By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



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Accommodations in The Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort



By Dave Shute

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, see this.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE FAMILY SUITES AT DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

Family Suite Floor Plan Disney's Art of Animation Resort from yourfirstvisit.netThe family suites are innovative and spacious, sleeping six on three beds. Photo tours of each themed suite are later in this review.

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.

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.

However, the most direct comparison for the Art of Animation Family Suites is the Family Suites at All-Star Music.

The All-Star Music family suites were built by combining two existing rooms, and adding a door between them and a wall to create privacy for the master bedroom and space for the mini-kitchen.

Family Suite Floor Plan Disney's All-Star Music Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

See the floor plan.

There’s only a couple of broadly-applicable reasons to prefer All-Star Music to Art of Animation.

  • One is price. Art of Animation family suites are ~$70-100 per night more expensive than those at All-Star Music.
  • Another is the number of individual sleeping spaces. Art of Animation has three, each sleeping two, while Music has four, two sleeping one each and two beds sleeping two. This creates more flexibility for some family structures–e.g. families with 3 boys and one girl, or a family of five plus Aunt Ida.

Cars Area at Disney's Art of Animation Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

Some other minor points that may sway some families to Music are the easy access to both baths from all beds–in Art of Animation the second bath is in the master bedroom, not so open to the living space–and the fact every bed in Music has a TV view, while in Art of Animation the “Murphy Goldberg” bed has no TV view-able from it.

One could also like the living room, mini-kitchen, and master bedroom more at Music. (For a space by space comparison, see this.)

Otherwise Art of Animation rules All-Star Music.

The family suites at Art of Animation were also designed within constraints–the footprints of the buildings had been established years ago, when the area it now occupies was meant to be the second phase of Pop Century.

Working within this constraint, Disney’s designers did a remarkable job.

The first key decision was to have one interior corridor rather than two exterior ones.  This created an extra 5 feet or so of space available to lengthen the rooms, enabling adding a couple of feet to the window to entry door dimension.

This extra length–combined with the decision to move the closets–enabled Disney to rotate the baths and thus free up a ton of space in the center of the entry area.

The second key decision was to discover and decide to use in this space the “Murphy Goldberg” bed (this is my name for it, there’s a real brand name–Inova Table Bed).

This dining table that converts into a bed that converts into a table adds greatly to the livability of the room, and also simplifies what the living room area needs to deliver in terms of beds.

It’s also fun to play with.

Animation Disney's Art of Animation Resort from yourfirstvisit.net.

PHOTO TOUR OF A FINDING NEMO FAMILY SUITE AT DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

This review continues here.

MATERIAL IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

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89 comments

1 AshleyM { 06.24.12 at 2:45 pm }

I just booked us a stay at the Art of Animation in October. We have a standard room, Little Mermaid style. Do you know if there will be a mini fridge in the room?

2 Dave { 06.24.12 at 3:54 pm }

Hi Ashley, yes there will be. As of this spring, Disney decided to put fridges at no additional cost in all the rooms at the value resorts.

3 CindyB { 06.26.12 at 9:10 am }

Over the weekend I got a PIN for free dining this fall. We’ve been talking about taking a trip for our daughter’s 7th birthday in mid-Oct, so this is perfect! It won’t be our first trip as a family (first trip was Jan ’09, we stayed 4 nights at All-Star Sports, which was fine…we used the room for sleeping/showering/dressing and spent minimal time at the resort). I called reservations yesterday and currently have booked the Caribbean Beach resort….I know our daughter will love the pool there, as well as the paddle boats, etc., but she’s also never been to CBR, so she won’t know what she’s missing! I have some concerns about the location of CBR (sounds like long bus rides), as well as the size (i.e. long walks to get around the resort). For $200 more, we can (‘downgrade’ to) get a suite at the Art of Animation…and for $1000 more we can take your suggestion and go to the Polynesian. (Although I’m looking at a 5 day trip, but may take her out of school for a full week and do 7-8 nights…which puts the Poly out of the question since their std rooms are unavailable for that timeframe). For what it’s worth, we’ll also have little brother, who will be 16 months old by then, and potentially a set of grandparents tagging along (in a separate room). I’m assuming from the review, would you skip CBR and go with Art of Animation?

4 Dave { 06.26.12 at 11:08 am }

Hi Cindy, that’s a tough call. A of A is actually a little further away from everything than CB (it’s northern border is CB’s southern border) but getting around in the resort itself is much easier at A of A, and you don’t have the multiple bus stops to deal with. Even if Disney starts sharing buses between Pop and Art, Art will still all in be more convenient than CB. And the family suites at Art are much more livable. What you lose is what you note…I found that after our first two trips we spent more time in the rooms and pool and space matters…note that if you put the kids in the master bedroom, then you have all that couch and dining table space for the adults…

5 CindyB { 06.26.12 at 4:45 pm }

Thanks Dave! I think I’m going to call and switch our reservation to AofA for a suite. As you mentioned, I think we’ll be much more comfortable with more room, plus I can put the toddler down for a nap in the bedroom, etc. From what you know about AofA, are any of the suites better situated than the others (i.e. quiet, close to buses, etc.)? I understand Nemo is convenient, but it may be a bit loud due to the pool/outside activities. Although, daughter is a big Nemo fan, so that may trump a quiet room. Thanks so much for your help and your website!

6 Dave { 06.27.12 at 6:30 am }

Hi Cindy! Based on overall layout, I’m inclined to think that Lion King will be the best combination of quiet and convenience. It’s the only area with no pool, so less pool noise, but it’s still pretty close to the main pool, bus stops, etc…

7 Cindy (but a different one) { 06.27.12 at 4:45 pm }

Hi Dave, we are thinking about going to Disney some time between September and October, we have four kids between 6-13 and my parents have also said they are interested in coming along. I want to go when there is a free meal plan and the crowds are low. Where would you suggest we stay? If it’s the just the 6 of us I am thinking Art of Animation or at least that’s what the computer is recommending. But what would you suggest for 8? or 6? We won’t be staying in the room much.

8 Cindy (but a different one) { 06.27.12 at 4:47 pm }

Also how did the other Cindy get the pin for the fall meal plan? I may want it to depending when we go!

9 Dave { 06.27.12 at 6:03 pm }

Hi the Cindy who you are!!

There was a free dining deal for Sept, but it had to be booked by June 14. There’s a room rate discount currently available for September–see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/03/29/walt-disney-worlds-latest-spring-and-summer-deal/

There’s no telling what Disney will do for October. Last year some deals were announced in early August, but their coverage of Ocotber was very thin–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/08/03/new-free-disney-world-dining-deal-through-march-2012/

Crowds are low in both months. For my recommended weeks, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/10/20/2012-weeks-to-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-in-order/

For where to stay with larger families, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/special-circumstances/special-circumstances-large-families/

Hope this helps!

10 Dave { 06.27.12 at 6:05 pm }

Cindy two things–same deal, that pin has expired. And no one but Disney really knows how to get one–if you google “Disney World pin codes” you’ll find a bunch of different opinions…

11 Jeff Creel { 06.28.12 at 12:47 pm }

Is it noisy in the hallways or in the rooms, can you hear the people at the pools or outside at night?

12 Dave { 06.28.12 at 2:09 pm }

Hi Jeff!

The first floor hallways between the elevators and the main building are quite noisy. My room was not pool-side, so I don’t have personal experience to share eon that, but others say the pool side rooms are noisy–see e.g. this: http://www.insidethemagic.net/2012/06/room-review-disneys-art-of-animation-resort-family-suites-perfect-for-kids-but-adults-may-find-restless-nights/

13 Jeff Creel { 06.29.12 at 12:59 am }

Thank you Dave, we may try looking into staying at the lion king suites as it may be more on the quiet side.

14 Dave { 06.29.12 at 7:11 am }

Jeff, I think that’s the best bet, unless your kids are really crazy about Nemo or Cars…

15 Gretchen { 07.05.12 at 12:23 pm }

Based on the sizes of the beds, do you think the family suites at Art of Animation could comfortably sleep three adults and three young children? We are thinking about a trip to include my mother-in-law. My husband is 6 ft. 7in. I thought he might be able to sleep in the queen with our 2 y/o, I would take one of the extra beds with my 4 y/o and my mother-in law could take another with the 9 y/o. Would this be too cramped?? Please be honest. While we want this to be a special trip to build memories for my kids with my mother-in-law, we don’t want to be sick of each other at the end of it!! Would trying to get two connecting rooms at a moderate be a better option. Thank you for your help!!

16 Dave { 07.05.12 at 4:40 pm }

Gretchen that’s a great question. What you get at A of A is a queen, a full, and a bed as wide as a full but 4″ shorter. It’s hard for me to tell if you’d all fit, but my guess is that the full widths may be a little narrow.

At the moderates, depending on which you pick, two rooms would get you either four fulls (CB, some parts of POR) or 4 queens (POFQ, CS, some parts of POR.) Remember, though, that Disney will not guarantee connecting rooms…

17 Gretchen { 07.05.12 at 8:51 pm }

Thank you for the reply! The only time we stayed on-site was at the Polynesian. We loved it but we want to pay for all of my mother-in-law’s expenses and getting two rooms at the Polynesian would be too much for our budget. So I was looking at value and moderates. We also have the “challenge” of being tall! Like I mentioned, my husband is 6 ft. 7 in and my mother-in-law and I are both 5 ft 9in. Thank you for your help. If you have any ideas, I would be open to any of them!!

18 Dave { 07.06.12 at 7:22 am }

Gretchen there are a couple of other alternatives that come to mind…the problem with both is that I’ve never measured their beds so I don’t know how long they are! I think you should go with a couple of moderates…

19 Gretchen { 07.06.12 at 2:18 pm }

Thank you again for all of your help! You have a great website!

20 Dave { 07.06.12 at 5:17 pm }

Thank you, Gretchen!

21 Marissa { 07.11.12 at 2:28 pm }

Thanks for your review! We’re booked for A of A (nemo suite) this December. I was considering switching to two mods, but after your review, I will stick with the A of A suite. To pp Gretchen – we will be staying 3 adults, 3 children (though the baby will be in a crib). We will also be brining a blow up toddler sized air bed for our 2 year old (almost 3 at that time) as we do not want her to get accustomed to sleeping in bed with others, nor do we want her rolling off the side of the bed!; there are several options available on Amazon.com …thought this may be an option for you, too! You and your husband could sleep in the queen, your older two children could sleep in the “short” full sized bed, and grandma can sleep on the pull out sofa. Hope that helps!

22 Dave { 07.11.12 at 2:59 pm }

Great idea, Marissa!

23 Gretchen { 07.13.12 at 9:43 pm }

Thank you, Marissa. That is a good idea.

24 Dee { 07.15.12 at 12:05 am }

I am planning a trip for my nephews 8th bday in Aug 2013. The trip will be 3 adults 3 children in one room and then another room for grandmom and grandpop. Is it possible to book a suite and a regular occupancy room at AoA? I saw in your review that the little mermaid building will have standard rooms, so I was hoping that we could do a suite in one building and a stnd room in the other so that they are close in proximity and it will not cost us for 2 suites. If not AoA is this possible at all star music?
Also do you have any advice for when to book for this party of 8?

25 Dave { 07.15.12 at 9:19 am }

Hi Dee, you can do exactly that at either AofA or Music. At A of A you want the suite to be in Lion King area so that it’s as close as possible to the Little Mermaid buildings. The suites at A of A–so far–are wildly popular, and I can tell by my traffic that a lot of people who would normally aim at a deluxe or moderate are considering them. August, except at the end, is a high crowd/high demand month, so I’d book as soon as you are completely comfortable with your dates…

26 Brett { 07.29.12 at 4:22 pm }

Dave, great stuff. Cindy above alluded to a question I was hoping to get more claity on…..

We went toWDW in march 2012 and stayed at Caribbean Beach in the pirate rooms In Trinidad South. The location of our rooms made it all but impossible to take full advantage of the food court areas and whatnot. Just toooooo far away. I went with 4 kids under 3.

We are going back in January 2013, and we are going to stay at AofA. We are looking at the Cars suites. In your opinion, staying in the Cars suite, is the food court area fairly close in proximity and usable? The map show that Finding Nemo would be best for this, but Cars is what the boys would love hahha.

Thanks Dave!!!!!

27 Dave { 07.29.12 at 4:52 pm }

Brett–see the image (click it to enlarge it). CB is just north of A of A, so the relative sizes are easy to compare.

See the red Xs at the lower left–they indicate the center of the cars area and the main building at A of A.

The two Xs above in CB do the same for the Pirates rooms vs the main CB area.

…So you will be fine!

28 Laura { 08.27.12 at 4:30 pm }

I’m thinking of planning a trip that would be for my immediate family of 4 and for 1 set of grandparents. The 4 of us want to stay in a family suite, but the grandparents only need a Little Mermaid standard room. And no, we do not want to share a family suite with the grandparents.

I’m just worried about the proximity of the 2 buildings, if we stay in a suite, and the grandparents are in a separate building. How easy is it to get between the buildings in the resort? Are they a long walk? Do they have golf carts you can drive around? Buses? Thanks!

29 Dave { 08.27.12 at 8:05 pm }

Hi Laura, first the buildings just aren’t all that far apart–maybe ten minutes walking from the furthest to the furthest. If you request your suite in the Lion King area–which I recommend anyway as it’s the quietest–you’ll be as close as you can be. The buildings aren’t far enough apart for bus or golf cart service.

Second…just a thought…if you are worried about mobility, there’s a hundred more times walking in the parks themselves…you may want to check into renting scooters?

30 Stacey Lewis { 09.03.12 at 3:40 am }

Hi Dave
Going to Disney world for 8 nights in may 2013, still hesitating to book, as I don’t won’t to be dissapointed. We have two children 7 and 10 and this will be a once in a lifetime trip. We are looking at AOA as it looks like it’s got great kids appeal. Do you think, if we book a Finding nemo family suite that there would be some quiter room in that section, I know Lion king looks like it would be quiter but I like the look of the nemo rooms. Also we are going through a travel agent, does travel agents usually get cheaper prices, it is just that the prices for them are not in yet for May 2013, but I worry we will miss out on a family suite. lOVE YOUR SITE

31 Dave { 09.03.12 at 7:59 am }

Stacey…there’s no missing prices for May 2013, so you need a new travel agent–look for a Disney Authorized Vacation Planner (there’s a form on the right side of this site for the travels agents I partner with.)

Travel agents in general can’t get you a better deal than you could get yourself–they just save you the time it would take for you to find one and set it all up yourself…

There are quieter rooms in Nemo, but no guarantee you’ll be in one of them

Hope this helps and thanks for the kind words about the site!

32 Joanne { 09.10.12 at 4:38 pm }

Hello Dave,
Joanne again…our trip(s) to Little Mermaid are coming up fast! I am anxiously awaiting your review and to find out if there are coffee makers in the regular rooms. 4 caffeine addicted adults + 2 kids and poor no-coffee husband would not fare well without them. I know that it won’t be until later next week but hopefully before I head down on the 22nd. Looking forward to some ‘finished’ photos too – all AoA news has dried up lately. I make my room request call on Wednesday to ask for connecting rooms and hoprfully to get building 7. It never hurts to ask and maybe for a First Visit I will be granted some extra pixie dust!

33 Dave { 09.10.12 at 5:07 pm }

Hey Joanne! None of the other standard value rooms have coffee makers, so I would bet that these don’t either…I hope to post the review while I’m there!

34 gary { 09.27.12 at 12:48 pm }

Are there balconys at a&a like pop century Thanks

35 Dave { 09.27.12 at 12:57 pm }

Hey Gary–none of the value or moderate resorts, including Pop and AofA, has balconies…

36 Solomani { 10.10.12 at 2:33 am }

Are the “noisy” rooms quieter during the winter months? Will be there in early December but I am not sure how much use the pools get in wintery months in Florida. I guess a lot less then summer.

37 Dave { 10.10.12 at 9:43 am }

Not really, as little kids make their parents go to the pools in all weather except when it’s below 50! December weather is quite variable and can be lovely or cold–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/ and this http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/high-temperatures-year-round/

38 Solomani { 10.10.12 at 9:34 pm }

Thanks. I have 4 kids I doubt the pool can beat them out on the decibels 🙂 Will risk a nemo suite as that’s the only comprise suite for all my kids (and me – I don’t think I could handle the Mermaid room and the Lion King seems dull compared to Cars and Nemo)

39 Mamsa { 10.11.12 at 6:52 pm }

You sound like the expert on Disney accommodation! So my question for you as an Aussie who has never been to the USA let alone Disney World, what would you recommend for a family of 5 first timers (2 adults and girls aged 9, 11, 13) for a 7 day stay in late January 2013. My head is hurting form all the information I am sifting through online and I still feel like I am no closer to a decision. Any advice you can offer would be wonderful…..

40 Dave { 10.11.12 at 7:56 pm }

Hi Mamsa, your budget will have an effect on this, so give me a hint on that.

Because you are 5, no value room will fit except the two family suites, and of the moderates really only Fort Wilderness Cabins, unless your 9yo is short and light for her age, in which case the Alligator Bayou section of Port Orleans Riverside will work. Most of the deluxes–not Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge–will fit 5.

See this for some floor plans of larger spaces: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/22/bed-types-and-sleeping-space-layouts-at-walt-disney-world-resort-hotels/ and this for my rankings in order: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/26/walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-reviews/

41 Mamsa { 10.13.12 at 8:48 pm }

Hi Dave, The deluxe resorts are within our price range but for me it is more about the “Disney experience”…..I want it to be amazing for my kids and as long as the accommodation is comfortable for 5 and the service is top notch then that’s what I will go for.

42 Dave { 10.14.12 at 8:32 am }

Mamsa, then for the full Disney experience you want the Polynesian, or a Deluxe Room at Wilderness Lodge…see http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/19/review-disneys-polynesian-resort/ and http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/29/review-deluxe-rooms-at-disneys-wilderness-lodge/

43 Jesse { 10.16.12 at 1:08 am }

Your site is awesome, thank you! I’ve spent about 15 hours on it the last 4 nights. Based one your week recommendations we’re planing to come with our 5 and 7 year old girls Dec. 8-18 2012. I’m trying to decide where to stay because all the hotels are on sale. Art of A Suite $2683, Animal Kingdom $2497, Polynesian $3571 and Wilderness Lodge $3395 (all deluxe are standard rooms) I don’t care about fine dining or room service, more so about convenience. Is it really worth the extra $1500 for the Polynesian and if not should I go Art of Animation or Animal Kingdom because they’re about the same price? Also the character meals seem to be mostly all booked because I’m doing this fairly last minute. If you phone Disney Dining is there any chance they hold a certain number of tables in reserve or anything?
Thanks again,

44 Dave { 10.16.12 at 6:44 am }

Hi Jesse and thanks! In your spot, just for value I’d pick WL. AofA and AKL are much less convenient than it to MK, which is where you’d be focused with kids that age. The Poly is more convenient still, but maybe not $1500 worth. And no, they don’t hold any tables in reserve…if they stay booked, all you can hope for is to walk up and take advantage of last minute cancellations. Do, however, check 24 hours before–because some charge a no show fee if a reservation isn’t cancelled by 24 hours before, there can be cancellations and openings in the system the day before…

45 Troy { 10.21.12 at 1:38 am }

Dave–

Re-reading your review, you mentioned that at the time you visited back in June, A of A had buses to itself. Any idea if that’s still the case? (fingers crossed)

46 Dave { 10.21.12 at 7:24 am }

Hi Troy, it was as of my visit in late Sept!

47 Troy { 10.27.12 at 9:11 pm }

So what’s the approximate time to get from A of A to each of the parks? (just to get a roundabout idea of how long to allow or expect)

48 Dave { 10.28.12 at 11:31 am }

Troy, once you are on the bus, figure twenty minutes or less. You can wait up to 20 minutes for the bus, if you just missed one…

49 Tom { 10.29.12 at 11:50 am }

@Troy: considering that AoA is right next door to POP, my best guess is that from there till MK you’ll be in 20 minutes, just as Dave mentions. It usually took 25 minutes from Pop to MK, and AoA is a bit nearear. All other parks should be in less than that time, considering that MK is the farthest. Cheers

50 Troy { 10.30.12 at 11:58 pm }

Thanks, Dave!

51 Dave { 10.31.12 at 11:59 am }

🙂

52 Aimee { 01.18.13 at 5:06 pm }

Hi Dave, Thanks for all the useful info!! We are a family with 2 adults, 1 child (5) and a baby. We are considering staying at the AoA given our children both still nap and we wanted a suite on the Disney properties.

Questions:
(1) We looked into renting a house/condo and the prices are way cheaper, but I have been told that it’s quite a trek to get to the parking lot (is that true)?

(2) For AoA, we will likely not be using the pool. We have read that the Nemo family suites are the loudest, so avoid those if we want a quiet stay. We will likely go with a Cars family suite or Lion King family suite. The most important thing to us is proximity to the bus stops. Would you say Building #1 (Cars) or Building #10 (Lion King) is closer to the bus stops? From looking at their map online, it appears that Building #10 is closer, but it’s hard to tell e.g not sure if there are diff walkways etc.

(3) Do you know of any guests experience at AoA facing bed bugs or roaches??? I have been scouring the Trip Advisor “terrible/poor” reviews to see if anyone mentioned anything about creepy crawlies. So far, I didn’t come across any. But wanted to ask you given your experience. I always ask this question, even for high end resorts we stay at.

Thanks so much!!

53 Aimee { 01.18.13 at 5:07 pm }

BTW I forgot to mention, it’s our first time going to Disney World!! =) My hubby and I have gone to Disneyland before.

54 Aimee { 01.18.13 at 5:12 pm }

Sorry, one last question (for now) =)

(4) We are also considering Saratoga given it’s a Deluxe resort, and we can get a 1-bedroom villa with a full kitchen for $462/night all in cost. AoA Family suite would be $351/night all in cost. What are your thoughts of Saratoga vs. AoA. Trying to get a sense whether we are willing to pay the premium. The full kitchen vs. kitchenette is one bonus. Is Saratoga a closer ride to Magic Kingdom than AoA? Does Saratoga have “shared” buses. I read on your site that AoA has its own buses which is a plus. Thanks again!!

55 Aimee { 01.18.13 at 5:19 pm }

Sorry, honestly last question for today!! I have done so much web searching about Disney and have multiple pages of notes, my head is spinning. I’m so glad I found your website!!

(5) We usually stay at hotels such as the Westin. Would you say the cleanliness at AoA compares to a Westin/Hilton? My only hesitation with AoA right now is that it’s called a “value” resort. We don’t need any gym/spa/fitness room amenities. Just wanted a clean/new resort to stay in. And the decor is a big bonus as my older child will LOVE it. Wanted to get a sense of the difference between “deluxe” vs “value”. If it’s just less amenities and farther away from Magic Kingdom, then I’m ok with that. If there’s a cleanliness difference, we may opt to spend more for Deluxe.

THANKS!!

56 Dave { 01.19.13 at 8:05 am }

Hiya Aimee! On your questions:

1) Depends on location. Some are near-ish, some more distant. You’ll certainly need a car, which you don’t if you stay on site.

2) Ten on average is closer, but there’s part of ten (facing inside, nearer Nemo) that can be quite loud. I’d ask for an upper floor lake view in building 6…you may be a minute further from the bus stop, but it will be quieter and lovelier.

3) Disney has 30,000 hotel rooms, so just on the odds there’s gotta be bugs here and there now and then. That said, I have no credible reports of any problems at AofA…

Hope this helps!

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57 Dave { 01.19.13 at 8:11 am }

Hi again Aimee! Saratoga Springs sprawls and as a result has 4 bus stops. I rate it almost last for convenience–see http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/next-best-resort-choices/picking-your-resort-based-on-convenience/resorts-ranked-by-convenience/walt-disney-world-resorts-ranked-by-convenience-continued/ If you are considering a villa, OKW is a better choice than SS. While it is also distant and sprawling and with many bus stops, its rooms are much better than SS, and are usually at the same price. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/17/review-disneys-old-key-west-resort/

The tradeoff of either with AofA is tough because of the much higher kid appeal, and slightly higher convenience, of AofA, vs much better rooms, a kitchen, and a washer and dryer at OKW.

58 Dave { 01.19.13 at 8:16 am }

Aimee, keep the questions coming! Not only am a glad to help you, but thousands of people actually read these questions and answers and some have the same questions themselves!

For a partial comparison of the resort offerings, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/03/01/what-you-get-at-disney-world-resort-hotels-by-price/ But the difference is not cleanliness. It’s room size, bed size, staffing levels in the guest-service functions, linen and fabrics and pillows, landscaping and decorations….the Family Suites at AofA beat non-villa deluxes on rooms size of course…distance from the Magic Kingdom is not a universal positive for the deluxes–only for the monorail deluxes and Wilderness Lodge…

59 Aimee { 01.19.13 at 10:25 am }

AWESOME!!! Thx Dave for the timely response. Your answers really helped us narrow down our decisions. We are planning to go w/ AoA, just getting our agent to help w/ the final quotes and details. Thx for the tip about lakeview for Building #6 at AoA. Pros with AoA family suite as you said, major kid appeal and more convenient than Saratoga and OKW. Yes, it will be a tradeoff…the kitchen and washer/dryer would have been pluses. But we imagine we’ll be at the theme park most of the time given it’s our first time, so AoA’s kitchenette will do. Thx for copying and pasting those helpful links above. I read through them. Will message again if I have more Qs (which I’m sure I will!) =)

60 Dave { 01.19.13 at 12:04 pm }

Glad to help, Aimee!

61 Jen Villa { 01.19.13 at 2:50 pm }

Dave-
Impressed by your site and even more impressed by your responses to questions, etc. We are going to WDW April 24 – May 1 and currently have a reservation at AofA. Currently there is 30% off offer at Wilderness Lodge and would put us about the same price as our current reservation or I could bump up to a suite. We have 2 children ages 3 and 6. AofA looks amazing, colorful and I heard the pool is awesome – however I do want to consider convenience in traveling back and forth most afternoons for a rest of dip in the pool. What would you recommend? Thanks for your help!

62 Dave { 01.20.13 at 8:27 am }

Hi Jen, and thanks!

This is a very close call, so don’t pay too much attention to what I say (no one else does!), but here it is:

If your kids were older, I’d say WL, but at those ages AofA is probably a better choice. The theming at WL is spectacular, but it’s just a little more grown up, so I’d hold it until your youngest is say 5 or so. Transportation is a mixed bag–WL is more convenient to MK, but not more convenient to the other three parks.

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63 Fred Wolters { 01.21.13 at 11:01 am }

are there towels at the pools at the Art of Animation?

64 Dave { 01.22.13 at 7:11 am }

Hi Fred! In general, expect there to be no towels at the pools at the value resorts like AofA. (Sometimes there are–but don’t expect them to be there.) So you bring your room towels–calling housekeeping if this means you need more.

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65 Lauren { 01.29.13 at 7:20 pm }

Dave – this is an amazing website … Appreciate all the advice!! Once you get a bus from the AofA, how long does it take to get to the parks?!? Ex: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, etc?! Thanks so much!!!

66 Dave { 01.30.13 at 5:37 am }

Hi Lauren and thanks! Rolling time is about 15 minutes to MK, a little less to HS and Epcot, and a little more to AK.

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67 Kim { 02.08.13 at 5:18 pm }

Hi Dave. I was looking to see which bldg is closer and faces the pool area. It’s our 1st trip & staying @ Art of Anim standard Little Mermaid..we would like a balcony room viewing pool..any room ideas? thank you & really love your website & all the tips 🙂

68 Dave { 02.09.13 at 2:01 pm }

Hi Kim, for which parts of which buildings at Little Mermaid are best, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/23/review-standard-little-mermaid-rooms-disneys-art-animation-resort/ None have balconies, though–no Disney value or moderate resorts have balconies.

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69 neil & sue { 02.24.13 at 5:53 pm }

Hi Dave. what a top website mate. we are planning a 10 day visit in Feb 2014 and were weighing up between a suite at SS or a family suite at AofA. we are now pretty sure that aofa is the way forward as our children will be 7 and 4 and will appreciate the cars decor more than ss and the additional space aofa will give us. the only thing that would change our mind is the bus transportation…please tell us that aofa still doesnt share the buses with any other hotel…..cheers

70 Dave { 02.24.13 at 6:53 pm }

Thanks Neil and Sue! Buses aren’t shared–so far–at AofA. Even if things change and they are–which I doubt will happen–AofA’ll still be better–with at most two bus stops–than the buses at SS, where there are four stops…

71 E.E.R { 04.19.13 at 1:31 am }

Dave
I’m planning on visiting for 3 days. Have a 7year old,3 year old, two 15 month olds and my husband. We were originally planning on staying at fort wilderness cabins but am now thinking of AOA. We are planning to go to magic kingdom for 1 full day and then take advantage of the time at the resort we will be staying at. We are planning on visiting early June. Which one would you suggest to stay at.? Which one has more activities within for children.? Also which way is the cheapest to book right now? Do you know if being a AAA MEMBER saves more money than another booking? Website? Thanks so much. Hope to hear from you soon.

72 Dave { 04.19.13 at 7:55 am }

Hi, all the Disney deals for early June have expired, and I don’t know if you’ll find good rates anyplace else. It’s worth trying AAA, and also see this: http://www.mousesavers.com/walt-disney-world-vacation-discounts-and-deals/disney-world-resort-hotel-discounts-codes/

If your dates are movable, there’s a deal out for later June–but crowds will also be higher then. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/04/02/new-disney-world-deal-for-summer-2013/

Fort Wilderness has a nice mix of fun dining like Hoop Dee Doo–whihc might be sold out–campground activities, and movies. The cabins also have full kitchens. AofA has more Disney-style kid appeal, and is cheaper.

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73 Danelle { 07.23.13 at 2:57 pm }

Hi Dave,
We currently have reservation sept 29 -oct 6 at Port Orleans riverside. We tried switching over to the military rate now that they have been released but no availability for the 5 person room which we need. How does A of A compare to the riverside. We have never been to Disney World and are traveling with 3 boys (5,8,10) . We are also holding out for free dining it seems like it might be a better deal Just want your optioning in how the 2 hotels stack up against each other.

74 Dave { 07.24.13 at 6:55 am }

Hi Danelle!

First, there’s a detailed comparison between them (and also among some other options) here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

Second, have you considered Shades of Green? Not nearly as much fun as a WDW resort, but it easily fits 5, and will likely be your least expensive option other than free dining– see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/02/22/review-shades-of-green-resort-at-walt-disney-world/

Note that if you book Shades, no free dining, and if you book a value resort like AofA, your “free” dining will be quick service dining. Figuring out which among these will be the best deal for your family is no easy trick…

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75 April { 03.15.14 at 5:27 pm }

Any dining deals right now that you know of? Was thinking of staying at AofA since Shades is booked up and we haven’t ever stayed at AofA. Praying no bed bugs (saw a report online that I’m not sure if I believe or not). Any tips on AofA dining or things that we must do there? Kids are 13, 10 and 3. Thanks.

76 Dave { 03.16.14 at 8:11 am }

April, there’s been no free dining at all so far in 2014. Are you thinking of a family suite at AofA–as they won;t allow you to book 5 in the Little Mermaid rooms…? And don’t worry about bedbugs. Like at every other hotel in the world, they can happen, but Disney is pretty on top of them.

77 ChrisB { 05.05.14 at 10:14 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are planning on booking a Family Suite for last week of Sept and utilizing the Free Dining plan when it comes out this week. Any thoughts on the different sections (Cars, Nemo, Lion King) for convenience, kid appeal, noise, etc.? My wife and I and our 5 yr old daughter will be staying for a week. Much Thanks.

78 Dave { 05.06.14 at 7:12 am }

Chris, the Lion King is the quietest area, and a pool view room in building 6 is the best choice!

79 Kristy { 08.17.14 at 8:01 pm }

Hi Dave, I love your website. I’m wondering what types of rooms connect at the AofA. Can you get a family suite that connects to a standard room or is it only suite to suite and standard to standard?

80 Dave { 08.18.14 at 12:51 pm }

Kristy, the only connects at AofA are between Little Mermaid rooms. Those and suites are in completely different buildings, and suites don’t connect among themselves.

81 Sarah { 03.03.15 at 3:53 pm }

Hi! We are planning a trip to Disney in April of 2016 and we are early risers. I’d like to take advantage of the morning EMH, and take breaks mid day before returning for fireworks, but our friends just got back and said it took them nearly an hour taking the buses to the parks from AofA! That would give us 4 hours almost every day on the bus. Eek! Can you put my mind at ease? Is it worth the mid day breaks? Thanks!!

82 Dave { 03.03.15 at 5:06 pm }

Sarah, I’ve stayed at AofA six times. The buses take about 20 minutes, and depart ~ every 20 minutes. So 30-40 minutes is a good planning figure.

83 Terry { 05.24.15 at 11:52 am }

We are going either in late February or early May. 4 adults( 2 of which are grandparents) and 2 children ages 6 & 8. One adult has a disability(mobility) so may need some down time. We were thinking of 2 suites at Art of Animation. Saw your comments re Lion King – if children are set on Nemo or Cars what is the best location. Do you have any other suggestions?

84 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 05.25.15 at 8:43 pm }

HI Terry, I’m Kelly, the dedicated Destinations in Florida Travel Agent for Your First Visit. I have to say that Finding Nemo gets my vote. If you have a boy and a girl, I think the Nemo suites are a bit more appealing for both (and this mom likes them better too). They are close to everything. If you’ll email at kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com, I can send you are great video that Disney Parks made about the AoA resort. Sometimes seeing the resort gives you a better feel for it.

85 Dave { 05.26.15 at 8:02 am }

Terry, Nemo is more convenient, but more subject to pool noise. For either, also select “close to transportation” when you do on-line check in as some rooms especially in building 2 of Cars are further away than you want.

86 Pam { 06.21.15 at 1:30 pm }

Hi..We are planning a family vacation Thanksgiving thru Dec. 1 of this year. It will be my husband and I….Daughter/husband and 2 children 2 and 6 mo. …..daughter/husband 4 kids…7,5,4,and 2…..suggestions?? Thanks so much!

87 Dave { 06.22.15 at 9:14 am }

Pam, I’m sorry, but I think I need a more specific question–suggestions re what?

88 Pam { 06.22.15 at 3:45 pm }

Sorry…..I should have been more specific….. where to stay……. which breakfast with the characters should we do….
Thanks so much…….We could afford the one of the deluxe hotels, but didn’t know if the kids would enjoy A of A better

89 Dave { 06.24.15 at 7:08 am }

Pam, either start on the home page and work your way through its topics, or read my book.

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