Resort Report: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

To learn more, listen to WDW Radio Show # 620

Disney’s Art of Animation opened in May 2012 as the 5th value category resort on Disney property. The resort was built on the site originally slated to be the Legendary Years section of Disney’s Pop Century, but was abandoned after the economic downturn of September 11th.  The reimagination of the project quickly became one of the favorite places to stay for those looking for value and fun Disney theming. 

One of the major reasons for this resort’s popularity are the family suites that were originally tested at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. They were so well-received, Disney decided to devote 3 separate themed sections to the family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. If family suites aren’t needed, they do have one themed section with standard rooms. We’ll get into all the details below as we explore the best reasons to consider a stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

Designed for Whimsical Fun

Those who have stayed at Disney’s value resorts will instantly recognize the layout of the lobby area, room buildings, food court, pools and more. What makes Art of Animation unique is its focus on the artistic process Disney uses in its animated features. 

Walking into the lobby of the resort, is like taking a tour through the mind of an animator. As you enter the front lobby, known as Animation Hall, you’ll see a wall of eye-popping color behind the check-in area, showing the rainbow palate an artist would use. To the right, are pencil sketches taking shape, including concept art before the familiar characters we know and love take their final form as you move further into the lobby.

Beyond the lobby is the Ink & Paint Shop merchandise location. The shelves on the back walls are designed to look like paint jars and the merchandise often carries the artist theme making it a place to find some unique souvenirs. Keep your eye out for resident animators who also give lessons for kids too. 

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Make sure you take some time to look up at the large chandelier at the end of the lobby, before the merchandise shop. The “Storyboard Chandelier” is made up of panels made to look like storyboard art from the films featured at the resort. Over the years, Imagineers, artists, and actors involved in the films have signed the panels. See if you can find Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel)’s panel!

Variety of Accommodations

Guests can select from family suites and standard rooms, making it a great option for singles, couples, and families. The family suites are themed to the buildings where they are located: Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King. The standard non-suite rooms are in the Little Mermaid buildings. 

Family Suites
At approx. 565 square feet, the family suites include a bedroom with one queen-size bed; one double-size convertible TableBed; one double-size sleeper sofa; living room; 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette. With room for up to 6 people, it’s a great option. 

Art of Animation really perfected the family suite with the amazing use of the TableBed. During the day, you can enjoy meals or play games on the table, and at night, it simply folds down to reveal a double bed, complete with lighting and a painted scene to match the theme of the room. 

The details are really what make these suites so fun, especially in the Cars section, which is the closest thing to “Cars Land” on the east coast. Be sure to walk around and explore the grounds, where you’ll find some of your favorite characters from Cars. Inside the suites, be on the lookout for details from Radiator Springs.

The other two areas, Lion King and Finding Nemo have their own unique details. From towering characters down to the types of plants used in walkways, no detail is left unthought of. 

Standard Room
Over in the Little Mermaid area, you’ll find all the standard rooms, at approx. 277 sq feet, with the same basic set up as the other Disney’s value resorts. Two double beds or one king are now available for these standard rooms. Recently refurbished, the rooms feature a fresh new look, interactive TVs, and coffee makers in each room. Unlike the family suites buildings with interior room doors, the Little Mermaid buildings feature outdoor entry, like the rest of the value properties.

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If you have a family of 5 or 6, you may want to consider the family suite vs two standard rooms at a value or even a moderate. You can request a specific themed area when booking, which will affect pricing. You can also just choose a “family suite” and be assigned to a specific area when you check-in. 

Pet Friendly

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is one of four Disney resorts that are pet friendly. Dedicated rooms with easy access to walkways and greenspaces are available and they allow up to 2 dogs per room. They even greet you with w Welcome kit from Pluto, that includes items like a matt, bowls and poop bags, to make your fluffy family member comfy during their stay.

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Don’t want to leave yoru dog all alone in the room while you are out enjoying the theme parks? No problem! The Best Friends Pet Care facility is no too far away and offers Doggie Day Camp to keep your furry family member happy all day. 

The Skyliner

One of the best reasons to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is its proximity to the Skyliner. You can still board a bus or catch an Uber or Lyft to get around, but just steps from your resort, you can hop into a Skyliner gondola and be at Epcot’s International Gateway in about 20 minutes, or at Hollywood Studios in about 12 minutes plus the transfer time. 

The Skyliner gondolas are a peaceful escape from the usual transportation in the area and could be considered an attraction all their own. Don’t have a park ticket on your departure day with some time to kill? Hop on the Skyliner! 

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Many of the gondolas are wrapped in a film with fun characters that can help shield the car a little from the heat of the sun. However, for the best views you can ask to wait for a clear gondola. This may or may not be honored depending on the wait time.

Family Friendly Activities

Pools – The Big Blue Pool is the main feature pool at Art of Animation featuring larger than life icons from Finding Nemo. However, the smaller Cozy Cone area pool is just as fun and full of details, including adorable “cozy cone” cabanas available free of charge on a first-come-first-served basis. The Flippin’ Fins pool over in the Little Mermaid section features Sebastian’s Undersea Orchestra and other set pieces inspired by the film. 

Along with the usual Movies Under the Stars and other resort activities, you can also experience fun with the Play Disney Parks app.

With Stories of the Enchanted Gallery on the all-new Play Disney Parks app, you can show off your animation skills by creating your own themed art—and see it all transformed as your work comes alive in stories inspired by Finding Nemo, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Cars. 

Photo Ops

All around the property you will find bigger than life characters in each section. In the Cars area, my personal favorite, you can hang out with Lightning McQueen, Sally, Mater, Fillmore, Guido and many others. In the Finding Nemo section you shrink down to the size of a fish so Mr. Ray towers above you. 

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If moving is more your thing, there is a 1.38-mile jogging/walking trail around the Art of Animation resort! And along your journey take notice of the different landscaping details that match the theme of the area.

Dining

Landscape of Flavors just off the lobby is the food court at Art of Animation. While things are currently a little different with the extra safety measures in place, this is still a great stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Pizza, snacks, coffee or cocktails are available too. You can mobile order on the app and pick it up to bring back to your room. 

The Drop Off Pool Bar is a great spot for an adult beverage from beer to frozen cocktails as you lounge by the pool. 

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You can get late-night pizza delivered to your room once things return to normal operations.

Disney has managed pull together the best of many worlds when it comes to the Art of Animation Resort.  A great solution for family space needs along with fun colorful themes and easy transportation to the parks all at an affordable price, making it one of the best values on Disney property.

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About Lou Mongello

Lou Mongello is a former attorney who left the practice to pursue his passion, and is now a recognized Disney expert, author, speaker, and host of WDW Radio. Learn more…

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