While their drastic theming differences may not make this comparison an obvious one, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Fort Wilderness offer very similar accommodations for larger families.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how the Art of Animation family suites and Fort Wilderness cabins are similar and how they differ so you can determine which is the best fit for your family. We won’t be declaring a “winner” here! Every family has different needs and preferences so you can make the right choice for your fam.
Disney’s Art of Animation family suites vs Fort Wilderness cabins
First, let’s be clear about which rooms we’re referring to at these two Disney resorts.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort consists mostly of family suites. However, there is one section of standard hotel rooms (the Little Mermaid-themed area). We are comparing the *family suites* in the Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King sections here.
Likewise, there are both cabins and campsites at Fort Wilderness. We’re comparing the *cabins* in this post.
Here are ways Art of Animation’s family suites and Fort Wilderness’ cabins are the same:
- price – rates are typically within $10 before discounts
- sleep 6
- expanded meal preparation area
- expanded dining area
And the differences:
- number of bathrooms
- restaurants and dining
- recreation and activities
Now, let’s take a closer look at these similarities and differences…
While both the Art of Animation family suites and Fort Wilderness cabins sleep six, the arrangement of those six sleeping areas differs.
Fort Wilderness cabins offer a queen bed, bunk bed (stacked twin-sized beds), and double-size sleeper sofa. The queen bed and bunk beds are both in the bedroom while the sleeper sofa is in the living area.
Art of Animation family suites have a queen bed, double-size murphy bed, and double-size sleeper sofa. The queen bed is alone in the bedroom while the murphy bed and sleeper sofa are both in the joined living/dining space. If the kids’ bedtime is before the parents, it will be easier at Art of Animation for the parents to close the bedroom door and stay up longer.
So, Fort Wilderness has four sleeping surfaces while Art of Animation has three. Keep that in mind when considering whether your kids want to share a bed.
My family personally prefers the Fort Wilderness configuration. As a family of four, we don’t need to convert any sleeping spaces. We just use the queen bed and bunk beds. At Art of Animation, we need to pull the murphy bed down daily and transform the sofa bed as well if the boys don’t want to share. It’s easier for them to just share the bunk bed in the cabins.
Fort Wilderness has the clear advantage here with its full kitchen. The cabin kitchen features a full size refrigerator, 2-burner cooktop, sink, dishwasher, microwave, coffee maker, and toaster. The cabinets are fully stocked with cookware, silverware, plates, bowls, and mugs. If you plan on COOKING in your room, Fort Wilderness is your choice.
Art of Animation family suites offer a microwave oven which is a rarity in a standard Disney hotel room. The kitchenette also has a sink, small refrigerator, and coffee maker. So, the only cooking advantage of a family suite over a standard Disney hotel room is the addition of a microwave, sink, and slightly larger food preparation area.
The cabin dining area is an oval table with a padded bench seat on one side and three chairs on the other which allows seating for six.
The dining table in the family suite is attached to the murphy bed, so it’s only usable when the bed is stowed. There are four chairs, plus an ottoman can be pulled over from the living room for a fifth seat at the end. Seating for six at a time would be difficult in a family suite.
Art of Animation family suites have the clear advantage here. You get two full bathrooms to just one in a Fort Wilderness cabin. If multiple bathrooms are a priority, choose Art of Animation.
Location and Transportation
Fort Wilderness is just a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom, but requires internal resort transportation via the Fort’s own bus service. The cabins are farthest away from the dock so you’ll need to either ride the bus, ride bikes, take a mile-long walk, or rent a golf cart.
Consider adding a golf cart rental to your Fort Wilderness cabin rate if you want easy transportation within the resort. While both Fort Wilderness cabins and Art of Animation family suites post similar rack rates, I’ve found cabin discounts to be more frequent and steeper, which can bring the cost of the cabin plus a golf cart rental similar to the price of a family suite. Visit Disney’s golf cart rental webpage for the most up-to-date rental and pricing information.
Art of Animation definitely has the edge in walkability, with all family suites being a reasonable distance from the bus terminal. Additionally, the SkyLiner offers transportation to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Recreation and Activities
Both resorts have pools. Art of Animation, being technically a value resort, does not have a slide. Fort Wilderness, technically a moderate resort, does. They both have smaller “quiet” pools as well. Art of Animation’s Finding Nemo-themed Big Blue Pool is undoubtedly better-themed and could be more fun for little kids … unless a pool slide is a must for those kids.
Fort Wilderness offers numerous outdoor recreation activities that Art of Animation lacks. There is horseback riding, boat rentals, archery classes, and more all available at an additional cost (and all available to any visitor, for that matter). The nightly Chip ‘n Dale Campfire Sing-A-Long is lots of fun and free.
Art of Animation has daily animation classes in the lobby.
Both resorts host nightly Movies Under the Stars just like every other Disney resort.
This is probably the most obvious difference of all, one so startling that you may not have even thought to compare these two similar lodging choices!
Fort Wilderness is natural, quiet, and very spread out.
Art of Animation is more compact, bright and colorful, with the most in-your-face Disney theming. This resort is a destination in and of itself even if you are not a guest, particularly if the kids are fans of Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, or The Little Mermaid as these movies are heavily featured in the four themed areas.
If you’re not an outdoorsy family, Fort Wilderness might not be your type of place.
If you want to get away from “Disney” and have quiet seclusion at the end of every day, Art of Animation might not be for you.
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort Family Suites
It’s worth mentioning that the All-Star Music Resort offers family suites that are comparable to the Art of Animation family suites. They are almost always cheaper than Art of Animation ($80-$100 most days of the year), but fall short in other categories.
Both All-Star Music and Art of Animation family suites have 2 full bathrooms, making them both preferable to Fort Wilderness cabins in this category.
Both have similar kitchen configurations with a microwave and sink. At All-Star Music Resort, this kitchen area is a separate alcove while the “kitchen” is part of the living room at Art of Animation.
Where these family suites fall short are theming, sleeping spaces, and the dining area.
All-Star Music’s family suites derive six sleeping spaces from a queen bed (alone in the bedroom just like Art of Animation), a double-size sofa bed, a twin-size chair bed, and a twin-size ottoman bed. That’s a lot of sleeping space transformation if you need all of those beds, but also want to have the standard sofa and chair with ottoman during the day.
All-Star Music’s table is also just a small round with two chairs. The Art of Animation dining space is significantly larger with more chairs.
Then there’s the overall appeal of the grounds at Art of Animation and it’s generally accepted superior food court, Landscape of Flavors. It’s also on the SkyLiner route while All-Star Movies requires bus or vehicle transportation to all parks.
However, if you are a family of 5 or 6 on a budget, All-Star Music Resort’s family suites might be your best option.
Have you stayed in a Fort Wilderness cabin or Art of Animation family suite? Which one fits your family’s needs better?