New appreciation for WDW "Value" Resorts.....

Monday, October 15, 2012 1:13 PM

So….I got a last minute call from my work to head to Orlando for a quick overnight business trip. I had marching orders to keep the expenses minimal. I am a HUGE WDW fan and was able to grab a last minute room deal on Expedia for the Pop Century for $85 so I was stoked. Even if it was for only a few hours, staying at a Disney resort and be able to soak in a few minutes of Disney magic made the last minute business trip all worth it.

To put in perspective, I travel around 60 days a year on business and pleasure and my wife and I average 2-3 personal trips to WDW a year. Yes I am a bit of a "hotel snob" and until this trip, I always dismissed the “value” resort category, mostly out of ego. I am fortunate to be able to stay in some pretty nice joints throughout my travels mostly on my company's dime.

Call it ego, call it whatever you want, but I have always stayed in “moderate” or “deluxe” WDW resort properties over the years and never considered the "value" category.

However, after this stay my opinion may have swayed a bit. You can do the Google research and learn all of the details about the Pop Century, but after staying there it begs the question why I have wasted thousands of dollars over the years on moderate resorts. I'll keep the "Deluxe" seperate as they really are in a different category.

The joint was fresh, clean and well themed. Interestingly, the room was pretty much the same exact footprint as a “moderate” room with perhaps one less picture on the wall. If you blindfolded me and stuck me in the Pop Century room, I would not have known the difference.

Was it perfect? Of course not. Yes, there were some scuff marks here and there, but you come across these in all resort categories. The walls are paper thin and the in room amenities are slightly downgraded. But overall, I really have no complaints with the Pop Century, especially if you set your expectations correctly. It was clean, fresh and offered a nice stay.

Bottom line, for half the cost of the moderates, the Pop Century is a hidden gem to the moderate resorts. Again, I will put the “Deluxe” resorts in a different category and if you have the coin to justify a $300+/night room rate…..go for it. I just have so much internal struggle dropping midtown NYC room rates for WDW when the rooms really aren’t that great when you think about it.

Bottom line, for less than $100 a night, the Pop Century might be one of the best kept secrets on WDW property, especially if you are trying to save a buck and your ego can handle the "value" category.

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Monday, October 15, 2012 3:11 PM

I'm a hotel snob as well, but I've stayed at Pop Century on all four on-site stays I've done. It's clean and in pretty good shape, lots of pools, and the cafe seems to keep up with the mob of people every morning. When you do packages with the dining plan and such, the rooms seem practically free. Considering how little time you spend in the room, typically, I think it's stupid to stay off-property. Also, because of the size of the value resorts, the transportation departure frequency is very high.

I'm actually staying at Beach Club next time, but it's only because I'm paying for proximity to Epcot, since my son will be with his grandparents, and we're ready for a good stumble home from the park.

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Monday, October 15, 2012 4:17 PM

I think our room at Wilderness Lodge was better than either of the two hotels I stayed at in Manhattan (Grand Hyatt at Grand Central and Marriott Marquis Times Square). The amenities, quality, and size of room were all much better in Florida.

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Monday, October 15, 2012 8:53 PM

Room size isn't hard to win outside of city hotels, that's for sure (Vegas being an obvious exception).

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Monday, October 15, 2012 10:11 PM

Jeff said:

When you do packages with the dining plan and such, the rooms seem practically free. Considering how little time you spend in the room, typically, I think it's stupid to stay off-property.

It might be stupid for you to stay off property based on your travel habits ´╗┐but not everyone travels the same way. I have two small children and nap time is a must if we are to make it through the day. That means around lunch time we head back to our accommodations and have lunch there before the kids take a nap. We also have breakfast there as well. We eat dinner in the parks.

This time around in January we are staying at a timeshare less than 10 minutes from Epcot. It's a three bedroom unit with three bathrooms, a must for a party of eight. Two units at a value resort would cost close to $1000 for a three night stay. With maintenance costs and exchange fees it's cheaper to stay at the time share by $200. Figuring in rental cars and parking it's effectively a wash. However, we'll come out ahead once food is figured in. If we were staying for the week we would be way ahead.

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Monday, October 15, 2012 10:27 PM

Enjoy the Beach Club, Jeff....my wife and I are staying there for the first time in December just to "give it a try".

From all of the research I have done, I don't see what the big deal is with this resort, but everyone raves about it so we wanted to see what the hype is all about. And at the $260 “bargain” rate we got, it still makes me sick that we are spending that much for a room at WDW. But you only live once.....

With respect to the location, I have a good friend who works for Starwood who has hooked me up with some ridiculous room rates for the Swan/Dolphin over the years. So we have stayed there multiple times and the location of the boardwalk resort area is worth every penny.

We don't travel with kids and for whatever reason we always seem to end up at Epcot most nights for some beers and Illuminations. The best part about having your hotel in the boardwalk area is that you can watch Illuminations wherever you want and don't have to play “running of the bulls” to the main entrance when the show is over. The International Gateway is one of the best kept secrets of Epcot and not having to manage the crowds at the end of the night makes the location the best on property, in my opinion.

Seriously, there is nothing better than taking your grand ole' time leaving Epcot with a good buzz and strolling back to your resort at your own pace with not a worry in the world about any “crowds”.

And let’s not forget the Studios….which while a hike, is also a nice walk back at the end of the night if you have the energy and want to burn some calories.

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Monday, October 15, 2012 10:29 PM

Not an uber-geek, but I happened to look up Disney rates today because they sent me an email with a discount code. A value resort room in January was a little less than $75 per night, so a 3-night stay with two rooms would be less than half of your estimate.

That's with a 25% discount, but even if you were paying full price, it'd still be $600, not 1k.

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Monday, October 15, 2012 10:42 PM

From my extensive research over the years, if you are dropping much more than $100 a night for a Value room, you aren’t doing enough internet research digging for specials. If you are good, and at the right time of year, you can get a Value room for close to $70 a night.

In general, Value rooms run around $90-$100 a night. Moderates will set you back around $165-$180 a night and Deluxe resorts are anywhere from $250-$500 a night.

If you can get a Deluxe Resort for less than $250 a night, grab it….it is a steal and worth the splurge….

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:06 AM

Mulfinator said:
Two units at a value resort would cost close to $1000 for a three night stay.

As others have said, if you're paying that much, you're doing it wrong. In every stay I've had, the room component was always under $100 a night, except perhaps one that was during a peak time. I priced it recently for the week after Thanksgiving, and the rate was around $90 for Pop Century (subtracting the rates for the dining plan and park tickets, which most agree is the inflexible portion of Disney's pricing strategy).

And I love not having a car. I'm also going for parent of the year, because I ask my kid to nut-up and power through without a nap. He's 2, but whatever. (Actually, he's not going with us next time.)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 6:09 AM

kpjb said:

Not an uber-geek, but I happened to look up Disney rates today because they sent me an email with a discount code. A value resort room in January was a little less than $75 per night, so a 3-night stay with two rooms would be less than half of your estimate.

That's with a 25% discount, but even if you were paying full price, it'd still be $600, not 1k.

We must be looking at different dates. We don't have a choice but to go over the weekend and take two days off. I might be doing it wrong but there are only certain times I can take off work.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 7:35 AM

I'm coming up with $74 weekdays and $86 weekends for January at All-Star Sports. Don't know what to tell you beyond that.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 6:06 PM

I guess you have to click the special offers tab. Disney doesn't automatically give you the best rate. Very sly of them. For the type of vacation that we are taking I'm happy with our decision to stay at the timeshare. I don't think everyone finds "value" in the value resorts. I certainly wasn't impressed with my limited visit to one.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 9:07 PM

What they give you online is never the best deal. You have to call to get a better deal, even when they send you a direct mail piece with some kind of code.

There's a point at which you have to be suspect of what you get in a hotel room. I get suspicious for anything under a hundred bucks, as experience demonstrates you're at risk for some nasty places. Disney value resorts tend to be around that threshold, but are nicer than your average Franchise Inn, and certainly have better service. That they pick you up at the airport and shuttle you around the resort (obviously in their best interest) is a nice bit of icing, certainly.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 9:47 PM

My family just got back from 10 days down there. We stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort. Slightly more expensive, we chose that for tropical theme and many pools. We weren't doing parks every day so wanted to relax and not have to deal with crowded pools and to many kids.

My other family stayed at Pop and loved it!

Best thing about Disney was MEAL PLAN!! AMAZING!

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