Monday, March 18, 2013

Art of Animation Review: Little Mermaid Standard

Back in May of 2012, my family and I went on our trip and stayed at Caribbean Beach but made it a must to get over to Art of Animation which had just opened its Finding Nemo section. Comparing that trip to winter of 2012, there was such a drastic difference. Obviously, the entire resort was open, but my entire opinion of the resort changed.

I was impressed little in May of 2012 and felt like the Finding Nemo section did not do the resort justice, and while the food court was nice, I wasn’t feeling it like some of the other resorts.

Fast-forward to December 2012 and we’ve decided to book a one night stay in Little Mermaid standard room just to see what it’s like. Wow! We were staying at Pop Century for the majority of our stay so our visits to Art of Animation did not end when we switched resorts. We walked across the bridge that connected the two values almost daily if not more. Just from the outdoor design of each of the sections I was blown away.

If there was a section I preferred the most it was definitely the Cars area. The cozy cone motel pool was absolutely adorable and felt like it’d been pulled straight out of the movie with the amount of accuracy in the structure. I was also impressed by the Lion King Section, but I thought the Finding Nemo section left me a little bored.

I was really surprised at how beautiful and well put-together the Little Mermaid section was, especially the outdoor standard rooms. Unfortunately since we could only afford the cheaper rooms, we never did get to go to the indoor rooms with the kitchenettes, so this is only a review of the standard section. Still, the Little Mermaid room was gorgeous and I was taken aback by how well themed it was. From the shower tiles, mirrors, curtain, wall-hangings, beds, to the awesome-shaped dresser, I was in Little Mermaid heaven! The room was just a little bigger than the standard value rooms, and the hotel was buzzing just like Pop Century usually is. The night that we checked in I stood out on the balcony and saw a ton of people walking around the area taking photos, it was really peaceful and made me even more excited about this trip.

In May we had already explored the pool and food court. A new feature they added to this value resort was the locked pool area. In order to access the pool you must have a key card to Art of Animation specifically. This is to keep pool hoppers from Pop Century out and seems pretty effective, but most of the time when we walked around the gates were cracked open.

My mom really enjoyed the food court, especially since it was the only resort we had been to while at Disney that had the specific rounded softer ice which my mom is addicted to. I have already done a review for the Landscape of Flavors if you search through the blog which will give you more insight into the food court. Comparing the design of the food court to Pop Century, this one definitely outshines Pop. Landscape of Flavors also seemed to have more food options than most of the resorts, and remember, non-Art of Animation guests are more than welcome to visit the resort and eat at the food court. If you are interested in checking out the hotel for yourself, just take a bus over or let the security guard know you are visiting if you are driving yourself. 

One of my absolute favorite parts of Art of Animation is the check-in area. As a graphics student, I know that colors have a huge impact and the colorful check-in area is a feast for your eyes! Overall this hotel was bigger than the usual values, which means it never seemed as crowded as Pop Century. It’s true that the bridge right near the food court leads you straight to Pop Century which is a big positive in my book. If you are looking for a quieter hotel and still have that splash of Disney definitely check out Art of Animation. Just beware that Little Mermaid is the only section with standard rooms so you’ll have to fork out some extra dough for the Finding Nemo, Lion King, and Cars section.

Conclusion: Little Mermaid Standard

Distance from Parks: A (It’s not more than 5 minutes away from any park if you are driving yourself, so don’t worry!)

Transportation: C (Just luck)

Food: B (About the same as most of the value resorts)

Rooms: A-   (A little bigger than Pop Century, and the theme of even the standard room is awesome!)

Design & Theme: A (Disney, Disney, Disney!)

Relaxing: B (Since it’s new there is still quite a crowd, but because it’s a little bigger it’s not usually too loud.)

Cast Members: A!

Mood: A- (At times it seemed a little dead, but still nice)

Total: A-

While the resort was absolutely stunning and the design was great, I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing in the atmosphere. Maybe because of its newness, I felt like it hadn’t experienced as much as the other resorts. It’s possible that my family and I just hadn’t made enough memories there or we hadn’t spent enough time there to really come to love the resort. At Caribbean Beach we had this same problem for a couple days but after spending more than a week there on vacation we began to fall in love with it and left with sadness in our hearts. It’s possible we hadn’t made it to that point with Art of Animation. With that said I’d definitely love to stay there again, in the Cars section specifically! 

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