A couple of things I would have done differently here. First, I would have requested building 9. We drove and packed A LOT of stuff. Mainly food. But enough that it was a huge hassle getting to and from our car. Building 9 backed up to the parking lot, which would have made it a helluva lot easier to transport luggage and groceries to and from the room. Don’t get me wrong — our room had an amazing view. It was quiet, beautiful and overlooked Pop Century resort. In addition, we could see fireworks from our balcony. Very nice.
The walk, however, nearly killed me (us). At first we were like, “hey, this is no big deal! We are young, I’m a runner, we are an active family. How bad can it be?” It was a nice amble through the menagerie of Lion King paraphenilia throughout the resort. The second walk, when it started to get windy and cold, was less enchanting. The third walk, after we spent a few hours at Hollywood Studios, was pretty miserable. Between my pregnant-wobbly ass and tired legs and feet, our completely exhausted preschooler, and my husband having to listen to me complain and carry Boo all at the same time… well, let’s just say we would rather not do that again.
The next day the walk was even worse! It was still windy and cold. We are from Cleveland so we aren’t strangers to cold and blustery weather. But this was FLORIDA!!!! It was supposed to feel tropical, not arctic! It was made to be an even longer and more miserable walk (for the adults) because Boo wanted to play in all of the oversized Disney obstacles that were planted along the paths between themed areas. There was the Little Mermaid, which had a giant treasure chest among other items, the Lion King that has an enormous Elephant Graveyard complete with hyenas and Scar, and a Cars section (which, sadly, we never made it to).
All right, so you get the picture about the walking. I mean, I’m a runner… you’d think I could handle this. But honestly, after a day full of walking around the parks, the last thing you want to do is walk another half a mile to your hotel room.
The Landscape of Flavors
On to bigger and better things — food! I’m going to save the actual food break down for when a later post about the parks and such. For now I’ll stick to the Landscape of Flavors — the eatery located at the Art of Animation resort.
I would say this place ranked as subpar. The food probably would have been good had it been hot when we ate it. But the service was abysmal. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used that word before because it connotes such an awful experience. But MyLanta, this was terrible! And yes, I did just say “MyLanta!”
Thankfully my awesome husband planned ahead and suggested we bring some bagels and cream cheese, fruits, snacks etc. to last us the duration of the trip, otherwise we would have been SOL. Not only was there, I’m sure, zero minimally processed food or produce available anywhere on the Disney property (not surprisingly), we would have had to buy every single meal, which would definitely have added up. And we would have had to endure the cafeteria mayhem every day.
Back to the Landscape of Flavors. Because it was our first day and we wanted to check everything out, we decided on having an early breakfast before heading to Epcot. By early breakfast, I mean the entire resort must have descended on the establishment at the same time because it was literally wall to wall people. We walked in and were immediately overwhelmed by the crowd. We stood looking utterly useless and confused for a couple of minutes just trying to get our bearings on what there was to eat and where there was to sit!
We ended up at one of the many hot breakfast stations. I think we ordered french toast and fresh fruit, probably with a side of bacon. Oh yes, it was definitely bacon. I remember it distinctly because it tasted like slimy, wet rubber. I digress…
After we filled our tray with that nonsense, we visited the wall of baked goods — you know, the usual danishes, muffins, bagels, etc. While Boo and I selected the most ridiculous looking items, hubs ordered a choose-your-own smoothie. After we had made all of our final selections, we made our way through the park-crazed crowd to the check out lines. Where all hell promptly broke loose.
Who the hell knows what goes on in those checkout lines on a daily basis, but let me just tell you something — it was not pretty. After waiting in line for an exorbitant amount of time, we finally got to the checkout lady, who quite clearly had NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS DOING!!!!!!!! Zero! Zip! Zilch! HOLY HELL!!!! Get off the register during breakfast rush if you don’t know how to ring!
Maybe it’s a lapse in management, maybe Art of Animation was just that rushed to train new hires before the spring break rush, but MyLanta! (there it is again, you like that?) — why on earth would you train new people during one of your peak times of the day? How about during lunch when the crowd is probably half the size of breakfast?
Geeze… I’m gettin’ all worked up again just remembering the nonsense…
Where was I? Oh yes, checkout…
So we’ve got our tray of “hot” food along with whatever other garbage we added to it along the way. And the checkout lady asks if we are on a Disney Dining Plan. Which we were not. More on that in another post perhaps? So apparently, these people don’t have the slightest idea how to ring a cash or credit card order. It literally took her ten full minutes to figure out what was going on. After my husband repeatedly told her he would pay with cash, I finally stepped in and had to get real close (this place is extremely loud as well — think middle school cafeteria style) and tell her, almost syllable for syllable, that we were paying in cash.
After that debacle we made our way to a table, cut up our french toast to share, to find that it was gross and cold. Gee, I wonder why.
The next two mornings we had breakfast in our room.
The last morning we were there I really wanted to get Boo a Mickey Mouse pancake, as all the literature of the resort touted having at this fabulous cafeteria. Could I find Mickey Mouse pancakes? Anywhere? Nope. Awesome.
Repeat first day’s breakfast.
So Landscape of Flavors? Fail. (Despite happy-kid picture here.)
Finding Nemo Pool
Ah, the glorious Finding Nemo pool! Almost the entire reason we stayed at the Art of Animation! Upon first walking the grounds of Art of Animation, the pool appeared impressive. Key word “appeared.” This pool has a beach entry, giant, over-the-top casts of characters and movie decor (much like the rest of the resort), speakers inside the pool so you can hear music and the character’s voices while under water, as well as a mini sprayground and a “swim up” bar.
The swim up bar is just a bar next to the pool. Kind of lame. But since I’m pregnant I could have cared less anyway.
The beach entry was nice because it was frigid while we were there. Boo really wanted to swim and we honestly couldn’t keep him from it because we had talked it up so much before we had even booked the vacation. It would be cruel and unusual punishment not to let him swim in the Nemo pool. So beach entry = great for parents.
Sprayground? Didn’t even go to it so I have no review on this whatsoever.
Overall, I would say the Nemo pool was fair. It was overly crowded and I think my husband and I would have been happier to go to the pool right outside our building but like I said, this little guy was so pumped up about Nemo there was basically no way around it.
But again, the walk to and from… nearly killed us!!!
So want to know the secret to avoiding the walk from hell? DRIVE! If you have a vehicle on your vacation, and are not staying in one of the family suite rooms (Lion King or Cars), and are stuck in the farthest rooms from the buses — DRIVE!!!!
It took us several walks from hell to realize this. What started as a “is walking on this sidewalk to the buses shorter than meandering through the entire resort?” quickly turned into, “how close can we park our car to our room and to the buses?”
And let me just tell you something. There may be motorized wheelchairs galore at Disney (again, more on that later), but nothing — nothing — beats being six months pregnant, completely exhausted from a full day at the theme parks, and having a car to drive you as close to your room as possible. Or being an exhausted dad carrying a 32 pound 3.5 year old for the last three hours of the evening. Is it lazy? Probably. But until you have experienced any of this, keep your judgements to yourself!
In conclusion, the Art of Animation was ok. Would I stay there again? Perhaps. Would I opt for a suite, so I could have at least some privacy at any point during the week, avoid a long ass walk every time I stepped foot outside, and get to see the lovely decor of the Lion King or Cars areas? Most definitely. But, having said that, would it be worth the price differential? That’s where I’m leaning toward “not so much.”
The suites at Art of Animation are pretty pricey. So pricey, in fact, that we could have easily stayed at one of the moderate resorts for the same amount and probably avoided some of the nonsense listed above.
The other thing about Art of Animation is that it is Disney — on crack. It appeals to the youngest visitors, but after a day full of entertainment, rides, food, and other commotion, it can almost be a little overwhelming on your senses. It would have been nice to have been at a lower key placed like Port Orleans or the Contemporary. But for this trip, for Boo’s sake, and for the budget’s sake, it was a great place.
We had a BLAST and have the absolute best memories that will hopefully last us all a lifetime.
Stay tuned for the rest of the Disney trip reviews!