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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Review

Disney’s Art of Animation is one of the five value resorts at Walt Disney World. Those looking to experience true Disney theming during their vacation will want to consider this resort.

That’s because the Art of Animation Resort not only features larger-than-life characters but animation details as well. The grounds are absolutely stupendous when it comes to Disney theming.

You probably already know that Walt Disney started the Disney company by making animated films. Without animation, there would never have been any Disney theme parks. So for me, that makes the Art of Animation Resort a little extra special.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort Review

In this review, we’ll look at some of the different amenities you’ll find when staying here. We’ll also preview the rooms, recreation options, transportation, and dining. Additionally, I’ll add in the other resort room options that are available. The most popular rooms at the resort by far are the family suites.

Did you know that Art of Animation is one of Disney’s best places to take family photos? No one ever seems to mention this, but it’s true!

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. Trust me! They’ll be so happy you chose this location for your Disney vacation.

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

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

If you are driving to Art of Animation, you might need the address. I put it in a Google map below for easy reference.

Art of Animation Resort Address:

1850 Animation Way, Orlando, FL 32830

Google Map

Art of Animation is located off Victory Way in the Lake Buena Vista area. This Disney resort hotel sits next to Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and across the street from Hollywood Studios (almost). The location is extremely convenient. If you elect to drive to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can be there in less than two minutes after pulling out of the resort.

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

Disney’s Art of Animation Review

While we love the Art of Animation Resort, it’s not our favorite of the Walt Disney World Resorts, see the best list here. However, we don’t mind staying here either. There are many positives and like everywhere else a few negatives at this hotel.

In addition, the resort has been undergoing a property-wide refurbishment that extended into 2021. In fact, some of the renovations were going on during my last stay. All of the Little Mermaid standard rooms received a new solid surface flooring with the update.

When a resort is under refurbishment, prices are typically a little more reasonable in exchange for inconveniences. Therefore, I’m always open to staying at a Disney resort hotel with a little work done.

But 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 take a look at is The Little Mermaid. This area is down on the far end and is where you’ll find the actual “value” portion of the resort.

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

However, 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. Below we have the popular statue of Prince Eric that would normally be sitting on the bottom of the ocean floor.

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

Sebastian is out leading the band. I can almost hear Under the Sea playing in the background as I gaze over these photos. And aren’t these 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 suite.

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

The Finding Nemo section is kind of the heart of the property. You will find this area immediately behind The Big Blue pool when you exit the main lobby.

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 sunset views 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 will be to the immediate right when you walk out of the back of the lobby. This area offers fun life-size cars from the movie it represents.

There are also these great signs welcoming you to Radiator Springs. It’s a happy place.

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

They even have 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!

Many people refer to this area as the Cars hotel at Disney World.

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 for a teal solid surface flooring that was recently added.

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 are my original thoughts on the room.

“While the room felt cute in appearance initially, it didn’t take 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. But there are a few rooms that offer king-size beds.

The theming consisted of a small table with chairs, a shell mirror, 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.

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, so make sure to take advantage of that.

Ariel is in the bathroom in her thing-a-ma-bob place. It felt 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, that is no longer an issue with the new Little Mermaid rooms having solid surface flooring.

Guests might want to look into a family suite if their budget allows for one. Unfortunately, these are the only type of standard rooms at the resort, and they are also what helps classify it as a Disney value resort.

Pools and Recreation

Art of Animation has three different pools for guests to choose from after returning from a long day in a theme park. 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. It’s a lot of fun, and the area has theming representing the Finding Nemo animated film.

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 did 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. There is a ton of outdoor theming here, and it is a lot of fun. I also want to note that these types of things make the property charming and exciting for children.

Below is a view from the top floor of our building. The massive Ariel was directly underneath me at this balcony point for reference. That is King Triton on the far right corner of this window. 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 large pool with cone-shaped cabanas!

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

If you find yourself wandering around the resort on a rainy day, you might want to stop in at the Pixel Play Arcade. This is also a fun stop if you are killing some time waiting on the Magical Express to pick you up on your check-out day. (Unfortunately, Magical Express service will be ending in late 2021).

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, and they help with all my Disney vacation planning. They are also a travel partner of the site. Check with them here. They will take excellent care of you!

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 many signs in each section of the resort with facts and things 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.

Movies Under the Stars at Art of Animation

Normally, nightly Disney movies are available in the grass between The Lion King and Finding 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 you are avoiding the check-in desk and need a 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 Animation Academy. This is a fun drawing class that is available to all guests. By that, I mean any guest (whether staying here or not) is welcome to attend the class.

They have some samples of the drawings out in the resort 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 would highly recommend taking part in this experience on your Disney vacation.

Dining

The resort has one main dining option and one pool bar. The main dining option does offer 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 they had on our stay. This one is your “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 shows different pasta, and you can find pizza right next door to this section. I have heard that the make your own pasta is pretty popular.

Normally, you would walk up and place your order. However, Disney prefers that guests use Disney mobile order to order food 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 will also be in the mobile order area.

If you are looking for some items to take back to your room there is also a market area.

Another plus is that these dining options tend to be open a little later at the value resorts, making for an easy way to pick up something. So if you find yourself famished at the end of the evening, there’s hope. Again, with all the changes, check the hours of operation on the app in advance.

On the last morning of this 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.

If you are interested when ordering an allergy-friendly meal here, ask to speak to a chef at one of the counters. Cast will send a chef out to make a list of your specific allergies. 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. They will prepare them separately to avoid any cross-contamination issues.

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.

You can see there are a few options for eating outside here. You can also bring items out here to eat when dining at Landscape of Flavors inside.

Transportation

Art of Animation offers bus transportation to and from the Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. There is only one main bus stop off the side of the lobby.

At the furthest distance, you might be looking at a five to seven-minute walk from your resort room. Maybe ten if you happen to move at a slower pace.

The resort is also home to Disney’s newest form of transportation, the Skyliner. There is a drop-off and pick-up point shared between the Art of Animation and Pop Century.

This will make staying at the Art of Animation a larger incentive for some with two transportation forms. It is always nice to have multiple transportation options for some destinations.

The Skyliner will take you from Art of Animation to Caribbean Beach Resort. There you will board an additional gondola to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Riviera Resort. You can also take the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach or Riviera for dining or exploring.

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 & 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.

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.

The lobby at Art of Animation 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.

I love artwork, and this wall is a lot of fun and a nice place to take a picture. But the lobby feels dark and kind of like a tunnel where the noise echos back and forth across the walls.

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. I have the link set to The Big Blue Pool, but you can change it to check any resort.

Is Art of Animation right for you?

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has a nice exterior and great outdoor spaces. The downside for me is the resort’s busyness, and I don’t care for those standard guest rooms.

But that’s to be expected when you design a resort geared toward children. And that’s one thing I would like to mention. For anyone with children, I’m guessing under the age of 10 or so. Your kids will fall in love with this resort.

They won’t remember that the room was small or that the only dining option was cheap food court chicken nuggets. They might actually 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 the littles 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 Disney deluxe resort with views of the parks from our rooms. Your wallet might even thank you later.

Speaking of pricing, I have found I can typically 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.

Final Thoughts on Disney’s Art of Animation

If you are considering a stay at Art of Animation, I hope you found this review helpful. Feel free to comment or ask any questions below. One of our specialties here on the site is to provide and continually update the Disney Resort reviews.

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 one of the family suites.

For a comparison, we have an article to help you decide between Art of Animation vs. Pop Century.

If you are comparing resorts at Disney, you might be interested in one of these reviews not previously mentioned in this article:

Make sure to leave me a comment below with your thoughts on staying at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

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