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Old 10-15-2012, 01:11 PM   #1
Sparrow624
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Convince me to stay at AKL!

So, DW, DD (13 months at the time) and I are taking our "in between" Disney trip. We go to the GF every 4-5 years and somewhere else every 2 years.

Right now we are booked at the WL, but I am noticing that we could save $400 that could be used on other things by switching to AKL.

I have heard good things about the beauty of AKl...but mainly bad things about the distance away from everything else and the bus situation (the reason it is so much cheaper than all of the other Deluxe resorts, including WL).

So...should I make a change and would it be worth it?
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:45 PM   #2
princessallegra
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Hi! We just returned from a split stay, a week at Coronado Springs with our last weekend at AKL. We were supposed to spend that weekend in Tampa but plans changed so it was an add on. We have stayed at WL as well, it's gorgeous, but different.

I think for a $400 difference, with a 13 month old, take AKL for sure. We were really impressed with how child friendly it was. Really really awesome. We have a 15 month old very active goddaughter and I had her in mind the whole weekend. There's an awesome playground hidden in the shade back behind the pool. It's really great. Check the AKL thread and see if there's pics if not I'll post some, i took pics for my bff.

Then there's the pool. There's a zero entry which is great for the little ones, and then there's a big splash pool for babies (idk if that's what you call it, it's a big round pool that's just a few inches of water)! They have fun games for the older kiddos and whole families too.

The overall theming of the resort is really exciting and fun. The Mara theming feels like a rainforest cafe. Then there's the animals!!! Even if you don't have a savannah view (we did and it was literally AMAZING!!!! Giraffes and ankole and ostrich and sooo many animals RIGHT THERE!!) there are animals everywhere. Really top notch resort.

As for the busing, I can't speak to that because we have a rental car. I would simply budget a bit more time knowing the resort is farthest. It' also right by blizzard beach which is super duper fun and has stuff for your LO. It's next door to DAK obvi, and not very far from DHS at all. Disney buses are really top notch, we used to never rent a car and never miss it. Now we take longer trips and i eat a special diet so we really like a car to go to whole foods and cvs and whatnot. Remember with a toddler that little you're going to be going muchhhh slower. It's going to be amazing!

ETA: I wanted to edit just to add one thing. If you are really used to the transportation of GF AND you are going to be going back and forth to MK a lot, that would be my only big x factor. WL is literally a 5 min bus ride to MK (i know people love that boat but it takes forever lol), and the other busing is very good. Don't get me wrong, that boat ride is LOVELY and everyone should do it once. But it does take forever to walk out back to the boat dock, wait or load the boat, then depending on the boat it may stop at FW or CR. Proximity to MK would be the only real dealbreaker imho. I'm not sure what your touring plans are for that trip :-)
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:50 PM   #3
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I have to say, I love AKL. It may be a bus ride to the parks, versus a monorail ride, but the beauty of the building and the unique experience (in the US) of having African wildlife right outside are, to me, a couple of wonderful things. At WL, you'd be taking buses to DAK and DHS, and a bus to Epcot, or a boat->monorail combo. MK is really the only park where WL wins out on transportation options with the boat to MK, I think.

In addition, I think that they have a great slate of restaurants out there. I love Sanaa, really strongly like Jiko, think that The Mara is one of the better counter service restaurants around, and feel that Boma puts out some very good food, even if they make the occasional odd decision. And, having that resort as your home base can put you in position to enjoy the Culinary Tour of Africa at 4pm through Boma and Jiko (free snacks!). Also, it can make for a nice afternoon enjoying the Wednesday wine tastings at Jiko (3pm, $25/person), then maybe heading back up to your room, back down to the pool, and then have dinner at one of the restaurants at AKL.

And, maybe I'm insane, but I like the pools at the AKL resorts better than I like Stormalong Bay. I find them accommodating and relaxing with enough design cues to keep them interesting.

I have found the staff at the AKL resorts to be some of the friendliest CMs around, as well.

Good luck with your decision. I mean, there isn't a bad decision to be made between the two, but I definitely think that AKL is worth a look, and WDW with an extra $400 in your pocket is never a bad thing, right?
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:55 PM   #4
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Interesting that you'll save money at AKL vs WL. I usually think of AKL as being pricier, but I also know it depends on the room type and time of year.

At any rate - have stayed at both and love both for different reasons. As pp said, the food and pool areas are wonderful. Theme is amazing and animals are wonderful. Your little one won't remember any of it, so stay where YOU want.

The busses were no problem. As far as I remember (this may be wrong), I don't think AKL shared its busses with any other resort. Yes, it stops at Kidani as well as Jambo House, but that was fine. I found the busses fast and convenient and, maybe, 5 minutes longer than those from WL. I say give it a shot.
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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Thanks for the thoughts so far.

I was surprised as well when pricing both out on the computer that AKL continually came up cheaper, so I called to confirm and was told it was. I was also told that about 50-70% of guests (depending on when you go) end up getting a free upgrade at AKL in room view, so not to bother booking anything expensive. (we would be outside most of the time anyways).

As for DD not remembering anything, I am well aware of that one (psychology teacher, haha)...but, we still want her to have fun while she is there!

Our favorite park is the MK and we will probably spend about 2 days there, and a day at Epcot and a day at Hollywood, with 2 days lounging around the hotel.

Not a huge fan of the AK park, but I think AKL could be cool.

Decisions decisions...
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:15 PM   #6
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We've done both AKL once and WL over 10 times.... You won't get me back to AKL for any money ....others are enthrawled with the resort ... We didn't care for the African theme or food... Animals on the Savannah ( we had a Savannah view) very very few and only at feeding time. We also didn't care for all and how the lining up for the buses went, no organization at all, real pain every morning...

WL on the other hand, boat to MK, CR and FW... on the lakes, compact and beautiful grounds... We'd take the WL over any other resort and we've done quite a few .

Everyone has their likes and dislikes, AKL happens to be one of our dislikes!
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow624 View Post
Thanks for the thoughts so far.

I was surprised as well when pricing both out on the computer that AKL continually came up cheaper, so I called to confirm and was told it was. I was also told that about 50-70% of guests (depending on when you go) end up getting a free upgrade at AKL in room view, so not to bother booking anything expensive. (we would be outside most of the time anyways).

As for DD not remembering anything, I am well aware of that one (psychology teacher, haha)...but, we still want her to have fun while she is there!

Our favorite park is the MK and we will probably spend about 2 days there, and a day at Epcot and a day at Hollywood, with 2 days lounging around the hotel.

Not a huge fan of the AK park, but I think AKL could be cool.

Decisions decisions...

Yes! But what fun. If you are spending more time at MK and the resort, you might, then, consider keeping WL. The boat ride to the MK is relaxing, scenic, and wonderful. The electric water parade (forget what it's called - maybe just that) goes by the lagoon every evening, and, depending on the room, you might see the fireworks in the MK. It feels worlds away but very close. Able to rent bikes and boats, too, and there are easy trails between WL and Fort Wilderness.
Bottom line: if you like national parks like Yellowstone, you'd love WL.

Having said that, I would stay at AKL again. We loved the food variety and saw tons of animals right from our balcony. To each his/her own
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:01 PM   #8
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We adore AKL.
That being said, we always rent a car. Not sure when you are going, but if you check out the transportation board, they are always posting deals there for rentals. We had a midsize car for 9 days for a little over $120. Even if you have to splurge of getting a car to eliminate the possible concerns about transportation, you will still be saving a few hundred.
Second point - we have stayed at AKL twice and have never been upgraded. We book a pool view room (just a few $$ more a night than standard) and have LOVED this location.

We are not huge fans of the food offerings (at the Mara or BOMA) - but the theming, activities, pool and animals far outweigh that.

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Old 10-15-2012, 05:08 PM   #9
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We adore AKL ... honeymooned there, as a matter of fact. Savannah room was fantastic and the grounds and restaurants are wonderful. Loved the music, the theme, the rooms, the pool ... even the scent in the air was great. (When I smell sandalwood to this day, that's what I think of ...)

That said, we also rented a car. I didn't think the drive to any other resort was an issue at all, but I've never dealt with the buses there.
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow624 View Post
Thanks for the thoughts so far.

I was surprised as well when pricing both out on the computer that AKL continually came up cheaper, so I called to confirm and was told it was. I was also told that about 50-70% of guests (depending on when you go) end up getting a free upgrade at AKL in room view, so not to bother booking anything expensive. (we would be outside most of the time anyways).

As for DD not remembering anything, I am well aware of that one (psychology teacher, haha)...but, we still want her to have fun while she is there!

Our favorite park is the MK and we will probably spend about 2 days there, and a day at Epcot and a day at Hollywood, with 2 days lounging around the hotel.

Not a huge fan of the AK park, but I think AKL could be cool.

Decisions decisions...

HMMM, wonder if the person who said 50-75% of guests are upgraded for free is the same person who said to me the only preferred building at ASMo is Fantasia?

I would price a room I'd be happy with, then see what the savings are.
Having said that, AKL is one of my top 5 resorts. I could happily stay for a few days without visiting any parks. The bus transportation is no worse than bus transportation at any other resort IMHO.
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Old 10-15-2012, 06:00 PM   #11
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I love both AKL & WL. They are great resorts. We just got back from 12 nights at AKL in late Aug/Sept.
I'm not sure about the free upgrades, it was even value season, and resort was 100% booked. There were no free upgrades, so I was very happy I booked a pool view instead of a standard view and hope for an upgrade. There would have been none. So book the view you can live with, and anything else is gravy.

With a little one, I assume you'll be spending lots of time at MK, So I would stay at WL. Esp since you say you don't like AK, which is 5 min from AKL.
Personally, AK is one of our fav parks, the theming and attention to detail is amazing.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow624 View Post
Thanks for the thoughts so far.

I was surprised as well when pricing both out on the computer that AKL continually came up cheaper, so I called to confirm and was told it was. I was also told that about 50-70% of guests (depending on when you go) end up getting a free upgrade at AKL in room view, so not to bother booking anything expensive. (we would be outside most of the time anyways).

As for DD not remembering anything, I am well aware of that one (psychology teacher, haha)...but, we still want her to have fun while she is there!

Our favorite park is the MK and we will probably spend about 2 days there, and a day at Epcot and a day at Hollywood, with 2 days lounging around the hotel.

Not a huge fan of the AK park, but I think AKL could be cool.

Decisions decisions...
AKL Standard -> Savannah may be the most common upgrade on property, but don't consider it guaranteed. I suggest anticipating a standard room, let yourself be surprised if you get upgraded, but if it's important to you for the visit to have a view, get the view.

That said, there are plenty of nice viewing spots around the resort. So you should still be able to enjoy the Savannah while there in a standard .

AK is the only park it's really near. MK is the longer journey. Also, consider what you find disappointing/lackluster/not-huge-fan-worthy of AK, and consider how it'll apply to AKL. They are different experiences, but better to get a grasp beforehand . I would tend to lean towards staying close to MK.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:15 PM   #13
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We've stayed at both and they are both awesome resorts and I don't think you can go wrong with either one. WL is more convenient to MK, but we didn't find the buses at AKL to be bad at all. Since AKL is kind of a ways out from everything, it does take a little longer to get around (maybe 5 extra minutes), but we didn't find the buses to be any less efficient from AKL than from any other resort we've stayed at. Good luck deciding and happy planning .
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Old 10-16-2012, 07:44 AM   #14
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My advice is to book a savanna-view room if that is important to you. It will cost more and may be the $400 diff. Not everyone gets upgraded, we did NOT.

WL is on a beautiful lake and the boat option is a great bonus over AKL IMO. The room size/layouts are the same although we did think the huge furniture at AKL made it seem smaller to us.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:30 AM   #15
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All,

Thanks for the opinions so far. Still have not decided what we are doing yet. We have only stayed at the GF and BWI, so we are looking for a new experience. We know we would probably like the WL (live on 4 acres in the woods as it is), but AKL would be "different."

What we don't like about the AK park has nothing to do with the theming of it, it just seems hotter and less "classic Disney" to us.

We drive down to Florida, so we will have our card and car seat with us, so that may help.

So used to the monorail with GF and being able to walk to Epcot or Hollywood from BWI that either resort will be different for us.
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