If you are thinking of traveling to Walt Disney World with a baby, you already realize that where you stay will make a huge impact on your trip. I am here to tell you… it makes more of an impact than you probably even think.
When we found out we were going to Disney for Kevin’s conference and his company would pay for our room, I was overjoyed. The conference was at the Marriott World Center and I knew that staying there would prove difficult for me and Lily to have a full-on Disney trip, going back and forth to the parks all day. So I looked for a comparable Disney hotel that would allow us to use Disney transportation all day so that Kevin could take the rental car to his meetings.
I should add that I am a resort snob. I can’t help it. It’s like an addiction to me, once we stayed in a deluxe resort, I could never go back. Especially in the summer when the buses are already crowded, I did not want to have to sardine onto the bus with a baby and a stroller and all the baby gear. Not so much fun. So when I found that Animal Kingdom Lodge was actually $10/night cheaper than the Marriott during Disney’s 30% off sale, we jumped and booked it right away.
If you have never been, AKL is amazing. It has animals that roam the three savannas, a gorgeous pool and an awesome lobby. We stayed there for our wedding trip but didn’t really get to enjoy it so I figured we would really get to love it on this trip.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Please don’t get me wrong, the resort was still amazing and we even got upgraded to a savanna-view room on the Sunset Savanna, where giraffes and zebras walked right by our balcony. The view was breathtaking and I loved seeing these animals every day. If this would have been an adults-only trip I would have loved having this room and staying at AKL. With a baby, though, it was not practical.
First thing, the transportation was horrible. Although the buses weren’t always insanely crowded, they were far apart and made for long waits to get anywhere. With a baby, this is annoying. Especially when it’s 95 degrees out and we are stuck at a bus stop for 25 minutes. The traveling was such a pain that it made us just want to stay at the pool all day.
Ahh the pool, my second not-so-exciting point of our stay. The pool itself is great, it was large, not overly crowded, had a separate baby pool and offered nice, shaded areas. What was not cool was to get to and from the pool, you had to walk through the lobby. I’m not a person who is overly self-conscious, but a sopping wet, haven’t-lost-the-baby-fat-yet mom strolling through the lobby with her screaming child is not how I want to be remembered at AKL. Like I said before, the lobby is beautiful so there are always people visiting and taking pictures. I just pray I didn’t make it into any of their pictures! The layout was just not great.
I have never stayed, and really have no desire to stay at, the Grand Floridian because I have always felt that it feels “stuffy” and not welcoming to children. I felt the same way at AKL. Please don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of kids running around, but it didn’t have that “Disney loves kids” feel that I always get at the Polynesian. I will always visit this resort for the awesome animals and views it offers, I just don’t have a desire to ever stay there again.
Looks like we are staying at the Boardwalk in January… I am excited to try something new and see how being there with a child is different.
What hotel do you prefer with kids?