I only stayed on property at Walt Disney World once when I did not live in Florida. We had reservations at an All Star Resort, but when we arrived at the hotel at around midnight (due to a late flight) there were no rooms left. They cheerfully transferred us to Saratoga Springs. We were overjoyed with this choice. Our room was as big as a small apartment. It had a full kitchen, living room, giant bathroom with a huge tub, and even laundry. It was amazing. We had to take a bus to all the parks, but we could take a quick ferry to Disney Springs, which was perfect because we did not rent a car. I was very impressed with the room and amenities, but when I researched the price for a regular stay I was dumfounded. It was way more than I ever thought to pay for a hotel.
Since we are annual passholders at Disney World, we get some discounts at resort stays. After much debating, we decided to stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We wanted to have easy access to Hollywood Studios and the Skyliner takes you directly there from the resort.
The main reason to stay at a resort (in my opinion) is to get the early and late park hours. We wanted to be at Hollywood Studios to get in line for Ride of the Resistance, which we have been trying to ride for over a year. The Caribbean Beach Resort is mid range level for Disney World. The rooms look like a standard hotel room. We had two queen beds, double sinks, and the shower and bathroom were together with a door. The resort is pretty large with groups of rooms based around a small pool and access to a sandy area with hammocks and lounge chairs.
You can walk over to the main part of the resort via a bridge and it depends which section you are in as to how far it is from your room. The main area has four places to eat advertised, but only one was open when we checked in (besides the pool bar). We grabbed a few things for breakfast in the grab and go store and the prices were astronomical. If you do not have a car, you are stuck paying for snacks at those prices. The pool area of the main resort is a perfect area for kids to play.
We planned too many things on this trip and did not use all the amenities available to us. We did, however, use the Skyliner a lot. It was such a time saver. We took it in the morning to get to Hollywood Studios early and then we rode it again in the afternoon to check out a festival at Epcot. It was perfect. We really enjoyed riding it. The lines were minimal and we only shared a car once. It was much nicer than any other transportation at Disney World.
A couple of months later, Jef had a friend offer to give us a room at a resort with her Disney Vacation Club points. We jumped at the chance to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It did not disappoint. Animal Kingdom Lodge is pretty far from all the parks, with the exception of Animal Kingdom. We were happy that we had a car. There are two different areas that you can stay in at Animal Kingdom Lodge, one is the Jambo House, which has a variety of room choices, and Kidani Village, which consists of villas that can be studio, 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms. We had a one bedroom villa and it was AMAZING.
You walk in and on your left is a closet with standing washer and dryer and on your right is a full bathroom. The kitchen area had all the resources you needed to make a meal and the decor is perfect for a safari type room. The bedroom had a king bed and a large bathroom with a separate tub and shower areas and double sinks. Each room had a big sliding door that led out onto a long patio with several chairs. We spent most of our time out on the patio.
We could see two different paddock areas from our patio area and we loved every minute sitting and watching the animals. We saw the Watusi cattle first. He was there most of the time that we were there. There was an Okapi in the far paddock and later a big group of antelope (no idea what they were actually called)that kept circling the gate. There was a giraffe peeking his head above the other side and a lone zebra that would circle after the cattle whenever it left a spot.
We explored the area near our room that evening. The hallways had windows to look out into the paddocks. It was so cool. There was a lovely pool area with a bar and a waterslide not far from our room. I wish I had brought my bathing suit. There was no one around and I could have monopolized the water slide and hot tub areas easily. We also took a ride over to the Jambo House. It was beautifully decorated for the holidays with a ginormous Christmas tree in the middle of the lodge. We walked out into the pool area and there were a couple of viewing areas to see the animals. It was dark by this time, but we could still see quite a few animals.
The next morning we had ostrich and antelope along with the zebra and cattle. We sat our on the patio from the time we woke up until we had to check out. The only issue we had during our stay was the morning we checked out. We had a Do Not Disturb sign on our door, but around an hour before checkout, housekeeping tried to get into our room THREE times! We had to call and complain. I have never seen anything like it. Jef opened the door the last time and asked if they had seen the Do Not Disturb sign. She shrugged her shoulders. It was unreal.
We absolutely loved our stay at Animal Kingdom. We could have spent all day watching the animals from our room or going to the Jambo House and watching them from the viewing points. The only issues with Animal Kingdom Lodge are the prices and the availability. In order to get one of the villas that we stayed in, you would need to spend over $500 a night. If you love animals and can afford to splurge, I would definitely recommend it.