We were invited to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge free of charge for the opening of Toy Story Land, however, our opinions are our own.
Ask Disney lovers their dream hotel on Disney property and a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, is likely near the top of the dream list.
This hotel falls firmly in the Deluxe Resort classification, but one step inside the lobby and you will understand why it is considered a Deluxe Resort.
Can I be candid with you guys for a moment? Ok, good.
While there are certainly enough of the Disney touches to remind you that, yes, you are indeed saying on Disney property. Those of us (myself included) who after leaving the parks are ready to unwind and perhaps think about something non Disney related (blasphemy I know) will enjoy Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge
The rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge are tastefully done and surprisingly large for a Disney property. What’s more is the fact that the room that was assigned to us was classified as a standard room. I felt like we had the views that a guest would expect from a stay in the upgraded Savannah view rooms. Which was a huge bonus in my book. The balcony was, for sure, the highlight of our stay.
With giraffes, zebras, and other animals outside our door, it was common to hear squeals of “Oh my gosh, come look at the animals!”
To be honest, a stay in a hotel, with my youngest can become trying, at best. Does anyone else go through this? Your kiddo wants to go back to the room to explore, and then as soon as they get back there, they start getting crazy. But then everyone who made the trek back (aka: mom and dad) wants to enjoy the moment of downtime.
So, it was a huge relief to say “go see what kind of animals are outside of our door.” He willingly would go and report back to us about what he saw.
In addition to the obvious attraction of the animals, the room had the standard luxuries that you’ve begun to expect from a nice hotel. You can expect a mini fridge in your room, a small dining table and two chairs, a separate vanity area which comes in handy when you have multiple people getting ready at once.
The best features of Animal Kingdom Lodge
In keeping with Disney tradition, the hotel itself is a behemoth of a property. In fact, there is the main building of the property and in recent years with the addition of Disney Vacation Club Villas, the Jambo House was added. We stayed in the Jambo House property.
While the property is large and at times the walk from the main lobby to our room seemed to take forever, I delighted in finding tucked in quiet spots.
Just a few steps down from my door, was a quiet balcony with rocking chairs overlooking the area where the animals come and go from. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of a Disney trip, my easily overwhelmed self takes solace in finding the quiet spots. The best part is, people seemed to zip past this spot in their hurry to get to the parks, leaving time for me to gather my thoughts and gear up for the day.
Just like the other deluxe and moderate Walt Disney World Resort properties, you can enjoy a nightly campfire. So, pull up your seat and start toasting your marshmallow!
While you are budgeting for your stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge, make sure you add in some wiggle room for theE, arcade that is on site. You likely won’t be able to avoid it because it is super close to the pool.
The Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge
It is a well known fact that Disney has some of the best pools around, and the pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge is certainly no exception.
My little guy loved going down the water slide repeatedly, and I loved the fact that Disney provides life jackets free of charge for those who need a bit of an extra boost while swimming.
Just steps away from the pool is a hot tub as well as a ping pong table that was throughly enjoyed by my family.
Restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge
In the effort of full disclosure, we really didn’t have much time to eat on site. However when we did eat at the resort it was for breakfast and we made our stop at The Mara.
This is a grab and go breakfast, lunch and dinner spot. It worked well for us as we had our days extremely planned like most folks do.
Jiko – The Cooking Place –
Jiko, is hands down the most formal of the restaurants on the Animal Kingdom Lodge property. It requires a reservation, has a dress code and entrees range from $35 to $59.99 for adults.
Boma is another spot that I have heard wonderful reviews from. It would be advised to secure a reservation before trying to eat there. Boma serves breakfast and lunch.
Sanaa, serves breakfast (without a reservation) lunch and dinner (reservations needed) all over looking the animals.
Takeaways from our time at Animal Kingdom Lodge
After our stay, we left loving our time there, my youngest as I was writing this and asking him his thoughts, lit up and said are we going back?!
Animal Kingdom Lodge is my favorite Disney Resort (that I’ve stayed in), however there are some things to consider:
The resort is far flung from the parks and as always with Disney transportation, it is not always the most timely options to wait for a bus. There were time that we waited and waited for a bus from the parks to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Often we decided to Uber it back to the resort, which if you haven’t built that into your budget can add up very quickly.
I’ve never felt comfortable just hanging out in a hotel lobby, don’t ask me why but I really never have. The Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby is enormous and there is so much to take it, that you will want to sit and stay for a while, trust me on this.
Should you get drenched by the rain while waiting out a storm in the parks and your bags are already packed in the car, you can purchase a whole new outfit in the gift shop directly off of the aforementioned beautiful lobby before the lengthy drive home.
There is no real convenient spot to grab a cup of coffee on the way to the park, if you aren’t stopping at Mara for breakfast. So, if you were planning to skip the in room coffee maker, don’t. Otherwise, you’ll be sad the whole bus ride to the parks.
Let’s address the other elephant in the room (pun totally not intended) the price point. It is not exactly an inexpensive hotel option. While in one of my other articles I discussed my thoughts on if the Grand Floridian is worth the cost, I say confidently that yes, Animal Kingdom Lodge is worth the starting point of $345 per night.