Review: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Entering Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

As soon as you pull up to the gate at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you no longer feel like you’re in the tourist hub of Central Florida.  The landscaping is plush and the architecture is beautiful. Exotic escape from all things normal has begun.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is an African themed deluxe resort that provides a unique vacation experience.  Whether you love animals or not, this resort is designed to impress!

“Welcome Home” is the greeting you receive.

After entering the gate to the private resort, you’ll notice beautiful plush landscaping that is thick, plentiful and meticulously manicured.  Approaching Jambo House (the lobby area), the magnitude, detail and the beauty assures you that you made the right resort choice for your stay at Disney World.

You immediately realize this will be a different kind of resort experience.

Be prepared!  Entering Jambo House, you walk into one of the most beautiful and detailed lobbies that Disney has ever created. Soak it all in.  Notice the artifacts, attention to detail, sounds, smells and beautiful decor.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is more than a place to sleep – it’s a place to experience, to explore and to savor.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House

Amenities At Animal Kingdom Lodge

The approach to take when visiting a Disney resort is to consider the experience that is designed for you.  You enter a story.  You become part of your surroundings.

Your stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge goes far beyond what amenities are in your room or even how incredibly themed the decor is.   There are savannas overflowing with exotic (and sometimes rare) animals. The African themed restaurants are plentiful, rich in culture and as beautiful in appearance as they are delicious to the taste.

An oversized pool, poolside savanna’s, kids play area, plush poolside lounge chairs.  Everything at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is several steps up from the moderate and economy resorts.

Rooms are available with king beds, doubles and you can even request bunk beds too.  Of course, all rooms come with the standards like an iron, safe, toiletries, free WiFi, room service, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer and a flat screen tv.

Everything at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge will leave you impressed.  Amenities typically spell out what you can expect. Trust me, you’ll experience more than you’ll ever expect during your stay.  Look for the magic and it will appear.

Old Kilimanjaro Club At Animal Kingdom Lodge

If you want the absolute best service and experience at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, go for their club level experience called Old Kilimanjaro Club.  This is concierge service at its best.

With your own beautiful lounge area (including food and drink), turn down service, special check-in area and personal concierge, you’ll experience first class up close and personal.

The lounge area offers, what I would call, a “deluxe continental” breakfast, afternoon tea and amazing evening Hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

Because everything at Disney is part of a story, you’ll find even the lounge offerings reflect the culture and heritage of Africa. Your afternoon tea and evening beverage are designed to make you feel at home and in comfort while on your African holiday.

The food comes from the culinary team of Jiko and Boma.  These are two of the best restaurants on Disney property.  In other words, Old Kilimanjaro Club provides you with the best that Animal Kingdom Lodge has to offer in both taste and service!

You’ll receive access to the health club too!  And just in case you don’t get your news from your phone or twitter feed, a morning newspaper is included.

For more details about the Old Kilimanjaro Club and current room rates, click here.

The Pool At Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool

Do you see how BIG that pool is??  Everything at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is crafted with excellence, and the pool area will impress you!  With plenty of seating, a pool bar, lifeguards on duty and a rich landscape, make sure to plan at least a day for relaxing or playing in the pool area.

There are hot tubs, a kids play area, ping pong tables, poolside games and animals in the nearby savanna to enjoy.

My favorite time by the pool is around sunset and the pool area at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is artistically lighted to showcase the landscape, buildings and pool.  The scenery is stunning!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool at dusk

Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center

You did know that you can spoil yourself silly at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, right?  Zahanati Spa is just the place to do it!

Whether it’s a citrus facial or a rejuvenating Swedish Massage, you’ll find Zahanati Spa perfect for your getaway!  Relax in the sauna or get in a complete workout – the choice is yours.  Like everything else, you’ll love the design, feel and vibe of the spa.

This spa simply adds to the completely luxurious experience you can have at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  And if you don’t want to go to the spa for your relaxing massage, they’ll even go to your room.  Talk about room service!

The Animals At Animal Kingdom Lodge

While my favorite are the giraffes and zebras, you’ll find over 200 kinds of animals on the savannas (and 130 birds). Always leave it to Disney to create special magic too.  At any given point you’ll easily spot animals feeding, playing and just grazing around.

Sitting on the balcony at sunset overlooking the savanna and seeing two young giraffes play created one of my favorite magical moments at Disney.  It was a reminder that kids of all kinds simply love to have fun… no matter our age.

Instead of feeling like you’re sleeping in a zoo, you feel like you’re part of the culture and a part of their world.  Disney somehow makes it all feel very natural and experiential.

And yes, I’ve listed the savanna as part of the amenities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  You’ll remember the savanna much more than you’ll remember the hair dryer and wide screen television, don’t you think?

Animal Kingdom Lodge Savanna

Dining Options

Let’s just put it this way:  The Animal Kingdom Lodge knows how to create fantastic dining experiences which are as delicious as they are served in beautiful locations.  Living about 15 minutes from Animal Kingdom Lodge gives me plenty of reasons to frequent their restaurants .

Boma – Flavors of Africa

Boma is an African themed buffet that allows you to take in the flavors of Africa.  It’s Disney, so you’re kids will have chicken fingers, fries, mac n cheese and all their favorites, but you’ll also have dishes from Africa to sample, feast one and savor.

One of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten was from their carving station and thrown onto their fire pit for some added flavor.

Salads, breads, fruits, veggies, meats – the flavors are plentiful!

And the dessert bar – it’s a work of art, culinary flavor and sweet delight!

No matter which Disney resort you stay in, Boma needs to be a part of your dining experience at Disney!

Breakfast at Boma is pretty amazing, but dinner is my favorite! (Click the links for current menu options).

Jiko – The Cooking Place

Jiko is signature dining that has won awards for it’s culinary creations.  Jiko is known for having one of the largest collections of South African wines in the United States.

Like Boma, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the people from this amazing culture sharing their pride and the taste of their homeland.

You’ll love the two wood burning ovens that demands your attention.  If you want to create a super special evening, Jiko is your best choice.

I had the ribeye and my tastebuds have never been the same! Here is the menu for Jiko.

Sanaa

Sanaa is described as African flavors meet Indian spices.  And I must confess, that combination sounds far from appealing to me.  However, I kept hearing how good the bread service was at Sanaa, so I had to try it. Oh my word!

This place is fabulous!! It’s truly a hidden gem at Disney World!  The food is absolutely amazing!

Can you sense my excitement for this place??

I’ve tried several items off the menu, but my favorite so far has been the braised beef.  Well, maybe the butter chicken and rice?  No, definitely the braised beef…or maybe the chicken?  They both are so good!

Seriously, everything has been simply delicious, especially the bread service.

The decor is visually stimulating and the dining area is next to an animal filled savanna at Kadani Villiage.  You’ll be blown away by the service, the food and the decor….and the yummy bread service.

Here is a current lunch and dinner menu.  But promise me this,  you have to get the bread service if you go to Sanaa!

Bread service at Sanaa! #sanaa #breadservice #dailydoseofmagic #disneygram #instadisney #kidanivillage #animalkingdomlodge

A photo posted by Disney’s Lost Princess (@disney.kathleen) on

Quick Service and Pool Bar Service

Like all Disney resorts, you can find quick service meals at the lodge too.  Food items can also be ordered by the pool.  Trust me, you don’t have to go too far to find outstanding food options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Special Dining Events

If you truly want to create some magical moments, consider reserving Wanyama Safari and Dinner for a truly unique dining experience.

Jiko offers a special African wine tasting and Sanaa offers the opportunity to dine with an animal specialist during a four course lunch.

Transportation At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is in the very far southwest corner of Disney World and adjacent to The Animal Kingdom.  When you consider that Disney World is 47 square miles of sheer magic, location is important as you make transportation plans.

Are you flying into Orlando International Airport?  You can reserve Disney’s Magical Express in advance to take you and your luggage to the resort and back to the airport.  Typical taxi fees from the airport to Animal Kingdom runs around $60-$70, but Disney’s Magical Express is included with your resort stay.

From Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney provides bus service to all of the Disney World theme parks, Disney Springs and the two water parks.

Taxi’s are typically immediately available from the valet area, but for a better service and experience I would suggest Lyft.  If you do not have an existing Lyft account here is a link for $50 in ride credits – Lyft’s current promotion.

You can 100% rely on Disney transportation within all of Disney World, but Uber and Lyft makes it easier to go from resort to resort.

What’s Near The Animal Kingdom Lodge?

As far as Disney options, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is adjacent to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, though bus service is required to get there, taking about 15 minutes or so.  It’s also a short bus ride to Blizzard Beach, one of the two water parks.  Disney’s Magic Kingdom is about 30 minutes away by Disney Transportation.

There is also a McDonalds on Disney property that’s fairly close by but after learning about the dining options at the lodge I know you would never insult your taste buds by going to McDonalds while staying at this resort!  Your Big Mac and fries craving can wait until you get to the airport.

Publix grocery store and a Super Target are both within 15 minutes drive (via Taxi or Lyft/Uber).

If you desire to leave Disney Property for a meal (seriously why would you leave Disney for a meal??)  you have several options. Chain / franchise type, fast food, fast casual and sit down options are available within a fifteen minutes Lyft ride.

The Pros of Staying At The Animal Kingdom Lodge

I made a list of the pros for staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge….

  • The vibe of the entire resort.
  • Delicious and tasty food.
  • Stunning decor.
  • Exotic animals.
  • A very huge pool.
  • Epic waterslide.
  • That crazy awesome spa.
  • Hidden Mickey’s.
  • It’s a very different resort experience.
  • The resort is photogenic and your Instagram account will thank you.
  • Fabulous club level / concierge experience.
  • They have the coolest market of any of the Disney resorts.
  • Its lobby has the “wow” factor.
  • The stories of the people from Africa.
  • Blow your mind balcony views.
  • You’ll create many magical moments!
  • When you eat at Boma and are stuffed, you don’t have far to get back to your room.
  • You can talk to the animals on your balcony in your pj’s.
  • Super friendly staff.
  • All of the African artwork and artifacts.
  • The architecture.
  • Extra Magic Hours.
  • Onsite workout facility.
  • Multiple Hot Tubs.
  • The pool chairs are very comfy.
  • The details around the resort.
  • Marshmallow Roast next to the savanna.
  • Looking out your window and seeing a zebra.
  • A flamboyance of Flamingos.
  • The Mickey Waffles and Pancakes.
  • It’s simply beautiful!

What would you add to the list as a reason to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge?

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Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

20 Reasons To Stay At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

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