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Old 08-04-2006, 12:40 PM   #1
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Question Animal Kingdom Lodge Vs. Wilderness Lodge for us and my mom?

DH and I are planning a trip to WDW in January, and will be taking my mom who is a fairly active 73 y.o.
I have resort choices narrowed down to AKL and WL.
I like the idea of seeing the animals at AKL - but have heard the rooms are "dark" ?
Mom is also sensitive to smells. Is there a noticable smell from the animal areas?
I am leaning toward AKL - but have these doubts about what mom would enjoy.
Thinking of a "deluxe" room at either resort. Doesn't that mean a nicer, somewhat larger room?

Thanks for your input.
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Old 08-04-2006, 12:57 PM   #2
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The Deluxe rooms from what I was told by Disney Travel me and DF are going for our honeymoon in Feb and staying at AKL. They are a bit bigger, but only cause they have a small couch, which if I remember right the CM said folds into a bed. I maybe thinking of more of a suite, but the only difference is basically the couch sitting area. As far as dark some say it is some say it is not. We have NEVER been to Disney so this is our first time and I have agnoized over and over on WL or AKL till I am ready to scream cause they both look nice. The Animals are out on the savannah You are not going to exit your car and they are staring back at you. They are out on the plains and from what cast members have said what you smell once you hit the inside of the AKL was told by CM and on travel channel are the smells of Cinnamon, cardamon (sp) Nice spicy to me sounds like christmas smells. WL looks outstanding also it's more of a colorado feel and is more like a Log Cabin type of lodge is the best I can describe it. It's made all from wood and it's really big I have heard the walks can be a bit long from room to lobby there cause the resort is so large, basically same with AKL all depending on what room you get. You can request a room closer to the lobby, but not sure if they have deluxes near the lobby. It's all in would you rather have a WL colorado experience, or are you into Animals and like the safari feel. To me if you like the Animals the splurge on a Savannah view they are a bit more, but you get to go out onto your balcony in the morning and low and behold there is a giraffe or a zebra right there for you to see off your balcony. We are looking forward to our first time at Disney and Our honeymoon at AKL.
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Old 08-04-2006, 12:58 PM   #3
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WL is a fantastic resort with lots of options for recreation besides just swimming in the pool--walk to Fort Wilderness, Rent Surrey bikes, rent boats, etc. Also convenient to MK via boat. As for the smells at AKL--I know when we visited there for dinner I don't remember smelling any animals persay, but there was a very distinctive sweet smoky kind of smell to the resort--kind of reminds me of some sort of sweet spice--many people like that smell, personally I found it a little strong. If your mom is sensitive to smells that is something to consider. We decided that AKL wouldn't be a good choice for our family because we like the additional recreation opportunities available at WL. Also liked that we could take a boat directly to Contemporary if we wanted to eat there.
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:17 PM   #4
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AKL is a lot bigger than WL/VWL.

that say - which should you pick?

do you have little kids? or is it you, your spouse and your mom going?

both are great resorts. Since you are going in January I think I would like WL better then.

Spring or Summer - AKL.
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:34 PM   #5
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We loved AKL. We didn't find the rooms "dark" at all (unless you closed the blinds on the balcony door). The headboards and armoire are made of a dark wood, and maybe that enhances the perception they're dark rooms. But, for us, there was plenty of light.

The smell in the lobby is quite strong. It's very pleasant, though, IMHO, so it will depend on what you mean by "sensitive to smells". If she's just sensitive to "pet odor" or bad smells, you should be fine.

The deluxe rooms seemed quite a bit bigger than the standard rooms to me. We're not talking the difference between a standard and a suite, by any means, but with 3 adults, you'll appreciate the difference in size.

The savannah is just an awesome thing to behold and it was our "extracurricular activity". That and browsing the hotel, talking to all the Cultural Reps, and checking out all the "art exhibits" that are scattered through the resort....we were able to spend 2 whole days just around the resort (we were on a 14 day trip, so...).

AKL is a bit remote, though, from the theme parks (except AK, of course) and WL has much better transport options, though I will say that since AKL doesn't share busses, their transport is still very good. Also, AKL is MUCH bigger than WL (though you can see some pretty big similarities in the architecture....which makes sense given they were designed by the same guy) and your room can be quite a hike from the lobby AND the only bus stop.

WL has Whispering Canyon and Artists Point, two excellent eateries....though I will say you enjoy WC, I think, more if you have kids. AKL has Bomas, which, IMHO is the single best buffet I've ever eaten at (though you have to have a bit of an adventurous pallette...not a big one, but a bit), and Jikos is up there with the finest of Disney Dining, IMHO. I'm also partial to Mara's over the WL food court, but that's just personal preference.
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:35 PM   #6
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You know I had the make the same choice, but I choose WL for our upcoming trip. I did becaues of the boat ride to the park, next trip I am choosing WL.

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Old 08-04-2006, 01:38 PM   #7
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No one that I have heard of (I've been lurking on the boards, reading the AKL official thread, etc) has ever commented on animal smells in the savannah lodge or balcony. I think if there were smells, a lot of guests would complain and we would hear more about it on the boards.

As for AKL lighting, it is definitely relative. Some have stated that they had a hard time applying makeup in the bathroom; others have stated that they had no problems with the lighting. Guess this doesn't really help.

I have only visited both resorts for dinners and to explore around. We fell in love with AKL our last trip when we dined at Boma and therefore decided to use our DVC points to stay at AKL next week. Wilderness Lodge doesn't really appeal to us because we're from New England and used to the whole forest and log cabin atmosphere. However, it is definitely a nice resort too.

Good luck choosing, both resorts are great!
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:43 PM   #8
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WL is my pick...
Here's the thing... Yeah there's animals at AKL but that's if you get the Savannah view which is over $300 a night. All views at the WL are awesome and it's much cheaper. (considering you don't get savannah view) I've never stayed at AKL, I want to, but I'm just so with the Wilderness Lodge!
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Old 08-04-2006, 02:18 PM   #9
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The rooms in both WL and AKL tend to be dark, but for us -- they are not too dark. They are both themed well with AKL possibly being a bit darker. We loved the atmosphere in both resorts. As far as smell goes at AKL, there isn't any smell from the animals. I was amazed to watch how they kept the Savannah area cleaned. I watched one morning as they drained and cleaned a pond and then quickly filled it back again. Disney does think of everything. As far as smell goes, I tend to be a bit sensitive as well. There is a smokey smell in the lobby. It's not overly offensive, but you will notice it. Both resorts are great, but AKL did require more walking. It seems a bit bigger as far as getting to and from your rooms, to the restaurant, to the pool, to the busses. I would choose WL strictly to save a few steps.
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Old 08-04-2006, 02:35 PM   #10
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i just got back from akl and i absolutelt loved it!!!!!!!!!!! the only part that was a little dark was outside at night.. but it was soo beautiful.. this is my favorite resort. my opinion is stay on the 2nd floor water pool view room.. dont waste money on the savanna.. because u can see all the animals through the lobby or walk through through the resort. 2nd floor water view is one floor up from the pool, food court and jiko/boma.. it is also one floor down from the lobby.. each floor is themed..african arcitecture...balcony, fridge.. awesome central air..easy to control..boma is absolutley the best breakfast.. also offers dinner and jiko is amazing... i will be returning here in the same room.. i saw the polynesion and grand floridian.. and liked this better
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Old 08-04-2006, 02:40 PM   #11
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I would choose AKL if you are planning to specifically enjoy the hotel. I would stay there again but I found that the balcony set up forced me to enjoy my neighbors cigarette habit (not) along with the animals I could see in the distance. My friends had a view of the same savannah and only got to see the same two animals each day. That said I found the hotel to be relaxing and suitable for a passive vacation. I think it would be outstanding for a photograpy bug.

I'd choose WL if you intend to be more active. Even if you don't go into the parks there is plenty to enjoy with biking, boating, walking, tennis over at CR and lots of eating options. And it has the same feel for relaxation if you plan to meander about the hotel, look at the architecture, native wildlife etc. Plus it has a small gym and a quiet pool.

Note: I have never stayed in a WL room...I have stayed in the DVC portion of the hotel and found the studios in the villas and the AKL room to have a similar amount of light...with AKL being a little bit darker. I believe they designed AKL to not cast as much light out into the night as other hotels as part of the theme.
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Old 08-04-2006, 02:49 PM   #12
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I'd go with WL. I travel with my mother and she really loves having boat transportation. She doesn't mind the buses but she find the boats really relaxing and enjoyable.

CSR – 2005, AM – 2006, POR – 2006, WL – 2006, FW – 2006, CSR – 2007, POR – 2007, YC – 2007, CSR – 2007, WL - 2008
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Old 08-04-2006, 03:14 PM   #13
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If $$ were not a function of the decision, I personally would chose AKL over WL. They are believe it or not very similar in certain aspects, but AKL is a bit more "deluxe" than WL. Of course if you are going to MK for the majority of the trip, the boats at WL are pretty convenient. I honestly feel that WL is darker than AKL only because of all the trees surrounding the resort tends to shade your views other than the pool view. Otherwise they both have dark wood furniture and fixtures. Hallways at AKL can be very long if your room is not close to the main lobby, however, they do have windows to see the animals. Dining options are good at either resort. I've always felt that the buses at AKL were the best since they did not share the route with any other resort and there is only one bus stop at the resort itself. Sure it's far from everything except AK and BB, but I think the efficiency of the buses make up for a lot of it.

EDIT: BTW I have always asked for a standard view and have always been given a savanah view as a complimentary upgrade at check in. The caveat is that I haven't been able to sucessfully get a room at AP or FL Res rates for quite some time.
AKL – Nov ’02, Jul ’03, Feb ’04; ASMu – Oct ’05; ASSp – Dec ’06; BCV – Jan ’06; BWI/BWV – Oct ’03, Dec ’04, Jul '08; CBR – Aug ’03, Feb ’07; CR – May ’04, Oct ’04, Aug ’07; CSR – Oct ’06, Mar ’08; Dolphin – Mar ’05; GF – Oct ’00; OKW – Nov ’04, July ’06, May ’07, Mar ’08; Offsite – ’77-’99, Jan ’04; POFQ – Oct ’04, Jan ’07; POR – Oct, ’07, Jan ’08; Poly – May ’05; Sheraton Anaheim – Dec ’05; SOG – Feb ’05; SSR – Jun ’04, Sep ’05, Jan ’07, July ’07, Jan '09, Apr '09 Oct '09, Apr '10; VWL/WL – Jul ’04, May ‘06; YC - Oct '08
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Old 08-04-2006, 03:49 PM   #14
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Wilderness Lodge was our choice for our Honeymoon and it was Great.
At that time WL had honeymoon suites that were a fantastic deal.
After staying at AKL, we found the hotels to be similar with the high, open lobby. But I think the WL is closer to more of the action, while AKL is in a remote corner of WDW. WL also offers more transportation options. The pool area at WL is also nicer. WL has a lakeside beach and trails that you can walk or ride bikes.
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Old 08-04-2006, 04:17 PM   #15
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I would choose WL-everything about the WL is just wonderful, plus it's so close to the MK and the monorail resorts. While I have never stayed at AKL, I did visit it. I did find it a little on the dark side and rather remote in comparision to everything else.I guess I would say pick the one where you get the best deal-it';s still Disney so you can't lose either way.
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