On my last trip to Disney World in April 2018, we booked four nights over at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. It was the final value resort that I needed to stay at (and get the pin badge for!) at Disney World to say I’d stayed at every value hotel on property. I only have a few more hotels to tick off my list!
A bit of background on Art of Animation. Located on Hourglass Lake, it originally started life as the add-on to Pop Century Resort but Disney abandoned those plans somewhere around 2001 and the site stood half built for a few years. Then in 2012, it opened as a new value resort called Art of Animation which is the resort you can stay in today.
Staying at Disney means you can get the Magical Express to and from Orlando International Airport for free and once you’re here, Disney buses are free to all the parks across the resort.
When you arrive at Art of Animation, you’ll first come into the lobby which is pretty spectacular. One side is lined with concierge and check-in desks with bright multicolour gradient light panels while the other wall is filled with sketches from the four Disney films represented at the resort. It’s pretty special. The lobby sets the tone for the entire resort which is based on the drawings and films from the four Disney movies; The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars.
We stayed in the Little Mermaid section (which is the part that was built as part of the Pop Century expansion). It is the furthest section from the resort check-in and amenities but it’s really not that far in the grand scheme of things – perfectly walkable but don’t worry, you can park your car near there too. It also has its own pool. Rooms are motel style with doors to the rooms on the outside of the building. There are three blocks – Ariel, King Triton and Ursula which are two stories and all served by lifts, ice and vending machines.
Firstly let’s talk about how perfect the theming is. Disney has spared no detail. There are two story high versions of the characters, the pool plays music when you’re under the water (at The Big Blue Pool in Finding Nemo which all Art of Animation guests are welcome to use) and my favourite fact, all the fish on the building are swimming away from Ursula and towards Ariel and Triton. There are many of Ariel’s trinkets dotted around the resort including the Eric statue – see many Instagram posts with the caption ‘why Eric, run away with you?’
The rooms themselves are small but comfortable. There are two double beds (warning they are on the small side of ‘double’) with shell headboards, a dressing area with ironing board, a fridge, a small safe (still fitted in my 13-inch MacBook and passports but not a lot else) and a very under the sea themed bathroom. You can certainly tell this is one of Disney’s newer resorts as the rooms are still fairly fresh. The beds were super comfy and there’s a curtain to pull over the dressing area for a bit of extra privacy.
Let’s talk about mousekeeping – you can now opt out of it. If you’d prefer to not have the daily service you can now swap that for a $10 gift card per night of your stay (excluding the first night as somebody has made the room up for you!) This gift card can then be used anywhere across Disney on food, merchandise and park tickets. If you need fresh towels, toilet roll or soap, you can call down to reception and somebody will come and bring you some. Note however that just because you are not having the maid come in, a Disney cast member will still enter your room every day to do a security check.
Other Amenities at Art of Animation
Like with all other Disney Value Resorts, there’s a huge food court called ‘Landscapes of Flavors’ serving many different options rather than your standard burger and chips – just look at the menu! There’s plenty of indoor seating and a bit of outdoor. You can ask for takeaway boxes if you want to take food to your room or to the pool. They also offer the refillable drink mugs which are perfect if you’re having a pool day. It was really nice to be able to grab breakfast here in the mornings – something I’ve missed being able to do at other Disney resorts who don’t have a similar food court. Also…
Other amenities at the resort include a photo booth, laundry services, movies under the stars (Disney show a different movie on the big screen each night in their outdoor space between The Lion King and Finding Nemo), a children’s playground, Pixel Play Arcade and fishing (if that’s your thing!)
There is also a huge gift shop with lots of Disney merchandise available. Don’t forget when you’re out shopping in the parks, if you see something but don’t want to carry it around all day, you can have it sent back to your room at any Disney World resort. You usually then collect it from the gift shop and at Art of Animation, that was no different.
Other Areas of Art of Animation
Art of Animation has four separate themed areas; The Little Mermaid, Cars, The Lion King and Finding Nemo. The three later areas are all family suites so much bigger than The Little Mermaid rooms. They’re all themed incredibly well with lots of photo opportunities around the whole resort. The suites can sleep up to six adults and has a bigger communal space with a sofa (which becomes a bed) and a bigger dining table and bathroom.
The Finding Nemo section is home to ‘The Big Blue Pool’, Art of Animation’s main pool which can only be accessed by magic bands of those staying at the resort. It is closest to the food court and also has a pool bar called ‘The Drop Off’. The Cars section also has its own pool themed around The Cosy Cone Motel and if you’re there early enough, you can bag yourself your own cosy cone to stay in the shade.
So would I stay at Art of Animation again? Yes, I would but I think I’d like to try a suite next time. The theming and amenities of the hotel are brilliant although it still doesn’t top Port Orleans Riverside which after all these years, is still my favourite Disney resort. Art of Animation will soon be accessible by the brand new Skyliner Transportation system and will share access with Pop Century resort so that would be pretty cool to try!
Have you stayed at Art of Animation before? Thinking of booking?
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