I don’t know about you, but rather than staying at Walt Disney World’s finest, I’ve always found magic and charm in staying at the Value Resorts. In fact, they’re all I’ve ever stayed at for my Disney trips. Full of fan-favorite Disney characters, larger-than-life novelty items, and specific resort soundtracks to match each theme, these resorts never fail to add an extra layer of magic to my vacation.

The first of the Value Resorts to open was All-Star Sports in 1994, followed by All-Star Music, both of which will celebrate their 30th anniversaries this year. All-Star Movies joined the All-Star trio in 1999, themed around classic Disney films, including a section dedicated to Pixar’s first blockbuster, Toy Story. Pop Century opened in 2003, taking guests on a journey through the decades for over 20 years, while Art of Animation concluded the Value Resorts in 2012 as a tribute to the talented artistry behind vibrant films like The Little Mermaid and Cars.

Each Value Resort is a special experience in its own right, but here is how I would rank them based on my personal stays.

5. All-Star Movies

Ironically, All-Star Movies is the resort I’ve stayed at the most, but there’s a reason it ranks last on the list. Unfortunately, in my experience, this resort isn’t always the cleanest. I’ve encountered unkept pathways, dirty tables in the food court, and even unchanged sheets in my bed upon check-in.

But this resort does have its plusses, the first being the movie magic that’s brought to life throughout each section. For a Toy Story fanatic like me, it’s the ideal place to stay, roomed somewhere between a gigantic Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Other sections include 101 Dalmatians, Herbie, Mighty Ducks, and Fantasia, which themes the main pool, overlooked by Sorcerer Mickey magically shooting water down onto swimming guests.


4. All-Star Sports

My one and only experience staying at All-Star Sports was an interesting one, and it happened last year. To keep it short, my stay started with discovering the cast of A Bug’s Life occupying every surface of my room and ended with an unexpected, early checkout due to a family emergency.

Yes, the room wasn’t up to par, but I don’t want this to take away from the magic I experienced from the resort cast members. From referring to me and my guests as “princesses” to offering us a brand new, clean room to accommodating our unexpected checkout, these cast members are true MVPs. As someone who isn’t hugely into sports, I’d always worried I would feel out of place at this resort, but the sporty theme didn’t overtake the magical ambiance.


3. All-Star Music

All-Star Music was the first resort I ever stayed in, back during my very first Disney World trip at 8 years old. As an 8-year-old, I remember what stood out to me was the piano-shaped pool and the statue of my favorite princess.

This resort celebrates the power of music with big instruments like guitars and maracas scattered around the property, and statues of memorable music-making characters like Ariel and The Three Caballeros. Albeit cleaner than its fellow All-Stars, this resort sits in the middle of the list for being so similar to the others, with nothing standout about it.


2. Pop Century

When I was 9 years old, flowers and peace signs became my icons, and a lot for the ’60s was born. So, it only made sense to stay at the newly opened Pop Century for what was my second-ever Disney World trip. I loved the 60s section as a child, but when I finally returned to this resort as a 20-something, I found appreciation for the ’50s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s sections as well.

The gigantic Mickey telephone in the 70s section reminded me of the same one my grandmother used to have and the Pac-Man characters in the 80s section took me back to my first arcade job and the antique laptop in the 90s section certainly made me feel old, but this resort is popping with nostalgia for adults while still being full of beloved characters for younger guests. Plus, it’s one of the few resorts that offer the Disney Skyliner as a transportation option!


1. Art of Animation

This may seem biased coming from a major The Little Mermaid fan, but yes, Art of Animation is my number one resort. I knew from the moment I first saw it that I’d love it, and it’s never disappointed. As soon as you walk in, you’re immersed in artistic genius and iconic Disney songs. From there, you have the chance to go under the sea in The Little Mermaid section, brave the Pride Lands in The Lion King section, just keep swimming through the ocean with Nemo and friends in the Finding Nemo section, and race your way around Radiator Springs in the Cars section.

Although it’s the priciest of the Value Resorts, Art of Animation offers both standard rooms and family suites that are themed around the resort rather than simply the Fab Five, three pools, a variety of meals at the Landscape of Flavors food court, and transport on the Disney Skyliner. And if that isn’t enough, this resort features 2,500 sculpted statues of everyone’s favorite characters, from Lightning McQueen to Timon and Pumbaa, making for ideal photo opportunities.

The post Ranking All 5 Walt Disney World Value Resorts first appeared on The DIS.