This review of Disney’s Art of Animation shares our latest experience at the resort. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of staying here, including rooms, dining, recreation, transportation, and other resort amenities.
After browsing a few photos of Disney’s Art of Animation, you might think it looks like a lot of fun. All of that Disney–right outside your room–the kids will love it!
But those Little Mermaid rooms look kind of small–do we really want to spend an entire week in one? Wait! The resort has other room options–-family suites. Oh, wow, that’s a lot of money! Shouldn’t we stay at one of the nicer hotels if we spend that kind of money?
Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. This is the kind of decision that guests often wrestle with when planning a stay at Disney’s Art of Animation.
Below, we’ll share the details of staying in The Little Mermaid section of the resort. I’ll also try to help you discern when staying in one of the family suites is worth the price over upgrading hotels.
Disney’s Art of Animation Review
Disney’s Art of Animation is one of five value resorts at Walt Disney World. It’s worth considering if you want a resort that offers true Disney theming.
Like its name, Art of Animation offers a nod to drawing. Throughout the resort, you’ll find artwork from initial pencil sketches to completed ink-and-paint drawings.
For example, sketches of Squirt are airbrushed on the exterior of the Finding Nemo family suites. A sketchpad on the end doubles as the cover for the stairwell. It shows Squirt as a finished full-color drawing.
These details, among many others, make Art of Animation charming and interesting. When it comes to Disney theming, the resort’s grounds are spectacular.
However, Art of Animation covers a good deal of ground. Before proceeding with this review, let’s look at the resort map and the property’s layout. Then, we’ll discuss each of the resort’s four themed areas.
Art of Animation Map
Themed Areas at Art of Animation
Disney’s Art of Animation has four themed areas inspired by animated films that embody the animation theming. Those four areas are:
- The Little Mermaid
- The Lion King
- Finding Nemo
Those themes are represented by huge character drawings at the resort’s front entrance. Below, you can see Lightning McQueen, Ariel, Nemo, and Simba from their respective movies.
Those themes are continued at each section of the resort. Each section’s interior forms a courtyard. Inside those courtyards, over-sized characters wait to greet guests as they come and go from their rooms. For example, King Triton sits on one side of the courtyard in The Little Mermaid section of the resort.
We’ll preview each of these sections. However, you’ll want to know one important factor before you fall in love with a specific area. The Little Mermaid section is the only area of the resort that offers value accommodations. Art of Animation’s other areas (The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars) comprise family suites, which are considerably more expensive.
The Little Mermaid Section
Art of Animation’s The Little Mermaid area sits on the far end of the resort. It is the farthest from Animation Hall, where the resort’s lobby, dining, and bus transportation are located.
You’ll walk through The Lion King section on your way to this resort area. Upon arrival, you’re greeted by a statue of Prince Eric.
Soon after, you’ll see a few of Ariel’s treasures, like this dinglehopper. I mean, fork.
Several other treasures sit nearby.
Ursula towers over the right side of the courtyard.
She is impressive.
Sebastian leads his orchestra nearby. I can almost hear Under the Sea playing in the background. These areas make for the cutest photo spots.
King Triton sits on the opposite side. It appears he’s keeping guard over the pool area.
Poor Sebastian is stuck between King Triton and Ursula! I always wonder if anyone notices their appropriate placements.
Ariel and Flounder sit behind the Flippin’ Fins Pool at the back of the courtyard.
The Lion King Section
The Lion King section of Art of Animation sits between Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid areas. This area appears to be the least themed. However, if you look closely, the details are present.
Rafiki stands guard outside the section. He greets guests returning to the room after a long day at Magic Kingdom.
Mufasa sits tall on Pride Rock overlooking the Lion King suites. (He also overlooks the fire pit where they roast marshmallows each evening.)
You can see a group gathered underneath him in the picture below. A little smoke indicates perfectly burnt marshmallows.
Portions of this area are various shades of green.
Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa are dancing on a log.
Shadows of various animals are painted on the buildings.
Scar sits on the outskirts. He’s ready to pounce on anyone heading to The Little Mermaid area. Okay, not really.
Zazu sits on the opposite side.
Most staircases in this section of the resort have a rock wall wrapped around them.
However, each building facing the outside of the resort has a giant sketchbook with finished artwork.
Finding Nemo Section
The Finding Nemo section of the resort is the most preferred location. It sits directly between Animation Hall and the Skyliner. The Big Blue Pool sits in the center of the buildings that comprise this area.
Similar to The Little Mermaid area, lavish landscaping mimics the sea. Overall, you’ll feel as though you’ve set foot “In the Big Blue World,” or at the very least, one of the Finding Nemo films.
A playground sits behind the pool and splash pad.
This entire area offers the prettiest pops of aquatic colors. Notice how Bruce the shark is airbrushed on one of the buildings facing the pool.
What child wouldn’t love to stay here?
While we don’t stay at Art of Animation often, we visit the resort regularly. I can attest that the sunsets are pretty amazing.
The Cars Section of Art of Animation
Last, we have the Cars section at Art of Animation Resort. This section is immediately to the right when you exit the lobby and offers fun life-size cars from the animated film.
A magnificent billboard welcomes you to Radiator Springs. It’s a happy place. Sheriff sits below the sign–no speeding!
A reminder: This area is made up of Cars family suites. Lightning McQueen and Sally sit outside the Wheel Well Motel.
A Cozy Cone Motel sign spins outside the pool area.
Don’t forget to stop and get a photo-op with Mater.
During our visits, we’ve always noticed children exploring the area. They are elated to see their favorite characters.
If you plan to stay here, you’ll want to watch the movies before visiting. It’s a great way to prepare and familiarize yourself with all the characters.
For more photos, we have a separate tour of the Cars Section at Art of Animation. Eventually, we’ll try to get back for a stay in one of the suites.
On this visit, we stayed in a standard guest room in The Little Mermaid section of Art of Animation. Since our last stay, a teal solid surface flooring was added. It’s supposed to represent being under the sea.
From our last stay, these were my thoughts:
While the room felt cute in appearance initially, it didn’t take us long to decide we didn’t care for it.”
Unfortunately, my overall opinion of the rooms hasn’t changed much. However, it’s important to note that these rooms now have queen-size beds instead of full-size beds, and the flooring is a tremendous improvement over the carpet. (A few rooms have king-size beds.)
Our room had a small table with chairs, a shell mirror, a Prince Eric painting, and an Under the Sea curtain divider.
The Little Mermaid standard room has a guest bath with a separate vanity area and one sink.
An open closet is available. Additionally, we had an in-room safe, an iron, an ironing board, extra pillows, a blanket, and a luggage rack.
Ariel is in the bathroom in her thing-a-ma-bob place. The shower space feels like a dungeon with its dark colors.
This room had a mini-refrigerator. Thankfully, these hold a decent amount of items. However, many of the rooms now have beverage coolers. Ours actually froze a few things.
As far as comparing the family suites, they sleep up to six guests. These suites have a queen bed, a double sleeper, and a table bed that folds to provide a double-size bed.
Family suites have a few extras, like a kitchenette with a refrigerator, a sink, and a microwave. While you don’t get a full kitchen, the extras are nice, and you can save money by preparing some meals in the room.
Unfortunately, the family suites cost considerably more than the standard rooms. Often, these rooms are similarly priced to staying in a deluxe or deluxe villa resort.
So, if you have small children who will immensely enjoy Art of Animation, staying in a family suite is warranted. Many multi-generational families visit Art of Animation for the extra space when their children are still young–and they love it.
However, if you’re only looking for larger accommodations or more amenities, you might consider one of Disney World’s Villa Resorts. These resorts will have extra benefits and, in most instances, better access to select theme parks.
Art of Animation has three pools: the Flippin’ Fins Pool, the Big Blue Pool, and the Cozy Cone Pool. The Lion King section of the resort does not have a pool area.
The Big Blue Pool is considered the feature pool at Disney’s Art of Animation. It’s the single largest pool on Walt Disney World property. You’ll find The Big Blue Pool in the center of the resort, directly behind Animation Hall.
While this is the largest pool, it’s also the busiest. Since Art of Animation is a value resort, the pool doesn’t have a water slide. However, due to its size and theming, it still gets an honorable mention in our list of the best pools at Disney World.
The Schoolyard Sprayground, a splash pad play area, sits directly behind The Big Blue Pool.
An additional “dry” playground sits behind the splash pad.
Another play area called the Elephant Graveyard is in The Lion King Section.
Some resorts have multiple quiet pools with longer hours not staffed by lifeguards. However, at Art of Animation, the other two smaller pools have lifeguards and are open the same hours as the regular pool. (Those hours are usually from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. but might be shortened during cooler months.)
The Flippin’ Fins Pool is themed to Sebastian’s Under the Sea Symphony. Below is a view of the pool from our building. A massive statue of Ariel faces the pool area.
On the opposite side of the resort is the Cars section, where you’ll find the Cozy Cone Pool.
Cone-shaped cabanas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. We have an entire article dedicated to the Pools at Art of Animation Resort if you would like to see more photos and details.
In addition to the pools, several other recreational opportunities are available. For instance, the Pixel Play Arcade is inside Animation Hall.
Art of Animation has a 1.38-mile jogging trail that circles Hourglass Lake. The lake is shaped like an hourglass with a large bridge between Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Art of Animation.
I didn’t get the opportunity to run on my last stay. But it is a beautiful area along the water.
Signs with fun facts about the movies represented at the resort are placed along the trail.
These little extras make for excellent conversation topics if you decide to enjoy a stroll around the lake.
It’s a beautiful area, especially at sunset.
Art of Animation participates in the nightly Movies Under the Stars program. Movies are available toward the front of The Big Blue Pool.
If you want to attend a movie, take a photo of the resort’s recreation calendar. One is usually posted by the pool, and another inside the lobby. We also try to post the monthly recreation schedule for each Disney Resort.
From time to time, an art class called Animation Academy is offered. This is a fun drawing class that is available to all guests.
Here is a closer look at the monthly recreation calendar.
Like most value resorts, Disney’s Art of Animation has one primary dining location and a pool bar. Landscape of Flavors is the name of the resort’s counter service. It has a food court setup with various stations offering different cuisines.
This food court is located off Animation Hall, the resort’s lobby. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are open daily from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.
Below is a menu featuring chicken parmesan pasta, baked macaroni and cheese with barbecued beef, pizza, a burger, chicken nuggets, a pork sandwich, and a vegan option.
Guests can opt to use mobile order at Landscape of Flavors.
The quick service had a decent selection of pastries and desserts.
A refrigerated case had plenty of beverages.
Another plus is that Landscape of Flavors tends to be open relatively late. So, if you find yourself famished at the end of the evening, there’s hope.
Unfortunately, we had reservations elsewhere for most of our stay. But I ordered a kids’ meal for breakfast on our last day. I got the oatmeal with cranberries that come with two sides. I chose turkey sausage and a pack of apple slices. No worries, Mickey waffles are available!
But almost everyone ahead of me was ordering the loaded totcho bowl, which is potato barrels topped with scrambled eggs, cheddar, sausage gravy, and bacon. You can preview the entire menu for the food court on Disney.com.
Lastly, The Drop Off Pool Bar is at The Big Blue Pool. This location has snacks, beverages, and Disney’s standard cocktail menu.
A soda machine is on the side of the Drop-Off Pool Bar, so you can refill your mug if you purchase a Rapid Fill mug.
Art of Animation offers two forms of transportation. The first is Disney’s bus transportation. You can take a bus from the resort to the following locations:
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Disney Springs
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Blizzard Beach
Art of Animation bus stop is at the front of the resort near the lobby entrance. Since the resort only has one bus stop, some rooms will be a little further walk from the bus stop than others. The Little Mermaid section of the resort will have the rooms farthest away from the bus stop.
Additionally, Disney’s Skyliner is available at the Art of Animation. The resort shares a drop-off and pick-up point with Disney’s Pop Century Resort in the center of Hour Glass Lake.
Access to Disney’s Skyliner is a significant incentive for those considering a stay at Art of Animation. Disney’s other value resorts (All-Stars) only have one form of transportation.
The Skyliner will take you from Art of Animation to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. You can board an additional gondola to Disney’s Riviera Resort, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios from there.
Art of Animation’s gift shop is called the Ink and Paint Shop. It is located to the right of the lobby. You can cut through it to get to Landscape of Flavors.
They have a good selection of merchandise.
Animation Hall is the lobby at Art of Animation. It is pretty unique in appearance.
Its exterior is made up of bright colors in geometric patterns.
Inside, a panel features finished sketches.
The check-in area has panels with various shades of color ranging from purples to reds and yellows to greens.
Overhead, a skylight allows light to flood the center of the space. Each extension of the chandelier features a drawing.
A feature wall has massive sketches in various stages.
Each pool area at Art of Animation has a laundry room. A machine on the wall takes credit or debit card payments for each load of laundry. A separate vending machine sells detergent and fabric softeners.
Since each laundry room is at the pool, restrooms adjoin them. These restrooms have multiple showers, toiletries, and lockers. So, if you have a late flight out or get in before your room is ready, you can enjoy the pool and use this space as needed.
Pros and Cons of Art of Animation Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has one of the best outdoor spaces of all the resorts. For us, the only downside is the small standard rooms with fairly dark decor and paper-thin walls.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that the resort is busy and has an abundance of guests with small children. So things are often loud and crowded at the larger pool, Animation Hall, and Landscape of Flavors.
But crowds are expected when you design a resort geared toward children. And that’s one thing I would like to mention. Children under 12 or so will fall in love with this resort.
They won’t remember that the room was small or that the only dining option they liked was cheap chicken nuggets. They might remember loving the chicken nuggets. Kids sometimes develop odd memories.
But I think it’s important to point out that getting to stay at Art of Animation is probably a big deal to children. Simultaneously, some adults (not all of you) might find it a bit of a sacrifice.
So, if you get here and aren’t crazy about your room in The Little Mermaid wing, focus on your children and how they see it. We could probably learn a lot from our children.
Speaking of price, I can usually find a room at Pop Century for a somewhat better or comparable price. If that’s the case, I will almost always choose Pop Century because I like their standard rooms better.
But I’m usually not traveling with small children. If I were, we’d likely go to Art of Animation.
Final Thoughts on Disney’s Art of Animation
Hopefully, this Art of Animation Resort review helped plan your upcoming stay. We think the resort is fun and a fantastic location to take photos. But we prefer the resort’s outside aspects more than the value rooms.
Our articles related to the resort are listed in a guide to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort for more details.
If you compare resorts at Disney, you might enjoy browsing our entire list of Disney World Resort Reviews. Or you might enjoy these other resorts on the Skyliner:
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort Review
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Review
- Disney’s Riviera Resort Review
Additionally, Disney’s All-Star Resorts are usually priced lower. Here are those resort reviews:
In the Comments
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