I’ve spent the last year planning a family vacation to Disney World with our almost-three-year-old son, my husband and me, and my parents. I chose Disney’s Art of Animation Resort for several reasons including that it is a value resort with mostly family suites and a zero-depth entry pool.

We were budget-conscious but wanted a comfortable living space for all of us. Plus, my mom has injuries to her legs, and I wanted her to have easy access to the pool along with my son being able to walk in and out as he pleases so he could have a real pool experience instead of us just holding him in the pool.

We really enjoyed our stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and I would like to share the resort with you!

History

Construction on Disney’s Art of Animation Resort began in 1999 as part of Disney’s Pop Century Resort, which is now located on the other side of Hourglass Lake.

Art of Animation is separated from Pop Century by Hourglass Lake.

Art of Animation is separated from Pop Century by Hourglass Lake.

Disney’s Pop Century honors The Classic Years – from 1950 to 1990. What is now Art of Animation was supposed to be the Legendary Years – from 1900 to 1940 – but when tourism declined after the terrorist attacks in New York City on 9/11/01, the Legendary Years construction was abandoned.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort opened in 2003, but the resort across the lake stood empty. Disney resumed construction in 2010, and what we now know as Art of Animation started opening in phases in May 2012; it was completely operational by the end of 2012 with four areas themed for four Disney and Disney*Pixar movies: Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid.

Animation Hall

When you first arrive at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, you’ll enter Animation Hall. This is the resort’s front desk and, like other Disney Value Resorts, holds the merchandise store and the food court.

Animation Hall is the resort's main lobby and is really colorful and fun!

Animation Hall is the resort’s main lobby and is really colorful and fun!

These pictures are not only really cool, but they come to life when you use the Play Disney Parks app in the lobby!

These pictures are not only really cool, but they come to life when you use the Play Disney Parks app in the lobby!

An animator works in the lobby every day and even gives drawing classes at designated times!

An animator works in the lobby every day and even gives drawing classes at designated times!

Landscape of Flavors is said to be one of the best Value Resort food courts on property, and I would have to agree! The food was delicious. There was plenty of variety and the portions were quite large!

Ink & Paint Shop is Art of Animation's merchandise store! They sell everything from bandaids to wine!

Ink & Paint Shop is Art of Animation’s merchandise store! They sell everything from bandaids to wine!

The Ink and Paint Store was really nice too! They have plenty of convenience items and lots of apparel. They also have some really cool toys that fit with the resort’s theme like Cars and Finding Nemo items.

Pixel Play Arcade is lots of fun!

Pixel Play Arcade is lots of fun!

Fun for all ages! We purchased a card for $5 and played for quite a while with money still left!

Fun for all ages! We purchased a card for $5 and played for quite a while with money still left!

Pixel Play Arcade was a lot of fun. We avoided the area for most of our vacation because I knew as soon as our son saw it, he would want to play, but I thought he wasn’t big enough for it. I was wrong! We had some time remaining before we had to catch the Magical Express, so we went in to check it out. I wish we would have tried it out sooner because he loved playing the games with some help. My husband also felt like a kid again while playing a snowboarding game!

Finding Nemo Rooms

When you leave Animation Hall, you immediately see the Finding Nemo section of the resort.

The Big Blue Pool shrinks guests down to the size of Nemo. It’s the largest pool on Disney property, and as I mentioned above, has a zero-depth entry on the far side with depts up to five feet. This was fantastic for our son who is very tall for his age but not yet a swimmer.

The Schoolyard Sprayground was also a hit! He loved splashing in the water fountains!

The Big Blue Pool is the largest pool at a Disney Resort Hotel!

The Big Blue Pool is the largest pool at a Disney Resort Hotel!

The playground behind the pool has a Finding Nemo theme and has slides for children of all sizes!

The playground behind the pool has a Finding Nemo theme and has slides for children of all sizes!

The Finding Nemo rooms reflect the theme, and there are lots of larger than life characters like Crush and Dory scattered around the area!

Crush and Dory are just hanging out by the pool!

Crush and Dory are just hanging out by the pool!

Cars Rooms

If you turn to the right of Animation Hall, you would run into the Cars-themed area. This was probably our son’s favorite area because of all the Cars characters.

Welcome to Radiator Springs!

Welcome to Radiator Springs!

The Cars provide great photo opportunities!

The Cars provide great photo opportunities!

Mater is a family favorite!

Mater is a family favorite!

Luigi and Guido are ready for a tire change!

Luigi and Guido are ready for a tire change!

Filmore, the VW bus, is really cool!

Filmore, the VW bus, is really cool!

Sally and Lightening pose in front of the Wheel Well Motel.

Sally and Lightening pose in front of the Wheel Well Motel.

Check out these old gas pumps!

Check out these old gas pumps!

Besides the characters, the Cars area features the second of three pools for the resort. The Cozy Cone Motel pool has a laundry room with vending machines and a pool just outside.

The Cozy Cone Motel is the pool and the laundry area for The Cars suites.

The Cozy Cone Motel is the pool and the laundry area for The Cars suites.

Lion King Rooms

We stayed in the Lion King Family Suites, which is just to the left of Animation Hall. There’s no pool in this area, but there are several massive statues of characters including Rafiki, Mufasa, Zazu, and Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba on a log overhead.

Scar keeps a close eye on visitors.

Scar keeps a close eye on visitors.

But Simba is the real king of the area!

But Simba is the real king of the area!

Rafiki welcomes you to the Lion King area!

Rafiki welcomes you to the Lion King area!

Stop by a see Zazu while you're there!

Stop by a see Zazu while you’re there!

There is also an Elephant Graveyard (complete with hyenas). Our son loved this area, which doubles as a playground!

The Elephant Playground is a great play place!

The Elephant Playground is a great play place!

Our son played here for a long time!

Our son played here for a long time!

All of the family suites are similar with a master suite of a bedroom and full bathroom, a dining area that doubles as a murphy bed, and a living area with a sofa that folds out into a queen bed. There is another bathroom between the living area and dining area and a small studio kitchen in the living space.

The Lion King Family Suites have a nice eating area. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner here almost every night! It was much easier than trying to eat in the foodcourt with a toddler! This also serves as a Murphy bed!

The Lion King Family Suites have a nice eating area. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner here almost every night! It was much easier than trying to eat in the foodcourt with a toddler! This also serves as a Murphy bed!

The studio kitchen was very convenient!

The studio kitchen was very convenient!

The suite has two bathrooms. Both have this colorful sunset!

The suite has two bathrooms. Both have this colorful sunset!

The living area has a couch, a chair, and a television. This couch folds out into a double bed.

The living area has a couch, a chair, and a television. This couch folds out into a double bed.

The accommodations were very nice, and the family suite was quite convenient for our trip!

The Little Mermaid Rooms

The 864 Little Mermaid Rooms are the only ones at the resort that are standard rooms, which makes this resort a value resort instead of a moderate resort even though the 1,120 family suites are more moderately priced.

The suites are built in hotel style with interior doors, and the Little Mermaid rooms are built in motel style with exterior doors much like the rooms at the neighboring Pop Century Resort. Why? Because Disney had nearly finished construction on the rooms that were to become the 1940s section of The Legendary Years portion of Pop Century.

The Little Mermaid rooms are standard and have exterior doors.

The Little Mermaid rooms are standard and have exterior doors.

When Disney decided to make Art of Animation an all-suites resort, instead of tearing down the existing buildings, they decided they would just use these buildings as they were and give them a different theme.

The area now has three buildings, so Disney had to construct a third building in the same motel style, and in between all three buildings is the resort’s third pool- Flippin’ Fins!

There is a pool in this area though!

There is a pool in this area though!

These rooms are the farthest from Animation Hall and are also less expensive both for this reason and because they are standard, motel rooms.

Ursula is massive!

Ursula is massive!

Sebastian parties near the Flippin' Fins pool!

Sebastian parties near the Flippin’ Fins pool!

King Triton sits opposite of Ursula literally putting good against evil.

King Triton sits opposite of Ursula literally putting good against evil.

Ariel and Flounder are having a great time swimming with the fishes!

Ariel and Flounder are having a great time swimming with the fishes!

Here's Ariel's dinglehopper- one of her many treasures!

Here’s Ariel’s dinglehopper- one of her many treasures!

Disney did, however, continue the theme with large character statues and bright coloring.

Have you stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation?  What did you think?