Honeymoon Trip Report: Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges

This should be a relatively short post: Hallelujah!

The main entrance. That’s a lot of thatching.

We toured the Animal Kingdom Lodge the night of August 27. We were leaving the Animal Kingdom after a short two-hour trip between the parade and park close and were planning on Downtown Disney for dinner. Since the resort is ridiculously close to the park, we figured why not?

As I mentioned in the last post, my family stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge on a short trip after 9/11 and I thought it was cool but too big.

As is the case with most Deluxe Resorts, the main lobby is stunning. It’s five or six stories tall and feels even larger. The mix of dark and light wood throughout is visually striking and even though the room towers, it still feels cozy. It is quite dark in there but the giant wall of windows on the back-end of the lobby bring in lots of natural light.

This is the back of the lobby from outside. Pretty.

While the inside is brilliant, the outside is where the resort really shines. In the picture above you can see a giant fire pit to the left. There are a decent number of big, wooden, rocking chairs surrounding it and they have a fire there every night (I think, or at least it seemed like it when we stayed there).

Unfortunately for all the pyros out there, the fire does not take up the entire fire pit, just a small portion of the middle.

The obvious draw to the resort is the plethora of animals in the “back yard.” When my family stayed we had a Savannah view room. Seeing giraffes and zebras from our hotel room was something special. While on our trip we walked around a bit and looked at some animals. Since we had been on the safari over at Animal Kingdom an hour earlier it wasn’t anything too exciting but standing on the ground looking at animals does have a different feel than riding in a car looking at animals.

These look like pelicans. They may or may not be.

A lonely ostrich. Wasn’t as mad as the one on the Safari that ruffled its feathers at us.

I wonder what the difference it between leaves. Are palm tree leaves even edible?

Zebras and giraffes play night together.

Some sort of antelope/gazelle/impala/deer/moose/yak mammal.

These are all Savannah view rooms.

That’s pretty much it for the pictures.

The resort has excellent choices for dining (coming from somebody who has only eaten at the food court when he was 10 or so and only liked hot dogs and ice cream). Ashley and I both want to eat at Jiko on a future trip. We will probably have to wait to go during Free Dining again. Or wait until we are rich (Still waiting for the blog to hit the big time!). We also perused the gift shop while there. I don’t know what it is but I really like the gift shop at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They have lots of interesting things, a good amount of resort-specific merchandise and lots of Lion King stuff. I think the Lion King is my favorite Disney movie. I’m not 100% sure though.

It used to take weeks to travel from Africa to the Pacific Northwest. Now it only takes 15 minutes by “motor coach!”

Our first “fancy” meal of our honeymoon was at Artist Point inside the Wilderness Lodge. Not only was I excited to eat at the restaurant but I was pumped to tour the resort. Besides the Polynesian Resort, the Wilderness Lodge is my favorite resort looking at pictures and always fascinated me. If you think the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s lobby is stunning, wait until you walk into the Wilderness Lodge lobby. WOW.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my digital camera with me when we went to dinner. I don’t know why. I think the battery was charging. No excuse. So, the few pictures I have of the resort are from the crappy camera in my phone. And the only decent picture of the group is below. Blogging fail on my end. When we go in a few weeks for Christmas I’ll be sure to take a TON of pictures at Wilderness Lodge; I hear it’s the prettiest resort around Christmas time anyway!

It’s hard to tell but the lobby is beautiful. Easily my favorite lobby of all Disney resorts.

I have always liked the rugged, Northwestern, Craftsman-esque style of architecture so the Wilderness Lodge is right up my alley. While Ashley and I decided we would probably stay at the Beach Club if we ever drop the dough to stay at a Deluxe Resort, the Wilderness Lodge would be our second choice and first choice if it happened to be around Christmas.

Plus, it and the Animal Kingdom Lodge are the cheapest of the Deluxe Resorts. Depending on the time of year and which special Disney is running, you can grab a room at Wilderness Lodge for under $200 a night. Sign me up!

Back to business here…

We arrived a good 45 minutes before our reservation so we had time to kill. First, we stopped in the gift shop and boy do they have a lot of resort-specific merchandise. I didn’t get anything but there were a few things I had my eye on. The gift shop itself is nothing fancy and actually lacked a bit in the theming department. Would it kill them to have some canoe shaped shopping baskets?

Next we wandered around the lobby and main areas of the resort. This is when I took a couple crappy pictures. It was a lot quieter than the Polynesian. At the same time, we were there around 4:30 so there were significantly fewer people milling around.

We tried to check in at the podium of Artist Point early and were informed that the restaurant didn’t open until our reservation time. So, we got drunk. Not really, but we did go to the Territory Lounge right next door and had some excellent cheese fondue as we waited. Ashley read a review on it from the Disney Food Blog before our trip and wanted to try it.

The bread provided with the fondue was excellent. Surprisingly  the apples dipped in cheese were also delicious. I was hesitant about the apples beforehand but I was happy with our appetizer. I can’t remember if the third item was a handful of figs or prunes; either way there were a lot of them left on the plate when we were finished.

As we were finishing our little treat our buzzer went off signifying our table was ready so we (dined and dashed and) proceeded to dinner. I’ll talk about the meal in a later, food review related post. For now I can say that we had a window seat but the view wasn’t as stunning as we had hoped.

The day we went it was raining so we didn’t explore the pool area other than walking past it to get to the boat dock for the Magic Kingdom, which is in the way back of the resort. It seemed cool though. The stream that starts in the lobby runs into the pool so that’s pretty unique. Lots of fake rocks as well.

After putting our ponchos to the test our vessel finally arrived and we were off to the Magic Kingdom.

I would really like to stay here some day but am concerned with the transportation. It’s close to the Monorail but not on it so that’s useless. Other than a boat to the Magic Kingdom, “motor coach” transportation is the only way to get to the parks. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is even worse; “motor coach” transportation to all resorts. I suppose that’s the reason why these two are the cheapest Deluxe Resorts?

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