Best Ho­tel: Dis­ney’s An­i­mal King­dom Lodge

WDW Magazine - - Contents - BY JESSI KIM­BLE

An­i­mal King­dom Lodge, an African-themed Deluxe Re­sort, is sit­u­ated on beau­ti­ful sa­van­nas, sur­rounded by over 200 species of wildlife. This is one of those Re­sorts where you have so much to do just stay­ing there, that it’s a va­ca­tion in it­self. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sug­gest­ing a trip to Walt Dis­ney World just to stay in your Re­sort, but you re­ally would have enough ac­tiv­i­ties, din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, and sight­see­ing to keep you busy for DAYS!

So grab your binoc­u­lars, fill up that can­teen, and let’s trek on over to the Top 10 Things that you’re sure to love about An­i­mal King­dom Lodge!

1. SA­FARIS

The Starlight Sa­fari at Ki­dani Vil­lage is an af­ter-dark ex­pe­ri­ence of­fer­ing Guests a tour of Dis­ney’s African sa­van­nas and wildlife aboard an open-sided sa­fari ve­hi­cle. You’ll be pro­vided with night vi­sion gog­gles to help spot wilde­beest, gi­raffes, ze­bras, and a va­ri­ety of other an­i­mals dur­ing your sa­fari. The tour is about an hour long, star­ing at 10:00 PM ev­ery night of the week. Any Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort Guest is al­lowed to re­serve a spot on the Starlight Sa­fari (as long as they are over 8 years old). I have to say this again: night vi­sion gog­gles… You get to use night vi­sion gog­gles!

The Wany­wama Sa­fari and Din­ner Ex­cur­sion greets Guests with a pre-sa­fari re­cep­tion be­fore em­bark­ing on a jour­ney through 46 acres of Dis­ney sa­vanna. Your guide is there to dis­cuss not only the an­i­mals that you’ll dis­cover along the way, but also the ar­chi­tec­ture and his­tory be­hind An­i­mal King­dom Lodge.

When your sa­fari ends, your de­li­cious din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­gins! The menu will vary, but ex­pect to sam­ple sev­eral menu items from Jiko—the Cook­ing Place over mul­ti­ple cour­ses. Wine pair­ings, dessert sam­pling, tra­di­tional African breads and dips, are just a few de­li­cious cour­ses. This sa­fari is lim­ited to 12 Guests, ages 10 and up, and costs at least $200 per per­son.

2. DINE WITH AN AN­I­MAL SPE­CIAL­IST

One of the most unique din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences at Walt Dis­ney World is the op­por­tu­nity to dine with an An­i­mal Spe­cial­ist at An­i­mal King­dom Lodge. You’ll ex­pe­ri­ence a 4-course lunch, in­clud­ing In­dian-style bread ser­vice, sal­ads, slow-cooked meats, or ve­gan op­tions, and dessert for $35-60 per per­son. This lunch is lim­ited to 12 Guests, and is avail­able for all Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort Guests over the age of 8. You’ll be able to learn all about the dif­fer­ent an­i­mals roam­ing the ar­eas around the Re­sort as you dine over­look­ing Sun­set Sa­vanna.

3. DESSERTS

One dessert straight from An­i­mal King­dom Lodge that Guests just can’t stop rav­ing about are the Ze­bra Domes—found at The Mara and Boma eater­ies. These white and black striped treats aren’t made from ac­tual ze­bra, but rather an Amarula Cream Liquor mousse on top of a thin cake base and en­cased in white choco­late and choco­late crumbs, driz­zled with more choco­late. Mara sells them in a con­tainer of four for easy trans­port back to your room.

While you in­dulge in in­fi­nite quan­ti­ties of Ze­bra Domes, the kid­dos will also en­joy African Shield Brown­ies, a paint-your-own white choco­late cov­ered brownie shield, with vanilla bean ice cream or Pum­baa’s Dessert Grub, a Dis­ney take on “dirt pud­ding.”

4. WINE

Ev­ery Wed­nes­day, Guests may sam­ple a trio of wines dur­ing a brief wine tour from the som­me­liers at Jiko-the Cook­ing Place. Reser­va­tions are rec­om­mended. And while you’re sam­pling the wine….

5. CHILD CARE

An­i­mal King­dom Lodge is home to Simba’s Club­house for kids, ages 3-12. This Child Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter is avail­able to all Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort Guests at an hourly rate of $15 per child. There is a two- hour min­i­mum and din­ner is in­cluded in the cost. While par­ents en­joy a night out, the kids will have a chance to meet and play with other va­ca­tion­ing kid­dos and par­tic­i­pate in fun crafts, sto­ry­telling, and other fun ac­tiv­i­ties.

6. AN­I­MALS

This is the rea­son so many love stay­ing at An­i­mal King­dom Lodge! Imag­ine en­joy­ing your morn­ing cup of cof­fee while watch­ing ze­bras from your bal­cony. Or wak­ing up to see a gi­raffe right out­side your win­dow! There are over 30 species of African wildlife wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered at this Re­sort. Make sure to pick up a Wildlife Field Guide from the Lobby Concierge to iden­tify and learn about the wildlife.

7. POOLS

An­i­mal King­dom Lodge has two per­fect pools to cool off in, with plenty of lounge chairs for re­lax­ation un­der the Florida sun­shine! Near Ki­dani, Guests can splash and play at Sa­mawati Springs Pool. Sa­mawati fea­tures zero-depth-en­try and a 128-foot wa­ter­slide. The wa­ter play­ground is in­cred­i­bly unique, hav­ing three sep­a­rate ar­eas for dif­fer­ent ages. Kids un­der 4 can en­joy a bub­bling geyser, and plenty of ar­eas to climb and crawl in the Ob­ser­va­tion Cen­ter. Chil­dren ages 5 to 7 will en­joy a lit­tle more wa­ter ac­tion with squirt­ing irises in De­par­ture Zone, and ev­ery­one else, ages 8 and up, can drench each other with wa­ter can­nons at Base Camp. There’s even a rope bridge!

Large canopy trees wel­come Guests to Uz­ima Springs Pool, de­signed to make pool go­ers feel as if they’ve stum­bled upon a trop­i­cal oa­sis. This pool also has zero-depth-en­try, plus a 67-foot wa­ter­slide!

8. DIN­ING

There’s ev­ery­thing—from room ser­vice to award win­ning fine din­ing—at An­i­mal King­dom Lodge. At Kin­dani Vil­lage, en­joy Sanna, a Ta­ble Ser­vice restau­rant with large win­dows, al­low­ing diners a view of the an­i­mals on the Sun­set Sa­vanna. African and In­dian foods adorn the Sanna menu, with de­li­cious dishes such as Tan­dori Shrimp or Chicken for lunch and Tra­di­tional Sosatie for din­ner. For dessert, try the African Triple Choco­late Mousse, a heav­enly com­bi­na­tion of Man­jari 64% Dark Choco­late of Mada­gas­car, Ji­vara milk choco­late, Ivoire white choco­late, a choco­late bis­cuit, and straw­ber­ries.

Three more din­ing es­tab­lish­ments—jiko—the Cook­ing Place, Boma, and Mara—are lo­cated at Jambo House. Jiko is a ca­sual din­ner restau­rant serv­ing African foods and sur­rounded by lo­cal tra­di­tional and cus­toms. Try some ar­ti­san cheeses, grilled wild boar ten­der­loin, and some photo wor­thy desserts. Boma, a de­li­cious buf­fet op­tion, is open for break­fast and din­ner. At break­fast, en­joy press pot Kenyan cof­fee and at din­ner time, Kenyan cof­fee tartes. There are sev­eral soups, stew, sal­ads, en­trees, sides, and desserts from which to choose. Mara is the Quick Ser­vice din­ing op­tion, open for break­fast, lunch, din­ner, and late night din­ing. Here, you’ll find ev­ery­one’s fa­vorites—like ba­con cheese­burg­ers and chicken nuggets. At break­fast, try the Bobotie Plat­ter—an egg cus­tard with turkey, pep­pers and raisins with Chakalaka—and pap—a spicy South African rel­ish.

9. ROOMS

There are sev­eral room choices avail­able at An­i­mal King­dom Lodge, and one of the most ex­cit­ing op­tions is for larger fam­i­lies. Guests can book a Grand Villa, which can sleep up to 12 and has all the ameni­ties you could ever need! Washer and dryer, a full kitchen—com­plete with pots and pans, din­ing room, and four bath­rooms... Yes, four bath­rooms!

10. LO­CA­TION

An­i­mal King­dom Lodge is just over a mile away from the An­i­mal King­dom park, which means that it’s just a short bus ride from the new and ex­cit­ing Pan­dora!

An­i­mal King­dom Lodge has such a va­ri­ety of din­ing op­tions, spec­tac­u­lar pools, shop­ping, and unique ac­tiv­i­ties—there’s sure to be some­thing for ev­ery­one to love.

This Re­sort does have one sur­pris­ing re­quest of its Guests: bal­loons (even the big, shiny, sil­ver, Mickey Mouse ones from Magic King­dom) are not al­lowed. If you feel the urge to buy one, you’ll be re­quested to leave it with Bell Ser­vices for stor­age un­til you’re ready to leave. Bal­loons can be dan­ger­ous to the an­i­mals and this ex­tra step is just to keep them safe and sound. Dis­ney magic is ev­ery­where at An­i­mal King­dom Lodge! So join the ze­bras, the gi­raffes, and even the gazelles along the sa­van­nas for a va­ca­tion you’ll al­ways re­mem­ber.

If you’ve al­ready stayed at An­i­mal King­dom Lodge, we’d love to hear about your stay! Share your pho­tos and sto­ries on our Face­book page.

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