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View Full Version : Just back from a 10 night stay at AKL!


rotlex
09-05-2010, 09:09 AM
Returned just this past Friday from a fantastic 10 night stay at AKL, and wanted to post our likes, dislikes, and thoughts!

We booked a pool view room, and were very happy with the location. We had room number 4456, 4th floor, right near the elevators. Very, very easy and quick access to Mara as well as the pool.

Firstly, checkin was painless. We used online, and it took maybe 5 minutes to actually check in, and get everything together. We arrived at Jambo House around 11am, and our room was ready by noon. We spent most of that first day swimming, and exploring the Lodge.

Positives:

Gorgeous resort with a LOT to do. Nice size room with a great view and a very friendly staff. The pool was fantastic, and we visited Kidani on Saturday to take advantage of their pool. Really fun day, and the kids enjoyed the slide and play area there quite a bit.

Other positives. Boma; staying at the hotel that houses one of our favorite restaurants was GREAT! Our kids also took advantage of the many activities they offered, including the cookie decorating, sand art, drawing, night vision views etc. Overall, we probably did more at this resort than on any other stay we have done in the past 5 years.

Negatives:

Housekeeping. The room was not "dirty" per say, but considering this is a deluxe resort, the room could have been a bit cleaner. Nothing bad, but dust on top of the entertainment unit, around the toilet and other minor places was still disturbing for this level of hotel. I have had cleaner rooms at POP.

The Mara. IMO, the worst food court we have ever had. Service was SLOW, and the selections very limited. Again, being regulars at POP, CBR and the like, I was expecting more from a deluxe food court. (What is up with using a pager at a food court anyway)?

Bus service. I realize we probably got unlucky, but it was horrendous going and coming from the parks. On two occasions, while going to MK, we had to wait for two buses to go before being able to board, due to the number of people on the bus. The wait between was also nearly 30 minutes in most cases; again, to and from most parks. This was not acceptable at ALL. Again, I realize this is a roll of the dice, but I expected more for what we were paying. (We had a car, and wound up driving almost exclusively the last half of our trip).

Overall? We enjoyed the resort, and had a fantastic trip. With that said, I don't think we will be staying deluxe again for quite some time. Even with as much fun as we had, I can't help but think that for the extra money we spent, we could have brought home a LOT of souvenirs, or even stayed a number of extra days mod or value.

We are now booked for next year, and Riverside, and are looking forward to that as well.

Oh, for reference. There were no bounce back offers in the room. I asked at the front desk, and was told to call reservations. I did, and nothing was available. The day we got home, I got a 40-45% off offer for dates ending this year. Not good to us, as we are not going again until next year anyway, and were already home when we received it!

BYC
09-05-2010, 09:48 AM
We stayed 6 nights at AKL in January, and we LOVED it. And, I agree with you about Mara. Worst food court in any resort. I would fill our cups with coffee in the morning, and that was it. After eating a couple of meals there, we had no interest in eating there again. The values have much better food courts. But, I would go back to AKL in a heartbeat! Just loved everything else about it!:banana:

WB1971
09-05-2010, 10:05 AM
Thanks for the detailed review, sounds like a great time and I am super jealous of a ten night trip! Agree on the bus trans, we won't stay at AKL or WL without a car anymore. Then again we like having a car regardless of where we stay, so have a bit of a bias! (got a car for next week for $142.00 out the door, so well worth the flexibility for us, compared to overall cost of trip) With the deluxes, you just can't go in expecting a "food court". They are really just a counter service food location. We have always liked Mara and Roaring Forks, but knew what to expect going in, so can see disapointment if comparing to a value/moderate food court. Thanks again for sharing, all the best.

trekker93
09-05-2010, 10:32 AM
Glad to hear you like AK alot! We prefer POP over any of them due to the styling,food court and bus service. We've stayed at POFQ and although it is beautiful there, Pop is just better. We go down next week!:surfweb:

KARN4U
09-05-2010, 10:43 AM
I was wondering how many hotels the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus picks up. We stayed at YC/BC and they picked up 5 hotels before we actually hit the park we were going too. May be the deal breaker for us staying there.

rotlex
09-05-2010, 11:01 AM
I was wondering how many hotels the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus picks up. We stayed at YC/BC and they picked up 5 hotels before we actually hit the park we were going too. May be the deal breaker for us staying there.

The bus picked up\dropped off at Jambo House and Kidani. Not really a problem with this, other than it seemed to be random as to which one they would do first. Kind of annoying to go to Kidani every trip when 50% of the time there was no one to pick up or drop off. (Also seemed like a wast of time and fuel). Kidani is on the same property, 10 minute walk even, so it's not really a separate "hotel" so to speak.

rotlex
09-05-2010, 11:05 AM
Glad to hear you like AK alot! We prefer POP over any of them due to the styling,food court and bus service. We've stayed at POFQ and although it is beautiful there, Pop is just better. We go down next week!:surfweb:

We love POP - especially the food court. Matter of fact, on our last day, after hitting DHS for a few hours, we picked up our luggage at Jambo House and still had 3 CS food credits to use. I jokingly said to my wife we should go to POP's food court, get lunch, and some tie dye cheesecake. :lmao: We laughed, and then that is EXACTLY what we did, :rotfl:

We each got a cheese steak wrap, tie dye cheesecake, and pizza for the kids. It felt really good to stop there, and frankly, it probably is our favorite resort. I said to my wife, again, really enjoying our stay at AKL, that if we would have stayed at POP again, just think of all the extra stuff we could have bought to take back home! :thumbsup2

KELLY
09-05-2010, 11:06 AM
We were on the verge of staying at AKL also. But my young girls wanted pop again. I have never stayed there but have stayed at WL and dh hated the food court there. Since we use the food court daily. That was a big negative for us. For us we probably won't stay deluxe again but maybe moderate again. But not even sure on moderate since we like pop so much.

MYD714
09-05-2010, 11:19 AM
We just stayed at AKL in a pool view room (4424) in August. We loved everything about it. We had an easy walk to everything, and our room was always clean. We even encountered towel animals on the first day and unexpected turn down service on our last night. We enjoyed the Mara; I loved the flatbread. We ate breakfast there every morning and lunch on the day we left. Had I known that I would love the flatbread, we would have eaten more meals there.

So far, I've lucked out with the buses on both stays here. We never had to wait for more than 15 minutes for a bus, and I never had to stand. This was the first trip where I got a seat on the bus every time. The only bus I had to stand on was from DTD to the Boardwalk. I quickly remembered why I don't stay at there...the amount of stops were insane. It took us a good hour to get to our destination. I found that to get anywhere in WDW from AKL took about 15 minutes (I clocked 13 minutes to MK one afternoon).

AKL is now my all time favorite resort. I just wish it wasn't so expensive. I'd move in tomorrow and stay forever if the price was right. :cloud9:

KARN4U
09-05-2010, 11:22 AM
Thanks rotlex for the info about the buses. That makes me feel abit better. The YC/BC buses were awful and I didn't want a repeat of that this trip.:goodvibes

dmccarty
09-05-2010, 11:25 AM
We LOVE Mara. :hippie:

We HATED the food court at CBR. What a zoo. :sad1: With six people in the group including two kids it was a PITA to get food since you had to wander around to 4-6 places to find food that someone wanted. Then trying to get a table. The selection is better at CBR but we thought the food quality was just ok.

At Mara the selection is smaller but the food quality if much better since they are cooking the food as you order. Which slows things down a bit. The reason they give out the pager is to let people sit down and not have a traffic jam in the ordering line. Before the pagers people had to wait to get their food which slowed down the ordering process and created a big crowd in the line. With the pagers people can go get a table, get drinks and such while waiting for their order. It works much better than it used too.

Buses are one of those lucky/unlucky things. And I think it is dependent on when people go to the parks. Since we go at RD, we miss the crowds at the parks and I suspect at the bus stops in the morning. We have been to AKL a few times but I do not ever remember waiting more than 20 minutes for a bus either going to or from the parks. The added stop in AKV is a pain though since the buses go their first. The one problem we saw last year was the bus would have people on board from AKV when it stopped at AKL. We did see people having to wait at AKL because there was not enough room on the bus. We saw this twice during our trip the rest of the time we never saw much crowding on the bus.

Next trip we are staying at AKV to try out the resort but also because of the bus routing. Depending on the parking and bus we might try driving to AK, DHS, and EPCOT. But who knows we like the buses and NOT having to drive.

Later,
Dan

Nickmom522
09-05-2010, 01:09 PM
Just got back also for a 10 dya stay at AKL. I was so glad I had a rental car. The few times I took the bus to/from MK because I thought it would be more convenient than the car I thought the service was terrible. Long waits and packe busses. I know it is hit-or-miss at any resort with the busses but I think AKL needs to have better bus service. As beautiful as the resort is, I probably would not stay there again since it does seem further away. When I stayed there in '02 without kids, the location didn;t seem bad. This time with the kids it just seemed like a long trip to anywhere.

KarBear
09-05-2010, 02:25 PM
Thanks for all the info about AKL, we are thinking of staying there next year for 11 nights. I am worried about the busing! We stayed at CBR twice and both times it was standing room only everytime we went somewhere and having to stop at all the villages it seemed to take forever. WE will have a car. Any suggestions???
Is it only MK that the busses were packed?
Also how were the kids events?
Did you use the kids club for babysitting, Simba's club?

Thanks

TiaMaria
09-05-2010, 02:59 PM
The bus picked up\dropped off at Jambo House and Kidani. Not really a problem with this, other than it seemed to be random as to which one they would do first. Kind of annoying to go to Kidani every trip when 50% of the time there was no one to pick up or drop off. (Also seemed like a wast of time and fuel). Kidani is on the same property, 10 minute walk even, so it's not really a separate "hotel" so to speak.

Actually, it's not random at all.

The buses to the parks always pick up at Kidani first, then Jambo. They also drop off Kidani first and Jambo last. Some folks hop on at Kidani and get off at Jambo instead of walking or using the intra-van shuttle if they want to go to the main lodge.

The buses to Downtown Disney always pick up at Jambo first and then Kidani. Same with dropping off. Again, sometimes Kidani guests hop on at Jambo and then just get off at Kidani.

While at Kidani, if we had a completely full bus (including the aisles), the bus driver would once every great while skip Jambo on the way to the parks, but we would see another pulling in at the same time.

Anytime you are heading out from Jambo at peak times or to the EMH parks, you can bet the buses will be jammed.

KarBear
09-05-2010, 04:46 PM
Anytime you are heading out from Jambo at peak times or to the EMH parks, you can bet the buses will be jammed.

Is it worth it to walk to Kandi and then get on the buses to assure you will be able to sit down? Is walking to Kandi possible or would that not make sense?

glocon
09-05-2010, 05:21 PM
We loved AKL the one time we stayed there, and would stay again in a heartbeat. But since we've only tried AKL and POR, we want to try others, maybe BC or BW. We did love both, and would stay at either again. But we did drive our own car both times, having heard so many negatives about the bus services. The boat from POR was great though...

carrie1626
09-05-2010, 07:19 PM
"Bus service. I realize we probably got unlucky, but it was horrendous going and coming from the parks. On two occasions, while going to MK, we had to wait for two buses to go before being able to board, due to the number of people on the bus. The wait between was also nearly 30 minutes in most cases; again, to and from most parks. This was not acceptable at ALL. Again, I realize this is a roll of the dice, but I expected more for what we were paying. (We had a car, and wound up driving almost exclusively the last half of our trip)."
That's unfortunate!!


I got back two weeks ago from AKL and experienced just the opposite- timely, reliable buses to and from the parks. Please tell us when those MK were "full". Park closing, right after the parade/fireworks, when of course they would be??:upsidedow. (The plus of waiting is getting a seat.)

John's Mom
09-05-2010, 07:42 PM
Is it worth it to walk to Kandi and then get on the buses to assure you will be able to sit down? Is walking to Kandi possible or would that not make sense?

It's about a ten minute walk from Jambo to Kidani. It's really up to you if you think it's worth it or not. We always waited at Jambo.

rotlex
09-05-2010, 08:29 PM
"Bus service. I realize we probably got unlucky, but it was horrendous going and coming from the parks. On two occasions, while going to MK, we had to wait for two buses to go before being able to board, due to the number of people on the bus. The wait between was also nearly 30 minutes in most cases; again, to and from most parks. This was not acceptable at ALL. Again, I realize this is a roll of the dice, but I expected more for what we were paying. (We had a car, and wound up driving almost exclusively the last half of our trip)."
That's unfortunate!!


I got back two weeks ago from AKL and experienced just the opposite- timely, reliable buses to and from the parks. Please tell us when those MK were "full". Park closing, right after the parade/fireworks, when of course they would be??:upsidedow. (The plus of waiting is getting a seat.)

The MK buses were full at least 3 times in the AM. Basically, we had to wait for a 2nd bus at Jambo house. With that said, MK was probably the only park that had that issue. The others were not that bad. As far as coming back at night, it was similar as well. It was always standing room only, particularly, of course, if it was post fireworks.

rotlex
09-05-2010, 08:33 PM
Thanks for all the info about AKL, we are thinking of staying there next year for 11 nights. I am worried about the busing! We stayed at CBR twice and both times it was standing room only everytime we went somewhere and having to stop at all the villages it seemed to take forever. WE will have a car. Any suggestions???
Is it only MK that the busses were packed?
Also how were the kids events?
Did you use the kids club for babysitting, Simba's club?

Thanks

As far as the car? IMO, after having a car there on our past 3 trips, we will ALWAYS use it. :) I hate standing in line for, or on buses anymore. :)

Kids events were fun, but not really anything to write home about. The free events that our kids enjoyed were the Boma cookie decorating, the sand art down by the pool, and of course, the night vision animal viewing. They were fun, but really just 15-30 minute diversions. Some of the paid events, such as t-shirt and jewelry making sounded fun, but we were never around at the lodge while they were going on.

Can't comment on the kids club, other than we walked by it everyday, as we did not use the service. A few people we spoke with one night by the pool however said the kids LOVED it, and so did they! ;)

Oh, as far as buses being packed? MK was the worst, followed by Epcot. The others were never too bad however, but, as I said in an earlier post, we pretty much used the car exclusively after the first few days.

rotlex
09-05-2010, 08:36 PM
Actually, it's not random at all.

The buses to the parks always pick up at Kidani first, then Jambo. They also drop off Kidani first and Jambo last. Some folks hop on at Kidani and get off at Jambo instead of walking or using the intra-van shuttle if they want to go to the main lodge.

The buses to Downtown Disney always pick up at Jambo first and then Kidani. Same with dropping off. Again, sometimes Kidani guests hop on at Jambo and then just get off at Kidani.

While at Kidani, if we had a completely full bus (including the aisles), the bus driver would once every great while skip Jambo on the way to the parks, but we would see another pulling in at the same time.

Anytime you are heading out from Jambo at peak times or to the EMH parks, you can bet the buses will be jammed.

Not disagreeing with you that it is not SUPPOSED to be random, but, it was. The system you describe is nothing like we experienced. On some nights back from say AK, we stopped at Jambo first, on others, Kidani. Same for all the other parks, both coming and going. (At least when we were using the buses). Not doubting you, but saying I believe it is pretty much up to the driver you get.

StitchandPooh'sMom
09-05-2010, 09:11 PM
We had a great stay at AKL in January, but the buses were horrible. It was standing room only every morning for rope drop (all parks). Even waiting for a second bus was not a guarantee that you would get a seat since the bus was usually more than half full by the time it reached Jambo House. Since there is no actual line at the bus stop, waiting for the next bus didn't mean you would be first on when it came. I don't mind standing, even every time, but DD7 couldn't reach the rails and it was hard for her to balance during the rides. She held onto me and I held the rail.

If you are not a rope drop/EMH family, you might not ever have a problem. But we always had a seat in July at CSR, even when trying to make rope drop. I think AKL needs more buses since it takes longer to travel to and from the parks - even if it is running the same number of buses as another similarly-sized resort, they can't make the round trip as fast and you wait longer (and they fill up).

We would definitely stay at AKL again, but not without a car.

cassie
09-05-2010, 09:16 PM
I was wondering how many hotels the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus picks up. We stayed at YC/BC and they picked up 5 hotels before we actually hit the park we were going too. May be the deal breaker for us staying there.

I'm curious, what 5 hotels did you stop at?

hannaconda
09-05-2010, 09:51 PM
My DD and I did a 7 night stay at Jambo House in mid July and it was a hit and miss with the bussess. Leaving the parks after the fireworks is like murder. You would think that the powers to be would dirvert bussess to pick up the resorts with large waiting lines. They didn't. Took 3 bussess to get all of us when I saw other resorts with maby 10 ppl waiting. I know to drive if we go for the fireworks but I didn't want to give up my parking spot at the resort. I love SSR and OKW resort parking. Mara was nasty period end of story for me. Now the resort was nice i must say We always got to see the animals. I had the Pool view from the 5th floor. Boma was better than I expected and I had a wonderfull server. She was good and nice to my DD when she wold ask for something.

StitchandPooh'sMom
09-05-2010, 09:55 PM
I'm curious, what 5 hotels did you stop at?

When we stayed at Beach Club, the buses picked up at Swan, Dolphin, Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club.

ppony
09-05-2010, 09:59 PM
As far as the car? IMO, after having a car there on our past 3 trips, we will ALWAYS use it. :) I hate standing in line for, or on buses anymore. :)

AMEN! We have almost always rented a car. On our last trip we didn't because we weren't staying more than a few days before our cruise. So we used the bus system. I know a lot like it, but it took me back to the days where I commuted on a bus for my job and I just hated it. That and I'm really anxious in close quarters around strangers, so a car gives me a "free zone". Yep, love the car!

TiaMaria
09-06-2010, 07:29 PM
Is it worth it to walk to Kandi and then get on the buses to assure you will be able to sit down? Is walking to Kandi possible or would that not make sense?

I don't think it really would make that much difference. If you don't want to stand, just wait for the next bus. They come every 10-15 minutes, except the DTD one, which always seems to take longer (and that stops at Jambo first anyhow).

It is a 5-10 minute walk from the AKL entrance to the Kidani bus stop (which are just before the lobby entrance), but IMO, not worth trekking over just to get a seat on a bus. :confused3

TiaMaria
09-06-2010, 07:32 PM
Not disagreeing with you that it is not SUPPOSED to be random, but, it was. The system you describe is nothing like we experienced. On some nights back from say AK, we stopped at Jambo first, on others, Kidani. Same for all the other parks, both coming and going. (At least when we were using the buses). Not doubting you, but saying I believe it is pretty much up to the driver you get.

I hear you Steve, and I'm not saying this cannot happen, but I can only imagine this if the bus isn't that full and the bus driver takes a head count on where people are staying?

We've stayed there an awful lot of nights over the last 18 months and rarely, very rarely see any deviation.

tinkerpea
09-06-2010, 08:46 PM
Hi all I am now wondering if I have made a huge mistake I have booked 3 wks at AKL starting from 23rd of september,
My family and I which includes Twins (5) and a (8) yr old adore POP Century its the 1st Disney hotel we have ever stayed at and we have done it twice I love the colours and although we our great Table service fans we think the food court is just fab! and the bus service fantastic when i hear people slate value resorts I always feel so sad as I would stay at Pop time and time again , I rung up to book my holiday and got talking to a Disney mad operater and she convinced me to book AKL instead she told me it was just magical,I had seen lots of pics and have always thought what a Beautiful resort it is but now Im hearing very mixed reviews lots that its not worth the as a deluxe i have paid out over 11000 as Im taking my mum too and we need 2 rooms I did not fork out for savannah as I wanted to see what they gave me and then i will pay to up-grade if the view was of the car park ....I was never told by the operater that this could be the case only found out about diffrent views when i joined Dis which is why if i really want one i will pay when i get their. Has anybody ever changed hotels when they got their Im wondering if my boys will not like the hotel as they do love POP too and wether they would after a wk want to change to POP as I never realised it would be that far away from all the perks either .
Sorry for long post just getting a little worried that i have payed out needlessly when i could have had just as great time at a value :rotfl2: