Art of Animation – Disney Hotel Review

Monday, February 24, 2014

Art of Animation – Disney Hotel Review

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Here is an honest review and close up look at Disney World newest hotel Art of Animation Hotel.
Disney World Art of Animnattion - Disney Hotel Review

If you are considering staying at Disney World’s newest hotel – Art of Animation you are going to want to read this.

Here is an in-depth look at this hotel, the larger than life characters, the charm, and the things that may make you think twice before staying here. 

If you are looking specifically at the family suites, don’t miss Disney World Hotels for Families of 5+.

Disney World Art of Animation Review

Now I am going to try to give you an unbiased view, but part of giving you one customers (ours) experience is giving you my opinion.

Checking into the Art of Animation

The Art of Animation is Disney World’s newest hotel. It is a value hotel with 75% family suites – accommodating families of 6 in one stateroom.

It is filled with kid favorite,  larger than life characters that give this resort a fun, upbeat fill. The theming is done really well. 

There are 3 pools, a counter service dining food court, gift store, 4 “play” areas, and an arcade all situated off of a lake on the other side of the Pop Century Value Resort.

  art of animation map

You can get to Disney's Art of Animation by car (and park in the complementary parking lot) or take the Magical Express as we did. In case you are not familiar, the Magical Express is Disney World’s FREE transportation from the Orlando airport via bus to your Disney Resort. It is easy to use and starts the “magic” right at the airport!

Art of Animation Lobby - Cusotmer Service Review

Lobby / Customer Service

If you did the online check in it is suppose to speed things up when you get there. However check-in, as was everything else dealing with customer service at this resort during our visit, was sorely lacking. We spent 60 minutes (yep one whole hour) trying to get checked in. Although I’d like to say it was random, we encountered numerous other guests that had and were having the same experience with the cast members from Art of Animation.

Gift Store

The gift store is open late and offers some good shopping for character themed souvenirs. It is also a great place to trade pins with cast members and offers a pin board several times a day.


The arcade is larger than some of the other value resorts. There are a fair number of choices that will keep kid engaged for a while. There is even a table with coloring sheets to keep younger children engaged. Don’t miss the pin board in the arcade!

Food at the Art of Animation

Art of Animation Food Court This modern looking counter service look was stunning, the food was just so-so.

There was always plenty of seating and the tables were cleaned fairy quickly. The soda machines are now equipped to read a chip in the refillable mug to ensure guests are being honest. Very clever!

Breakfast – there were lots of choices including

  • Make your own Smoothie
  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes
  • Waffles (Ariel, Lion King, Cars – clever, but the kids missed the Mickey waffles)
  • Breakfast Sandwiches (the chicken one was pretty good!)
  • Breakfast Platters (focus was not on quality)
  • Challah French Toast
  • Assorted Pastries, Muffins (one snack credit or meal was 1 item + 1 beverage)

Lunch & Dinner

Lunch & Dinner where were I think they’ve made their mistake. They have my least favorite food of all the value resorts! They have a huge emphasis on healthy food. Don’t get me wrong – I love healthy food, but this wasn't just healthy choices – they were not really good choices.
  • Create Your Own Salad (not like a Salad bar & hard to pick your options)
  • Sandwiches (Buffalo Turkey, Salmon Club, Caprese – interesting, but where is just a good old chicken sandwich?)
  • Tandoori Acorn Squash
  • Lentil Crusted Fish
  • Make Your Own Pasta
  • Large Pizza for 2 dining credits (not sold by the slice!) – a good value as it feed our family of 5!
  • Hamburger

What it was missing!

  • Snack foods for the afternoons at the hotel  - Nachos, baked potato, hot dog, chili, Sundaes, etc.
  • Desert was all incredibly rich and pretty, but what about a good old fashioned Sundae like Pop Century
  • Dinner – I was hoping for meatloaf, fried chicken, roast, etc. for dinner at least one of the nights!
  • The desserts were either very pretty & decadent like the cupcakes or a very small serving of gelato. I’d much prefer the huge Sundaes at Pop Century!
There were plenty of times that even the 70+ year old Grandparents headed back into one of the parks just to eat dinner because the food was just not that good at the hotel.

The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms

Litlte Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation Hotel in Disney World

Only one part of the Art of Animation has “standard” rooms – The Little Mermaid section. The rooms are smaller the most value regular rooms, but they are cute and allow you to stay at the Art of Animation (if that is your desire). These rooms are far back and to the left. It will take you about 10 minutes of walking without pushing it to get to the bus in the morning. 

On the upside it is decorated beautifully and boasts a beautiful pool that is less crowded than the main “Nemo” pool.
Litlte Mermaid Rooms at Art of Animation Hotel in Disney World
There are lots of fun things to look at in the area – just remember no climbing

Finding Nemo Family Suites

Finding Nemo Family Suites at Art of Animation in Disney World

The Nemo family suites are the most convenient to the food court and transportation. They also surround the main pool. However, they are more crowded and could get a little noisy.

The rooms are all beautifully themed with Nemo in a pallet of blue. See Art of Animation Family Suites .

Finding Nemo Play Area at Art of Animation in Disney World

Nemo Play Area

The Nemo Play area is super cute to look at, but will not hold your kids attention for long. For one it is pretty much just 2 slides (one tunnel and one flat one). Because it is right next to the splash area there are always kids trying to go down in their swimsuits and getting stuck. So it doesn't work for kids in swimsuits and because it is all splattered with water, it doesn't work for kids in street clothe either. Cute, but pretty useless.
Finding Nemo pool with splash area at Art of Animation in Disney World

Nemo Pool

The Nemo pool is the largest and is located in the middle of the resort. The pool hosts different games and activities throughout the day (kids can win prizes too!). The other draw is that the pool has underwater speakers – pretty cool! You will also find a fun splash area for younger kids, although my kids missed having some water to wallow in like they do at Pop Century.

The theming can’t be beat – just beautiful!

Lion King Family Suites

Lion King Family Suites at Art of Animation in Disney World

The Lion King Family Suites just might be perfectly situated. They are almost as close as the Nemo Suites, but without the pool noise. We loved walking under the iconic Lion King scene above each morning as we headed to the bus.

Lion King Play Area at Art of Animation in Disney World

Lion King Play Area

The Lion King Play Area was actually my favorite. There are a few passage ways under the hyenas and during the day there is a water mist that comes on. 

Art of Animation  Movie Under the Stars

Lion King Movies Under the Stars

All Disney resorts play Disney movies under the star. Some play it at the pool (which is nice too) but at Art of Animation they play it just under Simba. The movies vary, but typically involve Lion King, Little Mermaid, Cars, Finding Nemo, and Dumbo. Look at your Guide for current movies and show time. It is fun to sack out on a lounge chair (they will bring them) and eat your dinner or snack while watching a movie outside.

Resorts all play different Disney movies. We found the selection at the Art of Animation to be one of the best for families of young children!

NOTE: Our room was right by this. We could see the movie screen from our window, but could not hear a sound. The rooms are very sound proof!

Radiator Springs Family Suites

Cars Family Suites at Art of Animation in Disney World

The Cars Family Suites are far away on the right end. Not sure if it because there are fewer trees or what but this area seems to hold the heat in more than the others. It gets HOT! Which is a shame, because the area is amazingly cute. This is also a 10-15 minute walk from the buses. 

It does have it’s own pool, but it is a half wheel shape and doesn't seem to be as conducive to swimming. Out of the three pools it was our least favorite.
Cars Family Suite at Art of Animation in Disney World There is no “playground” per say, but lots of fun Cars characters to explore and play around.


Art of Animation Family Suites

If you are looking at staying at the Disney Art of Animation don’t miss a chance to take a peak inside the family suites – they don’t disappoint! Disney's Art of Animation Family Suites Review

Should I Stay at Art of Animation Hotel?

Honestly, I’m torn. There are some really cool things, and some things that really bother me. Plus, because it is newer it doesn't always qualify for special promotional pricing. So here are the main points – you decide.
  • Amazing Theming (like WOW!)
  • Large Suites for Families of 6 (cost $288/night and up)
  • Limited Dining Choices
  • Poor Customer Service (in our experience)


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  1. We just took our first trip to Disney World and had originally booked Art of Animation and then switched to Pop Century because AoA wasn't included in the package we wanted. Now I'm glad we switched. Thanks for another great post!

    1. You will LOVE Pop Century! Great splash area and wonderful menu of both hearty & snacky food. Don't miss out on the Sundaes!!!

  2. Thank you Beth. I appreciate all your insight on WDW travelling. It will be a couple years before we make our family trip and I had been considering Art of Animation because it looks so cute in photos. Thanks for your review.

    1. It is beautiflul and the theming is WOW! Hopefully in a couple years when you go there they will have fixed the menu & customer service issues =)

  3. We stayed there last summer... Just had to once I found it had Little Mermaid rooms and the Cars statues there, too! (Both kids loved that!)
    The only problem we had is because it is so new there were several computer glitches. The first room we were sent to was already occupied. And then we had 2 different groups of people try to get in our room with keys in the middle of the night because they were sent to our room. But, I will say Disney made up for that and paid us back our money for that night.

  4. I'm sad that you had a horrible customer service experience. Our experience, last May, was quite the opposite. I could not rave enough about their customer service. Check-in for us only took about 10 minutes (we also used the online check-in). The people at the gift shop made my son's experience even more memorable when they special requested that 'Lilo' bring over a Stitch stuffed animal from Pop Century when we discovered that AOA was sold out. They shipped it over that night and made it into a huge deal to make the moment really special for him.

    I have to agree with you on their food though. Although we were pleased with the selections, we were disappointed with the quality, or lack of it. Food was cold and bland.

    We loved AOA and would recommend it to anyone.

  5. Hey Beth! We are staying at Art of Animation in one of the Cars suites and had a few questions... What is the kitchen area like? Is there a freezer? full size coffee pot? plates/utensils? And are there pool towels available or will we need to bring our own? Thanks so much!!!

    1. It is a small kitchenette but it includes a fridge (not freezer). There are plastic plates and utensils that are replenished daily by housekeeping. Pool towels are always available at the pools on all Disney properties.

      Have fun!