Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most unique on-property hotels. With a backyard savannah where animals roam and several of Disney World’s most highly touted restaurants, it is high on the Disney bucket list for many visitors. But is its more remote location too far for your family? Are the transportation choices sufficient? Leslie and Joe just returned from a Disney vacation where both of them stayed in Animal Kingdom Lodge. Learn the pros and the cons of AKL from their experiences.
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Animal Kingdom Lodge Basics
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Walt Disney World deluxe resort that opened in 2001. The resort is located the vicinity of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park – close but not close enough to walk.
The lodge is made up of two sections/buildings: Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the main building where all the hotel rooms are located. Kidani Village is a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) building.
What Makes Animal Kingdom Lodge Special
Animal Kingdom Lodge’s big draw is its unique theming. The resort could function as a standalone destination – more than probably any other Disney hotel property. Guests who stay here are going to want to make more time than usual to experience the property itself.
The plentiful on-site activities reflect its African theming. Look for cast members all over the lobby with a variety of offerings. We spotted wildlife skulls on display where kids could learn and have fun guessing the animal. There was also African music and wood carving demonstrations, in addition to all the other amenities one might expect from a Disney deluxe resort.
Guests of all ages will especially love the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s back yard, which opens up onto the savannah with giraffes and other animals in view.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Location & Transportation
Because of its location, transportation for guests at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is an important factor to consider before deciding to stay at this resort. The Animal Kingdom area is a bit removed from the rest of the Walt Disney World parks. This remote location can be both a pro and a con.
Bus service tends to be a bit more challenging than at many of the other resorts, especially among other deluxe resorts where transit often shines. In the summer season, with guests perhaps moving around more to escape the heat and summer thunderstorms, the waits could be long. The extra transit time due to the resort’s distance can make the transportation time that much worse.
Of course, if you are planning to spend more of your time at Animal Kingdom park, then the location could be ideal. If you have your own car or are okay budgeting for a Minnie Van or Uber/Lyft on occasion when you are in a hurry, then it could work too. For guests with younger kids who may need to return daily from the parks for a mid-afternoon nap, however, this hotel might not work for you.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Rooms
Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge, although nice, feel a bit smaller than at many other Disney deluxe resorts. They are not as tight as the rooms at value resorts by any means, but families might not find them spacious.
Standard rooms usually have two queens, but Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a number of rooms with one queen and a bunk bed which work well for families. Allowing each sibling to have his or her own bed can prevent burnout from too much family togetherness!
Note, however, that unlike some other Disney deluxe resorts that can sleep 5 to a room, standard rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge only sleep 4.
Many of the rooms at Animal Kingdom lodge are “savannah view” which will overlook the animals from the room’s balcony. Some of the rooms classified as having standard views, however, may have a partial view of the savannah. So it’s possible to luck out without the extra upcharge. Or, make your own luck by using TouringPlans.com’s Room Finder to request one of these secret rooms (learn how from TheDealMommy).
One final note for families: the vanity/sink area of Animal Kingdom Lodge is open to the rest of the room. Only the shower and toilet are behind a door. This layout may be disruptive if you have younger kids trying to sleep while other family members need to use the bathroom area.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurants
A big draw of AKL for many Disney guests is the restaurants. Jiko, Sanaa, and Boma are some of the more highly rated dining experiences at Disney. Food choices are a bit more exotic than the usual Disney fare, with African and Indian spices and unique vegetarian choices.
The breakfast buffet at Boma is a good option for parents looking to expose their kids to a few more exotic foods while still having plenty of favorites to fall back on.
The quick service restaurant, the Mara, is an easier choice for a speedier breakfast on-the-go or lunch by the pool.
Leslie and Joe give their impressions of Animal Kingdom Lodge. Is it a hotel worth staying in? What makes it unique? Plus information on the best rooms, restaurants, and more. As we will with all hotels, we discuss reasons TO stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge and reasons NOT to stay there and end with another edition of Disney dos and don’ts!
If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!
You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.
2:04 – Where is Animal Kingdom Lodge + AKL transportation
4:47 – What sets AKL apart, room locations, etc.
9:24 – AKL rooms
11:33 – AKL resort amenities: lobby activities, pools, & more
13:12 – Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants
15:41 – Why you should consider / should not consider AKL
18:55 – Disney dos and don’ts