to be whimsical. The larger than life statues seem to bring about a little more Disney magic for me...
Speaking of resorts, Have you seen the movie Couples Retreat? What do you think about the DVC area that is being built at the Poly? The "huts" on the water are suppose to be similar to the ones in the movie (just a little insider info I was able to get from a cast member my last visit). :)

Jack's Answer:

Although I like the Yacht, Beach, and Boardwalk resorts and the Swan and Dolphin, they are crammed into this area. It's too tight. There is nothing "natural" left of the surroundings. I feel the same thing is happening around the Seven Seas Lagoon. Disney is using every inch of vacant land to build more DVCs. I think this spoils the atmosphere in the area. But alas, Disney never asks for my opinion.

Cindy:

I'm so upset that they got rid of the x's and o's. They made for great photo ops. I like taking pictures of my son at the same location on different trips and I was looking forward to staying at all star sports again in the future to take some more x's and o's pictures. But I guess I won't do it now. Pooh.

Tricia P.:

Great article as always!

A little while ago Disney was removing all of the mini fridges from the value rooms because there was a defect with them and you could only have one if you had a medical need. Do you know if they have been replaced now so all value rooms have them now?

Thanks!

Jack's Answer:

I really can't answer your question definitively, but since I didn't request a refrigerator and my room had one, I suspect all of the rooms now feature them. Whenever in doubt, request one when making your reservation or when checking in.


Hey Jack,

Love your blogs and have always wanted to thank you for the time you must spend writing them up. Have to tell you, though, I completely disagree with this no bedspread thing Dinsey is doing throughout their resorts. I know it's supposed to be clean and contemporary, but to me it looks like the bed is unmade and really takes away from both the decor of the room and even worse, the themeing. I'm hoping enough people agree with me and complain to Disney so we can go back to having bedspreads and a properly made up room.

Josh Weiss:

Hey Jack
The All Star Resorts are great. Each has an atmosphere all its own. The new food court looks great at the sports resort and I do like that each room has a mini fridge now. Can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

I have to agree with Debbie, that the rooms seem to lose something without bedspreads -- they look incomplete. We are even thinking of bringing our own bedspreads in the future to make the room look more "finished." Seems more like a cost-cutting measure to avoid having to purchase and clean the bedspreads than a decorating decision

Jack's Comment:

Thank you for sharing your views about bedspreads.

Of course, this is completely a personal choice, and there is no wrong or right answer. But let me explain why I like the no-bedspread look. For me, it's all about hygiene. Sheets are changed daily or upon guest request. On the other hand, bedspreads are not changed every time a new guest occupies the room -- unless they LOOK soiled. That means, I have no idea how many stranger's naked butts have sat on that spread or how many baby's diapers have been changed here. So I'll take the cover-sheet.

Irene G.:

I agree with you Jack, experiencing each resort has merit.

When we were on our first vacation with our children, we got to experience a "hurricane vacation" in September 2004, as our oldest daughter, who was 5 at the time explained. Because MCO shut down 15" before our flight, we got to experience the All Star Movie Resort. We were near the Beauty and the Beast sign. Outside of being stir crazy being cooped up in a room with 5 small children during swirling rains and high winds, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. One thing that we will always remember is the hospitality and the amount of truly happy WDW cast members! All that we spoke to had lost something or had damage due to those hurricanes. However, they were happy to be there assisting all of us, most had a undamaged home to go to.

Now, we also did get to stay for three days on another trip, (to help stretch our lodging budget), at the movies again, near the 101 Dalmatian area. There is a lovely area to have the family photo. It looks like a TV, with a rug and one of the pups, Rolly(?) watching TV. We have a cute photo with the youngest "watching" the older sibs on "TV". Also, it was fun watching how the "shows" changed each day when we took the morning family photo.

One thing we can always count on with the Disney company, is impeccable theming!!! Even when you think they would skimp because it is the "cheaper area of the property, think twice!!

Anderson:

You mentioned that you saw two girls climb on the podium where Mickey stood and warned of climbing.

I heard that Herbie was removed due to people climbing and at the Backlot Tour. I may be wrong though...

AtlMom:

My family loves All Star Sports! When we were there just a few weeks ago our room was spotless, castmembers were friendly and helpful, the food at End Zone food court was delicious and the price was awesome - just $110 a night. We will be back again for sure!

Don:

Nice read Jack. I'll have to put a stay at an All Star for a runDisney event. My interest is piqued!

SurfsUp section looks like my favorite. Maybe after Disney installs covered bus stops ;)

Jill Hogg:

Jack,

You hit it on the head when you said these resorts are fun. No matter how luxurious some of the other resorts are, they cannot beat the fun, whimsical atmosphere that all the value resorts emote. When you find yourself staring up at giant brooms carrying buckets, you really feel that Disney magic!

Jim :

Great revisit! We were actually staying there when they were remodeling the food court so nice to see how it turned out. We choose the All Stars resorts often because we can usually get good rates for single night stays and they are fun. I do have one complaint about these resorts as it is so easy to get "lost" driving in the parking lot and end up going from one resort to another missing your building number.

Erin Rix:

Great job, I love reading your reviews!
Do you happen to know if All Star Sports received the same upgrades as your pictures show that Music did?
Thanks

Jack's Answer:

I assume you're referring to the room upgrades... I do not know for certain as I was not able to access any of the rooms in Sports and Movies. However, I am fairly certain the same changes have taken place at all three resorts. If not, I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

C. Evans:

I've been so happy to see most of the resorts going to the cover-sheet! Knowing that bedspreads aren't changed or cleaned after each guest, the first thing I would do is remove it when entering the room. Sorry...I work in healthcare and know a few things about germs! There's nothing "magical" about a round of the norovirus or worse to start off a vacation!

Besides...I really do think the rooms look better now without some dark, dated, and faded bedspread!

Julie:

Hi Jack,
Great review of the All-Stars! My family has stayed at them all. In our experience, we always felt the food court at Movies was designed to accommodate more people. The food court at Sports felt slightly smaller and Music always felt a bit crammed to us. Now that the Sports food court renovations are complete, in your opinion how does it compare to the court at Movies?

Jack's Answer:


I too have always preferred the Movies food court -- and there is a reason.

Sports and Music were built first. Disney greatly underestimated the size of the food ordering area for these two resorts. Noting their mistake, they corrected the problem with Movies. That is why this food court is significantly bigger and easy to see if you pay attention.


Joe C:

Another great post, Jack! Thank you!

Your keen attention to detail is greatly appreciated. While I agree with you that the changes (perhaps with the exception of the food court remodels) are minor, they all represent upgrades to me, and keep the resort fresh feeling! It's very nice to know about them all.

And, count me in the camp that likes the oversheet vs. the bedspread. Much cleaner - in looks and hygiene.

Best,
Joe C

Sandra G:

Thanks, Jack, for the great review. We love AS Music and have stayed there more than a dozen times and once at Movies. I really think the All Stars get no respect, when in fact they are an excellent choice for budget-minded travelers who enjoy being immersed in the whimsy of Disney. Decent food courts, nice pools, pretty landscaping and fun theming make for a nice, relaxing vacation for my family.

We found the rooms made up as you noted the last time we were there, but with no blankets, it was pretty chilly in December. The next day, the bedspreads were back, so they may have been washing them (I've seen them hauled out by Mousekeepers many times). We have always found our rooms to be clean and in good repair. We'll be going back to Music again this year with our free dining in hand!

JMMC:

I have stayed at one of the All-Star resorts and also the Pop Century, which I think is pretty similar in style, and liked them both. I've tried to go to the moderate resorts like Port Orleans, but the Value hotels are a good option if you want to be at a Disney hotel but don't want to break the bank!

They're especially great for younger kids, who I think respond more to a 15-foot Buzz Lightyear than they would to accurately-recreated architecture of the French Quarter!

Rob Dickinson:

Hi Jack,

Thanks for the update!! I'm a huge fan of the All Stars. Always have been. I kinda miss the old comforters until it was explained to me that with the new system Everything can be washed easily. Considering this, I will happily exchange better hygien over a comforter, even if the old ones were better themed. Thanks again!!

Hi, Jack:

I liked your detailed review a lot.

In one of your answers, you wrote:

"...Sheets are changed daily or upon guest request. On the other hand, bedspreads are not changed every time a new guest occupies the room -- unless they LOOK soiled..."

Well, I believe nowadays Disney resorts' sheets are changed every 4 days, when a new guest checks in and upon request. They say it's all because of being a green resort (and in part it is). The same way they give us the option of keeping the towels for multiple use or throwing them in the tub to be washed. But no doubt the economic side of these issues play an important part in Disney's decision. Just notice all the trouble (new machines) and technology (microchips in every mug and paper cup) used for the new soft drink islands in every resort! Just to make a bit more money from frizzy water and syrup.

Do you have any idea if the ratio of guests/ cast members are different between Disney's Art of Animation and the other Value resorts?

Thank you for the great review.

Jack's Comment:

I know the policy for DVCs is that the rooms are only attended to twice a week, but I wasn't aware the sheets were only changed every four days in a standard room. I'll have to check into that. But on my recent visit to All Star Music, I stayed two nights. If I wasn't provided with clean sheets the second night, the maid did a great job of "freshening" them up.

I have no idea what the guest ratios between the Art of Animation and the other value resorts are. Sorry.

Crissy Stout:

As always Jack, loved your post and I agreed with almost every opinion you had.

I just wanted to take a moment to say that I think Lightening McQueen would be a perfect addition to the Winner's Circle!

I'm heading to Disneyland (aka The Motherland) in June. As someone who is very familiar with both parks, I'd love to hear anything you can share (key differences, secrets, etc.).

Thank you for everything you do for all of us Disney fans!

Jack's Answer:

Lightning McQueen is represented at the Art of Animation Hotel in the Cars section.

I've written blogs about both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. Go into the AllEars Search box and type "Jack" and the subject you're interested in.

jen mc:

hey Jack,
Your opening comment" True Disney fans should visit every resort..however a car is needed as the bus system does not go resort to resort". We rent a vehicle while in Disney and I was under the impression you could only visit a resort if you were staying there, no? Could we, ostensibly, drive to the All Star Resorts, park, and check out/use their pool? What about the Beach and Yacht Club Resort pools...same thing???

Jack's Answer:

Pool and laundry services are reserved for guests of that hotel only and I would hope that people would honor this rule. However, no one really checks except at Stormalong Bay located at the Yacht & Beach Club. Here you must provide a Yacht & Beach Resort ID before the cast members will grant you access to the pool.

If all you want to do is look around or have lunch at the food court, just be honest with the guard. It also helps if you have your resort ID out in advance.

People resort-hop all the time to eat at the various restaurants. They only time you would have a problem is if a convention was taking place at the resort and parking was limited. Also, the monorail hotels and the Epcot hotels will sometime require a restaurant reservation number if the parks are busy and they want to discourage people from parking in the resorts to save a parking fee.

Jennifer Carter:

Hi Jack! Thank you for keeping us up to date!!

My Husband and me love the All Star Resorts and have stayed at all of them at least once. They are fun and playful and allow you to feel free like a kid again. We have witnessed one disadvantage to the All Star Resorts. During big events like dance and cheer leading competitions at the ESPN complex, the All Star Resorts tend to be booked solid with these groups. During our last stay, on more than one occasion, we were woken up at 6 am by these groups practicing in the court yards between the buildings. After that happening on our last trip, we decided to pay the extra for a moderate resort. Groups tend not to stay at moderate resorts because they are more expensive. I am sure we will miss the All Star resorts atmosphere and will definitely have to visit them!

Luke Henderson:

I would love to see disney putting more of the drink stations around the resorts. Its a real pain if you are at the very back of a resort and want a drink to have to walk all the way to the food court, fill up and walk all the way back. Because they can no longer be used without the chip, there is less chances of theft.

If they wanted to, they could remove the drink vending machines in the buildings and replace them with the chip drink machines. More so for the super large resorts like Saratoga or Animal Kingdom

Jack's Comment:

I like half of your idea. LOL I like the part where Disney installs more refillable mug stations in the outer buildings. I agree. It is a long walk to the pool and food court from some of the rooms. But I don't like the part about removing the coin-operated drink machines. Since I don't buy the refillable mugs, I still want the convenience that is currently available.

Luke Henderson:

Jack, you are right. Perhaps they can alternate the machines, ground floor has the vending machines, 1st the rfid machines, then vending on 2 and rfid on 3.

I did not think about people who would not purchase the mugs.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 19, 2014 6:05 AM.

The previous post in this blog was I Miss the Little Things.

The next post in this blog is Tomorrowland - Part One.

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