If you want the ultimate in theme Resort accommodations the Art of Animation Resort is it. Busy Bumble is an animation aficionado so this was heaven for her and anyone who appreciates the artistry and talent behind Disney’s animated features.
The resort is split into areas themed for different films: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. Each have their charms and when you reserve you can choose which one you’d like to stay in. Since it was our first time we chose what is arguably the most popular: Finding Nemo.
This resort is laid out in a long tract, so where you stay can make all the difference. The Little Mermaid buildings are farthest from the front desk and bus stops but they have their own sweet pool and are usually cheaper per night than the rest of the resort. The Finding Nemo buildings are so popular because they are right outside Animation Hall, where you can find the front desk, cafeteria, and gift shop, and a few short steps from the buses to the parks.
The buildings have a generic motel-style base similar to the Value Resorts. Technically AoA is a Value Resort but demand has made the per night price equivalent to a Moderate or Deluxe Resort. While the building footprints are pretty cookie-cutter they are decorated with nods to the animation process.
You’ll also find fun sculptures and scenic elements for plenty of pictures.
We requested a room by the pool since we’d heard it was pretty spectacular and it was amazing. Definitely busy but even just looking at it as fun.
This pool has underwater speakers that pipe music while you swim. Not sure if it’s true since we didn’t swim but it’s cool nonetheless.
We were in the Crush building (building number 5), which is easy find: just look for the enormous sea turtle.
On the side of the building you’ll find those noisy seagulls. Wait around for a bit. They start squawking, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” Scared the bejesus out of me when it first happened.
We were on the ground floor so we had easy access in and out. The rooms are entered from an insider hallway, unlike many of the resorts. Entry is controlled for each building so have your Magic Band ready.
The hallways in our section are themed to be the East Australian Current (the EAC, dude!).
The room itself is pretty incredible and very spacious. There’s a kitchenette for eating meals in your room. No stove or oven, but the microwave is really all you need (if you want a proper kitchen you’ll need to book a DVC Villa). Two bathrooms (unheard of in most resorts) means no more fighting. Finally there are plenty of places to sleep. The dining table turns into a double bed, the sofa is a bed, and there’s a bed in the bedroom. Check out all the amenities.
When I say this suite was spacious, I mean you could easily fit a family of six comfortably with a roll away bed. This is a great option for families and those traveling in a group. Imagine having a trip with some friends and splitting the cost? Suddenly it really is a Value Resort!
Since we had a view of the pool it was very noisy most of the day. I don’t just mean when the sun is out, either. Music seems to be constantly playing, people and mingling and laughing, and in the evenings there are movies on the lawn. This is not the place to be if you want a quiet, peaceful vacation. This is all about noise, energy, and action.
Our goal is to eventually stay in all four sections so we can have a favorite. We will definitely be back.
Good: Lots of theming (for those who like that sort of thing); spacious suites that sleep a lot of people; that table-bed!; sweet pool area
Not So Good: Very busy and very noisy, nearly all the time; no shade (seriously, there are no spots of shade where we were except for an overhang outside Animation Hall); thin room doors mean whoever sleeps on the table-bed gets to hear what’s going on outside clearly; they call this a Value Resort but the price is more like a high-end Moderate Resort
Best Moments: Our first walk through of the resort grounds finding all the little details from each of the films (look the sheriff is waiting to catch someone! I can see Mr. Ray! Is Scar on that rock plotting to kill us all?); discovering the table-bed and finding it was actually comfortable
Forgettable Moments: Getting startled by those seagulls (although you wanted them to say “Mine!” you didn’t really think they would); parking so far away from our room on day one and getting a little lost (the sign points to the Finding Nemo buildings parking but it leads you closer to the Cars buildings. Where is Building 5? Anyone?)
Budget Range: Moderate Resort- That whole label of Value Resort is a lie. Maybe Disney intended it to be a Value Resort but market demand has asserted itself and the price reflects that. You can expect anywhere from $225-$350 depending on time of year and discounts. Make your dollar stretch by bunking with a group in a suite.
Summed Up As A Song: “What’s this? The streets are lined with little creatures laughing, everybody seems so happy, have I possibly gone daffy? What’s this?” What’s This (This is everything you ever wanted from a Disney hotel as a child. It’s like the place is soaked in happiness, nostalgia, and caffeine.)