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Sue Holland

Pools & Recreation at Disney's Value Resorts

Disney provides more than just the ordinary pool

Friday, June 11, 2004
By Sue Holland , staff writer

Photo by Sue Holland.

When Disney created the four resorts in their “value” class, in exchange for a significantly lower room rate there were significantly fewer amenities. Meant to compete with the many motels located near Walt Disney World, these resorts were built without marinas, water slides, beaches and other recreational offerings.

However, Disney did include lots of theming, and some popular swimming pools. The three All-Star Resorts (Sports, Music and Movies) were built first, and are considered sister resorts. A guest staying at any one of them is permitted to use the pools at all three resorts. Since they are located right next to each other, it is very easy to walk or drive from one to another. Pop Century is the newest value resort and is located a few miles away from the All-Stars complex. It currently is half completed, and when the second half opens (no date set) the guests at either resort should be able to use the pools at amenities in both places.

Swimming is the No. 1 recreational activity at the value resorts. The pools tend to be open from 7:00 a.m. until midnight, with lifeguards on duty at all pools from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Towels need to be brought from your room here, unlike at the other resorts where pool towels are available in big bins right at the pool. At the value resorts guests need to call housekeeping to request replacement towels, which seems like a waste of time. Life vests are available for small children, and can be obtained from the nearest pool bar or lifeguard.

Surfboard Bay pool at All-Star Sports. Photo by Sue Holland.

Disney's All-Star Sports Resort has five sections, each themed to a different sport (surfing, tennis, baseball, football and tennis). The main pool is located in the Surf's Up section, just beyond the main building containing the front desk, food court, and merchandise shop. This is the larger of the two pools at this resort, and a small kiddie pool is located in the same area.

Grand Slam Pool at All-Star Sports. Photo by Sue Holland.

The second pool at Sports is located in the baseball section. Shaped like a baseball diamond, there is even an island in the center that serves as the pitcher's mound. On it is a statue of Goofy is loading baseballs into a pitching machine. Both pools have a wide deck area with plenty of chairs available to accommodate the almost-2,000 guestrooms.

Each All-Star Resort also has its own arcade, which can be popular with the children. The arcades are located in the main building, across from the food court area and around the corner from the front desk. The arcades are large, and have doors to keep the noise from disturbing people nearby.

All-Star Music's Calypso Pool. Photo by Sue Holland.

At Disney's All-Star Music Resort there are also two swimming pools, with the main one themed to the musical style of calypso but in the shape of a guitar. The five sections of the resort are calypso, jazz, rock, country and Broadway. A kiddie pool is located near the Calypso pool, and a small playground is similarly not too far from the main pool at each All-Star Resort. The playground is not visible from the pool, however. The pool bar and food court are a short stroll away.

All-Star Music's Piano Pool. Photo by Sue Holland.

Toward the back of the resort between rock, country and Broadway is the second pool, which is shaped like a piano. This one is significantly smaller than the main pool, but can be a good choice when looking for a more peaceful experience. During late afternoon there is some shade at this pool, which can be hard to find at many other pools.

Fantasia Pool at All-Star Movies. Photo by Sue Holland.

Disney's All-Star Movies Resort also has five distinctly themed sections, honoring five popular Disney movies. They are 101 Dalmatians, Mighty Ducks, Fantasia, The Love Bug and Toy Story. The Fantasia pool is considered the main pool, and as such is the larger of the two. The oversized brooms carrying buckets of water are an especially whimsical touch, and the two buildings on either side of the pool represent the original and newer versions of the movie Fantasia.

Duck Pond Pool at All-Star Movies. Photo by Sue Holland.

The second pool at All-Star Movies is found in the Mighty Ducks section. This one seems more heavily themed than the pools at either Sports or Music, and is one of the pools I most enjoy. There are a couple of oversized goalie nets, complete with statues of the goalies. The pool is a decent size and rarely feels crowded, and is not far from any of the sections of the resort.

In addition to swimming at the All-Star Resorts, there is always the option of walking around to see the various icons in each section. Joggers will enjoy the sidewalk that begins by All-Star Movies and continues—crossing the road near McDonald's—down past Blizzard Beach to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. A round trip from Movies is approximately five miles. Rollerblading and skateboarding are not permitted inside the resorts, but should be possible on this sidewalk. There is also a large football field located at All-Star Sports between the two football buildings. Quite often guests can be found tossing a football back and forth here, or playing a friendly game.

Hippy Dippy Pool at Pop Century. Photo by Sue Holland.

Disney's Pop Century Resort is home to three pools shared by nearly 5,000 guest rooms. The main pool is located in the 1960s section and is themed to the Hippie era. Called the Hippy Dippy Pool, this one is in the shape of a large flower, with lots of flower-power décor. Petals Pool Bar is nearby, and located closer to the pool than the bars at the All-Star Resorts.

Bowling Pool at Pop Century. Photo by Sue Holland.

The 1950s section is home to a pool shaped like a bowling pin. Sets of real bowling balls are mounted near the end, and large bowling pin icons cover the stairwells of the three buildings in this section. A guest laundry is located next to this and all of the other pools at the value resorts. Music played here is from the 1950s, and it usually is not overly crowded.

Computer Pool at Pop Century. Photo by Sue Holland.

Between the 1980s and 1990s sections is the Computer Pool. This pool is essentially just a square—the pool represents the computer monitor. Along the pool deck is a large cushioned keyboard that does not have much purpose other than to let you know the square pool is a computer! The deck area is quite large, and if a quiet pool without a crowd is what you want, this is probably the best bet at Pop Century.

Pop Century is also a good resort for simply walking round looking at the various icons and whimsical décor. There area few locations where a Twister game has been set up, allowing guests who so choose to stop and play a quick game. There is an area that young children love, where water squirts up from the ground just like in Epcot or the Marketplace in Downtown Disney. Between the two buildings in the 1970s section is a giant foosball game. It is strictly décor, some children enjoy running through the middle of the “game."

Joggers will find a very nice paved path along the lake, and can request a map from the front desk to find the starting and ending points of the 1.38-mile jogging trail. Once the second Pop Century resort opens, joggers will be able to run completely around the lake. Disney's service vehicles also use this path, so rollerblading and skateboarding are not permitted. Video game fans can play to their heart's content in the Fast Forward Arcade.

While the value resorts may not have all the amenities found at the other resorts, the quality of what they do have surpasses their off-site competition. Guests at the value resorts are welcome to use the recreational offerings (excluding pools) at any of the other more expensive resorts. Whichever resort you choose, some of the favorite trip memories may be the hour or two spent at the pool or wandering around the resort.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Sue here.


Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”


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