On our recent trip to Disney World with our six, four, and one year old children, we stayed at the Art of Animation, one of Disney’s on-site resorts.
The setup at Art of Animation worked really well for our family, and I wanted to write a post about why we think Art of Animation is a great Disney hotel for young children.
As soon as we stepped off the Magical Express (Disney’s transfer bus from the airport) and caught the first glimpse of our resort, the Disney excitement began. How could it not with larger than life sized illustrations of Disney favourites Simba, Ariel, and Lightning McQueen to greet you as you arrive at the resort?
The children were completely captivated by all of the theming in Art of Animation. It was just the best introduction to the magic of Disney World that we could have hoped for when taking a six year old and a four year old on a Disney trip.
The theming continues inside the lobby with a humongous wall of illustrations depicting the process of how a character goes from initial sketch to animated creation.
Catching a glimpse of the pool as we walked to our family suite was like looking at a scene straight out of Finding Nemo. The seagulls even make an appearance, chanting “Mine, mine mine!” every so often, and making everyone laugh.
Why the Art of Animation is a great hotel for young children:
For me, one of the big things that makes the Art of Animation stand out as a great resort for young children are the ‘lands’ that make up the different accommodation areas.
We were staying in the Cars section of the Art of Animation resort. Everywhere you look there are fun little (and big!) details. The entrances to the buildings are not just boring building fronts, they are made to look like scenes and locations from the Cars movies.
(Our family suite was through these doors behind Arlo)
Our children thought they were actually living in Cars Land, and it just felt so fun every time we walked home to our suite from a day out at the parks. There is similar incredible theming in the Lion King area, if you have little fans of that movie, too.
Another thing that makes the Art of Animation really great for families with young children is the pool area. There are actually three choices of pool at the Art of Animation, the main pool being especially child-friendly with it’s shallow beach style slope into the water and fun things to play with.
There is also a dedicated splash area next to the main pool, which was perfect for our one year old. Here, he was able to toddle around unrestricted (he hates being held in the water, but he doesn’t understand that he can’t swim!) He loved the jets of water that would randomly splash up, and I honestly think he could have played here for hours.
Why the Art of Animation is a great hotel for families of five or more:
There are five people in our family (two adults and three children). Whilst our youngest is still small, we manage OK in a standard double room with two big beds. But once he grows out of the travel cot, we will need to start finding hotel options that work better for a family of five.
As we walked into our family suite at the Art of Animation for the first time, I realised that our growing family size would definitely not be a problem here. Due to the space offered and the amount of beds, this was a resort option that we could continue to use for years to come, as our children grow older (and bigger!)
A family suite at the Art of Animation is actually two rooms. You enter into a big room with a dining table, kitchenette and sofabed, with a family bathroom just to the side. Then, you have a separate room with a double bed and en-suite bathroom.
This meant us grown ups could have a separate room to the children (great for those occasions when the kids go to bed early or need a daytime nap, and you don’t want to disturb them by having the TV / lights on) Arlo and Rory slept on the sofabed, and Otto was in a travel cot just next to them, with plenty of space to spare.
The really clever thing about the family suites at the Art of Animation is that the dining table is actually a secret murphy bed (one of those ones that folds down from the wall – the boys thought it was “really cool!”) So, if you need it, you have not one, but three double bed options in your family suite.
On more than one night, Sam actually ended up sleeping on the pull down murphy bed, because Otto isn’t the best at sleeping through the night, and often winds up next to me after his first wake up – sometimes it’s just more comfortable for everyone if we have our own space. He said that the mattress was perfectly comfortable, in fact, more comfortable than some of the hotel beds we’ve slept in in the past.
WIth the flexibility and amount of beds on offer in a family suite at Art of Animation, I could see it working comfortably for a family of six (as long as your children don’t mind sharing a double bed). You could even fit six people plus a baby in a travel cot.
Art of Animation Restaurant – Landscape of Flavors:
The restaurant at Art of Animation is food court style, where you can take a tray to several ‘stations’ serving different food options. There are always plenty of options available (keeping the pickiest of eaters in our family happy!), and we found it to be a very relaxed environment where children are welcome to be themselves. The grab-and-go breakfast items such as pastries and bagels were particularly useful on the mornings that we were in a rush to make early magic hours at the parks.
Why Early Magic Hours are great when you have young children:
Another invaluable bonus of staying at a Disney World resort hotel is access to the Early Magic Hours. Early Magic Hours grant you early entry into the Disney World Parks an hour before official park opening time, and before any non-resort guests can enter. We found that with young children, we were up early anyway, and the early magic hours were often our most productive part of the day – lines were short and we could get a decent amount of rides under our belt before mid-morning.
The early magic hours were such a big help to our day to day routine at Disney World, that for that reason alone, if / when we go back to Disney World in the future, I would always opt to stay in a Disney World resort hotel.
One of the best things about taking our children to Disney World whilst they are young was seeing the pure amazement on their faces at every new experience. Staying in such a fun hotel really made a difference to our children’s overall impression of Disney World. The Art of Animation played just as big part in the fun of our Disney holiday as the actual parks did. This was largely down to the extensive theming at Art of Animation. We found the perks of having a family suite, and the early magic hours were absolutely invaluable to our time at Disney World with young children.
Here are a few more photos I took during our stay at the Art of Animation resort (the boys wanted a photo with every single car there!)
This post is in partnership with Walt Disney World and Mumsnet. I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity and all opinions here are my own.