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Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

As I was indulging in some vacation fantasizing, I stumbled upon Disney guru Tom Bricker’s ranking of deluxe Disney resorts. In less than twelve days, I will be basking in his and my number one Disney resort: Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Animal Kingdom Lodge brings a lot to the table. First, let’s focus on what it doesn’t bring: location. Just about any valid knock on Animal Kingdom Lodge can be summed up as having to do with its remote location away from any theme park that isn’t Animal Kingdom. Many guests identify location as a main reason to stay on-site at Walt Disney World, so that can’t be overlooked. This location also means there are no novel forms of transportation–boat, monorail, Skyliner, etc–between AKL and the parks. It’s all buses.

Now let’s take a look at everything it brings to the table. First, the rooms were recently redone and Disney did an awesome job balancing theme and modern touches. Second, AKL is arguably the best themed Walt Disney World hotel. From the meticulous design that makes it feel like an extension of the Animal Kingdom theme park to the art collection that you can see by perusing the common areas, Animal Kingdom Lodge is a hotel that really rewards those guests who are willing to spend the time drinking in its details.

Oh, and that doesn’t even address the living, breathing animals that graze on the 4 savannas outside of the hotel. This is the resort’s main draw and selling point, and the tradeoff for Animal Kingdom Lodge being relatively isolated. These savannas are something you won’t find at any real world hotel in the United States, and are the reason Animal Kingdom Lodge is a “destination” resort unto itself. You could sit and watch the wildlife for a long weekend, never even venturing to the parks. That’s what ultimately gives Animal Kingdom Lodge the edge over Wilderness Lodge, even if we personally favor the latter.

Then there’s the dining situation. With the Mara, Victoria Falls Lounge, Boma, Sanaa, and Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge literally has one of the best dining options are every single dining tier. In fact, I would put it ahead of the Grand Floridian in terms of overall dining quality, and that’s really saying something. Then there are rooms that wonderfully toe the line between theming and luxury (skewing, as always, towards theming), which are some of the best at Walt Disney World.

Finally, there’s the price point; while expensive, Animal Kingdom Lodge is often the least expensive of the Deluxe Resorts. All of this makes Animal Kingdom Lodge my current pick for the #1 Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World. This is especially true if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your hotel (this would be our easy pick for a “hotel weekend” that would involve no park time), albeit considerably less true if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the parks and little time in your hotel.

Thank goodness for Tom’s words of wisdom and beautiful photography because he has never steered my wrong and always left me ahead of the pack!


Hello, I'm Kelly Nixon

I'm a Disney-loving mom and teacher who has dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to researching the best way to do Disney-to maximize the quality of time and minimize the dollars spent!

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