Resorts Unwrapped: Art of Animation

Resort: Art of Animation Resort

Level: Value*

Rooms: 1,120 Family Suites; 864 Standard Rooms

The theme of Art of Animation is, well, the art of animation. The resort gives guests a close-up view into the world of animation, showcasing your favorite character’s evolution from pencil sketch to a colorful, lifelike cartoon.

Art of Animation is a gigantic resort that surrounds guests with their favorite Disney animated movie. The rooms and buildings are intricately themed around popular animated flicks, such as The Little Mermaid,  Lion King and Finding Nemo. Whether you stay there or not, I highly recommend heading over to see the resort and its decor.

*Disney’s Art of Animation is considered a Value resort, however, due to it being comprised mostly of family suites, the average price is slightly higher than what you’d pay for Pop Century right next door.

Theming: 9/10

Art of Animation feels like a theme park without rides. The buildings feature large, multi-story sculptures ripped right from your favorite Disney animated movie.

The theming all starts in the lobby. The check-in area is filled with pops of color. The lobby also includes a progressive collection of sketches and movie reels, depicting characters and their respective movies from pencil sketch to full animation. Another cool detail is the chandelier that hangs from the ceiling.The chandelier is filled with storyboards—one is even hand signed by John Lasseter (Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer.) You can seriously spend a solid hour browsing the lobby, but there’s much more waiting outside.

Once you leave the lobby, you’ll enter the “Big Blue Pool” area. Straight ahead are the Finding Nemo buildings. To the right are the Cars-themed buildings. To the left are the Lion King and Little Mermaid themed areas. Both the Little Mermaid and Cars area have their own themed pool, while the Lion King buildings feature a movie-themed playground. The Cozy Cone pool in the Cars area features complimentary traffic cone shaped cabanas available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Big Blue pool is themed to Finding Nemo, with giant jellyfish sculptures throughout. The Little Mermaid pool, Flippin Fins, is probably the least themed, but the buildings draw the attention away from the otherwise generic pool.

Overall, it’s a fun resort that young kids will love. My 3-year-old cousin adores Ariel and The Little Mermaid. For their first trip, the Art of Animation resort was atop my list of recommendations, as I know my cousin will have a blast there.

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Christmas Decorations & Theming: 5/10

It does have Christmas trees and garland. The lobby features a white Christmas tree decorated with colorful Christmas ornaments. The white tree really allows the Christmas ornaments to pop. The lobby also features white garland and bunting, taking a backseat to the colorful lights and paint. It certainly stays “on theme” with the rest of the resort, acting as a blank canvas to the gorgeous colors.

You’re not staying at Art of Animation for the Christmas decorations, though. Art of Animation is an attraction in and of itself. If you’re looking for the full Christmas experience, you won’t find it here (or at any of the other Value resorts, for that matter.)

Size: 4/10

Art of Animation is a massive resort. Like the other Values, it’s built and priced for families. It’s going to always feel pretty crowded, especially during Christmastime. Do keep in mind that many of the rooms are family suites. Sure, other resorts offer daybeds or cots, but larger families are more apt to stay here. This means at least 5-person families, which means a higher concentration of people in one place… which means much more crowded buses.

Last week I covered Coronado Springs and talked about how the biggest complaint surrounding the resort is the amount of walking and the distance from the lobby and food court to many of the rooms. Art of Animation is also pretty spread out. The Little Mermaid buildings are a solid 5-10 minute walk away from the lobby and food court. The Finding Nemo resorts are the closest to the lobby, but they are all family suites. Like Coronado Springs, the more you spend, the closer you are to the lobby.

Art of Animation is also the newest hotel on property and is very popular due to its price, theme, size and room offerings. As a result, it’s going to be very crowded. I don’t recommend any Value resort during Christmas and other crowded times, however, if you don’t mind the crowds or waiting for a bus, it’s the best choice of the Value offerings.

Transportation: 6/10

The Art of Animation’s transportation is okay. It only offers bus transportation to and from the park. It has one central hub at the front of the resort, which offers transportation to and from all four parks and Disney Springs.

This can be a catch-22. The positive of having one central bus hub at the front of the resort means that unlike Coronado Springs, you can grab breakfast or dinner before heading to the park and not worry about a full bus. What you see is what you get: if the bus has a long line, you’re going to have to wait. On that note, if you’re a “fly of the moment” type of planner, you can use the length of the line to your advantage. If Magic Kingdom’s bus line is packed, head to EPCOT instead. Or, get creative. If you have FP+’s for EPCOT and the line is far too long, jump on a much shorter Hollywood Studios line then grab the boat to EPCOT. Granted, there’s a solid chance this can wind up taking longer, but it’s always an option.

The downfall to one central bus stop, of course, is the walking. Guests staying at the Little Mermaid section are again at a disadvantage. The walk from the bus stop to the Little Mermaid buildings can certainly become a bit aggravating day in and day out. Also, having only one bus stop can lead to long waits at such a large resort.

In all honesty, we visited the Art of Animation two straight years, as we explored it ourselves and then brought our family friends to see the resort. There was never a long line for the buses and we always seemed to get on the first or second one. Maybe we lucked out, but I wouldn’t let the fear of waiting for a bus or walking a long distance to your room keep you from a memorable stay.

Food: 7/10

Art of Animation’s food court, Landscape of Flavors, is awesome. It has something for everyone, with a salad, pasta, burger, sandwich and pizza shop all located in the area. There are plenty of tables and most of the food is made to order. I was also very impressed with their dessert selection, which included gluten free products from Erin McKenna.

Art of Animation doesn’t have a Table Service restaurant, so if you’re looking for a slightly more upscale experience, you’ll have to venture elsewhere. Overall, though, Landscape of Flavors gets the job done. You can stay for 5 days and have a different kind of food each day.

On top of this, Pop Century is just a short walk from Art of Animation. The food is very similar, but if you need a change of scenery, you have that option as well.

Overall:

Art of Animation is a fun resort. You’re not staying there for the Christmas decorations, you’re staying there for its theming and decor. It’s great for families, both from the perspective of its theme and the availability of family suites. If you’re looking for a break from the crowds, the walking or for a quiet getaway, this probably isn’t the resort for you. It’s also a solid distance from the parks, with a 15-20 minute bus ride to Magic Kingdom.

I’d totally recommend Art of Animation, just not for Christmas.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Art of Animation is very close to Pop Century. Guests can cross the bridge for additional food option at the Pop Century food court.
  • Art of Animation hosts a daily drawing class Thursday to Monday, 11am, 2pm and 5pm.
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