After spending a lot of time last year covering Art of Animation’s ongoing construction and staggered opening (there are links at the bottom of the review to the various posts that cover each section with more depth), we’ll take a moment to stay a night.
Art of Animation is officially classified as a Value resort, but it’s unique in that more than half of its rooms are “Family Suites,” with 2014 pricing that ranges from $298 all the way up to $511 per night. A Standard View room at the Coronado Springs Resort, officially one step up as a Moderate Resort, has pricing that runs from $187 – $290 per night depending on season. Regular Value rooms at the All-Stars run $96 – $198 per night, so a Family Suite costs more than two Value rooms as well.
Family Suites, located in the Cars, Finding Nemo, and Lion King wings, come in at 565 square feet, compared to 277 square feet in a Standard Art of Animation room, 260 square feet in a Standard room at the All-Stars and Pop Century, and about 314 square feet at the Moderates.
All of the resort’s 864 standard rooms are found in the Little Mermaid section. Pricing runs $118 to $221 per night. That’s a premium over All-Star Value rooms, which run $96 to $198 a night and Pop Century rooms, which cost between $106 and $209 per night depending on season. In other words, you can expect to pay about $20 per night more at Art of Animation than the All-Stars and about $12 more than Pop Century.
For this review, we’ll compare the resort experience here to the other Values from the perspective of someone staying in a Standard room.
Art of Animation Standard rooms are appointed nearly identically to other Value rooms.
Two double beds.
Table and two chairs.
Dresser with 32″ LCD television.
Beverage cooler that takes about half the space in said dresser.
Cloth curtain separating the vanity and sleep areas.
Single sink, hair dryer, iron, luggage stand, waste basket, mirror, soap, shampoo, etc.
Small safe to protect those iconic gray MagicBands distributed to everyone at check-in and your Virgin Mobile no-contract cell phone.
The Values are best for couples and families that don’t plan to spend a ton of time back at their resort.
But still want to take advantage of the various perks, including Magical Express, bus transportation to the theme parks, and Extra Magic Hours.
Compare these digs to your standard room at All-Star Movies:
Standard and Preferred rooms are 260 square feet, the same standard size as the other All-Stars and Pop Centuries resorts. Amenities are also identical – the only differences are some details in the furnishings and art. There are either two double beds or one king size bed in each room, depending on reservation. King bed rooms can be requested, but they generally go to guests with disabilities first because they have bathrooms that can accommodate wheelchairs. King bed rooms do not have a tub.
The decor is otherwise pretty ho-hum.
Each room has a nightstand, two chairs, armoire, 32” HDTV, wall mirror, clock radio, and small safe.
Rooms have one sink, one mirror, and a separate bathroom area with toilet and combined bathtub and shower.
Shampoo/conditioner and bar soap are also provided.
Rooms are also equipped with a small refrigerator.
Art of Animation rooms are brighter and “more themed,” for better or worse.
All standard rooms are found in the Mermaid section, which is a solid eight to ten minute walk to the main building, pool, and only bus stop. There’s no such thing as a standard room in a preferred location.
This is the information available in the room:
The offer here is known as a “bounceback” and may or may not be available during your stay.
The literature includes room service options, Wi-Fi info, theme park hours, activities around the resort, etc.
I had some fairly positive experiences with Art of Animation’s food court, the Landscape of Flavors, during my various visits while the resort was opening up in sections. Here’s what’s available for lunch:
Options are a bit more exotic than most quick services, particularly at the Tandoori station. Kids do have more options these days, including Macaroni & Cheese, Cheese Pizza, Corn Dog Nuggets, Barbecued Pork Sandwich, and a Kids’ Create Your Own Salad. Chicken nuggets remain absent. A full list is available here.
I tried the Pastrami Cheeseburger with Pepper Jack, Tomato, Lettuce, and Chipotle-Barbecue Sauce on Whole Wheat Multigrain Bread with Coleslaw or House-seasoned Fries – $10.49.
Like most food here, I think it sounds and looks a lot better than it tastes.
Like most Disney burgers, this one was grilled to death – bone dry and flavorless. The cheese was slimy and the lettuce wet and slippery, causing the unusual multigrain bread to slide right off. It was one of the worst burgers I’ve ever had the displeasure of consuming.
Lisa ordered the Create Your Own Pasta with linguine, shrimp, pesto and broccoli – $11.49. I’m a big proponent of the Create Your Own Pasta under ordinary circumstances. You pick whatever pasta, protein, and toppings you want and everything is boiled and stir-fried fresh. While this looked good, the pesto sauce was virtually flavorless. Like completely devoid of any flavor whatsoever. The shrimp were gummy and the bread was stale. Very disappointing.
In addition to our disappointing entrees from our late lunch, Art of Animation serves additional entrees for “dinner,” which begins at 4pm:
Dinner adds the Pork Banh Mi Sandwich that was replaced at Sunshine Seasons, in addition to the Salmon Club, Open-Faced Club Sandwich, Saffron Seafood Pasta, Lentil Crusted Fish, and Open-Faced Steak Sandwich.
Breakfast is typically the busiest meal at the resort quick services and Art of Animation is no exception:
It’s quite the lineup, perhaps better than any other quick service on property.
I tried the Breakfast Sandwich – Naan Bread with Scrambled Egg, Slab Bacon, and Cheese Sauce – $6.49. This is a serious amount of food with three thick slices of bacon and freshly scrambled eggs inside of the crispy naan bread.
Topped with a creamy cheese sauce and chives, this was one of the better breakfasts I’ve enjoyed on property. Sandwiches are made to order in case you want them to leave off the sauce or chives.
I ordered a side of the Portuguese Sausage for $2.49. They were okay, but not necessarily worth the extra money with the immense size of the sandwich.
Lisa ordered the Character-shaped Waffles – Three Character-shaped Waffles with Fresh Fruit Topping and Bacon – $7.79. These are fairly standard, but the bacon wasn’t overcooked as is usually the case and the fruit was firmer and fresher than usual. The waffles are freshly pressed as is the norm. Very good.
On the downside, Landscape of Flavors is incredibly loud. If my room was anywhere close to the main building, I’d probably opt to bring it back to the room. Depending on the weather, there are tables outside on the pool side that are also viable. With the early morning humidity, I’d be more likely to put up with the noise most of the year. Arriving around 7:30am will minimize the later morning crowds.
The joys of Rapid-Fill, now found in all Disney resorts. Your 22-ounce fountain beverage can be filled four times over the course of an hour. The Rapid-Fill mugs run:
2 Days: $11.99
Length of Stay: $17.99
You don’t need to be staying at a Disney resort to purchase one and your mug works at all Disney-owned resorts, but not the theme parks. Theoretically, a mug that comes as part of the Dining Plan should be enabled for the number of days you’re on the Dining Plan, but cast members usually activate them for 14-days. You generally need to wait two minutes in between fills. Those of us that like to fill the mug once, guzzle the soda, and then fill up for the road, may need to wait a few extra seconds in between. This is, of course, the end of the world and a huge inconvenience. Vacation ruined. I’m going to Universal.
Whether or not a mug makes economic sense depends on your soda drinking habits and how long you plan to stay. Obviously, those that drink eight Diet Cokes a day over a 14-night stay will enjoy the the best value. Remember that days end at midnight. So if you purchase your mug with dinner at 7:30pm, it will only work until midnight.
Art of Animation remains the only Value or Moderate Resort (other than Fort Wilderness) that offers a full line of resort-specific merchandise, just in case you want to bring home one of those nine-dollar magnets.
Like Pop Century, Art of Animation features dedicated bus service. The All-Stars often share buses when heading toward Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. That adds a few minutes to commute times and guests staying at All-Star Movies are more likely to stand because Sports and Music are picked up first. Because Art of Animation and Pop Century are connected via bridge, guests staying at one resort can opt to take the bus to the other resort if it arrives first. The walk from one main building to the other is about 15 minutes.
A few more ambiance pictures:
The Cars section is by far the most impressive. In my opinion, Lion King was a major disappointment, but it’s a much calmer area than Cars and many suites are closer to the main building.
Art of Animation is definitely a little different than the other Value resorts, from the eclectic options at the food court, to the over-the-top colors in the rooms, to the theming of the various pools. Is it worth 20 bucks more a night? It is if you like the look of the rooms and plan to spend some time at the pools, particularly the main pool and Cars pool. Bus service tends to be better than the other Values, including Pop Century, at least in the macro sense. You can still run into an unpleasantly long wait for a bus. The bus queues are also covered with fans overhead, unlike the other Values. On the downside, there’s the walk all the way out to the Mermaid section. Theming in the mermaid section is also “cheaper” than the other sections, without much theming at the pool and the typical oversized character statues creating most of the atmosphere. Food quality also tends to disappoint considering the lofty promise of what’s offered on the menu. You only expect so much from chicken nuggets, but Disney doesn’t seem to be able to serve up the quality that’s expected from Tandoori prawns or Caprese Sandwiches. Discounts are rarer at the resort and fewer rooms seem to be offered when one does pop up.
With those picky negatives aside, you’ll want to take a good look at Art of Animation if you’re considering a standard resort room at a Value or Moderate.