There are five value resorts on Disney World property: All Star Music, All Star Sports, All Star Music, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. The value resort category are the lowest tier priced resorts on property. Even as the “lowest tier”, these resorts are (in my opinion) the most Disney immersive on property and the most family friendly in terms of decor and appearance. I’m lucky to have had the chance to stay at all of these value resorts, and I think I have an answer for the best value resort on property.
Art of Animation!
Art of Animation is the newest resort on Disney property, made up of just under 1,990 rooms in total. The hotel does have single rooms, but is made mostly of family suites. The theme of the hotel is a kudos to Disney animation, and has four main themed areas: The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Cars.
Each of the “themed” areas are somewhat broken up into their own little hotel clusters. Other than the theming themselves, which I will get into a little later, there are some minor differences between the clusters. First off, The Little Mermaid area is the only area where you can find single rooms and no family suites. Also, The Lion King section is the only section without a pool, but has a playground themed to “the animal graveyard” in the movie. Lastly, the Finding Nemo section has the largest pool area, where you can hear the music playing under water with special speakers and sometimes even hear the characters talking! This area is also the only pool with a pool bar in the resort.
There are two very strong reasons why this value resort stands out from the rest: the immersive theming, the food court, and a pretty unique offering.
You first get the impression of the theming of AoA as soon as you walk in to the main building. The first thing you see is a long wall to the left of sketches, based on the four movies featured at this resort. The sketches start from the “early” stages, then as the wall goes on, the sketches get more and more “finished” until the very back wall where you see colorful scenes from the movies themselves. There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling decorated with sketches as well, and the wall behind reception is illuminated with bright colors with lights all the way down.
Although all of the value resorts have larger-than-life sized statues and props which are perfect for photo ops or even just to admire, AoA stands out from the rest. The statues are part of a larger scene within the sectioned areas, and you really feel like you’re a part of the story. For example, in the Lion King section of the resort, they have the elephant graveyard, there is a section of pride rock where Scar is laying and watching over the kingdom, and the scene where Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba are walking along the log singing Hakuna Matata is centered in the area, high above your head to admire. Another example is in the Cars area of the resort, where as soon as you enter that section you are completely immersed into Radiator Springs, where you walk along Route 66 to meet all of your favorite characters from the movie.
The theming also doesn’t stop outside of the building, but continues into the room. Each room, no matter if it is the single room or family suite, is deeply themed to the section you are staying in. Even down to the smallest of details such as the tiles in the shower, you truly get the feeling that you are staying in the world where you are immersed.
AoA is well known to have one of the best food courts out of all resorts on property. Named The Landscape of Flavors, the food court itself is broken up into different stations based on what you would like to eat, but in a circular fashion which makes it easy to navigate. The different stations include salad and cold sandwiches, an Italian foods station, a Mongolian foods station, and a hot sandwich station. There are also coolers which have drinks as well as fruit and vegetable options, sushi, yogurt, and more. You can also head over to the dessert area where there are many delicious dishes offered!
Breakfast is a whole different story. Breakfast is the only meal my fiance and I eat daily at the resort on property because, of course, we have to start of the day fueled up. This was the last resort we’ve ever stayed at, and up until staying at this resort, the breakfast options were pretty much the same across the board from the eggs to the potatoes to the other offerings. However, Landscape of Flavors puts their own twist on every dish, including the breakfast potatoes which are my favorite, that makes it unique.
You can just taste the high quality of food that is being utilized when you eat at any station or for any meal at this food court. I really can’t put into words why it stands out for the rest, you’ll just have to take my word for it and try it yourself!
The one thing that put this resort over the top for me was their unique (and free!) daily offering – illustration classes! Offered three times a day, you can head to the resort lobby to engage in an illustration class where you’ll learn how to draw a famous Disney character. What I love about this is that it isn’t just always Mickey Mouse, but instead they switch up the characters and focus mainly on the four intellectual properties showcased at the resort.
WDW used to offer something similar at Hollywood Studios, but removed it and relocated it to this location. I think it is a perfect fit, as the entire theme around the resort is animation. What I love the best, though, is that it is such a unique experience that you can do for free. It is a can’t-be-missed experience!
Overall, this is a resort I suggest time and time again to people who ask me for advice, or ask me to help them, when planning their Walt Disney World vacation. This is a resort you don’t mind spending time at during the day, and honestly there isn’t a resort that is anything like it on property. If you are a lover of Disney animation, have children, or are just looking for an immersive experience on property, I highly suggest a stay at Art of Animation!
Thanks for reading 🙂 See you Wednesday!