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.
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.
As we enter this African environment, we meet Mufasa surveying his kingdom atop 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The hallway carpeting is full of foliage and various animal footprints.
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.
The dining chairs look like leaves and are stackable. This is a nice space-saving feature.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A second bath is located off of the bedroom. The one-room facility features a single sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.
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.