Disney’s Art of Animation is a bit unconventional relative to the other resorts. Of the Value resorts, it is priced the highest to the point where I barely consider it a Value Resort at all. Depending on the needs of your vacation, your perceptions of the value of the resort’s offerings may vary. In this review, I’ll discuss the various room types and features Art of Animation has to offer, as well as my personal take on whether it’s worth the money. I’m also constantly going to compare it with the other Value Resorts, if only because it is by far the most unique in the category.
The hotel in its entirety is themed as an immersive look at Disney’s animation throughout history. The lobby and food court both feature a colorful aesthetic with various sketches and drawings of classic Disney characters. The resort itself is split into four main sections, each with multiple buildings themed to its own respective film: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. The first three sections consist of family-style suites that fit up to 6 people. Each of these buildings have indoor hallways. The exception lies with The Little Mermaid section, which only contains standard rooms with outdoor walkways, much like the All-Star resorts and Pop Century, the other Value resorts in WDW. Three of the sections have pools, however they all share the main amenities at the lobby: check-in, a gift shop, the food court, arcade, and bus stop.
On that note, the “Landscape of Flavors” food court has by far the most superior food selection of the Value Resorts. It is also very spacious and can handle the dreaded breakfast rush much better than most other resorts, despite the fact that it is found at a Value resort. With that said, this is the only food location located at this resort.
Geographically, Art of Animation lies in the “ESPN Wide World of Sports” area, making it one of the farthest resorts from any point of interest on Disney property. With the exception of it being only a few feet from Disney’s Pop Century Resort, you will have to drive or use the complimentary bus service to travel. As a trick, you may be able to save time by hopping on a Pop Century bus when returning from the parks. Conveniently, the Art of Animation buses do not share stops with any other resorts during the off-season, something which is very common even with both Moderate and Deluxe resorts.
For more info on using WDW buses, check out this video.
A walk to the lobby from the farthest room would be under ten minutes. The resort is the same size as Pop Century, but definitely smaller than the All-Stars or Moderates (the latter are notoriously larger, but offer a bus route that circles the entire resort). As far as pricing, Art of Animation is the most expensive of the Values, ranging from $366 to $631 per night for a family suite, and $153 to $267 for a standard room, depending on the time of year. Now obviously, we’re talking about 6-person suites, but it is usually still possible to book two standard rooms (8 people) for cheaper at another Value Resort. So why would you stay here?
The theming is probably Art of Animation’s greatest appeal. Although I’ve only personally stayed in the Nemo suites, I find the theming in the Cars section to be outstanding (it highly resembles the Cars theming in Disney’s California Adventure, if you’ve even seen that). Art of Animation is one of my favorite resorts to walk around at night, partly because of its close proximity to Pop Century. With that said, the theming is similar to the other Value resorts, flaunting big bulky characters and objects that some would consider to be too tacky. But for what it’s worth, it’s done the most tastefully of all the Values and offers a great merge of theming with the Disney experience one may consider ideal for their kids (or even just the kids at heart.)
I personally would not recommend staying at the Little Mermaid section. Even though it offers the same room space and experience as the other Value Resorts, it is still consistently priced roughly $40 higher per night than the All-Stars. On top of that, I find the theming in this section to be the weakest and its pool to be uninspiring, and it requires the most walking since it’s the furthest from the shared bus stop. For these reasons, I would never stay here unless you have a kid (or an adult) who particularly likes the Little Mermaid. Otherwise, I would recommend Pop Century as an equivalent experience for a better value.
Overall, Art of Animation is an interesting blend of the brashness from the other Values with a few glimpses of sophistication. Because of its family suite offerings, this resort is perfect for a larger group or family that wants the next step up from the other Value Resorts. If you are looking for a kid-friendly resort where your family can stay in close proximity, then this is the resort you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more inexpensive option or desire a resort with more subtle theming, I recommend checking out the offerings of some other Walt Disney World resorts.