Our stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is probably best described as a glimpse into the best that Africa has to offer in terms of nature, culture, and cuisine without any of the downside and without having to fly across the ocean to experience them.
We booked our visit through our airline which also included multi-day passes to Disney amusement parks. We also opted for using the Disney Magic Express and Disney busses instead of renting a car or other form of transportation. All and all, great value for our money.
We arrived in Orlando late on Thursday night and were not at the lodge until after 1am. One of the few downsides of the Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) in conjunction with the Disney Magic Express was that guests at the lodge were dropped off at the resort last and picked up first - i.e. have to sit on the bus the longest - which was somewhat annoying since the other resorts receiving service first were in the value and moderate category. Given its remote location, the bus rides to the AKL take longer than to other Disney resorts, but if you know this in advance, you can plan for it.
The decor of the AKL - we stayed in the Jambo House building - is distinctive and instantly projects a sense of African immersion in all its glory. The lobby alone is worth the price of admission. Staff throughout the resort were polite, friendly, and invisible in a good way - they tend to blend into the surroundings but are there when you need them. The hallways are quite long, so based on your needs, you may want to something closer to the lobby if long walks are not your thing. We were located at the end of one of the wings, overlooking the giraffes' favorite hangout. During our four days, we only saw giraffes through our window, although there are many other windows in the hallways and the lobby to view other animals; on the other hand, the giraffes are the most interesting animals on the savannas surrounding the AKL.
As pointed out in other reviews, the rooms are somewhat dark, but I did find the lighting to be in-line with the overall theme of the lodge (with a touch of Mickey hidden throughout). The room and bathroom amenities met our expectations.
During our stay we frequently used the Zawadi Marketplace to buy small snacks, water, and souvenirs. We also dined at Jiko (reviewed separately), probably one of the finest restaurants on Disney property.
Overall our stay met our expectations. Some of the criticisms and concerns had prepared for us for the few things that others might view as shortcomings, such as the location from the rest of the Disney World Resort. On our last day we visited Disney's Animal Kingdom, so when we had to rush back to catch the bus to the airport, we only had a 10 minute shuttle bus ride. Had we spent more time at the resort - for example, we did not use the pool or other facilities - we might have gotten even more out of our stay.
- Also Known As:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Animal Kingdom Hotel
- Animal Kingdom Resort
- 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
- 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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