We travel to Disney frequently and usually stay at Port Orleans Riverside, but with everything Art of Animation offers, I honestly could not tell that I was staying in a “value” resort. We will be requesting this resort in the future.
Check-in – The staff, of course, was friendlier than ever (what do you expect from Disney?!), and upon check-in we received our map, keys, activity schedule, and dining plan info.
The lights and decor in the lobby alone had my kids in awe.
The Scenery: We anxiously passed through the “Nemo” section to get to Radiator Springs, and WOW! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was humming “Life is a Highway” along the way! From the billboards and the life sized Cars, to the “Cozy Cone” cabanas and the grass (yes, I said grass), every last detail put us right in the heart of Carburetor County…can you tell I’ve seen this movie a lot?
After the shock wore off, we headed up to our room. We did not choose a “preferred” room, and the walk wasn’t too bad.
We stayed in the “Wheel Well Motel” section with Lightning McQueen and Sally out front.
Rooms: Our room was incredible, and every inch just screamed “Cars” – cones on the carpet and lamps, metal plating on the drawers, car wash themed bathrooms, and an “old fashioned” vinyl couch are just a FEW of the many Disney details.
OK, OK, enough about the look – you want to know how it functions for kids, right? Well, with two queens (Master and pull out couch), and one full sized bed (Murphy bed/table), there was plenty of space for the 5 of us, we could have easily fit two more, as my son was in a pack-n-play.
The kitchen is more of a “kitchenette”, as it had no stove or oven, but with the quick service selections, we only used the fridge and the coffee maker (Cuisinart Dual Pod). The kitchen also had a microwave, plates, cups, silverware, and paper goods.
The bathrooms were stocked, as always, with the Disney/H2O brand soaps and shampoos, and towels (which, like all values, double as your pool towels).
Our room had a view of the POP Century, and was located on the 4th floor. Inside the main lobby was the Pixel Play arcade, bathrooms, a gift shop with a HUGE selection of goodies, from Mickey’s Pantry cookware, to Art of Animation resortwear, and sundries, and the food court.
Dining: The food court was possibly my FAVORITE part of this hotel – offering burgers (not just any ‘ole burger…Crab Cake and shrimp burger, anyone?), pizza/pasta, chicken dishes, a smoothie station, and Mongolian (their Mahi was divine!). Their dessert selection was out of this world, and included Mickey ganache, mini cupcakes, fruit tarts, a gelato station, cheesecakes, iced coffees, and selections from BabyCakes Bakery (vegan and gluten free)! Their selections of fruit and organic choices were the best I have seen at any Disney resort thus far, offering organic snack bars, healthy trail mixes, fresh and chilled fruit, and small snack boxes.
Disney service is typically amazing, but the chef at the Mongolian restaurant was beyond that! I ended up leaving him an “applause” note at the front desk, due to his attention to detail and food safety (he changed gloves about 15 times while I was watching him cook my daughter’s fish!). We had the dining plan that came with a resort mug (standard resort drinks – sodas, hot chocolate, lemonade, etc.) and the best part was that beyond the multitude of refill stations within the food court and by the pool!
The Pools: The Cars pool, other than the cone shaped cabanas, was pretty standard, in a “wheel” shape.
However, the “Nemo” pool is worth a days time if you have it. Along with a “totally awesome” sea turtle themed playground, they had a large padded “splash pad” area for the kids with fountains ranging in size from baby to tween, and a zero level entry pool at the main pool.
The pool restrooms were immaculately clean, and had showers and lockers for guest use.
The pool also has complimentary life jackets, lifeguards, a pool bar, ping pong tables, and a nightly Disney movie.
Transportation: Art of Animation has its own bus service, so we never shared with another resort, and didn’t have to wait longer than a couple minutes. The resort is only half completed, with the Lion King and Little Mermaid rooms set to open this fall.
So my final assessment? All in all, give me an oven and I’m moving in!