The long wait is finally over. Disney’s newest and most visually stunning resort has opened its first phase, “Finding Nemo.” All the sections of the resort will be themed after classic Disney and Pixar animation films. The next phases to open are…”Cars” with 480 suites on June 18, “The Lion King, with 320 suites, August 10 and last, “The Little Mermaid” 864 suites on September 15.
The resort which caters to families on a budge, aka a “Value Resort” is more than just a resort. Walt Disney was the pioneer in the use of “Storyboards”, which in effect are pictures or scenes in various stages of completion placed in order on a pin up board so the animators and story men can visually see the plot in real time and make necessary corrections. The whole resort is themed upon storytelling and animation. When guests first enter the Animation Hall, where check in is located, all along the walls is model art in different forms of completion, just as a storyboard might have looked. The flow and feel of the resort gives guests the impression of an animator’s studio. Many of these sketches are directly from archives of the films, some never seen before. Check out the floor tiles, they actually resemble small brushstrokes.
Overhead in the lobby, look above at the amazing art deco chandelier. On the curved glass shades, you will again see concept art of characters in pencil. Note on one of the shades picturing a variation of Lighting McQueen, John Lassiter’s signature can be seen. (He signed it while the resort was being constructed). Disney check in here at the Animation resort is also trying for a different feel. First, there is an artist that will keep the kids entertained (And maybe inspire some to become an animator!) while parents check in. Instead of a long registration desk, there are now single stations, giving guests a more personal experience.
Also for the kids is the “Pixel Play Arcade” room located across from the “Ink and Paint” Shop. Here there are dozens of arcade games to keep the kids, and adults amused. This 4, 500 square foot area, has a lounge; and tickets won on the games are placed on a card, which can be converted for prizes. As prior mentioned, the “Ink and Paint Shop” is a wonderfully themed gift shop. Along the top walls are colorful paint jars, and even the merchandise enclosures are large cut open paint jars. It’s colorful and bright! The merchandise here is exclusive for the resort.
Next is the largest pool at a Walt Disney resort. This behemoth holds 310, 000 gallons of water and is named…”The Big Blue Pool.” The pool is innovative in the fact it has an underwater speaker system playing Disney songs and even conversations with the characters. For the younger set, there is the “Schoolyard Sprayground” with beautiful and artistic sculptures of Marlin and Nemo, all with water jets and those soft cushy sections like in EPCOT water areas. There is also a “Righteous Reef” Playground where kids can play with Squirt, which looks like a big coral reef. All along the resort walls are three dimensional sculptures and all around the pool are huge statues of Crush, Jellyfish and Nemo, again brightly colored and cheery.
If you are the hungry, there is the “Landscape of Flavors” counter-service restaurant. This eatery is very reminiscent of one of my favorites, “Sunshine Seasons” in the Land at EPCOT. The bright and spacious dining area seats 596, but in no way will you feel crowded. There are beautiful round overhead lighting fixtures with amazing art deco scenes; there is one wall with all windows, giving everything a bright and open feeling and a view of the resort by the poo. All around the room are “Art Deco” pictures. This artwork apes the theming on the Disney Fantasy. Why I like this restaurant is the menu, there is something for all… Fresh burgers, pizza, make your own salads, Mongolian and Tandoor choices, and sandwiches. There is an off the hook dessert station serving smoothies and Gelato. Food and Beverage operations manager Michelle Clegg states…”We have some healthier food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can also feel like artists themselves with build-your-own burgers and smoothies to add their own creative flair to meals”
And let’s not forget the accommodations. Each room continues in the storytelling mode. Danielle Duffy, project manager stated…”Instead of literally re-creating shot from the movie, the design of the Guest rooms focuses more on stylizing the colors, shapes and textures from the film” “We wanted to re-create that feeling of being right in the middle of the “Big Blue” with Nemo and his friends” All the rooms have themed mirrors, furniture, lamps and even the bedspreads. All of this keeps guests focused on the storyline of the resort they are staying in. All the rooms are family suites that can lodge up to six guests. There is a dining table that converts into a bed, a huge common area, a kitchenette and two bedrooms. The rooms have two baths, and these again are themed to Nemo. Even the carpet is patterned after Nemo. The suites are approximately 565 square feet. The Art of Animation will be a major player in Disney’s arsenal of resort offerings. Now many guests on a limited budget can enjoy all the fun and magic offered at the World without giving up any magic!