Get ready to celebrate! Next year, 2021, will mark the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!! Package bookings for 2021 should open up in mid-June. From now until then, we will be revisiting our 5 Reasons to Love series about WDW resorts to help you decide where to stay next year.
from, the Walking Down Main Street team
Over the years I have enjoyed vacationing at several of the Walt Disney World resorts, each one uniquely themed with its own ambiance. Last fall I stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas for the first time and it did not disappoint. If you love the calming atmosphere of Animal Kingdom and especially if you'd enjoy more wildlife viewing time, then this is the resort for you!
Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Deluxe category resort and is located in the midst of its own wildlife reserve. There are two Lodges – Jambo House and Kidani Village. At Jambo House, accommodations range from standard rooms to deluxe studios and 1 or 2 Bedroom Suites or Villas. Kidani Village is an all villa resort. In both lodges you can choose accommodations with a Savanah view (or a Standard, or Pool view). In Jambo House, you may choose to stay in a Club Level room with access to the Kilimanjaro Club. Kilimanjaro Club access adds many wonderful extras such as concierge service, continental breakfast, snacks, hors d’ oeuvres, desserts, and special access to unique tours.
You are immediately immersed in African culture from the moment you step into the spacious lobby and are Welcomed Home. African artifacts are abundant. Floor to ceiling windows with stunning views of the Savanah beckon guests to the savannah just off the lobby. Cultural Ambassadors from Africa lead a number of daily interactive demonstrations and activities of African traditions and crafting.
We chose a Savannah View room in Jambo House for our 5 night stay. Our African inspired room with a balcony overlooked the savannah where wildlife roamed freely and were within close viewing day and night. The room was comfortable and even came equipped with a Wildlife Spotting Guide to help identify and learn about each animal species. It was so peaceful and relaxing to sit on our balcony in the morning or after a day at the parks and just observe the wildlife and learn a little bit about their habits. It was beyond entertaining to watch the giraffe family every day – mom, dad, and baby - particularly the mischievous baby giraffe playing with the other species!
There are also many public viewing areas around the resort where you can sit and observe all types of animal species in their natural habitats. In the evenings you can request use of night vision goggles for viewing from the common areas!
The resort has two heated pools; a children’s pool; interactive water features; whirlpools; health club; playground; and more. We thoroughly enjoyed spending some down time at the pool before and after busy days at the parks. You have access to these features at both Jambo House and at Kidani Village. The buildings are a short walk to each other or you may use the complimentary shuttle.
There are three table service restaurants – Jiko - the Cooking Place, which is a Signature Fine Dining restaurant with an African touch; Boma - Flavors of Africa for an African inspired buffet breakfast and lunch; and Sanaa for a more casual meal for lunch and dinner. There is also Quick Service Dining available at The Mara.
Bus transportation ran timely and provides direct access to all four Theme Parks, both Water Parks, and Disney Springs. There is a monitor at the bus stop advising when the next bus to each location will arrive. Animal Kingdom is a very quick bus ride away while the Magic Kingdom is the furthest. As with any WDW resort location, you need to factor in travel time if you are trying to get to a specific destination or reservation for a specific time. Remember, the entire Walt Disney World Resort property is about twice the size of Manhattan, so your travel time to get from one end of the resort to the other is similar to making your way across a large and active city. You can also use the Minnie Van or Lyft Service to save time getting to any destination on property.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a unique vacation experience amidst all there is to do at the Walt Disney World resort. I have and will continue to recommend this resort to both families and couples alike and can’t wait for my next visit with the giraffe family!
Sandy Fardie is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters and Castles Travel. She and husband have enjoyed many vacations at the Walt Disney World Resort. She loves planning vacations for her clients as much as she loves planning her own! You can contact Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org