It is important for my family and me to always stay on Disney property when we visit the parks. For us, this just helps to round-out the whole Disney experience. We have stayed at resorts of all price-points: deluxe, moderate, and value. For the most part, you get what you pay for. This theory held true until May 31, 2012 when Art Of Animation opened.
This resort is over the top! There are four themed areas: The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and Cars. The Little Mermaid portion has 864 standard rooms that are 277 sq ft each, and the remaining three themed areas have a combined 1120 family suites that are 565 sq ft each. We have four in our family, so we chose to stay in The Little Mermaid portion of the resort.
From the moment we pulled into the parking lot and saw Animation Hall we knew we were in for a treat. The exterior art was amazing, and the animator-theme was immediately apparent. The four themed areas have buildings that aren’t just painted, but are painted with giant murals from each of the movies that serve as a backdrop for the larger-than-life characters. Even the landscaping is themed so that it felt like we moved from desert, to savannah, to under the sea. Disney’s Imagineers thought of every detail! The added bonus is that there are Hidden Mickeys everywhere!
The play and pool areas were also great. In the Cars area there is the Cozy Cone Pool complete with cone-shaped bungalows. Surrounding this pool there is a “meet-and-greet” area with life-size cars from the movie. This is a wonderful place for pictures. The Little Mermaid area features the Flippin’ Fins Pool. This pool is small, but is surrounded by huge statues of Ursula, King Triton, and Ariel. In The Lion King area there is no pool, but there is the Elephant Graveyard playground. This is a fun area with life-size skulls and ribs of elephants that create a cave and climbing areas. The highlight was the pool in the Finding Nemo area. This pool, The Big Blue, is HUGE! In fact, it is the largest pool on Disney resort property. The theming here is unbelievable and I love that it is a zero depth entry. In the main pool Disney has installed underwater speakers that let you hear lines from the movie when you are swimming underwater. Another Disney first! Joining The Big Blue pool there are two other play areas. The Schoolyard Sprayground which is a play area attached to the pool that is for younger kiddos and has pop-up jets and gushing water. An additional area is Squirt’s Righteous Reef. This area is for younger children, but it is a dry play zone. Don’t forget to look for Hidden Mickeys here too! In The Big Blue pool area is The Drop Off, this is Art Of Animation’s only bar and it is a cute place to grab a quick drink.
Art Of Animation has its own dedicated bus service. This is a great feature when you have crabby, tired children after a long day at the parks. The bus terminal is located outside Animation Hall and it is also the stop for Disney’s Magical Express.
For meals there is Landscape Of Flavors. This is similar to other resort dining experiences. It is a quick-serve cafeteria style restaurant. Pizza delivery is also available to your room from 5pm to 1am.
There is a 1.38 mile track that curves around the resort and Hour Glass Lake, which leads through the four different movie-themed areas. In each area there are signs posted with Disney/Pixar fun facts on the front and back of each sign! The Art of Animation track is connected to Pop Century’s track via the Generation Gap Bridge, which extends across the Hour Glass Lake.
All resort business is handled in the central Animation Hall, which includes the front desk for check-in and check-out, bus transportation, the Ink And Paint Shop, Landscape Of Flavors, and an arcade.
The only complaint I will share is that The Little Mermaid portion of the resort is quite a walk from the rooms to Animation Hall and The Big Blue pool area. We enjoyed the walk allowing our kids to explore and take in all the scenery, but it could possibly be a concern for some.
To conclude, I can’t say enough wonderful things about Art Of Animation. We will definitely stay there again! If you have younger children, it is a MUST! My boys didn’t even fuss about staying in The Little Mermaid room. Staying here, you are able to become physically immersed inside your favorite Disney/Pixar film. It is nothing short of magical!