Each of the Disney World resorts comes with its unique theme, and one of the most amazing and unique themes is found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is an African-themed lodge located close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. However, you don’t have to leave the hotel grounds to enjoy the sights of animals roaming the safari. They can be seen from the hall, hallways, and even most rooms.
Paying extra for a better view (especially considering the cost of a trip to Disney World) is rarely worth it in the family travel arena, but at Animal Kingdom Lodge, an upgrade with savannah views is worth considering.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was launched in 2001. Later on, the lodge expanded a few years later to add a few hundred Disney Vacation Club villas. These villas offer the resort a variety of accommodations that will appeal to the needs of families of different shapes and sizes. The rooms have now undergone a recent renovation, as an update to this review (originally completed in late 2018) was in order after a stay in March 2020.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is considered a Disney Deluxe. Resort (with iconic properties like Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort). This means that your stay will probably not be cheap, but investing in a magical Disney experience 24/7 is worth it. Fortunately, there are also ways to save a lot on your stay.
Can you walk from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Animal Kingdom?
Unfortunately, there is no walking path from Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Your best option is to use Disney bus transportation to the Lodge. If you’re planning to dine in Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, you have another option if you’re looking for a nice walk.
There are restrooms on foot between Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village. If the quickest route to Animal Kingdom Lodge is what you are looking for, there is always the option of taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft from Animal Kingdom Park.
What is the best room at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Animal Kingdom Lodge is best known for the Savanna View rooms. Although these are some of our favorite rooms on the property, we think they are “worth it” only during the offer season. This is mainly because the hotel itself is so beautiful, and you can see as many animals as you want from the public viewing points just outside the lobby. That said, you can also decide to stay in the Savanna View rooms.
This is a great place where you can get a good price on these rooms (or Club Level rooms). However, if budget is a factor, we recommend booking a room without a view if this is the only way to explore the complex. The only other views at Walt Disney World that we could put at this level are the views of the Magic Kingdom theme park at Monorail Resorts.
Jambo House v Kidani Village Animal Kingdom Lodge has two areas: Jambo House and Kidani Village. You can also decide to stay at the Jambo House, which is what most people mean and speak when they say Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can book vacation club villas in cash, but you will pay a huge profit margin. If you are interested in staying at the Disney Vacation Club as a non-member, we suggest that you rent from David’s Vacation Club. Kidani is about a ten-minute walk from Jambo House, and the only reasons to walk are to see Sabana and visit the restaurant, Sanaa.
Can you see animals from Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only place where you can wake up with giraffes and wildebeests grazing outside your balcony. The hotel lobby and adjacent patio wrap around the 18-acre savanna, so even guests who don’t pay the extra $150 a night can take in the view.
Disney creatives visited nearly two dozen hotels in Africa to get inspiration for the design of the resort. This resort has more than 380 pieces of African art in its public spaces and 4,000 more in the rooms. Adult visitors will enjoy sampling Jiko’s menu, which fuses traditional African, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisine with the most comprehensive South African wine list in the United States.
Where are the standard rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Most rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge are standard rooms with one king or two queen beds. Families with young children can also request a room with a queen bed and a bunk bed. The standard rooms are subdivided by their view.
The standard view rooms fall into the entry-level category and overlook the parking lot. The pool view rooms (you guessed it) overlook the pool but have no view of the savannah. Savannah view rooms are the most expensive and popular hotel option. From the Savanna View rooms, you can see wildlife roaming the gardens at any time. For some travelers, this is an invaluable feature, for others, it is a no-frills upgrade, given that the hotel has dozens of communal wildlife viewing terraces throughout the city.
Like the other Disney’s deluxe hotels, the Animal Kingdom Lodge has a private Club level. Club-level rooms provide access to a private lounge serving continental breakfast, snacks, and drinks throughout the day. Club-level guests also benefit from personal check-in and concierge services, which can be a particularly nice perk, given the hotel’s long reception lines. In addition to the standard rooms, the Club level also offers one- and two-bedroom suites.
Many guests choose to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge because of its unique setting amidst four diverse savannas. Over 30 species of African wild animals live on the property, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and flamingos. The hotel has dozens of viewing areas throughout the park, most of which have internal wildlife experts who can explain animal behavior, eating habits, and idiosyncrasy. You can also book private game drives on the hotel grounds.
Themed like the lobby, the rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge have an African safari theme. The intricate wooden headboards come with mosquito nets and symbolic tribal carvings that resemble the bedspreads of South African tent camps. On the walls, there are Ghanaian woven baskets along with illustrated Fante proverbs and wrought iron sconces. Flat-screen TVs are housed in cabinets with legs, and additional amenities include mini-fridges and single-cup coffeemakers.
The rooms come with wardrobes that are fitted with ironing equipment and a lockable safe. They also feature bathrooms with classic Disney design – sinks and vanities in one room, shower/tub combos, and toilets in another – and the decor is gorgeous. The custom wallpaper here represents some of the most important places in Africa, like Mt. Kilimanjaro, Victoria Falls, and Ngorongoro Crater. Beige granite and double sinks act as a nice touch to the decor. However, the toiletries provided are standard Disney products. All AKL rooms have furnished balconies, many of which face one of the property’s four sheets (although some have views of the parking lot).
The massive freeform pool has a water slide, but it is the only one on-site. Unlike other luxury hotels, Animal Kingdom Lodge has only one pool, Uzima Springs, but it’s huge. Guests can access the Samawati Springs pool in the nearby village of Kidani (where there are DVC rooms), but it’s a long walk from the hotel. Uzima Springs is an 11,000 square foot free form pool with zero entry and traditional multi-level entrances. The pool is surrounded by tons of lounge chairs and is always crowded. Children often dominate the pool scene, thanks to the 67-foot-long slide. There’s a small pool for toddlers, but AKL doesn’t have a splash area for kids like other Disney properties. By the pool, there are several hot tubs, an outdoor playground, and an outdoor bar serving snacks and drinks throughout the day.
Other Rec Activities
Simba’s Clubhouse is the hotel’s children’s club where children aged 3 to 12 can participate in regular activities throughout the day. Kids can play Disney toys, watch movies, craft, and eat kid-friendly snacks. The kids’ club is not free, but parents who dine in Boma or Jiko receive a free hour with a valid dinner receipt. In addition to the kids’ club, the hotel regularly organizes family activities throughout the property. Families can do s’ mores in an outdoor foyer, learn to play African instruments, or participate in group storytelling sessions.
Most Disney hotels do not have gymnasiums. If they do, their gyms are usually small. Animal Kingdom Lodge belongs to the latter category – its gym is well-equipped with modern cardio and weightlifting machines, but the gym is small for a station of this size. AKL doesn’t have a full-service spa, but it does have a massage center, where guests can book massages and facials.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a handful of good amenities, including a large gift shop with Disney accessories and sundries, a 24-hour self-service laundromat, and an arcade-style game room Disney. Free Wi-Fi and standard parking are free, and guests are entitled to Disney hotel benefits such as Extra Magic Hours and the Magical Express luggage shuttle. As mentioned, Animal Kingdom Lodge does not have a monorail or water taxi service, only Disney shuttles.
They have an excellent variety of African dishes, as well as typical American dishes and a lounge. The Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurant offers a brief introduction to African culinary traditions.
Jiko, the hotel’s à la carte restaurant, skillfully infuses African flavors into family dishes. Customers can expect exotic ingredients like fenugreek, Piri Piri, cassava, and chermoula that combine with tastes of roast chicken, halibut, and filet mignon. You can also choose wines from an extensive list of South African wines. At dinner time, the restaurant’s wood-fired ovens fill the dining room with aromas of fresh bread and grilled meats. Dark woods and vibrant colors give Jiko an African touch par excellence. Reservations are highly recommended. It is almost impossible to be housed in a walk-in closet, whatever the time of year.
Boma, the hotel’s buffet restaurant, is open for breakfast and dinner. Reservations are highly recommended for dinner. Breakfast reservations are not accepted, but breakfast attendees will likely have to wait to sit down.
During our visit, when we arrived for breakfast at the restaurant opening time, there was already a queue at the reception stand. The Boma buffet is a force to be reckoned with: it is huge and offers tons of food. American breakfast favorites like eggs, omelets, pancakes, and waffles mix with African specialties like pap, bobotie, and chakalaka. For dinner, the buffet offers more African flavors with a Ghanaian oxtail stew, Nigerian fufu, Tunisian couscous, and South African geelrys.
Named after the river that crosses Kenya and Tanzania, the Mara is the quick-service restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The concept of quick service is incredibly popular in the Disney brand and is known for its varied options, tasty food, and incredible cleanliness.
In the morning, you can stop for coffee, bacon, Mickey eggs, and waffles, while lunch and dinner offer American dishes like burgers, grilled cheese, and flatbread. He also sells snacks and desserts like potato chips, donuts, and ice cream bars. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.
The Victoria Falls Lounge is a short walk from the lobby and overlooks the Boma dining room. It is the only bar on the property, apart from the pool. The full bar menu includes sandwiches and snacks and serves a variety of specialty cocktails, African beers, and South African wines.
When it comes to transportation within the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the only available transportation is the Disney bus. You can use the Disney bus to move around the Lodge as well as the entire Disney World.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge offers you great value for your money. So if you’re looking for a nice place to stay while at Disney World, be sure to add this lodge to your list of ideas.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is considered a Disney Deluxe and Resort. It can be compared with Iconic resorts like Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. This means that your stay will probably not be cheap, but investing in a magical Disney experience 24/7 is worth it.