Walt Disney World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Summary

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is perhaps one of the most spectacularly themed resorts across all of Disney’s properties.  Opening in 1991, Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the newer Disney World hotels inside the Epcot resort area.  Animal Kingdom Lodge is designed to represent Africa or more specifically the southern, eastern and central regions of Africa.

The main building called Jambo House has a large glass wall that looks onto the Savana which is the main area outside where animals are free to roam.  This is perhaps the greatest distinction of this hotel.  Just outside of your room you will almost always see animals roaming free.  Another key feature is the Arusha Fire Pit located just outside the back of the main building where you can get amazing views of the animals.  Additionally the fire pit is used for toasted marshmallows and in the night time using night vision goggles to spot animals not seen during the day.

With the combination of great activities, live animals and optional safari’s this hotel has it all.  So much so you could forgo park passes and just spend your time exploring the hotel.  For those with little ones, this hotel will delight and amaze.

  • The Uzima Springs Pool Bar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - AKL - Walt Disney World - Animal Kingdom
    The Uzima Springs Pool Bar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Dinning

Animal Kingdom Lodge has 4 dinning options all of which bring varying levels of African inspired cuisine and decor.

  • Jiko – The Cooking Place The primary upscale table service restaurant.  At Jiko you can expect food influenced by Africa, India and Europe as well as authentic wines from South Africa.  The setting is of an African lodge with a natural earth tone feeling in addition the restaurant surrounds an open style kitchen which includes two wood burning ovens.
    Disney Dinning Plan: 2 Table Service Credits
  • Boma — Flavors of Africa  A buffet style/family style eatery with an African theme therefore the restaurant is designed with a very option kitchen much like Jiko.  Boma is actually located opposite to Jiko in the main building (Jambo House).
    Disney Dinning Plan: 1 Table Service Credit
  • The Mara — A table service restaurant located near the pool with a fairly light African theme compared to the other restaurants in this resort.  The Mara has your traditional “North American” food staples like pizza and hamburgers but also has some ethnic interpretations for those looking for a bit more adventure.
    Disney Dinning Plan: Table Service & Snack Credits Accepted
  • Sanaa — Inspired by the spice routes of Africa, India and China Sanna is (in my view) one of the more authentic dinning experiences at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Sanaa overlooks the beautiful Savannah and draws inspiration from the earthy colours of spices used in cooking.  Sanaa is located in the Kidani Village (another building attached only by a 1/2 mile walking path), keep this in mind as you need to take the Bus or walk to get there.  If you are staying at Kidani Village this is the one and only restaurant, every other restaurant is in Jambo House.
    Disney Dinning Plan: 1 Table Service Credit

Lounges & Bars

  • Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar — Jambo House – Alcohol Only
    Disney Dinning Plan: No Dinning Plan
  • Maji Pool Bar — Kidani Village – Alcohol and Dinning
    Disney Dinning Plan: Table Service & Snack Credits Accepted
  • Sanaa Lounge — Kidani Village – Alcohol and Appetizers
    Disney Dinning Plan: No Dinning Plan
  • Victoria Falls Lounge — Jambo House – Alcohol & Appetizers
    Disney Dinning Plan: No Dinning Plan

Rooms

Animal Kingdom Lodge has two main types of room they are the “Disney Vacation Club Villas” and the “Standard Room” so you have lots of choice.  Generally speaking the main building or Jambo House has more standard rooms then villas.  Kidani Village on the other hand is primarily built for villas which means you have pretty good chances of being in Kidani Village if you are traveling with DVC points.

The Disney Vacation Club “Villas” include some additional features that a standard room does not such as a microwave, toaster, a small sink and some basic kitchen supplies such as paper towel, knives and forks and dish soap and sponges.  Another other nice addition you will find a fold out crib for those little ones so you don’t need to lug your own around keep in mind as you move up in room types to one-bedroom you will find a washer and dryer as well as several other fun additions including a full size fridge.

In the standard room which are like standard hotel rooms  you don’t get the microwave but still have a mini-fridge. The only way of heating anything is using the coffee maker and for t those who like tea expect it to have a bit of a coffee flavour, we have also asked room service / housekeeping and no, they don’t have kettles.

Standard Room Amenities:

  • Hair Dryer
  • Coffee Maker
  • In-room Safe
  • Mini-fridge
  • WiFi Internet (although I find it can be SLOW)
  • Telephone
  • Alarm Clock
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • DVD Player
  • Flat-panel television

Studio Villas (Disney Vacation Club) includes everything above plus:

  • Toaster
  • Microwave
  • Pack ‘n Play® Crib

Jambo House vs Kidani Village

Jambo House is the main and largest building at Animal Kingdom Lodge which mostly has standard rooms and on the top floor villas.  Jambo House has most of the dinning and food options as well as events and special excursions like the night time safari.  Kidani Village is a bit smaller of a resort however does have a restaurant as well as lounge.  Jambo House and Kidani Village are connected by an about 1/2 mile walking path or by bus however there is no other method to travel between both buildings so it can be a little bit of a pain.  Additionally busses traveling to and from parks will stop at both resorts.

Generally speaking, I personally prefer Jambo House as its more centrally located and has more dining options however that also means its busier.  Kidani Village is quite and a bit more intimate.  Both are amazing resorts and being at either creates an amazing experience.

Shops & Stores

Jambo House and Kidani Village both have shops to buy Disney merchandise but also to buy some food staples and assorted drinks.  Johari Treasures is in Kidani Village and its a bit smaller than the shop in Jambo House however as far as we can ever tell has about the same stuff.  Zawadi Marketplace inside Jambo House is very large, perhaps one of the largest single shops on a resort property.

Disney Transportation

(Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Biggest Negitive)

The only form of transit at Animal Kingdom Lodge is bus and for a deluxe resort the bus does not come that often to the theme parks.  In addition when you have finished your day or night at the parks and want to get home you can expect that bus ride to take much longer than a monorail or walk would, it even takes longer than the resort boats and those can take forever.

Given the number of scooters and mobility aids around the parks you can expect an extra 5 to 10 minutes if you are lucky to get the scooters on the bus.  You will also have to stop at Kidani Village which may only take 5 to 10 more minutes but at the end of a long day at the parks it can feel like forever.

I really hope Disney increases the frequency of buses especially when the fireworks shows wrap up at the various parks.  We have used the busing from every theme park and none of them are quick other than Animal Kingdom.  Magic Kingdom will take the longest as its the farthest away.

Amenities  & Events

  • Uzima Pool
  • Samawati Springs Pool [Kidani Village]
  • Simba’s Cubhouse [Children’s Activity Centre – Cost of $15/child]
  • Jambo House Campfire Activities
  • Hakuna Matata Playground
  • Jogging Trail [~ 1/2 mile / 0.8 kilometres]
  • Pumbaa’s Fun and Games Arcade
  • Movies Under the Stars
  • Campfires & Marshmallow Roasts
  • Survival of the Fittest Fitness Centre
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Barbecue Area
  • Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center

Special Events & Tours

Animal Kingdom Lodge also has some additional tours and special events that is in many ways unique to this resort, so we highly recommend you try a few of these.  Generally speaking there is an additional cost to them.

  • Sense of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – $249 – Connect to the culture of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with a backstage tour featuring animal encounters, breakfast and more.
  • Starlight Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – $75 – Set out on an immersive safari adventure reminiscent of a nighttime drive through an African game reserve!

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