Choosing which Disney World Resort hotel to stay at during your Walt Disney World vacation is one of the most fun parts of planning! That said…
…it can also be one of the most confusing factors at the same time when you’re dealing with such a wide array of options. To that end, we’re hoping to help you out by doing a little of the comparison work for you. Today, we’re talking about TWO Deluxe Resorts: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge versus Disney’s Beach Club Resort!
We’re going to tackle this topic with help from a few chosen categories: Common Ground, Theme/Rooms, Pools, Food, and Transportation. Let’s go!
So, what do Animal Kingdom Lodge and Beach Club Resort share in common? For starters, they both fall into the highest category of Disney Resort hotels. Categories are Value, Moderate, and Deluxe, and both of these are Deluxe Resorts, so room sizes and guest perks are fairly comparable. (For instance, both are eligible for Extended Evening Hours held on select theme parks on select nights, as this perk is exclusive to Deluxe Resort guests.)
Additionally, both offer Deluxe Villa accommodations. The Disney Vacation Club Villas can be booked by Disney Vacation Club members or cash-paying guests.
Both offer close proximity to at least one of Disney World’s four theme parks: Beach Club Resort is closest to EPCOT, but also boasts a walking path to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom Lodge is closest to… wait for it… Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Prices for both of these Resorts are in a similar range; however, you’ll find that Animal Kingdom Lodge is the slightly less costly option overall:
For the Beach Club, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $534 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $4,763 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit. (Based on 2023 rates.)
For the Animal Kingdom Lodge, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $469 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $3,792 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit. (Based on 2023 rates.)
Beach Club Resort
If you believe “Life is better at the beach,” then you may want to explore Disney’s Beach Club Resort! Seaside New England serves as the inspiration for this EPCOT-area Resort.
The Beach Club is the sister to Disney’s Yacht Club. However, the Beach Club distinguishes itself with its more laid-back and breezy beach vibe.
That light and airy feel extends, of course, to the guest rooms throughout the hotel.
Disney’s Beach Club features standard guest rooms with either 1 King Bed or 1 King Bed and 1 Day Bed OR 2 Queen Beds or 2 Queen Beds and 1 Day Bed, as well as Club Level Rooms (up to a Presidential Suite which sleeps up to 7 adults). For standard rooms, guests may choose a Standard View, a Resort View, a Water View, or a Deluxe Room.
Beach Club Villas have villa-type accommodations with studio (sleep up to five), 1-bedroom (sleep up to four), and 2-bedroom (sleep up to eight) layouts. (Be aware, though, that Villas are currently being refreshed with a planned completion estimated for late 2023.)
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s gorgeous Animal Kingdom Lodge is unlike any other in Walt Disney World — or anywhere else, for that matter. What truly sets this Resort apart are the over 200 animals and birds that call the savannas of Animal Kingdom Lodge “home!”
As Disney shares, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge invites you into the “heart of Africa,” with four savannas housing over 200 hoofed animals from over 30 species and birds offering a truly stunning and unique feature of the Resort.
Many activities offered at the Resort are entirely unique to Animal Kingdom Lodge. Guests have several opportunities to interact with Cultural Representatives and Animal Specialists in fun, family-friendly programming.
While the savannas alone offer plenty of reasons to enjoy the Resort’s outdoor settings, the Resort also presents “one of the largest collections of African art in the United States,” according to Disney.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge features standard guest rooms and Villas in the main building, Jambo House, along with options for rooms featuring Savanna views, as well as rooms with Club Level Concierge services. Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers Disney Vacation Club accommodations at Kidani Village, with villas ranging from basic studio rooms all the way up to multi-room villas overlooking their own animal savanna.
I REPEAT:“OVERLOOKING THEIR OWN ANIMAL SAVANNA.” Though not all rooms offer savanna views, many guests are thrilled to book this unique option, enjoying their morning coffee while watching giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and more!
It’s true — we just dedicated much more time to exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge because it is so unique and entirely immersive when it comes to theming, so it does tend to edge out most of the other Disney Resorts on property — Beach Club included. However, there are several other factors we still need to consider…
Beach Club Resort
Oh, boy… pools are a GREAT topic when it comes to the Beach Club, thanks to Stormalong Bay! This 3-acre water recreation area is available exclusively to both Yacht and Beach Club guests.
Seriously, Stormalong Bay is a destination all its own. This pool complex is practically its own mini-water park, with sand at the bottom, a lazy river, 3 whirlpool spas, and a tanning deck!
Kiddos (and adults) can take on the 230-footlong ‘shipwrecked’ themed water slide, while Shipwreck pool with its own mini waterslide is available just for the little ones.
Oh, and guests who prefer a little more quiet can take advantage of any of the 3 additional leisure pools.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Guests can enjoy the spacious Uzima Pool (complete with a waterslide) at the Jambo House and the Samawati Springs Pool at Kidani Village. Each are accompanied by two whirlpool spas.
Uzima Springs is lovely, and, even though it is obviously a popular spot as the Resort’s main pool, it still somehow manages to feel like a relaxing oasis, perhaps due to the lush greenery surrounding the area. It’s also incredibly roomy at 11,000 square feet.
Samawati Springs Pool also offers a fun waterslide. But the big boast here is Uwanja Camp, which is an “animal observation site-themed water playground” featuring three zones complete with a rope bridge and water cannons!
And guess what? Disney shares that this camp is made for “kids of all ages” (though do note that select areas are designated for specific ages)!
Though I truly do love the escape provided by the pools at Animal Kingdom Lodge, this round is simply OWNED by Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club, considered by many to be the best Resort pool in Disney World!
Beach Club Dining
Guests at The Beach Club have an array of dining options to enjoy, from Disney Character Dining to Quick Service restaurants to a relaxing lounge, and beyond!
Cape May Cafe features an all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast buffet with Disney pals! Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast is one of the best places to see some of the most beloved Disney characters outside of the parks.
Though Disney characters are not present during Dinner, the evening buffet meal serves up something unique, too, as all-you-can-eat surf-and-turf gets the spotlight with plenty for landlubbers and seafood fans to enjoy!
Ah, Beaches and Cream… THIS is the place to go for classic diner eats and GIGANTIC ice cream sundaes in Walt Disney World!
Tucked between the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts, this authentic soda counter restaurant is decked out in pastels and is complete with a jukebox. And it’s possibly best known for being home to the famous Kitchen Sink: an eight-scoop ice cream sundae (made for sharing with the whole group) served up with EVERY TOPPING in the house!
Beach Club Marketplace is the quick service location AND gift shop at the Beach Club.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Beach Club Marketplace has a limited menu of hot meals along with some stellar grab-and-go and pastry options.
Martha’s Vineyard is a relaxing spot to get a bite and a drink in the evening hours.
Specialty cocktails, craft drafts, wines, and a full bar menu are available. The cuisine (a small selection of appetizers) is inspired by a Northeastern clambake, with comforting seafood favorites like clam chowder served alongside a few pub classics like chicken wings.
Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill is the Pool Bar for Stormalong Bay!
Thankfully a few substantial entrees (like burgers and chicken nuggets) are on the menu along with the drinks, because you won’t want to leave this amazing pool area!
And remember, all of the restaurants at the Yacht Club Resort are easily accessible to Beach Club guests! These include:
- Yachtsman Steakhouse (Signature Dining)
- Ale & Compass Restaurant (Casual Table Service)
- The Market at Ale & Compass (Quick Service)
- Ale & Compass Lounge
- Crew’s Cup Lounge
But that’s not all… because ALL of the dining options along Disney’s BoardWalk are a quick stroll away, too!
Click HERE for our Complete Guide to Eating at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts!
Animal Kingdom Lodge Dining
Guests at Animal Kingdom Lodge also have a wide array of dining choices, too, from fine dining to quick service to relaxing lounges, and beyond! In fact, with all-you-care-to-eat dining options and fine signature dining, Animal Kingdom offers several of our favorite Table Service (sit-down) restaurants in all of Walt Disney World!
Boma gives visitors the opportunity to sample a wide variety African dishes while also dining on American favorites during breakfast or dinner.
Jiko — The Cooking Place, the Lodge’s Signature Restaurant, comes highly recommended if you enjoy excellent gourmet food in a lovely and tranquil atmosphere.
Sanaa, which means “Work of Art” in Swahili, is a beautiful restaurant serving a fusion of African and Indian cuisine made with authentic cooking methods like slow-roasting and tandoori oven cooking. (You’ll find Sanaa in Kidani Village.)
Named after the Masai Mara National Reserve in Africa, The Mara is a quick service restaurant that’s sure to please all appetites with a taste of Africa, as well as American favorites, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Victoria Falls is a relaxing oasis perched above Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma restaurant. Enjoy a glass of South African wine, or indulge in your favorite martini, beer or mixed drink.
Or just stop in on your way out for the evening to grab a quick bite from the unique appetizer menu including crisp breads and African dips, marinated olives, and more.
Tucked into the entrance of the Table Service restaurant, Sanaa, the exotic ambiance of the Sanaa Lounge is the perfect setting before or after visiting the savanna overlooks at the Kidani Village.
With dim lighting and cozy banquettes, this is an intimate watering hole with specialty beverages, wine flights, and signature appetizers. (You can order Sanaa’s Indian-style Bread Service here, too.)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers several lovely respites, and among them is Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar located en route to the main dining room at the Resort’s signature restaurant, Jiko — The Cooking Place.
This wine bar serves appetizers and pairings of African wines along with hand-crafted cocktails, dessert wines, and more.
The Uzima Springs Pool Bar is a relaxing oasis at the pool at Jambo House, complete with a thatched roof and surrounded by lush foliage.
Did you know that Maji is Swahili for “water”?
Luckily, the Maji Pool Bar at Kidani Village in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge serves other liquids as well: cocktails (served frozen and on the rocks), wine, and draft beer, including Safari Amber.
We chat about the BEST Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants HERE.
Eeesh… this one is TOUGH. If we were strictly comparing Animal Kingdom Lodge to JUST the Beach Club, then this would be an easier call for the Lodge, thanks to gems like Boma and Sanaa, and a great mix of classic options and unique dishes that you won’t find elsewhere on property (even though Beach Club boasts its own Character Meal and longtime favorite Beaches & Cream).
But, when it comes to dining at Beach Club, you have to also consider the incredibly easy access to all of the dining options at the attached Yacht Club and along Disney’s BoardWalk. It’s really a THREE-fer. I would say that if you think your traveling group would be more pleased with LOTS of options, this round goes to the Beach Club. But if you’re bigger desire is having access to truly memorable and unique dining, Animal Kingdom Lodge is your best bet.
Beach Club and Animal Kingdom Lodge guests have access to free Disney World Resort transportation.
A very rare perk is that, from the Beach Club, guests have a very short walk to get to EPCOT’s International Gateway (between the park’s United Kingdom and France pavilions). Folks can also walk to the connected Yacht Club Resort, to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, and to all of the dining and shopping along Disney’s BoardWalk.
Beach Club guests can also walk along Crescent Lake to Disney’s Hollywood Studios; however, due to the longer distance to Hollywood Studios, other forms of transportation to Hollywood Studios are provided. For instance, you can take a Friendship Boat down Crescent Lake to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
The Friendship Boat also makes stops at EPCOT, BoardWalk Inn, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels.
The International Gateway also hosts EPCOT’S Disney Skyliner Station. From EPCOT, the Skyliner has a stop at Disney’s Riviera Resort and continues directly to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (which serves as the Skyliner Hub). From Caribbean Beach, it’s a simple transfer to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or to Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts).
And, of course, there is complimentary access to Disney Bus Transportation to and from Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, the water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), and Disney Springs.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge have complimentary access to Disney Bus Transportation to and from all four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), water parks, and Disney Springs.
Aaaaand… that’s it. Though it is nice to know that the ride is very quick to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to aim for that first ride on Avatar — Flight of Passage (and since Animal Kingdom typically opens — though alas, also closes — earlier than the other parks, that sure doesn’t hurt in the morning)! The flip side of that coin, however, is that Animal Kingdom Lodge is also that much farther away from the other three theme parks.
We don’t even have to say it, do we? Beach Club is the clear winner when it comes to park proximity and transportation.
“Aaaand the winner is”... whichever Resort YOU think it is for your group’s needs and desires. Since Beach Club vibes are very different from Animal Kingdom Lodge’s atmosphere, you may have one that already jumps right out at you. If not, you might find it most helpful to consider your group’s park touring M.O. above other factors. If you plan on making the theme parks the focus of your vacation, Beach Club Resort might be your best bet due to better transportation. If you’re planning on soaking up the setting at your Resort, you honestly can’t go wrong with either choice… but Animal Kingdom Lodge offers the more unique experience.
Still have a Resort decision to make? If you’d like to check out some more Resort comparisons, feel free to click on any of the links below:
More Resorts versus Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Animal Kingdom Lodge vs. BoardWalk Inn Resort Guide
- Contemporary vs. Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Guide
- Grand Floridian vs Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Guide
- Polynesian Village vs. Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Guide
- Saratoga Springs vs. Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Guide
- Old Key West vs. Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Guide
- Wilderness Lodge vs. Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Guide
More Resorts versus Beach Club Resort
- BoardWalk Villas vs. Beach Club Villas Resort Guide
- Contemporary vs. Beach Club Resort Guide
- Polynesian Village vs. Beach Club Resort Guide
- Old Key West vs. Beach Club Resort Guide
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Beach Club or Animal Kingdom Lodge: Which would YOU choose? Please let us know with a comment!
The post Beach Club vs. Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney World Resort Guide 2023 first appeared on the disney food blog.