For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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A Change in the Top-Ranked Value Resort

By Dave Shute


From when this site opened until yesterday, Disney’s Pop Century Resort had been its #1 recommended value resort for first time family visitors.

Not anymore.

Having stayed in its standard 4 person Little Mermaid rooms last week, I’ve moved Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to the top of the list. 


Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

Art of Animation is–by far–the most kid appealing of the value resorts. This kid appeal comes from several factors:

  • Its theming is based on four wonderful–and wonderfully popular–movies: The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Cars
  • The theming is not just about larger than life images, like at the other value resorts; rather, entire ranges of the resort are themed to resemble the physical settings of these movies
  • The theming is also deeply present in the rooms themselves

Before the Little Mermaid section, which contains all of Art of Animation’s 4 person rooms opened, there was some concern it might be too “girly” for boys.  As noted in more detail here, I can confirm it is just fine for boys!

These rooms are also a little further from the main resort resources in and near Animation Hall than anyone would like, but this is not enough of a convenience problem to shake the high ranking that comes from its kid appeal.

So there it is, a new number one!  I’ve changed most of the relevant pages from Pop to Art (more than a hundred them…) and as part of updating this site’s budgets and such will begin doing Art of Animation in the budgets, rather than Pop Century.

For a review of Art of Animation standard rooms, see this; for its family suites, see this.



1 Stacey Lewis { 09.24.12 at 3:50 pm }

Hi Dave
I am still tossing up between the Lion King Room and Finding Nemo, I have two children 10 and 7, I was hoping for a quiterarea, so that why you suggested to say in Lion KIng, but I really like the look of the Finding Nemo rooms. In section 5 of finding nemo do you think I would find I quiter room in this area, and If not what would be the best area in Lion KIng.
Thanks Stacey

2 Dave { 09.24.12 at 6:01 pm }

Stacey the key to Nemo is to ask for a floor in either building above the first floor and with a view of Hourglass Lake. This will avoid both hall and pool noise.

In the Lion King, they are showing a movie at night in the courtyard area just to the left of the circle in the sidewalk that separates Lion King from Animation Hall. Because of that, ask for an Hourglass Lake view in building 6 higher than the 1st floor to avoid the hall and movie noise!

3 Patti Persia from Destinations in Florida { 09.26.12 at 9:31 am }

I agree, Art of Animation is superb! you will be completely immersed in some of yours and your childs favorite movies. These are also a great option for families traveling with boys!

4 Dave { 09.26.12 at 11:11 am }

Patti–I also think the Little Mermaid rooms are just fine for boys, having stayed in them last week–see this:

5 Leanette { 09.27.12 at 5:38 pm }

We were lucky enough to book the Little Mermaid for our trip at the end of November. The walk from the room to the main hall has been a pretty big concern for me though. We visited Disney for the first time last year and had a preferred room at the Pop Century Resort. I can definitely see why it’s called “preferred,” especially after a long day of walking. Do you think the distance from the Little Mermaid rooms to the Animation Hall should be something to worry about or is the walk worth it? It will just be my husband and I so we’re not toting around any children and all the goodies that go with them. 🙂 Thank you for your informative review!!

6 Dave { 09.28.12 at 10:19 am }

Hi Leannette, each way the walk is about 5 extra minutes compared to the closer buildings…

7 stephanie { 09.28.12 at 11:27 pm }

We have a little mermaid room booked in early february. Do you have a recommendation in regard to the best room location? Is this something you can request? Or is it luck of the draw?

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