If you’ve been to Walt Disney World (from here on known as WDW), or if you’ve started to plan a trip there, you know that the very first part of planning involves deciding where to stay. For our family, this isn’t a hard choice. Here are the top points in making our resort choice:
- On Property is a MUST! Not everyone will agree with me here, and that’s OK. For our family, it works. We love the Disney transportation, the convenience, and most of all the total immersion in all things Disney.
- Must sleep 5…comfortably. This actually narrows the pool down quite a bit for us. The deluxe resorts can sleep 5, but usually that involves a cot or some other way of squeezing together. (meh) In the moderate category, you have Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach, both of which have rooms that include a small pull-out bed for the 5th person. They look nice but extremely…cozy. There are also the cabins at Fort Wilderness, which look like a good option. In the value category, you can do a family suite at either All Stars Music or Art of Animation. Both of these options give you sleeping for 6 as well as a 2nd bathroom. Our choice has been Art of Animation.
We’ve stayed in both the Lion King and Cars Family Suites. We really love the amount of space we have, the separate master, and two bathrooms. Our family actually preferred the Lion King over Cars, based on the theming. YMVM.
We’ve always found the rooms and the grounds to be clean and well maintained. I do have to give a shout-out to the mousekeepers. We had a sick kid (twice) in the middle of the night and they were great about coming out and cleaning and leaving us plenty of extra supplies.
We arrived at Art of Animation around lunch time, checked in, and decided to head straight to Landscapes of Flavors for a bite to eat. This was our first time eating at the resort since we usually just eat in the parks. Online, Landscapes get pretty decent reviews, at least as far as resort quick service goes. Our experience was not all that great. Here’s my F.A.S.T. review.
Food: The kids meals were pretty basic kids meals. 2 had pizza and one had mac & cheese. Really nothing to write home about (or blog about…). M had the meatball sandwich (sorry…no pic). He said the meatballs were OK, but the bread it was served on was really tough. I had the create-your-own pasta, with chicken and alfredo sauce. Unlike everyone else, my food was really good. And there was way more than I could eat. And Mickey cupcakes for dessert – always perfect.
Atmosphere: The theming of the resort really carries over into the dining area. We sat in the Little Mermaid section. That part of the atmosphere was great. But that’s where it ends. The serving area was confusing: you had to stand in different lines based on what you want to order. That’s fine. But then you have to go somewhere else entirely to get your desserts, and if you have kids they have to go somewhere else again for sides. It could’ve been laid out better. It was also pretty dirty. We were there fairly late for lunch, and the trash bins were overflowing. Not what I’ve come to expect from Disney.
Service: Not good. We asked several cast members for help figuring out where things were and no body really seemed like they wanted to help. The cashier who checked us out in particular acted put out by the fact that I had the dining plan. This was hands down the worst service I’ve ever had at Disney.
Tips: While I won’t tell you to skip Landscapes, I can’t really recommend it either. If you are staying at the resort, maybe it would be decent for breakfast. If you do end up here for lunch or dinner, I’d go with the create-your-own stations where you have a bit more control and you know your food is being prepared fresh.
We had a little time after lunch, so we decided to take part in some of the activities around the resort. We headed over to the Learn to Draw class near the check-in area. There is a TV in the room that shows Disney cartoons, and the kids really enjoyed those. Two or three times a day, they offer a drawing class. This is the same type of class they used to offer at Hollywood Studios. Our character was Tinkerbell. Not the easiest character to draw, but it was fun!
We also had a little time for the pool. This was late January, so not too many people were using the pools, but we’re from Iowa, so the mid-50s and sun felt really good! M & I stayed out of the water, but the kids all got in and had a great time.
All in all, we love Art of Animation. It’s great for families who want to be completely immersed in Disney theming.