Walt Disney World Resort accommodations come in all different themes and designations. There is a versatile range of options to suit everybody’s unique desires. From onsite interests in the way of property features and amenities to a motif you can’t help but love, there’s even diversity in pricing in order to better suit the needs of families of all different sizes and budgets.
Once you’ve decided where you want to stay, based on designation and theming, you may come to a draw if you end up juggling between two very like-minded options. That’s certainly the case for those who find themselves unable to choose between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Both Resorts hold an arguably equal appeal with similar-minded Guests looking for Disney’s wilder side. Therefore, there is much to consider before making the final decision between the two. To help you along, we are presenting an overview of each Resort so that you can pick which one is personally more appealing to you and your group for your next vacation to Disney World.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opened back on May 28, 1994. Joining the ranks of existing Magic Kingdom Area Resorts, this one is significantly more secluded than the others, which works well with entailing the Resort’s theme of staying in the remote, uncharted wilds of nature.
Working in tandem with its “hidden wonder” appeal is its stunning design and décor, modeled after those impressive architectural marvels in the way of National Park lodges that sprang up during the early part of the 20th century. From the encompassing surrounding trees and dense forestry to the tall, authentic totem poles and other callouts in the way of artwork and artifacts, it’s just like transcending into the rustic American North West, despite being right in the heart of Florida.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge opened several years later, on April 16, 2001, to be exact. Keeping with a theme inspired by the traditional African kraal lodges on wildlife refuges, the Resort appears to be a direct transplant straight out of the savannas. In fact, there are no less than four savannas right onsite!
What’s more, there are actual live animals living on the grounds, including 200-some hoofed creatures along with numerous different bird species. And while the stunning décor, architecture, and artwork are all awe-inspiring on their own, it really is the inclusion of real animals that is the Resort’s biggest draw.
Both Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, are Deluxe Resort designations that also happen to be Disney Vacation Club Resorts. Over the years additional accommodations in the latter category, along with all those impeccable perks that come with club-level services, have significantly amplified each Resort even more.
Both Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom, offer up plenty of different ways to stay in regards to various room designations, views such designations offer, and at what location on the property such accommodations can be found.
At the Wilderness Lodge, most of the standard rooms can sleep up to four adults and come with two queen beds, although some other options are limited to two people and come with one king bed. There are also deluxe rooms and deluxe studios that can accommodate larger parties along with multi-room villa options. All these are offered at the club level.
Another absolutely exceptional way to stay, particularly for larger groups of up to eight, is in a free-standing fully furnished Copper Creek Cabin. These come with two full bathrooms, a full kitchen, living and dining areas, a washer and dryer, and even a private porch with a hot tub.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge also features its fair share of standard rooms that sleep up to four adults via the two queen bed setup, with the same king bed, two-person alternative. They also offer a host of studio and deluxe studio arrangements, club-level suites, and villas that sleep up to eight.
Some of their villas are even multi-bedroom grand villas that can accommodate nine or even 12 people. Many in the Kidani Village Disney Vacation Club specific area of the Resort even offer up impeccable savanna views. Who wouldn’t want to experience getting to see African animals right outside their window?
Both the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge have plenty to offer Guests in the way of onsite activities. Each packs its own untamed tantalizations accordingly.
The Wild Side
There are a lot of wild callouts that make staying onsite at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge a one-of-a-kind experience. From its resident geyser to towering totem poles and 82-foot fireplace, to all the other bucolic bounty to behold, it’s all so breathtaking! And let’s not forget about the natural wonder of Bay Lake and all of its 450 acres. But aside from its visual appeal, the Resort boasts a range of wonderful onsite amenities and recreational endeavors to meet the wildest demands of its Guests.
You have all the usual onsite recreations, like jogging trails, Movies Under the Stars, and campfire activities. There’s also a resident state-of-the-art fitness center — Sturdy Branches Health Club — right onsite as well. And because you are right in the heart of the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, you can conveniently seek out views of the nightly Electrical Water Pageant. Because this Resort features a marina location, you also have access to guided fishing excursions, if you so choose.
Pools remain among Disney World’s most popular pastimes, and the Wilderness Lodge is certainly up to par in its offerings, as they feature two terrific options to dive into. First, there is the contested Copper Creek Springs Pool with its 67-foot waterslide built right into a natural rock formation, no less. They also have both hot and cold whirlpool spas alike.
There is also the Boulder Ridge Pool — a zero-entry quieter option themed after a peaceful oasis of sorts. It too features a whirlpool spa and plenty of shaded areas to lounge around in.
A Menagerie Greatness
Aside from the obvious savanna and all the delights it brings to Resort Guests, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has a broad range of recreational extras to take delight in. All the usual aforementioned Resort offerings are standard here as well, including campfire activities, Movies Under the Stars, and so on and so forth.
They too are home to their own resident fitness center, which also offers up impeccable spa and salon services. We are, of course, referring to Disney World’s renowned Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center.
In the way of swimming, Animal Kingdom Lodge has two pools to rave about. There is the zero-entry Uzima Springs Pool, set in an 11,000-square-foot tropical oasis situated right in alignment with the Uzima Savanna. It also features a 67-foot-long waterslide.
The Samawati Springs Pool is the Resort’s other watering hole marvel. Another zero-entry endeavor, this one boasts a 128-foot waterslide and an elevated amount of excitement to boot.
If you’re looking for diversified dining that packs some wild tastes, then both Resorts fit the bill with perfect precision. Each one features its fair share of convenient quick-service options as well as more refined sit-down experiences alike. And while the Wilderness Lodge gears more toward traditional American eats, the Animal Kingdom tends to favor the exotic in the way of pan-African cuisine features.
But rest assured that you can still enjoy plenty of authentic American classics here as well. In short, both Resorts excel in the way of meeting and exceeding their Guests’ epicurean standards.
Whether you’re looking for casual, quick, convenient, or even a signature dining experience like no other, then Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has you covered in all the above. Roaring Fork is the ultimate go-to in the way of quick-service options of a plentiful array. Open throughout the day, they proudly serve up all those well-loved, familiar American classics as well as novelties beyond your wildest imagination.
Geyser Point Bar & Grill is another excellent place to get hearty American fare in addition to lavish libations this side of the great outdoors. For a boisterous bounty served up family-style, it may be fun for you to have a meal at Whispering Canyon Café. Despite its name, this table-service restaurant comes with a side of amusing shouting amongst Cast Members as part of the fun.
Perhaps one of the most sought-after dining experiences to take in here is Storybook Dining at Artist Point. A signature character dining experience like no other, here you get to enjoy a delightful, refined meal themed after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. What’s more, the characters of the 1937 beloved classic Disney animated film will be onsite for Meet and Greets throughout the experience. It’s the best kind of wild experience you can get!
Not to be outdone, there are plenty of untamed treats and eats making up the culinary scene at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as well. The Mara, for instance, is your ultimate go-to quick-service stop around the clock. From grab-n-go items to meals you can order, they offer up a broad array of varied bites, including both exotic enticements and well-loved familiar favorites alike.
If you love all-you-can-eat buffets with varied picks in just about every category then Boma — Flavors of Africa is the place you’ll want to go for either breakfast or dinner. Would you like to get up close and personal with stunning views of the Resort’s resident wildlife as you dine? Then perhaps you should head to Sanaa with its unique, scenic table-service operations with wall-sized windows overlooking the savanna.
While there are plenty of wonderful options for where to eat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jiko — The Cooking Place remains a top-rated signature dining experience. A well-known, culinary undertaking that comes widely acclaimed, Jiko draws in scores of visitors from all over Walt Disney World Resort, who come seeking out the best signature selections paired with such an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
Location to Parks
When choosing which Disney Resort to stay at, sometimes the ultimate make-or-break decision comes down to the location. Consider the accommodations you are currently eyeing in relation to the Parks you choose to frequent the most. If you’re looking to spend more time at the Magic Kingdom, then the decision may easily come to opting for Wilderness Lodge over Animal Kingdom Lodge.
It goes without saying that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is closest to Animal Kingdom Park. However, it also happens to be closer to all other Disney Parks, with the exception of the Magic Kingdom, than Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It’s also closer to Disney Springs. This is something to consider when planning your Disney vacation in regards to where you plan to spend the most time. So, unless you plan on spending almost all your time at Magic Kingdom, you may want to consider the Animal Kingdom Lodge for your accommodation.
There are various other considerations to keep in mind when making the ultimate decision on where to stay between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The decision really does come down to each family’s personal preferences. When at Disney you want the most magical experiences of all; just remember that whichever accommodation you go for is sure to give you all the enchantment you ever dreamed about and then some.