AnimalKingdomLodge3Pre-party for setting sail with Disney Cruise Lines in Florida suggests a night at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Leaving the USA for African experiences before heading to the Caribbean jumbles cultural transition.  Seemed also to open me for receiving Disney magic onboard the ship.

Imagineering Disney-style is like a fourth culture with one holiday: home, Africa, Caribbean and magic.

Greater Kudu before breakfast

Sure, spacious windows in Jambo House, where I stayed the night before cruising, face the savanna surrounding the lodge, and a giraffe or greater kudu seemed as likely to wake me as my smart phone alarm.

Animals and the art of Africa fill every inch of the lodge in big, bold handsome style.


Mask-making is vitally important to the Igbo people of Nigeria and an enormous ceremonial mask stands tall in the Animal Kingdom Jambo House lobby.

Even the bathroom wallpaper is filled with figures of people and animals, lakes and mountains, location titles. Geography lesson while brushing my teeth – painless learning, this Disney Resort art and info.


Wash and brush in sight of African animals and the people living near them because the wallpaper tells stories of a continent.

The 11,000 square foot pool is named Uzima, meaning clear water, and African-style foods in the formal and casual restaurants gave me an alternative to basic find-it-anywhere cuisine.

Not to worry: the kids and you can order familiar eats too.

Double lodging choices

A ten-minute walk or Disney transport opens other experiences at the sister property named Kidani Village.

Jambo is a spacious building with a grand sweeping foyer; Kidani is a graceful flowing village. Here the Samawati Springs pool features a slide that’s 128-feet long.


Enormous insects light the lobby’s grand high ceiling; African-themed art is everywhere.

Ask for a safari

Show up early enough to do the three-hour afternoon safari with dinner for even closer experiences with the animals and architecture, culture and heritage. Maybe that suggests making the pre-cruise party two nights.

Fly in to Orlando for a Disney cruise and luggage will be checked through to Animal Kingdom Lodge, and next morning to the ship.

For me it was the brand-new just launched Fantasy, making seven-day journeys alternating eastern and western Caribbean.

Christine Tibbetts is a university-trained journalist with 40+ years writing for newspapers, public relations and marketing firms and arts and education organizations. She shares travel and life with a family blended by marriages and multiple encounters.

Top Photo: Jambo House is a handsome place inside and out.