Here is an honest review and close up look at Disney World newest hotel Art of Animation Hotel.
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Art of Animation Disney Hotel Review
Checking into the Art of Animation
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.
You can get to Disney’s Art of Animation by car (and park in the complementary parking lot Disney began charging for parking at resort hotels beginning March 21, 2018 starting at $13/night) 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!
Lobby / Customer Service
If you did the online check in it is suppose to speed things up when you get there, but that is not always the case. Disney now offers to text you a room number when your room is ready and you can get in with your magic bands – this is not only super convenient, but allows you to head right out to the theme parks to begin having FUN!
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
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!
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 – choices are limited if you are hoping for things like chicken, meat loaf, roast, etc. If you stay here I suggest eating in the theme parks or Disney Springs.
- 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
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.
There are lots of fun things to look at in the area – just remember no climbing.
Finding Nemo Family Suites
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
There is no “playground” per say, but lots of fun Cars characters to explore and play around.
Lion King Family Suite at Disney’s Art of Animation
The Dinning Area
The other meal we loved getting was Cinnamon Rolls at Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom and bringing them back to the hotel for the next day’s breakfast (check them out they are HUGE!) Plus you can warm them up in your in room microwave, stocked plates/cups/silverware and serve with coffee (in room and ready to go!)
The Living Room
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 a value hotel it doesn’t qualify for good promotional pricing. So here are the main points – you decide.
- Amazing Theming (like WOW!)
- Large Suites for Families of 6 (cost $342/night and up)
- Limited Dining Choices
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