Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation Resort
Art of Animation Resort, Disney World, Florida

During our most recent trip to Disney World, we stayed at the Art of Animation resort, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts/reviews of the property. This marks the third time I have stayed at Art of Animation Resort. The first time I stayed in the Cars family suite with a group of 6 fun loving girls on a bachelorette trip! The second time was with my family of 3 plus my mom+dad+and sister when our daughter was newly 2. We stayed in 2 adjoining Little Mermaid standard rooms. And this last time was just my family of 3 and our dear daughter was 2 (almost 3), and we again stayed in a Little Mermaid Standard Room!

Resort: The Art of Animation is a value resort hotel, and opened in 2012 making it the newest value resort on property. Art of Animation celebrates the animation and fantasy of 4 beloved Disney movies: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. The resort is divided into sections with The Little Mermaid section offering standard hotel rooms. The Cars, Finding Nemo, and Lion King sections offer family suites with interior halls/doors. In addition, the family suites are in closer proximity to the resorts main hub, Animation Hall whereas The Little Mermaid section is a bit of walk. It took us appx 10 minutes each day to walk from our hotel room to the buses with a stroller and tot in tow from The Little Mermaid section. The hotel also features 3 pools (more comments later), an arcade, a quick service food court: Landscape of Flavors, a souvenir shop: Ink & Paint Shop, a playground with slide for bambinos, and standard Disney amenities including Disney bus transportation to/from parks, Disney’s Magical express transportation to/from airport, and Movies under the Stars.

Rooms: The family suites can sleep 6, and have a designated bedroom with a door in addition to 2 full sized pull out beds in the living area of the suite (1 in the couch, and 1 pulls out from the wall and doubles as a table/bed). The suites also offer a kitchenette and 2 bathrooms! The Little Mermaid rooms have 2 full sized beds, and can hold a max of 4 people, but if you get adjoining rooms like we did you can technically fit 8, although I think it would be extremely tight. The rooms are fashioned after the themes of each movie and are fun and vibrant. If you are not into animated Disney decorum then you may feel the furnishings are cheap and cheesy, but we found them to be whimsical, and our 2 year old loved every second at the hotel!

The property: In addition to the rooms, each section is designed on the outside to reflect the movies’ setting. The Cars section has the cozy cone motel sign as well as cars parked outside. The Finding Nemo section has my husband’s favorite touch, the squalling seagulls that caw “mine, mine, mine” from the humorous dialog on Finding Nemo at set times throughout the day. This really brought out the inner kid in him as he would want to wait to hear their very loud caws 🙂  The Lion King & Little Mermaid sections have your favorite character statues including a rather scary over sized statue of Ursula – might need to give little ones a head up on this!

Little Mermaid Art of Animation
Ursula Statue, Art of Animation

Pools: There are 3 pools at Art of Animation. The Big Blue Pool, The Cars Pool, and The Little Mermaid Pool.

The largest pool at Disney World is the Big Blue Pool in the theme of Finding Nemo. There are underwater speakers in the pool for music. The pool has a splash pad area for younger kids as well as a poolside bar and beverage station. The hotel also hosts weekly activities at this main pool including outdoor movies and games, etc. The pool is located directly behind the Animation Hall providing convenient access to the food court as well.

Big Blue Pool, Art of Animation
Splash Pad Area, Big Blue Pool

The Cars Pool is the smallest pool at Art, but it has cabanas which are first come/first serve.

The Little Mermaid pool is a good size, but nothing extra special about it. It is a nice pool area, and has laundry facilities (fee), bathroom facilities, and vending machines in the poolside buildings.

There is not a pool area in the Lion King area; however, I do not view this as negative since there is no pool noise to work around. When we stayed in the Little Mermaid rooms once it was April and once it was January. For January we had a room overlooking the pool, and it was lovely as it was cold during our visit and not too many people were swimming. However, in April every evening once people would return from the parks the pools would be packed out with tons of noise. My tip for this is to request a lake view room if staying in the Little Mermaid section! When we stayed in Cars it was also cold during the month of February, and we also experienced no pool noise so I am not sure how loud this pool area gets during peak months.

Restaurant: Landscape of Flavors is a great quick service counter restaurant as it has multiple options, and a good variety in terms of food fare. There are 5 service areas. There is a dedicated build our own salad/ sandwich counter, build your own pasta counter, a pizza counter, a burger counter that offers a wide variety of options on burgers and toppings, and the last counter is international fare options including chicken tandoori, chicken curry, ribs, and fish. There is a wide variety of kids meal options, and they also have an entire wall of coolers which contain pre-made pastries, sandwiches, fruit & veggie cups, on the go snack and drink options. You also have the option to order pizza in your room! For breakfast, there are lots of options ranging from a breakfast platter, build your own omelette, pancakes, Mickey waffles, etc. Most of the time the lines were manageable; however, I will say, if at all possible avoid eating dinner here right after the park closes. It is a mad house. The set up is that you order your food and then go thru a cafeteria style line to pay for what is on your tray. One night we opted for this, and once I got my food I stood in line to check out for 20 minutes. By the time I checked out, all of our meals were cold. 😦

Ink & Paint Shop: We think this is a fabulous little souvenir shop. We have found some souvenirs here that we did not find elsewhere in the parks so definitely check out what they have. Also, if you purchase something at another store in the park, you can always return here as well so that is extremely convenient as well. You can also have anything you buy in the parks sent back to your resort hotel, and you can pick up inside this Ink & Paint Shop.

Fun Extras:

Draw Class: Art of Animation offers an area where kids can learn how to draw their favorite characters with a Disney artist. This is held in the little activity center adjacent to the check in area 3 times a day: 11am, 2pm, 5pm.  You also have the opportunity to bring your sketch of your favorite Disney character to the front desk to enter a contest as the hotel picks a winning sketch daily. You can also get art supplies from the front desk.

Jogging and Biking: There is also a free jogging trail around Art of Animation that links it with Pop Century. You also have the opportunity to rent a single or double bike from the property.

Coming Soon: Sky high Gondola: Construction was already underway when we visited last month (Jan 2018) for the new gondola transportation system which will allow you to enjoy an ariel view of Disney World. This system will link Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach Resort with Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. This is something exciting and unique for these 3 resorts!

Overall: We have really enjoyed staying at Art of Animation, and highly recommend it! We have chosen to visit this property repeatedly because we really feel while our daughter is still little this is a really fun atmosphere for her! She loves all of the attention to Disney films. Some of her favorites are:

  • The shower in the Little Mermaid rooms is is designed to look like Ariel’s grotto where she hides all of her treasures. It has all of the treasures printed on tiles in the bathtub which is a blast for a 2 year old.
  • The cawing seagulls in the Nemo section just like her father.
  • The slide/playground area in the Nemo section

    Playground Art of Animation
    Playground, Art of Animation
  • The chance to draw on easels in the nook inside reception.
  • The outdoor movies
  • The statue of Rafiki in the Lion King section which we discovered last trip has now been removed. 😦
Art of Animation Directory
Art of Animation Directory
Hourglass Lake, Art of Animation
Hourglass Lake, Art of Animation Resort

The Beaches of 30A

Rosemary Beach, FL

Scenic 30A is an appx 20 mile stretch of road in Florida that runs parallel to the beach through charming seaside towns and alongside the Timpoochee Biking Trail.

We have visited 30A numerous times staying in multiple locations. We have stayed at Gulf Place near the beginning of 30A. At Rosemary Beach at the end of 30A, and at Watercolor and Seaside in the middle of 30A. We have booked directly through Watercolor Resort and Gulf Place, and we have also booked through VRBO and cottage rental agencies throughout 30A.

The beaches along 30A are a great place to make memories with little ones that will last a lifetime! I will never forget when my daughter giggled when she saw a crab on the beach the first time, or how she begged us to go crash into the waves with her. She and her cousins had a sand castle building contest and a sand burying contest! She collected nearly 45 seashells which are displayed in mason jars on my bathroom shelves and she filled our hearts with laughter and joy! 30A is where our favorite beaches are located, and I hope these tips help you enjoy 30A with your little bambinos in tow!

Logistics: 30A is an approximate 30 minute drive from Destin, Florida or Panama City Beach, FL. If coming from Panama City Beach you will hit the beach community of Rosemary Beach first. If coming from Destin, you will hit the communities / resorts located at the western end first beginning near Sandestin and hitting Gulf Place, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Seaside, etc first.


The Beaches: Beautiful stretches of white sandy beach, sand dunes, clear bright blue waves, and beautiful sunsets are abundant along the beaches of 30A. The majority of our time is always spent enjoying the beach and activities beachside.

We love paddle boarding the waters of 30A with our daughter, and have found Surf Sup Rentals to be a great rental company. They deliver and pick up your board when you are done, and we find the prices more reasonable than the companies located directly on the beach especially for a full day rental! If you are only wanting to try paddle boarding for an hour or so then the companies located directly on the beach are much more convenient.



If your little one wants to try their hand at surfing, 30A adventures hosts daily surf camps from their Seagrove location in both the morning and afternoon during the warmer months! And if you are visiting outside their normal camp offerings, you can always book a private lesson.

Biking: We always book bikes for our trips to 30A. Normally the bikes are included in our rentals, and they are either on the property premise or we are provided vouchers to go to the rental company, and pick up our gear. We always purchase a child carrier as well. Our daughter enjoys riding in a child seat and the pull behind wagon so it is always a tossup as to which we book! We enjoy riding our bikes to the beach, and through the charming towns that dot 30A. We also have tried our hand at some bike trails located throughout 30A. A great guide to the Timpoochee Trail can be found here! Also there are some great trails specific to each development along the way. One such example are local trails located throughout Watercolor Resort that allow you to bike around the lake, etc.

Beachside Communities: Beginning at the Eastern end of 30A in Rosemary Beach, our favorite stops along the way with kiddies are as follows:

The Sugar Shak (Rosemary Beach): Kids LOVE this place which is stocked from floor to ceiling with stacked rows of CANDY! Every candy imaginable is housed here from old school candies to imported candies from Europe. They also have an extensive ice cream bar, and I must say the ice cream is great! This is a fun little shop for kids, and very memorable. Our daughter still talks about the Sugar Shak!

Playground Park (Rosemary Beach): This park is located on the beach side of 30A in Rosemary Beach accessible right off the biking/walking path nestled in between mature trees! It is a great little playground with wooden equipment including swings, slides, monkey bars, and family swings to sit on and watch the kiddies play! We rode our bikes here one evening before heading to dinner!

Camp Rosemary: Created for kids ages 5 – 12, Rosemary Beach offers Camp Rosemary which runs from end of May to beginning of August! The camp is a drop off program with daily activities planned for kids. However, Camp Rosemary also offers kids activities/crafts throughout the week for any kids staying in Rosemary! You can pick up a local calendar of events upon arrival or check their website here!

Rosemary Pools: Rosemary Beach has 4 pools: Coquina Pool, Sky Pool, Barbados Pool, Cabana Pool. The Cabana Pool has a separate kid’s pool and kid’s playground adjacent to the pool which makes it our favorite. The Sky Pool is also great as it is indoors for a brief reprieve from the sun or if you happen to get a bit of rainy weather in sunny Florida! More info on the pools here!

30A Farmer’s Market (Rosemary Beach): On Thursdays and Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm located on the green at Barrett Square. This is a great farmer’s market with so many wonderful local foods, vegetables, fruits, breads, and specialty items! My favorite vendor is “Matt’s Mom’s Mustard”! I did not expect to spend $18 on mustard on a random Saturday morning in Rosemary Beach, but this mustard is so amazing! We purchased the “original mustard”, “pineapple mustard”, and “Russian mustard” We also got a fourth free for buying 3! They give free samples so if you find their stall, definitely stop in for a try!

Cowgirl Kitchen (Rosemary Beach): Love their pizzas!!! Menu here!

Fonville Park & Press (Aly’s Beach): Fonville is a fantastic kid’s park, outdoor seating area, and coffee bar and café located in Aly’s Beach! This is one of our favorite stops on 30A! We love going for breakfast, sitting outside, and watching our daughter enjoy the park! It has a fantastic green space!



Charlie’s Donut (Aly’s Beach): We enjoyed riding our bikes to this donut food truck located in Aly’s Beach! They open daily, but often sell out quickly especially during the peak summer months. They have amazing donuts with some unique flavors such as red velvet or my favorite the sour cream pound cake. We enjoyed our donuts, and then our daughter played in the splash pad located directly in front of the donut truck! This is a great morning stop for kids! And don’t worry about cash, they accept cards!



Seaside Outdoor Movies (Seaside Amphitheater): Enjoy Seaside’s Outdoor Movie Series during the Summer Months at the grassy Seaside Amphitheater right in the middle of town! Movies are on Friday nights, and begin at 8:00 pm! Be sure to check the summer schedule seasonally! Our daughter loved this, and my suggestion is to get food from either Modica Market in Seaside which has great takeaways and specialty foods such as cheeses, coffees, cakes, etc or the nearby food airstreams which leads into…

Food Airstreams (Seaside): Enjoy food truck fare right in the middle of the cute, charming town of Seaside which is where the 1998 movie the Truman Show was filmed! There are so many great options, but our favorites are Barefoot BBQ and Meltdown on 30A. Meltdown has some quirky spins on a traditional grilled cheese, and my husband loves the spicy BBQ Pork from Barefoot! And mine and my daughter’s absolute favorite food airstream is FROST BITES for all of your snow cone/ice cream needs! Order the piggly wiggly: custard on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle, and cream on top. My favorite flavor is vanilla custard, peach shaved ice and cream for a spin on peaches and cream!



Duckies Fun Shop (Seaside): Duckies is a great toy store in the middle of Seaside with fun, unique toys! A favorite of our daughter! We first took her here when she was 6 months old, then at a year, and then again at 2! Every time it was a hit!!!

Sundog Books (Seaside): Sundog Books is a great local book shop for adults and kids located right in the middle of Seaside. All of the books are arranged by categories which is so fun! They showcase popular books up front, and then have similar genres grouped together so that if you are a fan of say Jane Austen books then you would also quite likely enjoy the books grouped with the Jane Austen books! And who doesn’t love a good read at the beach!

Seaside Farmer’s Market (Seaside): Seaside also offers a local farmer’s market similar to the one located at Rosemary Beach although Seaside’s Farmer’s market is a bit bigger! The market is every Saturday from 9 am – 1pm and you can find everything from organic meats, vegetables, fruits to specialty cakes, breads, and crafts!

Watercolor Outdoor Movies: (Watercolor Resort): Watercolor also hosts an outdoor movie and concert series for guests running from end of May through early September. Movies are hosted normally on Thursday nights with concerts on Wednesdays at Marina Park! Be sure to check the seasonal schedule at Watercolor!

Watercolor Pools: If guests of Watercolor resort, you have access to 6 resort pools!!! One pool is an adult’s only pool so for kid friendly options there are 5 pools to choose from! All of the pools are fun and beautiful. We love the Beach Club Pool due to its proximity to the beach and food service; however, we also enjoy the frog and dragonfly pools located further back in Watercolor as they are very kid friendly!

Western Lake (Watercolor): A plus of staying at Watercolor Resort is access to the boathouse where you can kayak, paddleboard, or fish. We have kayaked the lake, and find it extremely relaxing and fun!

Camp Watercolor (Watercolor): Watercolor also offers a kids camp similar to Rosemary Beach. Geared towards children ages 5-12, the drop off camp offers daily activities and crafts!

The Red Bar (Grayton Beach): The Red Bar is an iconic, unique venue located in the heart of Grayton Beach. They schedule live performances weekly, and during the summer months the wait to eat here can be quite lengthy as they do not accept reservations! With smaller children lunch would be a great option, but with older kids in tow they would no doubt enjoy the eclectic mix of furnishings and live entertainment!

Blue Mountain Beach Creamery (Blue Mountain Beach): Located right off 30A on county road 83 in the community of Blue Mountain Beach is the creamery. This place has amazing ice cream made fresh daily, and an amazing amount of flavor variety! The line at this place is sometimes wild, but definitely worth the stop!

Beach Horse Back Riding: (Gulf Place): Just north of Gulf Place on 30A is Arnett’s Horse Ranch where you can enjoy horseback rides along the beach!

Artists at Gulf Place (Gulf Place): The colony of artists at Gulf Place hosts art camps for kids during the summer months at Gulf Place on 30A! The cute little huts in the center of Gulf Place development feature work from various local artists daily! Be sure you check the schedule for which kid’s workshops will be presented during the next summer offering! Visit their webpage here!

For my favorite beach items with a tot in tow, please read my post here!

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach Sunset