This weekend we tried something new for our travels – Father/Daughter did one thing, while Mother and Son did another! Mr. CT took our 5yo daughter for a weekend in Walt Disney World, while our 8yo son and I stayed local for the Great Wolf Lodge. We did two mini “customized” experiences that ended up working out really well, and also gave us one on one time. In any case, more on Great Wolf coming soon… but wanted to share about their weekend staying in a Cars Suite at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, as well as their first time (for any of our family) at Cinderella’s Royal Table, a dining hot spot in WDW! They also got to check out Slinky Dog Dash and the rest of Toy Story Land!
Welcome to Radiator Springs!
First, let’s talk hotel – one described the Art of Animation as a “Disney themed Best Western” – it’s definitely not as “high end” as some of the Deluxe Resorts on property, but is also the most Disney. It’s an extremely popular place to visit, and one of the hotels I book the most for my guests. It offers Disney fun and convenience at a more affordable price, and has more of a Disney flair and family feel than some of the other value resorts. People also love the Suites at this hotel because of the kitchenettes, second bathroom, and space for larger families or longer stays without having to book a Villa at a much higher price tag or rent DVC points. Our daughter absolutely loved the cars theme of the area, from the Route 66 ambience and pool surrounded by Cozy Cones, to the detail and decor throughout the room itself. She loved her Mater bed! It looks a lot like Cars Land in DCA, but “on a budget” – almost like a replica and tribute to it! They really appreciated the creative theming and the ample space. They also said it was extremely quiet in spite of all the people at the hotel – quiet hallways, peaceful views, and extremely easy access to the bus stop. For being such a popular hotel, unlike the huge Resorts, there is only one bus stop here, and especially coming from the Suites (Little Mermaid standard hotel rooms are a bit farther) it’s a very easy walk to/from transportation.
Enjoying her Cars Land digs!
Cars Suite Table Set Up
Table Converts into Mater Bed! 🙂
Exploring Radiator Springs
Cute Shower Curtain!
Cozy Cone By the Cars Pool
They also enjoyed the Finding Nemo main pool, which does in fact feature underwater music – unique only to the Art of Animation Resort. This is a popular area because it’s close to the lobby, food court, and main pool, but also a bit louder than other areas. My family was very impressed with the amount of pool activities here and the awesome staff – there was notiecably more to do than at some other hotels. They also had a pool movie night! The Lion King area is very cute and also very well themed. Nemo, Cars, and Lion King all offer suites with basically identical layouts and subtle differences in furnishings and of course the theming. The Little Mermaid area only offers Standard Hotel Rooms and is also extremely popular with Guests – often exempting it from Disney promotions.
Finding Nemo Building
Lion King Area
Uncle Scar Awaits
Finding Nemo (Main) Pool
Little Mermaid Area
Little Mermaid Area
When it comes to food, Art of Animation has a casual food court that on the plus side has lots of grab and go options, and is fairly efficient compared to some other Resorts. My family felt it had more options and was easier to get through than those at the Moderate Resorts we’ve experienced. On the downside, it’s loud, and the quality of the food is not great. I always recommend when not on the Dining Plan Guests look into Garden Grocer or other grocery delivery services for the quick grab and go meals, and then save for nicer meals inside the parks or at the Resorts. Especially with the benefit of a microwave and kitchenette, you can really make do for quick meals on your own dime when necessary if you want to! Walt Disney World has some amazing dining options, so plan and prioritize accordingly! 🙂
Food Court – A Good Place to Entertain Children
Speaking of dining, our daughter absolutely loved Cinderella’s Royal Table! She thought it was magical being inside the castle in her Elsa dress, and loved that she got a special wand and her dad, a prince, got a sword! The photos with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Jasmine made it a heaven-on-earth morning for her! She also ate every bite of her Mickey waffles, sausage, fruit, and tried some pastries! Mr. CT enjoyed the food and service, and said the steak was good. The overall review was that it wasn’t the best meal (in terms of food) at WDW, but worth doing if a member of your family loves princesses – we were glad that our son skipped this one (both for our wallets and his own lack of interest) but thrilled our daughter got to experience it and remember it as a WDW splurge. This experience requires early booking and prepayment (including gratuity in advance), or requires 2 Dining Credits on the Dining Plan – so contact me to assist you in planning your visit!
Cinderella’s Royal Table Hall
Ready for Autographs!
Finally, they really enjoyed Toy Story Land! My daughter loved Slinky Dog Dash, which my husband described as a “classic Disney coaster – the mix between child friendly and adult.” They also enjoyed the Alien Swirling Saucers attraction which they said it similar to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at DCA but with cute theming. They even found some Hidden Mickeys! On a side note, my daughter loved her first time on Test Track later that day!
Slinky Dog Queue
Yay for Slinky Dog
Admiring her car on Test Track
Coming next… Great Wolf Lodge – a fun place for Big Kids! 🙂