Yep - we prefer staying onsite and I agree with Karen - The Art of Animation is a great spot (as is Pop Century). It is pretty central to everything but has better theming than Pop Century. I also think Art of Animation has the best food court of all the value resorts. It is a bit more expensive though for singles and couples as they only have one section that isn't family suites (The Little Mermaid area) - so that forces a higher price-point compared to Pop.
Getting to Universal for the day was fairly easy. We just booked a Mears town car to pick us up in the morning from The Art of Animation lobby and drop us off at one of the Universal Hotels. We then walked to parks. Likewise we had a 9pm pick up from that same hotel to drop us off at Art of Animation. It was cheapish and easy - I just booked it online and paid upfront.
DLR: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015
HKDL: 2006 (Mar & Sept), 2011 (Apr & Dec), 2014
TDR: 2008, 2010, 2017
WDW: 2006, 2013 (Mar & Sept), 2016
DCL: 2013, 2015 (Alaska & Hawaii)