Many casual tourists are quick to say Walt Disney World is just for kids, with its princesses, carousels, and magical fairy tale lands. But Disney fans are just as quick to say that Disney theme parks and resorts are for kids of all ages, just as Walt Disney himself intended when he decided to create Disneyland decades ago. The first wing of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort lies distinctly in-between these two camps, certainly entertaining both kids and adults but leaving the latter with less to enjoy on their own.
I recently attended the grand opening of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and its “Finding Nemo” wing and spending a night there. I greatly enjoyed exploring its colorful, detail-rich grounds and swimming in its massive Big Blue Pool. But as a married-without-children 31-year-old, I did find myself feeling a bit out of place among families with kids, running through the Nemo-themed water play area and splashing around the zero-entry pool.
Alas, I am a Disney fan, able to enjoy giant representations of Crush, Mr. Ray, Dory, and the rest of the “Finding Nemo” gang, along with the rest of the new hotel’s artwork and design, just as much as any young kid does, if not more so with a greater appreciation for the creative process behind it all. But while I highly encourage all Walt Disney World visitors to explore Disney’s Art of Animation Resort no matter how young or old they are, a night’s stay there may not be right for those without kids looking for a nice, quiet place to settle in for the day.
Taking a look around my 4th floor “Finding Nemo” family suite with a pool view in the video below, it becomes obvious that only the biggest Disney/Pixar adult fans will enjoy this colorful temporary home.
Video: Finding Nemo wing 4th-floor family suite tour at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Before getting into the details of what is and isn’t good about spending a night inside one of these new suites, let’s take a step back outside the building.
Disney storytelling is present in nearly everything they create. Here, Guests are joining the “Finding Nemo” characters as they hit the EAC (East Australian Current), “swimming” all the way to their rooms. The EAC experience begins outside each of the “Finding Nemo” wing buildings, with painted lines swirling into the entrance.
Inside, the EAC stream continues down the hall, along with the custom carpeting. It’s certainly not the most lavish hallway Disney has ever designed, but simply having an interior, air-conditioned hallways is a nice improvement over Walt Disney World’s other “value” level hotels.
Naturally, hidden Mickeys can be found throughout the bubbles along the route to the rooms.
A variety of artwork lines the walls of each “Finding Nemo” wing floor, featuring different characters. Here are a few favorites:
Finally, stepping inside a family suite, the room is instantly inviting and rather picture-perfect. Straight ahead is a living room area, a nice treat for those used to one-room hotel stays.
Unfortunately, the furniture looks better than it feels. The pull-out sofa is rather stiff, perhaps not yet broken in at the brand-new hotel. The hard green footstools could definitely use some padding on top. And the red chair arches at an awkward angle, making comfortably sitting nearly impossible. It’s definitely a case of form over function.
Peering outside the window, a pool view from the 4th floor is spectacularly interesting.
But windows are thin, and nearly non-stop music and poolside activities prevented any sort of relaxation during the day, continuing all the way until 11 pm when “quiet hours” finally began. It’s great for kids that there are so many fun activities planned each day around the pool, but ultimately tiresome for adults looking for a little peace. The “Finding Nemo” wing appears not to be the right place to find that, but the future wings based on “Cars,” “The Lion King,” and “The Little Mermaid” should offer a more relaxing time with the Big Blue Pool acting as the resort’s center of attention.
The suite’s kitchenette is sure to be a wonderful help for extended stays, with a handy sink, microwave, and refrigerator.
Immediately to the left of the suite’s entrance is a unique feature to be added to the rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: a desk that folds into a bed. It’s an easy transition between the two, requiring only a gentle pull of a handle. But adults traveling without kids can leave it as a handy desk, one that ended up being a convenient place to leave out bags, cameras, and other quick-access items that would normally clutter up a sleeping area in any other hotel room.
Between the living room and folding desk/bed is one of two bathrooms in the suite. The mirror and sink area is identical to that of the master bathroom, but the shower is decidedly geared more toward kids, with a character shower curtain and tub. My wife and I found having an extra bathroom handy, whether it was for showering or changing in and out of bathing suits.
The tile inside the shower area is surprisingly dark in color, considering the brightly colored design of the rest of the suite. It’s one of the few easy-on-the-eyes areas.
The colorful design continues into the master bedroom, which looks comfortable but proved to be less than an enjoyable place to spend the night.
What appears to be a cushy bed wound up rather firm. I’m a fan of firm beds, but this was even harder than I like. Worse yet, sheets were stiff and crunchy (again, likely not yet broken in), and the comforter was heavy, cumbersome, and far too big for the bed. Pillows felt as if they were filled with nothing, leaving my head to sink right through, requiring multiple layers for any support. Despite being tired from the long grand opening day, I still didn’t get a good night’s sleep in this bed.
Fortunately, the master shower helped lack solid sleep with a nice soothing shower featuring more of the same muted decor, even minus the character-filled shower curtain. Its Kohler-brand rain shower head helped too.
Though I have nothing but high praise for how Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has been designed in its public spaces, an actual stay inside a “Finding Nemo” wing room left me much to be desired. As someone traveling without kids, while I did appreciate the extra space the suite offered, I’d far prefer to spend the $250+ price on a much more relaxing room at one of Walt Disney World’s “moderate” or even “deluxe” hotels. Disney’s Art of Animation will absolutely excite kids, even enticing them to spend more time inside the suites. Still, for adults traveling alone, a simple tour of the resort will do, with reservations made elsewhere.
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