Life is a highway, and my pit stop this past weekend was Walt Disney World’s brand new Art of Animation Resort in Walt Disney World.
AoA is a value level resort, and like other WDW value hotels the main source of on-site nourishment is a food court, here called Landscape of Flavors.
I gathered dozens (hundreds?) of food photos to share, so you’ll be able to take a look at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert as well as pre-packaged goodies in the photo tour below!
Some of the elements of Landscape of Flavors will be familiar to those who have been to other Disney hotel food courts. There are multiple lines to order different types of food. There are self-serve soda and condiment stations past the registers, toasters for guest use, and a mug wash sink for rinsing your refillable mugs.
And the sides of the service area are lined with refrigerator cases of beverages and a limited selection of prepared items.
As for the actual food, Disney has tried to step it up a notch, offering fresher and more customizable options than in the other resorts. But before I get to that, here’s a tour so you can get the lay of the Landscape.
You get to the restaurant through the Ink & Paint Shop gift store.
The seating areas are bright with blond wood tables and chairs.
Overhead lights represent each of the four films highlighted at AoA: Finding Nemo, Cars, Lion King, and Little Mermaid.
The seating areas showcase paintings themed to the film represented.
Registers on the left, food ordering stations on the right.
All the food service lines have cooking areas visible behind them.
Refrigerator Cases and Packaged Food Areas
Again, the main refrigerator cases will seem familiar to those who have stayed at value resorts in the past. These include a variety of soft drinks, milk, juices, beers, wine, bottled cocktails, cut fruit, and small selection of chilled takeaway items.
Along with the standard Bud, there were some more interesting beer choices available. And even bottled hard cider. Yum!
Beverages for kids meals had their own area.
Soy milk is available in regular or chocolate flavors.
Have a hankering for a late-night indulgence? Try the four-pack of mini-cheesecakes or a Macaroon Cupcake!
Or go healthy with veggies or yogurt.
One interesting item in the refrigerator was a full case of water bottles, for about $16. This is more expensive than the supermarket, but a good option over constantly paying for individual bottles at the resort or in the parks.
And remember, you can use your Tables in Wonderland card here to get an extra discount!
Landscape of Flavors Breakfast
Breakfast is offered from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. I happened to eat one day at exactly 11:00 and there was a small bit of confusion about whether we could order breakfast or lunch.
My favorite breakfast station allowed guests to create their own yogurt parfait or blend of cereals. There didn’t seem to be any limit to the number of choices you could make; they’d let you try as many things as you wanted, as long as they fit in the bowl.
This station also featured the famous Disney waffles!
There were very friendly cast members at the make-your-own cereal and yogurt bar, and you’ll find lots of fresh and dried fruit mix-ins.
My yogurt parfait had granola, strawberries, mango, and pistachios.
Another station has French toast, a vegetarian breakfast sandwich, and a “World Flavors” egg platter.
I opted for the eggs. At first I was a little dismayed by the potatoes, which appeared to be charred, not just flavored. However, they didn’t taste burnt at all, just a hint spicy.
Here, and everywhere throughout the Landscape of Flavors, any time that bacon is offered you have a choice of regular or turkey bacon. I tried both at various points. I found the turkey bacon to be almost Canadian bacon in texture. Good, but not decadent like you want on vacation.
The next breakfast station offered primarily variations on pancakes, along with a breakfast chicken sandwich and a “steak” and egg sandwich.
The steak and egg sandwich was really a burger topped with an egg. I didn’t try that item, but spoke to someone who did and really enjoyed it.
The pancakes were pretty standard pancakes. When ordered with fruit topping, the fruit is fresh whole strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, not a compote.
I apologize that I didn’t get a shot of the omelet add-in list. It was fairly standard, with several kinds of cheese, veggies, and meats.
Lunch and Dinner
At lunch and dinner, there are four main food order stations: salads and cold sandwiches, Tandoori and Mongolian foods, Italian foods, and burgers and hot sandwiches.
Over the course of four days, I sampled many of the items and spoke to guests who had ordered many others.
Salads and Cold Sandwiches
Here are a few friendly cast members with the bases for the make-your-own salads.
The Tandoori/Mongolian area is more exotic than what you’ll find at many food courts. I think it’s a great addition. Here’s some Tandoori Portuguese sausage with pickled veggies, roasted butternut squash, wild rice, and naan bread.
And my Tandoori shrimp, cauliflower, paneer cheese, and naan dish.
The Make-Your-Own-Pasta area is sure to be a hit. I chose shrimp, peas, and olives with pesto.
My finished pasta was prepared exactly the way I like it!
The burger options are extensive here. The “Surf and Surf” Burger with popcorn shrimp on top of a crab cake looked great.
Here’s a close-up of the crab cake itself.
Check out this pastrami burger!
A Note About Food Order Customization…and Waiting
Overall, I was quite impressed. The flavors were bold, the ingredients were fresh, and many items were cooked to order right in front of you. The amount of customization available was staggering, truly a bold step forward for Disney.
I applaud this innovation. Big standing O! However, because the food is customized by the guest and cooked on the spot, there was more than a little waiting around. I’d say that I easily spent 4-5 minutes every time I ordered food, waiting for it to be cooked.
This was not a huge issue for me, a lone adult, not in a hurry. But I fear that when the entire resort is open (I was there for the first phase, with only 1/4 of the guest rooms open) or if I had to wait in multiple lines for multiple family members, it will become common for it to take upwards of 20 minutes just for a family to get its food.
On two occasions, I saw women order food at one line, then instead of waiting there, they moved to another line to start a different type of order for another family member. Both times, the cast members at the first station became flustered, not knowing what to do with the order of the non-present guest (who was there, but not right there). The cast had clearly been told not to keep the food under a heat lamp or leave it on the counter, which is wonderful in theory, but seemed to be confusing in practice.
My advice is that if you order at one station and then move on to order at another, be VERY clear with the first station that you will be back in a minute and that they should just hold your food for you.
All Day Stations
All day long, you can get customize-your-own smoothies, fancy coffee drinks, and hand-scooped gelato.
I chose the mango base, with fresh strawberry, banana, and pineapple add-ins. So yummy that I couldn’t wait to drink it. Sorry.
Plenty of topping options for the gelato.
Pistachio gelato. Nothing wrong with that.
The bakery case is open all day and contains most of the standard Disney food court bakery case items: muffins, danish, cookies, etc.
The most notable item in the case was a small four-pack of vegan, gluten-free cupcakes from BabyCakes. This is the first WDW resort that regularly carries a BabyCakes item on site. This is a HUGE bonus for families with children with allergies.
There was also a cute four-pack of regular mini-cupcakes.
Other Notable Items
Here are a few tidbits that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else, but you still need to know about! 😉
The staff at Landscape of Flavors seemed very proud that they are the first Disney World food court to have real, non-disposable plates and silverware.
This was a nice touch while eating and certainly gave a more upscale feel to the meal. However, the “realness” of the service made it more challenging to clean up after your meal. You have to do a lot of scraping of plates and sorting of silverware before you can leave.
Of course this is more environmentally friendly than the endless stream of plastic forks and knives, but it does make more work for the guest.
Lack of Microwaveable Food?
I was a bit surprised that for a resort in which three quarters of the guests DO have microwaves in their rooms, the only real microwaveable item sold at the food court was popcorn; and this was quite well hidden on the bottom shelf of a snack display.
If you’re looking for more substantial microwave food at Walt Disney World, head on over to one of the Disney Vacation Club resorts that have mini-marts in their gift shops.
My first impression of Landscape of Flavors is that this is a great addition to the Walt Disney World restaurant family. Many of the offerings are unique and relatively inexpensive. There may be growing pains as each wave of the resort opens, but I’m sure they’ll get that all worked out by Christmas.
In addition to attracting AoA guests, I suspect that this venue will also become popular with Pop Century Resort guests. I took a walk across the Generation Gap bridge from the Pop to AoA very easily. Depending on where your room is at the Pop, the AoA food court may actually be as close as the Pop food court. More options!
Oh, and about that “Life is a Highway” sentence at the top … The music at Landscape of Flavors is themed to the movies represented at the resort. It’s all fun, catchy stuff, but the playlist is veeery short. Over the course of four days, I heard “Life is a Highway” easily 40 or 50 times. It’s now an earworm that cannot be killed. 🙂
So future AoA guests, what more do you want to know? Ask me your questions in the comments below and I’ll try to help.