None of us have ever been to Disney World before, and there’s 2 adults and 2 teenagers. I’ve heard things about Animal Kingdom Lodge having only one, crowded bus into the parks and I’ve heard about Wilderness Lodge having small, dark rooms. We want to visit pretty much all of the parks and we’ll be there for 8 days. We did hear that you should go to Animal Kingdom in the morning to see the animals.
The Atriums are Fabulous
Photo by Express Monorail
Dad’s not an easy choice Answer
Both the Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge are beautiful and unique resorts to stay at when visiting Walt Disney World. There are pros and cons to each, and you’ll have to consider what’s most important to you: proximity to the parks, ease of transportation, or specific amenities.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is beautiful and unique. Jambo House is the original lodge, and was so popular that the Kidani Village villas were added on. This property offers top-notch dining, beautiful pool areas, and of course – animal encounters!
It’s a great choice for parents with teens since it’s more grown up than the value resorts but not as stuffy as say, the Grand Floridian and not as spread out as the Moderate Resorts.
Wilderness Lodge is stunning and rustic. The rooms are on the small side for a deluxe resort but you can select a room with 2 queen beds or one queen and a set of bunk beds. I have heard that the rooms are a little dark (aren’t all hotel rooms?), particularly in the rooms with bunks.
One big perk of staying here is your proximity to Fort Wilderness, where you can take advantage of all sorts of outdoor activities! (Like the Hoop Dee Doo Review).
Dad could go on all day about the pros and cons of the Lodges but here’s what you need to know: they’re both really interesting resorts with some of the best theming on property, but they’re both really remote which makes transportation a bit of an issue.
From the Animal Kingdom Lodge, you have to take a bus everywhere – even to Animal Kingdom! I’ll admit when I stayed there my transportation experience was less than magical. From Wilderness Lodge you can take a boat to the Magic Kingdom, but you’ll have to take a bus everywhere else. These hotels are so out of the way, it might just make sense to have a car at Walt Disney World and drive yourself.
The bus transportation system at Walt Disney World gets a bad rap. Sure, buses get crowded – I’ve been on buses with standing room only, and I’d had to wait for a second or third bus to even get on. But I’ve also been on a bus with no one else – it’s really the luck of the draw (though at park opening and closing you can expect larger crowds). Considering that the buses move tens of thousands of people around each day, I’d say they’re doing a pretty impressive job.
But you should know that there isn’t simply one bus per resort to take you to each park. The busses are controlled by a central dispatch which sends buses to where they are needed. Drivers are assigned a pick up and drop off location, and then when they approach their destination they are given their next assignment based on demand. Although sometimes it can seem like it takes forever for the bus to arrive, rest assured that the dispatchers are doing their best.
As for the animals at Animal Kingdom, good research! The animals are typically more active in the morning, though the folks at Disney have come up with some innovative ways to increase their afternoon activity levels. Getting to the park in time for opening won’t be a problem regardless of where you stay, unless you’re not a morning person!
Dad’s Bottom Line
Emily, in terms of getting to the parks, you’ll have the same transportation issues whether you select the Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge. Choose whichever resort offers the theme and activities your family would most enjoy, and have a magical vacation!
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