Art of Animation Reopening Update: 2020-2021 Resort & Pool Refurbishments

We virtually visit Art of Animation Resort as we continue our Walt Disney World hotel reopening updates. In this progress report, we’ll share details on recent & upcoming construction work, dates for the Big Blue Pool refurbishment, and more. (Updated October 14, 2020.)

While we’ve revised this Art of Animation Resort refurbishment report, it actually predates the closure of Walt Disney World. A few projects were originally announced or in-progress last fall, at which time we gave a rundown of when they’d begin, why they were happening, and what to expect.

Some were finished prior to the closure of Walt Disney World, but others were interrupted or postponed due to that. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we’re simply refreshing this post with new info, removing outdated references, and letting you know what’s already finished. Let’s dig in…

For starters, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort reopens on November 1, 2020. It joins Disney’s Pop Century Resort across the Generation Gap Bridge as only the second Value Resort operating for at least the remainder of 2020 at Walt Disney World.

There’s no word yet on when any of the All Star Resorts will return. Our expectation is that one or two will return in Summer and/or Fall 2021, but that all three won’t be back until 2022. Our hope is that Walt Disney World uses the downtime of those resorts to finish up the room overhaul project.

Back to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the following will be available when the hotel reopens on November 1, 2020:


  • The Drop Off Pool Bar
  • Landscape of Flavors


  • Ink & Paint Shop


  • Pools
  • Poolside Activities
  • Movies Under the Stars


  • Bus transportation is available from this Disney Resort hotel to the Disney theme parks and the Disney Springs area
  • Disney Skyliner gondolas to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT

It’s worth noting here that the Skyliner to DHS or EPCOT connects via the hub station at Caribbean Beach Resort. Long lines at both the Pop Century station and the Caribbean Beach Resort hub are occurring with regularity for rope drop. Since Pop Century and Art of Animation share a station, the latter reopening is only going to exacerbate that problem.

We’ll monitor the situation, but there’s no logical reason to expect improvement absent the Skyliner operating earlier. Without that, it’ll only worsen in the coming months, especially with occupancy rates ticking up for the holiday season. Accordingly, our strong rope drop recommendation is using a car–whether that be your own, a rental, or Uber/Lyft–to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s also recommended for EPCOT, but not as strongly.

Moving on to the refurbishments at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. First up is the multi-phase floor replacement project in the lobby.

This began last spring and totally finished by the fall. It looks great and is a considerable improvement over the small tiles that became grimy and discolored over the years.

The bigger refurbishment project starts next year. Beginning in 2021, the Big Blue Pool will be closed for a refurbishment project that will last a few months. This was originally scheduled to occur right about now (and it’s unfortunate that it didn’t happen during the closure), finishing up by December.

Instead, the Big Blue Pool will be closed for refurbishment from January 11, 2021 through early April 2021. Timing-wise, this is still fairly convenient–after the big Christmas crowds depart and potentially returning before more big crowds arrive for Easter (April 4, 2021).

Per “While this work takes place, our other exhilarating pool and recreation offerings will remain open for your enjoyment–including Flippin’ Fins Pool, Cozy Cone Pool and the Schoolyard Sprayground. Noise may be heard while this work is being completed, but noise should not be heard from Guest rooms between dusk and 9:00 AM.”

The scope of the refurbishment work on the Big Blue Pool has yet to be revealed. The best recent comparison is probably the Dig Site at Coronado Springs, which was refurbished about a year ago for the same duration of time. That pool was essentially just refreshed and had routine/preventative maintenance done. It emerged looking fresh and like-new, but not fundamentally different.

Next, the soft goods refurbishment has resulting in a quiet refreshment of in the Art of Animation Family Suites. Nothing particularly major was done here–mostly just the carpeting being replaced with laminate flooring, queen beds replacing full-sized ones, and other slight changes to furniture, furnishings, and finishings.

Work is now done on the Cars, Nemo, and Lion King Family Suites. Pre-closure, work had commenced on the Little Mermaid standard rooms with some finishing up and reopening. We’re about 75% sure those rooms are also done–but there is the possibility some work remains. In any case, this was being done pretty quietly. Even if work is ongoing, it’s unnoticeable and should wrap up shortly.

Finally, a few photos of Cars:

This remains my favorite section of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort by a wide margin. The way it’s done is cool, and the integration of the Cozy Cones and Wheel Well Motel is nice. I still wish Disney would’ve built a stand-alone Wheel Well Motel behind Disney California Adventure with an entrance into Cars Land. (Rumor is that Disney owns the land on which a couple of those third-party Harbor/Katella hotels sit…so maybe someday once the leases expire!)

That’s it from Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. We don’t yet have any upcoming stays scheduled here for Christmas 2020, but we’ll be back at Pop Century on a couple of occasions, so we’ll drop in for more Art of Animation updates then. It’s nice to see the resort receiving some TLC some 8 years after it opened (how has it been so long? I still remember when it opened like it was yesterday!).

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

What do you think about Art of Animation’s lobby and pool refurbishment projects? Is this your favorite Value Resort, or do you prefer the cheaper options? Any other improvements you’d like to see Disney make to Art of Animation Resort? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of the projects? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

32 Responses to “Art of Animation Reopening Update: 2020-2021 Resort & Pool Refurbishments”
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