Since the first All-Star Resort opened in the 90s, Disney has made a concentrated effort to provide immersive accommodations for families traveling on tighter budgets. As with all their endeavors, each new value Resort has learned lessons from its predecessor. The three All-Star resorts have remained popular with Guests, and the newer value addition, Pop Century, is still considered the crown jewel of this tier by many visitors. However, in 2012, Disney’s newest value Resort, The Art of Animation, opened its doors and (in my opinion) gives its competition a run for its money. Let us count the reasons why this hotel may best its neighbors.
1. Excellent Theming
The Art of Animation Resort is divided into four sections that are themed to the following popular movies: Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and The Lion King. Although the designs in each area are meant to place you inside individual films, the overall theme of the Resort is meant to pay homage to the field of animation. The journey begins as soon as you walk into the lobby, which is covered in sketches and concept art from various films. In addition to the larger-than-life Disney statues within the actual Resort, the beauty of the theming lies in the details. Don’t miss the shrubbery that is styled to look like under-the-sea vegetation (The Little Mermaid) or the painted lines on the sidewalk “roads” (Cars). Plus, a ride on the Disney Skyliner is the perfect way to enjoy Disney transportation to and from Disney Parks, such as Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
2. Spacious Rooms
While The Little Mermaid section has standard-sized (still lovely) rooms, the other three areas of the hotel feature marvelous suites! Each suite has two full-sized bathrooms, a master bedroom, and an oversized living room/kitchenette with two beds. This is ideal for larger parties or even for smaller groups that just want more personal space. Also, the sheer volume of these rooms means that you won’t need to book your trip extremely far in advance just to land a coveted spot. (Speaking from personal experience, the suites just make the temporary space feel even more like I’m really “home.”) Also, the rooms themselves feature immaculate theming that is worthy of your admiration. Don’t forget to take note of the carpet patterns, bedding, and even light fixtures that have all been selected with care.
3. Amazing Pools
This one-of-a-kind Resort features not just one but three unique and wonderful pools. The Little Mermaid section features the calm Flippin Fins Pool. Over in the Cars section, the Cozy Cone pool also serves as a tranquil spot to visit in Radiator Springs. (This section even features free cone-shaped cabanas.) The most popular pool by far, though, is The Big Blue Pool, which is the largest on the property, and also features a Nemo-themed play area for young children. The shining achievement, though, is that this pool features under-the-water speakers! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding your breath a couple seconds longer because, after all, how many times does one get to jam at the bottom of a pool?
4. Delicious Dining
While The Art of Animation doesn’t feature a sit-down restaurant, their food court, Landscape of Flavors, pushes the boundaries of “value” dining. Fans of EPCOT’s Sunshine Seasons can rejoice, because this counter-service location also provides a variety of options from standard burgers to more inventive dishes, like tandoori shrimp. Boasting a huge seating area and long hours, this is an ideal place to choose for any meal. (For example, don’t forget about their huge dessert case and hand-scooped gelato if you have a late-night sweet tooth!) Along with this onsite restaurant, those 21-and-older can stop by at the Drop-Off bar for a tropical beverage.
5. Great Shopping
Each Resort features its own specialized onsite shopping area, and The Art of Animation is no exception. Along with a huge selection of toys, treats, and collectibles that you will see in the parks, this shop also features (what else?) many professional paintings and drawings of beloved characters that are available for purchase. In addition to souvenirs, this shop also has a mini-drug store-inspired section that has rescued many a family in need that has forgotten toiletries or over-the-counter medications.
In conclusion, the wonderful amenities and unique differences to each section, warrant multiple stays at this Resort. While The Art of Animation may not fall into the deluxe tier, this hotel has undeniably proven to be a game-changer for the value tier as a whole. Keeping this in mind, I can’t imagine what Disney will create for onsite Guests in the years to come.