Disney's Art of Animation Resort: A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Disney's Art of Animation Resort is a relatively new hotel on Disney property, but its construction may have taken longer than any other resort. Construction began as part of Disney's Pop Century Resort, which is located across Hourglass Lake. It was supposed to be known as the Legendary Years—those years from 1900 through 1949. As fate would have it, when Disney's Pop Century Resort opened in 2003, the Legendary Years portion sat empty and abandoned, probably because of the halt of tourism following the September 11 attacks in New York City.
In 2010, the empty buildings were re-purposed, and construction resumed on what is now a completely new resort, Disney's Art of Animation Resort. There are four areas, or four film franchises represented here: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid.
Animation Hall and Finding Nemo
You begin your journey into the art of animation when you arrive at Animation Hall, which contains the main desk, the main merchandise facility, Ink & Paint Shop, and the main food court, Landscape of Flavors. There are three swimming pools at this resort, but the main pool, The Big Blue Pool, is located directly behind Animation Hall. Since the guest rooms in this area are themed after Finding Nemo, so is the pool.
The Big Blue Pool can be found next to the "Finding Nemo" section, located directly behind Animation Hall, which is the main lobby of the hotel. Because of its proximity to the "Finding Nemo" section of the hotel, this pool has an underwater theme. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
If you look up as you pass through the south side of "Finding Nemo" on your way to "Cars," you'll see the seagulls. If you pass by at the right moment, you can hear them screaming, "Mine, Mine, Mine." Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid section of Disney's Art of Animation is the farthest from Animation Hall. It has the third pool on property, called Flippin' Fins, and is themed after characters from The Little Mermaid movie.
This area is the only section in Disney's Art of Animation that has "standard" rooms. The other three sections are comprised mostly of family suites, which may explain why this hotel tends to be a bit more expensive than the other value hotels on Disney property. The thought must be that more people can be accommodated in the suites, so larger families will experience a slightly greater value here.
The southern-most buildings in this resort are themed after the movie, Cars. You'll find many of the Cars characters including Mater, the Sheriff, and Fillmore, the hippy VW Microbus. You'll also find the Cozy Cone Pool complete with cabanas that are shaped like, as you might guess, traffic cones.
Fillmore's license plate shows the number 51237, which represents the birth date for George Carlin, the first voice of Fillmore. After George Carlin passed in 2008, the voice of Fillmore was taken over by Lloyd Sherr. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Sally Carrera and Lightning McQueen (left to right) are found in front of the Wheel Well Motel, or building 2 in the Cars section. The price of the gas on the pumps behind them shows 29.9 cents per gallon. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Lion King
The Lion King area is the set of buildings just north of Animation Hall. There's no pool in this area, but you will find the Elephant Graveyard, which is a playground for the kiddos.
We've stayed at many—probably most—of the hotels on Disney property over the years. Our favorite is usually just like our favorite park—it's the one we're in at the time—and Disney's Art of Animation Resort is no exception. It's a Disney Value hotel, meaning that it has a different look and ambience from a moderate or luxury hotel, but it does so at a significantly lower price. We've managed to find deals at these value resorts when they have sales and booked rooms when their pricing wasn't much different than any ordinary hotel of similar quality off property. We've always enjoyed the stay.
Do we recommend Disney's Art of Animation Resort over other hotels on Disney property? Well, no, we don't. We like pretty much all of the Disney properties, and it simply depends on your taste in hotels, and of course, your budget. Staying at Disney's Art of Animation is a legitimate Disney experience, just like any other Disney hotel, and especially if you have kids who enjoy a good Disney movie.
Like Disney's Pop Century Resort, if you have kids with you, we suggest that you do your homework and make sure the kids have recently seen at least one movie from each of the four movie franchises represented here. It will help refresh them and give them a better sense of what they're seeing when they wander the grounds.
We posted a photo tour of Disney's Pop Century Resort a while back. You can see the article here if you'd like to compare the two hotels.
Join us for a quick walk around Disney's Art of Animation Resort on property at the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida. Photos and videos by Donald and Bonnie Fink.