Last week was a tough call for some of you. We asked, “Which is better, Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge?” The resorts have a lot of similarities right down to the architect, the late Peter Dominick, who also designed the Grand Californian in Disneyland. Both have breathtaking lobbies and a rustic feel. For this article, we’ll concentrate on the non-DVC sides of each resort.
Here are your votes:
Which is better, Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge?
Animal Kingdom Lodge – 712✅
Wilderness Lodge – 676
Animal Kingdom Lodge includes Jambo House (the original resort), which is half Disney Vacation Club rooms and half regular resort rooms; and Kidani Village, which was built as a DVC property. Wilderness Lodge is…complicated. The original Wilderness Lodge is now half regular resort rooms and half Copper Creek Villas (DVC). Copper Creek also includes lakeside two-bedroom cabins. The former Villas at Wilderness Lodge is now Boulder Ridge Villas. We’re concentrating on the non-DVC rooms for this article, but the villas at both resorts are fantastic. If you’re not a DVC member and would like to try them out, we recommend David’s DVC Rentals (this is an affiliate link, and TouringPlans receives a commission on any booking you make through it).
Both resorts were built with the smallest of the regular Deluxe resort rooms. As a point of comparison, a standard room at the Contemporary is 394 square feet and sleeps 5. At Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, that size is 344 square feet. Because the rooms at the original lodges that were converted to villas are built on this smaller footprint, villas here are smaller than many DVC villas — this is the difference between the “value” view rooms in Jambo House and the “standard” view rooms at Kidani Village. Both resorts have family-friendly bunk bed room configurations available for those families who want them. Some guests (I include myself among them) find the rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge a little dark.
Animal Kingdom Lodge takes the edge for dining options. For upscale dining, Jiko (dinner only) is a longtime favorite. The very popular buffet Boma serves breakfast and dinner. Sanaa at Kidani Village serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Mara quick service is open for all three meals, plus grab and go. Wilderness Lodge is no slack in the dining department either. The signature restaurant is Artist Point (dinner only), family-style food is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Whispering Canyon, and Roaring Fork and Geyser Point have quick service options. Geyser Point opened with the DVC expansion of Wilderness Lodge and is an open-air counter service and bar on Bay Lake. It is one of our favorites.
Wilderness Lodge gets the edge for transportation. While neither resort has walking or monorail access to any park, Wilderness Lodge has two boat routes in addition to its bus service. One boat route goes directly to Magic Kingdom. The other is a circular route that connects Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, and the Contemporary Resort. This is especially helpful to guests with reservations at Hoop-Dee-Doo-Revue or Chef Mickey’s. Guest can also walk or bike (rentals are available at the marina) to Fort Wilderness via a path.
Animal Kingdom Lodge transportation is bus only. Guests who want to go quickly from Animal Kingdom Lodge to other resorts may want to consider a cab, ride sharing service, or Minnie Van. Guests can walk or bus between Jambo House and Kidani Village.
Both resorts charge $24/night for parking unless you’re a DVC member.
Disney has upped its pool game as it built more DVC properties. You can’t go wrong with the pools at either resort. They’re beautiful.
Entertainment and Recreation
The entertainment options at both Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge are what take them beyond just hotels and into true resort territory. It is possible to spend a whole day at either and not feel you’re missing a thing. Check out free resort tours at both and cultural activities with the African students who work at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is all about the savanna. Whether you’re watching animals from your room or from any of the lookouts within the lodge, there’s nothing like it.
Wilderness Lodge has bike and watercraft rentals, and is an easy trip to Fort Wilderness for everything offered there. Guests can also view the Electric Water Pageant from the beach at Wilderness Lodge. Exercise caution any time you are near water at Walt Disney World, especially at night.
As you can tell from the close vote and comments like “I CAN’T DECIDE,” you really can’t go wrong with either choice here. Even better, these resorts are the least expensive of the Disney Deluxe resorts. Thanks for your votes and comments. Be sure to check out this week’s poll.