By Disney Dreaming Diva
You are planning your family’s dream vacation or you just want to stay somewhere different on your annual Walt Disney World Vacation and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is high on your list. Does it meet all your needs? Here are a few of the ups and downs of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
One of the best features or ups of staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the scenery. Every window opens to a spectacular nature view often composed of some of the most exotic animals. Whether it is a bird taking a bath in one of the savanna’s water holes or a giraffe grazing on the greens of a palm, you are surrounded by the best that nature has to offer.
The luxurious scenery is not confined to the views outside the windows. The spacious lobby with its rustic lodge feel has sites for everyone. From the intimate animal carvings in every wood structure to the glamorous glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, everywhere you look there are appealing images to keep you mesmerized!
The large spacious lobby is always a bustle with people. There are activities in every corner and can be a great space to stare out a window at the scenery or to people watch. Unfortunately, the bustle can be overwhelming and a down of staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The cast members are very busy and this extends the time it takes to check-in or out, talk to a concierge, or even ask simple directions/questions.
The variety of rooms available at Animal Kingdom Lodge provides something for everyone. The room choices range from a standard hotel room with one or multiple beds to the Royal Presidential Asante Suite with everything in between. Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) location and luxury villas are among the choices of rooms. There are also three different views to choose from, standard, pool, and savanna. An additional bonus provided at Animal Kingdom Lodge is Club Level. For those of you who are new to Club Level, Club Level rooms come with perks such as access to a lounge with small servings of food throughout the day, complimentary beverages, and personalized vacation planning.
On a more personal note, my family recently stayed in a savanna view DVC studio villa. On the upside the bed was comfortable and the room was clean. It was everything that a hotel should be. The view was amazing and very much worth the little extra cost of staying on the savanna. On the downside, it was just a hotel room. It felt small for a villa and the amenities were only those common in the most modern-day hotels including a small refrigerator and microwave. It did have a bar sink and paper plates which are different from most hotels. Another down was the walking distance from an elevator and the lobby. If you have small children, have a family member that has a difficult time walking, or just do not want a hike after a long day in the park, I recommend requesting a room near the lobby or an elevator and the elevators are few and far between.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge provides a variety of dining options, with four major restaurants and many lounges and pool bars to choose from there is something for everyone. Jiko is the signature dining experience with the accompanying luxury and price that is associated with a Disney signature dining experience. Sanaa is a casual quick-service restaurant of African cooking with Indian flavors for breakfast and is transformed into unique themed dining experience for lunch and dinner. Boma offers an “all-you-care-to-enjoy” buffet for breakfast and dinner. Finally, The Mara offers quick service dining for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night. For a review of the many different dining experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge see the Tips from the Disney Diva’s articles on Animal Kingdom.
My family did not get the opportunity to try out the large variety of dining experiences but did visit The Mara frequently for breakfast. It was a great dining experience. The cast members were friendly and were willing to adapt orders to our various dietary needs and picky palates. The food was well cooked and flavorful. In addition, the refrigerator section had a lot of options for grab and go food. For a quick breakfast, it is one of my family’s top quick-service restaurants, not to mention a great patio by the pool to enjoy it.
Are you a family that enjoys park free days at the resort? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has a little bit of everything to offer, especially for your little ones. There are opportunities to interact with animal specialists, culinary programs, and the chance to learn to play African drums. A spa and fitness center is available for those who might want to partake and an arcade for those that enjoy the popular video game in the classic arcade setting. The 24-hour Hakuna Matata playground gives those younger children the opportunity to get their energy out. Once the sun goes down the recreational opportunities do not end. Occasionally the family can enjoy a Disney-themed-movie under the stars.
There are two pools with amenities that differ between the pools. The pool at Jambo house is larger, but the one at Kidani Village has a water slide and splash pad. Both have pool bars to provide those adult beverages that you might be looking for. Take note that one of the downs is that Animal Kingdom Lodge is a destination in and of itself and this leads to a lot of people and crowded pools.
If you are looking for a hotel that is isolated from the hustle and bustle of any of the Walt Disney World Parks, Animal Kingdom Lodge is the place to be. Motorized transportation is necessary to get from this resort to any other places off or on property. Buses run regularly to all the parks from comfortable shaded locations in front of both Jambo and Kidani. Because of its remote location, bus rides are long and a family should plan on this when trying to make that fast pass or dining reservation. Outside of Disney buses, there are no other forms of free transportation from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the parks or other resorts. Taxis, Uber, Lyft, and Minnie vans will transport, but families need to budget for this added expense. Hint if you are traveling off-property use Disney transportation to get to Disney Springs and then take paid transportation. This helps save a little on the expense.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a beautiful setting that is isolated from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. Its rooms are comfortable and the scenery is to die for. However, it can be crowded, if you do not handpick a room plan on a lot of walking, and travel time is extensive with limited options for transportation. What matters is what meets your family’s needs. Because for some, nothing beats waking up to the giraffes enjoying their morning breakfast right outside your window.