I'm usually a value resort kind of girl. Let's face it, I'm not a baller and a Disney World vacation in general pretty much drains my budget, especially since I now have a four-times-per-year-habit. I opt for the Pop because it is the best of the best as far as the value resorts are concerned. The biggest difference is that the other three, All Star Sports, All Star Music and All Star Movies all share busses. This can really add a chunk of time onto your trip to a park if you are the first stop and have to sit through a trip to two other resort hotels. Granted, the three All Stars are very close to one another, but if I have the choice of stopping at at least one other resort or stopping at none, you bet I will put my money on the Pop. I like the theming of Pop Century too, though I do wish that they would have continued to build up the other side of the Generation Gap bridge and let us see what the '20s, '30s and '40s would have looked like, Disneyfied.
I have stayed at a few moderate resorts in my day including Port Orleans Riverside and Caribbean Beach (before the pirate makeover). I definitely prefer Port Orleans Riverside to Caribbean Beach as far as theming and proximity to the parks go. Port Orleans Riverside has the looks and theming of a deluxe resort, and would be my pick for a moderate. I liked Caribbean Beach, don't get me wrong. I especially liked the manmade beach, sporting hammocks as far as the eye can see. It did not have the same charm as Port Orleans Riverside does, it's true I have not been back since the pirate overhaul, but I can't see how that could add a good dose of charm, maybe just a lot of fun and eye patches. Money is still key, though. For the time that I spend in my hotel while on a Disney vacation, I would rather skimp on the hotel and stay at Pop Century than splurge for even a moderate resort. Laugh if you will, but when you add it up, it becomes the difference between dining at counter service for most of my trip instead of sit-down restaurants, or taking a later, cheaper flight because I blew my budget on a hotel that I will only use to sleep (and maybe to build a little fort).
Finally, the big guns, the deluxe resorts. I know what you're thinking, no way this cheap-o has even breathed the same air as a deluxe resort. But you, my friend, are wrong. With someone else footing the bill, I have stayed at all three monorail resorts and The Yacht Club. I can definitely see why people lay out the dough to stay at these resort hotels, not only are they beautifully themed, but the convenience can really be worth the money (maybe in the low season). Of the three monorail hotels, I enjoyed the Polynesian the best. I did not stay in the main building, but in one of the offshoots and it felt like home. I could walk to the beach (hammocks again!), see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom and both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot were only a short monorail ride away. Also, there were torches donning the footpaths at night and you know what I always say, you can't go wrong with torches. As for second place for the monorail resorts? I have to say it is a tie. I really loved the Grand Floridian but it felt, at times, like the guests were putting on airs because they were in a fancy Victorian Era-esque hotel. Give me a break, you're not in the real Victorian Era, you're in Disney World! I do have to say, though, I really enjoyed being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom, my favorite of the parks, and at times, I did enjoy the fanciness of it all. You can also easily walk to the Magic Kingdom from The Contemporary, which really comes in handy at park closing when thousands of people are exiting the park. After staying in both the main tower and one of the smaller buildings, I enjoyed the main tower more. It was always bustling and made you feel like you were really in the Contemporary. Heck, the monorail was stopped just a few floors below where I was sleeping, how cool is that?
The Yacht Club is up there with the Polynesian for being a really, really awesome deluxe resort. You can walk to two parks! Are you kidding me? Walk to two parks? That's right, I said you can walk to two parks! Holy moly, now that is awesome. Staying at the Epcot Resorts also allows you to use the World Showcase entrance to Epcot. This is extra convenient because the lines are so much shorter and you don't have to wait with all the rif raff from the Pop (just kidding, love you Pop! Call me!). It also blew my mind that you could so easily board a boat to Hollywood Studios if you didn't feel like taking that ten minute walk. You could walk to the boardwalk and visit all of the shops and see the street performers at night, too. There was not a moment of rest at The Yacht Club, there was always something new to do, that was really close by. This is definitely one of the more convenient hotels. Sure, it had the feeling of uppityness (especially that key-card-only-fifth-floor) but I could easily look past that for all it had to offer.
Someday, when money is not an issue, I would be happy to try out the other Epcot Resort hotels and give them a whirl. They are just so convenient and are removed from the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom resort hotels. Don't get me wrong, I'll gladly stay at the Polynesian, Contemporary of the Grand Floridian again; I'm not picky but unless you're willing to pay for room and board, I'll stick with Pop Century for now.