There are 5 hotels in Disney World classed as Value resorts - meaning they are more budget friendly than some of the other hotels on property. These are:
So, given that there is a choice, and they have similar features, which would we recommend as the best Disney value resort?
Best Disney Value Resort: Price
If you are choosing any of these hotels, it is likely that you are budget conscious. If literally every penny counts, you'll want to go for one of the All Star resorts. Their standard rooms are the cheapest on property. Aside from theming, there is very little difference between these three resorts. You will usually find that one is coming up slightly cheaper than the others - this will purely be based on availability - i.e. perhaps All Star Sport has some 'standard' rooms left available, while All Star Music does not. We'd simply recommend going for whichever is offering you the best deal for your travel dates, or pick the theme you prefer. The shared bus goes form Sports, to Music, to Movies, if that impacts your decision.
Best Disney Value Resort: Overall
However, assuming the same level of room is available, there is usually only a very small difference in the cost of Pop Century, compared to the All Star resorts. If your budget can stretch to it, we would typically recommend this very slight increase and 'upgrade' to Pop Century, above All Stars. We do this for two reasons.
Firstly, transport. The All Star resorts share a bus between the three resorts, meaning your trip to the parks has to go around all three hotels before it leaves for the day. So either you've got a bit of a wait to get going while it tours, or there is a chance the bus will be fairly full before it pulls into your stop. Pop Century does not share a bus with any other resort, meaning it has the advantage over the All Star hotels. Additionally, from Autumn 2019, the new Skyliner will connect Pop Century and Art of Animation to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. A huge advantage over the All Stars.
It is worth noting that even if you are planning on driving yourself to most of the parks, we'd still recommend getting the bus to Magic Kingdom, as only the Disney buses deliver you to the park gates. If you drive to Magic Kingdom, you need to get a boat or monorail over from the car park. It is a great perk of staying at a Disney resort, so make sure you take advantage of it!
The second reason we usually recommend Pop Century over the All Star Resorts is that is is slightly less likely to be accommodating large groups. Disney hosts huge events throughout the year, such as cheerleading competitions and sports events etc. These large groups of school age kids are almost always accommodated at the All Star resorts. While it is highly unlikely that there would be any trouble, they might be a bit noisier than your average family guest, and can also overtake the pools and other public facilities just a little. Certainly not worth worrying about, but might perhaps be worth choosing the alternative Pop Century resort, just in case.
Best Disney Value Resort: Newest
So what about Art of Animation? As one of Disney World's newest hotels, it probably has the most appeal of all the Value resorts. The theming is fantastically well done and it also has the best foodcourt - the Landscape of Flavors. Like Pop Century, it also has its own bus route and will be a Skyliner resort from Autumn 2019. It is probably the 'best' Disney value resort.
However, it typically has the price tag to accompany it. The Little Mermaid rooms are the standard rooms, comparable to the rooms at the other Value resorts. However, from a price point of view, they are more expensive again. If you are choosing a value resort, budget is likely to be a factor, and it is a stretch to call Art of Animation a 'value' resort based on cost, yet it doesn't have the additional advantages of the moderates (room size, better facilities).
When we would recommend Art of Animation, is when your travel party requires more than just a standard room. They are one of few hotels in Disney that will accommodate 6 people in their Family Suites, with two bathrooms. These suites make up the bulk of the rooms in the hotel and are much better value than having to book two separate rooms elsewhere.
So, which value resort should you choose? If money is no factor we'd say All Stars < Pop Century < Art of Animation. However if money is no factor, consider one of the moderate or deluxe resorts. Typically, we suggest Pop Century as the best Disney value resort, as it is a good compromise in budget vs facilities, unless a very tight budget or party size lead you in another direction. But honestly - there is no bad choice!