Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Review

Disney’s Art of Animation is one of five value resorts at Walt Disney World. If you are looking for a resort that offers true Disney theming, you’ll want to consider this resort for your next vacation.

In this Art of Animation Resort review, we’ll preview the rooms, recreation, transportation, and dining options available at the resort. Additionally, I’ll add in a few pros and cons to help you decide if this resort is right choice for your family.

Like it’s name, Art of Animation features tons of animation details along with larger-than-life characters. The resort’s grounds are absolutely stupendous when it comes to Disney theming.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort Review

It’s a beautiful resort, and with a few small exceptions here and there, I think you’re going to love it. But most importantly, for those of you with smaller children, your kids are going to love it.

For starters, when you check-in, you will receive a map like the one below. I recommend familiarizing yourself with the map and your room location.

Related: Disney’s Art of Animation Map

Art of Animation Map
Image Credit: Disney’s Art of Animation Map

Art of Animation is located off Victory Way in the Lake Buena Vista area. The hotel sits across Hour Glass lake from Pop Century. Additionally, it’s only a short Skyliner ride away from Caribbean Beach and Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Given the convenient location, you might elect to drive over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, if you have a car on hand. You can be at the theme park in two minutes after pulling out of the resort’s main entrance.

If you have your own means of transportation while visiting Disney World, you’ll find that the Art of Animation has a good, central location. It is within close proximity to the Disney theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs

Additionally, you can take Osceola Parkway down to the dead-end at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Then take a left on Sherberth Rd and a right on HWY 192 into the Four Corners area.

You’ll find plenty of off-property dining, shopping, and grocery stores in this area. If you would like more info about the area, I have several tips and recommendations in the Orange Lake Resort Review.

This review was last updated on January 29, 2022.

Art of Animation Resort Review

Disney’s Art of Animation is an excellent choice when you have small children in your group or if you’re considering one of the family suites. While I love the resort, I will admit it’s not my favorite option when it comes to standard rooms.

With that being said, I don’t mind staying here. I’m just not crazy about the rooms on The Little Mermaid end of the resort. We’ll discuss those in detail further below.

At of early 2022, the resort is nearing a completion of a lengthy refurbishment. However, the Flippin’ Fins Pool will be closed through February 2022. And after that the Cozy Cone Pool will close through April 2022 for refurbishment.

Additionally, since my last stay, all of the resort’s standard rooms received solid surface flooring. Family suites have also seen several updates during the refurbishment.

When a resort is under refurbishment, prices are typically a little more reasonable in exchange for inconveniences. Therefore, you might be open to staying at a Disney Resort that’s having a little work done.

However, those inconveniences could be dealbreakers for some of you. For instance, if the Big Blue Pool was closed on your vacation. This is one of the main draws for staying here, and it’s the feature pool of the resort. An authorized Disney vacation planner will keep you informed of these types of details.

Themed Areas at Art of Animation

The main win for Disney’s Art of Animation, in my opinion, is the exterior theming at the resort. The resort has four sections featuring classic Disney cartoons that embody the animation theming.

The four themes represented at Disney’s Art of Animation are as follow:

  • Little Mermaid
  • The Lion King
  • Finding Nemo
  • Cars

The signage between the main entrance and the bus stop represents the Disney animated films featured at the resort.

The first section we’ll look at is The Little Mermaid. This area is located on the far end of the resort. In addition, it’s where you’ll find the actual “value” portion of the resort.

If you are looking to stay in a standard hotel room at Art of Animation, this is your only option. The other three sections are all made up of family suites.

Fans of the Little Mermaid will absolutely love being greeted by their favorite characters when coming and going. I know, I’m one of them.

There are all kinds of references to the animated film everywhere you look. For instance, here is the popular statue of Prince Eric. Can’t you just imagine it sitting on the bottom of the ocean floor? You might notice the landscaping imitates sea life.

Ursula is impressive in size as she towers on one side of the Little Mermaid section.

Sebastian is leading his orchestra. I can almost hear Under the Sea playing in the background. These areas make for the cutest photo spots.

I doubt you’ll even have to ask your children to smile for a photo.

Ariel and Flounder are waiting to greet you!

Adjacent to Little Mermaid, we find The Lion King section. Mufasa sits tall on Pride Rock overlooking the Lion King family suites.

In this area, you’ll see Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa on their log hanging out.

Scar sits waiting to pounce on anyone that is heading to The Little Mermaid area. Okay, not really.

Fans of The Lion King will really enjoy the exterior detailing.

Rafiki appears to be beckoning you back to the room after a long day at Magic Kingdom.

All of the animation elements and drawings are fun to see on the sides of the buildings.

Toward the center of the resort, we’ll look at The Finding Nemo section. It’s the heart of the property and where you’ll find the main lobby, The Big Blue Pool, and dining.

The elements here will definitely have you feeling like you’re living In the Big Blue World for the entirety of your vacation.

There’s a cute playground right behind the pool as well.

Everything in this Finding Nemo area offers the prettiest pops of aquatic colors.

What child (big or small) wouldn’t love to stay here?

And I can attest that the sunsets from Art of Animation are pretty amazing.

All of the rooms in this portion of the resort are Finding Nemo family suites.

Last but not least, we have the Cars section at Art of Animation Resort. It’s located to the immediate right when you exit the lobby. This area offers fun life-size cars from the movie.

This magnificent billboard welcoming you to Radiator Springs. It’s a happy place.

You won’t find any standard rooms here, they are all Cars family suites.

There’s even a Cozy Cone Motel. The sign spins!

Don’t forget to stop and get a photo-op with Mater while you are in the area.

During the times I’ve visited, I couldn’t help but notice how much kids really enjoy seeing some of their favorite characters out on the grounds.

Make sure to watch the movies before you visit! It’s a great way to prepare and familiarize yourself with all the characters.

For more photos of the area, we have a full photo tour of this area.

Related: Cars Section at Art of Animation

Rooms

For this stay, we will take a look at the standard guest rooms at Art of Animation. These room photos were taken before the flooring update. You can expect everything to be pretty much the same, except the floor. Now there’s teal solid surface flooring in the room.

I must admit, as much as I love The Little Mermaid, I’m not crazy about the rooms here. Instead of feeling bright and cheerful, we felt that it was a little more on the dark and uninviting side.

Since my last stay, I’ve updated this entire review to provide better photos and information. However, my feelings about these specific rooms at the resort haven’t changed. Below is one my original thoughts about this room.

“While the room felt cute in appearance initially, it didn’t take us long to decide we didn’t care for it.”

The beds in the Little Mermaid rooms are full size. They do not have a queen bed option in this type of guest room. However, there are a few rooms that have king-size beds.

The theming consists of a small table with chairs, a shell mirror, a Prince Eric painting, and an Under the Sea curtain divider.

This area felt pretty tight and there wasn’t a lot of storage space.

Maybe I felt this way because we have stayed in the rooms at Disney’s Pop Century Resort a few times over the past few years. Those rooms probably aren’t any larger, but good design elements make them feel that way.

Related: Pop Century Resort Review

The Little Mermaid standard room has a guest bath with a separate vanity area. But there isn’t much counter space.

Here is a look a the open closet area. There is an in-wall safe, iron, and ironing board. A luggage rack is sitting below.

Ariel is in the bathroom in her thing-a-ma-bob place. To me, this space feels like a dungeon with extremely dark colors. I also kind of got a Splash vibe with Ariel in the bath area.

And we have a mini-refrigerator. Thankfully, these hold a decent amount of items.

Overall, we felt like the room was claustrophobic and too dark. I’ve seen many complaints on Disney forums and social media groups where people mention dirty carpet. However, carpet stains are no longer an issue since the rooms now have solid surface flooring.

If you’re looking for more space, I recommend trying one of the family suites. The family suites at Art of Animation sleep up to six guests.

These suites have a bedroom with a queen-size bed. Additionally, there’s a living room with a double sleeper, and the table pulls down from a wall with a double-size bed.

Family suites have a few extras like a mini-fridge, sink area, and a microwave. While you don’t get a full kitchen, it’s nice to have the extras. If you’re looking for a room on Disney property with a full kitchen, you’ll want to consider the Disney World Villa Resorts.

Unfortunately, the family suites are considerably higher than the standard rooms. The only reason Art of Animation is classified as a value resort is because of The Little Mermaid rooms.

Recreation

Art of Animation has three different pools across the grounds of the resort.

The feature pool is The Big Blue Pool. This pool is actually the single largest pool on Walt Disney World property.

It is located off the backside of the Animation Hall and Landscape of Flavors. The pool is a lot of fun, and the area has theming representing Finding Nemo.

One note to make here, this is the resort’s main pool, so expect it to be busier. And while this pool didn’t make our list of the best pools at Disney World, it does get an honorable mention.

Below is a picture of Schoolyard Sprayground, a splash pad style play area located directly behind The Big Blue Pool.

A regular playground area is next to the splash pad. This might be a good spot to burn a little energy on check-in day. Especially if you get to the resort and your room isn’t quite ready and don’t feel like venturing out to the Disney parks yet. It’s located in the Finding Nemo Courtyard.

There is also this little play area called Elephant Graveyard in The Lion King Section, but there isn’t as much to do here as in the other play area.

If you are looking for less crowded pools, the Flippin’ Fins Pool in the Little Mermaid section might be a good alternative.

This area is themed to Sebastian’s Under the Sea Symphony.

Below is a view from the top floor of our building. The massive Ariel was directly underneath me at this balcony point for reference.

King Triton is on the far right corner of this photo. Ursula sits across the way from him on the left. She’s kind of hard to see through the trees.

On the opposite side of the resort is the Cars section, and it has a pool with cone-shaped cabanas!

You will more than enjoy yourself at this pool with the life-sized model Cars characters.

For more photos and details about the pools at this resort make sure to check out our complete article.

Related: The Pools at Art of Animation Resort

If you find yourself wandering around the resort on a rainy day, you might want to stop in at the Pixel Play Arcade.

Make sure to check with a travel agent who can arrange travel for you to and from the airports if you are flying. I personally use Firefly Travels. They help with all my Disney vacation planning.

Related: Benefits of Using a Travel Agent for Disney World

Art of Animation Resort has a 1.38-mile trail around Hour Glass lake that you can jog. The lake is shaped like an hourglass with a large bridge between Pop Century and Art of Animation.

I didn’t get the opportunity to run on my last stay here. But it is a beautiful area along the water.

There are signs along the walkway with fun facts about each movie represented.

These little extras make for nice conversation topics or things to think about if you enjoy a stroll around the lake.

It’s a beautiful area to enjoy.

Art of Animation participated in the Movies Under the Stars program. Nightly movies are available in the grassy area between The Lion King and Fining Nemo buildings.

If you are interested in attending a movie, make sure to pick up the resort map at the beginning of your trip. You can refer to the calendar on the backside. It lists the time and movies playing for each weeknight.

Here is a sample list of what was playing on my last trip for reference.

  • Sunday–“Wreck-It Ralph”
  • Monday–“Pocahontas”
  • Tuesday– “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”
  • Wednesday–“The Lion King 1.5”
  • Thursday–“Brother Bear”
  • Friday–“The Princess and the Frog”
  • Saturday–“Monsters, Inc.”

The movie schedule does change monthly.

If for some reason you don’t get a copy of the movie schedule, take a picture of the sign at the Big Blue Pool.

For a better look at the resort’s activities, here is a sample of the monthly recreation calendar.

Disney’s Art of Animation resort offers a daily art class called Animation Academy. This is a fun drawing class that is available to all guests.

They have some samples of the drawings out in the resort’s gift store. It’s a wonderful class and you might be surprised at what you end up drawing with the instruction of a professional.

Below is one of the instructors out in the lobby drawing. I highly recommend taking part in this experience on your Disney vacation, if it’s available.

Dining

The resort has one main dining option and one pool bar. The main dining option is a food court of sorts with a large variety of different cuisine. The food is decent but comparable to an average quick service meal.

Art of Animation’s main dining area is called Landscape of Flavors. It is a large dining hall located off the Animation lobby and centered between the resort’s different sections.

They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here is a look at a few of the menus that were available during our stay. Below is an American menu with burgers, chicken sandwiches, and chicken nuggets. Each menu has entrees, sides, and kid’s meals.

For instance, this one has kid’s meals consisting of grilled cheese, hamburgers, or chicken nuggets. I would imagine it’s the most popular one with the kids. There is also a kid’s pizza option in the Italian window.

Another menu board had different kinds of pasta. Additionally, pizza was available by the slice or you could order a whole pie.

You can walk up and order what you would like. However, many guests use Disney’s mobile order service in the My Disney Experience app. It can save you a lot of time and trouble.

Landscape of Flavors usually has a nice selection of pastries as well. They are listed in the mobile order area.

If you are looking for grocery items or staples, there’s a decent selection.

Another plus is that these dining options tend to be open fairly late. So if you find yourself famished at the end of the evening, there’s hope.

On the last morning of our stay, we decided to try breakfast at Landscape of Flavors. I went with the French toast platter. It came with a side of fruit and a choice between bacon or sausage. It turned out to be a good option for the price of $8.79.

Below is an order of allergy-friendly waffles with a side of bacon and sausage. These were specially prepared for our food allergen diner. This also came in at $8.79.

When ordering an allergy-friendly meal here, ask to speak to a chef at one of the counters. A cast member will send for a chef. The chef will ask what you are interested in having and work with you to prepare a meal.

For us, we know that allergy-friendly waffles and chicken nuggets are always a good option when eating counter service. In addition, the chef will prepare them separately to avoid any cross-contamination issues.

Related: Landscape of Flavors Review

Lastly, we have The Drop Off pool bar, where you can pick up various drinks and snack items. The Drop Off pool bar is located front and center of the value resort by the Big Blue Pool.

While dining options are limited at Art of Animation, there is a decent variety of items at the resort’s food court. Thankfully, a few other resorts and the theme parks are only a short Skyliner ride away.

I recommend picking up counter service over at Riviera’s Primo Piatto. It’s an excellent location.

Related: Best Quick Service Restaurants at Disney World Resorts

Transportation

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
  • Blizzard Beach
  • Typhoon Lagoon

The bus stop for Art of Animation is located at the front of the resort, off the side of the lobby.

Since the resort only has one bus stop, some rooms with be a little further walk than others. The Little Mermaid section of the resort will have the rooms furthest away from the bus stop. Those rooms will be a 7-10 minute walk from the stop.

Additionally, Disney’s Skyliner is available at the Art of Animation. The resort shares a drop-off and pick-up point with Pop Century in the center of Hour Glass Lake.

Related: Disney Skyliner Transportation Guide

Access to Disney’s Skyliner is a large incentive for those considering a stay at Art of Animation. The 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. There you can board an additional gondola to Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

Additionally, you can take the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach or Riviera for dining or exploring. The Riviera Resort has some of the best dining options around.

Related: Disney’s Riviera Restaurants Guide

Before wrapping things up here are a few odds and ends we haven’t yet covered.

Art of Animation’s gift shop is called the Ink and Paint Shop. It is located to the right of the lobby when you come in from the bus entrance. You can also cut through it to go directly into the Landscape of Flavors.

Related: The Gift Shop (Ink and Paint) at Art of Animation

They have a good amount of merchandise.

You’ll find a large variety of items from the different animated films represented.

Here is a look at a few more items.

There is something for everyone.

Animation Hall is the lobby at Art of Animation. It is pretty unique in appearance.

Unfortunately, it’s also nearly always crowded. There are some cushioned bench seating areas for those waiting. It does look cool in photos.

If you enjoy art, this back wall of the lobby is a lot of fun and a nice place to take a picture.

Each pool area at Art of Animation has a laundry room. The laundry area has machines that take debit/credit cards to set your laundry and purchase detergent.

There is a neat website here called Laundry Point that provides the available machines at each resort. You can also use it to check and see if your laundry load has finished.

Pros and Cons of Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has a nice exterior and great outdoor spaces. The only downside for most will be the layout and dark decor of the standard rooms.

Some also might not like the busyness of the resort. Given its popularity, it can be crowded at the pools and Animation Hall during the busier times of the day.

But crowds are expected when you design a resort geared toward children.

And that’s one thing I would like to mention. Children under the age of 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 were 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 do get here and aren’t crazy about your room down in The Little Mermaid wing, try to focus on your children and how they see it. We could probably learn a lot from our children.

And let’s face it, not every vacation can or should be a deluxe resort with views of the parks from our rooms. Your wallet might even thank you later.

Related: Disney Deluxe Resorts

Speaking of price, I have found I can usually find a room at Pop Century for a somewhat better or comparable price. If that’s the case, I’m almost always going to choose Pop Century because I like the standard rooms there better.

But I’m usually not traveling with small children. And if I were, we’d likely go to Art of Animation.

Related: Disney’s Pop Century vs. Art of Animation

Final Thoughts on Disney’s Art of Animation

Hopefully, this Art of Animation Resort review was helpful in planning your upcoming stay.

Art of Animation is a lot of fun and there are so many great photo opportunities here. The main downside is that the standard rooms feel small, but that’s not true for the family suites.

If you are comparing resorts at Disney, you might enjoy browsing our entire list of Disney World Resort Reviews. Or you might enjoy the following:

Comments Section: What are your thoughts on this resort? Do you agree with some of the points expressed in this review of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort?

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