The Best Disney Resort for Toddlers: Art of Animation

Disney offers a variety of resorts for all interests and budgets, but none of them feel more like Disney than the Art of Animation Resort. After years of staying with family in the Orlando area, we finally had a chance to stay at a Disney resort on our most recent trip to Orlando. Not only is the Art of Animation one of Disney’s best value resorts, but it’s also the best Disney resort for toddlers. (And kids of any age, really!)

Keep reading for our full Art of Animation Resort review, including our experience staying in a Cars Family Suite.

Note: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort reopened on November 1, 2020. You can find more information on Walt Disney World’s phased reopening and additional safety precautions here.

Disney Art of Animation Resort Toddling Traveler

Disclaimer: Toddling Traveler participates in the Amazon Affiliates and other affiliate programs. That means we may earn a commission for qualifying purchases through our links.

Table of Contents: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Review

Overview of the Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which originally opened in May of 2012, is one of Disney’s “Value Resort” properties. Most Disney value resorts tend to have more basic rooms and amenities, but they’re still packed with Disney magic throughout. Unlike some of the other value resorts, a majority of the rooms at Art of Animation are larger family suites.

If you’re looking for a Disney resort with the best Disney theming, it’s definitely the Art of Animation. From the minute you enter the lobby, you’re greeted with the both black and white and color drawings that highlight the animation process.

The Art of Animation Resort layout includes the dining area and main pool off the hotel lobby. The Art of Animation Resort rooms are then divided into four sections based on popular Disney movies. They include the Cars Movie, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid and Lion King.

You can find an Art of Animation Resort map here.

Lion King Disney Art of Animation Best Disney Resort for Toddlers Toddling Traveler

Disney’s Art of Animation Rooms

The Disney animation theming carries well into the rooms at the Art of Animation Resort. There are over 1,200 Art of Animation family suites, making up a majority of the resort’s rooms. They include the Lion King Family Suite, the Finding Nemo Family Suite and the Cars Family Suite. We stayed at the Disney Art of Animation Cars Family Suite. It’s adorably themed and super spacious.

The family suites at the Art of Animation Resort in Disney World sleep up to 6 people. The Art of Animation family suites layout includes a spacious living room, a dining area and a separate bedroom. There are two bathrooms in the Art of Animation family suites. (One of which has a bathtub- always a plus when traveling with kids!) In the main living area of the Art of Animation suites, there’s a sofa bed as well as a dining table that pulls out into a bed. There’s also a kitchenette with a mini fridge and microwave along with paper towels, plates, bowls and plastic utensils.

If you don’t need a family suite at Disney World, the Art of Animation Little Mermaid room is a standard room that sleeps up to 4. The bed choices in the Little Mermaid rooms are either 1 king sized bed or 2 double beds. While the Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms have a mini fridge like all Disney World Resort rooms, it does not have a microwave and larger wet bar area like the family suites.

Best Disney Resort for Toddlers Disney Animation Resort Cars Family Suite Toddling Traveler

Tip: How to Save Money at the Disney Resorts

If you’re looking for one of the best ways to save money at Disney World, grocery delivery to Disney World Resorts is an option. This is especially great for bottled water, drinks, snacks and breakfast foods if you want to save time and money while at the parks.

While Disney World offers grocery delivery, Instacart grocery delivery is typically a less expensive option. (Especially if you already use it at home.) For $10 off your first Instacart delivery, feel free to use our Instacart referral code AEMMERLING18D112 or click here to sign up.

Related Post: The Best Things to Buy Before Going to Disney World

Cars Family Suite at Art of Animation

Visiting Disney World with toddlers? The themed family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort make it the best Disney World resort for toddlers (and really, kids of any age!) At the time that we booked, our son was really into the Cars movie. That made the Disney Art of Animation resort Cars suite an easy choice for us.

From the minute you enter Cars Family Suite at Art of Animation, there are so many fun movie details around the room. To the left of the door, there’s a dining table that’s covered in bumper stickers from different places in the movie. The table for 4 folds down into a double bed. The living room has a sofa bed that resembles leather car seats from an antique car. It also turns into a second double bed. The coffee table contains a map of Route 66, and even the light fixtures are adorned with cone shapes. The kitchenette area and extra closet space also resembles a tool bench.

The bathrooms in the Cars suite also have fun Cars themed details. The first bathroom in the main living area contains a bathtub with Red the fire truck on the shower curtain. Both bathroom sinks read “Car Wash” across the top of the mirror with “Spiffy in a Jiffy” across the sink. The shower in the master bedroom also has some fun car wash details. Even the tiles in the bathrooms have marks that resemble tire tracks, leaving no detail unturned. We also love the H2O bath products at the Disney World Resorts.

The Cars section of the Art of Animation Resort is made up of three buildings. Each one has it’s own life size car replicas in front of it. We were in Building 2, which had the Wheel Well Court with Lightening McQueen and Sally right outside.

Pools at the Art of Animation Resort

There are three pools at the Art of Animation Resort, including two smaller pools and one larger pool. The Cozy Cone Pool is located in the Cars section and replicates the Cozy Cone motel from the movie. (With the cones serving as cabanas.) The Flippin’ Fin Pool is inspired by the Little Mermaid and houses Sebastian’s Under the Sea orchestra.

The Big Blue Pool is the central, focal point of the resort. It’s also the largest pool in Walt Disney World, which is one of the reasons Art of Animation is considered the best Disney World resort for families. It’s covered in sea life inspired by the Finding Nemo movie. From jellyfish to a large sea turtle and stingray, there’s no detail left unturned. While there are no water slides at Disney’s Value Resorts, there’s a great splash pad at the Art of Animation’s main pool known as the Schoolyard Sprayground. (Another reason why this is the best Disney resort with toddlers.)

Note: The Big Blue Pool is scheduled to close for repairs from January 11, 2021 until early April 2021. During that time the other pools and splash pad will remain open.

The Drop Off Pool Bar at Art of Animation is also connected to the pool. It offers several common and specialty drinks. If you’re hungry while swimming at the Big Blue Pool, the Landscape of Flavors restaurant is adjacent to it.

Play Areas at the Art of Animation Resort

In addition to the fun pools, there are some great play areas at the Art of Animation that make it the best Disney resort for families. Outdoors, the Righteous Reef Playground at Art of Animation is a popular place for kids. There are a handful of slides and areas to climb that are just for toddlers. (One of many reasons why Art of Animation is the best Disney resort for toddlers!)

In the Lion King Section, you’ll find several Lion King characters throughout. They include Timon, Pumba, Scar, Rafiki, Simba and more. Our toddler also loved running through the tunnel at the Elephant Graveyard. The Little Mermaid section is the furthest from the lobby. While the Little Mermaid area doesn’t have any designated play areas, there’s still some cute theming throughout.

More Fun Things to Do at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

  • Daily activities including movies under the stars, campfires, bedtime stories and more.
  • Running trail: A 1.38 mile jogging trail at Art of Animation that goes around the property
  • Pixel Play Arcade: One of several arcades at Disney that’s open 24 hours
  • There’s also a children’s area in the lobby that plays Disney shows on repeat. It’s great for keeping kids occupied while parents are checking in or out.
Coral Reef Playground at Art of Animation Resort Best Disney Resort for Toddlers

Dining at the Art of Animation Resort

Dining at Disney value resorts typically includes a food court style restaurant, a pool bar and pizza delivery. The main restaurant at Disney’s Art of Animation is called Landscapes of Flavor. Food options at the Art of Animation include Italian, a grill area with burgers and chicken and an area that serves a variety of cuisines from around the world. The entire restaurant is quick service, with grab and go selections, a bakery and gelato.

Landscape of Flavor is open for breakfast at 6am for grab-and-go items and hot breakfast is served starting at 7am. If you’re starting your day extra early for the parks, you can still grab several items on your way out. Lunch and dinner at Landscape of Flavor offer essentially the same menu, with additional specials added for dinner.

Did you know you can also get pizza delivery at most value and moderate Disney resorts? The Art of Animation pizza delivery service is available nightly from 5pm- midnight. It’s a great option if you’ve had a long day at the parks and just want to eat a relaxing dinner in your room. The Drop Off Pool Bar also offers a few snacks including soft serve ice cream.

Looking for a sit down restaurant near the Art of Animation? You can take the skyliner to the Caribbean Beach resort or the Disney’s Riviera Resort. There are also several options at the nearby boardwalk. The Ale & Compass Restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort by the boardwalk is one of the best restaurants at Disney’s Boardwalk.

Art of Animation Resort Restaurant Landscape of Flavors Toddling Traveler

Additional Art of Animation Resort Amenities

It’s no surprise that Walt Disney World Resorts aren’t cheap. But there’s so much included in the the cost of your stay at a Disney property. Below are a few additional amenities at Art of Animation.

  • Disney’s Magical Express is available at the Art of Animation resort. This Disney resort airport transportation is free and easy to use. Depending on which airline you’re flying, you can also check your bags directly at the resort when returning home. (A huge win if you’re visiting Disney World with young children!) Note: There isn’t a specific Disney Magical Express Reservation form. You can either reserve Disney’s Magical Express at the time of booking or you can call the Walt Disney World Resort number at 407-939-5277 to have it added.
  • Free transportation to and from the Parks. The Art of Animation is one of few Disney resorts with skyliner gondola access. That makes getting to Epcot and Hollywood Studios from Art of Animation fun and super easy. Disney buses are the main form of transportation for getting to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom from Art of Animation.
  • Magical Extras including a free round of Disney mini golf and extra discounts are also included in your stay.
  • There are 3 self-service laundry rooms at Art of Animation available for an extra fee. Valet laundry service and dry cleaning are available through housekeeping as well.
  • In room babysitting at Art of Animation resort is also available for an additional fee. See here for more information.

Checking into a Disney Resort

Guests staying on Disney World property can start the check-in process 30 days prior to their stay. The initial process to check-in online at your Disney Resort allows you to input the selections below.

  • Room preference including proximity to transportation, water or fireworks views, first available and others depending on your resort
  • Payment options allow you to add a credit card on file and select if you want to make payments through your magic band during your stay. With Disney’s additional health measures in place, cashless forms of payment are recommended.
  • Historically, Disney also provided guests the ability to forego housekeeping during their stay in exchange for a gift card. If housekeeping is declined, you’ll receive a $10 gift card for every night. (Your first night does not count toward this.) So if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort for 6 nights, you’re eligible to receive a $50 gift card.

Additional Information on Checking in at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

If you arrive at the resort before the standard Disney World Resort check-in time of 3pm, you’re able to check bags outside of the lobby and notify the staff of your arrival. You have the option of either picking up your bags or having them delivered to your room for your arrival.

Not sure what to do while waiting to check into the Art of Animation hotel? If you’re not ready to head to the parks, you can use the resort’s pool and dining areas, ride the skyliner or visit the nearby Disney Boardwalk.

Once your room is ready, you’ll receive both an email and text notification. While early check in at Disney World Resorts is never a guarantee, it may be possible depending on availability.

Disney’s Art of Animation Room Rates

After reading this, you may be wondering, how much does it cost to stay at the Art of Animation Resort? Keep in mind that while Disney World Resort rates are published in rate calendars annually, they’re subject to change at any time. As of 2020, the Art of Animation Cars Family Suite and Lion King Family Suite rates range from $407 per night to as high $679 per night over Christmas. The Finding Nemo family suite cost is slightly higher at about $20 more per night on average.

The Little Mermaid Standard room rates start at $188 at the lowest. They can be as high as $302 during the holidays.

For the most up to date Art of Animation room prices and availability, go here.

Overall Impression of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at the Art of Animation Resort and would definitely stay there again.

Some of the best things about staying at the Art of Animation Resort include:

  • The Disney theming throughout the resort can’t be beat.
  • The pool area and playground are great for little kids.
  • The family suites are perfect if you have a family of 5 or 6.
  • The Landscape of Flavors offers a lot of options and the quick service is great if you’re spending a lot of time at the parks.
  • Art of Animation is one of few resorts with access to Disney’s Skyliner transportation

A few drawbacks to staying at the Art of Animation Resort include:

  • The cost to stay at the Art of Animation Resort is higher than other Disney Value Resorts.
  • There aren’t any sit down restaurants available on-site.
  • The pool lacks a slide, which is found at Disney’s Moderate or better resorts.
  • Programs and activities at the Art of Animation resort aren’t tailored as much to older kids as some other Disney resorts.

Have you stayed at the Art of Animation or another Disney Value Resort? Please share in the comments if there’s anything we missed!

Like this post? Click on an image below to save for later.

Best Disney Resort for Toddlers Toddling Traveler


3 thoughts on “The Best Disney Resort for Toddlers: Art of Animation

  1. What a great and thorough review! I kind of regret not staying at a Disney property when we were there as seeing this Disney themeing makes me realize how special it makes their resorts.

Leave a Reply