Disney’s Wilderness Lodge vs Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Head to Head: Walt Disney World’s Two Luxury Lodge Resorts
Among the impressive suite of properties in the Deluxe Disney category of Walt Disney World Resort hotels there are two options that offer upscale rustic-inspired theming and ambiance. In this post I will compare the National-Parks-inspired Disney’s Wilderness Lodge with the African-savanna-inspired Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
When it comes to the cost of staying in each of these resorts, it is almost a dead heat between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Like any Disney Resort search, you may find differences in pricing due to what is available at the particular time that you want to travel. However, all things being equal, cost will not be an issue when trying to choose a winner in the pricing category. It’s too close to call, so we’ll call it a draw.
Now let’s take a look at location.
Both of these Resorts could be considered to be somewhat isolated versus the locations of other Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the most isolated of all Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts, however, this is largely by design and necessity.
The Resort requires a certain amount of surrounding space and buffer zone to accommodate its animal population. As a result, if you stay here you will greatly benefit from having a car. Otherwise you will have to rely on Disney’s complimentary bus transportation to get around. While Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, it is not within walking distance.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is located in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area; however, it is the only Deluxe Resort in this area that is not on the Monorail line. This greatly limits its transportation options compared to other Disney Deluxe Resorts in the area (Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa).
So while Disney’s Wilderness Lodge may feel isolated relatively speaking, it is not truly quite as isolated as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Both of these Resorts would do well for guests who have cars. It’s not a must-have, however, having a car when staying at either of these properties will add a level of convenience and flexibility when making your way around Walt Disney World.
In the end, since Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the more isolated of the two Resorts, this category goes to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Neither Disney’s Wilderness Lodge nor Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are particularly strong when it comes to onsite shopping availability.
Both Resorts have nice themed gift shops that offer some clothing, food items and sundries. However, since Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has an additional shop over at its Kidani Village complex, it does offer marginally more in the way of shopping than Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, which has one main shop.
So while neither property is exceptional when it comes to onsite shopping, the edge here goes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The dining category is similar to the shopping category. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has some strong and well regarded dining options in Artist Point (Signature Dining), Whispering Canyon Cafe (interactive dining) and Roaring Fork (quick service dining). In addition, there is a decent poolside eatery in Geyser Point Bar & Grill.
Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge the offering is even stronger. Here you will find some top names in Walt Disney World dining, including Boma (African-inspired all-you-care-to-enjoy), Jiko (upscale dining with exotic dishes and flair) and Sanaa (a more casual atmosphere table-service restaurant). The quick service option here is The Mara.
You likely won’t be dissatisfied with the dining at either of these Deluxe Disney Resorts, but when it comes to which Resort wins the Dining category, the tables tip towards Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Ambiance is where both of these Disney properties truly shine.
With its rustic Wilderness Lodge theming, Disney Imagineers have managed to give Disney’s Wilderness Lodge a luxurious feel, while still reflecting the grand construction of a Pacific Northwest National Park Lodge. When you enter this Resort property you will be struck by the very impressive lobby. It brings an immediate sense of warmth and comfort even with its expansive area.
The grounds at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are also immersive, complete with boardwalks through the trees and a spouting geyser. It’s location on the picturesque shores of Bay Lake completes the picture.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers an excellent immersive experience based on animal themes and the African savannas. The grounds here are also very well Imagineered and there are some impressive viewing points for savanna perspectives.
Still, when compared to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is very focused on its savannas and is comparatively one dimensional in that regard (don’t get me wrong, it is impressive just not as dynamic). I miss the element of a natural body of water here, something which I find noticeably lacking.
While this one is a close call, I give the edge for ambiance to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
The Disney Factor
When trying to assess which of these two natural giants best incorporates the intangible Disney factor, it’s pretty hard to pick a standout winner.
Both Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge excel at providing guests a warm sense of classic Disney hospitality and guest service while incorporating the best of their respective themes.
When it comes to the Disney factor, I have to call it a tie. You will feel the Disney magic to be alive and well at either Resort.
And the Winner is…
This head-to-head is one of most even comparisons I have found. It is virtually impossible to pick a clear winner based solely on their merits because these Resorts are:
- Very similar in many positive ways,
- Excel at their respective value propositions and
- Deliver on exactly what you expect of them.
Since there are no glaring deficiencies or issues at either Resort, it really comes down to how comfortable you are with the relative isolation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and whether you will miss having a large natural body of water at your Resort.
In the end, you really cannot make a wrong decision here as it comes down to a visceral feeling of which Resorts theming appeals to you the most.
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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™