Comparing our Favorite Disney Resorts

Staying at one of the Walt Disney Resorts makes a great vacation supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Thankfully, Disney has a wide variety of price ranges for their resorts, so you can stay on property even if you are on a limited budget. We’ve been lucky enough to stay in a few, and here is what we’ve found.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the popular Disney Resorts

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World has been on my bucket list for a while. The idea of being able to sit on your balcony and watch the animals on the savanna sounds wonderful. A few years ago, I visit Walt Disney World for the New Fantasyland Grand Opening and was treated to a few nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s an ideal place to stay for families that are into animals and want something a little quieter away from the main hustle and bustle. Check here for discounts and specials. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge Rooms

Although my room didn’t have a balcony overlooking the savannah, it did have bunk beds, a queen bed and a Graco pack-n-play already in the closet. Although I didn’t have my kids with me on this trip, there was ample room to set up a travel bed, something we end up doing to accommodate our family of five. The room did have a balcony, which is always nice. I like having somewhere to escape when the kids go to sleep.

Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge Rooms

Animal Kingdom Lodge Dining

There are nine dining area at The Animal Kingdom Lodge, including a large open bar area. We mostly grabbed something quick to get out to the parks or other events. There is character dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge with Safari Donald Duck and his friends. There is also a special Sunrise Safari breakfast and Sunset Safari that takes you out on the savanna.

Animal Kingdom Activities

The main reason to stay at any of the luxury resorts at Walt Disney World is to take advantage of all the extra-curricular activities available within the resort. Animal Kingdom’s main draw is the savannah. There are four savannas that you can view from the hotel with more than 30 species of wildlife including gazelles, wildebeests, pelicans and flamingos. Ask for a viewing guide and see how many of the animals you can find. View the flamingos from a far. They can be a bit smelly.

All along the savanna are Safari Guides to answer any questions you might have. Also ask for a monthly Guest Activity calendar to find out when you can watch the animals through night vision goggles or when docents are around to showcase African instruments or do crafts during the day.

In addition to an expansive pool with a water slide, and cozy hot tubs secluded in the trees, there is a kid’s game room and numerous fire pits to warm up a cool evening. Ask about campfire activities.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Experience

Animal Kingdom Lodge was quite a different resort experience. It offers a more secluded location and feels very private. I would make sure to save at least one day to explore the resort and take advantage of all it has to offer. It’s one of the reasons for the premium price.

I’m glad I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but not sure I would book it for a future stay. I arrived in the evening and between all the dark furnishings and the night sky, it was quite dark. Because of the location, the only option for transportation is the bus system. Buses run frequently, but I like to have other options and prefer the bright, cheery turn-of-the-century Yacht Club where you can walk to EPCOT Center.

The Disney Art of Animation is one of the popular value Disney Reorts

Disney’s Art of Animation

The Art of Disney Animation is part of the Walt Disney World value resort lodging portfolio in Orlando.  Within the Art of Disney Animation are four themed hotels. The first to open has a Finding Nemo theme. Other themes include Cars, Lion King and Little Mermaid. Look for discounts at the Art of Animation here.

Finding Nemo at the Art of Disney Animation

The Finding Nemo rooms are mostly family suites with three distinct sections, two full bathrooms and a kitchenette. Each suite sleeps six with enough room for a pack-n-play for the youngest family member. The coolest feature and the most fun for kids is the Murphy bed that doubles as a dining table. It’s easy to pull down, my boys could do it without help. Adding to the cool factor, kids sleep under a picture of Marlin and Nemo. The sitting area also has a pull out coach. These beds are a bit smaller than your normal bed, which is fine for small children, but two teens or older children might be a bit uncomfortable.

The Pools at the Art of Animation

Outside the rooms is a wonderland of under-the-sea fun. As you emerge from your anemone home, you are greeted by a giant Crush or Mr. Ray. Head to the splash  fountains for more fun with other Nemo characters like Dory or Flo. The Corral Reef playground is perfect for youngsters and includes a tunnel and small slides. The Finding Nemo pool is the largest in the Art of Disney Animation complex and includes beach entry and a pool bar. There are two smaller pools in the Cars and The Little Mermaid courtyards. There is also a video arcade, food court and grab and go market located within the main building.

The Downside to the Art of Disney Animation

The only downside to The Art of Disney Animation is the configuration of the family suite. The kid’s beds are all in the living area. Once kids go to bed, parents are stuck in the bedroom, which doesn’t include a sitting area or a balcony. You do have your own bathroom, and the bedroom is a nice size, but I’d prefer walking into the adult room with the kitchenette and seating area and being able to close off the kid’s room.

The Disney Yacht Club is one of the popular Disney Resorts near EPCOT

Yacht Club Resort, Walt Disney World

One of these days I’m going to visit Walt Disney World, never go to a park and just explore all the hotels. I love a beautiful hotel and Walt Disney World has so many to choose from. One of my favorites is the turn-of-the-century Yacht Club Resort. There are so many things to love at about the Yacht Club, it’s cheerful bright seaside décor, the best pool in all of Disney World and my favorite, a short walk to World Showcase at EPCOT center. Check here for discounts at the Yacht Club.

Yacht Club Resort Rooms

Our room had two double beds, as well as a daybed, big enough to accommodate our tween. A spacious balcony was perfect for getting away from the kids for a little bit after they went to bed. We also had a nice desk where my older son finished his homework before embarking on our Disney adventure. If you’d like, Disney can also stock your fridge for you so everything is there when you arrive. For a less expensive option, have Amazon to deliver and have the box waiting for you when you arrive. Amazon Prime members get free shipping.

Sue Rodman | Managing Editor & Business Development

Sue Rodman is a mother of three boys, a PR professional, writer, and ice cream lover. For eight years, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. In Sept. 2016 Field Trips with Sue merged with 365 Atlanta Family. In addition to writing blog posts and managing the advertising and public relations for 365 Atlanta Family, Sue does freelance public relations and her writing has appeared online at TravelingMom, Trekaroo, Minitime Family and other family travel sites. She has contributed to print publications such as Family Fun, Simply Buckhead, BuckHaven and Publix Magazine. In addition, Sue has appeared on local and national news talking about family travel. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories.

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