Hi! Morgan here, with Neverland Navigation Co, your personal guides to all things Walt Disney World and BEYOND! Today we are going to show you around the newest (and most expensive) Value Resort on WDW property. I'll take you through the rooms, grounds, amenities, and more at Disney's Art of Animation Resort!
To see our full review and room tour of Art of Animation click the video below.
The colorful resort that is now "Art of Animation" was originally planned to be the second half of the Pop Century Resort. With one half being the "Classic Years" which included buildings from the 1950s-1990s and one half being the "Legendary Years" with decades from the 1900s-1940s represented. After the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001 this project was paused because tourism dropped. They eventually resumed work and "The Classic Years" were opened in 2003. They announced the plan to open "The Legendary Years" in 2007. For reasons unknown, they never resumed construction on "The Legendary Years" and those buildings sat there grey and empty for YEARS. The shells of the hotel were all up and rooms were even built in the 1940s section, but at some point, they stopped and just never picked it back up. In 2010 they announced they were going to resume work on those buildings but they would be retheming them to be "The Art of Animation" featuring movie sections such as The Little Mermaid, Cars, The Lion King, and Finding Nemo. Since the rooms were already built in the 1940s they made that section into "The Little Mermaid” section, which houses Art of Animation's only 'studio rooms'. The other three sections were made into Family Suites!
We have stayed in the "The Little Mermaid" studio room before and I am a HUGE fan. Mostly because I am a hard-core Ariel fanatic. When I was little I'd beg to watch The Little Mermaid over and over. The studio rooms are similar to Pop Century. They are small but comfortable and they have lots of Little Mermaid touches. We even found a "Hidden Mickey" in the shower which looks like Ariel’s Grotto with all her treasures and troves (and a pocket watch with Mickey on it!)
For this review, we booked a "Family Suite" in the "The Lion King" section. The room has a living room with a pullout couch bed AND a Murphy bed that can pull into a full-sized bed and then a separate bedroom that has a full-sized bed. The suites have TWO full bathrooms, which is amazingly convenient! The Family Suite buildings have interior hallways as opposed to the "The Little Mermaid" section and the other value resorts, which all have outside hallways. The Family Suite is big enough for 6 people if you are okay with them all being in close quarters. There was a TV in each room and a mini fridge, microwave, and coffee maker.
The Lion King rooms had more of a preschool vibe than a classy hotel vibe. Bright colors and fun shapes fill the rooms. The walls were even a lime green color. We liked the decor, I just wanted to point out the difference. If you were expecting Animal Kingdom Lodge style Lion King rooms, you may be disappointed. If you have kids, they will likely LOVE the decor in here. Our favorite parts were the mural on the inside of the Murphy Bed, which was adult Simba sleeping on a vine, and the tiles that made the inside of the showers look like the Lion King Sunset scene.
I have mostly good things to say about our stay at the Art of Animation but I'll go ahead and mention the few bad things now. 1) This hotel can be crazy expensive. If the price for two connecting rooms at Pop Century were the same cost or less I would go with Pop Century. The rooms there are a little nicer. ESPECIALLY the fact that the beds in Pop Century and the updated rooms at All-Star Music and All-Star Movies have QUEEN beds. Which brings me to my second gripe. 2) The beds in family suites have full-sized beds. I ranted about this when I wrote my blog about All-Star Sports. Full beds are not big enough for 2 adults comfortably. Especially if you aren't petite adults, but even then. You spent a whole day hot and sweaty park hopping, unless you are on your honeymoon, you probably want your personal space.
Here is a weird thing to mention, take it as you will. In the other value resorts, and the Little Mermaid building you have a window facing your outside hallway. I have a love/hate relationship with this. First off, your room is located along an outside hallway where the ground is made of cement leads to a lot of excess noise from people walking by. On the other hand, a popular thing to do in the value resorts is to bring string lights or window clings or to line plushies up in the window for others to enjoy as they walk by. I think this is SO fun! I love seeing the decorated windows by other guests in the know. There is no opportunity to do that in these family suites.
The grounds of Art of Animation are where they really shine, They have the GIANT fiberglass statues that signify which building you are in like they do in the other value resorts, but the ones here are a step extra. It's not just a statue of Simba, It’s Simba, Timon, and Pumba walking across the log like in the movie. It's not just Scar, there is a mini elephant graveyard scene that the kids can run through.
There are also giant drawings of the characters around the outside of the buildings. The inside area is breathtaking. When you enter the lobby, the wall is covered with ‘concept art’ from when the characters were first developed, and the art on the wall progressively becomes more of the art that resembles the characters as you know them. That concept art wall goes from black and white to color. The check-in desks are colorfully framed in an almost rainbow wave of color (without being a rainbow) Then the wall after you leave the check-in area shows character drawings in color as we know them.
In the food court, there are four sections that you can sit in that are themed like the four movies that are represented. But they are just featuring the background art in the sections. The food court area plays covers of songs from the four represented movies. I will hand it to them, their quick-serve food court has better food than the other value resorts. This is a big plus since this is the only dining location at this resort. As I have said in my other blogs about the value resorts, I do recommend getting a refillable souvenir cup. They are $20 and you can refill them with all of the soda, tea, and coffee that you can drink while at the resort during your stay. They aren't refillable in the parks, but we find it nice to have a big cup of coffee in the morning and sodas at night when we come back to the resort. We mostly, if not entirely, drink free water during the park days to attempt to stay hydrated. You can get free cups of water at almost every quick-serve restaurant in the parks. For a long stay, I would buy one refillable cup for each member of my family, but for a short stay, my husband and I split one cup.
For pool options, the main pool is the “Big Blue Pool” which is, you guessed it, "Finding Nemo" themed. It is a beautiful and fun pool with statues, water fountains, and fun music playing. There are also smaller and quieter (although less “themed”) pools in the Little Mermaid section (The Flippin' Fins Pool) and the Cars section (The Cozy Cone Pool). There are no hot tubs here which is a feature reserved for ‘Moderate’ and ‘Deluxe’ Disney hotels. All Disney pools are heated year around to keep them at a consistent 82 degrees.,
The main draw for this hotel is its access to the Skyliner. The Skyliner is the gondola-esqe transportation you can take to get to EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and other hotels (that have great sit-down restaurants!) - Caribbean Beach and the Riveria. A small downside is that if you are a person too scared of heights to want to take the Skyliner, getting to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios will be a bit tougher (or more expensive if you choose to go the Uber or Lyft or ‘Minnie Van’ route) because they don't run buses from Art of Animation (or any of the Skyliner loop hotels) to Hollywood Studios or EPCOT because they assume everyone will take the skyliner. I’m honestly not a big fan of this policy! I know a few people that can't stomach the height and thought of traveling along a string (ok ok, cable really) to get where they are going. Some people prefer to stay closer to the ground and I can completely understand that. So it is something to bear in mind when you consider which hotel is best for you. If you aren't a Skyliner fan, this one might not be for you. If you are a Skyliner fan, this makes this resort so much more convenient than the All-Star resorts AND all of the moderate resorts except Caribbean Beach. A trip in the Skyliner to Epcot or Hollywood studios is faster and more fun than the bus.
Other amenities to check out at Art of Animation include the arcade, the bright and colorful gift shop, and the walking trails. They also have a self-serve laundry area if you find yourself needing it.
If you are looking for a family suite that isn’t as expensive as the DVC hotel (deluxe) options this one might be perfect for you. If it were me I’d be checking the price of two connecting rooms at All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, and Pop Century and then deciding based on that factor. If 2 connecting rooms were cheaper, then that is probably what I would choose. The main difference between Pop Century and All-Star is the Skyliner access. Since a recent refurbishment, the rooms at Pop Century, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies are nearly identical. The resorts that I just mentioned have bigger and more comfortable beds and have been more recently refurbished, Although DO NOT stay at All-Star Sports unless you have read it has been refurbished. At this time (October 2022) It has not been refurbished and the rooms are unacceptable and in desperate need of refurbishment. The prices at Art of Animation seem to vary greatly from one day to another so that is something else to keep in mind. If I could get a Little Mermaid studio room for $200 or less I probably would, because of the Skyliner access and the fact that The Little Mermaid was my childhood favorite and I am a sucker for the theming.
If this review helped you PLEASE consider subscribing to our youtube channel. Whenever we release a YouTube review vlog, I put out a blog version! Also, we have the most fun podcast ever! It’s called Neverland Navigation Radio and it is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Check out our links below!
Podcast Links- (We are on pretty much all podcast suppliers! Just search Neverland Navigation Radio)
Apple Podcast Link
Spotify Podcast Link
Google Podcast Link
Thanks for your support! See ya real soon!