I’ll be gone most of the day today (the 11th) to cover the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and check out the refurbished rooms at the All-Star Movies Resort (Preferred Room baby!). Hopefully I’ll have enough energy to update the All-Star- Sports and Music. It’s been a while since I’ve been over there.
For now, we’ll head out to the Little Mermaid section of the Art of Animation Resort, which took down its fence for the first time on September 10th. We’ve taken a good look at the rest of Art of Animation over the last few months as the other three sections opened. I won’t be covering much of that in this post, since it would just create redundancy. And obviously I’m someone that hates redundancy! Hates redundancy! In case you missed past coverage (in chronological order):
And now we’ll head out to the final section, which is themed to The Little Mermaid. And hopefully to a lesser extent, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and to an even lesser extent The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning. This is the only section of the resort that offers your standard Value size rooms. Cars, Lion King, and Finding Nemo are all the more expensive suites with interior walkways. Little Mermaid consists of 864 Standard rooms that have similar amenities to the other Value level resorts. Beginning in 2013, rooms at Art of Animation will run $10-$15 more per night than the All Stars and $5 more per night than Pop Century. That also means a Little Mermaid room would be less expensive than a Pop Century Preferred. And apparently Pop Century now has “Pool View” and “Pool View Preferred” categories as if that’s a good thing. First of all, I don’t want to see those bodies and second of all, I don’t want to listen to those bodies. I’d pay more to be away from them. Art of Animation pricing is the same as Pool View and $15 less than Preferred Pool. Anyway, we’ve had tastes and glimpses of the Little Mermaid section through the bushes and over the fence over the past few months, but we’ll finally be able to look up at King Triton’s lecherous gaze and take a picture next to a fork. Then we’ll check out the mist coming from the Lion King This-Is-Not-A-Playground and grab the Chicken Burger for dinner.
One thing I’m going to ask you to do before we get started, is temper your expectations about what you’re about to see. Somewhat unfortunately perhaps, Disney opened the two best sections of the resort first. Cars is an unequivocal home run. “Mini Cars Land,” might be an overstatement, but the Radiator Springs section is gorgeous, the ambiance at night is enthralling, the pool is amazingly themed, and the characters are out in force. Finding Nemo is a little more, “Let’s throw statues at it and turn up the color,” but it’s still a pleasantly themed area and the pool blows away anything at the other Value Resorts. Lion King isn’t terrible by any means. The landscaping is lush, but it’s missing what should have been a very obvious pool (watering hole) and the characters are sparse and mostly out of reach. It doesn’t help that the playground has “No climbing” signs surrounding it. Little Mermaid is going to look a lot like Pop Century and the other Values. We’ll get into the specifics as we move through the area.
Here we are. To get the Little Mermaid section from the main building or the pool, the most direct route is through the Lion King section. From the main building or pool, it’s about two minutes over to the Lion King, three to four minutes through there to Little Mermaid, and then three to four minutes to get to the very back of Little Mermaid section. Or about seven to ten minutes from the back of the Little Mermaid section to the Main Building depending on walking speed and then another two minutes to the bus stop.
In-camera HDR. That’s similar to the walk from the furthest buildings at the other Values.
This is what awaits you at the end of the long walkway pictured above. Both those blue signs next to him say “No climbing please,” but Disney has put them far enough away that it’s easy enough to get a picture without them clogging the frame. My guess is they’ll inch closer and closer to the statue. I saw Disney security on Segways making sure people were staying off the statues and generally patrolling the area. Segway security may be more common than I realize, but I’ve never seen it elsewhere as far as I can recollect.
Prince Eric looking very regal.
As you walk up the path, you’ll see an assortment of Ariel’s treasures. Somehow I didn’t take a picture of this dinglehopper, so this poor crop will have to do. You just stick it in your hair, twirl, and an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair appears. Please Disney, let me buy a dinglehopper in the giftshop.
This is wonderful! A banded bulbous snarfblat! I haven’t seen one of these in years! Thanks to Al Gore for inventing the Internet or you’d probably be staring at my face instead of this website.
Is the iPhone 5 in here?
I’ll tell you hunny, being part of this world ain’t that great. I’d switch places with you myself if it wasn’t for beer.
It appears the wood is already cracking! SHUT IT DOWN!
Otherwise, Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian is looking good.
King Triton is a little creepy as he leers down at us.
I think if he asked me nicely to stay under the sea I probably would.
On the other side, I wanted to run up and give Ursula a great big hug.
Zoomed out a bit for placement context.
The is probably where I was most disappointed and that’s really just because the Cars quiet pool was so elaborately themed. There’s almost no theming here whatsoever, other than the lighting fixtures that are themed like the lookout points on top of masts.
I imagine this looks cool lit up at night.
So if I’ve got this right, Little Mermaid is about a beautiful, albeit red-haired, girl that can’t speak. And this is somehow a tough sell? I realize this is fantasy, but they could at least root it in reality.
Looking in the opposite direction, Sebastian overlooks this side with Ursula on the left and Triton on the right. The Lion King section would be behind Sebastian and then the main pool and building behind that.
Pool hours. The “Today’s Weather” is pretty funny. “Rain.” Alice in Wonderland is listed as the movie and the Park hours include Extra Magic Hours, so the “1″ at the Studios is actually 1am.
The Cars pool only holds 83 people. I admittedly could not tell you the capacities of the other resort quiet pools. The Little Mermaid section has 864 rooms, so with an average of say, 3.1 guests per room, that’s 2678.4 total guests. That’s on the high side of things obviously, but it means only 4.29% of the guests could be in their quiet pool at a given time. Over at the Cars wing, you’ve got 440 Family Suites, with an average of say, 4.5 people per room. That’s 1980.0 people overlooking a pool that swims 83, or 4.19%. I haven’t heard that overcrowding has been a problem, but the Little Mermaid and its 864 rooms won’t even open officially until the 15th of this month.
Otherwise, there are a few other smaller decorations around the exterior. These fish.
Just happy to have a role. Just want a part in the school play.
Taken from the pool, this gives you an idea about how the buildings look from the outside.
It reminded me a lot of Pop Century where it seemed like they just stapled one of those “radios” every six feet.
But you’ve got fish, dolphins, and clams too.
And they still seemed to be adding more decorations, so we may see a few more bubbles and seahorses before all is said and done.
The ends of the buildings don’t make quite as much sense as they did over at the suites.
Over at the Cars suites, you might see Lightning line drawings on one side and Mater on the other side and they would meet at the end, properly colored in.
Here, it’s just one of the characters.
But also like the Suites, you’ll find an assortment of six facts/Easter eggs around the perimeter:
And the Animation Studio is still operating successfully at MGM Studi…..wait.
Parking should be convenient if you choose to drive, particularly for buildings 8 and 9.
Also near building 9, you could take the path that connects Art of Animation and Pop Century. Alternatively, you can walk back to the main pool area and cross the bridge over to the center of Pop Century. From one main building to the next, you’re looking at about a 15 minute walk if you walk with some purpose.
Timing the walk from the rooms in between buildings eight and nine.
The resort now that it’s complete. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports5/aoafull.jpg.
No one near the Not-A-Playground in the Lion King section.
With “Paws on the ground! NO CLIMBING PLEASE” signs on both sides.
I did notice mist coming out, which I don’t think has been reported before. One less reason to get close I guess.
Otherwise, everything in the Lion King section appeared to be the same as last time. The vegetation continues to grow in and it looks all the more better.
Popping through the main building, we’ll head over to the Landscape of Flavors quick service, which has seen a few changes since we visited a few weeks ago.
All of the Art of Animation resort merchandise seemed to be in good supply.
Including the paintbrush pens that cost $6.95.
These menu boards describing the options at each station are new. You’ll see them at other resort quick services too. The intention is that it cuts down on the people standing outside the various stations inside the ordering area.
I’m going to use a few recycled images for the zoomed out station pictures.
I’m fairly certain the Art of Animation staff thinks I’m “literally” the creepiest person in the world. To get these pictures of the menus, I’m pointing the camera above their heads and zooming in, but it must look like I’m taking a picture of them too because the lens is so large. One of these gentlemen asked if I was taking a picture of them and I said, “No.” Then it occurred to me that I didn’t hear him very well, so I said, “No I wasn’t taking a picture of you, would you like me to?” To which he said, “Sure.” I smiled as they got into position, mentioned that this photo was going to be seen by 100,000 people on the Internet, and snapped an HDR shot. So here you go guys, you’re famous!
The items are exactly the same, though the smoothies and desserts went up 20 to 30 cents, save for the teeny-tiny gelato that still runs an exorbitant $4.49.
It’s an ummmm……very sensible portion.
Moving on to sandwiches. New menu:
We have the first major change to the menu in the addition of the Barbecued Pork Sandwich. I’ve mentioned before that many of the food choices may seem a little “out there” to certain guests that have no interest in naan or “whatever capreeeeze is.” At least it’s just an addition rather than a takeaway…for now. I can’t imagine the “World of Flavors” station is anywhere other than on its way out though. Otherwise, the Create-Your-Own Salad is up a dollar and the Minestrone is 50 cents more expensive.
Said World of Flavors. And new menu:
The pictures of the food are brighter and larger than they used to be. That’s one of the nice things you can do on these displays. The downside is that the displays switch quickly, making it difficult to decide what to order as you wait for the previous screen to come back.
They have separate LCD screens and two main ordering screens, but decided to show a blown up picture of the Mongolian Grill (TRY A MICKEY KABOB FROM THE MARKET) on the left instead of simply putting one half of the menu on each screen. Whatevs. The only price increase here is on the Mongolian Grill Fish, which went up to $12.49 from $11.69. The fact that many of these items are more expensive than the others probably doesn’t help their case either.
Over to the Pizza and Pasta Shop. We seem to be following this gentleman around. At the time, there was no way to know what was offered at each station. Hopefully the menu boards outside will help mitigate the needless wandering. New menu:
Pricing is exactly the same on all items. You may remember I enjoyed the Cheesy Pesto Bread and that Create Your Own Pasta is delicious. If you’re apprehensive about some of the other choices, you can always opt for Spaghetti and Meatballs. Well, Spaghetti and:
Either I should start charging Disney $500/hour to consult or everyone agrees with my observations. When I ordered the Pasta, I commented that it was difficult to figure out what I wanted because this screen switched out with the “Chef’s Suggestions” that now appear overhead. So now this screen is static and easy to read.
And remember how I said they need to add another register to the Burger Shop? They did that too. There’s now a line on either side, which probably wasn’t the most efficient way to do it. Now you get a traffic jam in the middle as people wait for their food and others try to exit. But I wasn’t paid my $500 so I’m not going to tell you how to do it right! New menu:
We see the same trend here as we saw out at the theme park quick services. #America doesn’t want some fancy-shmancy “One Third Pound Fresh Angus Onion Straw Cheddar Cheeseburger,” they want a Bacon Cheeseburger! And none of that girly multigrain kaiser bun nonsense either, give me something with seeds gosh darnit! And as a red-blooded American, don’t talk to me about no lettuce or tomato! Otherwise, the previously titled “Custom Burger,” now titled “Create-Your-Own Burger,” is 70 cents more expensive. The Chicken Burger moves above the Vegetable Burger and costs the same. The Surf and Surf is 70 cents more. No word on whether that comes with 70 cents worth of extra-slippery. And the Pastrami is 70 cents more too.
This time, I opted for the Chicken Burger (9.49) – Ground Chicken Burger, Queso Fresco, Black Bean Relish on a Brioche Bun with Coleslaw or French Fries. One amusing thing about Disney quick service is that the “healthy option” is always listed first on the menu and almost never offered as an option when ordering. What I mean is, I’ve almost never been asked if I want “coleslaw or fries.” They just assume it’s fries unless you specially ask for the other (girly) option.
Go ahead, look at any menu.
The toppings as described.
One small piece of french fry in focus.
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, unlike the Surf and Surf which was more slippery and rubbery than flavorful and classy. The seasoned fries were also much better in your author’s opinion than your usual application of salt. They were crunchier and zestier. For those of you with Tables in Wonderland Cards, Landscape of Flavors takes it and doesn’t tack on the 18% gratuity, which dropped the price on this to $8.09 with tax, which is a sound deal.
You may have noticed I don’t make fun of babycakes NYC anymore. There are two reasons for this. Last time I was teasing them, I received this note in the comments section:
“I was SOOO excited when you showed the pictures of babycakes! May seem strange, but my son has life threatening food allergies to eggs, milk, soy and nuts. He will be 4 when we are there in May and this will be the first time he ever gets to have a cupcake or donut not made from scratch at home. The first time he ever goes in anywhere and gets to pick something out. He eats no food from restaurants–so while most people are upset that a cupcake costs $3.50–I would pay 3 times that for this experience for him. I guarantee, this little boy will be talking about that cupcake, or donut, or bread, for months. Babycakes nyc will actually make our trip a little more magical! So maybe buy something there, just to make sure they are still in business in May! ;-)”
That was about the most precious thing I’ve ever heard and you can picture this child that never gets to pick anything out from the grocery store cookie case being in awe of all of his choices. So for that reason alone, I think they’re great. And the second, much less important reason, is that the woman that manages it is also just about the most precious thing ever. But that totally doesn’t have anything to do with it.
Anyway, here are the frosting choices. As far as I know, this is currently the only option, so you should buy them up and tell Disney you want more babycake choices!
Off to Movies and the Halloween Party for another Whirlwind Tour. Wish me luck!