Thursday, December 20, 2012

Art of Animation Review

     Last Wednesday, Todd and I took a spontaneous two day mini-trip. We logged on to the Disney website and somehow snagged a reservation in the Little Mermaid wing of Art of Animation. Having stayed at every other value resort on Disney property, we were excited to see how this one compared. Right away, I will say that this resort stands above Pop Century and all of the All Stars by quite a bit. 
     For those who don't know, Art of Animation is a new value resort that was built right next to Pop Century, and is actually connected by a bridge. The resort is separated into four themed wings: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King (all three are family suites), and the Little Mermaid (standard rooms.)

     The front of the main building is very bright and contemporary, and immediately sets the tone of the resort. 
Raining, but still so exciting!

There are "sketches" denoting the four wings of the resort to the left of the main sign.
 The lobby contains a row desks, each of which has a computer and Cast Member behind it to provide each guest with a personalized check in experience. Throughout the whole check in area, there are both black and white and color sketches. 

So many amazing colors.

It's amazing to walk around and just see the artwork.

It's crazy how well all of different animation styles blend together.
      Next, it was off to check out our room. The whole Little Mermaid area was covered in impeccable details.
The plants all appeared to be floating, as they would underwater. Ursula overlooks the Flippin' Fins pool and pieces from Ariel's grotto are scattered about.

A sketch of King Triton on another giant "sketchpad."

      Inside the room, the elaborating theme continued:

Of course, we should have anticipated Ariel would be swimming near our shower.

The shower is Ariel's grotto. I was literally amazed.
      After dropping off our things, we went back to the main building to eat some dinner at Landscape of Flavors. The food in this food court was one huge factor that made Todd and I say that Art of Animation was on a different level then any of the other value resorts. There was an endless amount of meal choices, very few of which were simply burgers or chicken fingers. Bonus: They accept Tables in Wonderland. And, of course, the atmosphere of animation is carried through beautifully.

Light fixture in the Finding Nemo dining area.
Another piece of animation art.
Light fixture in the Cars dining area.

My delicious Caprese sandwich.

Very intensely flavored coleslaw.

Todd's huge pulled pork sandwich. He also had in-house made chips, but he ate them too fast for a picture! 
      When we returned back after taking a run to Epcot (new Test Track!), we realized we forgot our refillable mugs in the room. Todd ran to the get them, and I took advantage of the time to run around and take some more pictures.

Chandelier of sketches in the main lobby.

Christmas tree in the lobby.

Sketches are even embedded in the Christmas tree!

The Big Blue Pool.

Luigi's in the Cars area.

Postcards "for sale" in the Cozy Cone.

Sketches on the Finding Nemo building. 

      It's safe to say that, based on this trip, Art of Animation has become one of our favorite Disney Resorts, and we plan to stay there many times in the future.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Be Our Guest Restaurant Review

I loved that the opening scene of "Beauty and the Beast" was re-created here.

     As mentioned in the previous post, Todd and I were able to dine at the Be Our Guest restaurant on our trip for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Now I am so excited to be able to write up my glowing review. Seriously, I didn't find a single negative thing. But first, here's a picture from before our meal.

View of Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid from the bridge to Be Our Guest.

     Now down to business! We were seated in the main ballroom right by the wall of windows where we could watch the snow falling outside. Between the candlelit tables and the crystal chandeliers above our tables, the ambiance is not something to be ignored. The music, which was varied selections from the film and Broadway soundtrack, was present and definitely added to feel of the meal, but too overpowering.

See what I mean about ambiance? Definitely perfect for a romantic evening.

Beautiful, just beautiful. 

     Of course, the best part of any meal is the food. We started off with the appetizer salad trio, which included a salad of green beans and tomatoes, one consisting of watermelon and radishes, and the last containing beets and mandarin oranges. While none of these were your typical lettuce and tomato salads, I was pleasantly surprised that they were all so delicious. My personal favorite was the green bean and tomato, while Todd's was the beet and mandarin orange. We also received a bread basket with french rolls and butter, which was perfect as we were starving.
     For my main entree, I chose the shrimp and scallops with sauteed vegetables. The dish was served in a sort of puff pastry bread bowl with a smooth, very creamy lobster sauce. Every bit was cooked to perfection, and it was a perfect portion size. Todd chose the grilled strip steak with garlic butter sauce and Pomme Frites (french fries). I sampled a bit of it and the flavor was wonderful. The Pomme Frites were perfectly crispy as well!
     The best part, in my opinion, was the dessert. The dessert cart is wheeled out and presented to your table, which I loved because it enables you to actually see the choices instead of just reading off of a menu. I chose a strawberry cream cheese cupcake, which was incredible. The icing was a rich cream cheese flavor, and in the center of the strawberry cake was a dollop of a strawberry mousse, which added to already perfectly moist cupcake. Todd chose the triple chocolate cupcake, which was a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing and chocolate square on top that read "Be Our Guest". It was equally delicious as the strawberry. We were most excited, however, to try the Grey Stuff. For those who don't know, the Grey Stuff is a special item not on the menu, that is only available by request if you are celebrating an event. Luckily, we were celebrating Todd's birthday on this trip. It was a cookies and cream tasting mousse served with silver edibles pearls, all on a plate that says "Try the Grey Stuff" in chocolate. What a wonderful way to end our delectable meal.

     After dinner, we were permitted to explore the other rooms of the restaurant and take a few photos:

The rose petals in the West Wing fall every so often.

When lightning flashes, this slashed photo changes from Prince Adam to the Beast.

This is on the floor as you enter the rose gallery.

A gorgeous music box spins in the center and plays the theme of the film.
Portraits line all the walls.
The rose detail is really carried out well throughout the whole room.
As we were leaving this room, I saw Chip and his brothers and sisters ready to be tucked in! ;-)
One last shot of the ballroom.
Picture of the entrance we missed when heading in, we were too excited!

As you can see, there are so many things that make Be Our Guest an absolute must, must, must do.

I just couldn't end the update without this last picture.

Standing outside New Fantasyland, view of the castle walls, Prince Charming's Regal Carousel and Cinderella's Castle.