Since 2001, Animal Kingdom Lodge has been wowing guests with one of the most unique resort properties on Walt Disney World. To this day, it’s still an amazing place to book your family vacation. It’s like leaving Florida and stepping into an authentic African lodge that looks over a savanna. See why the resort should be on your family’s bucket list and the reasons why you might pick it over the other on-property Disney hotels.
Animal Kingdom Lodge has two buildings that compose the entire resort – Jambo House and Kidani Village. Kidani Village opened in 2009 as a Disney Vacation Club property, which is part of Disney’s timeshare program. Even if you aren’t a Disney Vacation Club member, you can stay in either building. They’re about 1/2 mile walk away from each other or a quick shuttle ride.
Throughout my resort highlights below, I’ll specify if it’s part of Jambo House or Kidani Village. No matter which building you’re staying in, or if you’re a DVC Member or not, you can use the amenities on both sides of the resort. That’s the beauty of being a guest at Animal Kingdom Lodge – guests can switch between the amenities of both buildings.
10 Reasons To Stay At Animal Kingdom Lodge (Disney World)
Since adding the Kidani DVC building, the resort has only gotten better – with even more amenities. It’s considered a Deluxe Resort Hotel with Deluxe Villas too.
The Beautiful Savanna Views
No matter what type of room you book at Animal Kingdom Lodge, all of the guests have the opportunity to enjoy the savanna. Animals that are native to African savannas roam the outdoor resort areas. The pricer resort rooms look over the savanna (with other rooms having pool views or parking lot views).
Every guest room has a Wildlife Field Guide that can assist you in identifying the savanna animals – over 200 of them!
You don’t need to book a savanna view room to enjoy the animals though. Just walking throughout the resort grounds, you’ll find plenty of enclaves that offer indoor and outdoor viewing areas. Several of the resort restaurants also offer great opportunities to see the animals.
Pro Tip: Ask for a room near a watering hole for the ultimate animal views
Shutterbugs and kids especially love this reason to stay at the lodge. You’ll see guests outside on their balconies taking photos and watching Animal Specialists feed the animals. There are even opportunities to talk to Animal Specialists to ask them about the animal care. They’re the #1 reason to stay at the lodge!
Animal Kingdom Lodge Pools: Twice The Fun
Whether you’re staying at Jambo House or Kidani Village, guests have the opportunity to pool hop. Both of the pool areas are amazing, but they’re definitely different from each other.
The Uzima Springs Pool has zero-entry with a big slide and looks over the savanna. It’s got tons of great lounge chair seating and it’s situated near the resort’s quick service restaurant with a pool bar as well.
If you’ve got kids, you have to check out Samawati Springs Pool at Kidani Village. It’s our kid’s favorite and definitely rivals the pool area of nearby Beach Club Resort. It’s got a slide as well.
What makes the Samawati Springs pool extra special is the Uwanja Camp, which is the kid’s area. Technically, it’s advertised as having three distinct zones for different age groups of kids. However, it’s such a fun experience that your kids will just run all over and play. We spend an entire day at the pool hopping when we stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge – it’s well worth your vacation time.
All Levels Of Dining Options: Quick Service To Signature Dining
I love how many dining options are at AKL. You can grab a quick bite to eat on your way to the parks or enjoy a full signature dining meal. The resort restaurants accept the Disney Dining Plan and reservations can be made in advance with My Disney Experience.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Food Options:
- The Mara – quick service dining located in Kidani Village
- Boma “Flavors Of Africa” – all you can eat buffet that’s open for breakfast and dinner (known for Jungle Juice)
- Sanaa – African meets Indian at this fun fusion restaurant that has a fantastic savanna view (Sanaa Review). You can also book a dining experience with an animal expert here.
- Jiko “The Cooking Place” – Signature dining with bold flavors and the biggest collection of South African wine outside of Africa. You can also book a wine tasting to experience the best of South Africa, at Walt Disney World.
- Wanyama Safari and Dinner – Tour the savanna in a guided vehicle, with an animal expert, and then enjoy a multi-course meal at Jiko afterwards.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Is Filled With African Art
Throughout the resort you’ll find unique pieces of African art that have been brought in and placed on display. Just roaming the resort, you’ll see plenty of art with snippets of historical information to accompany them. I love that they added these pieces as a way to decorate, but stick with the theming.
Closest Resort To Animal Kingdom Park
If you’ve got an animal lover in your group and you’re planning to spend several days in Animal Kingdom Park, you should really consider staying at AKL. You could stay anywhere on property, but most guests prefer to get to the park early. That’s when the animals are most active. If you stay at AKL, you’ll be at the resort closest to Animal Kingdom park!
Floor To Ceiling Views Like No Other
When you walk into Animal Kingdom Lodge, your breath is taken away. Your eyes instantly look up to the amazing architecture that welcomes guests. The lobby of Kidani is one of my favorites for relaxing and Jambo is nice as well.
Pro Tip: If you want amazing unobstructed photographs of the lobby, wake up early or stay up extra late!
Spacious Rooms With So Many Options
I was told that Animal Kingdom Lodge is unique in it’s designs because they’ve got such a variety of rooms. We’ve stayed in a one-bedroom villa, two-bedroom lock off villa and a studio. We graduated to bigger rooms, from the studio (which is the smallest), as our family grew. Every time we’ve felt comfortable, with space for everyone.
Some of the rooms have a Lion King theme, complete with African inspired furniture pieces. Not only can you look for hidden mickeys in your villa, but you’ll find some baby Simbas too!
FREE Recreational Activities Included
I’ve never met somebody who was bored at Walt Disney World, but if you want to add something non-park related to your vacation itinerary, you can find it at the resort! Ask for a recreation calendar upon check-in, at the front desk. They offer nighttime pool movies, tennis courts, basketball courts and campfire activities. All of it is included in your stay and part of the fun.