Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Disney's Art of Animation Resort Tour, part two

If you didn't see my post yesterday, I show you one of the family suites at Disney's new Art of Animation Resort, as well as provide you a bit of the background into why Disney's newest value resorts is mostly suites. Today, a little bit more history and some pictures of the 2,500 characters that can be found on the resort grounds.

When you arrive at the resort, passing the 40' retro sign that acts as the cover of their storybook, then pass through the similarly themed gate, you will be directed to the parking at Animation Hall.  Those who have stayed at Pop Century will realize that this building is a mirror of the Classic Hall found at the sister resort across Hourglass Lake, at least in layout. 

Once you walk through the entrance, you will find the Ink and Paint shop immediately to your left, which you will have to pass through to get to the Landscape of Flavors and Colors food court. This is where you will really notice that things have changed in several ways.

 First, as you make your way to the various stations to order your food, you will notice that the food is being cooked to order and served on real dishes. This is just one of the many 'green' features of the resort.  Another thing you will notice:  NO disposable cups.  You can purchase bottled beverages or a reusable cup. 

The food court has four sections, each themed to correspond to one of the resort's stories.  In an effort to dampen sound that would have been absorbed by the carpets, giant murals are placed throughout the food court, partitioning the four areas from each other. 
Cars murals
Lion King Lighting
Little Mermaid cavern mural, showing her collections.

Back out in the lobby area, there is a large chandelier. If you circle it, the progression of the four stories can be seen in order. (I get dizzy fairly easily, so I took the tour guide's word for this.)

John Lasseter, President of Disney/Pixar Feature Animation, took a tour of the resort shortly before it opened. He was so impressed with the work that he wanted to be a part of it. They got him a large ladder, and he actually signed this 'storyboard' of Lightning McQueen.


The check-in area represents the move from ink and paint (the pods where you check in) to the digital age of animation (the pixelated tiles on the floor). Cast members are 'Story directors', as they guide you in your 'story' for the time you are at WDW.

The sketches along the walls show the progression from initial character ideas at the far end, with closer to finished product at the end closest to the Ink and Paint.
Early Nemo concept art
Many mid-progress sketches
Mine!  Mine!  Mine!
Nemo, little fin appearing to flap wildly


Every design element Disney puts in happens for a reason. In this case, the character sketches lead to storyboards, which you'll find on the walls outside Ink and Paint. In animation films, these are not finessed images, rather they convey the color palette for characters, scenes and a whole movie. When you view the whole wall with this in mind, it is quite impressive.
Art of Animation is the first Value resort to feature a business center. Guests can use the computers and printers to check email and print boarding passes. Also in the business center is a monitor that displays the departures from Orlando International Airport (MCO), a nice feature that I suspect will help when the weather is frightful and flights are canceled to northern destinations.

Ink and Paint features some very nice resort-specific merchandise with the iconic entrance sign. Alas, they were out of refrigerator magnets that day. I guess it's an excuse to go back!
The game room is cashless. You can purchase a card and put credits on it or charge your videogame play to your room key. Me, I'd go with the former. The game room is set up with the easiest games in the front and the most difficult in the rear.
The Big Blue Pool is the largest non-water park pool on Walt Disney World property, and has zero entry.

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