When I hear budget hotel, I immediately think “Motel 6.” But this is Disney we are talking about, and when Disney adds a sprinkle of Pixie Dust to Budget the result is “Wow.” (And in a good way.)
Art of Animation resort is Disney’s newest “budget” resort offering guests the ability to stay on Disney property at affordable prices. I had the opportunity to visit the property before it opened last spring during the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. We were so impressed that we booked a room to stay there this winter.
In true Disney style, Art of Animation incorporated whimsy, enchanting characters and plenty of family fun into a resort stay like no other. With a huge campus divided into four sections (Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid) there is a lot to see and do.
During our stay we stayed in The Little Mermaid section of the property. What makes The Little Mermaid section unique at AOA is that it is traditional room. Why is traditional unique? Because at AOA the other three wings are all mini, single-family suites. The main room is composed of a sitting area, mini kitchenette and dinning table that converts into a Murphy bed, adjacent to that is a bedroom with a single queen bed and a bathroom. Pretty cool set up for families with small children. No more sneaking around in a dark room whispering to each other in fear of waking the kids, now mom and dad can enjoy a little privacy. Pretty cool, especially because remember — this is a budget resort.
In comparison, The Little Mermaid wing is the only area of AOA that is home to traditional-style rooms. (A little trivia for you: the land that AOA sits on was originally intended to be a new addition to Pop Century. In fact, the basic structure of The Little Mermaid wing, which is closest to Pop Century, and the main building were built with that intention. But because of the recession, the project was halted and sat vacant for years. When AOA began to develop, it made more sense to start with the structures already in place. Thus, The Little Mermaid wing rooms mirror those at Pop Century with a distinctly different under-the-sea feel.)
So why stay in The Little Mermaid wing (besides a love for Ariel, of course)? The price.
Yes, the entire resort is a budget resort, however, the rooms in The Little Mermaid wing are significantly less than rooms in the other wings. Sure you don’t get the extra space and privacy, but if you are used to staying in a traditional room anyway, you won’t miss it. When we stayed in December, the regular rate (no discounts) was $106 per night – a fantastic price for a Disney resort. I have stayed in regular hotels that cost more than that.
In addition to staying on Disney property, which means easy and free transportation to all of the Disney attractions, AOA offers plenty of fun, resort-style amenities including the largest resort pool at WDW and on-property dinning that is included in the Disney meal plan. There are three pools in total at AOA one in the Cars area, The Little Mermaid area and, of course, the biggest of them all the Finding Nemo pool. In the Lion King courtyard, families can also enjoy outdoor movies. And the main building on property houses the Pixel Play Arcade.
We loved our stay at AOA in The Little Mermaid wing, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to save money and stay at Disney. In addition to the adorable themed decor (including Ariel’s grotto in the bathroom). One of the features of the room that we really liked was the privacy curtain that partitioned of the bathroom area of the room. It allowed us to get ready for bed even after the girls had gone to sleep (or at least were trying to go to sleep).
The Art of Animation resort at Walt Disney World is located near Hollywood Studios.