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King Triton sculpture image

Walt Disney World has announced that it is to begin construction of a new 2000-room hotel known as Disney's Art of Animation Resort.

The "Value" resort will be targetted at cost-conscious families and is due to open in 2012. It will include 1,120 suites, each holding six guests each, plus 864 traditional hotel rooms. Room rates will be similar to Disney's existing Value Resorts, starting at $82/night.

As the name suggests, the hotel's theme will celebrate some of Disney's most popular animation movies. The 10 wings of rooms will be divided into 4 distinct sections, each themed around a specific movie: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars. Each section will include a courtyard featuring icons from the movies, such as a 35-feet-tall statue of The Little Mermaid's King Triton.

The hotel will be situated in a 65-acre plot close to the Pop Century Resort. This will enable Disney to re-use unfinished buildings that were originally earmarked for a second phase of construction of Pop Century, that was subsequently abandoned during the 2001 recession.

Disney's decision to press ahead with construction of a new Value resort suggests that it is confident of the economic recovery continuing. However, it also indicates that the firm believes it must cater for travellers with lower budgets, as it has throughout the economic downturn with a series of discounts and offers. Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo told reporters yesterday that the company hopes to end those deals by October this year, but the expansion of its Value resorts suggests a permanent move towards lower-cost offerings is on the cards.

The increased number of suites at Disney's Art of Animation Resort is designed to meet the needs of families. Disney says that the number of families travelling in larger groups has increased since September 11, 2001. The Orlando Sentinel points out that Walt Disney World has faced heavy competition in the family market from the nearby Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando.

Disney's Art of Animation will open in phases throughout 2012, with construction beginning this summer.

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