When I found out I would have the chance to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge twice while at Disney this year, I was extremely excited. The Animal Kingdom Lodge was like my dream resort. Animal Kingdom is arguably my favorite park, and the safari is my favorite thing to do there. So the idea of having those animals roaming around right where I was staying was incredible!
Animal Kingdom is split into two main buildings: Kidani Village, which is DVC, and Jambo House. The first time I stayed there I was in a studio DVC room at Kidani village, and the second time it was a DVC studio at Jambo House. Kidani was very pretty, but not quite as spectacular as Jambo. The building is sort of laid out in an L-shape, and when I stayed there I was way at the tip of the L. That meant it was quite a trek to the lobby to catch the buses in the morning – I used my pedometer one day and it was about .35 miles from my room to the bus stop. A bit much at the end of the day when you are already exhausted from walking around the parks. Jambo house has a different sort of layout, and while you can also be rather far from the lobby it doesn’t seem as bad as at Kidani. However, the layout of Jambo house was a little confusing… we got lost a few times! But both building are just beautiful and have a great safari feel to them. The decor is gorgeous, and there are fun quotes on the walls from Africa. And of course, you have lots of windows to look out and see all of the animals!
Both times I stayed I was fortunate enough to have a savanna view room. That meant that the animals were right down below me. It was one of the most incredible things to wake up in the morning and see those animals outside. The Lodge has zebras, giraffes, okapi, waterbuck, ankole cattle, and a number of other animals. They tend to have their own certain areas, so chances are you’ll see the same few animals outside of your window. However, all around the lobby there are places to go out and view the animals. That’s where you’ll see the most popular ones, like the zebras and giraffes.
The studio rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge are very nice. There is one king size bed and a pull out couch that can sleep two. The first time I went I was by myself, and the second time it was just my husband and me, so the studio was plenty big for us. The decor of the room goes well with the rest of the resort. And we had a wonderful balcony that you could watch the animals from. Sometimes in the evening I would just go out and sit there for awhile. All of the decor at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the perfect balance of African-inspired and Disney magic.
There are 4 places to eat at the Animal Kingdom Lodge: Sanaa, Boma, Jiko, and the Mara. Sanaa is at Kidani Village and the rest of them are in Jambo House. One slightly inconvenient thing about Kidani is that Sanaa is the only restaurant, and it’s a sit down place. So if you’re just looking for a fast, counter service meal, you have to head over the Jambo House. Sanaa is the only one of the four that I haven’t tried. Dinner at Boma was incredible – it’s a buffet with African foods, and I loved it. We also had breakfast there and that was good, but not really anything terribly special to us. Jiko is the signature restaurant and it was also amazing. It’s definitely more pricey but some of the best food we’ve ever had anywhere. And in terms of counter service, the Mara is a great option. While it does have your more typical items like burgers and chicken, there are also some unique choices such as a chicken pita, African stew, or flatbreads.
Animal Kingdom Lodge also has two gift shops, one in each building. The one in Jambo House is bigger and the main one. Kidani has a smaller one with some of the essentials and DVC merchandise. Plus, since Kidani doesn’t have a counter service restaurant their shop has a soda machine so you can use your refillable mugs there. We didn’t get a chance to try any of the activities offered at the resort since we were so busy in the parks, but there are tons of things going on at Animal Kingdom Lodge. In addition to the swimming pools and arcade they offer movies, games, and learning sessions where you can do things like learn about the animals, experience African culture, or learn to play the drums.
I would stay here every other trip if I could! (And the only reason why I wouldn’t spend every trip here is because I want to try new places). A lot of people fear the transportation isn’t good because Animal Kingdom Lodge is far from the other parks. It’s true that it’s not as convenient as being at the Contemporary or the Boardwalk, but the transportation really didn’t seem that bad. It usually took me about 20 minutes to get the main parks, and I only ever waited about 10 minutes for a bus. That’s about on par with what I’ve experienced at the moderate resorts. Plus, when you go to Animal Kingdom it only takes you about 5 minutes to get there!
Have you ever stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge? What did you think?