“I shee aminals”…. my not-quite-two-year old son pressed his nose against the balcony door of our savanna-view room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and shouted out in excitement. I’ve been to quite a few of the properties on site at Walt Disney World, but I have to admit that one of my favorites is the Animal Kingdom Lodge – a resort I’ve been to numerous times. The coziness of the resort, combined with the animal viewing, makes it a fun stay – regardless of how old your kids are.
We stayed at this resort during our second family vacation to Walt Disney World, and my kids absolutely loved it. It’s a deluxe resort hotel, and a savanna-view room with a great view of the animals can be a bit expensive. But, it’s definitely a fun splurge for families.
Disclosure: I paid for my first two stays at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I shot the video featured here during my third stay, where I had a complimentary night. I also stayed there at no cost during the Pandora event. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included. If you click on these links, I may make a profit at no additional cost to you.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the deluxe Walt Disney World hotels, and as you may guess, it’s located closest to the Animal Kingdom theme park. As a result of that, it’s a little further from the other resorts and the other parks, which was one of our concerns before my family visited for the first time – and a concern I often hear from other families. You’ll need to take a bus to all four theme parks, so you do give up some convenience that you may get with the other deluxe resorts.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is an African themed resort built on a 33-acre wildlife preserve with three savannas, and over 30 species of wildlife. We always book a savanna-view room, which means that we are able to see animals outside our porch door. This definitely does not disappoint! I think our kids actually prefer watching the animals to going to the parks sometimes, so it’s good to do a little of both.
Rooms at the Animal Kingdom Resort
When booking your Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort room, you’ll have several options for rooms. Within Jambo House (the original building), you’ll find standard view rooms (with a king bed or two queen beds), pool view rooms, and savanna view rooms.
There are also bunk bed rooms, which include one queen bed and one set of bunk beds. If you have a family like mine, with a boy and a girl, these bunk bed rooms can be a fantastic option so that the kids don’t have to share a bed. Portable cribs are available, like at the other Disney resorts.
Club level rooms are also offered at this resort. With these rooms, you’ll get access to the club level, which includes refreshments from 7am to 10pm daily. Although these rooms are definitely more expensive, you can save some money by eating breakfast and other meals in the club.
Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers Kidani Village, which is the Disney Vacation Club property. This is a newer building within the resort, and it has a separate pool, check-in, bus stop, and restaurant. This building offers villas, which have more room than the standard hotel rooms.
The guest rooms at Jambo House are clean and nice, but a bit on the small side. I think they are somewhat smaller than those at the other deluxe Disney resorts – and the furniture is also larger making the room seem smaller. If a savanna-view room isn’t in the budget, don’t worry – there are numerous animal viewing locations throughout the resort. Depending on your vacation plans, it may not be worth the extra money to get the view, especially if you aren’t planning to spend too much time in your room. But if your kids love animals, it’s a nice splurge.
The rooms offer African themed furnishings, refrigerators, safe, complimentary WiFi, in room coffee maker, iron, and hairdryer. Standard toiletries are also offered.
Restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge
One of my favorite things about the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the delicious restaurants on property. There are several offered, in different formats/price ranges. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort, you may consider booking at least one meal.
The Mara is the food court style quick service restaurant at the resort. It offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and this is where you’ll refill your mug if you purchase one. If you eat at the Mara while you are at the resort, definitely try the zebra domes dessert. These are one of my favorite treats at Walt Disney World, and you can only get them at this one resort.
Jiko – The Cooking Place is the signature restaurant at the resort. It’s one of my favorite restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort, and features African inspired dishes and wines. The filet mignon is one of my favorite dishes of everything I’ve eaten at WDW. If you’ve got picky kids, you can still dine at Jiko, despite the exotic menu. While there are some more adventurous dishes on the kids’ menu, there are also several kid-friendly items like macaroni and cheese and pizza.
Boma – Flavors of Africa is a buffet restaurant offering breakfast and dinner, located adjacent to Jiko. We’ve been there for both breakfast and dinner and have really enjoyed it. Again, much of the menu is African inspired, but there are definitely some things on the buffet that will appeal more to those who are a bit picky.
Over in Kidani Lodge, you’ll find the newest restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Sanaa offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s located in the Sunset Savanna, so depending on your table, you may be able to see animals roaming around outside.
The cuisine at Sanaa is also African, but there is also some Indian influence in the dishes. If you like Indian food, you definitely should visit Sanaa during your Walt Disney World vacation. If you go, be sure to order the delicious Indian bread service with bread and dips. It’s definitely a must have! We visited several years ago on Thanksgiving, and really enjoyed our meal.
In addition to these restaurants, there are some lounges and pool bars located throughout the resort. These include Victoria Falls, Cape Town Lounge, Sanaa Lounge, and the Maji Pool Bar. I especially love the atmosphere at Victoria Falls. Room service is offered, if you’d rather just stay in.
Amenities at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
There are so many family-friendly amenities at the resort that you may consider spending a day at the resort without buying park tickets for the day.
Most evenings while staying at the resort, we wandered around, checking out the various animals. Each savanna has different animals to see, so even if you have a savannah-view room, it’s worth walking around. We saw an amazing assortment of animals – every single day! I’ve even enjoyed walking around the resort on days when we stayed elsewhere, but dined at the Animal Kingdom Resort.
The resort also offers the Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center. In addition to workout equipment, you can get a massage or facial right at the resort. There are also two pools – the the Uzima Springs Pool and the Samawati Springs Pool (one at each part of the resort). The Uzima Springs Pool includes a waterslide with a zero-entry pool, while the Samawati Springs Pool offers a waterslide, zero-entry pool, and a small water playground. Every time we’ve stayed at the resort, we’ve spent lots of time at the pool.
There’s also a playground, an arcade, and gift shops. The resort offers activities like outdoor movies and campfire activities. When you arrive at the resort, you’ll be able to get a schedule of these events.
Like other Walt Disney World resort hotel guests, those staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge have access to a number of benefits. These include the complimentary Magical Express from the Orlando International Airport, MagicBands, access to Magic Hours, and the ability to schedule FastPasses 60 days in advance of your vacation. There’s a concierge in the lobby that can help you make any additional reservations that you need.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is a fantastic resort, and it’s likely that your whole family will love the experience! You can read more reviews here.
For more in-depth information on the Animal Kingdom Lodge, check out my video.