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Our biggest Crush: The Nemo character is larger-than-life at the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Credit: Matt Stroshane.

By Jill E. Cooper

As vacation time rolls around and people find out I’ll be going away, the question becomes inevitable.  “Why are you going back to Walt Disney World again?”  It’s obvious: For thousands of us who grew up making our best childhood memories in the land of the mouse, the urge to return tugs on our heart strings. And secondly, Walt Disney World Walt Disney World Resort is always changing. Walt Disney himself insisted that the parks would never be finished; innovation and new attractions were part of his original blueprint. And so it’s a no-brainer that I’d want to check out  Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the newest (and one of the most whimsical) of more than two dozen on-property resorts.

Rather than being dominated by standard rooms that sleep four, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort primarily features family suites. Knowing that families with more than two children and multi-generational travelers need more housing options, Disney designed rooms with two bathrooms, three sleeping areas and a kitchenette.  First introduced a few years ago at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, these rooms slept up to six guests and were incredibly popular from the beginning. While Disney’s All Star Music Resort had a relatively small percentage of these rooms, the suites occupy three of the four sections of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. They offer larger families the privacy and functionality they crave. And the themes, based on some of Disney’s and Disney•Pixar’s most recognizable films (Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Lion King), is as fresh and fun as the characters.  I couldn’t help but smile as I toured the property last month.

However, the innovation at this resort extends beyond the guest quarters. I was blown away by the imaginative dining options available in the Landscape of Flavors food court.  Consistent with Disney’s recent initiatives to provide guests with more and healthier dining options, this resort offers an impressive array of culinary choices.  During my recent visit, the gelato immediately caught my eye. What abeautiful display of tempting flavors: sushi, macaroon cupcakes, fruit and cheese platters, create-your-own yogurt parfaits, tasty salads, tandoori chicken, Mongolian grilled beef or fish and Mickey waffles prepared while you watch.  Even the burgers teased the eyes. Pick a roll, pick a meat — beef, chicken, crab cake or vegetarian — and top it with add-ons galore —  six varieties of cheese, fried green tomato, celery relish, Cajun remoulade, and popcorn shrimp.

And finally, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort offers guests a truly unique opportunity to feel as if they are part of a beloved Disney Pixar movie. If you stay in the Finding Nemo wing of the resort, the surrounding wildlife is scaled in such a way that you actually feel like you are one of the fish swimming around with Crush or Mr. Ray. If you listen under the water at the Big Blue Pool, you can hear Marlin and Dory speaking with you and other aquatic life. Walking through the Cars section of the resort, you can’t help but feel as if you might just get pulled over for speeding near the Cozy Cone Motel.  I can just imagine how wild and fun it will be to explore the playground on the savanna between The Lion King buildings when that section of the resort starts welcoming guests next month.  It’s one more reason to go back and visit the place I consider my second home.

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Jill Cooper is a member of the 2012 Walt Disney World Moms Panel.

Panelists have received/will receive a Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Disneyland Resort or Disney Vacation Club vacation for panelist and up to three family members and/or park tickets for their participation on the Walt Disney World® Moms Panel. The views expressed in the Panel are those of the panelists, who are independent contractors. These views are not intended to reflect the opinions of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online, its affiliates, its management, its agents or its employees and have not been reviewed or approved by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online prior to posting.

Tagged: Disney, Family time, Hotels

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