I’m so excited to share my Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Review! Finally! We were supposed to stay here back in 2010, but a few weeks before we were set to leave we received a letter stating the pool was going to be closed. At the last minute we decided to switch hotels to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, so we never got to stay at Animal Kingdom. So finally, five and a half years later, here we are!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort reminds me a lot of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, only it’s much more beautiful. Rather than the Wilderness Lodge’s dark and rustic feel, guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge are transported to Africa. There’s a large picture window just off the lobby that’s so stunning. It showcases one of the savannah’s, and is so pretty.
You don’t have to stay here in order to see the animals, and, although far, it’s worth the trip just to eat at some of the wonderful onsite restaurants (Jiko, Boma, Sanaa). But before I get to the food, let’s talk about the animals, because that’s WHY you stay here! Just off the lobby, visitors can spot giraffe’s, flamingos, etc. There are guides to answer questions about the animals, and I love all the fun facts they share!
The best part about staying here is that you’re able to view the animals from the privacy of your own balcony. The above savannah (which the public can view) is Animal Kingdom Lodge’s main savannah, called the Arusha savannah. A lot of people request to overlook this one. I say don’t. See the above photo of other guests balconies? It’s not very private.
We didn’t request our room to be located anywhere specific, and we ended up with a FABULOUS view on the SUNSET savannah. If we ever stay here again, we’d be sure to request this one. There were just as many animals as on the Arusha savannah (all the savannah’s connect), but it was a more enjoyable experience because of the privacy. It was a small slice of African heaven in the heart of Disney World! The only downside to our fabulous room was that it was FAR from the lobby. Honestly though, it was perfectly fine, and worth it.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort is huge. There are so many rooms, and you won’t find a main elevator bank here. Instead, single elevators are placed down long hallways throughout the hotel. Those looking to be near the lobby, note that it’s on the second level!
Overall, I preferred the quietness of being far away from the main hustle and bustle of the lobby, and closer to the animals.
Our room was located on the 5th floor, and pretty much alllllll the way down the hall.
The theming is ON POINT. It made me long to go on a real African safari! I LOVED our room.
My favorite in room amenity is the Wildlife Spotting Guide! We had SO MUCH FUN sitting on our balcony and checking off and identifying all the animals we saw!
Despite being a Disney World hotel, they don’t shove it in your face. Disney’s here, but it’s subtle. Think more of classy safari than characters. Honestly, we really loved it! But don’t fret if you still want to see the mouse. If you look really hard, you’ll find him!
TIP: Rent points and stay DVC here. The DVC villas are located right in Jambo House, on the top floor. They are not only cheaper than a regular room (even when you add in daily housekeeping), but offer the BEST views. We LUCKED OUT. We booked a standard view, and received one of the reclassified savannah rooms. These are rooms that were once considered a savannah view, but people complained it wasn’t unobstructed. So, Disney reclassified them. I can’t even imagine what a savannah view looks like, because I thought our view was spectacular, even with the obstructions. Obstructions include pathways, small dirt roads, and fire pens, which are fenced off areas within the savannah’s. In case of a fire, guests are placed into them until the animals can be cleared. We could see one from our room. It was off to the side and in no way obstructed our view.
Here are some pictures of our view!
This is looking to the right from sitting down on our balcony. The fire pen is more below, and further to the right (which you can’t see in this picture, or while sitting down). As you can see, there are pathways, which for some reason “obstructs” the view. People, I tell you!
This is standing up (on a different day), looking straight ahead. Again, there’s a pathway in the back, but it’s still a pretty spectacular view. The building in the very back is Kidani, which houses more Disney Vacation Club villas. They are a different bus stop from the main house (Jambo), and honestly, we wouldn’t consider staying anywhere but Jambo House, as it’s just so convenient.
One of our favorite moments was when we got back from Blizzard Beach at the end of the day. It started to pour, and the rain for some reason made all the animals come out! Check out the zebra in the back rolling around in the dirt (pictured below)!
The rain only lasted for about 15 minutes, and I don’t know what it was about the Sunset savannah, but towards the end of the downpour a TON of animals wandered over to us. We ended up being late to dinner, because neither of us wanted to get ready!
There wasn’t much to see at night, still a few zebra’s, and mostly birds.
The biggest draw to this resort is obviously being able to see the animals from your balcony (if you book a savannah view, or luck out with a reclassified room).
The biggest drawback are the buses, which is what has us not returning any time soon (although we definitely WOULD return!).
This is the ONLY Disney deluxe hotel in which you can’t take a boat, walk, or monorail to anything. The ONLY Disney transportation option here is bus. Of course, it also makes this place one of the least expensive Disney deluxe hotels, but at what cost?
The bus to/from the Animal Kingdom park is a breeze, and very quick. The bus to Magic Kingdom took 40 minutes.
I also thought the pool was a bit of a let down. It looks SO BIG in pictures, but it’s really not that large. Maybe because we were coming off a stay at a resort where our pool was Stormalong Bay, which is huge, or are used to other Orlando pools, but the pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort was… eh. We had originally set aside time to swim, because we heard such amazing things about the pool here, but after seeing it we weren’t impressed. So instead we parked ourselves on our balcony to animal watch. It never got old.
There are a ton of wonderful restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort, so whether you stay here or not, don’t miss out on my personal favorite, Jiko. We never ate here before this trip, because we didn’t want to take a bus all the way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, but I think from now on we may. It’s worth it.
The theming (even in the bathrooms) is SO GOOD…
The restaurant overlooks pretty gardens…
And while you eat the sun literally sets (the walls change color to reflect the sunset). It’s such an amazing effect!
We started out with the Wild Boar appetizer. For dinner, Mr. ADOL got the chicken, and I got the Filet (with hands down THE MOST AMAZING mac and cheese ever).
I will certainly be making the trek to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort if for nothing else a repeat of this meal.
Bottom line? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort is worth a try. You be the judge if your fabulous savannah view outweighs the transportation and remoteness! I say it’s worth it.