I had visited the Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time when I went to Boma with my sister almost a year prior and thought it was really beautiful. I figured, since this brief trip didn't really "count", why not mix it up by staying at another Disney resort for the first time.
Now you know I am a Deluxe resort kind of girl. I briefly considered the other Deluxe hotels. My main requirement was that the hotel be as far from something I could replicate or have replicated at home as possible. Basically, you should know that my entire vacationing canon is "Always be doing things you cannot do somewhere else." So one by one the other Deluxe's got rejected:
- Beach/Yacht Club: Been to real beach and yacht clubs. I live on the East Coast about 2 hours from the Hamptons
- Boardwalk: the Jersey Shore is a mere 1-2 hours away
- Grand Floridian: Pretty much just your basic fancy hotel
- The Dated (I mean the Contemporary): too ugly
- Wildnerness Lodge: I visit upstate New York (full of woodsy arts and crafts style architecture) at least once a year
The lobby was as beautiful as I remember. The dining options are awesome - I did Jiko, Sanaa, and the Mara this time. I checked out the animals which was cool and my room was fine (didn't bother with a view, didn't get a free upgrade). Even the buses weren't too bad except on the first day (being used to a monorail resort, I was worried about being so limited to buses).
This is how they keep the animals and the peoples separate :) invisible fences!
BUT, it wasn't the Poly. The AKL doesn't have my childhood memories, the Poly does. I can't walk around the AKL and remember when we did this, or how much I loved that. It was nice but I might as well have been in any other nice hotel. The reason I go back to WDW time and again is to relive my childhood and the Poly is too big a part of that to not include it in each and every visit.
I'm glad I tried the AKL, but I'm never cheating on my Polynesian Resort again.