Why Disney’s Art of Animation is Not For Me

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Why Disneys Art of Animation Resort is NOT for me

The year that Disney’s Art of Animation opened my family was planning a trip to Walt Disney World. Since our travel group consisted of 3 kids and 5 adults we wanted to make this trip as affordable as possible.

Normally when we travel to Orlando we stay in a Deluxe Resort on Disney property, but since we were trying to be as affordable as possible, for this trip we decided to stay in one of Disney’s Value Resorts.

We knew that the experience of going from a Deluxe Resort to a Value Resort at Disney was going to be different but we really wanted to stretch our dollars and since the Art of Animation was new, we decided that it might be fun to be one of the first families to be able to experience the resort.

With 3 little girls in our family, I liked the chance to select a themed room that they would enjoy. We booked our stay at the Art of Animation and chose The Little Mermaid Room. We were going to be at the most magical place on Earth, so I knew that no matter which hotel we selected that this trip was going to be perfect, but it wasn’t.

I know many of you are probably thinking that my hopes were too high because I normally stayed at a Deluxe resort and you may be right in some ways but first let me share with you a few reasons why Disney’s Art of Animation is not for me.

Why Disneys Art of Animation is Not For Me. My personal review of Walt Disney Worlds Art of Animation.

Let me preface this post by letting you know that I am a very easy going person and I am not highfalutin at all, but I learned a valuable lesson during this trip and I will let you know after I tell you why Disney’s Art of Animation is Not For Me.

  • The lobby was too far. We stayed in The Little Mermaid rooms and they are the farthest rooms from the lobby. Yes, we could have stayed in a closer suite such as Cars or Finding Nemo but we didn’t. Walking outside in the cold, rain, heat, and dark is not fun especially after spending all day at the parks. This is especially a nuisance when you want to refill your refillable Disney cup.
  • The only transportation available to get to the parks is buses. The buses are great but having them as your only transportation option is not fun and it makes travel time to the parks much longer.
  • We stayed in a standard room so we knew that it would be small but not that small. In our room, we had 2 adults and 2 girls under the age of 8. It was hard to move around and there was not much room to store our suitcases or purchases. There was not a closet that allowed this but only a niche by the sink area that allowed you to hang your clothes and cram a few items. I like to have my living area to be clean and it was not possible at this hotel.
  • The Art of Animation does not have a table service restaurant but instead has a quick-service restaurant that gets really crowded and has multiple lines. When you have a lot of kids and a stroller this can be difficult to maneuver food trays and kids.
  • The Art of Animation has a ‘Motel’ style to it. The doors open to the outside which I am normally okay with but not at Disney. I didn’t realize I would feel this way until after my visit.
  • When I am on vacation, I want to be comfortable when I get back to my room, especially after a long day at the parks. I’ve never stayed at a hotel, motel, or a resort and not been able to move the A/C  past a certain point. I’ve also never come back to my room to have the A/C set to be hotter than what I set it to be when I left. I did some research about this and read a lot of complaints from other guests.
  • Beds were hard, need I say more?

As I mentioned above, I am not the type of person that has high expectations and I can normally make the best out of most situations, especially while I am at Disney, but during our visit and our stay at the Art of Animation, I knew that we had made a mistake. It felt like we were staying at an overly priced cheap hotel on Disney property. Even though there are a lot of amazing things like the pools and the animation throughout the entire resort, Disney’s Art of Animation is not for me.

What are your thoughts? Have you stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation?

If you love Disney, which you probably do since you are here, take a look at some of my other Disney posts and please share:

How the COVID-19 Pandemic has Ruined Disney

Why I Will Keep Taking My Girls to WDW

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at WDW Review

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique You Will Want to Know

What I Wish I Knew Before I Went to Disney 

5 Important Decisions to Make Before You Plan Your Trip to Disney

5 Disney Inspired Themed Party Treats

5 Amazing WDW Character Dining Restaurants

What to Skip at WDW

Disney Frozen Inspired Recipes

5 Must Do Attractions at Epcot

What Not to Buy at Walt Disney World

5 Things I’ve Never Experienced At Walt Disney World

5 Walt Disney World Restaurants Not Worth Skipping

Why My Family Loves Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Mind Your Manners at Disney

How to Make Christmas at Disney Magical and more

Why Disneys Art of Animation is Not For Me. My personal review of Walt Disney Worlds Art of Animation.

It's important that before you reserve your hotel stay at Disneys Art of Animation that you read multiple reviews with different opinions. Here is my very honest review of Disney's Art of Animation.

It's important that before you reserve your hotel stay at Disneys Art of Animation that you read multiple reviews with different opinions. Here is my very honest review of Disney's Art of Animation.


  1. I feel like you wouldn’t like Port Orleans Riverside then either. We just stayed there this past week and everything you mentioned that you didn’t like, besides the table service restaurant (that we didn’t use), is exactly what they have. I didn’t have a problem with it, but I went with very low expectations.

  2. They now have the sky buckets to ride to 2 of the parks. (Not just buses)
    The family suites are tons bigger and closer to the lobby. Our family absolutely LOVED Art of Animation. I think you should give it another chance but do not stay in the Little Mermaid rooms. I think it would change your whole experience.

  3. Arielle R says

    My husband and I just stayed 6 nights in a Little Mermaid room. We had a king bed and felt we had plenty of room for the two of us with our stuff. Yes, it’s an 8-minute walk to buses. (I experimented today with walking through the Lion King building to get out of the weather, and that helped a lot.). The buses have consistently come without any long waits for us – about ten minutes at most, but frequently only one to five minutes. The food court has a lot of options. It was busy and loud at times, but lines/waits weren’t bad. Definitely not a plush setting, but we chose to enjoy several meals at some of the deluxe resorts while still saving on the nightly room rate by sleeping at the value. The pools and the theming at AoA are probably what is most special about this resort. Oh, and I’ve enjoyed the drawing classes! FYI, no underwater music in the pool now – I asked and was told it was discontinued. As for the air conditioning, we were on the fourth floor, and I was comfortable. I would think any kid would absolutely love this resort, as would someone who really likes the Disney theming. I thought the bed was comfortable. If you want more table service, lounges, lobby seating, convenience, room storage, and a nice balcony, try Yacht Club. But you can stay twice as many nights if you choose the value. While they’re very different, I’ve enjoyed both.

  4. This is the most ridiculous Disney article I’ve ever read. Get over yourself and your high standards. I’ve stayed at most of the Disney resorts. We did a split stay one time. Poly first then AOA little mermaid with two adults, infant, and 2 children. It was fine. Yes it’s small, but it’s fine. It’s not that far from the Lobby, and there is a ton of great scenery to see.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      Well this article is about why AOA is not for ME so I won’t get over my high standards because the cost of Disney continues to get higher and higher and THIS consumer expected this Disney resort to be fabulous and it wasn’t.

  5. I think your standards were WAY to high. You can’t go from a Deluxe to a Value resort and have any type of expectation. NO value resorts have a table service restaurant. Hence the value. Why did you not get a family suite? A little research is all it would have taken to see how small the Little Mermaid rooms are. This is probably the most asinine WDW post I’ve ever read.

  6. Steffanie Green says

    We stayed at Art of Animation in Spring 2015. We loved it. But, we chose to stay in the Finding Nemo Family suite and it was perfect for My husband, me, & our 3 kids ages 2,9 & 14 (at the time). My husband & I had our own bedroom & bathroom. We also had a TV in the bedroom. The dining table turned into a full size Murphy bed coplete with cute lighting at the headboard & a night stand on each side. This is where our 2 & 9 year old girls slept. There was also another full bathroom for the kids, a kitchenette and the livingroom where our son slept had a sleeper sofa & TV that the kids shared. We had plenty of room for our family of 5 and the kids loved the huge Big Blue pool ( which was right outside of our hotel area.

  7. Our family had stayed at AOA on the last four visits and the fifth will be in a few months. I think you can loose some of the magic by staying at moderate or delux locales. Theming at AOA is real Disney. We find it suites our needs and while not truly “value” in price, consider you might have to get two rooms at other resorts to get the same space. Lion King or Cars room, problem solved.

  8. I have always stayed at GF or Poly but recently stayed at Pop in January for a quick trip. Honestly didn’t mind the value as much as I thought I would. Maybe this was because of the newly renovated room, or I just had really low expectations. In regard to the motel style entry, I actually thought the opposite of you- typically I can’t sleep in a room with this, but because it was Disney I felt safe. Really my only complaints were the overall friendliness of staff (definitely not as good as deluxe), and the language barrier with housekeeping which I haven’t encountered before. Actually, because of a housekeeping issue that no one addressed, I received an offer for one night complimentary at a value. We decided to apply this towards a Little Mermaid room for Easter break next year, as we will be in Disney for a tournament at WWS. Since I at least have some experience with a value, I’m hoping I’m not too underwhelmed with AoA. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Who cares about the room! You are at Disney. We’ve stayed in Delux, and Value. We weren’t in the room except for sleeping. Who cares?

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      Because the price you pay for these rooms, should be worth it. And when you get back to your room, you should be comfortable. The a/c should not be locked.

  10. We LOVED Art of Animation and would easily stay there again. It’s not a big deal that the Little Mermaid rooms are far from the pool or dining. That’s just how it goes in bigger resorts. I’ve seen the layout of the Grand Floridian and you can get some rooms pretty far from the lobby and dining there, too….and that’s at a MUCH higher price point. Even in the moderate resorts, if you want to be closer to the pool and dining, you have to pay more for a “preferred room.”

    We also didn’t mind that the only transportation was a bus. Again, that’s just how it is, unless you pay considerably more and stay in a Deluxe. Even the moderates only have the buses, unless you count the boat ride from Port Orleans (either one) to Disney Springs. But to go to the park, it’s by bus. At least Art of Animation is a dedicated bus. We stayed at Port Orleans – French Quarter and had to share a bus with Riverside, which is a considerably larger park than Art of Animation. It got REALLY cramped on some of those buses!

    Didn’t mind not having a table restaurant, either. Again, if you want that, stay in a Deluxe. Even most moderates don’t have them, though Riverside has one for dinner only. Coronado has two, but that’s because it’s a convention resort.

    ALL of the value resort rooms are small unless you get a suite. You get what you pay for. We stayed in the Lion King suite and it was very roomy.

    But while Art of Animation is a value resort, it has a deluxe-style pool. The zero-entry pools aren’t easy to find. And this one has fun things throughout for the kids.

    Each resort gives specific details on the Disney site. Check there when booking (or really before booking) and you’d know what kind of dining they have. You can see photos of the room. You’ll know what forms of transportation the resort has.

    Best advice I can give is twofold – Research before booking a resort room to make sure it has what you want, and don’t pay for a value resort and expect deluxe resort accommodations.

  11. Trish West says

    Did anyone else have a noise issue? It was so bad that we had to call the front desk 4 times and security actually showed up once. It was so bad that they actually credited us a night. I love Coronado Springs!

    • I didn’t have a problem with noise when we stayed at Art of Animation. It sounds like you just had really inconsiderate neighbors. You weren’t there during Pop Warner week, were you?

      And glad to hear that you love Coronado Springs. That’s where we’re staying next month. Haven’t tried that resort out yet. Granddaughter picked it this year, and she picked that one because of the pool.

  12. We stayed in a Little Mermaid room when we took our daughter for the first time, about 3 years ago. I was SO disappointed. I think our downfall was when we added an extra day to the beginning of our trip. AOA standard rooms were completely booked, so we spent one night at Port Orleans. (We fell in love with Port Orleans, and that is now the resort(s) we typically choose.) I liked the food court and the gift shop at AOA, but That Is All. While I don’t mind the bus transportation, this resort is typical for large groups. There must’ve been a big cheerleading event while we were there. The line was always large with these cheer groups at the busses. We waited almost an hour and a half at Hollywood Studios to return to our resort. The rooms were small, and I remember not having a place to put our suitcases out of the way. I also agree with the long walk to the lobby. So for this, I never recommend AOA to anyone.

    I will say that I have a friend who stayed in a Nemo suite, and she loved the resort. So I think a suite might warrent a different experience. However, if I were to pay that much for a room, I’d much rather stay at a Deluxe. Then again we are a family of 3, and our rooms are never limited by maximum number to a room like a family of 5+ may have.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      YES! I think the suites were the way to go. It’s crazy because when you price the AOA versus say Wilderness Lodge they were very close in price.I wonder if most people that LOVED AOA know this. I have never stayed at Port Orleans but I love the ‘look’ of it. Pro Tip.. unsure if this would work for you, but the last time we were at Disney, one day the Monorails were broken. The bus line to get back to the hotel were SO long, so we rode the bus to Downtown Disney (there was NO line to get there) and then hopped on a bus to get back to the hotel. Saved so much time.

      • The AoA suites are pricier than traditional value resorts, but you’re getting a suite. It’s not really fair to compare the price of AoA suites to the price of a regular room at Wilderness Lodge, because they aren’t suites. Sure, their rooms are bigger than traditional value resort rooms (like the Little Mermaid rooms), but they don’t come with a separate living room, a separate dining area, and all else you get with a suite.

        Port Orleans may “look” nice, but we stayed there last year (French Quarter) and, so far, that’s the only resort I won’t stay at again, ever. If you don’t like that AoA only has the bus option, then stay away from Port Orleans. There’s a boat to Disney Springs (which takes longer than the bus there does because it’s shared between French Quarter and Riverside) but it’s buses only to the parks. And then it’s not always a dedicated bus. During certain times of the day, you’re sharing the bus to the park with Riverside, which is a large resort with multiple stops. And if you stay at Port Orleans – Riverside, you may end up with a much longer walk to dining, the pool, and the bus stops since it’s a much bigger resort….unless you pay extra money to get a “preferred room.”

  13. I got a good chuckle from this article because my experience was opposite to this one. I stay with my family every year at the value resorts for 2 weeks. We have the same experiences the writer said, but we got used to it so it was normal for us – long walk for the refillable mug, door to the outside, not much space to move around, etc. This is what we expect at a value resort. We figured out how to find space for everything, even bringing our own fridge so we have a second one in the room. Last year we were upgraded to the Animal Kingdom Lodge due to multiple problems with our room. We got spoiled! The rooms go out to a hallway, it was large enough to spread out, and it had a nice large bathroom and closet . But we did have a long walk to refill our mugs! However, even with all that, we still feel that the extra cost of those rooms do not justify the cost. I suppose if our trips were shorter we might pay the extra money. But over 2 weeks, that gets really expensive. In the end, we are used to the smaller rooms of the value resorts and enjoyed our stay at all of them.

  14. We stayed at AOA Lion King suites and enjoyed it. We lived in the Lion King suites comfortably for the time we spent my room was cleaned daily beds where comfortable but maybe we felt it was comfortable because we where exhausted at the end of our days to even notice. Toilet paper is light weight so if you have a preference bring your own along with you. I had no issues with the dinning hall we had a pretty decent selection of foods to choose from and there are 3-4 fountain drink stands and condiment areas so we didn’t wait long it was at times a little messy but I noticed that there was always an employee there working to maintain it. The pools where fun I was bummed that it didn’t have a hot tub for my aching feet but I just filled the tub up in our room and soaked my poor feet there. I was okay with the open concept of the AOA because I enjoy fresh air rain or shine. I dont understand why You felt that the hotel was bad enough for a review. Maybe you felt stressed out I at times felt stressed out because she I am the head of household so the planning was my responsibility and making sure everyone other than yourself is comfortable an happy may be good for one family member and shitty for another. I get it! I wouldn’t say you would never stay there again I think your mindset was just not in the most joyful place maybe?. I never give any business a bad review until I experienced it twice. Sometimes you need to be open minded and not be pompous by compairing a luxury resort to a value resort.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      But you stayed in a suite! I didn’t say in the suite so your experience differed from my regular room. I am glad it was great for you, though.

      • Did you research the Little Mermaid section of AOA before booking? Or AOA as a whole? Lots of websites with valuable reviews and information. Hope in the end, your kids had the time of their lives and their Disney experience trumps your hotel experience.

        • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

          I did but at the time, it was new and if you notice.. not too many people are honest with their reviews when it comes to Disney. The hotel didn’t phase the kids, they didn’t pay for it 🙂

  15. Wow, LOL, so many hurt people! Okay, everyone has a right to their opinion. I stayed at the AOA in a Cars suite. It was wonderful, the kids loved it and there was lots of room. We never had a problem with doors or toilet paper or or the AC. That is not me doubting the word of others, that was just our experience. We loved the dining hall, we never had any problems. And we didn’t have as far to walk, but, LOL, we are from PA and I really doubt anyone in our party would have complained about walking in 84 degree weather, even in rain, when it was about 30 degrees and snowing at home!!! Some other family had gone about a week before our trip and they stayed at one of the other Value resorts. They had always drove down from PA with their camper and stayed at the camp grounds, so this was their first time at a resort. They really didn’t like it. Their complaints are similar to yours. Too small, too long a wait for buses, so on and so forth. Which, after reading your article and listening to their complaints, really glad this time we are going with one of the Moderate resorts. We are a party of 7 and the only reason we got to stay in an AOA suite was because my daughter was 20 months, so she didn’t really count as a person in the room. She will be 4 on the next trip. We looked at prices and decided that two rooms at a Moderate resort will give us plenty of space. We are staying at Port Orleans during the holiday season. So looking forward to it, this will be our first time down during the holiday season, can’t wait! Back to the rooms, if you didn’t like AOA, that is okay. Everyone getting hurt feelings over another person’s opinion is what is crazy wrong in this world. Honestly, if we could afford it, I would go deluxe every time! But we are looking forward to a small upgrade and Port Orleans does a have a full service sit down restaurant! And it looks pretty yummy!

    • Hope you had a nice stay at Port Orleans. I didn’t find the rooms to be much bigger than the value resort rooms. I also had more of a noise issue at French Quarter. We could hear every time one of our neighbors flushed their toilet, which is irritating when it’s waking you up at 6:30 every morning!

  16. Mrs. Roqueta says

    I think your opinion is unfair. You’re used to Deluxe/Nordstrom while the rest of us are used to Value/Target. I’m extremely thankful Disney offers value options for those of us who can’t afford the “highfaluting” luxury resorts. It will be our first trip to Disney next summer, and reading the comments here assured me we made the right choice for our family. Aside from that, I love The Little Mermaid and have since I was a child. It appears to me that perhaps you should stay where you expect royal treatment; plush toilet paper included. 😊

  17. Wendy Steele says

    We just returned from our 2nd stay at AoA. Our family of 6 loved the theme, perfect for the small children (3 & 5) in our group. In between my adult son and I stayed a week at All Star Sports. We stayed 4 nights in a Marriott property at Lake Buena Vista, and would have returned there except for the WDW perks like Fast Pass early bookings. Since our plans got scuttled because of the hurricane, that wasn’t much of an add on. We stayed 2 nights at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at the end of our Disney stay and next time we may just stay there the whole time. The suite there was smaller and only 1 bath, but we loved the quality and found the food cheaper and more variety. Rooms there do open directly outside. But as to AoA, I think most of the concerns in this article could have been avoided by better planning in the first place. Certainly I have read pretty much everywhere about the distances, especially of the Little Mermaid rooms. The beds were comfortable enough, I slept on the platform bed each time but I find bed quality varies in most hotels depending on age of the mattress. The variety of food in the food court addresses most appetites and is affordable enough. I did think about ordering pizza off property for more variety of toppings but decided wasn’t worth additional time at the end of a busy day. Bottom line is that so far I see little about the Deluxe Resorts to make me think upgrading my stay would make my trip any more magical.

  18. As DVC members we usually stay in DVC deluxe resorts, but, I have also at one time or another stayed at all the value resorts including the Little mermaid rooms at AoA. Yes, the rooms are smaller than deluxe and yes the walk is looking, and you wouldn’t want to forget your mug, but you do alot of walking at WDW so we don’t mind. The cartionish style of the dresser wastes space. The dresser drawers are much smaller than the ones at Pop Century. Also, since they decided to put small refrigerators in the rooms and install them in the dressers, all the dressers lost storage. A poor decision in my mind.

    However, in surprised at your assessment of the food court. It is the best on property. There are gourmet food options such as my favorite lentil crusted tilapia with sautéed spinach and panier cheese, with roasted acorn squash and naan bread. My husband and I usually have our car with us so we often drive over to AoA from our deluxe resort to eat in their great food court.

    In the last few times we stayed deluxe we realized they seem to have gone with thin scratchy toilet paper for all. It didn’t used to be that way. We bring our Charmin now.

    When deciding that saving money is important, you need to decide what features you are willing to give up and which you can’t. If you have a negative experience it isn’t with the savings.

  19. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy your stay, when you spend the kind of money you do for Disney you never want to walk away with a bad taste.
    We just got back from our first WDW trip and had a very diff experience at AOA, we started ourreservation at a moderate, but were able to take advantage of free dining by moving to an AOA suite. Obviously I have nothing to compare it to, but I wonder if the suite makes that big of a difference. Or it could be that maybe you underestimated the convienences of a Deluxe. With our recent experience we stayed in a Nemo room (with 2 kids and 2 adults) bldg 5, the only thing seperating us from the main bldg was the pool. I can see how right away this may have helped your experience. We also slept very comfortably, from my understanding AOA suites are the only value with a queen vs full sized bed. We had more then enough room in the bedroom to store the suitcases. We had the kids store their smaller items in the end tables on either side of the Murphy bed. Having the table for the kids to eat breakfast was great, and they even supplied paper plates, bowels, and plastic utensils. The only time the room ever felt small is if we all tried to sit in the living room together. But reality is most of the time we were in the room we all wanted to lay down anyway! As far as food courts go, I really appreciated the variety. I ate a crab cake burger with coleslaw and fries, the hubby had some kind of stir fry and the kids had pizza the first night. There is a create your own pasta with huge portions and a create your own omelet station in the morning. I will say that it can get very busy, we only made the mistake of being there during a peak time once. Our strategy was to leave one parent and child holding the table and the other grab food. I did like that they had to go stations where you could pack up and bag your food to take back to your room. Hindsight some of that pasta I didn’t finish could’ve gone in the fridge and heated up in the microwave later for a snack! Oh, also the suites are all indoor ( not motel style). I’m not sure about the AC issue, ours was set at 68 and never changed. Really though, if that would have been me I wouldn’t have dealt with it all week, I would have made a note to mousekeeping asking them not to change it, and if that didn’t do it I would have called the front desk. I do believe they want you to make your stay comfortable.
    I think the only thing I didn’t address was the busses. I think this goes with that saying it could always be worse. From what I understand a lot of other value resorts share buses. AOA buses do not make any additional stops. I do agree that traveling by bus takes longer then by monorail, but you get what you pay for. I didn’t feel like the bus travel time was that bad though. We only waited longer then we should have once and of course we were running late. Most of the time they were about ten minutes apart like clockwork. i think I addressed everything you did, like I said I think you would have had a little different experience in a suite, but ultimately if you can afford it I have no doubt a deluxe is amazing.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      I never thought about asking Mousekeeping to leave the A/C alone. Never ever, good idea. Def, I think the suites would have been a lot better! Sadly, they were all booked. It was super new when we went.

  20. Everyone has their opinion and that should be respected no matter what! I’ve stayed at many different resorts on Disney property since I was a kid. I prefer Animal Kingdom Lodge over all the resorts, just because I love the animals so much but, if I can’t get a room there, or on a tight budget my choice is AOA! I knew after doing a lot of research that the Little Mermaid rooms were the furthest from everything, and, on the small side. I travel with my Service Dog so I need a bit of room to move around. Even though I’m disabled and use a wheelchair I usually pick one of the family suites. I know that the disability rooms offer a little bit more room, but, I also know that someone who is worse off than me could use a bit bigger room, so I don’t usually get that type of room. The family suites offer plenty of room for me to maneuver around. The toilet paper is a bit thin, but, honestly, that’s the least of my worries. I’m just happy that I can go to my happy place & forget my troubles for the time that I’m there. I drive so I have my car. I have used Disney transportation many times, but, being in a wheelchair and having my Service Dog with me it’s much easier to drive. It really makes for a miserable ride when they pack the buses as full as they do, for me at least. I’ve thought a lot about staying off property to save money, but, for me it’s just not the same experience. Even though you were not happy with your stay, maybe try one of the family suites. You never know until you try 🙂

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      True. AT the time ALL of the family suites were taken and we could only choose from the Little Mermaid or the Lion King and with ALL girls,, we were stuck with the Little Mermaid.

  21. We’ve stayed at Art of Animation and LOVED it! I only wish it wasn’t listed in the Value category since the suites are pricier than Moderate resorts, but the is smaller (military discount). I had booked a Little Mermaid room to begin with, but shortly changed to a Lion King Suite to get closer to the bus depot and lobby/food court. If you’re accustomed to the way pricier Deluxe resorts, then of course you won’t like a Value resort. You get what you pay for. You don’t get what you don’t pay for (like a table service restaurant, which, I might add, you don’t even get at all the moderate resorts). But the suites are really nice rooms. The bathrooms are bigger, and you get a dining table and a sofa (in the living room),

    This last time going to WDW, we stayed at Port Orleans – French Quarter (moderate resort category), and there wasn’t a day we were there that I didn’t wish I’d booked at Art of Animation instead. The food court at AoA was MUCH better (we didn’t have a problem with long lines….and we went during crowded spring break!). The rooms were beyond better at AoA. And the pool was WAY better.

    The buses at AoA are dedicated, so you don’t have to be on a super crowded bus that’s servicing two resorts (like with Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside). And, while you’ll have a long ride to the Magic Kingdom, you’ll have a much shorter ride to the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and the water parks (if you choose to go there) than those staying at the Deluxe hotels close to the Magic Kingdom. So unless you only plan on going to the Magic Kingdom, the bus service for AoA shouldn’t be a factor.

  22. Aimee,
    While I disagree with your opinion, you are certainly entitled to it. I didn’t read all of the comments, but did see some that addressed my main concern with your post — you are comparing apples to oranges. Would it be fair to compare the food at a fast food restaurant to that at a fancy sit down restaurant? Of course the service and accommodations are better at the more expensive place!! I know some folks in the comments were kind of rude in the way that they called you out on this, but your post does come across as demeaning to those of us who feel that even being able to afford a trip to Disney and stay on property is a big deal. We all enjoy different things, and I’m totally OK that we love AOA and you hated it. No problem. But hating it because it isn’t ‘deluxe’ enough for you is doesn’t really make any sense. I just finished reading your post on Manners at Disney, which seems ironic, because this post doesn’t seem to be in the best taste.

  23. Girl I totally agree. First time staying on Disney property and I was not impressed with Art of Animation at all. Next time we are going Polinesian!! Whoop whoop!!

    • You get what you pay for, so that might be a better option for you. There’s a huge difference between a value resort and a deluxe resort, and of course you should expect much better accommodations at a resort that costs more than $300 a night more than the value resort room. If not, EVERYONE would stay in a deluxe resort!

  24. We stayed at Pop Century as a family of 3 and then at AOA 5 years later as a family of 4 and I have to say that those 2 experiences were the main reasons we bought into the Disney Vacation Club. We knew we wanted to come more often and we knew we wanted to stay deluxe instead of value and that was the only way to make it possible. It was the best decision we ever made. We have been to WDW 6 times since we purchased DVC on spring break 2014 and have stayed deluxe every time.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      How fun! I’d love to be a part of the DVC. We came super close to signing up one year but bought a house instead. Maybe my adult kids will buy one.

  25. We stayed in the AOA in August of 2013. We were in a Finding Nemo family suite and loved it! Right by the big pool (not a far walk to the other two smaller pools) lots of fun activities for the kids, awesome themed rooms, plenty of space! For us, the bus service was great! It went directly to each park, no stops along the way. Super convenient! This was our first time to WDW, and I was very happy with our accommodations and would go back to AOA in a second! I would definitely recommend the AOA!

  26. We stayed in a Lion King family suite and loved it. We had 3 kids and 2 adults and had tons of room. The pool was awesome and we enjoyed the restaurant – it had a lot of options that my picky kids would actually eat. The huge plus for us is my girls are very artsy and love to draw. The animation lessons that they offered in the lobby were a huge highlight of their stay!

  27. You realize this is a value resort? Whining about buses, quick service only meal options, and a smaller room leaves me to believe you forgot that you opted to stay at a value resort. There is a reason it is less expensive. If you’re blessed enough to have had regular stays at Delux resorts then that is fantastic for you. If you are like many of us and struggle with spending a year’s worth of mortgage payments for a week or so at a Value resort and are grateful for even that opportunity then for mercy sake–suck it up, Buttercup.

    • The first time my daughter and I went to Disney, we stayed off property. Never again for us! We stayed at All Stars Music the next time and we just got back from POP Century. We absolutely loved them both! We were there more for the theme parks and not the property we were staying on. We walked over to AOA from POP and loved the beauty of the place. POP Century was great! Yes, it is a motel feel but it is what we love at this point in our life. I researched before I booked and got a preferred pool room near the entrance this time. At All Stars we were way in the back because I did not do any research on the property. I also liked at POP Century we did not share buses to the parks with other resorts. I am so blessed that I was able to go to Disney. So many people I know want to but just cannot afford to at the moment!

  28. We stayed at the art of animation and had two rooms. one was my parents, me , 22, and my brother, the other was my grandparents. We stayed in the little mermaid rooms and it was astounding how far it was. i swear it felt like a quarter mile if not more to walk to the lobby, the bus stations etc. my grandpa, who has two bum knees, needed to walk that far every time we wanted to go anywhere or any time he wanted to get a cup of coffee or some food. i was pretty offended by disney’s lack of service in that regard-and we are avid disney goers as well. we usually stay at the animal kingdom, but for monetary sake, we decided to stretch our dollar much like you. the fact that they saw that my grandpa was cripple, that he couldnt walk well and didnt offer any assistance or an upgrade to a closer room was just mind boggling. i would not stay there again.

  29. We stayed at the holiday inn near Disney springs. It’s not a Disney hotel but is on park property so it makes it as convenient as staying in a lower budget Disney resort because you still have park transportation and are close enough to Disney springs to walk!

    The hotel room was spacious, clean, big enough for my three kids to play and my husband and I to move around, eat meals ect…, had a full sized closet, comfortable beds and room. Free breakfast which was one of the best I have had, even had an omelette bar (which was very nice for me being gluten free and usually not being able to find anything to eat at hotel breakfast bars).

    I was very impressed with this hotel and would recommend it to anyone who wants to be on park property but is on a budget.

  30. My first trip to WDW, I was 36, was in September 2014 and my Dad took our entire family after retiring. We booked at AoA after many hours of research and decided it would be a great fit for the 14 people we had going. Some stayed in Lion King Suites and the rest of us in Finding Nemo. We had requested a room closer to Animation Hall and it was wonderful! We had no issues the entire week, the suites were large, the pools wonderful and the theming throughout was amazing.

    It is a far walk to some of the rooms and would make for a long walk at the end of the day but there are so many positives to staying here.
    -theming is out of this world
    -AoA has its own busing while the All Star Resorts share (huge plus in my opinion)
    -variety of food choices to please everyone, even our picky then 4 year old
    -cost for a bigger room compared to Deluxe was worth it for us
    -no issue with AC for us, where we put the thermostat is where it stayed
    -the kids loved each of the pools, the underwater music in the Nemo pool was truly wonderful and added extra magic
    -suites have interior doors/hallways
    -plenty of living area and dining space along with 2 bathrooms is a huge plus

    We had some big Ariel fans with us but chose not to book those rooms because of the size, walking distance to transportation & Animation hall, and those rooms aren’t included in promotions for room discounts and free dining.

    I can understand your concerns but with research and advanced planning, some of them could have been avoided as it’s truly a wonderful place to stay. I’ve never stayed in a deluxe resort and if I did, couldn’t compare it to a value as its unfair to compare.

    My family of 4 is returning this September for our second trip and we are staying in a Cars Suite, we are so excited to stay here again. I have recommended this resort to two of my friends who will be going for their first time next year.

  31. My family of 5 stayed at AOA in January of 2015 in the Lion King suites. We had 3 teenagers and 2 adults. We found the suite to have plenty of room with 2 bathrooms a dining area, fridge, microwave, and sink. The doors were all interior. We found that we very close to the pool and lobby. My family loved AOA and was hoping to stay there again this December but rooms were unavailable. The theming is fantastic. I would definitely recommend this resort to any family seeking the value resorts.

  32. Patricia Pearson says

    We stayed at Art of Animation in Finding Nemo suite not long after it opened & LOVED it! We did a lot of research before & picked this resort on purpose. The rooms in the suites open to interior hallways. We don’t eat many meals at our resorts usually so quick service was fine with us. We are returning this December & are staying in a Cars suite. Already planning the next trip in May of 2018…back to Nemo for that trip. (Free dining for Cars suite decided our choice this time) We have stayed in value & moderate resorts on previous trips…A of A is our favorite!

  33. Thanks for this honest review. I’m planning our family’s first Disney trip for next year. I don’t think I would mind small rooms, but having rooms that open to the outside is not what I want for this trip. I think I’m going to look in to the moderate resorts. We’re only going to be doing this once. I think we should do it right.

  34. I think you had ridiculous ly high expectations. We stay in the value resorts and for the price they are exactly what I expect.

  35. We are staying there this coming May for a week with my twin daughters who will be nearly 5 at the time, and son who will be nearly 8. We booked the Little Mermaid section as well. I’m relieved to read that you didn’t have any problems with staying there! Looking at it online it looks so fun, even for adults to see. I think my kids will love it no matter what!

  36. Marilyn Skerrett says

    Going back to A.O.A. on the 27th July this time for 3 weeks as we loved it so much and are staying in Little Mermaid as there is a quieter pool very close . My 12 year old granddaughter and I found everything was fine , food court not a problem and the Chef cooks your meal while you watch , Yes it is a walk back to your room but after a couple of days you just get on with it . We found our room quite big enough and at the end of the day you are only sleeping etc.I have just had a knee replacement but its not going to stop me going to our Little Mermaid room.My granddaughter had so much fun in the big pool with lots of games all day long for the children , I have stayed in more exspensive hotels but they are not children orientated as more for adults so while my Granddaughter is still young we will continue to go to A.O.A. and looking forward to lots of fun time in 7 days time.

  37. Wow, I could’ve written this post. I had the exact same experience and opinions. The Little Mermaid section was built many years prior to the rest of AoA. It was originally part of Pop Century but was never completed and sat empty. Our room (in addition to being cramped) had a huge paint bubble and stain under the window. It really did remind me of a Motel 6 with Disney decor. When you open the door to the room, it’s only about a foot away from the bed. Not a huge deal, unless they are pressure washing the building and water is actually POURING in under your door. The carpet next to the bed was soaked. And yes, it was a hike to the common areas, the dining area was a madhouse at all hours of the day and night, no towels at the pool, and we weren’t thrilled with the bus service. We would consider trying the suites sometime if room size was our only issue, but unfortunately it was not. I do have several friends that have stayed in the suites and loved it. Everyone’s personal preferences are different, but i typically do not recommend staying in the Little Mermaid section specifically.

  38. I would definitely try AOA again in a suite! We stayed in the Nemo suites. Closest to the pool and lobby. Rooms opened to the inside, not motel style. VERY spacious!! We had 5 adults and 1 child in the suite. Plenty of storage to keep everything tidy. 2 bathrooms and a separate bedroom was awesome. The bus ride is still longish but beats driving any day 🙂

  39. wow….what a bunch of spoiled brats. please stay in the deluxe hotels so the rest of us plebs don’t have to listen to you complain. that was 5 minutes of time i will never get back…thanks Pinterest. i thought maybe there would be real complaints…not rich people whining about rich people problems.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      You read my title of the post right? You read the entire post, right? You do realize that if you are going to Disney, most likely you have a little cash in your pocket, so stop with the ‘rich’.

      • This comment is ridiculous anyone who has priced a Disney vacation knows there is a huge difference between value and deluxe resort stays. With a little research you would have found previous to your stay that many of your complaints are exclusive to value resorts. Your intention may not have been to sound pretentious but your article comes across that way. That or you didn’t research about the resort before your stay.

    • Michelle says

      Hahahahaha I completely agree with you Jennifer!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. We stayed at Art of Animation in the Lion King family suite in 2015. We loved it! The rooms were spacious, and the decor throughout the entire property was perfectly Disney! I think everything in life is what you make of it.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      Are the suite bigger than a regular room or are they the same thing?

      • The suites are considerably larger than the little mermaid rooms. They have a separate bedroom, living room with kitchenette, and a dining table (for 4) that converts to a Murphy bed. There are also two separate bathrooms. There’s a huge difference in space between the two styles. There is a ton of storage space with two full dressers unlike the three small drawers in the rooms. You also access your room from an interior hallway.

        • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

          I want to say that when we went there were no suites available and the entire AOA had not been built so they booked fast. I am sure I would have loved the room if I was in a suite except for the A/C situation.

      • I’ve never stayed in a standard room, but judging from the description on the website, it appears that family suites would be bigger. They have a kitchenette and sleep “up to 6”, and the standard rooms are listed as sleeping “up to 4”. The family suite felt very roomy with only my family of 4 in it.

  41. I have a family of 4 and stayed in a Cars Family Suite at AOA in 2013. (I believe these suites were pretty new back then.) I have preferences when I travel with my family, the major ones being that my kids have their own beds and that there are 2 full bathrooms. The Cars Family Suite met these needs perfectly, and we didn’t feel cramped as we got ready for a day in the parks. The beds were very comfortable. Our room faced the lake and outdoor jogging/walking path, and the door of our room opened to an enclosed hallway. The walk from our room to the dining room was less than 3 minutes. We drove to Orlando, so we had another transportation alternative besides the buses, but honestly, we wanted the experience of hopping on and riding a bus to the parks. We never used the pool because we spent every waking hour in the parks.
    The dining area is where my husbands opinion of AOA agrees with the title of your article. He did not like the hustle & bustle and what he called “cafeteria style” dining. He prefers relaxed table service or a buffet style breakfast. Once I got the hang of the system I had no problem with it, but this is what caused him to say that we wouldn’t stay there again. Mind you, this was our 1st visit to WDW (my last visit was back in the 80s, and it was for 1 day), and we’ve never stayed at a Deluxe resort, so we didn’t have anything to compare to AOA.
    We all have our preferences when it comes to travel, lodging & dining, and that’s what makes the resorts at Disney so unique. Each resort has characteristics that fit different lodging needs and travel styles. I’m okay with trying out a Deluxe resort the next time we visit. Who knows, it may become my favorite place to stay after I experience its offerings.

  42. Your experience would have been so much better had you stayed in a suite. We stayed in a Cars suite, no “motel” feel as rooms entry from a secured building inside. Walks much closer. The Little Mermaid rooms don’t come close to matching and describing the real experience Art of Animation has to offer.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      We tried staying in a suite but they were booked. I think not all had been built when we stayed so space was limited. You are probably right.

  43. Stayed in the Little Mermaid room in May…just my husband and me. I loved the theming and the pools and the walk to the main area didn’t bother me. I have stayed in all the Value resorts now and am happy with them. I love the food courts in the values. However, my husband would totally agree with you. It was his first Disney trip and he loved the parks but requests that we stay in a moderate next time. His complaints were thin walls and small rooms with no storage. I will happily upgrade but was happy with the resort.

  44. We stayed in the Finding Nemo Suites at A0A in May 2016 with a family of 5 and found it very comfortable and spacious. We were in the closest section, which helped I am sure, and for our kids the food court style worked better for us than a restaurant would have. The check in experience was not pleasant, but they went out of their way to fix our issues. We actually stayed our first night at Caribbean Beach resort to have one night that was more “fancy” and did not like it at all! AoA was much better! Caribbean Beach in comparison was cramped, old, dirty, and smelly. While I can see that AoA would not be a great fit for every family, it was perfect for us and we will be returning there on our next trip.

  45. We just returned from AOA with a group of 11 of us! It was WONDERFUL! Booked 3 rooms at the Cars Suite and had TONS of room. The kitchen table as serves as a bed and the couch can be converted to bed. Had kitchen sink, frig, coffee maker, utensils for eating, etc. As far as transportation, buses were AWESOME! Never waited more than 15 minutes. Stayed at other resorts and buses were the only means of transportation provided on the Disney properties! The dining area was HUGE! Multiple lines for different items, such as french toast, omelettes, eggs, smoothies, so not bogged down at all! All the pools were awesome and very kid friendly. Would HIGHLY recommended it for anyone with families. Will stay there AGAIN!!!!!

  46. I love Art of Animation. Everything you said you didn’t like was because you’re staying at a value resort. So in reality, you didn’t dislike Art of Animation, you dislike the value resorts. All value resorts are motel style (which actually at AOA the nemo section is not motel, they all have a bit of a walk if you dont get a preferred room, all the room sizes are the same unless you’re in a family suite (which I would have recommended to you. Next time try those), the beds are all the same (I felt it was comfortable but its really hard to say because everyones body and preferences are different. There are only busses at all value resorts and all value resorts only have a food court, no table service. I think this was a good review, but maybe an incorrect title. I love AOA, but everyone is different and entitled to their opinions!

  47. Erin Llanes says

    I absolutely 100% agree with your assessment of Art of Animation. Reading these replies, it seems like people are going out of their way to disagree with you, but all of your points are dead on. The main reason I will never again stay at this resort is the inconvenience. Like you, I knew that the rooms were far but I did not anticipate how much I would hate the walk after a long day at the parks and an even longer bus ride. I did my research (in response to Nick Hammond) but you can never fully understand how a place will work out until you stay there. In addition, the rooms were insanely small. I have stayed in small rooms many times, some even on Disney property, but these were the smallest by far. I looked it up and it turns out they are actually 1-3 ft smaller than other value resort/moderate resort rooms and it really makes a difference. I was impossible to keep the room neat and uncluttered and we were literally standing around at times because there wasn’t anyplace to sit. Another huge issue was cell phone coverage. I left a little one at home for this particular trip and I wanted to know that my sitters could get in touch with me at any time. I could get zero cell phone service in the room and had to walk outside once an hour, even in the middle of the night, to make sure no one tried to contact me.
    All of that being said, there are a few things we enjoyed about the resort. As another commenter said, the Lion King section of the walk was fun and exciting for the kids. We also enjoyed the food court for breakfast each morning. There was plenty of seating and the food was as expected at a Disney Resort.
    I’m not sure why everyone is blaming you for being picky instead of blaming Disney for trying to cram as many people into a resort for the least amount of effort possible. This is not what I expect from Disney, which usually goes all out in terms of customer satisfaction. I am staying at Port Orleans Riverside for my upcoming trip and am hoping that it will be more up to Disney standards. From the many people I have spoken to, Port Orleans seems to be a favorite. Like you, I will not be staying at Art of Animation again.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      Finally someone that sees eye to eye with me 😉 Thank you.

      • Brenda Benn says

        Aimee, I was in total agreement with your comments on A of A too! We stayed there last January, our family visited DW to celebrate our granddaughter’s 4th birthday and she and her siblings wanted to stay at A of A as the older ones had been there before and loved it. Previously my husband and I have stayed at the Caribbean Resort and at Port Orleans, so we had had good experiences with those. Yes, A of A was a “value” resort and it was expected not to be on the same level as the more moderately priced resorts but come on! There were 3 drawers in a room that accommodates 4 for sleeping. There was no place to put the extra clothes except atop the hanger rack by the sinks. Granddaughter wanted to stay in the Little Mermaid rooms, so we agreed, but let me tell you, after a long day at the park, having to do that very long walk to our room each evening was no picnic. And you didn’t mention the fact that where you caught the buses at the various kingdoms was the FURTHEST from the exit, too so an extra long walk at the end of a long day to get in line for the return to the resort.
        I’m glad none of the issues were bothersome to others, but it wasn’t cheap to stay there and the negatives outweighed the positives in my case.

  48. Jennifer says

    Same here! We picked it because our daughter loves little mermaid. I saw this and was afraid we had made a bad choice. But we always stay at moderate level properties, and these issues are the same at those, too. They weren’t even a little troublesome, so I’m no longer concerned!

  49. Veronica says

    I agree with you, we just came back from Disney after having stayed at the Art of Animation~Little Mermaid room. We usually stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which we like…but decided to try a new hotel since there wasn’t any good deals for the time of year we were going this time. ( we usually go in November, the week before Thanksgiving and get great deals.) The room was tiny! Not that we spend any amount of time in the room except to sleep & get ready, but even just for that it was way too tiny. The beds were harder than we are used to, we didn’t like that the doors opened to the outside and the food court seemed not so great…didn’t try the food but walked around it once. We drove so we wouldn’t have to deal with the buses. We like the freedom of having a car there since we like hoping around from park to park. I know I wouldn’t stay there again either.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      My husband was mad that I chose this hotel. I was trying to save money and get the best bang for our buck but I’d rather had spent the extra money for what we got.

  50. Your “complaints” are typical of ALL the Disney Value Resorts. You can’t stay at a cheaper place with 1,000+ rooms and expect to be near the lobby, have a sit-down restaurant, and be catered to the same as if you are paying $500/night. I think your expectations were too high going in. At least you learned a lesson – you are not a value resort gal. You can’t compare the Four Seasons to the Comfort Inn, and that’s what you tried to do.

    • Christina says

      I wholeheartedly agree! We loved the AOA and are going back again this summer. You are staying in Disney, walked all day in the parks and there is a compliant about walking to the hotel? That just seems ironic. Disney is an exhausting, yet magically fantastic vacation. The AOA had wonderful decor, it was super kid friendly. I have 4 children, with a double stroller to navigate. It was very accommodating in the food court, never waited too long, always a place to sit, food choices for everyone. When you have 4 small children and they have meltdowns in the park, it’s nice to know you have the opportunity to send one parent to just grab some food court item and eat in the (very spacious) suite at your hotel. The rooms were super clean, just as uncomfortable as any other bed I have slept on when I’m exhausted and not in my own bed. As for transportation, the buses were not a long ride, which was amazing with 4 kids, we never waited more than 15 minutes for any bus.. I say that because one time we waited 15 minutes, most was about 7 or less. Disney has so many options, because each style is not for everyone. But I feel the complaints you had were against value resorts in general, not the AOA. Everyone enjoy a magical day:)

    • Totally agree 100%

  51. We stayed here in Oct 2015 and LOVED IT.. We stayed in the little mermaid room as well and it was fine for our family of 4 because we are really only sleeping in there. The food was really good at the food court too. its gonna be crowed at all the hotels in the food areas but we had no problem. When you booked it you knew that the buses were the only way to get to the parks unless you drove and wanted to pay to park. WE ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE at this hotel and would go back and stay there again.

  52. I booked my vacay here so this article seriously had me worried! but none of the things listed are bothersome to me in any way so I think we’re good to keep our reservations. can’t wait! <3

  53. I couldn’t agree with you more. I have been staying at Disney since 75. We are DVC members so we usually stay at a delux, but on occasion we do a split stay and add a night (last minute out of excitement). The last minute add on we always try to save a few bucks. We recently stayed at the Buena Vista Palace, saved a ton (downside- no theming and bugs everywhere). Aside from that, staff took care of the bugs, they were super friendly, and the accommodations were really nice! I started researching luxury resorts on Disney property and was surprised to see so much for so much less! I love Disney! We shouldn’t have to apologize for liking what we like. There is something for everyone there. No one likes a hard bed and thin toilet paper. Thanks for posting your opinion! I appreciated it very much!

  54. This post isn’t about just Art of Animation, but every Value and even Moderate.

    Anything in a value or moderate that isn’t “preferred” has a longer walk.

    All values and moderates are bus only. Port Orleans has a boat to Disney Springs, but thats it.

    Values do not have table service.

    All values, moderates and even Saratoga Springs and Old Key West, a DVC resorts has exterior “motel”like doors.

    Clearly staying Deluxe only had you expecting more, but AoA is the best of the values.

    • I agree with what Rick and others have said. The things that were described as disliked are true of all Disney value resorts. Comparing Art of Animation to a deluxe resort is comparing apples to oranges. We’ve been to WDW 19 times and stayed in several of the resorts. Value, moderate, and deluxe. We choose our resort based on several things. Who’s traveling with us, amount of time we plan to spend at resort, and budget. While there are aspects we love about the deluxes, and we really enjoy Port Orleans Riverside for a moderate, we’re perfectly content staying at a value. But we know going in what to expect. That’s the key.

    • thanks Rick! I’m not looking for deluxe but I was curious if AoA was the best of the values. good enough for me 😉 I’m excited for our trip 😀

  55. We also stayed here just after the opening. We have always stayed at Value “pop” resorts. We thought it was fantastic. Believe it or not, the rooms were bigger, which excited us, as we are a family of 4 also.

    The addition of fridges, mini or not, was a huge bonus! We were so done with filling sinks with ice.

    We have only had the bus as an option to get to parks, so I have never known something else.

    I’m pretty sure most Value properties all have motel style entrances, at least all the ones we have stayed in.

    I can understand how you could be slightly disappointed when comparing the two types of resorts. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s like this one time we didn’t stay at a Disney property as we flew in just for the weekend and was only going to MK, we stayed elsewhere. Now that…was a disappointment. I could write a post on 5 reason why a Value resort is better than not staying at a Disney property.
    Thanks for your post, it’s a nice perspective.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      We’ve thought about staying off Disney property but haven’t. It would be so much cheaper and we could get more bang for our buck but we just can’t seem to do it.

      • For the first few times we went we stayed off property. Yes, the rooms were cheaper, but all things considered the value wasn’t as good.

        1. You have a feeling of safety for your kids on the Disney properties that you don’t get offsite. And no one worries or complains about kids running around. This is the biggest factor for us with three small kids.

        2. Even if you drive your own car you don’t pay $15 a day or whatever it is for parking.

        3. You can get the dining plan, and if you go at the right time of year, you don’t pay for it.

        4. If you fly like we frequently do, you don’t have to worry about a car rental or handling luggage.

        5. You get extra park hours.

        6. You can get your purchases sent to your room and not have to carry them around.

        I know you know all of that, but maybe it helps others with trying to decide where to stay.

  56. Katharine says

    We stayed at AoA April 9-16, 2016. We took a Lion King Suite for our family of 5 (kids are 6, 4, &2). It was perfect. We were pretty close to the Animation Hall and the pool. We drove so we were extremely close to the parking lot. We had more than enough room with the suite – and suites are more hotel like in that they all open up to an inside hall. Little Mermaid rooms do open to the outside. But you would’ve known that before booking yes? Just by looking at the pictures? Yes the beds are harder than the deluxe but it’s a value – so can’t really expect deluxe level stuff in a value level hotel. I do agree about the cafeteria like restaurant – it’s hard to maneuver with kids. But the food was decent for a quick service and their create your own salad was yummy. We’d likely stay there again just for the suite if for no other reason- we like the space.

  57. We have stayed at both value and deluxe resorts and not only did the kids and adults prefer the Art of Animation respire over the sports, Saratoga springs and Coronado but we have never heard anyone complain about art of animation. We are going back in 2017 and the kids we requested we stay at only art of animation and they do not want to stay at a previous or new one we haven’t been to.

  58. The only “value” in a Deluxe resort at Disney is the proximity to the parks. Yes, I guess some of the amenities are better but…I’m going to a theme park with my kids to have fun. If I want to pay almost 500.00 a night for a hotel I will stay at a Four Seasons or something in that league.
    To each his own, but I think you were a little harsh on the Art of Animation. We just returned from a stay there, so when this popped up in Pinterest I was interested to read your reasons.
    We most likely will always stay value or maybe moderate because we fly as a family of four fly from CA. Right off the bat we are at 2K for airfare alone. I thought the AOA was a really nice resort especially for kids! Very clean and new and the theming throughout the resort is top notch. My kids loved the pools and they loved playing at the Elephant Boneyard every single time we passed! Yes, we stayed in Mermaid and it was a far walk, but nothing horrendous and don’t you expect to do a lot of walking at Disney? I have a fitbit and counted 200 steps from our room to the main lobby. No biggie really. As far as someone mentioning the lack of fridge? Each room has a fridge and we used the grocery service Garden Grocer that caters to Disney. We placed our order and they has everything stocked in our fridge when we arrived! Highly recommend!
    Anyway, if you can afford and want to go deluxe at Disney that is great! In a perfect world wih very large budgets, we probably all would, maybe? But I just think it’s pretty unfair to compare deluxe vs.value. Now if you want to compare value vs. value the AOA wins hands down! Having stayed at other values…there is no competition. AOA is is top notch and the only reason it is “value” is because of it’s location. Please don’t hesitate to stay there 🙂

    • As a family of 4 adults and 3 children we stayed in the Cars themed suite and was perfectly comfortable. Bottom line is the resort is a value resort and can in no way be compared to the deluxe resorts. And what I don’t understand is why people want to complain so much about the rooms. All you do is sleep and shower there. And with two bathrooms we didn’t have an issue with that situation at all. We also had a baby in a stroller and didn’t have any trouble getting around in the dining area. I think your experience is what you make of it. If you have the money to go and stay at the deluxe resorts fine but if your budget requires a value resort AOA is a great one!

    • I completely agree!

  59. We’ve stayed at the Polynesian & Carribean Beach resort but took our kids & grandkids (12 & a baby) & stated in 2 suites at Art of Animation with a free dining plan! Score!!!! It was awesome. Doors don’t open to the outside & we were in Nemo suites at the suggestion of the cast member who helped us book (closer to transportation, food & main pool). It was pretty perfect!

  60. Good to know! We thought about staying here.

    I’ll be honest, we haven’t even loved the deluxe rooms at Disney. My favorite is The Boardwalk, and even those rooms aren’t great unless you fork over the money for a villa. I feel like you pay for the “experience” and the perks of staying on the property instead of paying for the rooms. Last time we stayed at The Boardwalk we had to walk 10 minutes to the lobby. I’ve never had to walk down a hall so long to get to the elevator! As much as I love staying in the park, it really makes me realize that unless you pay an arm and a leg the rooms just aren’t fabulous.

    • Please read all of the replies to that review before deciding Art of Animation is a bad resort. It’s really not. But like most resorts, if you want to be closer to the pool and dining, you’ll have to pay more. Stay in one of the suites (which is still cheaper than the deluxe resorts) and you’ll have plenty of room and be closer to the pool, lobby, and dining.

  61. We stayed at a Value Resort when it first opened, I can’t even remember which one now. I was disappointed by how small the rooms were and it had no mini-fridge or microwave. Even when we went on the Disney cruise where staterooms are teeny, there was a small fridge and microwave! While the grounds are nice, I thought the room itself could’ve been better too. Since then we usually stay in a off property in a suite so we have a mini-kitchen and more space for our family of 5. I wish we could afford the Deluxe resorts because I hear they are fabulous!

    • Some of the deluxe hotels really are fabulous but I’ve found that some of them leave something to be desired…especially at the prices! The value resorts are often priced at the same price point as better hotels off property. When we can’t afford an on property resort (even with the FL resident discount) we stay off property.

      I haven’t stayed at a value resort at Disney but I would have probably had the same exact reaction as aimee lol

  62. I agree with this article wholeheartedly about the Value Resorts.we stayed at a different one but same problems, and the food! Disney should be ashamed of themselves…we ordered pizza three times in five days from outside(delivery) just because the food was so bad! And I didn’t think I would ever see a mention of the TP being so awful, I didn’t think anyone would believe me.

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      There are SO many positive reviews about the AOA that I knew that most people would disagree with me. Like you said, Disney can do better. Even though this is a low end resort the price is still high.

    • Michelle says

      Wow, someone is high end; ordering pizza 3 times from outside because ‘the food was so bad’…really? I can’t even imagine that. Yeah, it’s not the kind of food you probably eat at home where people are serving you on gold platters with white gloves on but come on. And complaining about the toilet paper? Do you expect a cloud every time you need to wipe, or you need a butler to come in a wipe you off with a towel like you probably get at the “Deluxe Resorts”? It’s the same kind of toilet paper you get in the parks, deal with it, it’s fine and nothing to complain about!
      As for me, I am a person who has only had the luxury to stay at value resorts (except for the special 1 night my husband splurged and we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge when he proposed to me, then we went to the value resort for the remainder of our trip). I haven’t even had the experience of staying at the high end value resort AOA! We usually stay at Pop Century and walk over because it is so amazing to walk through. We have gone over and ate at the “dreaded” food court once too, and it was really good, I must say myself! Our theory, why bother spend all of our savings on a deluxe resort when we are actually paying to be at the Disney Parks; we spend as much time as we can at the parks because that’s why we went to Florida in the first place! We go to our room to sleep, and the occasional dip in the pool.
      So as for us less privelaged folk, the AOA is amazing, and the time and work put into making that place is incredible, just walking around for an hour and taking it all in is amazing, it’s like being in the movies they have depicted there, I love it.

      • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

        When one spends a lot of money at a hotel or resort, one should expect quality. One also has the freedom and expression without judgment and name calling from others that may disagree. In addition, one should not expect to wipe their butt and have their fingers pop through the cheap toilet paper after spending a crap load on a hotel located on the Disney property.

        • Michelle says

          There is PLENTY of quality at AOA, it’s the best possible value resort you could stay at. What did you expect when you booked a value resort? Obviously you expected the same as what you get at a deluxe resort because comparing the two of them like you did showed that. Just keep spending your millions at the deluxe resorts and stay away from us regular people that stay at the value resorts.
          Oh, and don’t use the bathrooms out in public ANYWHERE in the world, your finger may pop through the cheap toilet paper because in public bathrooms, the toilet paper isn’t made out of clouds, it’s the same toilet paper that was at the AOA :-X
          In my opinion, I think you either need to delete your post, re-name it and change the wording, or something to that effect, because you are not doing that resort any good. You are steering people away from an amazing resort that has a lot to offer for no good reason. There is no possible way to sit there and make those criticisms that you did against it when all you have to compare it to is the deluxe resorts, it’s just stupid, unfair, and completely wrong.

          • IMHO the only one who needs to be deleting anything is you Michelle. At least she presented her opinion politely instead of the way you did. Your post was unfortunately rude.

            I plan on staying at AoA in March and I found it nice that you said something about the hotel, I hate cheap thin toilet paper and now I can remember to pack some nice toilet paper. Luckily the other things you mentioned will be fine (except I’m sure my husband won’t like the walk to refill the mugs lol). No place is perfect and I read your blog so I could help myself have realistic expectations for my experience.

          • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

            Thank you, Sarah. I really hope you love it! If I ever go back to AOA, I will stay in a suite from what I have learned.

          • Yes, the opinion was presented in a nice manner, but when you’re writing a blog that many follow, it’s not really fair to give a bad review of something based on a skewed experience. People will follow that review and decide not to stay there, which is a shame. Art of Animation is a VALUE resort, so it’s not fair that it’s being compared to a Deluxe resort.

            The prices at AoA start at $127 a night (Little Mermaid room, not the suites). The prices at the least expensive Deluxe resort start at over $300. If you want to spend 1/3 of what a deluxe room costs, can you really expect to get the same quality? That’s like reviewing Wal-Mart based on always shopping at Neiman Marcus.

            Sad thing is, people will read the review and be turned off of AoA and never even try it because of that review.

  63. Nick Hammond says

    Hi Aimee,

    I feel you went in with interesting expectations. I have stayed at a plethora of different resorts on Disney and have found that they all have their quirks. Picking a resort on property is one of the biggest decisions you make in my opinion. I feel bad that you had a bad time at a great resort but there is a difference in the levels of resort and this is very evident when looking at them just in photos.

    -The lobby was too far. We stayed in The Little Mermaid rooms and they are the farthest rooms from the lobby. Yes, we could have stayed in a closer suite such as Cars or Finding Nemo but we didn’t. Walking outside in the cold, rain, heat, and dark is not fun especially after spending all day at the parks. This is especially a nuisance when you want to refill your refillable Disney cup.

    We do lots of research on the property and know which sections are closest to the lobby and bus area. The distance can be an issue no matter which level of resort you stay at, the weather is something you don’t really have to deal with depending on what you are doing.

    -The only transportation available to get to the parks are the buses. The buses are great but having them as your only transportation option is not fun and it makes travel time to the parks much longer.

    The bus is the main transportation for most resorts on property, in most cases the only so I am not sure how/why that was an issue. If you are used to staying at say the Beach Club, since you mentioned it, yes, that is a property in the minority as far as transportation goes. Meaning it has more options than most. You are limited in the other modes depending on where you want to go.

    -We stayed in a standard room so we knew that it would be small but not that small. In our room, we had 2 adults and 2 girls under the age of 8. It was hard to move around and there was not much room to store our suitcases or purchases. There was not a closet that allowed this but only a niche by the sink area that allowed you to hang your clothes and cram a few items. I like to have my living area to be clean and it was not possible at this hotel.

    I can not speak to the size of the suites, it is just me and my wife when we go but this is, from what i have heard from people, news to me.

    -The Art of Animation does not have a table service restaurant but instead has a quick service restaurant that gets really crowded and has multiple lines. When you have a lot of kids and a stroller this can be difficult to maneuver food trays and kids.

    This usually isn’t an issue for us as we don’t eat at the same place twice in a trip ever and rarely eat at the restaurant at the hotel we are at. This also comes down to timing, yes, if you eat at “normal” times, you will wait longer. I am surprised you haven’t run into a similar issue at say Pecos Bills or really any counter service in a park and most resorts.

    -The Art of Animation has a ‘Motel’ style to it. The doors open to the outside which I am normally okay with but not at Disney. I didn’t realize I would feel this way until after my visit.

    See the first item, same answer.

    -When I am on vacation, I want to be comfortable when I get back to my room, especially after a long day at the parks. I’ve never stayed at a hotel, motel, or a resort and not been able to move the A/C past a certain point. I’ve also never come back to my room to have the A/C set to be hotter than what I set it to be when I left. I did some research about this and read a lot of complaints from other guests.

    I am the same way. Most of the visits, I need it as cold as can be and have never felt it wasn’t cold enough for me. I am a guy who lives in the north and only wears shorts and sweatshirts, even during snow storms, so I like it very cold. Maybe yours was broken, did you say anything?

    -Beds were hard, need I say more?

    Depending on the room, yes they can be, the wife sometimes has an issue but we have let them know and they come with extra padding if need be.

    No offense but I really feel you went into this trip blindly without research or frankly, are just spoiled on the luxuries of the deluxe resort, which is fine for some people. I do not know many people that can afford to stay 2 weeks at the beach club and then decide to “save money” by staying at a value. I have gone every year at least once for the past 10 years, we have made all of our decisions hotel wise and which place to request after hours of research. Same with the food, maybe I am just able to look past certain things easier. Who knows. This was a very well written and thought review and you do have valid points in some case

    • Tiesha Vail says

      I fully agree with this…I loved Art of Animation and had no issues….we stayed at the Lion King family suite so it was almost as far as The Little Mermaid but we knew the distance when we booked. My son loves all the details put into this resort and to me it is the perfect Disney resort as it is the only one that is fully Disney. It is all about Disney from the room decor all the way to the plants outside. I loved it.

  64. I have only visited the Art of Animation. The theming and food court are great. I have only stayed at a value resort once in the visits to Disney World. I prefer the space and anemities that deluxe and moderates provide. It has more of a Disney feel to them. It was great to read your honest review. We are stayed at Beach Club on our next trip in 3 weeks.

    • The Beach Club is amazing!!!!! We stayed there for 2 weeks one summer and never wanted to leave. The restaurant and ice cream is so good.

      • And that’s exactly why you didn’t like the Art of Animation. The Beach Club is (starting price) about $250 a night more than the Little Mermaid room at AoA. Of course there’s going to be a huge discrepancy in amenities.

  65. Regina Elliott says

    I’m trying to figure out where to sign up for your newsletter???

  66. We stayed there recently with 3 little boys and loved it (we are normally Deluxe folks, too). We found the Little Mermaid Room to be fine for all of us (with a crib set up as well) since we spent little time at the room. We also loved seeing the Hollywood Studios fireworks right from the room. The boys geeked out over the Cars land area. We did not eat/drink at the resort – we used the fridge to store food and ate cereal at the room and packed sandwiches for lunch in the park. The walk through Lion King at night was one of our favorite parts.

    I think it is ok for everyone to have different tastes – that is what makes Disney great! My biggest complaint was the crazy thin toilet paper and no towels at the pool!

    • aimeefauci@gmail.com says

      I forgot about that toilet paper! We went during Christmas so we didn’t get to experience the pools. I wish we had because of the underwater music I believe they had in the pools.

    • Where did you eat cereal for 5?!? I’m being serious, not sarcastic. We could barely stand in those rooms, let alone have a sit down breakfast. And make a sandwich? I had trouble trying to find a place to store the popcorn we picked up in the park. I’m starting to think we got the smallest room in the hotel.

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