Review: The Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort



By Dave Shute

FAMILY SUITES AT DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

Resorts are ranked on this site based first on kid appeal, and then on convenience in carrying out the site’s recommended itineraries.

Based on that, the new 6 person Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation resort rocket ahead of their only comparable rooms, the Family Suites at All-Star Music.

Moreover, because the Little-Mermaid themed standard (4 person) rooms that opened at Art of Animation in September 2012 hold to the same theming level as the Family Suites, Art of Animation is this site’s most highly-recommended value resort for all room types.

REVIEW: DISNEY WORLD’S FAMILY SUITES AT THE ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

Kid Appeal. Two things distinguish the theming at the Art of Animation Resort: first, being based on wildly popular movies, and second, carrying the movie theming deeply and comprehensively into the rooms themselves.

Many parents will find the room theming well over the top, but these rooms are far and away not only the most fully themed rooms on the property, but also the most “Disney” themed.

This makes Art of Animation the value resort with the highest kid appeal. And for kids crazy about these movies, it may be the most kid-pleasing of all the Walt Disney World resort hotels.

With sections themed on Cars, Finding Nemo, the Lion King, and the Little Mermaid, there’ll be something for most kids to fall in love with.

Because this degree of theming is also present in Little-Mermaid themed standard (4 person) rooms that opened in September, Art of Animation has leapfrogged Pop Century to become by far the best value resort for first time family visitors.

Like at the other value resorts, the exteriors will be garish to many adults.

It may be some relief to parents’ eyes that many (but not all) building exterior walls are simpler than those at the other value resorts, showing sketchpad-inspired line drawings of characters.

While these are not subtle–they are more than 30 feet high–they are more charming than the equivalent walls at other value resorts.

The resort also has elements of real beauty and grace, especially in its main building, Animation Hall.

The lobby, food court, and shop there are delightful rather than garish.  The use of light and color in the lobby is particularly lovely.

Convenience. When I visited–a few rainy days after it opened–Art of Animation did not share buses with Pop Century, as many had speculated it would, but rather had its very own un-shared buses.

If this continues after the busy summer season, then Art of Animation will be the value resort with both the highest kid appeal and also the highest convenience.

  • It will be, with Pop, one of only two Disney resorts with just one bus stop and no shared buses.
  • Moreover, demand for buses will be lighter than at Pop when both are full, as the resort has about 20% less capacity than Pop (because in its family suite buildings, it sleeps 6 in space that would accommodate 8 at Pop).

OTHER DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has the best food court of any hotel on property.

It has all the staples–cheeseburgers, pizza, etc.–but also offers many more adventurous menu items than any other food court, from Mongolian beef stir fries to tandoori sausage.

Moreover, almost every menu item has at least one component that’s made fresh in front of you while you wait…at one station, there’s no steam table container of scrambled eggs; rather they are cooked in a skillet while you wait!

And no more paper plates and plastic forks! The food court offers real silverware, and real plates! (or other appropriate, but not paper, plating options).

The offerings may end up being too adventurous for many kids, and, in its efforts at making things fresh, too ambitious for the crowds present once all the wings are fully open.  If so, we might see very long lines at the stations in the food court that offer the more traditional fare.

But even if this happens, and Disney reverses course to traditional foods prepared the traditional way, the effort to raise the food court bar is still well worth the effort.  It’s braver to begin with high aspirations and see if they work, than to just offer again the same roast turkey meals you’ll find at the other food courts.

Family Suite Floor Plan Disney's Art of Animation Resort from yourfirstvisit.netFLOOR PLANS FOR FAMILY SUITES AT DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

The family suites are innovative and spacious, sleeping six on three beds.

They include two baths–a split one for the kids, with separate sink and toilet/tub areas, and an open one for the parents, with a nice-sized shower. Both baths have lovely tiling.

The living room includes a couch that folds out into a bed big enough to sleep two.

The master bedroom is spacious and has a queen bed, flat screen TV, dresser, and hanging space.

But the dining area–the first space you enter when you come in from the hall–is the most innovative.

In a meeting of Murphy beds and Rube Goldberg, the dining table converts into a bed…making it a Murphy Goldberg bed…it’s easy to set up and re-convert to a table, and fun to play with.

There’s more on the rooms themselves here, but for the price (they are not cheap) I can’t think of a better value for space on property.

  • There are even some deluxes that I’d skip to stay in instead in one of these family suites. You lose the fine dining, more sophisticated décor, balconies, and cooler pools of the deluxes, but for that you get a larger, better equipped, and more livable space…plus two baths.
  • In some circumstances I’d even pick the Family Suites at Art of Animation over some of the smaller and more awkward Disney Vacation Club one bedroom villas, like those at Saratoga Springs.

THEMED SECTIONS OF DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

The Finding Nemo section, all family suites, opened in late May 2012. This is the section I stayed in.

(See the two buildings at the center of the map.)

The all-suites Cars wing opened on June 18 (the three buildings on the right of center) and the Lion King wing on August 10 (two buildings left of center), also all suites.

A Little Mermaid themed wing of standard 4 person rooms opened September 15, in the three buildings at the far left of the map.

A FEW THINGS AT ART OF ANIMATION I’M NOT SO KEEN ON

Not enough groceries in the shop or food court. These rooms come with a mini-kitchen that includes a microwave.  But there’s hardly anything in the store or food court that a family might want to stock for use in this mini-kitchen.

The other Disney World value resort with family suites, All-Star Music, offers lunch meat, bread, peanut butter, jelly, breakfast cereal, etc., in its shop, but–at least right now–none of this is available at Art of Animation.

I hope that as more rooms open, the shop offerings will become more helpful.

Locks everywhere. Art of Animation is the first Disney World hotel to use RFID room cards, which you wave at your room lock rather than sticking it in in the traditional way.

This makes room entry a little easier, and is a pre-cursor to Disney’s NextGen offerings.

But these locks are now multiplied across the resort–you need your key to even enter a hotel building, much less your room, and the pool area is also keyed (although during my visit the pool gates were all open, not locked).

This seems overdone to me–although I suppose it does enhance security, and keeps the Pop Century riff-raff out.  (Pop Century is just a short bridge away from Art of Animation.)

Speaking of riff-raff, in some settings, I’ve seen all these new lock positions called Josh locks…but that seems more hopeful than likely to succeed in keeping him away…anyway, it’s already too late.

A PHOTO TOUR OF THE FAMILY SUITES AT DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

This review continues here.

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106 comments

1 Jenny W-K { 06.10.12 at 4:14 pm }

Thanks for the great review. We’re planning to take our daughter to Disney World next November and I’m trying to decide whether to stay in the new hotel since it has family suites, or stay in one of the nicer hotels. I love the fact that the Art of Animation resort has such a nice food court. That is a huge selling point to me. I look forward to seeing more information about this hotel as it becomes available.

2 Dave { 06.10.12 at 5:21 pm }

Jenny, I love the food court, and hope it stays as adventurous!

3 Jessica { 06.10.12 at 7:29 pm }

Love your report, Dave! Do you know how long is the bus ride from AoA to Magic Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, and Epcot? Will you review Cars suite as well? Do they offer connecting rooms for any of the suite? Look forward to reading more of your review on AoA! Thanks!

4 Dave { 06.10.12 at 8:08 pm }

Hi Jessica, and thanks!

I timed the trip to MK both ways and it was <18 minutes. Epcot should be less, BB more (because of all the stops in Downtown Disney).

I don’t right now have plans to review anything more other than the Little Mermaid rooms–because they are 4 person rooms–but if you insist I will get to the Cars and Lion King rooms…may take a while though, because of the expense… :)

5 Marc { 06.11.12 at 10:36 am }

Do you know if the Murphy Goldberg Bed is actually comfortable for an adult. Usually get the little one who steals my bed spot next to mom and I’ll end up on that bed. I’m hoping it’s ok as I’m going to have 10 nights on it in Aug.

6 Dave { 06.11.12 at 11:06 am }

Hi Marc!

I slept in each of the three beds, a night each, and found them all comfortable.

The Murphy Goldberg bed :) has one cushion that sits on a solid sheet under-frame, but the cushion is 8″ thick. I found it comfortable, but a little short. I measured the length as 74,” which limits toe space if you are say 5’10″ or taller. (It’s 54′ wide.)

The sofa bed has a thinner cushion–4″–, the same width, and about 4 more inches of length. I also found it comfortable…I did not feel any “parts” through the cushion…

I should note though that in my “real” job I’m in hotel beds all the time and am as a result not really picky when it comes to beds…

7 Jessica { 06.11.12 at 12:54 pm }

Hello Dave, anytime you’re ready to review Cars suite is fine :) I thoroughly enjoy & appreciate your advise and look forward to reading your little mermaid room soon! My daughter and I would love little mermaid room, but not sure my husband can take the girls deco for more than one night :) It’d be interesting to hear your first hand report from a guy’s (Dads) point of view! BTW, we booked our BLT studio for next May and will take your advise to focus on MK only. Do you know which are the best 2 days to visit MK during May 8-10? Thanks again & have a great day!

8 Dave { 06.11.12 at 1:11 pm }

:) Yeah, Jessica, I have the same thoughts about Lil Mermaid and 8 year old boys (which is what I am at heart!)!

Based on past operating schedules, the best days will be the 8th and 10th. But come back and re-ask 6 months before, as Disney will have put its actual calendars up then and I can advise if anything is different than the normal calendar!

9 Crystal { 06.11.12 at 2:51 pm }

Hi Dave,
I am so happy that I found your site and hope you can help direct me in planning our trip to WDW the week of Dec 8,2012-Dec 14, 2012. My husband, four year old daughter, and I have reservations at the Art of Animation resort and are looking forward to checking out the newest value hotel Disney offers. Would you be able to help us in planning an appropriate itinerary for the length of our stay? Per your recommendations, I have already made lunch reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table for 12/13/12, since we will be celebrating our daughter’s fifth birthday on that date. Also, we have dinner reservations at Akershaus on 12/8/12, dinner reservations at the Crystal Palace on 12/9/12, and breakfast reservations for Chef Mickey’s on 12/11/12. Please let me know your thoughts on Tomorrowland’s Terrace Firework Dessert Party. I was thinking about making reservations (when they come available) for this in the evening on 12/13/12 since we will already be celebrating our daughter’s birthday at the Magic Kingdom that day. Please include any parades or shows that are must-sees during our stay. We look forward to your response!

10 Dave { 06.11.12 at 5:53 pm }

Crystal, take this as a starting point, it’s not a perfect fit but close: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/shorter-and-longer-itineraries-for-the-december-week/basic-itinerary-less-second-sunday/

Take out of it stuff that’s not right for kids that young–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/ You may end up skipping Epcot entirely…

I personally don’t think the dessert party is worth it…

11 Jessica { 06.12.12 at 1:25 pm }

Thanks again Dave! When is your next visit to AoA Little Mermaid room? Have a great trip & look forward to another interesting report:)

12 Dave { 06.12.12 at 5:19 pm }

I check in just a coupla days after the Lil Mermaid section opens…

13 Tina { 06.13.12 at 2:35 pm }

Dave, I very much enjoyed your review. I have read many and this was by far the most helpful! Great photos and detail. I was wondering if you might enlighten me on if you were able to tell which building will be the best location to the animation hall, Nemo pool and Bus stop. It is appearing from the map that it will be the 0501-0840 section of the Lion King. Would that seem correct from your observations? We have a toddler whom I know will not enjoy a ton of walking particulary at night when he most likely falls asleep on the bus ride back! :) Thank you again!!

14 Dave { 06.13.12 at 4:58 pm }

From the map, I don’t see a straight path form the bus stops to the Lion King, so I’d advise the Finding Nemo section. Honestly, though, given how big the buildings are, it won’t make much difference…

15 Chris Nolin { 06.13.12 at 10:20 pm }

Hey Dave,
My family and I have booked to stay in the Little Mermaid section of AOA in November. However, in looking at the map, it appears that section is quite a distance from Animation Hall, Nemo pool and buses. Is that the case? Does it appear that the distance quite large or that just the scale of the map?

Thanks so much

16 Dave { 06.14.12 at 8:11 am }

Hi Chris! Yes the walk to the central resources will be longer–but less than 5 minutes extra walking compared to being in one of the suites buildings

17 Heather Parker { 06.14.12 at 11:27 pm }

Hi Dave!

Thanks for the great review! My husband and I are taking our 4 year old son to Disney for the 1st time this November. We have a 4 night stay booked at the AoA in the Finding Nemo suites. I read another review that talked a lot about the noise coming from the Big Blue pool that is near the Nemo resorts. This concerns me a bit considering that we have a family of fairly light sleepers. Did you notice this being a major issue?

18 Dave { 06.15.12 at 9:54 am }

Heather, I didn’t notice a problem but my room was not on the pool side.

Coupla thoughts: if you want to eliminate the possibility of pool noise, then go for the Lion King area. It’s the only one of the 4 areas with no rooms lining a pool.

On the other hand, if Nemo is really important to your kids, only about 1/3 of Nemo rooms face the pool, so the odds are you won’t be in one of them

19 Mega { 06.17.12 at 11:45 pm }

Hey, Dave! Your site is FANTASTIC! We are stuck between choosing the Wilderness Lodge vs. Art of Animation family suites for our stay in October (I know, I know, we have to get moving!!!) It is our first time and our kids are 6 and 8. The cost difference is only about $100 between the two- I know the kids would prefer the decor at the Nemo suite, but is it worth it to do Wilderness Lodge? We wish Nemo had standard rooms to save some cash (!) Oh well…this is our dilemma! HELP!

20 Dave { 06.18.12 at 6:17 am }

Hi Mega and thanks!

Just to make sure you know this–there will be standard rooms at Art of Animation by then–but they won’t be Nemo, they’ll be lil mermaid…

I have mixed feelings. WL is stunningly kid-appealing, but, if they are both nuts about Nemo, then go for Nemo. If they are fans but not nuts, and are both boys, go WL–it has more of a “boy adventure” feel.

21 Mega { 06.18.12 at 2:09 pm }

Thanks, Dave! We have one boy and one girl, so no lil mermaid for us :) Convenience was a question for us- I know WL is closer to Magic Kingdom, but you said AoA (Art of Animation) has their own buses? Would it be a much longer ride from AoA? Also, do the dining options and other amenities outweigh the good at AoA? Sorry for the detailed questions, just hard to make the decision! Thanks again for your input!!!

22 Dave { 06.18.12 at 4:45 pm }

Mega–another way to think about it: will this be your only trip? If so, I’d pick WL. IF you know you could come back again then I’d go A of A. That way you can go to WL in a future trip and its “extras” will feel like a fair return for the smaller room. But–and I speak from bitter experience here–if you start at a deluxe, it’s hard to get the family into a lower level without incessant whining….

To hit your specifics: WL is better in every way except for room size, 3 beds (though you can get a room at WL wiht bunk beds plus a queen) two baths, the microwave, and the specific Nemo theming. Assuming the buses stay as they are now, A of A is less convenient to MK, but as or more convenient to the other 3 parks…

23 Mega { 06.18.12 at 7:35 pm }

Awesome, thanks!!! Last question (PROMISE!)…Does AoA have special things for kids like the deluxe resorts (ie. movies outside, campfires, sing-a-longs, luaus…etc)? You are a tremendous help- thnx!

24 Dave { 06.18.12 at 8:38 pm }

Yup to most! Way down at the bottom of this link, there’s a scan you can click of the “program”: http://blog.touringplans.com/2012/06/07/staying-at-the-art-of-animation-resort-info-for-the-grown-ups/

25 joel { 06.21.12 at 8:52 pm }

hi,my girlfriend and i are planning to go to art of animation in october and are on a budget .My question is are there going to be king size beds in the mermaid rooms since i am a 6ft 210lb man . thanks joel

26 Dave { 06.22.12 at 2:47 pm }

Hey Joel–most rooms have two full-size beds. Some rooms will be set up as disabled rooms and will have one king. You can request one of these rooms, but there’s no guarantee…

27 joel { 06.23.12 at 12:40 am }

HEY THANKS FOR THE INFO DAVE , I ASLO JUST THOUGHT ABOUT IT , DO U GET THE AFTER HOURS WHEN CERTAIN PARKS CLOSE??AND ARE THERE BUSES THAT GO TO UNIVERSAL??????

28 Dave { 06.23.12 at 7:21 am }

Hi Joel, if you mean “Extra Magic Hours” (see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/12/extra-magic-hours-at-walt-disney-world/ ) then yes! There’s no Disney transport that goes to Universal. For getting to Universal, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/01/10/getting-to-harry-potter-from-walt-disney-world/

29 Tammy { 06.27.12 at 3:19 am }

Hi! This site is awesome! I have been to Disney 4 times but always at the French Quarters. It’s been a long while and we are very excited. I have 3 boys, 14 years, 13 years and 6 years old. We are staying in the cars suites for 7 days starting August 18th. I was told it was less crowded. Our 13 year old is ASD and has trouble at times with larger crowds so I am a bit worried this time. My 6 year has NF1 which causes headaches and much of the time pain in his legs. No matter what I know we will have a great time but any other ideas or input you may have to help would be great!

30 Dave { 06.27.12 at 6:44 am }

Hi Tammy and thanks! That week will be better than the prior summer weeks, but still pretty crowded–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/01/22/august-2012-at-walt-disney-world/

For people in your spot, I always recommend buying PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges

31 Anonymous { 07.11.12 at 4:52 pm }

Just got back on Sunday. Amazing resort! Staff is top notch too! Highly recommend!!

32 Dave { 07.11.12 at 5:26 pm }

Thanks for the feedback! How was crowding in the food court?

33 Dee { 07.17.12 at 10:37 pm }

Do you happen to know room numbers for Nemo and Lion King? Daughter and family will be in Nemo. Disabled husband and myself in Lion king. Would like to be near each other in case of problems. I called Disney but they could not help me.

34 Dave { 07.18.12 at 6:38 am }

Hi Dee, I’m sorry but I don’t…

35 DEIDRA { 07.18.12 at 12:45 pm }

BIG DILEMMA AND HOPE YOU CAN CHECK.. HAVE Aoa SUITE RESERVED IN CARS SECTION FOR OCT 19-24TH ITS ME, MY BROTHER, SISTER – IN- LAW AND THEIR 4 KIDS (6,5,3,2) DO YOU THINK WE WILL HAVE ENOUGH ROOM IN THE SUITE AND/OR WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SWITCHING TO 2 ROOMS. IT APPEARS THE SPACE WOULD BE THE SAME, BUT DVIDED — GAINING 4 REGULAR BEDS AS OPPOSED TO SOFA/MURPHY. IT WOULD ALSO SAVE 300.00 — I READ ABOVE THAT THE MERMAID ROOMS ARE FURTHER AWAY, THAT IS A BIG CONSIDERATION I AM THINKING TOO .

36 Dave { 07.18.12 at 4:10 pm }

Hi Deidra! It seems to me that either the All-Star Music family suites or two rooms would be the right call. For the difference between Art of Animation and All-Star Music bed options see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/24/review-the-family-suites-disneys-art-animation-resort-p3/

The Little Mermaid rooms are maybe three minutes further than the most of the other Art of Animation rooms…

37 DEIDRA { 07.19.12 at 1:44 pm }

is all star music suites the same size with a mini kitchen or just a fridge? this is somthing to look at

38 Dave { 07.20.12 at 2:41 pm }

Deidra, see this for floor plans of both: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/24/review-the-family-suites-disneys-art-animation-resort-p3/ Music is a little smaller, doesn’t have the table. Both have the same kitchen gear–a mini-fridge and microwave…

39 Tom { 07.24.12 at 4:48 pm }

Ok, here we go! The little mermaid room, February 2013. We are Pop Goer’s but I wanted to give this new hotel a try…

40 Carrie { 09.04.12 at 11:37 am }

I love Disney and we have stayed mostly off site, but also at a moderate, and the Contemporary, but I have always wanted to stay at the polynesian. Our kids are just 3, 6, and 8 1/2, and we are going after Thanksgiving and have reservations at the Polynesian. I am torn with all the added space here that we should try the art of animation. What would you recommend? What about the pools? We live in Birmingham so I know I won’t be swimming, but the kids would like to have at least a day or two warm enough to swim. Also, do you know what temperature Disney heats the pools to?
Any advice to help me decide.

41 Dave { 09.04.12 at 11:57 am }

Carrie…that’s a tough call. On the theory that this won’t be your last trip…maybe you should save the Poly til your youngest is a coupla of years older and thus more able to appreciate it?

I’ve read–e.g. on this great site here: http://www.portorleans.org/ol-man-island.php –that Disney heats its pools to 82…

Temps then can be all over the place–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/pool-days-november-through-february/

42 Lily from Destinations in Florida { 09.06.12 at 10:33 pm }

Carrie, I agree with Dave. I think your children will love the Art of Animation there will be plenty of time to go back and enjoy the Poly!

43 Crystal { 09.09.12 at 12:49 am }

Hello Dave
We will be going to Disney for the first time December 10th-16th. I had a couple of questions that I hope you can help me with. We are going friends staying at All Star Music in a basic room. My daughter loves Nemo and we would prefer staying at the Animation Studio. Do you think this could cause big problems with scheduling meetings together? Also they opted for the free meal plan option. I was looking at current specials, is the quick meal dining plan option worth it in your option for 2 adults and a 3 year old or would you opt to get the 30% off your room ,or go a different way completely? I just do not know what our best options are for booking and savings.

44 Dave { 09.09.12 at 9:18 am }

Hi Crystal, on the issue of free dining vs room discounts, you have to do the math yourself to see which saves you the most money…however, there’s no deal out there that will get you 30% of the room rate at a value resort (15-20% is what’s on offer), so my guess is you’ll do better on free dining…

On being in two hotels, if neither of you has a car, it will be an enormous pain to meet at the hotels themselves, but you should have no real issues connecting in the parks…

45 Lily from Destinations in Florida { 09.11.12 at 9:43 am }

Crystal,
Sometimes the room discount is better than the Free dining, this is usually the case on Deluxe Resorts. I would have a Travel Agent take a look at it and do the math for you,

46 Nina { 09.20.12 at 11:38 pm }

Hello, I’m going crazy tonight. I have reservations at the Grand Floridian for 1200$ for 3 nights. But I’m not ready to pay for expensive meals /valet parking etc. I’m Traveling with my husband and 16 year old daughter. my question is , I just got off the phone with reservation cause I’m looking to change hotels to art of animation, and the lady who I spoke to said that there is a weigh limit for the Murphy bed in the finding nemo suits. Is that the case? My daughter is 130lb /5’6. Help!

47 Nina { 09.20.12 at 11:46 pm }

One more thing, I’ve stayed at music/movie/ Coronado /pop century/animal kingdom. I really don’t want to pay 2 much, but after experiencing “better” rooms I’m not sure if art of animation compares. I jut don’t want to leave dissapointed or broke .

48 Dave { 09.21.12 at 8:02 am }

Hi Nina, I haven’t heard about weight restrictions on the Innova bed at Art of Animation. I slept on it and am more than 180 pounds…

49 Dave { 09.21.12 at 8:03 am }

Nina, everyone is different on this issue. My advice is go to the Family Suite, treat it as an adventure, and see if you like it! The extra space is what creates the luxury…

50 Nina { 09.21.12 at 10:58 am }

Thanks so much. Wow! I just got off the phone with WDW reservations and they made it almost impossible for me to make the changes from the Grand Floridian due to the fact that when I made my first reservation I got a “great deal”(flex) 500$ off the original price. I went ahead and got us into the Finding Nemo. They couldnt understand why I gave up such a great deal , as she said ( do you understand that you are going from Deluxe to Value?). I’ve been to the grand Floridian and yes it might be pretty , but I think my two kids ( my husband and daughter ) will have more fun at the Value resort !
The agent who I spoke to said that her daughter and friend slept on the innova bed and weigh was over 200 lb and they had no problem. Wonder why the agent who I spoke last night said that there was a weigh restriction, wonder if she said that to me so I wouldnt give up my “great deal”

51 Dave { 09.21.12 at 1:08 pm }

Wow, Nina, you are getting the hard sell…

52 Joy { 09.25.12 at 10:12 am }

Hi, Dave,
We are looking at a Disney trip next August. My husband says this will be the last — he won’t go again. I have a daughter who will be 15 then and son who will be 9. We will likely do more Epcot, & AK than MK or HS (though I want to check out some of the new Fantasyland), as we will also do Universal and Sea World. I am torn between Wildnerness Woods View Bunk Beds, or AOA Lion King. We need 3 beds because of aforementioned kids. We typically try to cheap out on breakfast (something quick in the room if possible), so AOA would be better for that, but would my 15 year old think that AOA is just *way* too little kid-ish? Part of me really wants to “do it right” for Wildnerness (I’m hoping for a good room-only discount). We can’t afford the Polynesian. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

53 Dave { 09.25.12 at 10:27 am }

Joy, my recollection–and I may be wrong on this–is that you can’t directly reserve the bunk beds, but only request them…if that’s so, (and I’ll try to find out) a family suite may be the right choice. (Never mind, see below) The WL bunk beds are also short–5’9″ as I measured them. The Family Suites at All-Star Music aren’t nearly as “little-kid-ish” as those at Art of Animation –see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

54 Dave { 09.25.12 at 10:30 am }

Joy–I’m wrong again! You can reserve bunk bed rooms at WL! Still with a 5’9″ mattress tho…

55 Joy { 09.25.12 at 11:13 am }

Hi, Dave,
Thanks for the info; my daughter is 5’3″ and my son much less than that, so the bunk bed length shouldn’t be a problem. Tripadvisor reviews say that All-Star Music is starting to get run down — can you comment on that?

Joy

56 Dave { 09.25.12 at 5:12 pm }

Hi Joy–I stayed there in late August, and thought it was fine!

57 Sammie { 09.28.12 at 10:01 pm }

My sons, 21 and 23 and a one of their girlfriends and I (4 total) have a Lion King suit reserved for Dec. Since you have measured the rooms, is there room for a twin size air bed in the Master? With 4 of us in the room we really want 4 beds.

58 Dave { 09.29.12 at 1:31 pm }

Sammie, I can’t find my notes on the measurements, but my recollection (and photos) suggest the master is too tight for an air mattress. There’s room near the fold-down bed in the dining room, however…

59 Sammie { 09.29.12 at 3:13 pm }

Thanks. I may need to do a load of laundry while there, is the laundry at the Big Blue pool the only one?

60 Dave { 09.30.12 at 5:53 pm }

Sammie–each of the other pools also has a laundry, too…

61 Sammie { 10.01.12 at 8:49 am }

Thanks!

62 solomani { 10.10.12 at 9:09 am }

Hi Dave, are the quick-meal dining plans accepted at the “Landscape of Flavors” do you know?

63 Dave { 10.10.12 at 9:44 am }

Yes they are!

64 Solomani { 10.10.12 at 9:10 pm }

Thanks again!

65 Troy { 10.13.12 at 9:02 pm }

Hey Dave–

Staying in Art of Animation suites. Do you know when the food court opens for breakfast generally? I think we plan to eat in our rooms most days, but I know that my mother will not settle for this every day. :-) I don’t want to “waste” time eating there on the early mornings, but wanted to get an idea on how early we’d get to attack it before we go. Thanks…

66 Dave { 10.14.12 at 8:32 am }

Troy, I believe it opens at 6a…

67 Robbie { 10.16.12 at 12:29 am }

Hey Dave. Wondering about how many dresser drawers and where you put luggage in the Art of Animation family suites.

68 Dave { 10.16.12 at 6:37 am }

Hey Robbie, check the photos lower on the second page of this review, which begins here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/17/review-family-suites-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort-continued/

69 Elizabeth { 10.21.12 at 5:32 pm }

Hello Dave!
We love, love, love your site! We have planned end of January DW trip. We have booked in the Little Mermaid Rooms, but are worried about walking distances to the bus stop. We have people in our group that have mobility difficulties and cannot walk long distances. I was just wondering if the suites are significantly closer to the bus stops?!? It looks like it on the map, but we do not know the scale on the map. Thanks so much for all of your great info!!

70 Dave { 10.22.12 at 6:54 am }

Hi Elizabeth, and thanks for the love!

the suites are definitely closer. However, there’s much more walking in the parks than there is at AofA. If you have mobility issues you might consider renting a scooter or wheelchair–and then you’ll have them wherever you are, including the hotel…

71 Kathy { 01.01.13 at 4:59 pm }

Dave,
We are planning a trip December 2013. Taking 4 generations. Parents are 73 and 74. 5 couples, 3 singles and 4 kids ages. 6,5,3 & 3 months. 3 of the couples can’t sleep in a double bed. Money is an issue. What do you suggest?

72 Dave { 01.02.13 at 6:27 am }

Hi Kathy!

The best (queens but relatively lower price) option on-site is likely a set of rooms at Port Orleans Riverside’s Alligator Bayou section. Each room there has two queens + one fold-down 66″ short fifth sleeping spot. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/11/19/review-port-orleans-riverside-alligator-bayou-rooms/

This is a big resort, and you may be scattered all over the place…if avoiding that is critical, then your best bet is renting a house off-site. For that, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/27/the-tightwads-guide-to-staying-off-site-at-walt-disney-world/

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73 Sherri { 01.06.13 at 7:08 pm }

Hi Dave! My family is all booked and ready for our Disney trip at the end of January and we’re staying at the Art of Animation resort. We are flying in–not renting a car–plan to use Disney buses. We are traveling with a 5 year old and 3 year old. I have booked reservations at Cinderella’s castle for 8:30 breakfast one morning. Now I’m wondering if we will have enough time to get there by bus. Based on your experience at AofA, do you think we will make it on time? How early are the first buses usually departing the resort? I don’t believe Magic Kingdom has early magic hour that day…

74 Dave { 01.07.13 at 6:59 am }

Hi Sherri! There’s a special bus for the early in-park meals. Ask the Art of Animation concierge about it the day before!

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75 Sherri { 01.07.13 at 12:17 pm }

Awesome! Thanks so much!

76 Dave { 01.07.13 at 6:07 pm }

Have a great trip, Sherri!

77 debbie { 01.25.13 at 10:45 pm }

Wow! Read all your reviews. Am impressed with your knowledge! My question…? I became a grandma 7/2012. My manfriend is her papa. He decided last August that we would take her to DisneyWorld in May 2013 (after speaking w/his siblings about their trips). She will be 22 months old. Booked Nemo suite at AoA (5 adults and her). What suggestions do you have for a 22 month old while in our suite/ what suggestions do you have for the various parks? This trip is premature for her memories but still want to make it magical for her and us by seeing her face glow with awe. (Please don’t comment on her age because I truly wish his IDEA would have waited until she was 4 or 5 yrs old. I think he did this because of my health issues.)

78 Dave { 01.26.13 at 8:32 am }

Hi Debbie, and thanks! I’m sorry, but I have nothing to offer for that age. The only way I can keep up with this site in my “spare” time is by focusing–among other things–on much older kids. But do check here: http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1

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79 Jackie { 06.23.13 at 4:57 pm }

My husband and I, our two children (will be 4 and 5-1/2), my mom, and aunt will be going to Disney at the end of February. Will the Art of Animation suite accommodate all of us or would it be too crowded?

Thanks!

80 Dave { 06.24.13 at 7:28 am }

Hi Jackie, you will all fit, but the 4 of your sleeping in the living/dining space will be a little short on privacy, especially if you end up putting the little kids into the separate bedroom–as many families end up doing to manage different bedtimes.. Two regular rooms will give you more privacy, but at the cost of the more homelike features of the suite (at least when they aren’t being slept on…)

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81 Krystal { 07.17.13 at 10:50 am }

Dave,
I love your review. I am a travel agent (Authorized Disney Vacation Planner). My family and I just recently got back from Disney and we stayed at the Lion King Suites, loved it!!!!!
We were right around the corner from the pool and a short walk to the restaurant. Great location!

82 Dave { 07.18.13 at 7:48 am }

Thanks, Crystal! I’ll be in Lion King in August. Can’t wait!

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83 Krystal { 07.18.13 at 10:01 pm }

Dave,
I’m jealous. We just got back couple weeks ago and I already want to go back :-)
I love Disney. If you need someone to book any of your vacations please let me know. There are no fees for my services.
Thanks and have fun!!!!!

84 Carey { 08.12.13 at 4:35 pm }

Dave,
I’m working on booking a quick Disney trip Jan 2014. I like to stay in nicer hotel rooms but the prices seem really high. We are driving to FTL for a wedding with our 3 year old and 5 month old – and thought Disney would be a fun stop. I think we are going to Sea World one day and Magic Kingdom. I’d like to stay in the Nemo room b/c my son is obsessed but not sure it’s worth it because of the short duration. I’d like to combine quick transportation/convenience to MK (because of nap times etc…) and quality of place. Do you have any suggestions?
My goal is to go to MK until nap and then back for the firework show. If we stay on Disney grounds, do you know if we can we get in the park earlier? Any must see shows (for a 3 year old) would be great…i know we are more excited than he is but it will be a fun memory.

85 Dave { 08.13.13 at 6:51 am }

Hi Carey, I focus on kids 8 and up so don’t really have any great ideas for must-see shows for a three year old…sorry!!! But check out this: http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1

There’s no hotel at Disney World that’s both inexpensive and convenient to the Magic Kingdom! That said, I’d vote for the Wilderness Lodge at the higher end, and Caribbean Beach (with subtle Nemo theming) on the less expensive side. Price-wise, these bracket the Art of Animation Family Suite you are looking at.

For links to reviews of each, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/26/walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-reviews/

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86 Carey { 08.28.13 at 11:33 pm }

Dear Dave,
We are planning WDW trip this Oct. I have two reservations on hold: one at Art of Imagination Cars Suite and one at Fort Wilderness cabins. We have a 7 yr old boy and 3 yr old girl. The extra living and sleeping space is what appeals to us about both locations. Seems like FW is a better location and has more activities. But AoI suites much more accommodating. This is my sons second trip, daughters first. My 4th vist. Never stayed at a Value resort . What would you suggest? Very difficult decision and running out of time. Thank you!

87 Dave { 08.29.13 at 7:07 am }

Carey, the Cabins are wildly inconvenient, but other than that have some positives. There’s a detailed comparison between the Cabins and the two family suite types–at Art of Animation and All-Star Music–that begins here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

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88 Carey { 08.30.13 at 1:38 am }

Thank you for pointing out that the AOA has its own buses, does that include buses to other disney resorts ie. Polynesian? Will it be feasible to return to resort mid day for naps and then return to park? Lastly, Would renting a golf cart at the FW cabins help with the inconvenience factor?

89 Dave { 08.30.13 at 7:20 am }

Carey, no Disney resort has buses to other Disney resorts–just to the theme parks, water parks, and Downtown Disney. Midday returns for naps are quite feasible.

Golf carts make FW slightly better but are so expensive that a much better choice is to rent a car–which makes every destination except MK a breeze…

90 nancy { 10.22.13 at 3:51 pm }

my husband and i and our grand daughter (1) recently stayed at wilderness lodge in a standard room (loved it!) want to go back next year in ocotber (2014) and bring our babysitter. will we be completely disappointed w AOA, after staying at wilderness lodge? also, can we get to wilderness for dinner from aoa without car rental?

91 Dave { 10.23.13 at 7:19 am }

Nancy, that’s a tough call. You will like your suite much better than your room at WL, but the rest of the WL environment is much better than the AofA environment.

You can get anywhere at WDW from AofA, but it can be a pain. To get to WL, you’d take an AofA bus to MK, and from in front of the park take the boat to WL. Transport time will be about 30 minutes, and waiting time will range form zero minutes to more than 30 minutes.

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92 Sarah { 10.28.13 at 3:09 pm }

Dave,
Thanks for your in depth review of AoA. I am planning a trip there with my family (husband and 3 kids– boys ages 9 & 7, girl age 4) Presidents week (feb 16-20). I know this is one of Disneys most crowded weeks, and we were nervous about the bussing to each of the parks. Are there typically long lines/wait times? We are considering renting a car instead. How much time would we save if we had our own car? Also, as this is a trip we won through my husbands company, they are giving us the option of either staying at AoA or Port Orleans Riverside. Can you help us make our decision?

93 Sarah { 10.28.13 at 3:13 pm }

Add on to my question…
The room at AoA would be a family suite, while the room at Port Orleans Riverside would be one room with a trundle bed.

94 Dave { 10.29.13 at 7:46 am }

Hi Sarah! Nice prize.

Yes, the buses can have long lines, especially when the parks close. See this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/10/29/disney-world-transportation-the-buses/ Driving a car is faster everywhere except to the Magic Kingdom, where–because of where parking is vs. where the buses drop you off–it’s still better to take the buses. For the other three parks, you could save 30 mins to more than an hour per day…

The only real argument for POR in your spot is the cost…and since someone else is paying, I’d do a suite at AofA. More on the pros and cons can be found on this page (about the suites at Music, but it gets to the comparison…) http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

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95 Sarah { 10.30.13 at 7:22 am }

Thanks Dave!
As of now, we are booked at AoA. After doing more research, I saw that a family of 5 could fit into a standard room at the Polynesian. Would you recommend we do that instead? We would not mind paying for the difference in price.

96 Sarah { 10.30.13 at 11:29 am }

Update to my post…
The Polynesian is running a special and my stay there during Presidents week would cost me the same as AoA. I’m excited about that but am wary that I could stay at a deluxe resort for the same price as a value. Will the construction at the Poly badly affect our stay? Will the path to the TTC be open? Does the extra square footage in the AoA suite make it worth staying there over the Poly? No park view rooms are available at the Poly, and they cannot guarantee longhouse requests. What to do?

97 Dave { 10.30.13 at 2:55 pm }

Sarah, if I procrastinate long enough, you will sort all this out for yourself…!!

First, on the construction–I simply don’t know.

Ignoring construction issues for the moment, a family suite will give you a much more flexible and livable space. Your favorite part may be the two baths, the private bedroom, or the little living room…or even the microwave. The Poly, though, is much better outside the room–the restaurants, pools (if open), beach, grounds, easy access to MK via the monorail etc.

If I were in your shoes, I’d just split the stay–stay in the Poly the first half of your trip, and a family suite the second half–when some of the excitement will have faded, and you’ll appreciate the extra space more…

98 HIllary { 11.25.13 at 12:19 am }

We have family joining us. Should we/can we have two connecting suites at Cars resort or one at Car resort and one at nemo (to experience both and the kids can go back and forth – but young kids).

And, are there specific rooms or parts of either section (nemo or cars) that we should recommend/ask for?

99 Dave { 11.25.13 at 6:40 am }

Hillary, the family suites don’t connect, and it’s a neat idea to get suites in different areas!

In both building areas you want upper floor lake view rooms near transportation.

100 Allison { 01.03.14 at 9:46 pm }

Hi Dave-
Love your site! We are coming in for a quick Sunday to Tuesday visit while in town for a wedding in March. we will be with our 2.5 year old and cannot decide between AoA and Wilderness Lodge. Our plan is to hang at at the hotel Sunday afternoon, hit magic kingdom Monday, and the chef mickey’s Tuesday morning. Cost is not the factor, it is more where our tot will have the most fun. Especially if we get stuck with a rainy sunday! What do you think? We are so torn and really would value your opinion! Thanks in advance!

101 Dave { 01.04.14 at 10:29 am }

Allison, for a kid that young, honestly it won’t much matter. You will find MK and Chef Mickeys much easier to get to from the Wilderness Lodge, so I’d go with that!

102 T Bonow { 01.28.14 at 10:45 pm }

We have never been to Disney before. Our kids ages are 10,8,6,5,3. This limits us from a lot of hotels. My kids are used to sleeping together and we bring a pack n play for the 3 year old. (she actually isn’t quite 3 yet but will be then). Where can we stay at AM that will let us in with 7. Can we get a room for 6 and her just sleep in the port-a-crib? Is it worth the free dining to get a room there or should we get a rental car and inexpensive condo?

103 Dave { 01.29.14 at 8:02 am }

Hey T Bonow, first I wouldn’t count on any free dining. And second, no you can’t book 7 of those ages in a suite, sorry. Your best bet is to try to get two connecting rooms. While Disney officially won’t guarantee them, with that many kids they will try really hard to get you if not connected then very nearby…

104 MG { 05.13.14 at 12:57 pm }

Can you recommend a building/view in the Cars section? Would like to be in a room that’s relatively quiet, but close to transportation (for the grandparents). Thanks!

105 Dave { 05.14.14 at 6:57 am }

MG, request “Lake View” and “Close to Transportation’ This should put you in a quieter room in Building 3, which is the best overall choice in the Cars section.

106 MG { 05.14.14 at 9:15 am }

Great, thanks!

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