Walt Disney World’s Newest Resort: The Art of Animation Hotel
The Art of Animation Resort is the newest of the Walt Disney World resort hotels (not to be confused with All Star Movies). Formerly a part of the Pop Century Resort, this hotel is located just over the narrow lake at the rear of the Pop Century resort, and has connecting parking lots to its former half.
While the Art of Animation Resort is not yet finished, its release date is rapidly approaching, and so it’s time to get started on this massive post of information on the Art of Animation Resort. Please note that while I try to be as accurate as possible, things change so quickly with the Disney company, and I’m a bit slow with updates. So, please, if there is an item in here that you take issue with, let me know so that I can look into it, and if there’s something that you absolutely must know is 100% correct for some reason (like booking the perfect room for your stay), verify all the important information directly with your Disney World reservationist before making your final reservation. And then let me know if I’m wrong, or if you’re thrilled that I was correct.
Note that some information will be repeated in various sections, so that those who arrive seeking specific information do not have to read the entire post to find what they want.
Update 8/11: Disney World has released photos of the inside of the new Art of Animation rooms and family suites. Click here to see them.
Update 9/12: AllEars has pictures of the newly opened Art of Animation resort. Click here to see them.
What is the Art of Animation Hotel?
The Walt Disney World Art of Animation Resort is the second half of the Pop Century Resort, though it is now considered a separate resort it still shares connecting parking lots, a connecting bridge, and Hourglass Lake.
Art of Animation is a Value resort, which means that it’s placed in Disney World’s lowest price bracket. While the Values have fewer amenities (no sit down restaurants, less pretty landscaping), they certainly have a lot more than most non-Disney owned hotels, and certainly more than non-Disney hotels in the same price bracket (festive food court, 3 themed pools, humongous Disney character icons).
There will be 864 regular rooms and 1120 family suites. While the themes are some of the most popular Disney and Pixar films, directly across the bridge is Pop Century, which features the last 5 decades of the 1900′s. While you can only stay in one hotel room at a time, you can simply cross the bridge to enjoy the other resort’s theming and food court.
What Does The Art of Animation Hotel Look Like?
When the Art of Animation Resort opens, however, it will be a lush, festive resort with 4 themes.
The 864 regular rooms will reside in the Little Mermaid section, with 1120 family suites making up the available rooms in the Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King sections.
Disney is using the already-built buildings that were formerly intended to be the second half of the Pop Century Resort (The Legendary Years) for the Little Mermaid section. The layout is more or less the same as Pop Century’s (The Classic Years). The Art of Animation hotel buildings form a sort of half moon shape with the main building, which contains the food court, gift shop, lobby, check in/check out, bus transportation, DVC kiosk, and Magical Express kiosk, at the center, and Hourglass Lake at the rear.
There will be 3 pools, gigantic icons at the entrance of each hotel building and related items along the railings, and decorative icons and statues related to each building’s theme containing the outside stair wells.
According to the artists renderings, the courtyards of each hotel section will be highly themed- more so than any other Value resort to date. There are rumors that some of the statues and icons will even be interactive in some way. Trees, bushes, and flowers are likely to provide a more subtle backdrop, as they do in the other Value resorts.
When Will The Art of Animation Hotel Be Finished or Completed?
There is no completion date set yet for the Art of Animation Resort, but the estimate so far is the Summer of 2012, but the Disney World website lists prices as early as New Year’s of 2012. I don’t know if this means that some rooms will be available that early, or if it simply is that they draw up room prices all at once.
When Will The Art of Animation Hotel Take Reservations?
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is now taking reservations. Prices are listed from New Year’s of 2012 through the end of 2012.
Art of Animation Resort Address
Art of Animation Resort
1850 Century Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Art of Animation Hotel Rates
The Disney’s Art of Animation resort rates, like all Disney resorts, vary depending on the time of year and whether it’s a weekday or weekend. The lowest listed room rate for the Art of Animation hotel rooms is $94 per night in the January/early Feb value season in the Little Mermaid section (normal Value resort hotel rooms) and $248 for the family suites. The most expensive rates are $179 per night (Little Mermaid normal-rooms section) and $425 for the family suites during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I have the entire list of the Art of Animation Resort room rates for 2012 on a separate post.
Art of Animation Location
What is Art of Animation Resort near?
The Art of Animation Resort is located in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex section of Walt Disney World. This is very important to know because even Pop Century still doesn’t have adequate signage, so the Art of Animation Resort certainly won’t be easy to find if you’re looking only for the hotel name. It is also near Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and isn’t too far from DownTown Disney. If you’re lost, look for any one of these on the directional signs along the roads, especially ESPN (the resort is located just off of the same road), and follow those directions until you see Pop Century or Art of Animation signs. When in doubt, follow the Pop Century signs, as the parking lots are connected.
Check In/Check Out Times and Locations at Art of Animation
While official details have not yet been released, the likely check in time will be 3pm and check out at 11am as it is at Pop Century (Art of Animation’s sister resort).
Transportation To and From Art of Animation Resort
Walt Disney World Transportation will chauffeur you between your Disney resort and any of their on-property attractions. Alternatively, you can drive yourself, and enjoy the perk of free parking for Resort guests. Buses and cabs are the only Disney transportation available at the Art of Animation Resort as the only water feature is a lake. In other words, no ferry boat.
To and From the Parks:
The front of the Art of Animation Resort’s main building will be home to the resort’s bus stops. If AofA’s plans follow that of Pop Century’s, there will be 3 stops, each labeled as to where that bus’s stops will be (for example: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and DownTown Disney on one bus). Buses run every 20 minutes, and are almost always on time or very close to it. The buses can also lower to allow easy entry for those in scooters or wheelchairs.
To and From Other On Property Attractions:
DownTown Disney, the Water Parks, and mini-golf transportation is all via bus at the Art of Animation Resort. The Winter Summerland mini-golf courses are located near Blizzard Beach, and the Fantasia mini-golf courses are by the Swan and Dolphin. For the Fantasia mini-golf courses, you’ll need to take the resort bus to Downtown Disney and then take another bus from there to the Swan and Dolphin and walk to the Fantasia mini-golf course from there.
There is free transportation from the Art of Animation Resort to the golf courses (Magnolia, Osprey Ridge, Lake Buena Vista, Oak Trail, and Palm golf courses) by having the Concierge desk in the lobby call a Yellow Cab for you. You will receive a voucher for the cab ride to the golf course, and at the pro shop at your golf course, you can get the voucher for your return trip.
To and From Off Property Attractions:
Unfortunately, to leave Walt Disney World property, you will either need to drive yourself, take a cab (no free fare voucher), or hire a service such as Mears to take you to non-Disney world theme parks and attractions.
To and From the Airport:
Walt Disney World offers free transportation between their hotels and the Orlando airport. The service is called Magical Express, and you’ll need to reserve your space ahead of time.
Art of Animation Resort History
When the original buildings of the Art of Animation Resort were built, they were intended to be the second half of the Pop Century Resort. What is currently known as Pop Century was simply the “Classic Years”, and what is now the Art of Animation was to be the “Legendary Years”. The theme was to be the first half of the 1900′s- specifically the decades of the ’00′s, ’20′s, ’30′s, and ’40′s. The buildings have sat empty since 2005, though many Disney World fans had been anxiously awaiting this resort.
However, in 2010 it was announced that the Legendary Years was never to be, and instead would become an entirely different resort- the Art of Animation Resort. Instead of having Flappers decorating the exterior of the buildings, the new themes were to be The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo. There is some speculation that the only reason this resort will see the light of day is because of the surprising popularity of the family suites at All Star Music, as 1120 of the almost 2000 rooms in the Art of Animation Resort are to be family suites, placing the price point of this new resort straight out of most budget conscious guests. The family suites are, however, the most economical place to stay on Walt Disney World property if you have a large family that needs to stay together, rather than splitting up into 2 or more rooms.
Benefits of Staying at DisneyWorld Art of Animation Resort
There are some benefits to be had by staying at the Art of Animation Resort over many other potential hotels. Some benefits are available to all Disney Resort guests, and some are specific only to the Art of Animation Resort.
Benefits Available to All Disney Resort Guests:
*Ticket Convenience -when you stay on property, you can have your park ticket combined into your room key. You can even have a credit card hooked up to your room key (up to $500 at a Value resort- the amount goes up at Moderates and Deluxes), leaving you free to lock up your wallet in the hotel safe, or keep your credit card numbers away from prying eyes. This is only an option however- you absolutely are not required to do so.
If you sign up for the Disney Dining Plan, that can go on your room key too!
*Free Parking -a $12 value per day at the parks
* Package Delivery -any purchases that you make at the parks or at DownTown Disney can be sent back to your hotel to be picked up at the gift shop by 3pm the following day (don’t send packages back on your last day)
*Free Transportation -the Disney World resorts all offer free bus service to and from the hotels and parks as well as DownTown Disney, the water parks, and have cab vouchers for transportation to and from the Golf courses (full fledged golf- mini-golf uses the buses)
*Airport Shuttle -Disney offers a free shuttle between the Orlando Airport and their resort hotels called the Magical Express.
*Extra Magic Hours -Those staying in Disney Resorts can enter the theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom) an hour early on select mornings, or stay up to 3 hours after the official park closing on select evenings. Most rides remain open during this time, and it’s especially beneficial during the busy parts of the year.
*Incredible Theming -The magic of the parks can dissipate quickly when you have to battle Orlando traffic to stay in a plain Jane hotel with only one plain swimming pool. When you stay on property, it’s like the magic never ends, whether you drive or take the transportation. You’re still cared for as Disney’s special guest- because you are!
*Mickey Mouse Wake Up Calls -Think you can get Mickey to call and wake up your kids when you stay at a HoJo’s? No, I didn’t think so either.
*Park Info at Your Fingertips -not only does Disney have a special resort-only TV channel where they run all the info on all the parks and activities on property 24/7, as well as a constantly running Top Ten channel, but with a single button on your in room phone you can book a meal reservation, get park hours, directions to the parks, or any other Disney World related information that you need- usually given by a real live person!
*Good Food, Conveniently -While many hotels have a restaurant or two, each Disney hotel has at least a food court, and a snack bar, if not an actual restaurant (Moderates have one food court and restaurant, Deluxes usually have two restaurants and a food court). But the one food court has several sections, usually offering a variety of pizza, pasta, burgers, hot dogs, soups, salads, Asian, and a fantastic dessert and baked goods section.
*Lack of Pests -While staying on property, you’ll notice a large number of various bird species and cute little lizards. Disney has some of the best pest control that I’ve ever seen. While the properties aren’t totally bug free, there are considerably fewer than what we experience up in the NorthEast, and you can rest safe from your fears of huge Florida bugs. Those birds and lizards aren’t just for decoration, or even part of the natural population- Disney brings in many species specifically to act as a sort of decorative pest control. While I can’t guarantee that all of their efforts are environmentally friendly, I’m certain that the Disney company goes much farther in natural pest control than any other theme park.
*Free Wi-Fi- Disney has recently completed adding free Wi-Fi to all public guest areas at the resorts.
Benefits of Art of Animation Resort Guests:
In addition to the regular benefits of staying on site, Art of Animation has its own particular benefits.
*Location -Art of Animation is most ideal for those who plan to use the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex or who are roller coaster nuts. ESPN is on the same road as Art of Animation hotels, and AofA Resort is one of the closest hotels to Disney’s Hollywood Studio theme park. It is also convenient to DownTown Disney, and Typhoon Lagoon (water park), as well as Old Key West Resort and Caribbean Beach Resort (you can get reservations at their restaurants if you’re staying in a Disney hotel).
*Privacy -This goes along with the location. Art of Animation Resort is the most out of the way hotel on Disney World property giving you a feeling of privacy despite it being one of the larger resorts. Ask for a lake view room, near the center of the resort. It’s farther from the parking lots and the main building, but that’s exactly what makes it private. If you don’t want to do so much walking, then ask for a lake view room near the parking lots.
*Space -While the standard rooms are the same size as Pop Century and the All Stars (206 square feet), the vast majority of rooms at the Art of Animation Resort are family suites, which are two rooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette.
Art of Animation Hotel Themes
Disney is breaking their Value Resort pattern with the Art of Animation hotels. Every other Value Resort on Disney property has 5 mini-themes within the overall theme (Pop Century, Sports, Music, Movies), but Art of Animation will have only 4 mini-themes. These will be:
Art of Animation: Cars
There will be one whole section devoted to the theme of the Disney Pixar movie Cars. The entire section will be made of Family Suites (two bedrooms- one doubling as a living room, two bathrooms, a small kitchenette and dining area). Since Art of Animation is not yet finished, it’s impossible to say exactly what it will look like, but as you can see from the artist rendering, it seems that the Cars section of AofA will be themed to Radiator Springs- complete with scrub land and several of the cars from Cars, as well as the Cozy Cone Pool themed pool.
Art of Animation: The Lion King
One section is to be themed to the Disney animated film, The Lion King. All of the rooms in this section of the Art of Animation hotel rooms will be Family Suites (2 bedrooms- one bedroom doubling as a living room, 2 bathrooms, 1 small kitchenette and dining area). I can’t find the artist rendering directly from Disney except on other sites, so I won’t post it here unless I can find it, but it looks as though this section will be a blending of several scenes from the movie, including the Elephant Graveyard, Puumba crossing a log, and Scar sitting atop a mountain. I personally love Scar (hello, Jeremy Irons’ voice is awesome!), so that makes me happy. But, you know how closely Disney sticks to its artist renderings- not at all. No pool in this section, though the Boneyard Playground is located here.
Art of Animation: Finding Nemo
The Art of Animation Finding Nemo hotel rooms are, naturally, themed after the Disney Pixar movie, Finding Nemo. The rooms are all Family Suites (2 bedrooms- one bedroom doubling as a living room, 2 bathrooms, 1 small kitchenette and dining area). The centerpiece will be Marlin and Nemo hiding out in their anemone home, while Crush surfs by in the EAC (also known as a hotel building main entrance). The Big Blue Pool, the feature pool, is located here as the Finding Nemo section is located directly behind the main building. The Righteous Reef playground, The Drop Off pool bar, and the movies by the pool (watch Disney movies on a projector screen by the pool at night) are here, as well as the Schoolyard wet play area.
Art of Animation: The Little Mermaid
The Art of Animation Little Mermaid hotel rooms are themed after Disney’s The Little Mermaid. This is the only section that does not have Family Suites, and is entirely normal Disney Value Resort rooms. There will be 864 rooms in this section.
According to the Artist’s Rendering, King Triton will stand guard over one of the hotel main entrances, while Sebastian kind of hangs out in a clam. This all takes place in an underwater themed courtyard where the Flippin’ Fins Pool is located.
Art of Animation Rooms
While the Art of Animation rooms aren’t yet finished, we can speculate a bit on the quality of the rooms based on the other Disney Value Resorts- specifically Pop Century by virtue of currently being the newest of the Value resorts and All Star Music by virtue of having newly constructed/renovated family suites.
Judging by my past experience with Pop Century and the All Star Resorts, the rooms will be relatively quiet. Certainly better sound proofing than the average cheap motel, but not as good as a high quality hotel such as one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts or, say, an Omni. The Value rooms aren’t really all that different from Disney’s Moderate Resorts. Basically, you’ll be able to hear people talking as they walk by your room, but you generally won’t hear talking from next door (babies crying is a different matter). In the regular rooms, you will probably only hear your neighbor’s pipes when in your own bathroom, and I can’t say about the Family Suites as I’ve never stayed in one.
As for size, the regular rooms at Art of Animation Resort are to be 260 square feet, have a tub and shower and toilet in the bathroom, with a sink and mirror as well as safe and open closet area between the bedroom and the bathroom. There are no mini-fridges included, but can be had for an extra fee (about $10 a day).
The family suites are likely to be 520 square feet and include a master bedroom (with one double bed), two full bathrooms, a small kitchenette, and a living room that doubles as a bedroom using fold out chairs and sofas. All of the amenities that are available in the regular rooms are also available in the family suites (TV, dresser, table and chairs, room safe- 2 for family suites, etc).
Disney released photos of the inside of the Art of Animation rooms on August 16, 2011. You can see them here.
Art of Animation Preferred Rooms
The Art of Animation Preferred Rooms, like the other Disney World hotels, are simply the rooms that are closer to the action- the pools, the main building (the food court, check in/check out, shops), and the buses. There is nothing special about the preferred rooms except for the location. So, unless you really want to be 20ft closer to the food court or the pool, I recommend saving the $10 and taking a normally priced room. If you’re driving and want to be near the parking lots, then you definitely don’t want a preferred room, and may even want to request a room near the parking lot.
Art of Animation Family Suites
The Art of Animation Resort’s Family Suites will consist of one master bedroom which has one double bed, a living room with a couch/sofa and chair that fold out into beds (a double and a single), a small kitchenette, two full bathrooms,two closets, and two safes as well as the usual room amenities such as table and chairs, TV, hair dryer, and so on. The family suites are 520 square feet.
Art of Animation Pools
The Art of Animation Resort has three pools in total- the feature pool, The Big Blue Pool, is located in the Finding Nemo section, which is directly behind Animation Hall, the main building. There are two quiet pools, one is The Cozy Cone Pool located in Cars and the other is Flippin’ Fins Pool in the Little Mermaid section.
The pool bar, The Drop Off, is also located in the Finding Nemo section, as is The Schoolyard wet play area.
Laundry at Art of Animation Resort
While the Art of Animation Resort map hasn’t been released yet, based on the other Disney Value Resorts, we can safely assume that there will be three laundry rooms- one between the main pool and the main building, and one on either side of the resort.
Disney resorts also offer a laundry service. There is a special bag located in the closet area of your room- if you put your laundry in the bag, housekeeping will take it and return it to you when laundered- for a fee, of course.
Parking at Art of Animation Hotel
All parking at the Art of Animation hotel will be around the perimeter of the resort, and in front of the main building.
The Art of Animation Food Court
The Art of Animation food court is called Landscapes Cafe and will be located in Animation Hall, and, like Everything Pop! at Pop Century, the Landscapes Cafe will be connected to the Ink and Paint shop- the AofA’s gift shop.
What Rooms To Ask For at Art of Animation Resort
The general rule of thumb (based on the other Value Resorts) would be to ask for a preferred room if you want to be near the pool, hub (main building) and buses. Ask for a Pool View room if you want to over look the pool, a lake view room for privacy and a nice view, a room near the parking lot if you’re driving, and so on. Of course, if your little girl wants to be Ariel when she grows up, you’ll want to ask for Little Mermaid section, or Cars if your son harbors the desire to be a race car driver.
If you want to view Epcot’s fireworks from your room at the Art of Animation resort, you’ll want a room that over looks the parking lots. Ask for the 4th floor (or the top floor) to prevent trees blocking your view, and you’ll want buildings 1 (Cars), 10 (Lion King) or 9 (Little Mermaid). I recommend telling your booking agent that you want to be able to see the fireworks from your balcony as that will help them to pinpoint a room for you- and then reiterate this at check in.
You may also be able to see some fireworks from Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from building 2 (Cars). If you can’t get the view that you want- not to worry. You can always climb up to the 4th floor of another building to watch, or view it from the parking lot, or Generation Gap Bridge, the bridge that connects the Art of Animation resort to the Pop Century resort.
What Not To Miss at Art of Animation Resort
Well, you’ll certainly want to check out the various themes in the Art of Animation Resort, and you’ll also want to take a walk around the beautiful Hourglass Lake, stroll across Generation Gap Bridge, and probably check out AofA’s sister resort- Pop Century.
You can also view Epcot’s fireworks- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth from the parking lot side of the resort, as well as from the lake path and Generation Gap Bridge. And if the Art of Animation’s arcade, Pixel Play Arcade, is anything like Pop Century’s arcade, I recommend definitely checking that out as well.
And don’t forget, the Art of Animation Resort will have Disney movies by the pool. Check the announcement boards near the pool for times, or ask the front desk.
Art of Animation Sister Resort
The Art of Animation Resort was originally intended to be the second half of Pop Century Resort. Pop Century is a fun resort hotel that features each decade of the second half of the 20th century (1950-1999). Currently, it has the best arcade of the Disney World resorts, though that may change with the introduction of Art of Animation. For more information, visit my Pop Century post.
Art of Animation Resort Q&A
When can I make reservations for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort?
You can make reservations for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort right now either via their website (disneyworld.com) or over the phone, or through your travel agent.
How big are the suites at Art of Animation Value Resort?
The Family Suites at Art of Animation Resort are 520 square feet and consist of a master bedroom, a second bedroom/living room, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette.
Will the shuttle bus for Pop Century resort be with Art of Animation?
While we don’t know for certain, and Disney could change their minds at any time even if there was an official announcement, there is a lot of speculation that Disney will do the same thing with Art of Animation as they did with the All Stars. Namely, each resort will have its own buses during peak hours, and share buses during the slow times. However, both Pop Century and Art of Animation are considerably larger than the All Star Resorts, so I can’t imagine that they’d be sharing buses. Also, the resort entrances are on opposite sides of the resorts. It doesn’t seem likely that Disney would be willing to irritate their guests by over filling the buses and slowing down travel time by that much.
Does Walt DisneyWorld’s Art of Animation Resort have balconies?
The Art of Animation Resort does not have private balconies. Like all of Disney’s Value Resorts, the Art of Animation hotel buildings use common use walkways, which function as public balconies as well. In other words, feel free to enjoy the view and lean over the railing or pull a chair out from your room to enjoy the view- but be prepared to move out of the way if someone comes rolling by with a big pile of luggage.
Do You Have The Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Map?
I do have a link to the Art of Animation resort map. It seems to be official, but it’s not very good quality. I believe it’s a photo of a photo of the resort map. Nevertheless, you can see it here.
Are you planning to stay at the Art of Animation Resort when it opens? Are there any questions that you would like for me to answer?