As Walt Disney World’s newest (and priciest) Value Resort, Art of Animation is indisputably the crown jewel of the Values. Nestled on the other side of Hourglass Lake, across from Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation features larger than life icons from four classic Disney and Pixar films: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. While most Value resorts, and some Moderates, are pretty heavily decked out in Disney themes, I think it’s hard to argue with the fact that Art of Animation takes the cake when it comes to being Disneyfied.
What makes Art of Animation unique compared to most other on-property Disney resorts is the fact that the majority of rooms are family suites sleeping up to six adults, complete with kitchenettes. Suite prices start in the $300’s per night, while traditional motel-style rooms start in the mid-$100’s per night — which is significantly higher than the starting rates at the rest of the Value resorts.
If you are a big fan of any of the four films featured in the resort’s theme, I definitely encourage taking a stroll around Art of Animation’s grounds. The attention to detail really is impressive, especially for a Value resort.
The resort is laid out similar to Pop Century, with clusters of four story buildings each devoted to a unique theme. Art of Animation room types vary based on the themed section: The Little Mermaid section houses all of the traditional motel-style rooms, while the Cars, Lion King, and Finding Nemo areas all house the family suites.
One disappointing fact needs addressing here: The Little Mermaid rooms (aka the only standard hotel rooms at Art of Animation) never go on sale. Ever. This means that the “Spring into Summer” or “Gift of Magic” or “(fill-in-the-blank)” discount you saw on Disney’s website will not apply to Little Mermaid rooms. This is because Art of Animation is still so new (and so popular) that Disney has absolutely no problem filling the standard rooms very easily. So why would they let you apply that awesome 15% seasonal discount when they can just as easily get to max capacity and pull in rack rate profits?
The good news is that the suites regularly are on sale as part of Disney’s frequent seasonal and affiliate discounts. And hey, I’m sure that eventually enough time will pass for the New Resort Smell to wear off and the Little Mermaid rooms will need regular discounts.
Anyway, hey look! I found my dinglehopper!
Right, ahem, back to the review.
Ever since it opened in 2012, Art of Animation has been hugely popular among die hard Disney tourists. And having recently toured it, I can certainly see a lot of the appeal: the grounds and buildings still have that clean new look, the movie icons and over-sized statues everywhere make for a fun, kid-friendly environment, and the food court offers a wide variety of world cuisines you won’t find at any of the other Values.
Plus, if you decide to split a family suite among six adults and a child, you really can score a decent per couple nightly rate, all with the benefits of a kitchenette.
Add to that the fact that Art of Animation has its own dedicated bus service, and you’ve definitely got a lot of compelling reasons to make this your Disney home away from home.
However, I would be remiss if I did not offer my absolutely honest opinion about Art of Animation. And that is this: During certain times of year (namely, lower seasons when discounts abound), staying in a standard room at Art of Animation can cost nearly as much as staying at a Disney Moderate resort, such as Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs. While Art of Animation’s thematic appeal for kids may be stronger than any of the Moderates, I strongly suggest thinking about the other perks you would get for nearly the same price at a Moderate.
And if a family suite with kitchenette is what you are after, remember that All-Star Music also has some family suites at a much lower starting rate than the (admittedly newer) Art of Animation family suites.
My personal opinion is this: Generally speaking, travelers look to Value resorts in order to stay on-property at the lowest cost possible, and quite frankly, Art of Animation’s prices are significantly higher than the rest of the Values. So high, even, that the first time I saw them I thought surely this should have been categorized as a Moderate resort (and, to some extent, I still feel that way). Point is, don’t stay at Art of Animation if you really want to stick to the smallest budget possible. Stay at Art of Animation if you have the means and desire to splurge a little bit but aren’t willing to splurge all the way on a Deluxe or one of the nicer rooms at a Moderate resort.
In fact, I love saving money by staying at Pop Century and taking the short walk across the Generation Gap bridge to Art of Animation to take in the sights and dine at the well-received Landscape of Flavors food court.
Leave any questions about Art of Animation in the comments below!