Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is, surprisingly enough, located in the Animal Kingdom area of Walt Disney World. It’s just a short bus ride away and Blizzard Beach is pretty close by too. Because of this it receives criticism for its distance from the other parks, but those that stay there are willing to sacrifice this for the amazing theming and animals found at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Set on the edge of Disney’s man-made savannas, Africa and its wild animals are the theming to this resort, which along with Wilderness Lodge, has the best theming on Walt Disney World property. The building itself is styled as an African Lodge, set out in a semi-circular construction. One of Walt Disney World’s newest resorts, the main Lodge takes the name Jambo House. You’ll see lots of wood beams, African artifacts and thatched ceilings. The lodge is 6 stories tall and you enter the lobby on its 3rd floor. The real draw to this hotel though is the fact that it is located within a 43 acre wildlife reserve. Even if you’re not lucky enough to get a room over-looking the reserve, you can still go out onto the numerous viewing platforms and see the animals, from Giraffe to Zebras, Gazelles to Flamingos and many more. Disney World Cast members are always on hand to point them out to you and give you facts about the animals. And if you are lucky enough to be able to book a savannah room, then what can be better than waking up or going to sleep with these animals right outside of your window!
- Rooms sleep 1 to 4, plus one additional child under the age of 3
- All rooms have 2 queen-size beds or one king-size bed with one day bed
- Vanity area with 2 sinks and bath
- Table and chairs
- Private balcony
- Amenities include: in-room safe, voice mail, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, coffeemaker, refrigerator and Pack ‘n Play® playard
- A full-size crib is available upon request
- High-speed Internet access (additional fee)
- Standard view – have views of a parking area or rooftop
- Water view – views of the pool or Flamingo pond
- Savannah View Rooms offer a view of one of the savannas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
- You can also upgrade to a Savannah View room with bunk beds – same size rooms, but with 1 queen sized bed and 1 set of bunk beds
- Pool view bunk bed rooms are also available, but not on the Disney website. Try calling the Disney World Travel Company directly if you’re interested.
Club level rooms are also offered at the Animal Kingdom, but are not available on the UK website. The Kilimanjaro Club includes advance Walt Disney World Resort Itinerary Planning service, personalized Front Desk and Concierge service, evening turndown service with chocolates, secure key access to the Club Level Lounge, which serves refreshments from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, complimentary Health Club access, weekday newspaper delivery of USA Today and the opportunity to book and experience Wildlife Discovery Excursion at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park and the Sunrise safari. Standard Club level rooms are regular rooms, with a savanna view, but with the club level service. There are also 1 and 2 bedroom suites available at club level, also with savanna views. The 2 bed sleep 8 and have 2 bedrooms, a separate sitting area, and 2 baths. The first bedroom has one king-size bed, the second bedroom has 2 queen-size beds or one queen-size bed and one set of bunk beds, and the parlor has a queen-size sleeper sofa. Note that these rooms are extremely expensive and possibly it is why they’re not usually offered to British guests as the cost for a 14 night stay would be prohibitive.
Savannas and trails
Its worth knowing which savannas have which animals, as if you’re paying to upgrade to a savanna room, you may want to request the trail that has your favourite animals on it. You can contact the hotel directly about 10 days before you go to put in this request. They wont guarantee it, but they will try .
The Animal Kingdom Lodge has three separate savannas, each around 10 acres. they are open 24 hours a day, and different animals are seen at different times, depending on whether they’re nocturnal, like the heat etc or not. they are lit with artificial ‘moonlight’ in the evening so are still visible, although night goggles help (available at some of the watching posts). The different savannas are home to different animals, with giraffes being the only animal found on all three.
- Sunset is at the far left – includes ostriches
- Arusha is the middle savanna and homes the Zebras
- Uzima is at the far right and animals include the Kudu
The rooms are split into trails, with different trails having different views of different savannas. Ostrich trail is on the left wth a view of the sunset savanna. Zebra trail has either a view of Arusha or Sunset savannas. Kudu trail is the other side of Arusha, with a view of either this or Uzima savanna. Finally, Giraffe trail is on the right with a view of Uzima savanna.
Food and drink
One of the reasons I love Animal Kingdom Lodge is their dining options:
- The Mara – counter service restaurant/food court.
- Cape Town Lounge and Wine bar
- Victoria Falls Lounge
- Boma – Flavours of Africa – a buffet service meal serving African food
- Sanaa – a mixture of African and Indian inspired meals. This is actually located at Kidani Village, the villas a short walk away.
- Jiko: The Cooking Place – my absolute favourite restaurant at Walt Disney World, serving a mixture of African, Indian and Mediterranean food.
- The view of the animals at the various spots around the resort is the most obvious entertainment here – its what you’re paying for. there are over 30 species over 3 savannas (4 counting the savanna at the adjacent Kidani Village).
- Uzima – a 10,000 square foot pool, with a 67 foot long water slide -the largest on Walt Disney World property.
- Also has a wading pool and 2 hot tubs.
- Hakuna Matata Playground is located next door to the pool
- Zahanati Massage and Fitness Centre – Free to Resort Guests, the state of the art fitness centre has all the latest machines. The spa treatments are chargeable and include massages and skin and body care treatments.
- Access to Wanyama Safari – a 3 hour sunset safari excursion that you have to be a guest at Animal Kingdom Lodge in order to book, ending with a meal at Jik0 – The Cooking Place.
- Access to exclusive Animal Programs, allowing you to get closer to the animals:
- flamingo feedings at the Flamingo Pond
- animal tracking at Arusha Rock
- animal viewing with Night Vision
- Extra activities such as:
- Music of the Savanna in the Sunset Lounge
- wildlife games in the Sunset Lounge
- African games and crafts on the Uzima Pool Deck
- cultural safari in the Sunset Lounge
- Simba’s Club house – a supervised kids activity centre, allowing parents to have some time off
- Zawadi marketplace – the on-site shop that also sells African themed merchandise
- You also have access to all the amenities offered at Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas – Kidani Village, located nearby.
The main criticism you will hear about Animal Kingdom Lodge is that it is further from the parks than the other deluxe resorts – it had to be in order to place it on the savannas. It is also the only deluxe resort not to have an extra, special form of transport – i.e. there’s no boat or monorail to and from this hotel. However, Disney’s regular bus transportation is available to take you to all the parks, from the front of the hotel and I don’t find you’re any further from them than you would be at a moderate resort. Unlike the other deluxe resorts, the animals and experience are your advantage, as opposed to location.
The unofficial fansite AKL resort will give you more information and pictures on the resort. Please do come back to BRiTMiCK though!