by Military Diva
As a travel agent and contributor for Tips from the Disney Diva, I always recommend that guests establish a solid budget before doing any vacation planning. Be realistic with your finances, then book what you can afford. You can always try to upgrade if your budget increases or apply a discount if it becomes available. But make sure you understand what you are booking and are comfortable staying in that space.
Our family recently booked a split stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We started our trip with two Standard Rooms, with a request to be near the lobby. The back portion of our stay included a 1-bedroom Jambo House Villa with a Savannah View. The resort is absolutely breathtaking, the food is delicious, we had plenty of space in both rooms, and the transportation was convenient. But we were slightly disappointed with the views from our standard rooms.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Deluxe Resort located in the Animal Kingdom area of Disney World property. Resorts in this category typically boast larger rooms, concierge services, and club-level availability. Most offer table service and quick service locations as well as a lounge. The resort amenities include lush pools, water slides, and a hot tub. They are typically located close to a theme park and offer specialty transportation. Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not offer specialty transportation, utilizing the Disney World Bus System only. But, they do offer something other resorts do not have…four Savannas fully inhabited with giraffes, zebras, other hoofed animals, and more!
Guests booking a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are treated to viewing spots located throughout the resort. There are little outlooks, seating areas, and bridges that offer various views of each of the Savannas. And they aren’t hard to find! Seating areas are tastefully placed in hallways and off of the lobby. You never know what you will see when just walking to your room!!
And of course, there are outdoor locations where you can view on your own, read details about the included guests, and speak to posted Cast Members to learn more about these beautiful creatures. In the evening, there are even Night Goggle locations where cast members help you find the animals in the dark!
The resort is truly a Magical Treat, far exceeding our expectations. The staff we encountered were exceptionally helpful and friendly. We were happy to find both American and African dishes at Mara Quick Service. The Boma breakfast buffet offered a chance to try many new, delicious flavors while offering familiar foods. And Victoria Falls Lounge provided a nice space for my husband and me to unwind in the evenings.
Our teen boys had more than enough space in the pool and spent a bit of time at the ping pong tables, located around the pool area. But we mostly enjoyed our strolls around the resort, taking in all the beautiful animals and interacting with Cast Members. Guests staying here can enjoy an unbelievable stay here, regardless of the room category they book.
As mentioned earlier, we wanted to experience both a standard view and a savanna view during our trip. The split stay allowed us to stay within our family budget while experiencing both categories. We were amazed by the experience from our savanna view villa yet left slightly disappointed with the view from our standard room.
Let’s begin with our Savanna View Villa stay.
Every morning the staff would arrive in the grassy area beneath our room to inspect the area and clean up any fallen foliage/debris. Once cleared, food would be placed out and a few noisemakers were used to call the animals to the area. (The sound is familiar to the animals, but not loud. We only heard the whistle when on the balcony or near an open door-you will not be disturbed by the sound.) We were fortunate to have balconies that overlooked the Sunset Savanna, located on the Eastern side of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (and across from Kidani Village). We were treated to morning visits from several giraffes, a few zebra, and several other hoofed animals.
Let me tell you, we have visited many zoos in our travels. Nothing compares to sitting on your balcony with a cup of coffee, watching a giraffe stroll in front of you. The habitat is so peaceful that you feel as if you are gifted with a view into their world rather than watching an animal on display.
And while you know in your head that a giraffe would be able to move quickly, you can’t truly understand the speed and grace until you see them break free in play. We are so blessed to have enjoyed our stay at this beautiful resort and honor Disney’s dedication to this experience.
Moving on to our standard room stay, let me say that the room itself is beautiful. It is large enough to contain our four children, ages 13, 15, 20, and 23. While they weren’t exactly pleased to be sharing beds, they were willing to sacrifice for the opportunity to stay in this beautiful resort. They enjoyed the split bathroom and had more than enough room for all four of them to get ready. Fortunately, our rooms were connected. They could sneak into my room if they needed a short break!
When we completed online check-in we requested a room close to the lobby. We were placed in rooms 4208 and 4209. It was an easy walk to the stairs and a short walk up one floor to the bridge that crosses the lobby. We were also only one floor from the public Arusha Savanna outlook which is an outdoor, covered area furnished with plush benches and rocking chairs. It is an amazing spot to view the animals while rocking and sipping your morning coffee!
Our only disappointment came with the view from our room. Again, we booked what we could afford and expected a standard room with a standard view.
According to the Walt Disney World website, Standard Rooms have “views of rooftop or parking area”. For reference, we have stayed in Standard Rooms at Disney’s All Star Music Resort, Disney’s All Star Movies Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. When booking standard rooms, we are always aware that we are taking a chance on the view. We set the bar low, but have never been disappointed. Even when we had views of the “rooftop or parking lot” we were able to glimpse some foliage or decor from the resort.
But in all of our years visiting Disney World we never knew a “standard view” could include what we received. We did have two full balconies with several chairs and a table. But we didn’t actually have a view-unless you count the solid wall that stood in front of us. Our room was located under a roof run-off area that was set in a corner of the resort. The only way we could see anything green was to stand on a chair (definitely not a safe option). We did ask the front desk if there was a possibility to move to another room. We just wanted to see green, even if it was a tree decorating the parking lot. But visiting during the runDisney Marathon Weekend left us without any options. The resort was fully booked, based on visitors and staff availability, and we were unable to move.
This was the first time in over 20 years of Disney World visits that we truly received exactly what we paid for…a standard view of a rooftop. Were we disappointed? Slightly. We spent a large amount of our family’s budget on this resort. Our budget didn’t allow a full stay in a Savanna View room so we booked what we could afford. And we truly enjoyed our stay. We are grateful that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge provides plenty of locations to view the beautiful property outside of the room. And of course, our experience is not the norm for a standard view room We were just unlucky to receive one of the “No View” rooms during our trip.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers a relaxing break from the parks. The environment here invites you to sit, enjoy time with your family, and take in all that is living around you. You can confidently book a stay here in a standard room and have plenty of opportunities to see the beauty this resort has to offer. Just remember to book the category, room, and view you can afford. Ask for a new room if you aren’t happy, knowing that there might not be availability. Set your expectation on what you have booked and look for ways to enjoy the resort from outside of your room. You might be surprised by what you find when exploring!
If you would like help navigating the resorts, views, and parks of the Disney Travel Company, contact Patricia Payne with All for Dreams Travel, our sponsored Travel Agent. Patricia Payne with All for Dreams Travel is an independent agent with Gateway to Magic Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner.