With is hardcore Disney theming and relatively low prices, Art of Animation catches a lot of eyes for people planning Walt Disney World vacations. Read on to learn more about this popular value option!
Basics of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Art of Animation is the most expensive of the value options at Walt Disney World. Along with Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation is priced above the three All-Star Resorts. Prices at Art of Animation start $153 per night in 2019. You might get down to about $120 with a good deal.
Staying at Art of Animation, you get the perks of any Disney stay. You’ll have access to free transportation (by bus, as discussed below) to and from the parks and Disney Springs. You’ll also be able to book make your FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance rather than the standard 30.
If you’re considering Art of Animation, you may want to read some of our other posts, including reviews of the other value resorts. We have a ranking of the Disney World value resorts. We also have a guide to all the hotels of Walt Disney World. Here are our reviews of all the value resorts (links open in new tabs):
Review of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (you are here)
And if you’d like to see where this resort falls overall, check out our Disney World hotel rankings.
Art of Animation Grounds and Room Types
Let’s start with an annotated map of Art of Animation:
As you can see, there are ten buildings of rooms, one main building (Animation Hall), one feature pool, and two small pools at either end of the resort.
Importantly, we’ve highlighted where the Little Mermaid rooms (the subject of this review) are. The Little Mermaid rooms are the standard rooms at Art of Animation, and they’re located farthest from Animation Hall. The farthest rooms are about a seven-minute walk from Animation Hall.
The remaining rooms, which we won’t be discussing in this review, are family suites. These suites are priced starting around $366 per night. Smart Mouse Travel has a review of a family suite. (Also worth noting—due to the presence of the suite room type, you need to be extra diligent to make sure the Disney World website shows you the lowest prices here.)
Animation Hall and Art of Animation’s Pools
Animation Hall is where you’ll find the bus stops, reception, the concierge, the Pixel Play Arcade, Ink & Paint Shop gift shop, the Landscape of Flavors food court.
We’re fans of the cafeteria-style quick service options at the value resorts, and the Landscape of Flavors food court at Art of Animation is widely recognized as the best dining option at the value resorts. The full menu is available here. Food court meals are quick service meals under the Disney dining plans.
When staying at nearby Pop Century, we’ll usually make the walk over to Art of Animation at least once to visit Landscape of Flavors.
Just outside Animation Hall is The Drop Off Pool Bar, which is basically a standard value resort pool bar, but a little bigger than the ones at the All-Star resorts.
The Ink & Paint Shop actually has a great amount of Art of Animation gear. We wish the values did more of this (it’s common at moderate and deluxe resorts). We’re proud frequent guests of the value resorts and would love more gear to show off!
Just outside Animation Hall is the feature pool—The Big Blue Pool. The Big Blue Pool is most known for playing Disney music through underwater speakers. Otherwise, it is an average to above average value resort pool.
There is a kiddie splash area nearby (the picture below was taken before it was turned on for the day).
Little Mermaid guests will be closer to the Flippin’ Fins pool.
The resort is filled with Disney animation theming, as well as play areas that mostly serve to distract kids while parents are trying to corral them over to the bus stops.
Booking Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
The first thing I want to note about booking Art of Animation is that it’s common for Disney to “hide” the lowest prices from you. If you search during a deal period, Disney usually shows the lowest deal price first. If the deal is only applicable to the family suites, Disney will show that price first even though a lower priced (non-discounted) Little Mermaid room is available. Here’s a search result for April dates while Disney was showing me annual passholder discounts:
It looks like rooms will start at $324 pre-tax because only the suites are subject to this offer on these dates. But if I click through and get rid of the discount, I see that there are Little Mermaid rooms available for $191 pre-tax:
Of course, we like to have our favorite Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, Lauren Quirk of Enchanted Escapes Travel handle all this for us. We booked through her at a full-price rate of $196.88 nightly.
You might beat Disney’s prices on third-party sites like Expedia or Booking. As always, if you book through a non-Disney site you should be sure to link your reservation to your My Disney Experience account both as a means of confirming it and to be sure you get all the perks associated with your stay.
Our Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation
We drove from our nearby apartment. Most guests will arrive via Disney’s Magical Express. We checked in online midday and our room was ready around 1:30PM, which is well before the official 3PM check-in time.
The Little Mermaid rooms are possibly the most polarizing rooms at Walt Disney World. Basically, people either think they look “really fun” or “really tacky.” For this review, we’ll ignore what side we’re on and let the pictures and video speak for themselves.
One thing everyone should agree on is that most Little Mermaid aficionados will love the rooms, as they’re filled with Little Mermaid detailing.
The vanity is pretty small and separated from the rest of the room by only a curtain.
The bathroom unit felt more spacious than some deluxe bathrooms we’ve been in. Even with the inward-opening door, it didn’t feel super cramped.
Curiously, we were given individual shampoo and conditioner containers, something that rarely happens at the value or even moderate resorts.
The rooms aren’t super new anymore, but the wear and tear is mostly minimal.
Regardless of whether you think the design is “fun” or “tacky,” there’s no doubting that functionally these rooms are much worse than the refurbished rooms at Pop Century and All-Star Movies. The furniture is awkward, there are limited outlets, the TV is small, the bathroom area is poorly designed, etc.
However, the rooms are slightly bigger than the rooms at Pop Century and the All-Star Resorts. Families of four will definitely be more comfortable here than in those other rooms, but Disney World vacations aren’t exactly meant for lounging around your room all day.
Transportation at Art of Animation
Traveling to and from the Art of Animation, you’ll be relying on buses and rideshare (Uber, Lyft, Minnie Vans). It’s uncommon for Art of Animation to share buses, which is an advantage over the All-Star resorts. The Skyliner, discussed more below, is also coming to Art of Animation.
When it comes to getting to meal reservations or getting to the parks (other than Magic Kingdom) in a tight timeframe, we still favor using Uber. It isn’t a perfect service, but it generally will beat using Disney’s bus services in a pinch.
Disney has announced that the Disney World Skyliner gondola system will begin operations on September 29, connecting Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, and (opening December) Riviera Resort.
While we are expecting the Skyliner to enhance transportation at the resort, we’ll have to see what supply and demand looks like for this new transportation system before we can really draw any solid conclusions.
Conclusion - Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Putting aside the question of Pop Century vs. Art of Animation for a second, there’s no questioning that Art of Animation is a good value option if the rooms appeal to you.
Art of Animation has a great pool and one of the best food courts on property. Those two checkboxes alone make it worthy of consideration for a value traveler. It’s also close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, which means any long bus waits are at least offset by short trips. Or you can get a cheap Uber to those parks.
Overall though, we’re unlikely to return to Art of Animation unless it’s to visit a family suite. We’re not Little Mermaid zealots, and we feel strongly that Pop Century offers much better value.
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