Art of Animation not only features The Little Mermaid. If you are a Lion King, Cars or Finding Nemo fan then you have the choice of staying in one of those areas of the resort. But even if you aren't a fan of those films, you'll love the Art of Animation for it's family and fun feel. Everything is really bright and animated. It is located within the Wide World of Sports area of the Disneyworld resort and is closest to Hollywood Studios and the two water parks; Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. The furthest away park is Magic Kingdom and it takes around 20 minutes to get there.
The Little Mermaid area of the resort is ideal for parties of 4 or less. Having said that, if you are travelling as 4 adults or even with teenagers, you may want to consider getting two rooms as there are only 2 double beds. There isn't a lot of room in them but they represent great value for a family like us who were only really using the room for showering and sleeping. You get a small fridge in the room, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, safe, a dressing area and 3 small drawers. There is also a small table and two chairs. You can watch my room tour here.
Despite it being classed as value resort, you are staying on Disney property and it certainly doesn't feel like a bottom of the pack place to stay. Arriving at Art of Animation is simply breathtaking. The building is beautiful in that it's very colourful and fun. The kids were in awe and couldn't wait to get inside. The cast members can't do enough for you and they are so friendly and cheery.
The reception area is like a rainbow on one side and then you have the progression of animation on the other wall. Drawings from the four films feature everywhere. Within the reception building there is the Ink & Paint shop to buy souvenirs and any medicines, the Pixel Play arcade and the Landscape of Flavours restaurant.
As you exit the main building, you are greeted by Disneyworld's largest pool; the Big Blue Pool. It was such a fun pool to visit with a splash play area and a large pool where you could listen to music under the water. The kids loved it and even though there weren't any slides, they really enjoyed swimming in the pool and joining in with the various pool side activities run by the cast members from the kids' club. There are another two pools within the resort located in the Cars area and The Little Mermaid area. This was another pool we used a lot because it was right outside our room. The pools were spotless as were the toilets within the pool area. At the Big Blue Pool, you'll find the pool bar where you can get free water and plenty of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Every pool has a selection of life jackets for children to borrow and we found we used them to give Miss C a bit more confidence in the deeper end of the pool. There were plenty of sunbeds and tables and chairs too. Also within the Finding Nemo section is a small playground but I'd say it was more suitable for younger children. Z was definitely too old for it!
The kids' club runs throughout the day with loads of pool side activities. At night, they have films under the stars on a blow up projector. The kids went to watch The Incredibles on their last night and Miss C actually fell asleep on her blanket. Within the reception area, there is an artist area where you can learn to draw some of your favourite Disney characters. This is available on certain days and times which you can check with reception.
Childcare services are available to book at a cost but they aren't located within Art of Animation, These are located within some of the deluxe resorts within the Magic Kingdom area, Animal Kingdom area and Epcot area. Art of Animation do offer in room babysitting and the hourly rate depends on how many children you have. We didn't use either service but it's good to know that the option is there should you wish to have a child-free day or night.
The Landscape of Flavours, where we ate breakfast most mornings and the occasional dinner, has a huge selection of main meals and snacks. If you wanted Indian but your partner fancied Italian, you could both please your taste buds! The food was fine but it was always busy which meant sometimes my food was almost cold by the time we got the kids pizza or pasta (the most popular section) and found a table. Price wise, it was really reasonable. Staying onsite, you aren't going to eat as cheaply as you would if you went out on to International Drive but an average breakfast cost us $29 which is around £18. Sometimes the seating area wasn't the cleanest but with so many people moving through, it wasn't bad either.
We had a few issues with our room. First off, the sheets weren't clean on one of the beds when we arrived. The second day, they replaced our towels but one of them had a massive yellow stain on it. The third day the toilet hadn't been cleaned properly. Z and Husband were both very ill on the second day of our 15 day trip and we wondered if it was down to the cleanliness of the room...or lack off. However, credit where credit is due, the staff couldn't have been more helpful and the head of housekeeping checked our room every day after we reported the incidents. It didn't spoil our trip bar the bit of sickness and tummy upset.
The towels were replaced in the room every day and you can ask for more as and when you need them. You can take the towels from the room to the pool which saves you precious suitcase space which you will definitely need!
Parking at the resort is free for onsite guests and you can park at any of the parks for free as an onsite guest. There are buses on a fairly regular basis from outside the reception to all of the parks and Disney Springs area and these are complimentary. There are usually quite a few pick ups first thing in the morning, which is when the buses are really busy, and they start maybe around an hour to an hour and a half before the parks open. Then it dies down to around every 20 minutes. Depending on the season, you may have to get more than one bus to a water park but buses to the theme parks are always direct; you don't have to stop at any other hotels for pick ups or drop offs and it's the same coming back from a park.
As an onsite guest, if you choose not to hire a car from the airport, you can book yourself on to the Disney Magical Express which is a complimentary bus to and from the airport.
Overall, we were really impressed with the Art of Animation. It is a huge resort filled with colour, fun and most importantly, magic! The kids loved it as did Husband and I. Would we go back and stay there? Yes, although we would like to stay at some of the other resorts as well. But for our first Disneyworld experience, it was a great resort that offered us good fun and good value for money.
If you are considering booking a Disneyworld resort, it's worth noting that, at this time anyway, Art of Animation does not offer any sort of free dining incentive unlike some of the other value resorts that sometimes offer free breakfast.