For our recent surprise trip to Walt Disney World, we chose our hotel with the kids in mind. Miss O saw some images on the promotional videos we watched at home while testing the idea of Disney, so we knew it was a good option. By the time we got on the Magical Express, she still had no real idea what we’d be doing or anything about where we were staying. At that point she and my nephew, Mr. A, were still absorbing the reality of being in Florida and going to Disney World. Their faces as we arrived on the Art of Animation property were priceless and I knew this trip was going to blow their minds.
Disney classifies the Art of Animation Resort as one of their value resorts, so the cost is on the lower end of the scale, depending on the timing of your stay and the type of room you reserve. We chose to stay in a Family suite, which can accommodate up to eight people, even though there were only the three of us in our room.
One of our favorite stories is traveling with Baby Miss O in Paris and having to literally climb over the crib in the room to get from one side of the Queen-sized bed to the other side. That or climb over the bed itself, which isn’t so great at 3 AM for feeding time or a not-so quick bathroom break. Since then, I just can’t cram the three of us in one hotel room if I can afford to do a larger room. We are straight up travel spoiled.
The main bedroom was about the size of our room at home, so not sprawling, but not cramped either. We had enough room to open the ironing board and actually walk around it. There would have been plenty of room for a Pack n’Play or travel crib and not need acrobatics to maneuver around it. The bed was comfy – we have a Tuft and Needle foam mattress at home and this was pretty close for me. The bathroom was a pretty standard moderate hotel size and had lots of counter space. We could’ve both brushed our teeth at the same time and never touched each other. Miss O had her own bathroom, so we still had some privacy and could let her sleep a bit longer on our early days.
The sitting area was great for Miss O to eat some breakfast, watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and play with her toys while we finished getting ourselves together. It was also a nice place to relax for a moment before rushing off to catch the shuttle or winding down at night, on days we didn’t just crash.
I never felt like we were on top of each other and I love that we didn’t have to worry about literally stepping on each other’s nerves. I definitely did not feel like we were staying in a value resort. It honestly felt more like a really fun high-moderate to deluxe. I love Polynesian and the Grand Floridian is gorgeous, but if you want some seriously immersive Disney Pixar fun for a great price, do not overlook the Art of Animation.
That’s nice and all, but what about the kids?
No question, there. Miss O LOVED it and is happy to share her favorite parts:
We chose a Family Suites at the Art of Animation because we wanted characters in Miss O’s face the entire time for maximum magic. We were not disappointed. The lobby is filled with sketches of the four featured movies on property. We stayed in the Finding Nemo Suite because it was the closest to food, shuttles and the pool. Miss O enjoyed “swimming” on the Eastern Australian Current (EAC) each time we were in the hallways and said good morning to the big whale in whale each day. Seriously, nothing gets kids going in the morning like being immersed in their favorite films.
Mr. A and his parents stayed in a Lion King Suite which was just next to our building. It was equally impressive, though it was a slightly farther walk depending on where you are in the building. My in-laws stayed in a Little Mermaid standard room and had the longest walk of us all. After carrying Miss O home completely knocked out, I’ll stand by my choice of Nemo every time. Upon arrival, we visited the Cars area which is SUPER CUTE. We didn’t try out the pool, but it was so much fun to take pictures over there.
Miss O has already asked if we’ll stay in a Lion King or Cars room next time, so there you have it.
The “Secret Bed”
In the family suites there’s a table with four chairs that converts to a full-size Murphy bed in the main room. It was pretty comfy and the largest bed Miss O has slept in alone. She loved that she got a big kid bed to sleep in. It was super easy to set up and instructions are on the nightstand. Miss O has had problems sleeping in a new place the first night, so I was a little worried she wouldn’t be able to get to sleep. There’s also is a little noise from the hallway as people walk by (read: some kids are loud, some aren’t), but she was pretty exhausted at the end of every day and you couldn’t keep her from sleep if you tried. It was never a problem.
The Big Blue Pool
It’s the largest zero entry pool in the Disney Resorts. It’s Finding Nemo themed and it’s adorable! There’s a splash pad and a wading pool for the little guppies, too. There are lifeguards everywhere and if your swimmer needs a vest, just see one of those lifeguards. They’ll set your child up with one. Towels are provided too, so no need to take up space in your suitcase.
Landscape of Flavors
Any place she can get character waffles with chocolate milk for breakfast and macaroni and cheese for any meal is pretty much aces with her. I enjoyed that the Chefs were amazing about helping me figure out what was gluten-free or what adjustments could be made to make it gluten-free. The tandoori chicken was really good with jasmine rice and green beans. And seriously: Best. Cheeseburger. EVER.
“Secret” Shortcut from Pop Century
If you’re at a park or Disney Springs and you miss the shuttle to Art of Animation or Pop Century’s hasn’t come yet and there aren’t as many people in line, take the Pop shuttle. We did this twice and ended up better for it. It may not always work, but it’s worth the extra walk if you can manage it. From the Pop Century Resort, there’s a straight line from the lobby, through the pool area, across a little bridge and into the Art of Animation’s Big Blue Pool area. Since our building was right by the Big Blue Pool in the Finding Nemo section, this ended up only being a little longer of a walk, but way less of a wait for us.
Hubs and I agree and also really enjoyed the “extra” services offered at the Disney property:
This is an amazing service I wish were available in most hotels. Before we even left, I filled in some information and confirmed my credit card to start online check in. About 10 minutes in to the Magical Express ride, I got a text with our room assignment inviting us to go straight to our room! We could get off the bus and literally walk right to our room. I wanted to grab some buttons, First Time for the kids, Anniversary for my mother-in-law and Celebrating for me, so I did make a quick stop to the online check in line, which was SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than the regular check in line. If your Disney hotel offers this service and you can use it, DO IT.
Resort Airline Check In
Because we flew JetBlue, we were able to take our bags to the designated area behind the lobby and check our big bags directly through to home. You need to get there before noon and your airline must participate in the program. We left our smaller bags at Luggage Assistance for the day and headed off to Disney Springs for a quick lunch with local friends and a little goodbye-for-now shopping without having to worry about lugging bags later.
Bonus Tip: I packed an extra zip top tote bag for just this occasion, making sure it would still fit in the overhead bin and not add an extra bag to our personal item and carry on count. Did I remember to bring it to Disney Springs with us….NOPE! Oh well, there’s always next time!
What did you love about your stay at Art of Animation? What’s your favorite Disney resort?