Art of Animation for Highly Sensitive Kids
Are you considering staying at Art of Animation with your highly sensitive kids? Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has a soft spot in my heart because this is where our family stayed during our first trip to Walt Disney World with our kids!
Disney hotels are divided into these categories: Deluxe Villas, Deluxe Resorts, Moderate Resorts, and Value Resorts. Art of Animation is considered a value level hotel. It’s usually a little more affordable than your deluxe level hotels, though the family suites run a little steeper than the standard rooms.
There are four themed sections of the resort: Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. Family suites, which sleep up to 6 adults, are found in the Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Lion King buildings. The rooms in The Little Mermaid area are like standard hotel rooms, and can sleep up to 4 adults.
Let’s take a look at some factors to help you decide whether Disney’s Art of Animation Resort would be a good choice for your highly sensitive kids!
Proximity to Parks 3/5
Proximity to the theme parks is important when you have highly sensitive children or especially young children. The parks can be overstimulating and overwhelming. So, there will be some days where it will be 100% necessary for your family’s well-being to go back to the hotel, take a nap, find some quiet, or go for a dip in the pool.
I give this a score of 3, because Art of Animation is NOT walking distance to any parks. Honestly, it is such a game changer once you stay at a hotel where you can walk to a park. It’s hard to let go of that perk once you’ve experienced it!
But now with the addition of the Skyliner (Disney’s newest transportation option—a gondola lift system), it makes access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios much easier than ever before.
The only way to get to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom using Disney transportation is by bus. Buses are one of the least ideal modes of Disney transportation for highly sensitive kids, since it can be crowded and loud.
However, Art of Animation does not share its buses with other resorts or have multiple internal bus stops. This means fewer stops, potentially less people, and a more direct ride to and from your destination.
Uncomfortable Rooms 2/5
When our family travels, I make a conscious effort to create a separate sleeping space for my highly sensitive children. Highly sensitive children thrive off routines, so having their own beds is a priority for us! I even travel with a toddler size inflatable mattress if I know there aren’t enough beds for us all.
The Family Suites (located in Nemo, Lion King, and Cars) are IDEAL for families with young children or highly sensitive children who need a separate sleeping area. There is a separate bedroom, and two full baths (another game changer once you have potty-trained kids!!).
It features a Murphy bed and a pull-out couch in the main living area. In addition, there is a queen bed in the separate bedroom. For our family of 4, it was super comfortable and it was nice to also have some space away from each other after a tiring day at the parks.
The Family Suites have a small kitchenette—it includes a mini fridge, microwave, sink, and a coffeemaker. Perfect for storing familiar snacks that you know they will eat, and preventing hangry kid meltdowns!
While we haven’t stayed at the Little Mermaid rooms, it seems that it would be cramped for families with more than one child. The rooms have 2 double beds or 1 king bed without a separate living space, just like a standard hotel room. It is also the furthest away from the bus stop, dining options, and the Skyliner station. If I were only rating the Little Mermaid rooms, I would score it a 4 or 5 for being uncomfortable. But the option of Family Suites brings down that number quite a bit.
Art of Animation is definitely not one of those quiet, secluded, and sprawling resorts (think: Saratoga Springs or Animal Kingdom Lodge). It can be quite busy due to many large families and even student groups staying. But because many of the buildings are spread out from each other, your highly sensitive kids will likely NOT feel overwhelmed by crowds while staying here.
The main dining option, called Landscape of Flavors, was usually pretty busy in our experience. It is a quick service option (read: not formal sit down dining) that is situated like a food court. Because there aren’t multiple restaurants to choose from on the property, regular mealtimes will be pretty crowded. If you want to have a less crowded experience, grab a meal during an off-peak time. For example: breakfast at 10AM, lunch at 2PM, dinner at 4PM or 8PM, etc.
You can find the largest pool on Disney property at Art of Animation! The Finding Nemo pool, formally called the Big Blue Pool, is super cool because they pipe music through their underwater speakers! It is definitely the loudest pool among all the pool options at Art of Animation. But because it is so large, it won’t feel so full. We stayed in the Cars Family Suites, and we noticed that the Cozy Cone Pool was definitely quieter and more low-key than the main pool.
There is also a Nemo-themed playground that your highly sensitive children may enjoy. Another fun activity is taking part in free drawing classes on site. This activity might really suit some highly sensitive kids who need something relaxing and quiet to do. Another way to spend time at the resort is at the Pixel Play Arcade, a LARGE arcade located in the main building close to Landscape of Flavors. However, the loud noises and flashing lights might be too much for some kids.
It doesn’t have as many amenities as deluxe or moderate level hotels, but it fairs really well for a value resort! You won’t be too bored if you’re planning non-park days in your vacation schedule.
Noise Level 4/5
So in our experience, Art of Animation was quite loud! We deliberately requested to stay on the first level to avoid elevator use with our stroller. But we ended up having to deal with loud neighbors above us and lots of foot traffic through the hallways.
Because the Family Suites are so great for accommodating larger groups, there were many big groups of families and kids staying here. We often heard running through the hallways in the mornings and evenings. It didn’t bother us too much since I always travel with our white noise machines for my highly sensitive kids, but it’s definitely something to be mindful of. I would strongly recommend requesting a room on the top floor, and facing AWAY from pools.
Another thing to note while walking around the property is that you’ll hear noise from the faux seagulls from the Nemo section, yelling “mine mine mine mine!”. I thought that aspect of the theming at Art of Animation was cute and funny, but it could startle highly sensitive kids who don’t like sudden or loud noises.
Disney is ALL about theming, and while the deluxe and moderate hotels often take a more subtle approach, this is usually not the case for the value level resorts! Over-the-top, bright, colorful, in-your-face theming is what you’ll find at Art of Animation. It is a ton of visual stimulation, with larger than life replicas of your favorite characters from Cars, Lion King, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid.
If you want to be surrounded by all things Disney, then this is the perfect choice. My kids, who were 4.5 years old and 22 months old at the time, really loved exploring all the cool details everywhere. However, some people do find the theming tacky or even overwhelming, and prefer having a visual break when they return to their hotels.
Total 17 out of 30
How do we understand the rating? A lower score means less sensory overload while staying at this resort, while a higher score means a greater likelihood of being overwhelmed and overstimulated.
If you want a more quiet, secluded experience while at your hotel, this probably isn’t the best choice for you. But if you really want that separate sleeping space and your kids aren’t overwhelmed by too much Disney theming, then you can’t go wrong here. It is one of the best value resort choices, though the theming may feel like too much for some folks.
What has YOUR experience been at Disney’s Art of Animation? Are you considering staying there on your trip to Walt Disney World? Do you think Art of Animation will be a good choice for your highly sensitive kids? Join my private Facebook Group to share your opinion and get more tips on planning your Disney trip with your highly sensitive kids! And follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.