On our recent family trip to Disney World’s New Fantasyland grand opening, we stayed at the new Art of Animation Resort! When I found out the hotel name, and learned it was a budget or value hotel, this made me more curious than anything. After staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel at Disneyland twice, I know that Disney knows how to treat their guests on their properties regardless if you’re staying at an on-site hotel at Disneyland or budget hotel like Art of Animation. Still, I wanted to see – would Art of Animation feel like a budget hotel? The answer is, quite simply, no. It’s Disney, people! And Disney knows how to do it right. So, in the spirit of the fun of Disney, I put on my thinking cap and brought you my favorite features of the Art of Animation Resort, ABC style.
A: Animation Hall Building – This is the main building at Art of Animation, where you will check-in with the always cheerful staff (no, really, it’s quite amazing to witness how genuinely happy staff are to help you out after your long day!), the on-site restaurant, arcade, store, and business center (but more about all of that below!)
B: Big Blue Pool! Art of Animation resort boasts 3 swimming pools, the largest of which is the Big Blue Pool just outside the Animation Hall Building. This is a great pool for all ages, as it starts out very shallow by the jellyfish and then gets progressively deeper. There seemed to always be some sort of activity going on when we were by the pool. Not counting the water parks, the Big Blue Pool is the largest pool on Disney World property, so if some relaxing swim time is important, this is the place to stay!
C: Cars Family Suites, where our family stayed during our visit, brought us right into Radiator Springs. After our visit to the Cars Land grand opening at Disneyland in June, we were excited to visit Radiator Springs on the other side of the US this time! Family Suites at Art of Animation Resort are simply outstanding! They have two bathrooms (yes, one for just mom and dad!), a kitchenette (buy popcorn at World of Flavors or pack your own for microwave popcorn in the evenings!), a sofa and tv (a second TV in the master bedroom!) and an awesome eating area called an Inovabed – a table that converts to a bed in seconds. We loved this! The room was spacious enough that all 5 of us had our own space to relax, and the eating area was so well thought out (doubling as a bed) that we were able to have meals in our rooms several times at the end of a long day.
D: (The) Drop Off Poolside Bar – located beside the Big Blue Pool, offers quick snacks and beverages. We noticed it much more busy in the evening hours than during the day – parents taking some “me” time at the end of a busy day perhaps?
E: Elephant Graveyard – located in the Lion King area of the resort, this is a fabulous location for photos with the family, putting kids right in the middle of The Lion King film.
F: Flippin’ Fins Pool is found in the Little Mermaid area of the resort and is a perfect area if you’d like a less-busy pool area (The Big Blue Pool is definitely where all the action is). Again, great for photos with the family because of all the great statues in The Little Mermaid area of the resort!
G: Grapes, yes grapes! Kids meal entrees always come with healthy sides like grapes or carrots, applesauce and of course juice boxes or milk. I loved these packages of grapes and carrots – they were perfect sides, perfect in our fridge in our room for snacking, and perfect for taking to the parks with us. Guests can also purchase healthy snacks from the World of Flavors coolers for the whole family.
H: Hospitality rules at Art of Animation. Budget, value, or five-star – it makes no difference in my experience when you’re staying at a hotel on Disney property. Cast members (staff) are always ready and happy to offer you assistance when needed. The kids loved the attention they got from cast members around the resort, especially my 5 year old being called Princess several times a day.
I: Ink and Paint Shop is a one-stop shopping area inside the Animation Hall. We picked up everything from souvenir t-shirts to cupcake toppings to diapers at the store. I was thrilled that diapers were not a ridiculous price either, they were exactly what I would have paid at home (yay for parents not being taken advantage of with necessities like this!)
J: The Jogging Trail at the Art of Animation resort is a 1.38 mile trail through the resort, perfect for jogging enthusiasts or moms that like taking a leisurely walk with the stroller like me!
K: Kings are at the Art of Animation! The Lion King area of the resort is a lot of fun to walk through and kids will love feeling like they’re in Africa with their favorite characters. Continue walking and you’ll come to The Little Mermaid area of the resort where King Triton’s statue reminds you who’s boss.
L: Landscape of Flavors is the on-site restaurant at Art of Animation. There’s a huge assortment of food and drinks available, including late night snacks, microwave popcorn, fruit and gelato! Menu items are all under $14.99 and there’s plenty of space for families. You’ll never wonder if you can get a seat or if it will be too crowded. Plus, everyone else’s kid is having a meltdown too, so it’s all good.
M: Mermaids! If you have a fan of The Little Mermaid in your household like we do, they will love The Little Mermaid area of the resort. While this is the one area that does not house family suites, you can still walk over and check out the Flippin’ Fins Pool and all the statues in tribute to the films.
N: Nemo! Finding Nemo’s tributes definitely take center stage at Art of Animation since the Big Blue Pool is right outside Animation Hall. We loved the seagulls from Finding Nemo perched atop pillars outside one of the buildings! They excitedly say “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” at random times when guests walk past. We were actually disappointed the times we didn’t get the greeting!
O: Orange cone pylons are everywhere in the Cars area of the resort. You’ll see them in the pattern on the carpet, the lights in the hallway, the lamps in the bedrooms, the curtains, the sheets and more! The Cozy Cone Pool in the Cars courtyard even offers orange cone pylon cabanas!
P: Pixel Play Arcade is a great spot for the kids to chill out for a few hours at the end of the day. There’s ample seating for parents too, right by the doors, so you can hang out and let the kids play some games (it’s cashless and instead uses a card system that you pay for at the start) and there’s also tons of room for strollers as well.
Q: Quiet hours at Art of Animation are from 11pm-8am. Like all Disney Resorts, you’re staying among your people! Families are everywhere so you can be assured that in the overnight hours everyone else is just as exhausted as you and you’ll sleep soundly.
R: Righteous Reef Playground was our favorite spot at Art of Animation. Located past the Big Blue Pool this is a spray-park type of area where little ones can run, jump and play on a soft spongy surface while mom and dad relax from nearby lounge chairs. My girls (5 and 1) loved playing in this area while their big brother (8) hung out with a new friend in the Big Blue Pool.
S: Self-serve laundry services, be still my mommy heart! We all know how traveling with kids results in packing a huge amount of clothing. One thing I’ve learned with my three kids and vacations is you should always pack extra clothes. We learned this the hard way when our bargain-brand diapers failed us miserably while at the parks and we went through several pairs of pants and shorts every day with our toddler. Thankfully , we had access the self-serve laundry service at Art of Animation.
T: Travel Mugs are the bomb. Buy these at the Landscape of Flavors restaurant upon your arrival. They are about $15 but well worth it! Once you purchase the mug you can refill it through your entire stay at the drink station inside Landscape of Flavors (I also heard you can refill it at The Drop Off as well). My husband and I would debate which one of us would do a “sodee pop run” once the kids were settled into their beds each night.
U: Under-water music in The Big Blue Pool is a treat for guests when swimming. Listen for surf music and characters from Finding Nemo including Marlin, Nemo, Dory, Crush, Squirt, Mr. Ray, and Bruce! Fun, right?
V: Value resorts rock! While Art of Animation is considered a value resort you will not for one second of the day feel like you are getting a less-than-stellar Disney service and experience. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, want to stay at a Disney Resort, and want to look at a value or budget resort – this is where you want to be. Buses take you from your resort to the parks with little to no wait, the food is great, the atmosphere is so family perfect…it’s just an all-around good place to be.
W: World of Flavors Breakfast Platter – one of my fave meals because there’s so much that it can be shared with the kids (who devoured their child-sized breakfasts and then looked to mine!) Scrambled eggs, Breakfast potatoes, Portuguese sausage and Mini Naan Bread, yum!
X: X-mas (hey X is a hard one to come up with!) Since we were visiting during the holiday season it’s worth mentioning that Art of Animation gets into the Christmas spirit with a beautiful tree and decorations in the Animation Hall.
Y: Yogurt parfaits, available at Landscape of Flavors, are a yummy breakfast alternative that was a popular choice when we were there. When else do we as parents get to be the ones to say, “I want strawberries, and no definitely no kiwi on there!” It’s about time we got to be picky!
Z: Zazu! Oh, the ever wise Zazu from The Lion King. Find him as a statue at The Lion King area of the resort as well as on the headboards in the rooms!