Warning - this is an extremely pic-heavy post...for once I managed to accurately represent a place in Disney World!
I only have one value resort in my Disney resort staying history, and that is Disney's Art of Animation Resort. I think, more than once, I have made my views on value resorts clear...I HATE them. Too many families, too much noise, too thin walls, I don't like the motel setup, the vibrant colors and loud decorations hurt my Asper brain, etc, etc. There is a Disney internet term for people like me...Deluxe snobs. For a poor person, I relish being a Deluxe snob! I must have been an heiress in a past life or something because, despite my low income, I sure do live an extravagant lifestyle.
But, despite my frivolity with money, I cannot stomach paying a full daily rate for a Disney resort and not stay the entire day. Yes, I know the rate is per night, but if I'm paying $400 per night, I want that to be 24 hours worth of $400, not 8 hours worth. In 2012, we wanted to add an extra night to our Wilderness Lodge trip, but we needed to do it cheaply. We had a rather unpleasant experience at the bus stop at one of the All Star resorts in 2004, so I wasn't completely blind to their terrors, but actually staying there was a whole other ballgame. But, as I always say, you can't critique something unless you have experienced it first-hand, so it was finally time to actually dip more than our toes in the value waters. Art of Animation resort was brand new at the time (less than a year old and even less for the Little Mermaid section) and it's less visually off-putting than the All Stars or Pop Century, so we thought it was our best bet. And besides, how bad could one night be, right? Especially at about $130 per night.
The Art of Animation Resort is the sister resort to Pop Century. It was originally built to be "Pop Century: The Legendary Years", but 9-11 stopped construction for several years. Once they picked it back up, the theme had changed and most of the rooms were converted to "family suites". This is basically two value-sized rooms put together making it a mini-suite. This is its major appeal to families with more than 2 kids (hence the large population of them).
As with every Disney resort, there is a main building, called Animation Hall in this case, which houses the check-in/concierge desk, the food court, gift shop, etc.
And I have to admit, as a former art major, I really loved the interior of this building (if not the exterior):
(yeah, it's a great place to utilize the panoramic mode on your camera)
And there is an amazing chandelier that is now hand-signed by a lot of the artists (both animating and voice) involved in these movies:
We did not go into the food court, but here is the gift shop (which, of course we wouldn't miss):
There are four sections - Cars:
With lifesize models of the cars themselves:
including my favorite car - MATER (and he's pretty darn life-like - for an animated character)!
It was really hard to get pictures sometimes because of the kids crawling all over them:
Finding Nemo (which has the biggest pool - which apparently you can hear the characters talk to you when you're underwater...we didn't test this):
The Lion King (which, at least from the outside, was my favorite overall...I absolutely LOVED the characters):
and The Little Mermaid, which is where we stayed (because it's the only section with normal rooms instead of family suites).
We were in the King Triton Section-here the parking lot side (we were in building 9):
and here is the pool side:
with yet another panorama (are you getting the size of these places from my pics?):
Here's a good indication as to the size of these monstrosities...those are motel floors behind her:
Let's move on to the actual room. It's a bit smaller than a moderate (which is extremely noticeable in the bathroom area), but there are cute details everywhere:
The over-bed lighting was extremely skimpy by Disney standards:
And the one sink is pretty much a deal breaker for two females:
Inside of shower was very non-Asper friendly:
Even the carpet gets in on the act:
Granted, I wouldn't want to stay at any other value and I wouldn't want to do it for more than one night, but I think we picked appropriately and, even though the walls were way too thin, there were more kids there than in the parks, the room size is quite small (I can't imagine how a family of four could handle it), and the general atmosphere was quite "in your face", the overall experience wasn't as horrible as I had imagined! The staff was extremely friendly and I didn't feel like a second-class citizen for staying at a value (like my snobbish self was secretly afraid of...yes, I'm big enough to admit it). I would stay in Art of Animation if a one-night situation presented itself again (and there was availability), but only for one night...any more and I would have sensory overload and end up with a headache.
Once we got to Wilderness Lodge though, I felt SOOO much better because I was HOME!!
And that is it for the resort edition of my reviews (at least for a couple of months until I get to try not one, but two new locations!). If I hadn't stayed at Wilderness Lodge so much, my resort repertoire would be bigger! But hey, it gives me something to strive for in the future!