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Walt Disney World Resort Non-Park Discussion Thread

P. 60: Minnie Vans are BACK starting June 29th!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/04/tandoor-ovens-mongolian-grill-real-gelato-at-landscape-of-flavors-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/

 

We got a chance to talk with Michelle Clegg, food & beverage operations manager for the soon-to-open Landscape of Flavors food court at the new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort that debuts next month at Walt Disney World Resort.

 

They’re still tweaking the menu, but all sorts of creative new items make this the next generation of Disney food courts. Even burgers are “create your own”; you can start with a beef, chicken or veggie burger, and then the kitchen will pile on your favorite toppings (say, pepperjack cheese, pickles, tomatoes, onions and lettuce). But most fun are the four onstage tandoor ovens where chefs will bake bread and roast chicken, shrimp, sausage and acorn squash and other veggies – Michelle says that the roasted acorn squash is her favorite dish at the new restaurant. Tandoors are cylindrical ovens that reach very high temperatures and quickly bake, so it should be a grand onstage show for diners. The real treat is naan, a delicious Indian bread that’s slapped directly onto the oven’s walls and left to bake until puffy and lightly browned, perfect for wrapping all sorts of delicious food.

 

And the restaurant’s Mongolian grill is another new touch – 3 feet in diameter, the chefs will make everything onstage, from challah bread French toast for breakfast to grilled beef and fish for lunch and dinner.

 

There’s lot of attention on “better-for-you” options, so you’ll find buckwheat waffles and pasta, multigrain rice, low-fat smoothies, egg white frittatas and make-your-own yogurt parfaits. But it’s all about choices, so there are still pizzas and fries (and chocolate chip pancakes).

 

And we’re excited to see real gelato on the menu, the Italian version of ice cream with less butterfat but bigger flavor. That and a whole menu of coffee drinks, including iced French vanilla, iced mocha, cappuccino, espresso and mochachino. We’ll carpool to the new resort for our 3 p.m. break!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/04/a-reimagined-basin-reopens-at-downtown-disney-at-walt-disney-world-resort/

 

Check out this shopping list: Almonds, cranberry, vanilla, oatmeal, honey, and sea salt. No, we’re not making cookies – those are just some of the natural ingredients used to create the fresh-cut soaps available at Basin, the bath and beauty shop at Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort.

 

Basin recently reopened after a refresh that included the addition of an oversized sink where as many as eight guests can simultaneously try out the all-natural salt body scrubs. The new Basin centerpiece is topped with a Mickey Mouse that was carved from a 250-pound block of soap.

 

Here’s a tour through the refreshed location:

 

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And we’re excited to see real gelato on the menu, the Italian version of ice cream with less butterfat but bigger flavor.

Where's Ginzo at? I'm sure he'll approve of this.

 

Why? So he can say how much better real gelato is in Italy?

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Everyone should sign up to do this immediately!

 

I'm already planning on heading back at some point soon! It was worth every penny!!! These are amazing cars and they let you drive them how they are meant to be driven in a completely safe environment.

 

Definitely doing this in December when I am in town.

 

Very jealous you got to ride with Fittipaldi!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/04/splitsville-project-to-rock-in-and-roll-out-at-downtown-disney-at-walt-disney-world-resort/

 

Details are beginning to emerge about the look and feel of the new Splitsville location we told you is coming to Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort this fall, and I’m happy to share with you all of the latest developments.

 

This new Splitsville is going to be their first two-level venue and, at 50,000 square feet, will be the largest one in the country – in fact, almost twice the size of any of the other four locations. And it’s going to feature 30 bowling lanes, again nearly twice as many as at any other Splitsville.

 

This Splitsville will also have a balcony with outdoor seating, as well as billiard tables and live entertainment, making it an ideal place for some family fun outside of the theme parks. Like other Splitsvilles, this one will serve upscale food and beverages, including sushi, amid a stylish interior that features both hip and retro décor elements. Suffice it to say, this is not going to be your father’s bowling alley.

 

Construction is already well underway at its location in the heart of Downtown Disney near the AMC Downtown Disney 24. Expect a grand opening sometime this fall to mark the arrival of the newest entertainment option among the stream of fresh and fun family experiences that have been added lately to Downtown Disney.

In the meantime, here’s the newest rendering of the location’s exterior and a video that will give you a feel for what it’ll be like inside.

 

 

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/04/pixar-animator-tours-new-finding-nemo-wing-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/

 

The first wing of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort in Walt Disney World Resort doesn’t open to guests until May 31, but Thursday, Pixar supervising animator Shawn Krause got an early tour led by the resort’s general manager, Rick Allen. Shawn knows a little something about the art of animation, having worked on Disney•Pixar classics including “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “The Incredibles,” “Cars,” “Up” and “Cars 2”.

 

Shawn has a special connection to this first wing at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, as it’s themed to Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” Nemo, Marlin, Dory, and Crush are just some of the characters that Shawn animated for various scenes in the Academy-Award winning classic. Shawn also led the animation team for “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” attraction at Epcot.

 

As a child, Shawn got hooked on animation after creating flipbooks on notepads his parents left lying around the house. Other wings at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will open through the rest of the year: “Cars” on June 18, “The Lion King” on August 10, and “The Little Mermaid” on September 15. Sources tell us Shawn was also spotted touring some of those areas. So far, Shawn isn’t talking. Maybe we can get his reaction a little closer to some of those opening dates.

 

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Haven't been paying much attention to the Art of Animation Resort stuff, but...just decided to book it for the second night it's open! KT has PreSchool Graduation on Friday, June 1 then we'll go check in for the weekend to celebrate!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/04/disneys-art-of-animation-resort-one-month-from-opening/

 

It is hard to believe but Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is set to open in just one month. A whimsical, watery world unfolds for guests in the Finding Nemo wing, the first phase set to open May 31. This resort, which includes family suites, celebrates rich storytelling while immersing guests inside the sketch books of animators to the playful “worlds” of favorite Disney•Pixar classics. Take a look at the newest video in the “From the Drawing Board” series…

 

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Disney has released a new piece of concept art for Splitsville opening at Downtown Disney West Side later this year.

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Starting this fall, Splitsville, located in Downtown Disney West Side, will reinvent bowling for America with 50, 000 square feet of fun and 30 lanes on two floors. Guests will come for the bowling but stay for the food. Between strikes and spares, guests can feast on menu items including hand-tossed pizza, fresh-rolled sushi and hand-cut filet sliders served right at the lane. Beyond a great hangout for friends and families, the all-new day-and-nightime venue also will be available for birthday parties and corporate events. (©Disney)

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/downtown-disney-car-masters-weekend-returns-to-walt-disney-world-resort-june-2-3/

 

“Red car! Blue car! BIG TRUCK!”

 

I have to say that the vocabulary of my toddler, who is learning to talk right now, has been greatly shaped by the films (and toys and books and pajamas) of “Cars” and “Cars 2.” So, there’s a great chance we’ll be heading to Downtown Disney here at Walt Disney World Resort June 2-3 to attend Downtown Disney Car Masters Weekend.

 

This event, now in its second year, celebrates everything “Cars.” There will be meet and greets with Lightning McQueen, Mater (my son’s favorite!), and Finn McMissile, as well as a movie marathon at AMC Downtown Disney 24 with showings of “Cars” and “Cars 2.”

 

New elements that will debut this year include an appearance by automotive designer Chip Foose, who contributed to the design of Ramone in the “Cars” film and in the upcoming Cars wing of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort; a LEGO interactive zone; “Cars”-themed topiaries; a DJ and food trucks. Jay Ward, Cars guardian, will also make an appearance.

 

Returning fun will include a chance for guests to test-drive Ridemakerz model cars and browse a car show presented by Hess that will feature more than 100 classic, muscle and exotic cars. Families can even vote for their favorite car this year. GM will also have their latest and greatest models on display.

 

See you out there!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/disney-parks-authentic-showno-perfect-for-summer-fun/

 

shno123234LARGE.jpg.ac225c57c132466d80bc69e636e8d374.jpgOne of the many hats I get to wear in my role in Disney Theme Park Merchandise is discovering new and exciting products to share with guests. Several months ago, I visited the set of ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank. While on the set, I listened to a product idea presented by entrepreneur, Shelly Ehler, which I felt would be a perfect match for Disney Parks.

 

The product idea that Shelly shared was the ingeniously designed ShowNo, an all-in-one cover up and towel! I thought the ShowNo’s patented neck slit design and convenient pocket made it a perfect companion for someone visiting a Disney water park or for guests staying at a Disney resort hotel. The ShowNo can be used as a convenient cover up, yet the design still allows for it to lay flat as a beach towel. It’s made from an absorbent, 100% cotton material, and is ideal for drying off after a day playing in the water.

 

The Mickey and Minnie Mouse-inspired ShowNo’s are currently available at Walt Disney World Resort’s two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. The Disney Parks authentic ShowNo’s will also be available online at Disneyparks.com/Store but only until Thursday, May 10!

 

You can see the Shark Tank episode that features the ShowNo by visiting http://www.abc.com/SharkTank (look for episode 313 from week 13).

 

Happy Summer!

 

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/disneys-art-of-animation-resort-merchandise-comes-to-life/

 

art117589LARGE.thumb.jpg.b8b504fc74c86ec4f92269ebab3eb921.jpgWith the opening of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort only a few weeks away, I sat down with Disney Design Group Artist Bob Holden to review some of the new merchandise we’ve developed. You may recall that Bob and I have previously discussed his work with merchandise for Disney Vacation Club Resorts and Disney’s Aulani, a Resort and Spa in Ko ‘Olina, Hawai’i. Bob told me that Walt Disney Imagineering was a key partner for the creation of this merchandise.

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“The Walt Disney Imagineering team was an outstanding partner,” exclaimed Bob. “They provided the art files that we used for the merchandise. The designs that you see on the shirts and other items were lifted directly from artwork that guests will see at the new resort.”

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You can see the main art we used on merchandise on the outside of Animation Hall, the check-in building at the Resort. Bob also used the colorful diamond pattern found at the resort as a background for on several items. The shirt images were also taken directly from the resort (look for the Ariel image and others inside Animation Hall).

 

There will be two pins created for the opening. The open edition pin uses an image of Crush from the Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” wing. The limited edition pin has an edition size of 500 and will be released at the Ink and Paint Shop in the resort on May 31.

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As for my favorite items, I liked the paint brush pen and the tumbler with a straw. Since I’m a fan of roadside architecture, I thought the wall decals of the Radiator Springs’ signs was a fun addition.

 

As for future items, Bob said they are still developing retail versions of lamps and shower curtains that are similar to items that will be found in guests’ rooms. Those retail items will be arriving at a future date.

 

Bob said he was most impressed with the colorful details found throughout the resort.

 

“I really found myself being immersed in a colorful and fun environment,” explained Bob after he visited the location. “The details made me feel like I was being transported to each character’s world, which is what we do best at Disney.”

 

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/celebrate-solstice-june-20-with-midsummer-feast-at-raglan-road-at-downtown-disney/

 

We call it the “luck of the Irish” when Chef Kevin Dundon’s back in the kitchen at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney – this time cooking up a Midsummer Feast to celebrate the solstice, a big annual affair in Ireland (where Dundon is owner of a five-star hotel and cookery school).

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This year, summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20 at 7:09 p.m., just as Raglan Road’s Midsummer Feast is under way. The 6 p.m. dinner in the restaurant’s Raglan Room starts with cocktails, featuring one crafted just for the evening. Dinner begins with an elegant picnic basket of pates and jams including Dundon’s smoked salmon mousse and brandied chicken liver pate. After a palate cleanser of raspberry sorbet with a splash of Champagne, it’s on to a whole roast suckling pig with raisin and cider glaze, braised vegetables and roasted potatoes. Finish with a creamy, light sweet Dundon calls “Pimms Knickerbocker Glory.”

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Craft beer pairings include Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Jai Alai India Pale Ale and Bunratty Mead. Raglan Road’s house band, Creel, will perform along with the Raglan Road step dancers.

 

Cost is $90 per person, plus tax and gratuity. To book, call 407/938-0300 or 407/WDW-DINE, or visit http://www.raglanroad.com.

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/first-look-cars-wing-takes-shape-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/

 

For a few months now, my fellow blog author and Imagineer Kathy Mangum has been keeping you updated on the progress of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park.

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I’m happy to finally have some “Cars” fun to share over here at Walt Disney World, with the first look inside the “Cars” wing of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This second phase of the resort is set to open June 18 (the first phase, a “Finding Nemo”-themed wing, will open May 31).

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The “Cars” wing is themed after Radiator Springs, and features nods to places in the film, such as Tow Mater Towing & Salvage. It also sports 11 life-sized characters from the film, including Sheriff, Doc, Sally, Sarge, Lightning McQueen, Flo, Mater, Fillmore, Luigi, Guido, and Ramone (seen above), the latter of which our Imagineers created with automotive design superstar Chip Foose.

 

Here’s a look back at a previous behind-the-scenes look we shared here on how Ramone was designed:

Incidentally, Chip will be here at Walt Disney World Resort June 2-3 for Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney. Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog for more information!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/high-performance-karting-added-to-the-car-masters-weekend-lineup-june-2-3/

 

I didn’t think the offerings at Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney here at Walt Disney World Resort could get any better, but they just did. High-Performance Karting from the Richard Petty Driving Experience has just been added to the line-up of car-themed fun for the June 2-3 event.

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This karting experience is designed to challenge your driving skills in a high-action race environment, with the goal is to score the best lap time in your racing group. The offering, which will be set up in Parking Lot “K” at Downtown Disney, will cost $20 (plus tax) per person and is open to licensed drivers age 16 and older. Each additional ride is $10. All participants must sign a waiver, and closed-toed shoes are required.

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Hours of operation are the same as the Car Masters Weekend event hours, 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Activity is subject to change).

Who knows, maybe I’ll see you out there!

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/05/earning-my-wings-earning-my-ears-with-southwest-airlines-and-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/

 

As we get ready to officially lift the curtain and unveil our newest hotel at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, I had the chance to take a tour of the wonderfully imaginative and themed resort. But not just any tour… The great cast at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort asked me to try out a few occupations in celebration of this amazing destination. I jumped at the chance.

 

To help show you the new resort, we’ve joined with the fine folks at Southwest Airlines for this video preview. The airline has more than 100 flights daily to Orlando, which means there are plenty of opportunities to climb aboard one of their famous Canyon Blue-hued airplanes and visit Walt Disney World Resort.

 

When completely open, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will bring four new worlds to the wonderful world of Disney — 1,120 suites designed after the animated hit films Finding Nemo, Cars and The Lion King, and 864 rooms inspired by The Little Mermaid. Each section of the resort will open in phases, with dates listed below (*subject to change):

  • Finding Nemo Family Suites: Now Open
  • Cars Family Suites: Opening June 18, 2012
  • The Lion King Family Suites: Opening August 10, 2012
  • The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms: Opening September 15, 2012

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Walt Disney Imagineers designed Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with custom furniture and amenities, playful (and immersive, as you’ll see) courtyards and innovations including a family table that transforms into a bed. The spacious suites offer guests plenty of room to stretch out with all of the theming, whimsy, attention to detail and quality service you’ve come to expect at a Disney Resort.

 

In this video, I had a chance to try out a few roles at the resort and experience some Southwest Airlines “LUV” at one of the airports they serve.

 

Where I grew up I might say I had to “sing for my supper,” but I had to earn my ears and my wings while testing out various roles. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun and learned even more while test-driving some of the services Disney Parks and Southwest Airlines provides guests and passengers.

 

To find out more about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Southwest Airlines and ways to plan your Disney vacation, fly on over to this special website: http://www.southwest.com/disney/

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http://hotelbusiness.com/hb/links/news/news.asp?ID=43263

 

B Hotels & Resorts will open its next hotel in the Downtown Disney Resort Area of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL in Fall 2013.

 

The existing hotel, the 394-room Royal Plaza, is situated within walking distance to Downtown Disney, with easy access to all theme parks and venues. The property was acquired by InSite Group and Cube Capital in December 2011 and will remain operational during a complete renovation and repositioning.

 

The B resort in Lake Buena Vista will incorporate elements to attract families, featuring inviting designs, in-room game consoles, bunk beds in selected guestrooms, and internationally recognized culinary experiences.

 

As part of the brand offerings, the resort will provide complimentary technology amenities such as: FreeB Wi-Fi throughout the resort, including guestrooms and meeting spaces; courtesy iPads; and Monscierge, a digital touchscreen concierge and destination guide.

 

“The B in the Walt Disney World® Resort is going to be a unique venue for visitors who are looking for an upscale lifestyle experience, tranquility and relaxation after and between fun-filled days at the adventure parks,” Ayelet Weinstein, President and CEO of B Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement. “It is being designed to allow interaction of families, couples, groups and individuals in an inspiring and stylish environment, with great amenities including international culinary concepts and a full service spa, while implementing the B Brand approachable service culture.”

 

The hotel will be officially launched as part of the South Florida-based B Hotels & Resorts family in the fourth quarter of 2013. It will become the third hotel B Hotels & Resorts has added in less than 18 months.

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http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dolby-theater-atmos-sound-334215

 

In addition to Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, AMC complexes in Burbank and Sherman Oaks will be among the sites to offer the immerseive sound format.

 

Dolby revealed the first locations in the world—including 16 theaters in North America, among them Hollywood’s newly named Dolby Theatre—that have been selected to offer its new immerseive sound format Atmos.

 

In additional to the Dolby Theatre, North American movie theaters that will install Atmos are: AMC Barrywood 24, Kansas City; AMC Burbank 16; AMC Century City 15; AMC Downtown Disney 24, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; AMC Garden State 16, Paramus, N.J.; AMC Van Ness 14, San Francisco; Arclight Sherman Oaks; Century at Pacific Commons and XD, Fremont, Calif.; Cinemark West Plano and XD, West Plano, Texas; SilverCity Young Eglinton Cinemas, Toronto; Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23; and Kerasotes Showplace ICON at Roosevelt Collection, Chicago. Brenden Theatres at the Palms in Las Vegas, where Atmos debuted at CinemaCon in April, also offers the format.

 

The Dolby Theatre—home of the Academy Awards—will have its grand opening on June 18 with the premiere of Disney/Pixar’s Brave, as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

 

The Brave premiere will be screened with the Dolby 3D system, but it is still unconfirmed that an Atmos mix will be ready for the premiere.

 

Seven-time Oscar winner Gary Rydstrom is serving as sound designer and re-recording mixer on a test Atmos mix of Brave that is underway at Skywalker Sound. (Skywalker and China-based sound postproduction facility China Film Post offer Atmos sound mixing).

 

Current plans call for up to 15 theaters worldwide to show Brave with the trial Atmos mix when the movie opens on June 22.

 

In international markets, the following theaters are on their way to becoming Atmos-ready: Cinesa Diagonal Mar, Barcelona, Empire Leicester Square, London; and China Film Stella Theater Chain Hefei 1912, Shanghai Film Art Center, UME Shuangjing, and Wanda Cinemas Wuhan Lingjiao Lake, China.

 

In order to outfit auditoriums for the new format, Dolby reported that theater owners can still use the "majority of their existing sound system" though additional speakers and amplification must be installed. Dolby estimated that an "average mid-size" theater could expect to make an investment of around $25,000-$30,000 for this upgrade.

 

Atmos was developed to create “lifelike” and “immersive” sound and involves the placement of speakers all around an auditorium as well as across the ceiling. The system is designed to transmit up to 128 simultaneous and lossless audio channels, and renders from 5.1 up to 64 discrete speaker feeds, according to Dolby.

 

Various Dolby screening rooms at offices in the U.S. and Europe will also offer Atmos.

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Earlier last week I had the chance to visit Disney's Art of Animation Resort on its opening day. Built into the same footprint as the originally planned Legendary Years (with two of the Little Mermaid buildings actually being remnants of the abandoned resort project), many expected this project to become the new Pop Century Resort, but I am happy to report that this is so much more than that!

 

Themed around four popular Disney franchises, the first wing to open is the Finding Nemo section with the Cars themed wing opening very soon. Soon after that will be the Lion King wing and last to open will be The Little Mermaid which unlike the other wings consists of traditional hotel rooms. I make note of this because there's something very unique about the approach to the design of these rooms. Themed family suites make up the mass of this resort, fitting clever designs into the building shell as would have been built for the Legendary Years. With a single bedroom attached to a living room with two bathrooms and a table that converts into a pull-down bed, the room is designed for families to partake in. Heavily themed in every way, lighting fixtures, wallpaper and even bathroom sinks all convey the story of the room you're in. Inside of the (enclosed) building hallways to the rooms are pieces of film-related art unique to each floor.

 

Outside of the buildings, there is no shortage of additional theming. Quite the contrary, the resort sports a surplus of overwhelming facade and design work. Gigantic representations of well known characters tower over guests and smaller statues line the wall ways around each building. Even on the backsides of the building are sketchpad designs that imitate the creation of a moving character from the respective Disney film.

 

I think I was most clearly taken aback by the amenities found within the Animation Hall, the lobby of sorts for the Art of Animation Resort. This resort is the first to employ a system "islands" for a more personalized check-in experience, rather than the traditional stand-behind-the-counter approach. The interior is designed beautifully with an incredible transition of vivid colors spanning the lobby through clever lighting. The walls opposite the check-in feature early concept sketches of Disney characters from the four films represented in the resort, making a pretty incredible mural to behold. Even the atrium sports a unique chandelier with bulb covers also featuring sketches of Disney characters. While parents are checking in, kids can take part in a small Animation Academy of sorts with featured Disney artists on hand to teach daily drawing lessons. This same space also hosts the standard Disney cartoons for the lobby when the artists aren't present.

 

The Animation Hall hosts the resort's arcade which is one of the first on Disney property to be completely paperless in its pay-to-play system. It features some of the newest arcade games including Speed of Light, Tron Legacy pinball and a custom four-way air hockey table that is sure to create some awesome mayhem for the families to enjoy (we certainly dropped a good deal of money on this game during our visit).

 

The Ink & Paint Shop is the resort's gift shop and is very well designed in every way. It matches the tone of the rest of the resort but also has some clever pieces of its own including paint-jar display cases and a very gradual shift of color scheme throughout the store. Looking back on the history of this resort's development, it should be noted that this store's fixtures were designed by a Disney Professional Internship Program participant, as seen in this Disney Parks Blog post we shared a while back.

 

Landscapes of Flavor is the resort's food court, designed (at least physically) in a similar model to that found at Disney's Pop Century Resort. Despite a similar layout, this place is a hidden gem in the Walt Disney World counter service dining catalog. With a unique menu designed from scratch by Disney, it features five main stations. The first station is a smoothie and gelato counter for those with a sweet tooth. Next up is the create-your-own salad station (haven't tried this yet, but my friends who did were extremely happy with their choices, as well as the serving size of their entrees). Moving on you get to the Tandoor/Mongolian BBQ station, which is seems to be the one for the most adventurous of eaters. I didn't have a chance to order my own yet (I was too enticed by the other offerings I'll soon describe) but my friends that tried the Tandoor chicken with paneer cheese and basmati rice along with naan bread all loved it. Next was the Pizza and Pasta counter, likely designed to appeal to the more picky of eaters, but even this has been built up to be more than the standard. I tried the "create your own" pasta for dinner that evening and loaded it up with shrimp, sausage, prosciutto, cheese, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and olives, all in an alfredo sauce. For quick service pasta, it was possibly the best I've had at Walt Disney World.

 

The last counter is the burger station, which was definitely my favorite. I opted to try the Surf and Surf Burger first, which is a crab cake sandwich topped with popcorn shrimp and a delicious cajun remoulade. With the option to customize any of the burgers at this counter, I added a fried green tomato to the sandwich, which ended up being a great choice. The shrimp was clearly made fresh and wasn't the standard frozen fare served in the parks. The crab cake was delicious and was probably 90% crab meat and 10% breading, which was spectacular. I'd go so far as to say that this sandwich is something I'd order at a sit down restaurant and stood up to some similar sandwiches I have had at established seafood restaurants like Legal Seafood. The sandwich was so good, I ended up getting it again for lunch the following day.

 

I won't further bore you as I salivate over the food but we sampled so many items during our visit. The pastrami burger, the smoothies, the cheesecake bites and the chocolate cookie crumb cake were all stand outs amongst our selections, but nothing we had wasn't at least good, if not great or incredible. Oh, and if you're a beer fan, the location serves locally sourced beers from Orlando breweries which is a plus!

 

Moving outside, we had a chance to visit the pool area at the Finding Nemo wing. The pool is the largest one in the Walt Disney World Resort and is a zero-entry pool. Underwater speakers installed in the pool allow swimmers to hear the characters from Finding Nemo talking and singing, along with the music being pumped underneath--another really neat touch! The area also hosts a water play area for kids, as well as a dry slide section down the way. The pool area has a bar for the adults, and a few family games including a four-way ping pong table.

 

There simply isn't anything about this resort I don't love. It is easy for you to get wrapped up in the level of theming in the resort, even if you aren't the biggest fan of the film that surrounds you. The family offerings are clever and useful, and the resort is designed beautifully with all guests in mind. Landscapes of Flavor is a spectacular step forward in quick service dining, one that I hope other eateries in Walt Disney World will eventually take pages from, because it is just that great.

 

I'll be revisiting this resort (soon and frequently) and will likely have more reason to walk around once the new wings open up. If you get a chance, come out and visit Disney's Art of Animation Resort. You'll be impressed, trust me.

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Our visit started our with a special "pool party" to launch the resort for guests.

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And guess who showed up?

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The first gift of Christmas!

 

(Sad that I of all people make this reference.)

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Looking across the huge pool at the Nemo Wing towards Animation Hall.

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It looks so nice!

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There's even a huge water play area for the kids!

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It's huge!

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You're sure to recognize the characters from the film throughout the area, including some of the lesser-seen ones.

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A huge Mr. Ray marks the entrance to one of the buildings.

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There's a dry play structure here too.

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The detail on these models is stunning.

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Some unique view points set up throughout the area.

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Um... When did I miss Finding Nemo 2-4? That fish sure gets lost a lot.

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This picture serves two purposes:

 

1. Here's the photo people can make fun of me for taking.

2. It shows that the signage design is clever, using the school of fish from the film to spell out the letters.

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Mine?

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While it isn't open yet, guests can still walk around a good portion of the Cars wing at Disney's Art of Animation Resort.

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The backsides of the buildings feature sketches of characters from the wing's respective film.

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We may not have Cars Land, but this does look pretty great!

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Less than a week to go!

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Foosed!

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I spy Mater!

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Anyone want some Chili Con Cone?

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Luigi's Leaning Tower of Tires...

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We have a Cadillac Range too!

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Each of the buildings masks their stairs in a unique way.

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Looks like they're ready to go!

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Looking forward to roaming this courtyard very soon!

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Enclosed and air conditioned hallways! Best decision ever!

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Disney's Art of Animation Resort is the first to use RFID access cards for room entry.

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Looks pretty similar to those Fastpass+ (xPass) readers spotted in the park a few weeks ago, right?

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Unique artwork for each floor!

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Access to the pool area is also RFID enabled!

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Dude!

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Time to take a look at the room...

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It starts as a table...

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And transforms into a bed!

 

I still haven't found the Allspark in the room.

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The guest bathrooms are themed to the submarine from Finding Nemo.

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And here's the adults' room.

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Another room (the model for tours) features a flipped layout, but it is pretty much the same.

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The Lion King wing is the third that will open.

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Mufasa!

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Landscapes of Flavor is just awesome!

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The Ink & Paint Shop looks great too!

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The Animation Hall's cool chandelier...

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My "create-your-own" pasta...

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This certainly doesn't look like the Legendary Years!

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Closing time...

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So long Art of Animation...

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See you soon to check out the Cars wing!

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