A return to the Art of Animation Resort, where the Lion King section recently opened (August 10th).
Art of Animation continues to have dedicated bus service. Here at Magic Kingdom, the Pop Century and Art of Animation stops are close together, so you could theoretically ride the Pop Century bus and walk to Art of Animation should that bus arrive first. It sounds like bus service isn’t as snappy as it was when the resort first opened. In talking with the woman behind me in line, she informed me that during their 35 minute wait for the bus at Magic Kingdom earlier in the day, that another older woman had collapsed. Florida’s hot. Drink lots of water.
On the merchandise front, Disney has restocked these $6.95 pens. They’ve been very popular, hence being sold out.
At the Big Blue Pool, security is apparently lax as the gate is permanently open in this position.
Returning an hour or so later, the gate is still open.
This is interesting in that the pool serves items that aren’t available inside at the Landscape of Flavors quick service. I’m wondering if Disney is propping the gate open in order for people visiting the resort to access the bar.
Heading over to the Lion King section, you’re looking at about a three minute walk from the main building out here, if it even takes you that long.
When we first took a look at the area over the fence, I mentioned that this was looking to be my favorite section.
I’m a sucker for trees, plants, lushness, and baboons.
There are two ways to interpret the Lion King section. On one hand, there isn’t a lot going on. There’s no pool. There’s nothing to play on at the playground. There aren’t any food options. So in that vein, it’s a much more tranquil area than Cars or Nemo.
On the other hand, it’s kind of boring.
That may provide a better idea about the size of things.
Disney decided to build a “playground” based on the scariest part of the movie, the Elephant Graveyard.
Unfortunately, Disney has gone to town on these “No Climbing Please” signs. There are two large ones near the “playground” and smaller signs at each of the characters.
It doesn’t stop anyone. And you may notice on the left there, someone had taken the liberty to turn the “No Climbing” sign around. Wonder how long until Disney replaces them with a sign that says no climbing on both sides!
Amusingly, if you visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/art-of-animation-resort/lion-king-suites/ and click on “Photos,” you can see some of the concept art, where kids are hanging from the bones. It also looks like the original plan included rocks that make it possible to walk up to the hyenas above.
Not the best shot ever. But that yellow blob is a security officer on a bicycle reminding people to stay off the characters. I saw another officer circling on a Segway doing the same thing.
Continuing through the courtyard, you have the opportunity to take a picture with the Lion King’s best character, Scar. There are two “No Climbing Please” signs visible.
On the opposite side of Scar sits Zazu. That’s really all there is to see in Lion King’s main courtyard. I would have loved to have seen a “Watering Hole Pool” here. It seems like such a no-brainer, especially considering the Nemo and Mermaid themes are somewhat similar. Instead, we’re going to see another pool in the Mermaid section, themed like water I would guess. Hopefully it’s larger than the Cars pool.
Unlike the Cars and Nemo sections, there’s nothing to really greet guests at the main entrances into the buildings. Just a sign telling you not to climb on anything. You may recall the elaborate entrances over in the Cars section.
On the opposite side of the buildings, the resort’s line drawing theme continues. This is Simba animated across the sides of one building.
And Mufasa on the other side.
And they meet colored in on the end.
Also like the other sections, trivia abounds:
One million drawings!
Inside, the hallways are as dark as the other sections. The hallway is darker than it appears here. You may notice the carpet is covered with paw prints. See this AllEars post for a better idea about what the suites look like inside. They appear to be slightly more subdued than the suites in the Cars or Nemo (in particular) sections.
We’ll grab dinner at Landscape of Flavors, the resort’s quick service. This is a recycled image and it was busier than it looks here.
Pretty sure I freaked this poor girl out. I was trying to get a picture of her gizmo. I was zooming in as she was looking at it and then when I snapped the picture she looked up at the same time. She may or may not have walked off and notified a manager that some creep-o with a binder full of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards was taking pictures of her. Anyway, in an effort to speed things up at the pasta station, there’s now a separate cast member taking orders with that tablet thing.
This time we’re trying the Pizza and Pasta section.
We’ll try the Create-Your-Own-Pasta.
You may remember how enjoyable it was at the Port Orleans Riverside from this post. It was a huge portion cooked up fresh.
When the resort first opened, the toppings were listed like this, so it looked like you could add all four different kinds of meat to your pasta.
That has since been replaced with this electronic board listing the choices. They’re exactly the same, but it now asks you nicely to select just one meat.
The problem is that the same screen also displays this list of “Chef’s Suggestions.” So assuming you want custom toppings, you’re probably going to have to stand there while it cycles a few times to get an idea about what you want. The traumatized cast member with the gizmo just reads off the toppings and you say “Yes” or “No” indicating your preference to each.
Speaking of efficiency, there’s also a separate line for pizza purchases now. You could walk right up and they’d hand you whichever. This is your standard Disney pizza.
My 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.
I don’t know whose Refillable Mug that is. 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. With not a lot of people at Landscape of Flavors at the moment, it seems like those pizzas could be sitting there for a while before someone orders one. But that’s not a problem with the pasta.
Anyway, 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.
It’s getting a little darker, so we’ll head over to the Cars section. I wanted to get more shots, but it started raining.
The section is even prettier at night.
The Cozy Cone Motel sign spinning with bonus narration.
I had called this section “Cars Land for Poor People” and I’m sticking to it.
Cars definitely raised Lion King expectations to a level that it couldn’t reach. Lion King is still (arguably?) themed better than any of the other Values, but it’s certainly not this cool!
The Cone Pool looks great lit up.
Another example of the “No Climbing Please” signs mounted in front of all the characters.
As a bonus(!), we’ll take a look over the walls at the Mermaid section, which is scheduled to open September 15th.
It’s looking to have quite the number of props and characters. Full size: http://i.minus.com/i94DY2FepnAla.jpg.
That’s Ariel there in the middle, where I think the pool is situated.
Looking straight on, I love the lighting.
With the open less than a month away, they still have quite a bit of work to complete. That’s Ursula in the distance.
Zooming in on Ursula, she appears to have acquired some amount of damage.
And on King Triton opposite her.
Not sure if they dropped them or what.
Otherwise, the section is looking very good.
Each of these 864 regular rooms is connected with external walkways like the other Value resorts. I haven’t heard that hallway noise is a problem at the suites. Maybe if you’ve stayed in one, you could let us know if you heard kids screaming in the hallways at all hours of the night.
While Lion King didn’t impress quite as much as I was hoping, it’s still a nice addition to the resort. And for those looking for slightly quieter surroundings, both internally and externally, it may be the best choice. We’ll return when the walls at the Mermaid section come down.