Hey look, it’s another Disney’s Art of Animation Resort review! Disney World’s newest (for now) hotel has been a smash hit since it opened with its bright colors, larger-than-life sculptures, and rooms themed after favorite Disney movies. It’s classified as a value level resort, which generally means outdoor entry to the rooms and quick-service only dining, but prices are frequently on par with Moderate and even Deluxe level rooms. The Disney Art of Animation rooms come in “regular” – your typical two bed set-up, and family suites – larger rooms with two bathrooms and the space to sleep six. On a recent visit, my family and I tested out two different rooms – an Art of Animation Little Mermaid Room (full of undersea theming) and a Lion King family suite – at the hotel. Because our stays were part of the same trip, it was easy to compare and contrast the two different room types.
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Art of Animation Little Mermaid Room
I’d been trying to stay in one of the Little Mermaid rooms since the resort opened, but they always seemed to be fully booked before I had a chance to snag one. My sister and I were both super excited to finally get a chance to stay in one. The Little Mermaid rooms are located in a cluster of three buildings near the Little Mermaid pool. Along the path, you’ll find a larger-than-life treasure chest, Sebastian, Ursula, and King Triton.
The theming inside the room is cute, but a little less over-the-top than I expected. There were fun details on the walls like a pretty fish mirror and a Sebastian and Flounder plaque and some undersea curtains separating the sink from the rest of the room, but other than that, it was a pretty normal hotel room. It had been several months since my last Disney stay, but the room felt a little smaller than Pop Century, which is my usual Value resort. It’s probably not ideal if you travel with baby cribs or lots of luggage.
We had two beds, a little table, a tv, a mini fridge, a nightstand, and a bathroom. The nice thing about the bathrooms here (and at many Disney resorts) is that the sink is outside the door for the toilet and shower so you can have people brushing their teeth or doing makeup while someone else showers in the morning when everyone is trying to get ready at the same time.
The biggest downside is that the rooms are soooooo far away from the lobby, which is where you’ll catch the buses to the parks, grab food, and refill your mugs. Our room was in the building behind the Little Mermaid statue, on the back side of it. I had the misfortune of having to make three round trips from our room to the lobby one morning and had already walked almost two miles before I even got on the bus. We had refillable mugs, but it was such a hike to go get drinks in them that we opted not to bother filling them up a couple of times. I was really glad we didn’t spend the majority of our trip in that room.
When we got back, I used Google Maps’ distance measurement tool and the walkway to our room was about 1/3 mile. It doesn’t seem like that much, but when you’re already likely to walk 10+ miles in the parks, those round trips to and from the lobby add up. If you’re driving to the resort and can park nearby, it won’t be too much of an inconvenience to get from the parking lot to the rooms, but you’ll still need to walk a bit to get to the lobby to use any of its amenities. that one morning also inspired me to write a whole post on which shoes to wear to Disney parks.
Art of Animation Lion King Suite
Our second room for our stay was one of the Art of Animation family suites. Ours was themed after The Lion King and I absolutely loved it. We got super lucky and based on its location, it we had to have gotten one of the best rooms at the Art of Animation resort. We were on the first floor near the end of the hallway, and when you walked outside, you were right outside of the lobby. After being so far away in our Ariel room, this felt like a miracle. It’s also nice to have the interior hallways in the Lion King buildings because it keeps things a little quieter and means you have to spend that much less time in the Florida heat and/or rain. That sounds petty, but when you’re walking outside in 90+ degree heat with humidity, you’ll treasure that little blast of extra A/C.
The art of animation family suite consisted of a bedroom with a master bath, a sitting area with a sofa bed, a kitchenette, a table with a fold-down bed, and another full bathroom. It was enough space for our party of five adults, and I even got the couch bed to myself one night. Pro tip: the little kitchen table folds down into a bed, so don’t get there and think they shorted you. It’s well-hidden.
As part of the standard Art of Animation room amenities, you get a little kitchenette with a microwave, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and sink.
Having the second full bathroom was amazing in the morning. I may or may not also be obsessed with the tile work in the shower. I just need to find a way to get someone to install that in my house. How can you not feel pumped for a day at Disney World after a shower next to a rising sun like that? (Someone please leave me a comment letting me know I’m not the only one absolutely in love with this shower.)
Aside from that gorgeous tilework, the Art of Animation Lion King suite was full of fun, colorful touches inspired by the movie. And it appealed to the whole family. I hate to be stereotypical, but my sister and I were definitely more into the Little Mermaid room than my brother was, but who doesn’t love The Lion King? Answer: only people I don’t want to associate with let alone share a hotel room with. I loved the little stool/end table (it’s still unclear which they were) things that looked like logs with song lyrics spiraled into the rings. The animal cut-outs above the bed in the bedroom were super cute too.
I took the sofa bed for our time in the Lion King room, and was pleasantly surprised with how comfy it was. Couch beds are kind of hit or miss in hotels based on my experiences over the years, and this one really didn’t feel like I was getting shorted. Of course, I was also completely exhausted from walking about a dozen miles every day, so I probably would’ve been able to sleep on gravel happily, but the bed did feel solid, even when I shared it with my sister.
You can also get Art of Animation family suites themed after Finding Nemo and Cars with similar layouts and amenities, with accents related to those movies. The Cars suites have a mix of retro design and furniture reminiscent of auto mechanics’ metal tool boxes. The Finding Nemo rooms have lots of undersea touches, but seem to have weirdly plain bathrooms. They run a few dollars more per night because they’re located close to the Big Blue Pool and lobby.
Art of Animation Resort pools
The big draw (and main reason I’d been wanting to stay at Art of Animation for the longest time) is the centerpiece Big Blue Pool. It’s centrally located right behind the main building and its Finding Nemo theming is some of the best of any pool on Disney property. It also happens to be the largest resort pool at Disney World. There’s even a splash pad for kids with fountains and brightly colored fish statues. The coolest part is that there are underwater speakers that play music, so make sure you dive under the water for a chance to hear it. There is a pool bar located just outside for grownups. It even serves boozy slurpees, which is an absolute dream come true for me. Like all Disney World pools, there are towels available to use, and lounge chairs all over. This has one of the bigger pool decks I’ve seen, so finding one wasn’t a challenge.
If the main pool is too crowded, you can head over to the Little Mermaid pool or the Cars pool. The Cars pool looks like it’s part of the Cozy Cone Motel, so it feels a bit more immersive than the Little Mermaid one. That one is surrounded by the giant statues of Little Mermaid characters, but doesn’t have much in the way of theming beyond that. They will, however, refresh you if that’s your goal, and will likely have fewer people.
Art of Animation Resort restaurant
Like all value resorts, Art of Animation doesn’t have a table service dining option. They do, however, have a pretty good food court. Landscape of Flavors has all the quick service classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as drink stations for the refillable resort mugs.
Art of Animation front desk
Hopefully you won’t have to spend a ton of time in the lobby – if you use my time-saving tips, you can even bypass it at check-in – but if you need some assistance, the Art of Animation front desk is absolutely gorgeous. I love vivid colors, gradients, and rainbow blends, so the brilliant colors behind the front desk are perfect for me. Even if you don’t need to hit the front desk at check-in or check-out, it’s worth walking through at one point during your stay just to enjoy the colors.
The lobby area by the gift shop also has some cool sketches of favorite Disney movies to look at.
Other Art of Animation Resort amenities
You’ll also find your basic Disney World hotel amenities and perks at Art of Animation. You’re eligible for free Magical Express transportation to and from the airport if you’re flying into MCO and Disney bus transportation to and from the parks and Disney Springs. Starting soon, you’ll also be able to ride the gondola service to either Hollywood Studios or Epcot, which can also come in handy if you have dining reservations at the Boardwalk. (Because bus service doesn’t run between hotels, you either have to bus to a park and then catch another bus to the hotel or take an Uber or Minnie Van to get from resort to resort.)
Each pool has a laundry room nearby if you absolutely have to do laundry on your vacation. Let’s be real – I’d just buy new clothes before I spent my Disney time at the laundry machine, but you do your thing.
Art of Animation is a pet-friendly hotel, so you can make arrangements in advance to bring your pet with you. Service animals are of course welcome in all Disney hotels, but plain old pets can come to Art of Animation too. Check out the rules before booking.
Disney movies are screened outdoors in a grassy area in the evenings. These showings are free for resort guests. There is also a playground on site and an arcade if you need to keep the kids busy.
Like all on-site Disney resorts, Art of Animation guests get to book their FastPasses 60 days prior to the start of their reservation (key if you want to snag the most popular ones). Extra Magic Hours are periodically offered before park opening and after park close for exclusive access to selected parks for resort guests.
How to make Art of Animation reservations
You can always head to Disney’s official site to make Art of Animation reservations or check availability. Disney periodically runs sales for things like free dining or pretty significant room discounts so it’s always worth checking for a deal. I almost always end up booking through Undercover Tourist (and getting my park tickets through them too.)
Looking for more Disney World tips? Check out these posts:
- Camping at Disney World: Why I’m Obsessed with Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Tips and Review
- The Best Shoes for Disney World and Disneyland for the Whole Family
- How to Save Time at Disney World Using Your Smartphone
- The Grown-Up’s Guide to Disney World for Adults
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