Lion King Suite – Art of Animation Resort

Jack Spence Masthead

Hey everyone!

Being the ever vigilant Disney reporter that I am, I was at the Art of Animation Resort on opening day of the Lion King section (August 10th). I wanted to share with you some pictures of the grounds and room and share my thoughts with you. Let’s start with the exterior.

The two Lion King buildings are located to the north of the Finding Nemo section of the resort. When exiting Animation Hall toward The Big Blue Pool, you would turn left. The first thing you notice as you approach this area are the two rock monoliths that “hide” the staircases on the ends of the building.

Rocks Hidding Stairs

As the walkway approaches the opening between the two buildings, we see Rafiki welcoming us to his world. This is the first of many photo opportunities guests will encounter here.


Also from this spot, we can begin to see the wonderful graphics painted on the buildings. Elephants, giraffes, and giant acacia trees punctuate the make-believe landscape. Clouds top the building’s fourth floor.

Building Graphics

Building Graphics

As we enter this African environment, we meet Mufasa surveying his kingdom atop Pride Rock.

Mufasa on Pride Rock

Mufasa on Pride Rock

Our pathway continues through the grasslands of the Serengeti. Unlike the Finding Nemo section of the resort that is busy with multiple schools of fish and the Cars section which is studded with several automobiles and “Burma Shave” signage, the Lion King section is more subdued and has the feel of nature about it. This area is far less “cluttered” which is appropriate for the theme.



In the center of the Lion King Section is perhaps the most impressive of all the iconic pieces of character art. Here we find Timon, Pumbaa, and young Simba crossing a fallen log. You can’t help but start humming Hakuna Matata.

Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata




After walking through more grassland, we come to the Elephant Graveyard and children’s play area. This area is impressive with the skeleton of an elephant and Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed looking down on us. Through the elephant’s rib bones is a small cave.

Elephant Graveyard

Elephant Graveyard




I have to be honest with you; I was disappointed with this area. In acknowledging that the Lion King section of the resort does not have a pool, Disney touts that it DOES have a children’s playground. But what is it that the children are supposed to play on? There is no slide. No swings. No jungle gym. And all over the grounds are signs that say, “No Climbing Please.” With the exception of a VERY small cave, there is absolutely nothing for children to do here. Yes, this area is visually very pleasing. In fact, it’s fantastic in that respect. But it would take a mighty big imagination to call this a playground.

No Climbing

No Climbing

Moving on we find Scar keeping a watchful eye on the Elephant Graveyard and the hyenas.



Anchoring the far end of the resort is Zazu.


On the back side of the buildings are black & white sketches of various Lion King characters, demonstrating the “movement” of animation. There are also several signs with interesting bits of trivia regarding the movie and the resort.

Back of the Buildings

Trivia Signs

Because the Lion King section of the resort lacks a pool, this area is more subdued and quieter than the Cars and Finding Nemo sections. This can be a major plus for many people. And for those of you who do want to cool off with a refreshing dip, the Big Blue Pool and the Flippin’ Fins Pool (not open yet) are close at hand.

To see a three minute movie of the Lion King section, check out my video below.

Now let’s take a look inside the Lion King buildings. The guest rooms in this section are all one-bedroom suites that open onto an interior hallway. On each floor, a different painting greets guests as they enter and exit the elevators.

Lobby Artwork

Lobby Artwork

Lobby Artwork

Lobby Artwork

The hallway carpeting is full of foliage and various animal footprints.

Hallway Carpeting

When entering a suite, you’re in the dining room. A special “Murphy” bed/table makes up the bulk of the furniture in this room. One person can easily open and close this bed as it has counterweights. Two end tables flank the bed. A sleeping Simba is revealed when the bed is open.

Convertable Table/Bed

Convertable Table/Bed


Sleeping Simba

The dining chairs look like leaves and are stackable. This is a nice space-saving feature.

Leaf Chairs

Leaf Chairs

When the bed is put away, the graphics are cute. It seems that five birds have just landed on the branches of a tree and the nearby insects are running for their lives. More hungry birds can be seen on a nearby picture. I suppose these are appropriate graphics for the dining room – birds looking for a meal.

Table Graphics

Hungry Birds

The living room has a convertible sofa, two coffee tables, a lamp, chair, chest of drawers, and an open closet. Also in the living room is a kitchenette that features a sink, microwave, mini-refrigerator, coffee maker, plastic cups & cutlery and paper plates & bowls.

Living Room

Living Room

Let’s take these features one-by-one. The kitchenette is not intended for the cooking of full meals. It is to function as a place where you can reheat last night’s pizza, keep sodas cold, and get a drink of water.

The base of the unit is designed to look like wood, perhaps a tree trunk. The upper portion represents foliage. You will see this theme repeated again and again.



The convertible sofa is upholstered in an orange, textured material. Behind the sofa are five, very cute giraffes. Like the fold-down bed in the dining room, this convertible sofa can easily be opened by a person with moderate strength.

Convertable Sofa

Convertable Sofa


A word of warning to anyone who sleeps in this room. The bed is in close proximity to both the air conditioner and the refrigerator. Both of these appliances cycle on and off continually. If you’re a heavy sleeper, this isn’t a problem. But if you’re a light sleeper, beware.

The lamp-table next to the sofa features three “blossom” lights. A close observer will notice vines creeping up the structure.


The two coffee tables resemble logs. On the top of the logs, the “rings” are actually the lyrics for “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “Hakuna Matata.”

Coffee Tables

Coffee Tables

I laughed out loud when I saw the chair. It resembles the “grub” that Pumbaa eats. This chair isn’t particularly comfortable to sit in, but it is cute – and it tastes like chicken.

Grub Chair

The chest has two large and two small drawers. A hidden compartment contains audio/visual connections. A flat screen TV sits on top. Next to the chest is an open closet with additional storage in a lower cabinet.

Chest of Drawers

Audio/Visual Connections

Open Closet

Something I was happy to see on this trip was a small sign informing us that the TV channel lineup can be found on channel 17. No more searching randomly for something to watch.

Channel Lineup

The carpet is also very cute. More foliage, bugs, and a few hidden Mickeys can be seen. And after some deliberation, I finally determined that the ceiling lights were supposed to represent clouds.


Ceiling Light

The “guest” bath is divided into two rooms. You enter a vanity area that contains one sink. The mirror is framed with leaves and a few bugs. A hair dryer can be found attached to the wall.

Guest Bath

Frame Bugs

Off of the vanity are the toilet and a tub/shower. The tile in the shower is especially impressive. The Pumbaa and Timon shower curtain is for sale at the Ink & Paint Shop located in Animation Hall. There is a full length mirror on the bathroom door.

Guest Bath

Guest Bath

Guest Bath

Full Length Mirror

The bedroom features a queen-size bed, two nightstands, a chest of drawers and TV (identical to the living room version) and another open closet. If you look closely, you will notice that the bedspread completes the headboard design.





Chest of Drawers

Chest of Drawers

In the open closet you’ll find an iron, ironing board, and an electronic safe. I hope in the future, Disney converts all of their in-room safes to these more modern strong boxes. I recently stayed at the Boardwalk were they still require a key.

Open Closet

A second bath is located off of the bedroom. The one-room facility features a single sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.

Bedroom Bath

To see a five minute movie of the Lion King suite, check out the video below.

I like the Lion King suite. It’s relaxed and fun. I think the Cars suite is slightly better themed, but there is a comfort level about the Lion King room that works for me. I think any family would enjoy returning to this suite after a busy day in the parks.

To see my article about the overall Art of Animation resort and the Finding Nemo and Car rooms, click here.

That’s it for this blog. Stay tuned for the final phase of this resort with the opening of The Little Mermaid section.

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36 Replies to “Lion King Suite – Art of Animation Resort”

  1. Any suggestions on what floor/where we should request our room to be in this section of the resort? With the discount that came out today we are probably moving from Nemo to here to save $500.

  2. We are staying at the lion king suite the Labor Day 2013 Can you tell me how far of a walk it is to the pool at finding nemo?

    Jack’s Answer:

    That depends on which side of the Lion King building your room is. But either way, it’s not far.

  3. Well that’s silly of them. They use a Hakuna Mattata/Just Can’t Wait To Be King theme for the rooms and use the Elephant Graveyard for the play area for the kids? I don’t have kids, but I know my nieces would probably be scared out of their minds by the bones and giant skull. The tusks look incredibly unfriendly and all of that “no climbing” stuff makes the whole thing pointless. Sure, it looks like a fine photo op but nothing more.

    Why wouldn’t they turn an elephant skeleton into a slide and attach some swings to the tusks? Surely Disney can make such a thing stable with their engineering AND make it look authentic. Hyena bouncers (the little spring loaded animals kids can ride) would be neat! The cave is a good idea, but why not make it bi-level and have some interactive stuff inside? Have a “thorny” bramble for the jungle gym/another hiding area! Rope climbs could easily be meshed with stuff to make it look like old elephant skin.

    The whole thing seems incredibly lazy, and at the prices the suites are at, (if I had kids) and I was sold on the play area idea and I turned up to that, I’d be pretty irritated. Like I said, I don’t even have kids and I’m incredibly disappointed by a lame statue and a little cave.

  4. Hi Jack! This is by far my new favorite resort. We are hoping to stay with our 4 children next July. In fact, The Lion King section will be our first choice.
    My husband and I visited on July 3rd., just for the day. We had lunch at Olivia’s, did some shopping in Downtown Disney, then decided to pop over to Art of Animation before dinner at the Kona Cafe to check it out. We were very impressed, from the grounds and pool to the food court and shops. I honestly felt like I was stepping into Radiator Springs (We posed for pictures with every, single car).
    I’m also glad there will be key catds to get into the pool. A pet peeve of mine is when people who aren’t staying at a resort use the pool.
    Thanks for a GREAT post!!!!

  5. Once again, great job Jack.

    An Art of Animation/Value resort type question for you.
    I’ve stayed on property only once, and that was in March, during Spring Break at Carribean Beach 2012. Parks were busy, but we had ZERO issues with transportation. Minimal wait times, always room on the bus, leaving parks at night was also easy.

    I’m returning in January 2013 and staying at Cars Suites with 3 three year olds. Do you anticipate transportation to be on par with other resorts at Value resorts/Art of Animation? Just worried that once AofA is fully opened, that with it being a Value resort, and likely at capacity, even in January, that transportation will be a nightmare.


    And thanks in advance.

    Jack’s Answer:

    First, January is a slow month. You shouldn’t have to deal with crowds in the parks. However, the Art of Animation, being a new resort, might be more busy than the others. Who knows.

    However, I don’t see this as a problem. Disney is constantly (I mean hourly) monitoring the demand and capacity of their bus routes. They try their upmost to offer good service at all times.

    I do not foresee any problems for your upcoming trip.

    Note, the Caribbean Beach has multiple bus stops scattered around the resort. Art of Animation only has one stop. The Cars section isn’t far from the bus stop, but it isn’t close either.

  6. Hi Jack!
    I love how you have provided so many in depth pictures of the resort and rooms (I will be staying there with 4 other people next May) but I have a question. Aside from the Huge pictures as you come off the elevator, is there any other decoration on the walls? To me, they just look very boring and white. Are there any other decorations at all?

    Jack’s Answer:

    The buildings form a giant “T”. At this intersection (which is near the elevators) there are three more large pictures. However, there are none in the hallways. None of the deluxe resorts have pictures in the hallways either.

    The budget hotels are less decorated — that’s one way of keeping the costs down.

  7. Great article on the Art of Animation Resort, Jack. We are going to be staying in the Little Mermaid section on September 15 (opening day). Do you know if they do anything special for the opening of each section, like a ceremony of some kind? We are trying to plan our arrival time at the resort. Thanks

    Jack’s Answer:

    When the Art of Animation open its first phase, Finding Nemo, they did have a small ceremony. I have been back for both the Cars and Lion King section openings and to my knowledge, there were no ceremonies.

    I will be at the Little Mermaid section on opening day. If you see out and about, be sure to say hello.

  8. I agree with you Jack, about the electronic safe – I hope they soon put them in all the resorts, I hate carrying around that huge key! Plus, if one person has the key and staysin the park and the ohter returns to the room, they can’t open the safe.

  9. Hi!
    Thanks for the great information. We are a family of 5 staying at Lion King in November. I was trying to see from the picture, but can you tell me if the master bedroom is big enough to put a toddler or twin size air bed on the floor?


    Jack’s Answer:

    There is room for a twin air bed to fit between the bed and the window. However, there would be absolutely no room to walk around the air bed. The toddle would have to crawl in from the end and the adult sleeping in the bed could not enter or exit the bed on that side.

    You could also find room for the air bed in the living room at the foot of the convertible sofa or against the wall near the kitchenette.

  10. Great article, Jack!! You really went into great detail and the pictures answered many of my questions about the suites. We’re planning a trip in 2013 and now I may change my mind on where will be staying. Keep up the “detail” work – it really helps us in planning.

  11. Jack,

    Wing looks great! Vivid colors and strong theming. I like it. I found one typo, but I don’t grade papers when I’m off work 🙂 I look forward to the personal reply but fully understand.

    Thanks for writing!

  12. Jack,

    Thank you for the thorough and informative blog about the new wing of DAAR! I was able to visit personally for the openings of the Finding Nemo and Cars section and with your blog I felt like I was there for the Lion King opening as well.

    Personally, I think the most beautiful detail of the room is the bathtub/shower tiling depicting sunrise (or is it sunset?). I audibly gasped when I saw those photos.

    Again, thanks for sharing and for all your hard work! It is very much appreciated.

  13. Hi Jack..thanks for all the info..can you tell me exactly how far is it to the nearest pool area?

    Jack’s Answer:

    I have no idea “exactly” how far it is, but the Lion King section is inbetween the pool at the Finding Nemo section and the Little Mermaid section. Neither pool is too far.

  14. I have to agree with you. Many, many people are very disappointed in the Elephant Graveyard ‘Play’ ground because as you said, there is nothing there for children to play on. It’s a shame really as Disney usually goes the whole nine yards and sees to every detail, but on this one they really dropped the ball. They could have made this a very creative and enchanting play area.

  15. hey Jack
    The new lion king section looks absolutly amazing. I can not wait to get a group of friends together so that we can stay there. can’t wait your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

  16. Yay, more Art of Animation!! I’m very excited to explore this resort while we’re visiting–I can’t wait to see the icons they did in this area! Did they happen to open up the Lion King section before the official opening (meaning were people able to walk around the area before rooms were available on Friday)? We’re visiting the week before the Little Mermaid section opens and we’d love to able to walk around and visit the whole resort.

    Jack’s Answer:

    Yes. The outside area opened a few days ahead of the rooms.

  17. LOVE your blogs !! Always very informative. Can’t wait for the review of the Little Mermaid section of this resort as we are staying there in November ! Keep uo the good work !

  18. Another great Blog Jack.

    Keep up the great work. I don’t know how you can constantly come up with good blog topics, but you do!

    And no need to answer me personally this time – I could find NO spelling or grammatical errors! 😉


  19. Great information,The lion king is definitely better than the Nemo section as far as decorating goes. I too agree these are probably very good for families with small children who like bright colors. But they are really loud visually. The princess rooms at Port Orleans and the pirate rooms at Carribean Beach are better done in my opinion not as “loud”.

  20. Thanks for the excellent report! I have been checking back incessantly since the 10th to see it. We have never stayed at a Value Resort before but are planning on this suite for our next trip bc the kids will LOVE it! I am disappointed by the “playground” though. maybe they will revamp it a bit after some feedback.

  21. Hi Jack,

    I definitely find the theming in Animation Resort is a bit too over the top for my liking but my kids are older and I want a resort like setting when I leave the parks…doesn’t have to be a Deluxe resort but should be more subdued for our family(Port Orleans Riverside is still one of our favourites).
    I can definitely see where these would appeal to those with young children who take a lot of breaks from the parks.

  22. Do all the Art of Animation sections have rooms that open onto an interior hallway or just the Lion King section?

    Jack’s Answer:

    The Finding Nemo, Cars, and Lion King all open onto an interior hallway. These are all the “suite” hotels. The Little Mermaid sections, which is a standard budget resort, will open to an exterior balcony.

  23. Thanks Jack for the informative blog. I’m very impressed with this section of Art of Animation and I like the less “cluttered” feel. But I do have one question… I’m planning a trip in December (solo) and I was wondering how long of a walk is it to go through this section towards the Little Mermaid area? (I’ll be staying in the Little Mermaid section.) By the pictures and map, I’m comparing it to the size of Pop Century, but from everything I’ve seen, it looks so much bigger.
    Thanks again for a great blog & videos!

    Jack’s Answer:

    The spacing of the Art of Animation Resort is almost exactly the same as the Pop Century Resort. If you’re familiar with Pop, this should answer your question.

  24. Hi Jack! The Lion King section looks amazing! It’s actually the section I most want to stay at when we visit next time.
    My husband and I walked around Nemo and Cars back in July (during a day trip) and were truly delighted by what we saw. We even posed with all the Cars figures!!!
    Disney really out did themselves this time! This resort is full of magic and creativity!!! 🙂

  25. I love the outdoor details, but the inside is just a bit too busy for me. I’d like it if the table top and dresser drawers were a little toned down.

    I love, love, love the savannah sunset shower!

  26. Hi Jack!
    Thanks for the overviews, they are REALLY helpful. I’m going with my family around Christmas time to stay in the Cars section (we’re three adults, and the three beds was just too good to pass up!). We’re very excited about the intense theming, even without kids! My question is how comfortable are the two “alternative” beds? I imagine the pull-down bed feels pretty much like a regular bed, but what about the sofa bed?



    Jack’s Answer:

    The sofa-bed and the pull-down-bed are about equal in comfort. In both cases, you have a mattress lying on top of a board. However, the pull-down bed is one large mattress where the sofa bed mattress is in three sections. However, I really couldn’t tell the difference.

    As for comfort… They’re okay — not great — adequate. Disney says they’re “fantastic.” That would be pushing it as far as I’m concerned.

  27. The room design elements are very clever, especially the wall paintings that flow into the table and bed, and the shower tiles are amazing. Minuses to me are the minimal bar unit and the exposed hanger rods and ironing board. All in all, the rooms are a little too hard-edged for us to relax in, as are the other two sections, though it’s nice that WDW is making more space available for larger families.

  28. These rooms are adorable! I love the smug look on the giraffe’s faces above the sofa/bed. The theming is so well done. As an adult I am fascinated/transported to another wold, Timon and Pumbaa’s world so can you imagine what this would be like if you were seeing it through the imagination and eyes of a child? Do you recall the commercials Disney made a couple of years ago and it showed the father and his son going through the Magic Kingdom and in one of the shop windows the reflection of the dad was as a young boy? Yeah it takes you back to the days of being a kid again when fantasy, dreams, and adventures were the stuff of everyday life and we could live in make believe lands. Loving it!

  29. I love the photos and video. Can’t wait to go next year and hopefully get to take a peak at this place in person. I love the idea that these room sleep 6 and at a reasonable price. Disney did an amazing job on the details like they usually do.

  30. Jack,
    Thanks for the great report. Your pictures show detailed and colorful rooms which clearly reflect the movie’s theme…I’m wondering, though, about the intensity of the decor. Were you overwhelmed by it at any point? After a sensory blast in the parks all day, do you think it might be hard to relax in this room? I bet kids will love it, but might worn out grownups find it a bit much?

    Jack’s Comment:

    Whether or not the rooms are too intensively themed is purely subjective. Personally, I would prefer something a little more subdued so I probably wouldn’t stay here. But I don’t have children. Kids are going to LOVE these rooms. However, I do like the fact that the rooms are suites with a real living room and a private bedroom.

    I always tell people it’s better to stay on Walt Disney World property because it’s nice to be surrounded by the magic 24/7. The Art of Animation rooms definitely “surround” you with Disney magic.

    I think the Finding Nemo rooms are the most intense of the three and I would not stay in this section of the resort given a choice. The color palette was to “in your face” for me.

  31. The attention to detail is what keeps me coming to the Disney hotels:) I love all the thought they put into making even the rooms an experience. I could make a vacation of just visiting the resorts. Can’t wait to see them in person!

  32. Thanks for another great blog, Jack. We are having an ongoing Cars vs. Lion King debate in our house for the next trip. This will either help settle the matter or convince us that we need more trips to our happy place.