We are admittedly a little late to the Art of Animation rodeo since this website still enjoys peasant status and was not invited to any of the “media” preview events. Granted, the website would have declined any such invitation, but it is always nice to have the ability to turn someone else down. Feels superior. I’m usually a little wary of what comes out of the “media” events because you have to be so far down inside Disney’s back pocket to get invited to Princess Tiana’s Tea Party that they would make you think Innoventions’ Vision House is the next Expedition Everest. Buy Bosch, by the way. Bosch Bosch Bosch. That being said, Art of Animation does live up to the hype. Come September 15th, when Standard Rooms are available for as little as $94/night, I’m not sure why anyone would decide to stay at another Value. We’ll get to the particulars throughout the post and you’re welcome to call me an idiot in the comments section. Not that you needed permission.
The Art of Animation is Disney’s newest “Value” resort, arriving with a price tag of around 350 million dollars. The first wing, themed to Finding Nemo, opened Thursday May 31st. It will be followed by Cars on June 18th, Lion King on August 10th, and finally Little Mermaid on September 15th. In total, the resort will feature 1,120 Family Suites and 864 Standard Rooms.
The goal of the Family Suites is to fill a gap within Disney’s current inventory. Before Art of Animation opened, there were not a lot of economical choices for families of five or six people. Now you could argue that at a minimum of $249/night for the Family Suites (all the way up to $415/night), there still aren’t any economical choices for families of five or six people, but just work with me here. Previously, the only real option was the All-Star Music Family Suites, which can sleep up to six people, so long as someone is willing to sleep on an ottoman and another person is willing to sleep standing up in a closet. I’m sort of kidding, but not really.
Art of Animation Family Suites are 565 square feet, compared to 520 feet over at All-Star Music. However, the All-Star Music suites are merely two Standard rooms refurbished into a suite, whereas the Art of Animation suites were designed specifically to function as suites. You could do a Fort Wilderness Cabin, with prices starting at $285/night (all the way up to $455/night). Another option would be to try and cram five people into a 314 square foot room in the Alligator Bayou section at the Port Orleans Riverside. If you did that with my family, we would be liable to murder each other. On the plus side, it would be easier to fit into a resort room with one (or two) less person to worry about. The only other real option you’re looking at is a one-or-more bedroom Villa at one of the Deluxe resorts. The cheapest one-bedroom Villa at the cheapest Deluxe starts at $435 and runs all the way up to $655/night. You don’t want to know what a two-bedroom would run.
So here we are.
Following in the footsteps of the other Value resorts, the front of the resort is bland. We have some crazy patterns going on, but not much else. We’re certainly not pulling up to Wilderness Lodge via boat or the Grand Floridian via the Resort Monorail.
And some oversized character art.
Looking head-on from the parking lot.
Guests arriving via Disney’s Magical Express.
Will enter through even less impressive sliding doors. Don’t worry though, the drabness only lasts a moment.
Art of Animation currently enjoys dedicated bus service, meaning buses don’t pick-up or drop-off guests at other resorts on the way to the theme parks. This can be a time saver over resorts that tend to share buses. For example, it’s not at all uncommon for the Contemporary to share buses with the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resort. Should you board the bus at the Contemporary, you’d be looking at an addition 15 minutes of transit time just to pick up guests from the other two resorts. And then if you’re staying at the Grand Floridan, buses may arrive without seats. The same is true at the All Star Resorts, though they may have dedicated bus service during peak hours. There’s no guarantee that dedicated bus service will continue, but with 2,880 rooms over at Pop, it’s hard to imagine a scenario when the two resorts would share.
The resort bus stop is also completely covered with fans overhead, something you’re not going to find at the All-Stars. There’s just one bus stop at the Art of Animation like the other Values. The walk from the furthest building shouldn’t be more than about six minutes. The walk from the furthest Cars building to the main pool was about four minutes and then it’s another couple minutes to the front of the resort. From the Little Mermaid section, you may need to add a minute or two.
At the theme parks, the buses for Art of Animation are next to each other at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Over at the Studios, Art of Animation is at (lucky) Stop 13 while Pop Century occupies 14.
At Epcot, it’s a bit of a march to the bus stop.
Down here to the Charter Lot, where you can also catch a bus to Hollywood Studios.
The nice thing about the proximity of the stops is that Art of Animation guests can hop on the Pop Century bus instead and walk to Art of Animation (or vice versa). It’s a ten to twelve minute walk from the Pop Century bus stop to the Art of Animation bus stop. I’ll document the walk the next time I’m there. In other words, you may only be seven minutes away from your room at Art of Animation should you board a Pop Century bus.
At Magic Kingdom, Art of Animation sits at Gate 15. You’re close enough that you could switch lines if need arises.
Looking at Art of Animation from Pop Century:
Remember that the theme of the resort is “animation,” which is why we have the drawings on the buildings. Put them together and you have an animated squid thing!
The bridge that connects Pop Century and Art of Animation is open.
Some benches on the Pop Century side. I can just imagine DISers sitting here demanding to see people’s key cards as they try to cross over to Pop from Art of Animation. Then again, why would you? It might make for an interesting scotch drinking location, but as you’ll see shortly, we’re about to have our minds collectively blown.
One reason you might head over from Art of Animation. A better movie.
Back to the Art of Animation. Bigger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/aoamap.jpg.
Into the main lobby from the main entrance. We have some sketches to the right featuring characters and scenes from the four films represented at the resort. To the left is check-in/out and the resort concierge.
You’ll notice that the desks are lower to the ground and much smaller than the other resorts. There’s also space in between them to give an even more “open” feeling. They remind me a lot of what some banks seem to be doing with more “intimate and personalized service” with smaller kiosks scattered around the bank instead of the stereotypical long desk with the bulletproof glass separating teller and customer. There’s also room for the cast member to move around to the other side of the desk if necessary. It’s a welcome addition that should put guests at ease from the moment they check in to the resort. Everything about this feels friendlier.
Looking at the check-in area from the side closest to the gift shop and quick service. Note that the drawings over here are colored and more detailed. The animation theme continues as we’ll see more and more detail as we venture further into the resort.
Just to drive home the idea that the resort is next level, we have a digital screen showing theme park hours rather than the prototypical hours written in chalk seen just about everywhere else.
Look up and you’ll see this gorgeous chandelier featuring sketches by Disney artists. One signed by John Lasseter!
The DVC desk in the lobby area. They don’t seem too serious about trying to sell it, unlike at the All-Star Sports where the line, “So, you don’t want to come back here, right?” works wonders.
Next to the DVC Desk is the Business Center for very important businesspersons.
With something like three computers to work at if you have the need. Note the very uncomfortable looking chairs. They don’t want you to linger.
At these prices, you won’t be. The resort does feature “free” Wi-Fi access like all other Disney resorts now. It was decently fast at the time, but that may change when thousands more people descend. I was getting 2mbps download and .5mbps upload. At home, I get closer to 10mbps download and 1.5mbps upload as a comparison. This option is for people that don’t have a cell phone, computer, or similar device that may want to print tickets/boarding passes when Airline Check-in isn’t available.
And a large printer.
To print wirelessly.
Also here is a readerboard listing the statuses of departing flights. I haven’t seen this elsewhere. I’m not sure if it also lists Sanford, Tampa Bay, etc. or not. Assuming you’re traveling to the airport via Disney’s Magical Express, I’m not sure how much help this would be since you’ll be on your way at least three hours before your flight departs. It might be too early to list a delay, but it might be helpful if major delays are expected.
And a line of payphones. Very business-y.
Speaking of airline check-in, here is the desk.
And the rules.
Off the lobby on the way to the pool is the Pixel Play Arcade.
With some interesting, somewhat comfortable seating up front for the adults.
Hope you have luggage space for a bear with a head that will fall off two seconds after you get it home or a guitar that will be annoying for a while and then also break.
The usual selection of games.
With Tron Pinball, but I didn’t see Pirates of the Caribbean!
Shark underwater hockey is a nice touch.
The Ink & Paint Shop is the resort’s main gift shop. It’s lined on both sides with colorful artwork.
Looks like Cars and Little Mermaid.
Lion King and Finding Nemo.
We’ll head into the resort’s gift shop to check out the decor and the resort specific merchandise. If you don’t care, you can head out now! In part two (and maybe three), we’ll take a look at the quick service, the pool complex, walk around outside, and whatever else I’m forgetting:
Art of Animation is the only Value or Moderate resort to have merchandise made specifically for it.
A paintbrush pen if it isn’t obvious.
A $9 little magnet seems more than a little insane.
Samesis with the $9 keychain.
Disney’s “classy” line of bath products.
Paint containers line the walls above the merchandise.
It’s big. This is about 4/5ths of it.
HOW DO I NOT OWN THIS!! And 2K memory! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!
Part 2 on tap.