Best Hotel: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.