So, this was the view from our hotel room in 2016! What a sight to wake up, it really was spectacular. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only resort on site which gives you the opportunity to wake up, open your curtains and look at a wide range (around 30 different types of animals and birds) of animals grazing on the Savannah, which provides a unique snapshot into their natural behaviour and habitat in the wild. Note: Although most rooms offer some sort of Savannah view, there are also Standard Rooms which don’t have views of the animals, we will discuss a way of perhaps upgrading your room a bit later on! This photo is showing you one of 4 Savannah’s which encircles the resort and provides some pretty wonderful views for guests staying here, and as a result of this over the years Animal Kingdom Lodge has become an absolute favourite of many Walt Disney Guests past and present, many of which continue to stay year after year. When we stayed here in 2016 we saw Giraffes, Vultures, Zebras, Flamingos, Okapi, Kudos, Gazelles and even some little rabbits, not very exotic but still cute! Your room even has a little guide to help you spot animals you wouldn’t normally recognise! This is a unique experience that you don’t get anywhere else, whilst we recognise that every resort hotel at Walt Disney World has it’s merits and reasons to stay, staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge in a Savannah view room absolutely made our holiday, it was special, relaxing and calm, and just completely mesmerising when looking at the animals from your balcony – you cannot fail to be completely impressed by it all, so take it all and enjoy the view!
The food choices are excellent. As a Deluxe resort, at Animal Kingdom Lodge you really are getting excellent choices for food when you stay there. Be it either a quick service breakfast or lunch at The Mara, buffet dinner at Boma – Flavours of Africa, (one of the tribes favourite, in fact it is a must do for us when we are there) a tasty and interesting twist on curry (we Brits love a curry after all!) at Sanaa, or if you are either on the Deluxe Dining Plan, which allows you a 2 credit table service meal every evening or are using 2 credits from the regular Dining Plan, you can also experience signature dining at Jiko – The Dining Place restaurant. For us, The Mara was a great place for an early breakfast before going into the parks, we generally went for the Bounty Platter which has your standard scrambled egg and waffle, but with the added inclusion of Pap and Chakalaka (traditional African fayre) which we really enjoyed. The Mara is also a very popular place for lunch, with guests coming from all over Disney, and with Animal Kingdom Lodge’s close proximity to the Animal Kingdom Park, it is a 5 minute bus journey for lunch which again has some interesting choices, including Potjie – a hearty beef stew served with Basmati rice and African bread. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea in the Florida sunshine, but nonetheless something else to try for lunch which isn’t burgers or nuggets!
In terms of dinner options, staying at Animal Kingdom gives you a flexible and diverse choice of food to eat, and if you want to go to a restaurant which gives you both of those things, choose Boma – Flavours of Africa. We think that Boma is one of the best table service restaurants on site, the food is always reliably hot, good quality and has a great choice for young and old alike. As a buffet restaurant, with a fixed price of $42.99 per adult (or one table service credit off your dining plan) make sure you eat plenty and sample all of the delights this restaurant has to offer. Top choices for us include Bobotie stew, Mulligatawny soup, Durban roasted Chicken, Seafood Gumbo, Spice-crusted Sirloin Beef and for dessert you must try the Zebra Domes (chocolate mousse covered in white chocolate with dark chocolate stripes!) or you can enjoy the fruit selection and cheeses too. Although Boma does also offer a buffet style breakfast, we think it’s at dinner that it really wins.
Sanaa is another excellent restaurant which is a popular choice for many Disney diners, and with the backdrop of the Savannah as you eat, makes for a great experience at dinner, where you can take in the surroundings and wonder at the splendour of the animals close by. The theme of the restaurant is a fusion of African/Indian curry and exotic tastes, starting off with a selection of bread and chutneys, followed by a selection of curries including Butter Chicken, Chicken Vindaloo (not anywhere near as a British version) Lentil Dhal and Basmati Rice. However if you are not a fan of curry, there is a good choice of other dishes which should cater for most of your tribe for example New York Strip and Fragrant Duck. Eat near to the window at Sanaa, and you might even have a giraffe come and say hello, how cool would that be!
Jiko – The Cooking Place will take 2 table service credits, so similarly to the other Signature dining experiences Disney has to offer, you will need to consider whether you and your tribe want to use 2 of your dining credits for one meal, and whether you think it is worth your while. Having read much about Signature dining (when deciding ourselves about whether to do it or not) we have to say that Jiko is a restaurant which has pretty favourable reviews, more so than other Signature restaurants. The great thing about Jiko (one of many) is that a) you can see the chefs preparing the food you are going to eat in the open kitchen – always nice to see we think, and b) after your meal has settled and you and your tribe are nicely full, you can walk straight out into the night air straight out into the grounds of the hotel, and the animals are literally there! This restaurant will really take you to Africa for a sensory experience which is difficult to beat across the whole resort, Botswana Beef, South African Wagu, and Moroccan Lamb Tagine, alongside vibrant and colourful decoration like a warm African sunset will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling (the South African Pinot Noir helps too!), so for us it’s a clear recommendation.
The Pool at Jambo House. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is divided into 2 areas, Jambo House where there is the main building, pool, restaurants and hotel rooms, but there is also Kidani Village, which is a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) area of the resort. Animal Kingdom Lodge can boast that it also has the biggest main swimming pool across all hotels in the Walt Disney World resort, the Uzima Springs pool. At 11,000 square feet in size, this pool pulls no punches in it’s size, and includes a seating area, waterslide, and beautifully landscaped trees and bushes surrounding it. There isn’t much of a feature with this pool unlike other resorts, but this bad boy doesn’t have to do that, it really speaks for itself! In fact, the pool here at Animal Kingdom Lodge is an important part of a wider programme of fun and recreation which Disney offers to its guests throughout the week, other activities include daily Disney Movie Under the Stars, campfires with marshmallows, bikes to hire, and the Community Hall which will keep your little (and not so little) ones occupied, just in case they think there isn’t enough to do?!!!
The Characters come to visit! Another reason why Animal Kingdom Lodge is such a great hotel to stay in, is that you do get regular visits from Mickey, Minnie and the gang! Being in close proximity to the Animal Kingdom, the characters do decide from time to time to make the short journey to Animal Kingdom Lodge, where they will meet and greet and say hello to people in the lobby, which is a really great surprise when you are on your way out to the bus stop to the parks! This hotel is not heavily themed or associated with any Disney character, but is just simply stunning in all aspects, and to also have the characters visit (which doesn’t happen at other hotels), it just makes you feel as though you are staying somewhere truly special…..and of course, you are.
Animal Kingdom Lodge has the best shop in the resort!!!! Having visited pretty much all of the resort hotels over the past 10 years, we have exited through many gift shops along the way! Zawadi Marketplace is our favourite shop! This shop has a charm of it’s own, which may sound a bit strange, but you can genuinely spend ages just perusing around everything the shop has in-store, and have a thoroughly pleasant time in the process! Note: do not be tempted to buy various small, cuddly and rather cute looking toys, they sell them in abundance in this shop, so try and curb your enthusiasm to buy, and save your pennies for another day!
Animal Kingdom Lodge is a thoroughly classy resort, from head to toe, and exemplifies the experience and service of a Disney Deluxe resort. You will feel special there, you will become immersed in the environment, your kids will love the sight of those animals, and the very grown up dining will hit the spot for you and your teens. You will become accustomed to hearing and saying “Jambo” during your stay, and after. Although busy and always full of people and African music, it is chilled, relaxing and inspiring. You will definitely ponder the “Circle of life” and our place in it, and for that Disney we applaud you.
- Note (If you haven’t booked a Savannah view room, and would like to upgrade, there’s no guarantee this can always be accommodated, however ask at the front desk when you arrive at check in if there are any of these rooms available. Disney will always try to give guests what they want, and if they can help you generally speaking they will. It’s also worth mentioning a special reason for why you’re making the trip, particularly if you’ve crossed the pond like we did! So our tip to you is just ask. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It could be worth your while.)