Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
“PLUSSING” THE DISNEY VALUE RESORT EXPERIENCE
In 2012, Walt Disney World opened its newest – and most immersive – value resort. Walt Disney always intended for WDW to grow and evolve, and is known for encouraging his Imagineers to “plus it” – to push projects even further in order to achieve perfection and delight for guests. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has done just that.
It has become one of the most sought after resorts at WDW because of it’s relatively affordable price, ability to accommodate larger families – and let’s be honest – it’s super “plussed” theme!
A FOCUS ON FAMILY SUITES
Back in the early 2000s when Disney’s Pop Century Resort was under construction, it was envisioned as a pair of sister resorts on each side of Hourglass Lake. The second section was to be called “The Legendary Years” – construction was started, foundations were poured, and some buildings were even constructed before the project was halted for nearly a decade.
During that time, Disney’s All-star Music Resort refurbished a portion of their rooms to become new “family suites” that could sleep up to six, instead of two or four as in other Value resort rooms. Including 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette, this new format proved popular and a new concept was born for the partially constructed resort.
At the Art of Animation, the standard rooms which were already constructed would eventually be finished as the Little Mermaid section of the resort – the only thematic area to feature standard rooms.
Brand new buildings were created for the Finding Nemo, Cars, and Lion King sections – which all exclusively feature family suites. The layout of these suites allow families to have lots of space – for sleeping, dining, and relaxing. Thoughtful touches like an Innovabed that easily converts to a dining area and 3 separate sleeping areas make this a perfect pick for larger families who need extra space. Plus, the bathrooms have details that make it extra fun to get squeaky clean!
A focus on family suites would not be the only thing to separate Disney’s Art of Animation from the other Value Resorts…
DISNEY IN THE DETAILS
Every resort at Walt Disney World has a unique theme, but at the value resorts those themes are most evident in the common areas – the lobby, pools, and exterior grounds. But here, the theme details extend into guest rooms in a big way!
Each section features rooms which keep guests in the mood of the movie – with touches like clamshell lamps in the Little Mermaid rooms, leafy chairs in the Lion King suites, a sparkly tuna wall hanging in the Finding Nemo suites, and a bathroom mirror that looks like a carwash sign in the Cars suites. Each room has specially chosen colors, carpeting, and furniture designed to make you a part of the story. It has by far the most immersive character-driven theme of any WDW resort.
Throughout the resort, no detail was spared in showing guests how the evolution of animation brings favorite characters to life. From sketches to full color drawings to the 2500 “life sized” sculptures (designed so that guests are to scale with Nemo, Lighting Mcqueen, Simba, and Ariel) there are no end to chances to learn more about your favorite Disney and Pixar characters – not to mention the photo opportunities!
Even the landscaping in each themed section make the grounds feel like you’re in the world of the movie. Desert plants, marine-inspired foliage, and stunning rockwork all contribute to the feeling of the resort.
But the Disney difference doesn’t stop there…
At WDW, Value Resorts are known to skimp on things like sit-down restaurants, waterslides, and recreational activities. While the Art of Animation isn’t up to the level of Moaderate or Deluxe resorts on these “extras” – the Imagineers sure did “plus” the comforts usually found in Disney’s most affordable hotels.
There are 3 pools at the Art of Animation – one which features Cozy Cone Cabanas (shade structures that are a lot cuter than umbrellas!) and another which has music playing under the water along with an awesome splash pad area for the little ones.
Landscapes of Flavor kicks things up a notch by offering many made-to order items like pasta, salads, and smoothies; interesting options like tandoori chicken, surf-and-surf
burgers, and gluten-free, vegan, Kosher cupcakes; and real plates and silverware – not paper an plastic like in other WDW food courts.
The gift shop offers more than just the standard Disney items – with lots of swag for the movies after which the resort is themed and even specialty items created just for the Art of Animation – my favorite is the paintbrush pen!
Art demonstrations led by character artists are a great way to cool off or keep the kids busy during check in. Bikes and surrey bikes are available to ride around Hourglass Lake. Check-in pods replace a traditiona front desk for a more personal experience. And soon a new mode of transportation – the Skyliner gondola system – will be available in addition to the buses.
Disney’s Art of Animation has really “plussed” the Value Resort concept at WDW, and set the bar high for future renovations or construction. It’s a great choice for families who need extra space, want to live out their dreams of being IN a Disney film, or are looking for lots of family-friendly amenities on a budget.