Art of Animation Resort – A Suite “Value Plus” Deal by Disney

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Representatives from Travel & Tours Unlimited recently took a tour of the Art of Animation Resort. This resort is classified by Disney as a “value plus” resort and has some surprising features.

Disney is in the business of telling stories and this resort illustrates the animator’s story from beginning to end.

When a visitor arrives at the front of the Art of Animation Resort, it does not impress as many of the Disney resorts do. The front of the building looks rather plain and stark in comparison to the deluxe resorts such as the Polynesian Resort or the Wilderness Lodge, or even to the budget resorts such as the All Star Resorts. However, when you walk through the front door of the lobby, it is what is inside and the “story” behind it that impresses.

Disney is in the business of telling stories and this resort illustrates the animator’s story from beginning to end. As a visitor enters the brightly colored lobby (or Animation Hall), there are a series of rough sketches on the wall from some of Disney’s most popular movies. As one progresses through the lobby, the wall contains drawings closer and closer to the final product, reflecting the progression of the animators’ drawings as they approach the images shown in the movies.

Exiting the back of Animation Hall, guests encounter the largest pool in a Walt Disney World resort (other than the water parks). The pool is decorated to make a guest feel like they are under the sea in the Finding Nemo theme with larger-than-life characters. Theme music playing in the pool area can also be heard under the water as well as characters talking to each other. In all, the resort will be the home for 2,000 characters when finished.

The Art of Animation was originally slated to be Phase II of the Pop Century Resort, which opened in December 2003. Evidence of this intent is a bridge that connects the two resorts divided by Hourglass Lake. Presumably, Phase II was shelved due to lower occupancy levels at the existing resorts and the sluggish economy during middle of the decade.

In the meantime, the Disney planners got another idea – to create the first themed resort based on popular Disney movies. The resort is divided into four themed areas, each named after a popular Disney movie:

  •     Finding Nemo – opened May 31, 2012
  •     Cars – opened June 19, 2012
  •     The Lion King – to open August 10, 2012
  •     The Little Mermaid – to open September 15, 2012

When the last area opens in September, there will be a total of 1,984 rooms.

Three of the four themed areas are suites. Disney decided to provide the suite option for guests with larger parties after observing that the limited number of suites at the All Star Music Resort sold out quickly. Each suite, including a private bedroom, can accommodate up to six guests, plus an infant in a crib. The plan is for all of the suites in the three themed areas to be the same price. The Little Mermaid area is the only area with standard rooms.

Representatives of Travel & Tours Unlimited recently visited the Art of Animation Resort and took a tour the day before the opening of the Cars section of the resort. The tour included a peak at the Cars suites which are appointed in Cars-related décor. For example, the dresser appears to be a tool chest and the lamp shades resemble roadside warning cones.

While the Art of Animation resort is considered a value plus resort, there are several features that make it seem like a more up-scale resort. For example, when guests check in for their vacation, a cast member may say something like “Let’s sketch your vacation,” providing a feeling of customization. When visiting the dining area, the servers say something like, “What can I create for you today” reflecting the many personal dining options available. Another feature that reflects the “value plus” category is that the guest room buildings have interior hallways rather exterior entrances common to value resorts.

Since guests can easily walk from the Art of Animation Resort to the Pop Century Resort, conceivably a family needing a suite could stay at Art of Animation while a family vacationing with them needing only a standard room could stay at Pop Century. Then both families could enjoy the amenities of both resorts.

Travel & Tours Unlimited, Inc. specializes in all types of cruises, tours and vacation packages. Its goal is to “help their clients’ plan their best week of the year – their vacation!” The agency has been designated as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner by Disney, a gold level Certified Sandals Specialist by Sandals and a Master Cruise Counselor by the Cruise Line International Association. Visit them at http://www.TravelToursUnlimited.com.

Contact information:
    410-876-6123
    Jerry(at)TravelToursUnlimited(dot)com

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