Walt Disney World has definitely needed a reasonably-priced resort that accommodates families larger than 4. I welcomed the news of the new Art of Animation Resort, located across the bridge from Pop Century – where the “Pop Century Legendary Years” section was originally intended to be built.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort includes four themed sections – the Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars, which include family suites, and the Little Mermaid, which includes traditional themed rooms.
The whole resort, from the lobby to the gorgeous, fun pools, is an ode to animated films and some beloved Disney animated characters. It’s bright and colorful, making it a really fun place to stay for families with young kids. But those with older kids will appreciate the extra room in the themed family suites.
Disclosure: My stay at Art of Animation was a hosted stay at no cost to us. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, and a purchase/click-through may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Review
Location of the Art of Animation Hotel
The Art of Animation is located in the Wide World of Sports Resort area. For travel to the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot, you’ll be able to use the Disney bus transportation. Starting in the Fall of 2019, it is now also serviced by the new Skyliner system located between Pop Century and Art of Animation. The Skyliner can take you to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
If you are traveling to the hotel from the Orlando International Airport, you’ll be able to take the complimentary Magical Express service (note that this will be ended in 2021). That’s typically what we do when visiting Disney World because then we don’t have to worry about renting a car. If you do drive, parking is available for an additional fee at the resort.
During the New Fantasyland media event, I had the opportunity to stay in the Lion King section of the resort with my family. I’d already gotten a sneak preview of the resort during Disney’s Social Media Moms earlier in the year, so I was prepared for the captivating, colorful main lobby, and the kid-friendly theming. But since the hotel wasn’t open at that time, I wasn’t entirely sure what staying there would feel like.
The Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation
Family suites are really the biggest benefit of the Art of Animation. They are really great for families because they include a main living area with a pull-out sofa bed, a standard master bedroom, two full bathrooms, and a sink/microwave/fridge area.
There’s also a table that pulls down into a second double bed in the main room. My kids were so enchanted with this bed that they both had to sleep in it. It’s so unique! Surprisingly, this bed is also pretty comfortable.
The kids also loved the themed furniture in our family suite – the tree stump tables, the colorful shower curtains, the brightly colored furniture.
The family suites at the Art of Animation have room for up to 6 people to sleep, although it was also great for our family of 4. Having two bathrooms can especially be helpful for families that are in a hurry to get ready and go to the theme parks in the morning.
The three areas (Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo) have suites with similar layouts, although the coloring and furniture all match the specific themes. So, if your kids have a favorite Disney character or theme, they’ll absolutely love the matching family suite.
If you’d prefer to stay in a standard hotel room, you’ll want to stay in the Little Mermaid section of the resort. These rooms are more standard guest rooms (similar to the other Disney value resort rooms, and accommodate up to four people. Rooms are offered with either 2 double beds, or one king bed, and include a mini-fridge.
The Grounds at Disney’s Art of Animation
The grounds of the hotel, along Hourglass Lake, are really beautiful. Each of the sections also has detailed courtyards and figures that are perfectly themed to the area.
For instance, you’ll find lush greenery and figures of key Lion King characters in the Lion King section, and desert plants and the Cars characters in the Cars area. There’s even a replica of the Cozy Cone hotel! We spent an hour just walking through the resort, taking photos near the figures, and checking out the grounds. My kids loved it.
There’s also a jogging trail around the resort if you’d like to get some exercise during your vacation.
Amenities at the Art of Animation
While you probably won’t be spending too much time at the hotel, there’s still plenty of things for families to do at the resort. The highlight of Disney’s Art of Animation is the Big Blue Pool – the Nemo-themed main pool located right in the center of the resort. It’s the largest resort pool on the property at the Walt Disney World Resort.
There’s a small splash area and the pool even has an underwater sound system. You should definitely make sure that you spend at least an afternoon at the pool. Note that the Big Blue Pool will be closing for refurbishment in the fall of 2020 according to the Disney website.
In addition to the Big Blue Pool, there are two other small pools on the property. These include the Cars-themed Cozy Cone Pool and the Little Mermaid-themed Flippin’ Fins Pool. These are smaller, quieter pools, but you may enjoy them more. If not, it’s a quick walk over to the Big Blue Pool.
Younger kids may enjoy the playground on the property, which is located by the Finding Nemo area.
The large bustling lobby is located in the main building, called Animation Hall. There, you’ll also find the front desk, a huge gift shop stocked with essentials, a resort concierge, an ATM, and the Pixel Play Arcade. The bus stops are located outside the lobby and offer complimentary transportation to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and the two Disney water parks.
Food at the Art of Animation
You’ll also find a few dining options at the Art of Animation. The Landscape of Flavors food court is a busy, popular spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are several different areas with a variety of quick food options. It’s easy for every family member to find something they enjoy, and then meet up at the register to pay.
Within the Landscape of Flavors, you can also find a grab n go section with drinks and snacks, as well as a refillable beverage station (if you purchase a refillable mug).
There’s also the Drop Off Pool Bar, right by the Big Blue Pool. It offers drinks and snacks. You can also get pizza delivery from the resort. If you are staying in a family suite with the table, pizza may be a good idea one night.
You can also easily walk across the bridge to Pop Century to visit their food court for something a bit different.
Activities at the Art of Animation Resort
The resort offers several different activities. While we were there, they had animation classes in Animation Hall on a scheduled basis. There’s also a series of outdoor movies that play and are available to resort guests. You’ll find a schedule of those at the resort.
Benefits to Staying at the Resort
Like all Disney hotel guests, guests at the Art of Animation have access to some special benefits to staying on property. Please note that some of these amenities like FastPass+, have temporarily been discontinued
Guests can take the complimentary Magical Express motorcoach to and from Orlando International Airport (this ends in 2021). Parking is offered at an additional fee at the resort, but you’ll get free parking at the theme parks.
Resort guests can also make FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, while those staying off property can only make those 30 days in advance. Magic Hours are also a benefit to staying on property. During Magic Hours, the parks are open only to resort guests. You can find the schedule online or once you arrive at the park
You’ll be able to use MagicBands or the app to open your hotel room door, take the Magical Express, enter the parks, charge purchases to your room, use PhotoPass, and access your FastPasses once you are in the park. Remember to pack these in your carry-on bag, so you’ll be able to access them at the airport to get on the Magical Express.
To learn more about Disney’s Art of Animation, visit the Disney website.