Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton was joined on stage by Mickey and Minnie Mouse and many other Disney characters to officially open Disney’s Art of Animation Resort this morning, May 31, 2012. Disney’s newest resort opened with the Finding Nemo wing, but three others will follow later this year: Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.
Family suite wings will showcase Finding Nemo opening today with 320 suites, Cars opening June 18 with 480 suites and The Lion King opening Aug. 10 with 320 suites. Standard guest rooms will make up The Little Mermaid wing, the final phase set to open Sept. 15 with 864 rooms.
The three-story, value resort tells the story of the animation process in phases from pencil drawings to close ups. Pencil drawings of Ariel, Lightning McQueen, Nemo and Simba adorn the entryway, and a chandelier composed of 77 animation storyboards enhances the lively and modern Animation Hall lobby.
“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 characters pave the way to each area. 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. At the Cars wing, a freshly paved road will lead to the Cozy Cone Motel complete with a Cozy Cone pool and cone-shaped cabanas. It’s a journey 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 Little Mermaid courtyard.
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.
Kids of all ages can make a splash at the “Big Blue” pool, 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 children’s play area. And the character sketches become three dimensional with some 2,500 sculpted figures decorating the resort’s exterior and interior.
The Pixel Play Arcade, Drop Off pool bar, and Ink and Paint gift shop round out the offerings. Kids may enjoy the daily character artist in the Finding Nemo lobby, and nighttime movies poolside. There are two additional pools under way in the Cars and Lion King wings as well.
Dining options include a poolside snack bar, pizza delivery and Landscape of Flavors food court, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Original backgrounds from featured films decorate the walls in the dining area.
The property is situated adjacent to Disney’s Pop Century Resort with rates 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 sleep up to four, with rates starting at $94.
“Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is part of our continued investment in Central Florida and helps keep our region squarely on the map as the world’s premiere family vacation destination,” said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, US and France. “As more and more families travel and make memories together, they also want to stay together, which has created demand for family suites.”
For our review of Disney’s Art of Animation, be sure to purchase the Summer 2012 edition of Orlando Attractions Magazine. For reservations, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or contact your travel agent.