Well, I went to bed late and woke up early again- big day. I needed to be sure everyone was ready for our move by check out time (11am) and I hadn’t really gotten a good look at the resort yet. My oldest was up and ready to go on my walking tour at 8am. Everyone else stayed in our suite to catch up on some sleep.
We left our section and started out in the Little Mermaid section. These groups of buildings house the only standard resort rooms offered at Art of Animation Resort. You really cannot tell a difference from the outside of the buildings. You approach this section as if you are walking through Ariel’s treasure trove of “human things”. You will find a beer stein, pipe, fork, and a statue of Prince Eric. There are also HUGE statues of King Triton, Ariel, and Ursula adoring the 3 buildings in this section. There is also a fenced in area where you will find Sebastian holding court by the pool. Everything here was colored in bright hues of blues, reds, and pink. This is one of the most popular sections on of the resort and really hard to get a reservation here, and when you do- don’t expect your room to be discounted. The last few rounds of Disney discounts excluded these Little Mermaid rooms.
Moving through this section you approach our section, the Lion King. Approaching it this way you are greeted by Zazu and the elephant grave yard playground which also had a misting element when the kids explored. Walking past this you are greeted by the fallen tree with Timon, Pumba, and Simba that led to our suite. Walking towards the Finding Nemo section you are now greeted by Mufasa and Rafiki (which is usually who greeted us upon our return to the resort at the end of a park day). We enjoyed staying here- it is the smallest of the sections, and we didn’t hear any noise from outside of our room which was something I would be afraid of if staying closer to a pool.
Approaching the center of the resort you would have the Nemo section and the Big Blue pool on your left and the main building on your right. The Nemo section also has a jogging trail and Schoolyard Sprayground for little ones. Laundry facilities and the The Drop Off pool bar are also here. This is a HUGE section, and what we noticed was that staying in our section might have been closer to the main area than some of the actual Nemo buildings. Whenever we were in the Nemo section there was music playing and crowds of people in the pool- which never seemed over crowded because it is so big. There are also daily activities poolside that are run by cast members. The pool is also only open to guests staying at Art of Animation- you will need a key card or Magic Band to gain entrance.
The main building houses guest services, bell services, the arcade, gift shop, business center, and cafeteria. You walk through this building to find the bus stops to bring you all around the Walt Disney World Resort. We were actually quite surprised that the buses ran as often as they did and that it didn’t take as long as I anticipated arriving at the parks or back home to our resort. It always took less than an hour from the time we arrived at the stop to wherever we wanted to be.
Waking past you enter the Cars section. Almost every car from the first Car movie resides here just outside Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel- aka the pool. You actually walk through the “check in” area of the Cozy Cone to get to the pool (this building holds bathrooms and vending machines) which also has cone-shaped bungalows with lounge chairs offering shade for guests while their friends or family swim. This is a really cute, really well thought out area- a nice refuge for families that isn’t as loud and crowded and the Big Blue pool and it seemed larger than the Little Mermaid pool.
Overall we really enjoyed our time here. My biggest complaint was the size of it. There is a lot of walking involved here, but that is no different from most other value and some moderate and deluxe resorts. I also didn’t get that relaxing “vibe” that I personally need when returning back after a long day at the parks. The fluorescent lights that greet you in the main building (which you have to walk through to get to your suite) and that party vibe continued outside to the pool area. Our section was probably the most subdued, which helped- but not enough for me personally. I also really need closets. I tried to keep things and neat as I could, but with all of the bags the 5 of us needed (and the suite sleeps 6) – it was impossible, this is again something I just feel personally. The biggest plus was the price tag for a room that sleeps 6, a fraction of a deluxe resort price which only sleeps 5 at best. We are a family of 5 and the 2 bathrooms are a HUGE plus- especially with 2 daughters. All of the beds (including the convertible couch) were incredibly comfortable and the resort was spotless. I did not miss not having a table service restaurant or a pool slide at all which is usually a draw at the higher level resorts. Something unique here that you won’t find in other value resorts are indoor corridors (except in the Little Mermaid section) and elevators. Would we return? I won’t be surprised if we do and if we do I would try to reserve a suite in the Cars section as that pool area was incredibly appealing and would cut down on some of the walking I had done staying in the Lion King section. What I came to conclude, especially as an owner of a travel agency that specializes in Disney Destinations, is that this resort is pretty much what people expect of a “Disney” resort. For YEARS guests envisioned something over the top with characters everywhere- and that is this resort. The plus and surprise are that it is a family orientated, suite resort (much like the Nick Hotel not far off Disney property, however I have stayed there once before and I can say, with certainty, will not stay again) with a number of amentities for those traveling with younger children (or those simply young at heart).