Animal Kingdom Lodge

The view upon entering the lobby is a breathtaking sight. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist / Healthy TravelingMom

It’s true that nobody travels to Walt Disney World to enjoy the hotels alone. The theme parks are the main attraction here; where you stay is just the icing on the cake. If that’s the case, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the yummiest icing you’ll ever taste!

We discovered this first hand on a recent trip to Orlando. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most meticulously themed resorts at Disney World. Embodying the essence of an African lodge, this resort is the perfect blend of nature, art and architecture. From the moment you enter, you are entrenched in the motif. The lobby is soaring, vast and bright, with a 4-story tall wall of glass overlooking the resort’s Savannah. It features cozy sitting areas, a massive fire place, and a large collection of African art.

Animals Everywhere

Animal Kingdom Lodge

A view of the Savannah from a third floor balcony. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist / Healthy TravelingMom

This resort is all about the animals. They are incorporated into the architecture, the décor, and of course the outdoors. Zebras, giraffes, antelope, kudus, gazelles and other exotic wildlife and birds roam around the resort.

Even if you don’t opt for a Savannah view room, there are plenty of public decks and look-out areas that offer outstanding views. The outdoor areas have informational signage and there are cast members (many African natives) stationed all over to answer your questions about the animals.

Activities and Surprises

Of course, Animal Kingdom Lodge offers what you’d expect at a Disney Deluxe resort: a huge pool with waterslide, hot tubs, arcade, playground, spa, and kids club, along with some fun surprises, like the wallpaper.

It also offers some amazing activities that can only happen here. Our favorite was night-vision animal viewing, where you can don special goggles and check out the animals’ nighttime movements. There is also nightly storytelling by the campfire, and an abundance of free animal-themed activities for kids, such as flamingo feeding, African arts and crafts, and animal tracking.

Unique & Family Friendly Rooms

Animal Kingdom Lodge is divided into two main areas: Jambo House, which is the main guest building, and Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club villas. Each has its own pool and recreational areas.

We stayed at Jambo House. For the best views, book a Savannah view room. To save money, book a pool view or standard room. You won’t get to see animals from your private balcony, but the rooms still offer all the same amenities at a much lower rate.

Available room layouts include two queen beds, one king bed, and one queen and a set of bunk beds. We stayed in a room with bunk beds, which was a real treat for my son who got to sleep on the top bunk. Like the rest of the resort, all rooms are intricately detailed and lovely. Each has a furnished private balcony. Refrigerators are also included in all rooms. This comes in super handy for storing snacks, milk and breakfast items.

Exotic Dining

Public viewing areas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge feature free binoculars to zoom in on the wildlife. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist / Healthy TravelingMom

Public viewing areas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge feature free binoculars to zoom in on the wildlife. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist / Healthy TravelingMom

If your family is adventurous enough to want to try new foods, Disney’s food options at Animal Kingdom are a great place to start. Onsite restaurants include Boma, a colorful buffet with the perfect mix of African and American dishes. It is open for breakfast and dinner. The more upscale Jiko – The Cooking Place is the fine dining option, with an extensive and exotic menu. It also serves more traditional fare such as steaks and ribs.

The Mara is Animal Kingdom Lodge’s quick service food court. There are not as many food choices as you’d expect for a resort of this size, but the food is tasty. Located adjacent to the pool, you can eat inside or take your food out to the poolside tables. This is a great low-key, inexpensive dinner option, especially if the weather is nice and your kids don’t want to miss any swimming time. We ended up doing this on two nights of our trip.

Great Things About This Hotel

  • The animals! The views!
  • Lots of free family-friendly activities
  • Big pool with a kid-pleasing water slide
  • Amazing theming throughout the resort
  • Free parking and free bus transportation to all the theme parks

Not So Great Things

  • As one of Disney’s Deluxe resorts, the Animal Kingdom Lodge is also among the priciest. The food court is small and does not have a very varied selection
  • Bus transportation runs frequently, but the ride to the various parks can take as long as 30 minutes

Get your African safari adventure started by visiting the official website for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Healthy Tip for this Destination

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a lushly landscaped resort with ample walking paths. Start your day with an invigorating walk or jog before hitting the parks. (Hello, zebras and flamingos! You can’t tell me that is something you get to see on your average daily walk.) There are also two fitness centers: Survival of the Fittest at Kidani Village and Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center at Jambo House. The Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center is the larger of the two. Even though the facility features sleek state-of-the-art exercise equipment, it carries that warm, African-themed feel. And the treadmills face floor to ceiling windows, so you’ll enjoy a view of the resort while you work out.

Read more: Where to walk, run and train at the Disney World Resorts.