Drumming in the lobby. Giraffes, zebra and ostriches outside your room. Stunning authentic African architecture. Cultural Ambassadors from all over Africa conducting fun and educational programs throughout your stay. Outstanding dining locations. Where else could this be but Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida? One of my FAVORITE resorts in Disney!!
My family has stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge several times and we always enjoy it. This visit was no exception. Not only are the rooms comfortable and quiet, but you truly feel transported to another world (or continent!). There are so many fun and unique activities here, you really could come and just stay at the resort without visiting the parks.
Several months ago, some friends and I visited to have breakfast at BOMA. One of the Cultural Ambassadors spent some time helping us find some animals (they were heading back to their barns for breakfast) and he gave us a little impromptu tour. He said that when Disney designed this resort, Imagineer Joe Rohde and his team traveled throughout Africa looking at different lodges. He said they took the best ideas and combined them to create Animal Kingdom Lodge. Coincidentally, Joe Rohde was staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge at the same time I was and I actually got to meet him and thank him for AKL and Animal Kingdom park!!
Back to my visit. I actually stayed in two different rooms, a Standard View for one night and then a Savannah View, Bunk Bed room for six nights. The standard view room actually turned out to have a Savannah-like view. These are rooms where your view of the Savannah is sort of sideways. I still saw some animals and the room was quiet and comfortable. In each room, you will receive an Animal Spotting Guide to use for your balcony views or for any of the public Savannah overlooks located throughout the resort.
As I said above, one of the assets of AKL is the outstanding dining options. You have the Quick Service location in Jambo House called The Mara, which offers some standard fare (Mickey waffles at breakfast, salads and sandwiches at lunch) plus some unique, African-inspired items. A family friendly buffet in Jambo House, serving breakfast and dinner called BOMA. A signature location with a large selection of African wine and African spiced entrees called JIKO, also in Jambo House. In Kidani (an all-DVC resort), you will find Sanaa: a spice road inspired, family-friendly location. We also enjoy Victoria Falls Lounge in Jambo House. All of them provide outstanding food and atmosphere. Even when we aren't guests at the Resort, my family enjoys dining in these restaurants.
One complaint I have heard about Animal Kingdom Lodge is about the remote location. While the resort is almost on top of Animal Kingdom park, you still need to take a bus there, though the ride lasts all of five minutes. A trip to Magic Kingdom can take 25 minutes. However, if I really think about it, a bus ride from most resorts to Magic Kingdom takes 15 minutes. For me, an extra 10 minutes so I can watch giraffes outside my room is worth it!
I recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge to:
Families with an interest in animals
People planning a lot of resort time
It might not be the best choice for:
Families who spend open to close at the parks with no resort time
People not planning on visiting Animal Kingdom
People who will not eat anything they think is 'exotic'
Mary Graham is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel. As an Annual Passholder, she visits Walt Disney World on the regular and LOVES planning vacations for other families. She has two teenage daughters who have been coming to Walt Disney World since they were toddlers. Her favorite ride is NOW Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and her favorite character is Dumbo!