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

Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Akershus Royal Banquet

If you want to dine with princesses in Disney World then these are your 2 main options where multiple princesses from different tales are featured! Character experiences are our favorite part of Disney World! I, also, find the money well worth the expense in order to spend 1 on 1 time with characters while dining instead of having to stand in line especially when you are seeing at least 5 different characters like at these venues!

We visited both Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom) and Akershus Royal Banquet (EPCOT) recently when our daughter was 2! We enjoyed both experiences, but our favorite is Akershus at least from our most recent experiences!

Characters: At Cinderella’s Royal Table you first enter the castle and meet Cinderella. You have one on one time with Cinderella to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk! After visiting Cinderella, you walk upstairs to the dining room inside the castle, and during your meal you are visited table-side by Ariel, Jasmine, Aurora, and Snow White. At Akershus you enter the banquet hall and walk into a curtained off nook to meet Belle. You have one on one time with Belle to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk! After visiting Belle, you walk to your table in the main dining hall and are visited table-side during your meal by Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, and Snow White. They state that character appearances are subject to change at both venues, but the main difference is Belle at Akershus and Jasmine at Royal Table. Although I have to say, the dress Cinderella wore at the Royal Table meet and greet was much grander than the dress she wore at Akershus!

We thought both of these experiences were grand, but we felt that at Akershus the princesses were able to spend more time with our little one than at Cinderella’s Royal Table. They sat down with her, chatted, showed their shoes, told her stories, signed her book, etc. At Royal Table, they visited, signed the autograph book, took a picture, and left. At Akershus the little ones are able to participate in a princess processional with all of the princesses around the dining room holding their hand, dancing, etc. At Cinderella’s Royal Table each little one is given a magic wand if a girl or a plastic sword if a boy and a wishing star which they use throughout breakfast on different cues.

Value: Cinderella’s Royal Table requires 2 table dining credits while Akershus only requires 1. If using the dining plan, Akershus is a better value. However, if paying with cash I don’t really see the difference. Akershus may be slightly less, but only by a few dollars. An example, Disney World lists Cinderella’s Royal Table & Akershus breakfast/lunch price as both $35 to $59.99 per adult. You must use a credit card to secure each reservation even if you are on the dining plan. The cancellation policy at Cinderella’s Royal Table is more strict. Our reservation confirmation stated the cancellation policy was 1 day prior or you pay full price for Cinderella’s Table. For Akershus the cancellation policy is 1 day notice or a $10 per person fee. This is probably due to the difficulty of securing a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Which leads me to:

Reservations: It is easier to get a reservation at Akershus compared to Cinderella’s Royal Table. For our Cinderella’s Reservation I was logged online exactly 180 days (6 month mark) ahead of time, and was able to secure an 8:30 am breakfast reservation. All Cinderella reservations were gone for the beginning of our trip. I had to make the reservation for the end of our trip. For Akershus I made our reservation 3 months prior to our trip, and had multiple options on multiple days. I ended up booking a lunch reservation.

The Food: The food fare at Akershus is more ethnic except for breakfast. The breakfast menu is very much a typical American style breakfast. For lunch/dinner however it is food fare from Norway. We thought the food was fantastic! You begin with a buffet of Norwegian cheeses, salads, meats, fruits, and seafood options. Then you order an entree from the menu. I got the Norwegian meatball dish which I thought was fantastic! Then you finish with dessert! All for 1 dining credit! And since you are in Norway in Epcot your servers are Norwegian which allows for a more cultural dining experience. At Cinderella’s Royal Table we had breakfast so I don’t feel it is an accurate comparison, but we enjoyed the food here as well. I ordered the stuffed French toast and it was mouth watering delectable! You can find menu’s here: Cinderella’s Royal Table Menu & Akershus Banquet Hall Menu!

The Bottom Line: Both of these character dining options are enjoyable and perfectly Disney! We enjoyed the more one on one time with the princesses at Akershus. We enjoyed the food fare, and think it is a better value on the dining plan. Cinderella’s Royal Table does offer a chance to visit and dine in the castle which is a very unique, enchanting experience! There are pros and cons to each one, but I’d say we will probably visit Akershus in the future over Cinderella’s Royal Table! Although, I have heard stories of watching the fireworks thru the stained glass windows of Cinderella’s Castle while enjoying dinner so perhaps we are due for another experience there at different timing. What is your favorite princess character meal and why?