1850 Animation Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: 407-938-7000 , Fax: 407938-7070, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)
Art of Animation is officially a Value Resort, though pricing is higher than the other Values. Standard rooms ($100 – $191/night) are $10 to $15 more expensive than All-Star Standard Rooms and $5/night more expensive than Pop Century Standard rooms. However, there are no Preferred rooms at Art of Animation because they are only located in the Little Mermaid section. Family Suites ($252 – $433/night) are $50/night more expensive than Family Suites at All-Star Music and are located in the Cars, Lion King, and Finding Nemo sections. Suites are also more expensive than most room types at the Moderate Resorts. Recent promotions have either excluded Art of Animation rooms or the discounts have been lower than comparable rooms at other resorts.
In Standard rooms, there is a $10/night charge for the third and fourth person over the age of 17 on the reservation.
A map to view or print is available here.
Art of Animation, along with Pop Century across the bridge, are the only ESPN Wide World of Sports area resorts. It’s south of the Caribbean Beach resort and near Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and the Wide World of Sports. The picture above was taken on the Pop Century side with Art of Animation’s feature pool and main building about a five minute walk straight ahead.
Art of Animation is similar in size to Pop Century. Originally, Art of Animation was intended to be a Value clone of Pop Century themed to the years 1900 – 1949. When the economy fizzled in 2006, construction ceased until 2010. The resort is comprised of 864 Standard rooms and 1,1120 suites. The walk from the furthest Little Mermaid room to the feature pool and main building is between eight and ten minutes, which is the same as the other Values. The walk from the furthest Suite in the Cars section is similar in length.
Room Amenities and Quality:
Little Mermaid Standard rooms are slightly larger than the other values, at 277 square feet, compared to 260 square feet at the All-Stars and Pop Century. Amenities are otherwise the same and include two double beds or one king bed depending on reservation. King bed rooms go to guests with disabilities first because the bathrooms are larger and have a roll-in shower. Rooms comes with two chairs, table, nightstand, clock radio, phone, armoire, 32″ LCD HDTV, wall mirror, clock radio, iron, ironing board, small safe, one sink, one small refrigerator, and bathroom area with toilet and combined bathtub and shower.
For better or worse, theming is much more pronounced at the Art of Animation. Nearly everything in the room will be themed, from the Little Mermaid shower curtains, to the sea floor carpeting, to the sea-shell-back chairs. Kids who love the Little Mermaid will be in awe, but the colors and theming are probably too bright for most other people to enjoy.
Suites are 565 square feet and sleep up to six. The keys here are a separate master bedroom and only one door that leads outside. Since Disney doesn’t guarantee connecting rooms, a Family Suite is the best way to guarantee your family will be placed together should you otherwise require two rooms. For parents worried about kids leaving without their knowledge, the single door makes it easier to keep track of them.
The living room has the sleeper sofa, kitchen table, armoire, 32″ HDTV, five chairs, lamp, coffee table, and an open closet with hangers. Also in the living room is a kitchenette with a sink, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, and paper plates and bowls. Off of the living room is a bathroom with toilet, sink, mirror, and bathtub/shower combination.
The master bedroom has a queen bed, two nightstands, armoire, HDTV, and connects to the master bathroom where you’ll find a toilet, sink, mirror, and shower.
In the living room, the kitchen table converts into a full size bed and the sofa converts into a double bed. While the Family Suites officially sleep six, only four adults would likely sleep comfortably. Kids would need to be comfortable sleeping in close quarters either on the sleeper sofa or table bed.
With Art of Animation opening throughout 2012, the rooms are the newest on property. WiFi is available in-room and in public areas at no extra charge. Cell phone coverage has been extremely spotty for whatever reason among all cell phone carriers – most guests report receiving no bars and no data connection.
Theme and Layout:
Art of Animation is more thoroughly themed than the other Value resorts, particularly in the Cars and Finding Nemo sections.
As the name of the resort implies, the overarching theme of the resort is the animation process. On the sides of the buildings opposite the pools and playground, you’ll see line drawings of various Disney characters.
The characters are colored in and animated at the ends of the buildings.
The Cars section is kind of like a miniature Cars Land without the rides and restaurants. The Cozy Cone Motel is the front of the section’s pool.
All kinds of characters from the movies are situated around the section. Here, Mater greets guests entering this guest building.
Mr. McQueen greets guests at the Wheel Well Motel.
And Luigi at another guest entrance. For a much more thorough look at the section, see this post.
Disney’s largest resort pool, discussed later, takes up most of the space in the Finding Nemo section.
But there are tons of other details to make you feel like you’ve shrunken down to Nemo’s size.
Seagulls keeping an eye on things.
Dude. For more pictures around Finding Nemo, see this post.
Lion King is less in your face with its theming, but still includes many of your favorite characters from the movie.
Along with dense jungle foliage.
Lion King features a “playground” instead of a pool.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t well thought out, and signs like these surround it. There isn’t much to do other than walk around it a bit. More Lion King pictures available in this post.
Little Mermaid is the section that most resembles other Value resorts.
Mermaid’s theming relies mostly on the same oversized figures you’ll find at Pop Century and the All-Stars.
While the suites have indoor hallways, the Little Mermaid buildings resemble more of a motel, with exterior hallways like the other Values.
But the resort is still plenty colorful and it won’t be any secret which section you’re in.
The Cars themed section is undeniably the most fabulous and certain to be a favorite among boys (and girls). Luckily, you can guarantee your section at the time of booking.
Otherwise, the layout is similar to Pop Century. Cars comprises three buildings off to the right of the main building. The closest suites are about a three minute walk to the feature pool, while the furthest suites are an eight to ten minute walk. Two Finding Nemo buildings surround the feature pool and are located just two or three minutes away from Animation Hall. Two Lion King buildings sit off to the left of the main building in front of the Little Mermaid section. These rooms are about a five minute walk to the feature pool or about eight minutes to the Cars section’s quiet pool. Finally, there are three large, four-story Little Mermaid buildings in the upper left corner of the resort. These rooms are eight to ten minutes away from Animation Hall and another two or three minutes to the Cars’ quiet pool.
At 310,000 gallons, Art of Animation’s Big Blue Pool is the largest resort pool on property.
Underneath the water, you’ll hear music accompanied by the voices of Dory, Nemo, and friends.
Other details include jellyfish with cascading water.
On the opposite side of the pool is an interactive water feature for the kids.
And a small playground area.
Theoretically, entrance to any of the three pools requires you to scan your RFID room card. However, with multiple entrances and guests constantly moving in and out of the pool areas, the gates don’t seem to keep anyone out.
A smaller Cozy Cone Motel themed pool is located in the center of the Cars section.
The cone cabanas are first come, first served at no additional cost. The pool has a maximum capacity of 83 people and is open from 7am – 11pm.
Prettier at night.
Finally, the Flippin’ Fins pool in the Little Mermaid section is akin to the other Value resorts.
It’s still perfectly adequate and all guests are welcome to use any of the pools around the resort.
Art of Animation has some of the most elaborately themed Disney pools on property. While they lack hot tubs and slides, don’t be surprised if the kids prefer them to the pools found at most Moderate and Deluxe resorts.
Movies Under the Stars are offered nightly at the feature pool along with organized activities and games throughout the day.
The Drop Off pool bar is located inside the feature pool complex, which means you’ll need your room key to access it.
The great thing about is is the fact that it has a self-serve beverage machine for your refillable mugs – a much more convenient proposition than having to traipse into the resort quick service.
The menu is otherwise similar to the other resorts with the staple mixed drinks.
Unlike most other pool bars, The Drop Off may serve food.
Laundry and bathroom facilities are located at each pool.
Art of Animation, like Pop Century across the lake, has dedicated bus service to the theme parks. Unlike the other Values, most of the queues to the Parks are covered with fans overheard and a few benches.
The times below are calculated after the bus leaves the resort:
Hollywood Studios: about 10 minutes
Epcot: about 15 minutes
Animal Kingdom: about 15 minutes
Magic Kingdom: about 15 minutes
When choosing a room, your decision will most likely be driven by whether you want a Standard room or Family Suite. And from there, most people will pick a Suite based on theme. As far as Standard rooms, you may want to request a room as close to the Lion King section as possible looking away from the pool on the fourth floor. This minimizes pool noise and outside foot traffic. It also puts you as close to the main building as possible. If you’re driving, you may want to request a room closest to the parking lot. No matter where you’re placed, you’ll be just two minutes away from the section’s quiet pool and only two or three minutes to the Lion King section.
Because the Suites are so heavily themed, most people will choose a suite based on their thematic preference. Finding Nemo suites are closest to the feature pool, but those with windows facing it will also suffer from the most noise. Request a room facing away from the pool or toward the lake to minimize noise. Rooms on the fourth floor will have the fewest people walking through. Otherwise, if you bother with a room request, you’ll likely want to request a suite as close to the main building as possible to minimize walks.
Because this section is so long, it’s been moved to the end.
The Ink & Paint Shop is the only resort store on property. Similar to Pop Century, the resort’s food court is located on the other side.
Here, you’ll find a nice collection of resort branded merchandise.
These $6.95 brush-themed pens are the most popular item. For a more detailed look at the resort merchandise, click here.
Otherwise, the collection is largely generic Disney merchandise. It’s handy if it’s your last day and you forgot to buy someone something, but the major theme park stores will have a much wider selection.
Check-in and Lobby:
Art of Animation’s lobby is bright and colorful with Disney art along the walls.
Instead of a single, long, tall desk, cast members stand behind separated desks that are lower to the ground and more inviting.
Look up to see a pretty chandelier adorned with original Disney art.
Off of the lobby is the only business center found at a Value resort.
Computer pricing is pretty astronomical. All rooms and public areas offer free WiFi, which most guests will want to take advantage of in lieu of the 60 cent/minute computer prices.
Handier is the list of departures from Orlando International Airport.
Like all Disney resorts, you can check your bags at the Magical Express desk between 5am and 1pm. You’ll see your bags next at your destination baggage claim.
Near the lobby is the Pixel Play Arcade.
It offers funky, potentially comfortable seating at the front of the arcade for parents and non-gamers.
The arcade is otherwise similar to the other Value resorts, though Pixel Play is the only arcade to offer pinball.
Some games are played for tickets that can be exchanged for prizes that will no doubt fall apart within minutes.
Best For: Art of Animation is designed for families of four or more that want to stay together. Pricing is slightly higher than two Standard rooms, but the benefits are the kitchenette, queen bed in the master bedroom, and single door leading outside. Standard rooms are best for those that will appreciate the bright Little Mermaid theming in the room. Art of Animation is best for families that want to stay on Disney property and take advantage of the perks like free theme park transportation, Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, package delivery, etc.
Worst For: With its over the top theming, Art of Animation isn’t the best choice for those looking for a quiet, subdued vacation. Suite pricing is also significantly higher than rooms at the Moderate resorts or the Family Suites at All-Star Music. Despite the “Value” tag, these aren’t Disney’s least expensive accommodations. Keep that in mind while you discuss your choices.
Landscape of Flavors is the resort’s quick service. Pizza, sandwiches, beverages, and other items are available for delivery to your room in the evening.
The emphasis is on healthy alternatives. Unfortunately, I don’t think the vision is fulfilled. The biggest problem is wait times for the food, which tend to be longer than other resorts because of the fresh preparation. Because waits are long and there are several stations offering drastically different options, you may find yourself waiting in two or three lines that take five to fifteen minutes each to feed the family. Finally, many of the items are a bit “out there” and may not appeal to some members of the group. Here’s what’s on the menu:
Salad, cheese, croutons.
Boneless Chicken Thigh.
Cauliflower with Tomatoes.
Spinach and Paneer Cheese.
Mongolian Beef Stir Fry.
Mongolian Grill Fish. Probably the blandest looking of the options.
Shell-on Tandoori Shrimp.
Boneless Chicken Thigh it looks like.
Fresh fruit to add to your smoothie.
As you can see, many of the items are “exotic” and unlike anything found at the other resorts. Other items, like the burger, salad, pasta, and pork sandwich are more common. With the wide range of items, everyone should be able to find something they like for several meals.
Here are a few things I’ve tried:
The Chicken Burger (9.49) – Ground Chicken Burger, Queso Fresco, Black Bean Relish on a Brioche Bun with Coleslaw or French Fries.
And half eaten, because I know what the people really want! I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The chicken version is hopefully healthier than the beef. Most Disney quick service chicken sandwiches are dry and small. This portion was hearty and clearly made from ground chicken as described. I also enjoyed the “southwest vibe” I got from the toppings. It’s worth pointing out that it’s a thick, crunchy slice of tomato and a large piece of fresh green lettuce underneath. One downside again is the bun, which didn’t stand up to the juicy chicken or the toppings. One bun fell apart just as I was taking the half-eaten picture. Thinking I was being clever, I did the ol’ switcheroo to have the full bun on the bottom and then that half crumbled too. I persevered and made it through more or less intact, but it was messier than it needed to be. That said, it gets two thumbs up from me. The seasoned fries were also crisper and zestier than the usual salted variety.
My Create-Your-Own Pasta creation – Broccoli, green peas, parmesan cheese, sausage, and shrimp with campanelle pasta and pesto sauce. I managed to order two of the meats without any upcharge. They may charge you an extra dollar if you try to order two or more though.
Like the Riverside’s version, this was really good. I know what you’re thinking though. Is it Olive Garden good? Yes, I think it is.
Everything is sauteed fresh while you wait, so you know you’re getting a meal that’s as freshly prepared as possible. The Pasta is highly recommended. I think the portion size is slightly smaller here as compared to Riverside, but it’s still a ton of food. I’d say it’s about as large of a portion as you can get of anything at a Disney quick service.
My Shell-on Shrimp with basmati rice, spinach and paneer cheese, squash, and naan.
The naan stretched out. This was quite the plate of food with a nice variety of side items. Since the menu didn’t mention rice, I wasn’t expecting a healthy helping of that. Though you’ll notice I somehow ordered the exact same items that are plated in the example above.
With the shells on the shrimp, it’s a little messy to de-shell them and get them in your mouth. There’s really no sexy way about it, that I’ve figured out anyway. Don’t worry though, you can rinse your hands in the pool after you eat. Wiping them on your sister also works well. They were very good. The six of them isn’t a huge portion, but it comes alongside a lot of other food. The naan was excellent. Crispy, freshly prepared and as you can see, a large piece. A very nice complement to the meal. The basmati rice didn’t have a lot of flavor. Bland as you might expect from the variety. The squash was also on the difficult side to eat. I couldn’t get the “skin” off of it and felt stupid holding it up to my mouth like a piece of cantaloupe still attached to the rind. I did anyway. It comes with just the one piece, tasted sweet, and felt squishy. About what you would expect. Something about the phrase “paneer cheese” grosses me out, but I ordered it anyway because it sounded more interesting than the other items and I’m in no hurry to order whatever “pickled vegetables” are. This side seemed to have the most heft. You get a couple large spoonfuls of it rather than the single piece of squash. It didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor, but it is certainly a nice change of pace from your Disney fries.
Overall, I enjoyed the meal quite a bit. The food may seem a little “out there,” but it’s really more accessible than you might expect. There isn’t anything particularly “weird” going on here. It would make sense to add pot stickers and egg rolls or something as a side item. Wontons, shrimp tempura, spring rolls etc. might fare better than paneer cheese and pickled vegetables.
The gelato in context. It isn’t a particularly large portion. Even at something like Coldstone Creamery you could expect about 5x as much at a similar price point.
Up close and personal. I tried the torrone with the little strawberry pearl things and some run of the mill sprinkles. Bite for bite, very good, though no better than the gelato you’d get from any sort of specialty ice cream shop, mall or otherwise. At $4.49, the price point is a little hard to swallow, but the portion size is certainly “sensible.” At five bucks a cup I’m not in a hurry to order another, but you’re on vacation!
This is the Surf and Surf Burger ($10.29).
I wanted to like this one a lot more than I ended up liking it. On the positive side, it was very filling. Five hours later I was still full, which is rare for a Disney quick service meal these days. The Crab Cake itself didn’t fall apart on me. If anything, it bizarrely held together even as I was trying to pull it apart to inspect it. I’m not a strong guy, but I am generally known for my ability to pull apart patties. There was definitely some crab inside of it. How much is hard to say. The bun was amazing. I wish they would roll the brioche out resort-wide as the wheat/whatever buns they generally serve are garbage. The fries are the same as your usual Disney fries, though the “house made seasoning” adds a little zip. I preferred them over the usual salted variety. On the downside, it was a mess to eat. You’ve got a wet, slippery crab cake on top of a wet, slippery piece of lettuce, on top of a wet, slippery tomato, on top of wet, slippery sauce. And then shrimp are falling out all over the place. I thought the flavor was overwhelmingly fishy. Don’t tell me the sodium content of this thing.
The $4.99 Cheesy Pesto Bread (snack credit). Oh my science was this delicious. The cheese is melted fresh while you wait and the marinara sauce is excellent. If you’re staying at Art of Animation and have some snack credits, this is the epitome of a snack. Out of pocket it’s a decent value. It isn’t a ton of food for five bucks, but you could do a lot worse. Recommended either way. As I mentioned before, preparation is slow. It took a good five minutes to prepare/bake this and I was the only one in line.
It’s nice to see “mello yello.”
Grab and Go items:
Beverage/fruit/yogurt/dessert/sushi/etc. choices. Bigger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/aoabev.jpg.
Bigger since this is important: http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/obp.jpg. I was extremely surprised to see Estrella Damm Daura, Orange Blossom Pilsner, and Orlando Brewing Pale, Brown, and Blonde in the case here. As I mentioned via Twitter this morning, the Orange Blossom Pilsner is an excellent choice if you know someone that “doesn’t like beer” but still wants to fit in with the other bros. And of course what I’m really saying here is that it’s a good beer for women.
I wasn’t kidding when I said research continues on taste testing every beer that may or may not show up at this year’s Food and Wine Festival. I say this is a good choice for the non-beer-liking folk because it tastes strongly of orange and honey. It isn’t necessarily a good choice for people that “like beer,” though it’s certainly worth trying. A six-pack runs about $9 in grocery stores. It’s easy to find at area Total Wine stores and may be available at Publix and the like. Mine down the street carried it for a while, but I haven’t seen it in the last month or so.
A closer look.
A yellow cake cupcake topped with “macarons” to the right middle there: $3.99. Above that are Cheesecake Bites ($4.99) and Strawberry Cheesecake ($3.99). Underneath that is the standard Disney Sushi – Tokyo Sushi Sampler, Spicy Tuna Roll, and Vegetable Roll. $8.95 each it looks like. Never leave home without disposable chopsticks. Trust me.
Those eclair-looking-things sure look good.
Less exciting Kids Picks items.
As far as fruit and prepackaged items, it’s a mixture of new items and items we’ve seen elsewhere. On the top shelf is Caramel Popcorn ($4.99), Odwalla White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Chewy Nut Bar ($2.99), and an Odwalla Chocolate Chip Original Bar ($2.99). Below that we have Odwalla Bars in Protein, Berries GoMega, Blueberry Swirl, and Superfood. $2.99 each. Below the bananas are rice krispy treats and yogurt pretzels. Everything is a snack credit. We’ll take a look at the beverage options shortly, but you can see on the left that we have the same refillable mugs here as other resorts. No RFID protection, so you can bring your old mugs and refill to your heart’s content! NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.
Totally healthy and organic and preservative free and all natural Disney chips and Doritos.
Rice Crisps for those of you from Oregon. $2.69 each or a snack credit.
Here, the emphasis is again on healthy alternatives and gluten free options.
Unlike any other Value quick service, the food court uses “real” plates and silverware. This makes cutting and consuming food easier, but it also adds to the loud atmosphere in the seating section.
Seating is vast with comfortable chairs inside and outside. Large ground to ceiling windows let in plenty of natural light and the pool is right outside.
Colorful artwork and high-back bench seating helps compartmentalize the large room.
That’s Art of Animation in a lot of words and pictures. For even more, see the links below: