Welcome, or as they say at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, jambo. The Animal Kingdom Lodge (or the AKL, if you're fancy) is arguably the most unique of the Disney Deluxe Resorts - it has all the conveniences and comfort you'd expect from a Disney Deluxe Resort, set in a 43 acre wildlife preserve. It's what I always imagined going on safari would be, but with indoor plumbing.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is actually two buildings - the main lodge, Jambo House, and the newer Kidani Village. Both areas boast the same fantastic views of the "savannah," detailed African decor, and access to some of the best restaurants on WDW property. When you cross the threshold into Jambo House, you are immediately transported to a another world, filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of Africa. This is Disney detail at its finest:
|Inside Jambo House|
|Inside a room off the main lobby|
The guest rooms have a lovely African theme, with subtle Lion King touches:
|Inside the shower|
And the animals? You'll see them - everywhere, and often. Each room comes with a private balcony - a nice place to enjoy breakfast (we usually buy breakfast at the Main Street Bakery or various Epcot pavilions as we're leaving the parks each night). It's an open savannah, so the animals come and go as they please. You never know what will be waiting for you when you look out your windows!
|Giraffes and cattle|
|Zebra (taken from the lobby level)|
Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a fitness center, family activities, bike rentals, a jogging trail, an arcade, a playground, and two pools. Toss in two of the best restaurants WDW has to offer - Boma, home of the legendary breakfast buffet (and the fruit juice cocktail I've been craving for months), and Jiko, home of the famous filet-and-mac-and-cheese entree, and you've got a true all-in-one resort. Sanaa, located at Kidani Village, falls somewhat short, in my opinion, and the Mara offers more budget-friendly cafeteria style dining. Mara is a step above some of the cafeteria offerings at the other WDW resorts, serving African-style dishes like African stew in bread bowls and African-spiced chicken. And for the adults, there is a lounge that serves cocktails and small bites well into the night.
If there is a drawback to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it's the location. Not surprisingly, it's located by Disney's Animal Kingdom, but it's a hike to get to the other parks. As in, about a 20 minute bus ride. This can be a little rough in the morning, when the buses are crowded (and maybe this is just my own impatience, but it seems like the buses don't run as frequently as they should, considering the travel time). But that's a small price to pay for such a unique, immersive, unforgettable hotel experience. If you're looking to try something new on your next trip, I definitely suggest heeding the call of the wild and booking a stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make astop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Disney's Contemporary Resort
2nd Stop ~ Disney's Polynesian Resort
3rd Stop ~ Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
4th Stop ~ Disney's Yacht & Beach Club
5th Stop ~ Disney's Wilderness Lodge
6th Stop ~ Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Final Stop ~ Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
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