Who Does It Better? Animal Kingdom Lodge or Polynesian Village?

When looking to book deluxe rooms at the Walt Disney World Resort, two great locations are sure to stand out. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are both luxurious ways to vacation. But which one is better than the other? Or IS one better?

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Rooms

The most important part of booking a place to stay is the room. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can find a wide range of rooms, depending on your budget, from standard rooms that can sleep up to four adults all the way up to two-bedroom suites with club level access that accommodate up to eight.  (Note: Both the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Village Resort also have Disney Vacation Club accommodations, but these are not taken into account for the purposes of this article.) These rooms are full of different textures and colorful patterns in warm tones to give you a cozy feel. Did you know you can even get a room with a bunk bed? We bet the kids will be fighting over who gets the top bunk.

Views of animals on the Sunset Savanna

One of the best things about this resort, in our opinion, is that you can book a room with a view of the savanna, where you can spot a variety of animals, like zebras or Ankole cattle. Nothing quite beats waking up in the morning and watching the giraffes grazing just beyond your balcony!

Polynesian Village standard room

At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you can find rooms that sleep up to five all the way up to a one-bedroom suite with club level access that will also accommodate five. Most rooms are tastefully designed with a Hawaiian modern mid-century feel. Rather than a bunk bed, some rooms are completed with a simple day bed. You can get a view of the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle at this resort, which some might say is better than watching the animals grazing.

Dining

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge features just three different restaurants: the buffet, Boma – Flavors of Africa; the upscale Jiko – The Cooking Place; and The Mara, quick-service. There are also several lounges and pool-side bars. Where else can you eat then go to enjoy a view of Sunset Savanna (home to more than 30 different wildlife species)?

The signature filet with macaroni & cheese at Jiko

Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers a wine tasting and the Wanyama Safari and dinner to partake in.

Kids gather around to hear the ukulele at ‘Ohana

If we’ve counted right, there are seven different places to get your grub over at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Capt. Cook’s, Kona Cafe, Kona Island, ‘Ohana, and Oasis Bar and Grill are sure to tickle your taste-buds.

You’ll find something special at either end of the day — start the morning with a character breakfast at ‘Ohana, or end the evening with a dinner show, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha. There’s also the extremely popular Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, with its unique interactive atmosphere, as well as several other lounges, bars, and snack stops.

Recreation

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, there’s so much to do, you’re sure to find at least one activity that your whole herd will love. For the grown-ups, there are the aforementioned lounges and special dining, plus there’s a fitness center, and spa services. For the younger set, Hakuna Matata Playground is great for little ones to burn off some leftover energy. And the resort has a whole sheet filled with activities for young and old — from stories around the fire pit to arts and crafts to spotting animals with night-vision goggles, to fun in the Uzima Springs pool.

If you’re looking to stay fit, you’ll find a convenient gym or basketball and tennis courts. Don’t forget to roast some s’mores over at the campfire or catch a movie under the stars.  Remember to ask for an activity update at the front desk when you check in.

Electrical Water Pageant passes by the Polynesian around 9 p.m. nightly

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is also home to a handful of activities that are fun for the whole family. You can get your fitness itch scratched by playing a round of volleyball or heading out on a hike on the jogging trail. If the water is more your thing, go fishing or even rent a motorized boat. You can enjoy a campfire and a movie under the stars at this resort, too. As a bonus for recreation, you can watch the Electrical Water Pageant without even leaving the resort — it passes by about 9 p.m. every night.

Pools

Uzima Springs Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge

This category is technically considered recreation, but we always feel that the pools deserve their own section. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to Uzima Springs Pool, which is more than 11,000 square feet — one of the biggest pools on Disney World property. It is a “Zero-Depth Entry” pool, meaning there is a gently sloping entrance without steps that allows you to wade in as you would at the beach. There’s also a 67-foot long slide and a kid’s pool area.

Polynesian’s Lava Pool

Over at the Polynesian, you can find the Lava Pool. This zero-depth entry pool also features a sloping bottom for a beach-like atmosphere. You can take in the views of a volcanic waterfall or be adventurous on the 142-foot long water slide. If the Lava Pool isn’t relaxing enough on its own, there is a second option: the Oasis Pool. Here you can rent your own private patio that accommodates up to six guests.

Now that we’ve gone through this list of comparisons, we’re starting to wonder ourselves which resort is better. Could the Polynesian Village Resort actually be better than Animal Kingdom Lodge? Which one is your favorite and why?

Head over to our fact sheets for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort HERE and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge HERE to help you make up your own mind before you book your next trip. Don’t forget to check out what other readers have had to say by reading our Rate and Review section, too!

We also have a selection of resort videos that might help you decide which resort you’d prefer. Here are just a few:

 

Be sure to check out our YouTube Channel for reviews, news, information and more! 

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Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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8 Replies to “Who Does It Better? Animal Kingdom Lodge or Polynesian Village?”

  1. We own DVC at the AKL, but my favorite is the Poly. I will say that I love them both for different reasons. The AKL feels like home and is so unique. The animals are amazing and offerings for things to do make a non-park day fun. The bus can be challenging if staying at Jambo. Mostly for early morning and end of day. It picks up first at Kidani and I have had to wait for several buses as it shows up at Jambo with only ability to pick up 1 or 2 people and if a scooter is there with all 15 family members, forget it. I have suggested they add dedicated buses to Jambo and Kidani just for park opening and park closing. The food is awesome at AKL if you want to try African.

    I love the Poly because I love anything tropical. It is magical to walk around at night with the torches burning, the palm trees swaying and smelling the tropical flowers. Disney is the best about ensuring the look is authentic. They bring in actual flowers from Polynesia. They have authentic dancers at night for the torch lighting. They did put in a fake lawn, but that was because the traffic was killing the grass. So many more food options at Poly and on the monorail line. Easy access to TTC and MG. I have not experienced rude employees, although the concierge team was less then enthusiastic if you stay concierge.

    I recommend staying at both if you are a frequent traveler. If your only trip it would depend on what you are looking for. Seeing African animals right outside your room/balcony could be a once in a life time. If your goal is to get in as much as you can, might go with Poly or other option.

  2. AKL is far better than Poly. Sitting on your balcony watching the beautiful animals never get old. They have wonderful staff from all over Africa that even helped us plan a trip to Africa, writing down hotels, guides, etc.. The activities for kids are the best in the World. The pools are never too crowded due to size. I wish they had an outside running trail, but love everything else. Truly transforming. The Poly always feels fake to me. Your sitting in the pool looking at the GF is just weird and the pool is so small. Now we always have a car, so travel time is not really an issue. AK is our favorite theme park too, so this is the best location. If you are not an animal lover or you want lots of excitement, then Poly may be better. For runners, the trail from the Poly to the GF and back is nice but short. They share a work-out room with GF making it a pain to use the treadmill. AK has much better work-out facilities if you want to avoid Florida heat or for strength training days.

  3. We were just at the Polynesian in December. It was horrific at best, rude, rolling eyes and very unhelpful employees. This was our 15th time in Disney and the last ever st the Polynesian
    We were treated better at all star movies.

    1. Hey JG, we were there 1st week of Dec. and you must of had the same staff that we had. I think they put all the new non English speaking ‘cast members ‘ at the poly. I just rolled my eyes back at them and laughed in there face. Really? At these price$

  4. The Poly has the monorail and the Luau! I’m not crazy about spending half my vacation time on the bus. I’ll take the Poly over all the others any day!

  5. Well the Polynesian has the monorail and animal kingdom has a half hour bus ride to Magic Kingdom/Epcot ( if your bus only loads/unloads 3 scooters) I will take the monorail.