LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.- The big blue world of Nemo and friends, the Pride Lands of Africa, under the sea in Ariel’s grotto, a super-charged adventure through Radiator Springs — they all come to life for vacationers at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World Resort.
Each of four distinctly designed wings celebrates rich storytelling, spirited characters, original sketches and playfulness with colorful icons and whimsical theming inspired by classic Disney and Disney•Pixar films. The three-story, value resort opened in May 2012.
Three family suite wings showcase “Finding Nemo” with 320 suites, “Cars” with 480 suites, and “The Lion King” with 320 suites. All the themed areas offer elaborate storytelling both inside and out, from each beloved film depicted. Standard guest rooms make up “The Little Mermaid” wing, the final phase that opened Sept. 15 with 864 rooms.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort tells the story of the animation process in phases from pencil drawings to close-ups. It immediately transports guests into the worlds of favorite Disney characters and animated films beginning at arrival as pixilated patterns and wavy ribbons of bold colors decorate the resort’s exterior. Inside the lively and modern Animation Hall lobby, the evolution of Ariel, Lightning McQueen, Nemo and Simba from early artist sketches to finished image — greet guests, and a whimsical chandelier composed of 77 animation storyboards enhances the scene.
“Our goal was to make guests feel like they have been immersed in the artistry and enchantment of Walt Disney and Disney•Pixar animated classics,” said Walt Disney Imagineer Frank Paris.
Giant sketchbooks filled with favorite characters seem to come to life as they pave the way to each storyline revealed throughout the lobby. Scenic settings and icons—including a brightly-colored coral landscape, a 35-foot-tall model of King Triton, a towering Mufasa and more—immerse guests into the playful world of animation in each respective courtyard. At the “Cars” wing, a freshly paved road leads to the Cozy Cone Motel complete with a Cozy Cone pool and cone-shaped cabanas.
It’s a safari through an African landscape in “The Lion King” complete with an elephant graveyard play area that invites youngsters to seek hakuna matata time. Treasures from the human world fill Ariel’s grotto in an under- the-sea kingdom in The Little Mermaid wing.
Playful accents that are hallmarks of outdoor areas extend indoors. From linens and carpeting to fixtures and furniture, all details of the guestrooms tie to the storyline. In “Finding Nemo,” there’s coral-shaped chairs and bubble ceiling lights; rusty metallic tiles in the bathroom make guests feel as though they are in the submarine. Zazu takes center stage on the headboards in “The Lion King,” while Pumbaa and Timon decorate the shower curtain.
Resort dining options in the main Animation Hall include a poolside snack bar, pizza delivery and Landscape of Flavors food court. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the food court features items such as fresh smoothies, hand-scooped gelato and Mongolian barbecue. Original art backgrounds from featured films decorate the walls in the dining area, adding to the attention to detail and sense of immersion. The Pixel Play Arcade, Drop Off pool bar, and Ink and Paint gift shop round out the offerings.
Here’s a look around each themed wing of the resort:
Kids of all ages can make a splash at the “Big Blue” pool — centerpiece of the resort — and the largest resort swimming pool at Walt Disney World Resort measuring 11,859 square feet. Guests will feel like they are swimming with Dory and Nemo as underwater speakers periodically pipe in music and messages from film characters. Guests will enter scenes from the animated world and can explore the colorful reef and East Australian Current with a giant-sized Mr. Ray whose wings span 27 feet, pose for a picture with Crush or frolic with Squirt in the Righteous Reef, a dry children’s play area. Nemo’s mates Pearl, Tad and Sheldon make a splash at the Schoolyard Sprayground, a wet play area with refreshing sprayers.
And the character sketches become three dimensional with some 2,500 sculpted figures decorating both the resort’s exterior and interior.
Inside the spacious suites the whimsy of the film is depicted with jellyfish lampshades, a coral reef themed headboard, and cheerful color scheme.
Kids will enjoy the daily character artist in the “Finding Nemo” lobby, plus bingo, hula hoop contests, ping pong and nighttime movies, all poolside.
Lightning McQueen, Mater, Flo and other characters from the popular Pixar film “Cars” offer high octane fun in the Cars wing. Featuring 480 family suites, a freshly paved road leads guests on the greatest road trip ever, a cruise down memory lane to small town America — Radiator Springs. Parked at the entryway, Sheriff, and the infamous Doc Hudson, welcome folks into town, along with other car “faces” parked along the road.
There are backdrops of Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, Tow Mater Towing and the Wheel Well Motel, creating an authentic setting lifted from the super-charged adventure.
All roads lead to the 60-s style Cozy Cone Motel where distinctive orange cone-shaped cabanas invite guests to kick back and then take a dip in the Cozy Cone Pool. High-octane theming is full-throttle inside the family suites, with orange cones imprinted in the carpeting and adorning the light fixtures plus animation-inspired artwork. Guests will feel as though they walked into a scene from the blockbuster film as a pull-out bed extends from the living room sofa (whimsically appearing as the back seat of an old hot rod), the tool chest is actually the dresser and the bathroom design is inspired by a car wash.
The Lion King
The Lion King wing celebrates the journey of Simba, with landscapes and theming that reflect playful and poignant scenes from the Academy Award-winning Walt Disney Pictures animated film “The Lion King.”
Here, guests embark on a journey through Africa encountering characters and scenic moments from the film classic at every turn. King Mufasa towers atop Pride Rock while his evil brother Scar slinks in the shadows beyond the elephant graveyard. There’s Pumbaa and Timon with a young Simba dancing across a log bridge in true carefree “hakuna matata” fashion. Scar’s crazed and comical hyenas “guard” the elephant graveyard, a fun area sure to delight youngsters.
Inside the 320 family suites, the storytelling comes to life. Zazu takes center stage on the headboards while Pumbaa and Timon decorate the shower curtain. Youngsters can rest on a leaf-shaped chair or sleep alongside Simba who slumbers at the head of one of the beds.
The Little Mermaid
Guests are invited to slumber in Ariel’s colorful retreat at “The Little Mermaid” wing. Themed to one of the most celebrated animated films of all time “The Little Mermaid” features 864 standard hotel rooms that can sleep up to four guests. With a sea-inspired color palette and an aquatic motif, guests become part of her world as they plunge “under the sea” into Ariel’s secret grotto.
Playful film-inspired décor and characters from the undersea kingdom including Ursula, King Triton and Sebastian come to life both inside guestrooms and in the courtyard.
Guests can lounge poolside at the Flippin’ Fins pool, one of three pools at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, situated adjacent to Disney’s Pop Century Resort, offers rates for family suites from $248 per night. The 1,120 family suites include two bathrooms, a kitchenette and three separate sleeping areas that can sleep up to six. The 864 standard rooms at The Little Mermaid can sleep up to four, with rates as low as $94.
Those staying at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are treated to complimentary transportation, Extra Magic Hours and other benefits available to a Disney Resort hotel guest.
For reservations, guests can call 407-W-DISNEY (934-7639) or contact a travel agent.
About Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous, nearly 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation destination featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon); 36 resort hotels (26 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, includes nine Disney Vacation Club resort properties); 63 holes of golf on four courses; two full-service spas; Disney’s Wedding Pavilion; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; and Disney Springs, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex. Walt Disney World Resort is also included in Disney Cruise Line vacation packages. Located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort opened Oct. 1, 1971. Open daily, year-round. For more information, visit www.disneyworld.com.