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Posted by on Jan 19, 2009 in Stories | 0 comments

What I herd at Disney (about their All Star Value Resorts)


You’re eyes and grammar-sense are not deceiving you, the title does read “herd” instead of “heard” because that’s likely what you’ll find in the world’s most traveled theme park – scores of guests cramming from one attraction to the next.

If you’ve read my other articles, “Yes, Orlando is expensive” and “Life in the speed-pass lane”, you’ve no doubt come to the inescapable conclusion that just because the marketing tells starry-eyed travelers magic awaits doesn’t mean that magic won’t turn you into a toad (or in this case, a Survivor contestant). Make no mistake about it; theme parks largely turn metropolitan sophisticates into pseudo Mosquito Coast survivalists.

In the abovementioned articles, particulars to saving time and money are staples, but this one is about real-time, real money and real experience –from this Thanksgiving’s weekend stay at one of Disney’s All Star Value Resorts.

If you are driving to the heart of Orlando’s attractions (the actual geography is Lake Buena Vista), you are going to have to endure the roadway know as I-4.

This is perhaps worse than trying to navigate a three passenger unicycle thru downtown Boston. Not that there’s a spaghetti resemblance of Boston’s roadways, but construction is ever present and miles of motorists trying to determine which exit to take with speeds incongruently increasing and decreasing makes for an ample amount of soft whiplash and four-legged family members kissing the dashboard flying from the back seat.

The biggest practical joke you’ll ever unwittingly play on yourself is to save up to $40 per night by staying at one of Disney’s “All Star Value Resorts”. What you’ll find is that the word “resort” is used loosely and the forty bucks you saved on the room won’t pay for the anger management therapy you’ll need after your stay…and here are the main reasons:

1) The ASVRs are more difficult to find than DB Cooper. With signage directing guests more insensible than male pattern baldness, it definitely takes practice and a photographic memory to go from a park to a resort.

2) ASVRs rooms are smaller than a Smart car and although endurable for a couple, are simply not fit for families. The mouse-head towel origami on your imitation twin bed won’t long divert your attention from the paper thin walls, implausibly loud toilets and sinks, and non-stop traffic.

3) ASVRs restaurants are really nothing more than an overcrowded cafeteria of cynical staff, grumpy guests and 1900’s land-grab table etiquette. They certainly aren’t the value (or the deliciousness) the advertising boasts – attempting to savor Ramen noodles on a NYC subway train is preferable to this experience; the same goes for room service. Pizzas are thin, greasy and pizza flavored Combos have more culinary appeal.

4) Televisions in the ASVRs are preset loudly to the park info channel – when you hit the power button on the remote, be sure to have earplugs ready for use. (Here’s another fun TV programming fact, there are about 40 stations to choose from, thirty-seven of which are Disney this or Disney that – you will be bludgeoned with magical marketing that will turn your emotion from irritation to a white-hot-hate to numbness.)

5) Courtesy buses are scheduled to run every twenty minutes from the ASVRs to the parks – possibly the longest twenty minutes you’ll ever wait because it is actually 30-plus minutes. (One way taxi ride from ASVR to Epcot runs about $14 to $17 dollars, depending on which resort you’re staying. And parking will cost you just as much.) Moreover, courtesy buses fill quickly as lines form and lengthen quickly – be prepared to wait for two “turns”.

The point being, what is more important: more cash or more enjoyment? Anyone traveling to Orlando ought to be aware that caveat emptor is the guide by which you could save yourself a lot of time and grief.

By Owen Edward

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