Stayed 4 nights in November at the Jambo House section of the resort for vacation in a Savannah View Standard Room. Overall, found the staff to be very pleasant, the resort itself visually cool, but the room itself to be cramped.
1) Reception: we elected to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel instead of take the Disney Magical Express bus in order to save some travel time. When our taxi reached the security gate to the hotel, the guard was somewhat hostile to our cabbie. The guard asked the cabbie for not only his driver's license, but also his cabbie's permit, not accepting his cab's medallion sticker. The guard berated the driver for not having this on hand, but let us go after checking my ID and finding I was a registered guest. He suddenly switched his tone with us and said "Welcome Home." Once we arrived at the entrance, however, we were warmly greeted at the entranceway by a staff member, who introduced us to the hotel and escorted us to the front desk. The registration staff was very friendly and courteous, and showered our daughter with Disney princess stickers and a little tiera.
2) the lobby, the hotel, and the grounds: really, really cool. I generally find hotel website pictures of their lobbies to be skewed presentations of what things really look like when you get there, but for this property, what you see online really is what you get. My cell pictures do not do it justice, so I would just go to the Disney resorts website and take a look.
The rest of the hotel is set up to exploit views of the many animals that roam the grounds. For example, between buildings are set up multiple, and different observation areas. Some are covered and have rocking chairs, others are open air and have swivel mounted magnifiers. The highlight would certainly be the elevated observation platform off the lobby, Arusha Rock, though the Disney website pictures give the impression that this is much higher off the savannah than it really is.
The hotel is located about a 20 min Disney bus ride away from the Magic Kingdom. We did not find the bus going to other hotels, but the bus was always full, anyway, when we departed for the parks.
3) the room: here was the real downside. We had a standard room (deluxe slightly larger), which was a bit cramped for 4 people in terms of finding enough space for putting the suitcases out of the way. An extra 2x5 foot alcove for suitcases would have done the trick. The balcony did afford a nice view of the savannah, but we found that the animals were not generally very active. We did see, however, lots of staff cleaning the savannah of animal poop with shovels every morning and evening. Afterall, you never see Disney characters having to use the bathroom, so why should there be poop on the savannah?
Bathroom shower/toilet area was very tight: the door swung into the room, and you had to maneuver yourself around the swing area of the door in order to get into the room and close the door.
4) the food: We tried the most talked about upscale restaurant, Jiko, and found the staff and food to be reasonably good, albeit a bit pricy (about $30-$40 an entree) for sized portions.
We got most of our meals from Mara, the counterservice restaurant near the main pool. Mara had decent food for a theme park resort (our comparison group would be Hersheypark, Great Adventure, Dutch Wonderland).
5) checkout: would have been nice to be able to view your account on your TV, but we needed to wait for the morning of the checkout in order to get a hardcopy to view. We did use the express checkout option.
Overall: you get a 4-star resort with its own wild animals, cool looking lobby, cool animal observation areas throughout, but the standard rooms are tight and cramped, certainly much more so than many of the non-Disney, newer hotels I have stayed in the Orlando area for business. Especially for the price (we probably paid about 20% more than a comparable non-Disney hotel in the area) for the room size, but then again, if you stay at the Shingle Creek or Hilton Orlando, the staff there will not be wishing you to "have a magical day!"
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is an African lodge-style resort amidst a 43-acre wildlife preserve. The Resort offers authentic African-inspired architecture and the kraal African-village landscape design—a semi-circle design popular in Africa which offers expansive views of the surrounding savanna and its many animal inhabitants. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Animal Kingdom Florida
- Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney Animal Kingdom Resort
- Disney Animal Kingdom Hotel
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney
- Animal Kingdom Lodge Orlando
- Animal Kingdom Hotel Disney
- Disneys Animal Kingdom Hotel
- Animal Kingdom Hotel Florida