Resort Review: Disney’s Art of Animation

Written by Chris Wood. Posted in Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on September 05, 2012 at 10:00 pm with 19 Comments

Even though it only opened in late May of this year, Disney’s Art of Animation resort is fast becoming one of the most popular resorts on property, and with good reason! Excellent theming, rooms that sleep up to six people, and the best food court on property all combine to make this an ideal resort.

Rooms:

Art of Animation is divided into four sections: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo. The Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo suites are 565 square feet and sleep up to six people. As you walk into your room, you’ll find a table and four chairs, as pictured above, which turns into a bed. I was skeptical at first of the “Innova” bed, thinking that it would be difficult to turn into a bed. But, all it requires for you to do is pull on the upper portion of the bed and the table collapses underneath, revealing a surprisingly comfortable double bed. The chairs stack so you can store them easily.

In the “living room” portion of the outer room, you’ll find an entertainment center with a plasma TV, a chest of drawers, a sofa that converts into a double bed, a coffee table, and a side table. It’s fairly roomy until you fold out the bed and pull the cushions off the sofa, so make sure you keep that area tidy or you’ll be tripping over shoes and pillows. This bed does come with a word of warning: the mattress on this is very firm and probably more suitable for children than adults. If it’s a toss up between the Innova bad and this one, pick the Innova bed!

Right next to the bed you’ll find a refrigerator, microwave, sink, and coffeemaker. There’s also paper towels, paper plates, bowls, and plastic cutlery. Keeping in mind that this is a “green” resort, you’ll also find a recycling bin.

Of course, one bonus of the suites is that there are two bathrooms. The one in the outer area has a tub/shower combo, which is nice if you have younger children who aren’t yet ready for showers. The bathroom in the “master” bedroom has a large walk-in shower.

The cute theming continues into the bedroom, where you’ll find a comfy queen-sized bed. Here, you see the Cars suites with orange cones for lamps. This theme is carried over onto the drapes, carpet, and bedspread. There’s also a large dresser with a plasma TV.

In addition the suites, you can book a standard room in The Little Mermaid section of the resort. These rooms, which will open in mid-September, will have two double beds, just like other Disney value resorts, and are 277 square feet. They’re still putting up drywall in certain buildings so I wasn’t able to get any inside photos, but the outside looks great so far.  I love how everything looks slightly wind-blown.

Dining:

Art of Animation easily has the best food quick-service on property, with specialty burgers, made-to-order pastas, pizza, healthy sandwiches and salads, and even a tan door oven. The variety, especially for adults, is welcomed, but kids might want something a little more familiar.

Because this is a green resort, your meals are served on real plates with stainless flat wear. For takeout, the resort uses mostly earth-friendly packaging.

Amenities:

There are three pools at Art of Animation, one in each section except for the Lion King, which has a large play area instead.

At just under 12,000 square feet, the Finding Nemo pool is the largest on property. It is a salt water pool, thus eliminating harmful chemicals. It’s also a zero entry pool, which makes it ideal for young children. There’s also a water play area and a full-service bar where you can get an adult beverage or just refill your drink mug.

The Cars pool is a semi-circle pool. It’s not a zero entry pool, so it’s not ideal for younger children, but if you’re watching multiple older kids, this is a great area to keep them all contained in. You can even grab some lunch at the food court and head into the “cones” for a break.

Everywhere you go at Art of Animation, you’ll be charmed by the life-sized icons and elaborate theming.

Overall:

At full capacity, the Art of Animation Resort sleeps almost 10,000 people. That’s a lot of guests! While it’s unlikely to ever reach capacity, I do wonder how the resort will “feel” at 85 or 90 percent full. During my stay, the Finding Nemo and Cars section appeared to be full, whereas the Lion King section was a ghost town and, of course, the Little Mermaid section is not open yet. It was blissfully uncrowded, from the bus stops to the pools and food court, but that will change in the next few months I suspect.

I think that Art of Animation is one of the smartest things to come out of Disney in a long time. The company clearly listened to parents who want more space but aren’t up for the budget-busting Disney Vacation Club properties. It’s hard to get a feeling from the pictures, but the theming is extraordinary; you could easily spend a day just taking it all in. Cast members are clearly proud of the effort it took to take this abandoned section of Pop Century and turn it into something very special. I would recommend Art of Animation to any family without hesitation.

You can find Chris here and at Everything Walt Disney World. You can also join her on Facebook for daily Disney updates and photos.

About Chris Wood

Chris Wood is frequent Disney traveler and travel agent. She considers Walt Disney World to be her home park.

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19 Comments

Comments for Resort Review: Disney’s Art of Animation are now closed.

  1. There’s no doubt that this is the nicest of the budget hotels. And it will serve its demographic we’ll. It’s all so big and impressive (on the exterior). The interiors look cheap to me. Like budget motels of yesteryear.

    But these over the top – big static prop – Budgets are just too garrish and swarming with unsupervised kids for me. I’d rather upgrade to a Moderate or stay off property in a comfortable and relaxing spot.

    10,000 is a small town! But not my idea of a restful spot to recover from a long day in the parks. It’s a personal thing. I love the parks to be over the top, but I want my hotel to be peaceful (Like Port Orleans or the Polynesian).

    • I agree with you 100%. I don’t know that I would stay there again for the same reasons–I’m an Animal Kingdom Lodge or Grand Flo kind of person. But you can’t really beat the space if you need it.

  2. I don’t know if it is just my computer but your photos look very blurry. Are you using a point and shoot while using these or a DSLR? If you invest in a DSLR, you can get much higher quality, professional looking photos.

    Overall good article though, however the blurry photos are kind of distracting and it would have been nicer if they were clearer/larger.

    • It’s not you–it’s me. :-) I tried to enlarge the photos and they came out kind of blurry. I have a Nikon Coolpix L810 and it takes blurry photos as well. I really just need to invest in a decent camera.

  3. I agree with Dusty, the outside looks great but the interior looks cheap. I have stayed at Pop Century and at All Star Movies and feel they are a little nicer with the rooms than this property. I can understand the appeal for families, just wish they invested more on the interiors.

    • I think the resort doesn’t show well in pictures (admittedly, mine are awful). In person, it looks a lot better to me than the other values.

    • I was actually surprised at the quality of the interior when I stayed there in August. I was expecting Pop Century/All Star but was surprised. The one area where it is EXTREMELY clear that this is a “value” resort is in the towels and toilet paper. Super thin towels and thin sandpaper. Aside from that – it really exceeded my expectations. I stayed 8 days at Caribbean Beach and then 3 in Art of Animation. I love Caribbean Beach, but wish I would have spent a couple more days at AoA.

      • I have to agree with this–it exceeded my expectations.

        Speaking of towels, did you notice that they don’t have towels at the pools? Kind of inconvenient to have to bring them from your room and then call down to the front desk and get more clean ones.

      • I did notice that! Another hallmark of Value Resort.

  4. These AoA reviews have really been great. Is there any way to get the 411 on what it took to clean out the abandoned structures before finishing them off? I know YouTube has some interesting vids there of people snooping around the abandoned lots. Given their appearance, I don’t think you can just slap some drywall and paint up and call it good. Is this a storyline Disney doesn’t want out?

    • Hi. If there is, I would LOVE to hear it. It does look great though. Lots of fantastic details and tons of work went into this resort.

  5. Not my cup of tea on the inside (suites are way too expensive anyway) but the exteriors and food court may be worth a drive over. Wonder why the Lion King area is feeling so desolate..?

    • I’m thinking most people want to stay at Nemo (which is the “preferred” location right next to the large pool and the food court, or they want Cars, which is still a massive hit with the kids. Combine that with the fact that it’s not a busy weekend to begin with and the resort just wasn’t packed. As an aside, I met someone at the bus stop who was originally staying in two rooms at Pop and they wanted to move. Disney let them move to a Lion King suite at no extra cost.

  6. You say that “Art of Animation is one of the smartest things to come out of Disney in a long time”.

    I could not disagree with you more. This is the main reason:

    Disney is training it’s guests to pay between $250-$415 a night to stay in a resort with rooms that are motel quality. That is insane. Sure you get more space, there are character statures outside and you can buy tandoori chicken at the food court. Paying those prices for a value room with value amenities is craziness. Let’s see what happens after the shine wears off. Either people will feel the money paid is justified for what they are getting or they will realize that they deserve better for that price. Most guests probably don’t know better so they won’t expect better.

    I’m not speaking about Little Mermaid of course since it isn’t open and it seems to be based on the model of the previous value resorts.

    Also Chris, you seemed to be gushing about AoA but then admitted that you probably wouldn’t stay there again for the reasons Dusty gave.

    Was this review based upon a free stay at AoA or did you pay to stay there?

    • Thanks for being so frank.

      No, I didn’t get paid for this. I wish. Disney actually doesn’t like to give anything to bloggers who already write about Disney, instead preferring to give things to mommy bloggers with 10 followers on Facebook in the hopes that they’ll write about that free concierge level cruise on the Fantasy along with the other products (like Craisins!) they review. And no, I’m not exaggerating about this. Did that sound bitter? ;-)

      I think AoA is a smart idea and a fantastic resort, but I probably won’t stay there again with my entire family for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s on the far edge of property. For that location, it’s a trade off: I want something a little more exotic, like Animal Kingdom Lodge (my favorite resort). Otherwise, I’m probably more likely to stay at an Epcot area resort or even Bay Lake Tower, if I can swing the money. Location is HUGE for me. And 2) I prefer to have a kitchen. After many trips with my kids, I just prefer to keep my them on a diet that’s similar to what they eat at home. I love Disney restaurants and we definitely eat at them, but some days I just like to make something that we would normally eat–something healthy and familiar. And okay, maybe organic too. For this reason, I prefer to stay DVC if I’m with my entire family.

      Having said that, I will probably bring my 5-year old daughter down to AoA for a quick weekend in October if I can get a Little Mermaid room. And on adult trips, I’ll stay anywhere because they’re not as rushed.

      I can love a resort and not want to stay there. I think the Treehouse Villas are a great place to stay, but the bus situation means I won’t stay there. Same with the cabins at Ft. Wilderness. But that doesn’t stop me from recommending these resorts to someone else.

      Oh, and I agree about the price. I wouldn’t stay there without a discount, considering you can get a one-bedroom villa for about $150 more a night.

      Thanks again.

      • Thanks for the reply. I know that many bloggers are getting perks but not many disclose it. I appreciate your honesty.

        I still believe that they are extremely overpriced motel rooms. But hey, maybe this will open up more rooms at the moderates and deluxes and that will lead to more discounts.

  7. If I had a passel of little ones, I’d definitely take this over an All-Stars, and that’s what the demographic is for this resort. Going in knowing that, I do think it’s a good idea.
    Nice article.

    • Good point–it’s definitely that demographic.

      Thank you.

  8. I spent 14 days at AoA in August, with the last few days being when the Lion King section opened up. My previous trip was at Pop and we very much enjoyed our stay there. Unfortunately, now that my youngest is considered a guest (over 3) we have a party of 5 and either needed two value rooms or this alternative. Since we do not travel to Disney often (~ 5-7 years between visits) I was not hesitant to spend a little more on a new resort with a kitchenette and especially a second bathroom. We had a great time and loved our room (Building 5 – Nemo Crush) which was conviently located near the pool and animation hall. I thought the deco in the room was nicely done and the space was ample for the 6 of us (my MIL traveled with us). Since we are apt to spend the bulk of our time in the parks and not in the room or necessarily the resort, I am not willing to pay the upcharge for a moderate. We have stayed at POR in the past and I felt the added room cost held no value to me since I didn’t take advantage of many of the resorts amenities.

    I felt it was a great advantage to stay here given the close proximity to at least two of the parks (DHS & Epcot) as well as DTD and typhoon lagoon and having dedicated buses like Pop. I can only imagine, however, what the transportation will be like once the resort is fully opened.

    The food court was very nice although they were still working out the kinks regarding some of the services. My only negative comment would be that some of the offerings were very overpriced, especially the gelato. A small cup was $3.75 while a full,3 scoop ice-cream sundae at Pop was only $3.50. Again, spending most of our time in the parks, we only ate dinner at the resort twice.

    Overall we had a great time here and the staff and amenities were very good. I would definitely consider coming back with my only reservation being any negative effects on the resort at full capacity.

    WESTERN MOUSE – the only structures that were existing before this section of POP was put on hold were the Mermaid buildings and Animation Hall. I have pictures of the site from ’05 when I stayed at POP. I’m guessing that is why the Mermaid section may be the last part to open.