My family and I stayed at Disney's Art of Animation Resort for 9 Days. We stayed in the Car Family Suites in Building 3 featuring Luigi's Tires. Before I get into my review, below is a general resort overview.
Art of Animation Overview:
1. Is the newest value resort (opened in May of 2012)
2. There are 864 rooms, 1,120 Family Suites
3. The suites sleep up to six plus one child under age 3 in a crib
4. Standard rooms sleep up to 4 plus one child under 3 in a crib
5. The Standard rooms are Little Mermaid themed Rooms
6. There are three distinct themed family suites which include the Cars Suites, Finding Nemo Suites and The Lion King Suites.
7. There is a Quick Service Dining Location
8. There are 3 Pools
9. Bus Transportation to all Parks & Disney Springs
Standard Room Layout:
-Each standard room has 2 double beds and one bathroom.
-The room sleep 4 plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib
-There is a dorm size refrigerator, but no microwave or coffee maker
-The room is 277 sq ft
-These rooms are known as The Little Mermaid rooms due to their theming.
-These rooms are the farthest from the lobby, food court, and transportation, but no more than a 10 minute walk
-These rooms have their own Little Mermaid pool, but anyone staying in these rooms can use any of the other pools at the resort.
Family Suite Layout:
-Each suite has 2 bathrooms. One in the master bedroom and one in the living area. The master bath has a large shower stall while the living area bathroom has a bathtub with a shower curtain. The living area has a door that separates the toilet & shower from the sink. The master bath doesn't have any separation between the sink, toilet, and shower.
-There are 3 sleeping areas. The master bedroom has a queen-sized bed, television, dresser, two nightstands, and a bar to hang clothing. The second sleeping area is in the dining area. The table converts into a double sized bed. The third sleeping area is in the "living room" and is double sized sleeper sofa. There is a television, dresser, and bar to hang clothing in this area.
-The suites have a kitchenette which consists of a sink, with some counter space, a microwave, coffee maker, and refrigerator. This is located in the living space next to the sleeper sofa.
-The room is 565 sq ft
-The suites sleep 6 plus one child under the age of 3 in a crib
Choosing a Suite: (Finding Nemo, Cars or Lion King)
My family chose to stay in the Cars Suites. I have two young boys who both love the Cars movies, so it wasn't a hard decision for us. All of the suites are set up the same way, so deciding which area to stay is as simple as choosing which movie your family likes best. One caveat is that the Finding Nemo suites are priced slightly higher (about $10 dollars more a night) because they are closest to the "Big Blue" pool, lobby, food court, and transportation.
Landscape of Flavors: Foodcourt
-This is a quick service location serving breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.
-It participates in the Disney Dining Plan (snack credits & quick service credits)
-There are different food stations with pizza, pastas, salads, burgers, chicken fingers, sandwiches, desserts, smoothies, and a grab and go section.
-Click here to see the official Disney World menu
-It is located in the main building near transportation, guest services, and the gift shop
Ink & Paint Shop:
-This is the gift shop onsite.
-It has great Disney merchandise and also has items that are exclusive to the Art of Animation
-Located in the main building near the food court.
-Located outside of the main building where the food court, guest services, and gift shop are located
-The only transportation option provided by Disney is bus transportation at this resort
-Disney provides transportation to all of it's parks, water parks, resorts, boardwalk, and Disney Springs either directly or indirectly depending on the location
-There are different queues for each location.
-There isn't an internal bus system
-There are 3 pools at this resort.
-Only resort guests can use the Art of Animation pools.
-Your magic band grants you entry to the pool area.
1. Big Blue Pool- The main pool is known as the "Big Blue Pool" and is located in the Finding Nemo section of the resort. It features some of your favorite character's from Disney's Finding Nemo movie. This pool is the largest pool at any of the Walt Disney World resorts, is zero entry and has underwater speakers. There is a spray park for the little ones with pop up jets and a playground. The Drop Off pool bar, restrooms, and a laundry facility is located nearby.
2. Cozy Cone Pool- This pool is located in the center of the Cars section of the resort. The large orange cones surrounding this pool are cabanas. They are first come first serve and are free to anyone staying at the resort. This pool is considered a "quiet pool" because there aren't any activities at this pool. There are a restroom and laundry facility here but there isn't a pool bar.
3. Flippin Fins Pool- This pool is located in the center of the Little Mermaid section of the resort. This pool is considered a "quiet pool" because there are not any activities at this pool. There are a restroom and laundry facility nearby but there isn't a pool bar.
My review/trip report:
My mother, husband and I along with my three children (ages 6, 4, & 22 months at the time of travel) stayed in a ground level, Cars suite in building 3 which is Luigi's Tire Shop building. There are 3 buildings in all that make up the Cars section of the resort and the buildings surround the Cozy Cone Motel where the Cozy Cone Pool is located.
We chose to use Disney's Magical Express because it is complimentary to guest staying at any of the Disney owned resorts, and when traveling with young children you do not need a car seat. We brought our carry-ons and strollers with us on the bus, but we used the yellow baggage tags and let Disney take care of our checked luggage.
Our flight left at 5:30 AM and we arrived at Orlando International Airport at 7:40 AM. We had 2 strollers to pick up on the ramp and we all stopped at the restroom before making our way to the Magical Express check in. We were in our designated Magical Express Line at 8:05 AM and we were seated on the bus by 8:16 AM. We left the Airport at 8:28 AM. There were about 20 people or so on the bus so there was plenty of room. Our bus was making stops at the Art of Animation, Pop Century and the Beach Club in that order. I don't know if this is always the order or the grouping, but I would bet that Art of Animation and Pop Century are always together since they are located right next to each other. We arrived at the Art of Animation resort at 8:56 AM. Therefore, by the time I landed and arrived at our hotel it took less than 1.5 hours. I would however still tell anyone using the Magical Express to assume it will take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours from the time you land. Overall, I was happy with my Magical Express experience this trip and would give it an A+.
I elected to do online check-in several days before leaving for our trip. I requested a ground level room during online check-in because I traveled with 2 strollers and dealing with elevators would have been cumbersome. I also selected to get notified by text when my room was ready. When I got on the Magical Express, I received an email from Disney stating my room wasn't quite ready yet, but I didn't receive a text. Because we arrived so early, I didn't plan on my room being ready. I packed a day bag with a change of clothes, sunscreen, rain gear, swimsuits, diapers and wipes. My children were still in the pajamas when we got to the resort so we used the lobby restrooms to change and then we dropped our bags off at bell services before heading to Epcot. We got in line for the Epcot bus at 9:36 AM and arrived at Epcot at 10:02 AM. Check-in is supposed to be at 3 PM so it was a bit concerning to me that I didn't get notification about my room being ready. I kept checking my phone all day to see if I got a text about my room, but I never did. The last thing I wanted to do was go back to the hotel after a long day and deal with a room reservation problem. I planned to spend all day at Epcot and had a dinner reservation at Tutto at 4:30 PM I had my phone out during dinner hoping to get a text but didn't. After dinner we left Epcot and headed back to the resort straight to the check in area. I was helped very quickly and explained that I requested online check-in and text notification but wasn't notified. They told me that notification was sent via email at 5:35 PM. I checked and I did get the email. I asked them why I didn't receive a text and the guest services cast member said that sometimes there is a glitch and the notification only goes to email. When I asked why I wasn't notified until 5:35 PM when check in is a three they didn't have an explanation. I let it go, because we didn't need the room ready by 3 PM anyway. We got our resort map and room number and went right to the room. If I needed the room earlier, I would have gone to guest services and discussed it with them and I believe that Disney would do everything possible to get us I room by 3 PM if not earlier. I have heard from other people and read other reviews where online check-in was a breeze and text messages were sent with the room details as requested. I have had other stays at Disney Resorts myself were online check-in worked fine and even got my room before 3 PM, so I think this is the exception not the norm.
Luggage, Packages, & Bell Services:
All of our checked bags were there and the bags we left at bell services were also delivered which was a relief. However, I ordered items from Amazon Pantry in advance, which were delivered to Art of Animation in 3 separate packages on different days. These packages were not in our room and when I called bell services about them they couldn't locate them right away. I had to find my emails and tell them when the packages were delivered. They did find them, but couldn't bring them to us right away. I needed them because I ordered shampoo and other bathroom toiletries that we needed in order to shower. I sent my husband to retrieve the packages while I unpacked our luggage. Bell Services didn't have a cart available so he had to carry 2 cases of water and another large box without assistance. When he arrived back in our room I looked through our items and realized one of our packages was missing, so I had to call bell services again to locate package and send my husband to retrieve it because once again they couldn't deliver it right away. I wasn't happy with this service and doubly upset when Disney charged me a $15 dollar handling fee for my packages upon check out. I probably could have had the handling fee waived due to what happened if I asked, but I didn't want to wait in line at Guest Service or on the telephone for $15. I will have packages delivered via Amazon again because I am hoping that my experience isn't typical and I would have better luck next time. I've read other reviews where people had no issues with Amazon pantry or other packages being delivered in advance.
Our room was located on the ground floor in Building 3 (Luigi's Tire Shop) in the Cars section of the resort. We were very close to the main entrance of the building which was very convenient to the Cozy Cone pool and the laundry facilities. It was about a 5 minute walk to the lobby and transportation. The room was wonderful and very spacious. We had ample storage room and plenty of place for our 2 strollers without having to fold them up. We have a very large double stroller and a MacClaren umbrella stroller. I am not a light packer either. We had 2 backpacks, one large roller carry-on, and 7 large upright luggage bags as well as 3 boxes from Amazon. I completely unpack when I am on vacation and do not like clutter, so trust me when I say the room is very spacious. We also had 3 adults and 3 children staying in the room and never felt like we were on top of each other. The master bedroom bath had a large shower. The living area was also a nice size and the convertible table bed was great. We loved having such a large table in our room to eat, color, do homework, and set up a work station with our laptop. The beds including the sofa bed were comfortable although I think the master bedroom bed was a little on the firm side. It was also very convenient to have a kitchenette to wash and dry cups and bowls rather than having to wash everything in the bathroom sink. The room was also very clean and anytime we needed more towels, housekeeping brought them very quickly. The decor was wonderful for the kids. They loved that the lights were in the shape of cones and that the shower curtain had Cars characters all over it. The Cars' details were everywhere from the lighting to the carpet. I would give the layout, decor, and space of the room an A+.
The hotel theming of this resort is extremely appealing to families with young children, but I think Disney loving adults appreciate it as well. I know I did. I spent most of my time in the Cars section because that is where our suite was located, but I walked around the resort a couple of times checking out the other sections. The Cars area was my favorite and I think the theming of this section was very well done. I truly felt as if I was walking in Radiator Springs. The Big Blue Pool was in the center of the Nemo area and many of the character's from the movie had larger than life sculptures around the pool and splash area. There was also a playground that looked like a coral reef. In the Lion King section you felt as if you were walking in Simba's Pride Land with his friends Timon, Pumba, and Rafiki. The Little Mermaid section had larger than life sculptures of Sebastian, King Triton, Prince Eric, Ursula, Ariel and Flounder. All of the hotel buildings in each section was painted to match the theme as well, so the building became part of the scenery. The lobby was filled with concept art drawing of the characters from Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid. It was bright and colorful. I think if you are looking to immerse yourself in Disney, you can't beat staying at this resort. The theming of this resort get's an A+.
The food court is called Landscape of Flavor and overall I thought it was a great food court. It had a lot of choices and had ample seating. It was never overly crowded because even at busier times there are different food stations to order from and plenty of open registers. We ate in the food court a handful of times. The portion sizes were very large and the prices was very reasonable as far as Disney pricing goes. For example, the adult chicken tender and fries meal was plenty to feed my 3 children and the make your own salad was large enough for me and my daughter to share. I enjoyed the gelato, but didn't think the smoothies were very good. I liked that there were a lot of different options so that everyone could find something to eat and you didn't have to eat the same things each time. I definitely, think this is one of the best food courts on property and as far as food courts go I would give it an A+ because of the size, variety, and quality of food.
Resort Gift Shop:
The resort gift shop is called the Ink & Paint store. It was located adjacent to the food court and you could walk outside to the buses through the store. It was a large shop and had a wide selection of children's items. There were items that were exclusive to this shop as well like purses and ornaments. The shop had great variety of items including jewelry, clothing, hats, toys, snacks, magnets, kitchen items, mugs, etc. The cast members in the store were very friendly and helpful. They greeted you when you entered the store with a smile on there face. I think this store gets an A+ because there is something for everyone here, it is a large store, the resort theme is carried on throughout the store and has friendly staff.
Buses are the only form of transportation provided by the Art of Animation resort. The buses are located outside the main building where the lobby, gift shop, and food court are located. The Art of Animation has its own buses dedicated to this resort. There is a queue for each park and Disney Springs. I like having a queue for each location because at Deluxe and Moderate Hotels there isn't a proper line so guests just gather and as soon as the transportation comes its a made dash to the front of the line. Therefore, if you have been waiting a long time someone who just arrives can jump right in front of you and then you might be stuck waiting for the next bus. At value resorts there is always a proper queue so that can't happen. The lines to the buses were very long during the morning around park opening time, but the wait wasn't long because the resort was prepared for the crowds. Once a bus left it didn't take long for the next one to come. There was only one morning during our 9 day stay that we had an issue getting to Epcot (we waited about 25 minutes), but it seemed that every park line was long and that buses were not coming regularly that morning. The line for Magic Kingdom was the longest I saw during our stay. They even had cast members stationed outside with IPads and directing guests to help the boarding process move faster. That morning was the exception, not the rule. The line and ride to and from Magic Kingdom was the longest. The buses in the morning were crowded and filled with strollers (no big surprise). It took about 20 to 25 minutes each time to get from the resort to the Magic Kingdom. The bus transportation to Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot were a good experience overall as well. . Now don't get me wrong the buses were crowded during peak times, but not as crowded as bus to the Magic Kingdom. However, the ride to these parks is much shorter It only took 10 to 15 minutes to get those parks. We didn't travel to the water parks, so I can't report on that and we only went to Disney Springs one time during our stay. I never saw a line for Disney Springs and we only waited about 10 minutes to get on a bus each way. Bus transportation isn't a great experience, in my opinion, no matter where you stay especially when you have 3 young children and 2 strollers to deal with, but you save money because you don't have to rent a car. Even if I rented a car I wouldn't drive to the Magic Kingdom, so that wouldn't eliminate that ride. Overall, the buses to each park ran consistently and we rarely waited over 10 minutes to get on a bus. The ride to the Magic Kingdom was long and crowded during peak times, but that is often the case no matter which resort that you stay in that has bus transportation to the park. I would give the Transportation an overall grade of an A.
There are daily activities at every Disney Resort. I received a list of those activities when I checked in. If you don't receive one in your room or during check-in you can ask guest services for a copy. At the Art of Animation there are pool games every day and a movie by the pool every night. There are also activities like tie dye that are offered for an additional costs. We spent a couple hours at the pool several days during our trip. The children loved it and thought the underwater speakers were really cool. My youngest who was 22 months at the time of travel spent most of his time in the little splash pad area chasing the water that was squirting up from the grounds and fountains. My older children even came over a few times to join him. The pool wasn't overly crowded and we were always able to get chairs. One activity that is very unique to the Art of Animation is the how to draw sessions. Three times a day at 11 AM, 2 PM, and 5 PM during our stay there was a character artist directing a how to draw class in the lobby. He gave step by step instructions that were projected on a screen, so that everyone could see. My daughter is really into drawing and crafts, so this was a home run for her. She sketched Goofy during our session. I wish we found the time to do this more than once because she really enjoyed it and it is only offered at this resort. Anyone that visits the resort can participate therefore, you don't need to be a resort guest. If you are staying at Pop Century I highly recommend walking over the bridge to attend one of the the drawing sessions. Overall, in terms of value resort recreation this resort gets an A+, but compared to Moderate or Deluxe resorts I would give it an A- because it doesn't have a pool slide at the pool.
Tip: Remember your magic bands and bring towels from your resort when you go to the pool. You will need your band to access the pool area and there are not towels for guests at the pool.
My family really enjoyed our stay at the Art of Animation resort. Actually we loved it! My children are young therefore, this resort was extremely appealing to them in terms of the theme. The suite was spacious, clean and had ample storage. It was great having 2 bathrooms and a separate bedroom. Also having the kitchenette was a plus. I liked that the suites have interior hallways because it felt more like a hotel than a motel unlike other value hotels. The pools and splash area were nice and a step up from the other value hotels. The food court had a good variety of food and the gift shop was large and had wide range of items. The recreation activities and pools at this hotel were designed with kids in mind. We really liked that this resort had a nice splash/spray park for the little ones because it kept my toddler busy for a long time. I don't think we would have stayed at the pool with him without it. I think in terms of transportation at value hotels this resort along with Pop Century is the best because it has a dedicated bus and seems to run consistently. The bus ride to the Magic Kingdom, however is a long ride and crowded at peak times. My family will definitely stay here again because overall we enjoyed the resort, but mainly because of the space that the suite offers. As a family of five, once our little one turns 3 we will be limited to where we can stay and also we don't enjoy being crowded in one bedroom for a week or more. Even the size of deluxe resort rooms are a tight fit for us and all of our "stuff." In conclusion, if you have young children or a larger party the suites at the Art of Animation are wonderful and I would highly recommend this resort.
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