Have you ever wished you could live under the sea, swim the East Australian current, spend a day in Radiator Springs, or hang out by Pride Rock? If you love Walt Disney and Disney Pixar animation and stories, then the Art of Animation Resort is the resort for you. In March 2014 when our family made our first trip in four years to Walt Disney World Resort, I knew this would be the perfect resort for us. We had watched all the animated movies more times than I can count, and now we would have an opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the unbelievable theming, beautiful artwork, and attention to detail that makes the Art of Animation Resort so special.
From the moment we drove onto the property, we knew we were in for a spectacular stay, as we were greeted by bright fun colors and sketches of various animated characters. The excitement continued as we entered Animation Hall and were surrounded by drawings from our favorite animated movies. Since we have a budding artist and animator in our family, my oldest daughter felt right at home. For us, there was no way we could stand in that lobby and not feel as if we were seeing all of our favorite animated characters come to life. One of our favorite things about Animation Hall was the uniquely creative chandelier that displayed original sketches of some very famous characters!
We had a family suite in one of the Lion King buildings. During online check-in I had requested a room overlooking Hourglass Lake on a high floor and we were not disappointed. From the moment we opened the door to our suite we might as well have been sitting on the savanna signing Hakuna Matata with Simba, Timon and Pumba. The entire suite is themed to the Lion King, from the furniture to the carpet to the chairs and bathroom curtain. For us, with three kids then age 7 to 11, this was perfect. We had plenty of room to spread out with the double table bed and the double sleeper sofa, mom and dad had their own bedroom with a queen bed, and best of all, there were two bathrooms. The room also had a small kitchenette which was perfect for keeping drinks cold, storing snacks, and having the occasional breakfast in our room.
Notably, even the hallways in the buildings were themed, and our kids never missed an opportunity to make the most of what the artwork had to offer!
Once outside the Lion King building, the animation immersion continued, as we were daily whisked away to the Pride Lands and the Elephant Graveyard. We had a relatively short walk to Animation Hall and Landscape of Flavors, but even if we didn’t, we would not have minded the walk as there is so much to take in and enjoy along the way.
For Guests a little farther away in the Little Mermaid rooms or the Cars suites, they are transported under the sea or through Radiator Springs. The Cars area in particular resembled a mini Cars Land, complete with the Cozy Cone Motel. As my kids commented when we were there, it was almost as if we were in our own theme park right at our resort. They loved just walking around and being a part of the real life scenes from their favorite animated movies. It is the perfect resort if you want to extend your visit to the theme parks and stay surrounded by your favorite Walt Disney and Disney Pixar characters once you return to your resort.
For any family with kids who love to swim, or just any adult who loves to swim, the Big Blue Pool near the Finding Nemo buildings is in our opinion by far one of the best pools on the property. It is massive, which means you do not feel crowded by other guests, and best of all, the underwater music set to Finding Nemo cannot be beat. You also can hear Dory, Nemo and friends chatting from the underwater speakers. As with most resort pools, there are daily activities coordinated by the resort, which my oldest daughter loved participating in, and my youngest daughter had a great time playing in the interactive water play area at the other end of the pool. In the pool area there is a four person ping pong table, laundry facilities (so I was able to do laundry while spending time at the pool!), and the Drop Off Pool Bar. We spent an entire day just relaxing and hanging out by the pool and loved every minute of it.
Landscape of Flavors, the quick service option on site, had been touted as one of the best quick service restaurants on property and I would have to agree. The range of options available at Landscape of Flavors makes it worth the stay at this resort. Each morning I had a freshly prepared made to order fruit smoothie, and the variety of options available to my kids and my husband just for breakfast was outstanding. Overall, there are the standard options that are available at all resorts, but stand outs are options like the make your own smoothie (and several other make your own options), as well as unique entrees such as Mongolian Grill Fish and sides such as Roasted Cauliflower with Tomatoes. A meal here is much more than a regular quick service meal, complemented by the beautiful artwork, stunning murals, and music from the animated shows. We regularly sat by the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the pool area and Finding Nemo buildings and hardly ever felt like we were having a “quick service” meal.
In addition to everything the resort has to offer, there was one benefit at the Art of Animation Resort that made our stay particularly special. Every day, an animator in residence gave sketching classes in the sitting area at the front of Animation Hall. Anyone from the resort could attend a session to learn to draw a Walt Disney or Disney Pixar character. This activity is one my oldest daughter still talks about a year later, and she has her drawings framed and hanging in her room. While you can draw with an animator at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, having that close interaction daily with an animator was something she will remember forever. As with most of the resort, it felt as if you were bringing a part of the theme park right back to your resort.
Overall we loved the Art of Animation Resort, and while we have stayed at other resorts on property since our stay there in March 2014, my children still consistently ask if we can return to the Art of Animation Resort. Many people comment that it is a resort just for children, but I have to disagree – children and adults alike can easily fall in love with the larger than life theming and unbelievable attention to detail. If you love the Walt Disney and Disney Pixar movies and want to feel like you are truly a part of the animation, then the Art of Animation Resort is for you.