Couples’ Trip at AKL, or save money at a Marriott resort with corporate rate?

Our trip is in 2 weeks so it’s time to make a decision.

I have planned an adults-only trip for my husband and me for 3 nights. We’ll have two full park days, one resort day until 7pm (then Disney After Hours at MK), and one resort day on checkout day until we leave for the airport at 3:45pm.

We are big animal/nature lovers, and the Kilamanjaro Safari was my husband’s favorite ride on our family vacation in August. ALK is a no-brainer for us. We would not pay for the whole family of 7 to stay there for a week (we’d need 2 rooms or a 2-br DVC rental) but for the 2 of us for 3 nights, with a “good” rate (for a deluxe, around $267/nt w/tax) I figured let’s go for it.

However, since booking, my husband has started working for a hotel in the Marriott family and now we get discounted rates on all the Marriott hotels and resorts. Seeing how much we could save by staying at a Fairfield/Residence Inn or even an actual resort owned by Marriott makes me feel guilty about the amount AKL will cost, even at that “good” rate.

3-nights/4-days:
AKL with DME: $800 ($773 with gift cards)
Marriott Harbour Bay resort or Residence Inn plus rental car: $355

$420 difference for 3 nights is a lot!
Plus I already have one “extra” added into our trip with the Disney After Hours (passholder price).

Harbour Bay looks like it has lake views from a lot of their buildings, and they are 11-17 mins drive to each park. I have the AP so free parking and have stayed offsite twice with no problems.

We could have lunch/dinner at Sanaa on our resort day and linger in the animal watching areas. But I hear AKL is very cozy and romantic and has the fantastic lobby. And of course the private balcony viewing animals!

I just feel like if not Animal Kingdom Lodge now, then when?? Prices will only go up.

Should I go for my dream stay at AKL, or the more sensible, but still nice, money-saving Marriott resort?

If you can swing it, I would stay at AKL. It’s our favorite resort and perfect for a couples trip. My husband and I had a room that saw Giraffes (and other animals) and we would sit on the balcony with wine/coffee and just enjoy the view.

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I would splurge for AKL and save the discounted hotel when you go with the family of 7.

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You know, given the choice I’m usually all about the savings and can make the “but I’ll spend so little time at the resort anyway!” argument with the best of them.

But AKL looks awesome to me, and for a couples only weekend, so much the better. I’d vote AKL on this one.

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Stay with AKL, as it’s just the 2 of you it will be nice not driving, and as you said you couldn’t afford to stay there is the whole family was going.

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As a fellow animal lover (who also counts KS as one of my 2 or 3 favorite attractions in WDW) AKL is my favorite resort in WDW, and it’s a perfect spot for an adults-only get away. If you’ve already budgeted for AKL, I say stick with the plan, and as others have said, use the corporate discount when traveling with the whole family.

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All I have to add is that if your doing a Disney Vacation then you want to have the full Magical experience. Go for On-Property without a doubt!

My first time staying at AKL was a couples only trip a couple years ago and my first one with DH. It was amazing. AKL is now my favorite resort and we’ve returned with the kids and just bought DVC there. :slight_smile: If you have any resort time planned you’ll want to be there. I had a hard time pulling myself away on park days. I stay at Residence Inns for work occasionally and while they’re nice they are very business-minded. AKL is a resort and has a vacation feel with the pool, activities, dining, and overall comfort of the room. We had a standard view room and did well still being able to see animals from our room (with the TP room request fax). I would totally swing it if you can manage. When it was just DH and I we had a nice meal at Jiko, sat on the balcony sipping coffee, and strolled the grounds looking at animals. It was so romantic.

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Does the discount apply at the Swan/Dolphin since it’s in the Marriott family now? I wouldn’t give up AKL for a Fairfield Inn if you have any resort time planned or something like that but the Swan is very nice.

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Yes, we can get discounts at the Swan or Dolphin now, but availablility there has been difficult for me to find. And AKL is my dream spot!

This is NOT the place to find people who will talk you out of an AKL stay… :slight_smile:

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We honeymooned at AKL back in 2004 and it was amazing. It is a very relaxing resort, the animals are everywhere and our balcony view was great. Back pre-kid, we could enjoy a cup of coffee and get a later start to the parks too if we wanted. The pool area is nice as well. I’d vote AKL.

$400 is a lot, so I’m definitely with you on the cost savings - but how often do you and your spouse get a vacation by yourselves?

Well, I guess I could put my 2 cents in here, to say that we really love the Dolphin, not really a hardship to stay there vs disney owned, if saving enough money by that.

Not sure if still would be a 400 savings though, compared to a Residence etc.

I know some folks feel that Dolphin’s not disneyish enough. But I’m just happy staying in the bubble & at a luxury level, getting almost all the same perks.

Paying extra 400 vs staying in Residence or other offsite, tho, I’d probably tend toward the AKL tho, since it’s a totally different experience.

Sometimes I wonder about this saving thing. I can understand it If you really can’t afford Disney World. The thing is if you are going to spend the money required for the experience and then cut corners to be able to be there, what is the point in going. If one has to wait to afford this vacation that’s ok because once you go you can have the full Disney Magic experience.

Well, really what prompted me questioning the cost was seeing that we could stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas with the employee rate for the same or less per night than AKL.

Loving the responses here, guys! I especially enjoy hearing from those of you who have done a couples trip there.

I just received the email from Disney with the schedule of resort activities there and WOW! I had no idea! I am getting even more excited to be there.

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Not everyone shares your priorities.

For some people, life events can happen that would make them rethink their trip budget.

Some people are conscious of getting the best value for their money, or just live their life not spending what they don’t need to.

Some people don’t need the frills, bells and whistles to get what they want out of their trip.

Some people might even find staying off-site to have more of the ‘full Disney magic experience’, as you put it, because they don’t find sharing facilities and transportation in close quarters with 50 random strangers very magical.

Everyone has their own priorities.

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AKL no questions.

Agreed. I hear out here quite a lot about people trying to plan their Disney Vacation and the uneasiness it has caused them because of costs and planning. I know that some are on a tight budget and need to do this but I wish they could just sit back and enjoy the magic.