Lately, my vacations have led me to many stays at Pop Century — which has become a surprising home away from home. But it’s always a treat when the opportunity pops up to try a new resort at Walt Disney World. So when planning a group trip for November meant a stay at the Art of Animation Finding Nemo family suites, I was pumped! Not only would I get to experience something new, but I was just a bridge walk away from hanging out in Pop Century if I wanted to. (Double the food options, double the spots to wander.)
My time at Pop Century was definitely a bonus in this instance because Art of Animation is basically set up the same. Different theme, different characters, and closed hallways compared to open but other than that… mirror images. (It was pretty uncanny because once I stepped inside Art for the first time, it felt like I had been there before.)
For those who aren’t aware, The Little Mermaid building is the only one that houses standard sized rooms. The Cars, Finding Nemo, and Lion King buildings are full of family suites which include two full-sized bathrooms, a queen size bed in a separate room, and a couch and table that both fold down to double-sized beds. For 6 people, like my group, and I mean, six normal sized grown up people, it was the perfect solution for a resort pick.
Plus, our view was pretty snazzy. (I’m a sucker for water at a resort. Makes it that much better.)
For a value-priced resort, Art of Animation was spectacularly themed. Still in that bright, kids way like most of the other value resorts but there’s definitely an extra touch of creativity in the rooms. From the mirror to the shower curtain to even the light fixture. The room would make even the biggest naysayer in your party smile.
The only downfall — and once I’ve noticed at the All-Star Resorts too — is a noisy hallway. People waking up early to head to the airport or to be first in line at the parks. Even if they are being super quiet, there are still strollers and stomping and those kind of fun things. We didn’t sleep in much on this trip and frankly, I slept pretty terribly the entire time but I was woken up each morning due to the thin walls and all the foot traffic. Not exactly the most relaxing.
Okay, maybe there were two and again, this could have been because of Veteran’s Day weekend, Wine & Dine runners, or kissing Food & Wine goodbye but the bus situation was hectic. One morning, Jenn and I tried to leave for Hollywood Studios, saw a huge line, walked to Pop Century, found the same situation, ended up getting on a bus to Downtown Disney, which led us to two other places before we actually go to Hollywood Studios. We realized when we made it to the gate, we probably should have stood on the original line. But it was one of the worst I had ever seen. (Again, the lines in general during this weekend were not so great.) Sidenote: all the parks were relatively close by; Magic Kingdom was the longest ride.
A cool pool bar always makes me a happy camper, and spectacularly named The Drop Off was no exception. I, surprisingly, had a great time at the All-Star Movies pool bar last year and, later in the spring, when I hung out at the Pop Century bar. These bartenders are always so nice, and there are always some adults hanging out. (It’s not all kids, I promise!) Taking a seat and sipping on drinks was our last group activity of our Wine & Dine trip… and I’m glad we took the time. (Although, my cool Kona and that weather made it even harder to think about waking in New York the next morning.)
Another bonus of staying on-property, even at the value resorts, is that there is still so much to look at. If you need a break or to clear your head (especially if you have a young child and want to roll them around for a bit in a place that isn’t a crowded theme park), there are so many nooks and crannies to explore. At Art of Animation, you can stop into all the different wings (I wish I had more time to do this) — each one looks exactly how you would imagine a movie set — or sit in the lobby and stare at all the drawings. (I do wish there was more seating here. I would have liked to come down here with a book at night.)
My one regret? It was never warm enough for us to try the pool. I wanted to hear the underwater sounds. As fate would have it the warmest day of our trip was the last one and there was just zero time to fit it in.
Oh well. It just means I’ll have to make my way back there someday.