We’ll move on to a fresh flurry of resort updates with a return to “Disney’s art of ANIMATION resort,” which is one that we visited quite often circa 2k12 when the hotel complex opened in sections over the course of several months.
Here’s the titles and links to several of those posts:
- Welcoming Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Part 1
- Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation Menu, Food, Seating, Condiment Pictures AKA Part 2
- Art of Animation Big Blue Pool, Bar and Menu, Playground, Walk Around the Resort, Inside, Laundry AKA Part 3
- A Hat, Cars Land For Poor People, Rafiki, Surf and Surf Burger – Art of Animation 6/14/12
- LAST ART OF ANIMATION REPORT EVER (Just Kidding), Nemo in the Sun, Pesto Bread, Gelato
- ACTUALLY THE LAST ART OF ANIMATION UPDATE EVER (Still Kidding), Shrimp Tandoori, Abs Bro, The Entirety
- Art of Animation Lion King Section, Little Mermaid Section, Create Your Own Pasta, Cars in the Dark – 8/17/12
- Art of Animation Little Mermaid Section Opens, Menu Update, Chicken Burger – 9/10/12
That’s eight updates over the course of about six months, each of which is probably still more entertaining than this one. But it occurred to me that even though this website has made me an incredibly wealthy person, that it’s probably time to get away from Flying Fish and California Grill brunch and return to the slums-also-known-as All-Star Sports. But you’ll have to bear with me as I make baby steps in that direction, beginning here with Art of Animation.
Landscape of Flavors is the resort’s substantial quick service eatery, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We’ll begin here and then make our way outside in Part 2.
The ordering area is expansive and with five separate counters serving five different individual menus, can be confusing.
Worse, each counter typically operates at a very different pace.
It can easily take 15 or more minutes to order and receive your Create-Your-Own-Pasta, which is custom-made to your specifications. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been served pasta with jalapeno peppers though…
On the other hand, picking up your meal from the World of Flavors, where everything is ready to go and relatively few people are interested, is a much quicker process.
It’s not uncommon at all to see families in three or four different stages of ordering, waiting for their food, trying to figure out where everyone else in the group is, and checking out, which can be made all the more complicated when the Disney Dining Plan is involved. I can’t remember the last time that I saw a group of more than one person where more than one person in said group had any idea whether the group was on the Dining Plan, let alone how many credits they had left or what those credits could be used to order.
Since opening, the menus have seen a ton of changes. Above is the original World of Flavors Shop, where only the dish of Tandoori Boneless Chicken Thighs survives.
Of course, the website has ordered just about everything that’s ever appeared here. Above is the defunct Tandoori Shell-On Shrimp, which I thought was actually quite good.
Here’s the rest of the original menu from this station. While the Mongolian Grill Fish existed back then too, it’s a completely different plating now. From the Side Items list, the Roasted Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Acorn Squash, Basmati Rice, Multigrain Rice, Pickled Vegetables, and Slow-cooked Lentils are long gone.
Above is what’s served instead. This all makes some sense – not a lot of people coming back from spending twelve hours at Magic Kingdom in June are going to be interested in sides of Pickled Vegetables and Lentils. I feel like Disney advertising the Brownie Bites above the Roasted Brussels Sprouts is a sort of lifeline promising hope if you just take a couple steps towards the dessert case.
Of some interest is the fact that Art of Animation continues serving breakfast through 12:30pm with the World of Flavors Shop serving the above until that time. Other stations switch over to lunch from breakfast at varying times. We showed up at 11:30am ready to order our Jumbo Meatballs, only to find out that they wouldn’t be available for another hour.
At the time, I found this to be mildly annoying because I was ready for my meatball, but those planning lazy mornings or hungover bloggers that need to order a breakfast item to round out their review, but don’t roll out of bed until five minutes before checkout time, may find some value in some options that extend later into the afternoon.
While the breakfast descriptions are the same as they were originally, it looks like the items themselves are quite a bit different. Above was my $6.79 “Breakfast Sandwich – Naan Bread with Scrambled Egg, Bacon, and Cheese Sauce,” which was served with really thick slices of crispy bacon that you couldn’t find anywhere else on property, in addition to the deliciously-crispy naan bread and decadent cheese sauce, along with the freshly-scrambled eggs. It looks like Disney’s using their standard flimsy bacon now instead and the naan looks more like a tortilla.
Above is what’s currently offered at the Burger Shop.
Here’s the original. It was fun to have the opportunity to customize your burger, but that was obviously time consuming.
Six different cheeses. It was never going to last.
At least the Surf & Surf Burger is still around. A fast food Disney crab cake? A handful of fast food Disney shrimp? What could go wrong?
It’s mildly interesting that each entree is served with a choice of two side items. I think I’d go with Fries and Fries.
Here’s the rest of the Pasta and Pizza Shop.
The original offerings.
I do miss the Cheesy Pesto Bread, which was one of the best uses of a snack credit you’d find back in the day.
Now it’s just breadsticks. The Whole Pizzas are actually a really good value that’s often overlooked. If you’ve got two people interested in pizza, consider ordering one of those instead. You’ll come away with far more pizza for far less money.
Finally, at the Salad and Sandwiches Shop, the Create-Your-Own Salad is apparently the “Chef’s Selection” and the other sandwiches available each have a little bit of a twist on the standard Disney offerings.
The choice of two side items remains surprising. You’d think they’d force a 5-cent cup of Coleslaw on you and then maybe let you choose between the Chips or the Caesar.
The “Chef Selection” soup was French Onion, which seems…aggressive. “French Onion-ish” is probably more accurate.
A variety of smoothies and such are available.
And a lot more goodies.
The Gelato is very good.
But it’s not the biggest cup.
This time around, I went with the $14 “Jumbo Stuffed Meatball on a bed of Marinara with Parmesan Herb Polenta and a Breadstick.”
It was indeed giant – probably eight ounces of what “felt” like a mostly-pork meatball with a generic blend of Italian spices.
It was stuffed with a good amount of melted cheese that added a warm, comforting element after the exterior layer of meat was breached, which took some time and effort given its size. The Parmesan Herb Polenta was creamy and corn-heavy with a little bit of a cheesy vibe that added even more of a thyme and rosemary flavor to the meatball. The breadstick in back is pretty forgettable, but you can use it to mop up some of the excess sauce and polenta if you so choose. It was at least soft with a little bit of chew, unlike the long, rock hard sticks that we’re used to seeing.
Overall, this seems like a bit of a silly dish, but it works for the most part and the polenta is a nice substitute for what is usually gummy spaghetti. Consider it if you’re after some meat but find yourself hamburger’d out. What a predicament.
The $11.49 “Chicken Parmesan – Two Baked Chicken Breasts Nestled on a bed of Pasta with Marinara and Melted Provolone Cheese, served with a Breadstick” is a stupid amount of food, even if that isn’t obvious from the picture. It’s at least eight ounces of chicken topped with quite a bit of cheese on top of at least eight ounces of spaghetti. It must have been a pound and a half of food overall. I struggled to move it into position for this glamour shot.
The fact that the chicken was baked was a little strange considering this is billed as “Chicken Parmesan.” You’d typically expect to see deep-fried, breaded, crispy chicken. But the baked version is probably a little healthier and they actually did a pretty nice job with it in that the chicken wasn’t bone dry. All of the cheese certainly helps carry the flavor, but the spaghetti is overcooked and the sauce is on the bland side. Still, for Disney quick service that comes in under 12 bucks, this was pretty good and a terrific value if you’re smart enough to share it. It’s an overwhelming amount of food.
The $14 “Mongolian Grilled Fish with Naan Bread, Seasonal Risotto, and Choice of Side.” Apparently, garlic is in season as you can see the pesto topping on top of the fish is almost as big as the filet itself. I don’t think risotto works too well here – the fish would need to be a lot crispier to stand out against the creamy, supple, garlic-heavy rice. Instead, the fish is on the mushy side and its mild flavors are immediately lost in a word that I’m going to have to repeat again – garlic. So much garlic.
We went with the Spinach and Paneer Cheese side in the middle, but you can go with the Brussels, Green Beans, Jasmine Rice (not pictured), or double up on the Naan, which was actually pretty good. I like the Spinach and Paneer, but you’ll need to be expecting a tofu vibe from the cheese and what is probably less flavor than you’re expecting.
Overall, the Fish probably disappointed at the $14 price point. I feel like Disney is dreaming up some of these dishes in their Flavor Lab (which is a real thing) with little concern about whether the quick service outlets that will be serving them can successfully execute the dish. Risotto is temperamental enough as it is when you’re paying close attention to it on the stove. It’s not the sort of thing that’s meant to sit in a warmer after it’s prepared by a busy cast member that’s also in charge of 12 different things. Add the soft fish on top and you have a very green-looking dish without the textural contrast to make anything work. On one hand, you’ve got to give Disney credit for trying. On the other hand, maybe being a little more realistic about what the kitchen can adequately produce would help.
A large variety of canned and bottled beverages are available to-go, including more than 15 beers, more than ten wines, and a variety of mixed drinks.
These Cutwater Spirits “Ready to Drink Cocktails” are interesting. I’ve only tried the Bloody Mary, which comes in at 10% ABV and is overpoweringly spicy.
Here’s a particularly bad photo of this cooler, where the lights were off inside. Of note is the half gallons of 1% and whole milk on the bottom along with the 24-pack of small bottled waters, which should be surprisingly inexpensive.
A semi-economical choice on the soda front is the 2-liter bottles typically available at the resort store, but also available chilled here at Landscape of Flavors.
$3.99 is “only” 30 cents more than a standard large fountain beverage and you may appreciate having a bottle in the fridge back in the room. For about the same price as a refillable mug, you could pick up five 2-liters, which works better for my habits.
Speaking of refillable mugs, they’re up to $19 and valid for the length-of-stay, which should be 14 days by default.
Here’s the lineup at Art of Animation – Mello Yello is on the rare side and the addition of the “vitaminwater” is a nice touch. In the heat, sometimes it’s nice to get started with something that isn’t carbonated.
Eligible drink options for kids on the Dining Plan are available in a separate cooler.
Along with some packaged side items.
Healthy snacks…Clementines, Hummus, Fruit, Vegetables, etc.
Less healthy snacks.
The rare Rice Krispies Treats made by Selma’s Cookies. No “Crisped Rice Treats” here!
This style of dessert is typically one that Disney does well.
And there’s always a cupcake.
Finally, some cereal options.
Using a snack credit on a Cereal/Milk combo might be a smart move to save some quick service credits, which almost always go further for lunch and dinner.
Overall, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort continues to offer a nice variety of dishes, though they may be out-kicking their coverage when it comes to fancier, more-involved dishes that the kitchen can’t reasonably be expected to execute.
But there is plenty of seating, though it does get loud during busier times. I’ve been known to sit at the tables that are just outside, which makes it easy to refill beverages and get away from some of the noise.
Lunch is easily the least busy meal of the day and if you can swing it, a good choice for a first meal here if you’re staying at the resort. You’ll be able to get your bearings with far fewer people around and it’s much less hectic than breakfast or dinner.
We’ll take a look at what’s going on outside next.