We love resort hopping. We love trying resort restaurants, exploring resort grounds and sometimes even just checking out the resort gift shops. Animal Kingdom Lodge has always been a favorite of ours and its one we find ourselves spending a lot of time in to get away from crowds. So when we found a great deal on a standard view room, we knew we had to snag it.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort. However, it is generally one of the least expensive deluxe resorts, so if you’re looking for a deluxe resort and all its amenities without the high price tag, Animal Kingdom Lodge may be just what you’re looking for. We were able to find a great deal on hotels.com and actually paid the same as we normally would for a moderate resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge has two sections, Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House has regular resort rooms along with villas and a more grand commom area/lobby, whereas Kidani Village has villas only, so their rooms tend to be a bit on the higher side as a result. We stayed at Jambo House, but have been at both resorts for their restaurants and they are both beautiful.
The Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge
We stayed in a standard view room. I have always been told that the Savannah view rooms were a must when staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but they were twice the price when we visited, so we stuck with the Standard View Room. I can’t speak for all Standard View Rooms, but the view from our room was stunning and we were still able to enjoy watching the animals from our balcony.
The rooms are beautifully decorated; simple, classic and clean with touches of African flair to stick to the theming of the resort. Disney really executed this well and created a welcoming, beautiful space making you feel like you actually could be going to Africa for a safari.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is also a DVC property, so if you’re interested in staying in one of the Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC villas, you can read more about how that works and how that can save you money here. We have to disclose this isn’t something we’ve actually tried yet, just have done a TON of research on, but we will be this year and can’t wait to share our experience with you!
The Grounds at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Everything at Animal Kingdom Lodge is just beautiful. The grounds are no exception. From waterfalls, to streams, palm trees and the savannah, if you’re a nature lover, Animal Kingdom Lodge will feel like the perfect little hideaway. One thing we really loved about the grounds was that no matter what time of day it was at the resort, it always felt peaceful. The African drums playing in the background are the perfect addition to the ambiance of the resort. You can explore outside, sit on one of the big rocking chairs on the big overlook balconies or walk down to the savannah level and watch the animals.
We never felt the hustle and bustle or chaos that we sometimes see at some of the other resorts and it was a welcome change.
Where to eat at Animal Kingdom Lodge
It’s no secret that Animal Kingdom Lodge has amazing food. In fact, the first time we ever visited this resort was to eat at Boma! Boma is perfect for buffet lovers, Sanaa for those looking for something a little more exotic(and don’t forget that bread service) Jiko for those looking for a top notch dining experience and The Mara for a quick bite.
We’ve eaten at all of their restaurants except Jiko and we can attest that they are all delicious.
The Mara is where you can refill your mugs every day, grab your morning coffee and pastry or grab a light meal throughout the day. It is located on the bottom floor, by the pool and you actually have to go outside to get to it. There is inside and outside seating, and we never had an issue finding somewhere to sit.
You guys know we love food, so of course we had to try the food at the Mara. How else could we write about it for you?! Research my friends. The menu at The Mara is a little more adventurous for a quick service resort restaurant, but we loved the bold flavors and thought the food complimented the theming of the resort perfectly.
Amenities at Animal Kingdom Lodge
So here it is guys. Probably one of the top reasons we’d recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge. I mean if the beautiful theming, savannah views, delicious food and proximity to Animal Kingdom wasn’t enough, the amenities are top notch.
If you’re an animal lover, conservationist or enthusiast, there are so many amazing things to see and do at the lodge itself! We loved learning about conservation efforts taking place in Africa by the Disney Conservation Fund and there are plenty of Cast Members in the lobby just waiting to share their stories with you. We were lucky enough to speak with a few different cast members from Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. We honestly really enjoyed this part of our stay and felt like it added to the authenticity of our experience.
In addition, there are extra safaris you can take on property, projects that can be made in the lobby, culinary programs, animal specialists on-site, movies under the stars, and s’more making out by the fire at Jambo House. We were super impressed by how much you could actually do at the resort and it almost made us not even want to venture out to the Parks! Wait….what?! No seriously. We continually found ourselves finding more excuses in and I have to say this is the first trip we’ve taken where my daughter and I kept asking if we could head back to the resort early.
*Note- you don’t have to be a guest at Animal Kingdom Lodge to participate in most of the extra activities available there. It’s a great way to escape the crowds or heat or have a reason to check out the resort if you’ve not been there.
Animal Kingdom Lodge also comes with all the amenities we like to see at any amazing resort including a beautiful pool, fitness center, spa with sauna and steam room and Disney transportation of course.
Transportation at Animal Kingdom Lodge
One thing that sets Animal Kingdom Lodge apart from other deluxe resorts is the transportation. And maybe not in the best way.
Although maybe I’m wrong, depending on what you’re looking for. Animal Kingdom Lodge won’t have the magic of the monorail, the convenience of the Epcot area resorts, a boat for transport and isn’t in walking distance to anything. There are only busses.
Now I’m going to be completely honest here. We are not huge fans of the busses at Walt Disney World. Yes they are free. But they can be crowded, they can make you late and can be frustrating. With that being said, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the buses at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
If you’re staying here because you love Animal Kingdom, then you’ll be happy to know, its about a 5 minute ride from the lodge and we never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus to arrive at our stop. It’s actually so close and convenient that we don’t recommend driving to Animal Kingdom when staying here because it will actually take you a lot longer to get inside the Park.
If you’re a huge Magic Kingdom fan though, be aware, this is the furthest resort from Magic Kingdom. I would say our average transport time to Magic Kingdom was close to 25 minutes. It’s also the furthest resort from Epcot, with the bus rides being closer to 20 minutes.
And getting to Hollywood Studios is what I would consider “average” time for Disney buses, 10-15 minutes or so. Keep in mind, these are all estimates and there are always a lot of factors that can affect your travel time to and from the Parks.
I do have to say I really appreciated the fact that the bus lines never seemed long at the resort and at least while we were there, seemed pretty efficient.
Is Animal Kingdom Lodge worth the cost?
For us, yes it absolutely was. Depending on how you vacation at Walt Disney World and how you plan to spend your time there, this resort may or may not be worth it for you. If you are planning to stay at a deluxe resort, it is the least expensive(usually) but is also the furthest from most of the Parks when it comes to deluxe resorts. If you’re planning to spend some time at the resort, then we highly recommend spending a little more to get all that Animal Kingdom Lodge offers. If you plan to spend more of your time at the Parks, specifically Magic Kingdom, and don’t want to deal with the hassle of the buses, then you may want to look elsewhere for your perfect place to stay.
If I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sure how we would like Animal Kingdom Lodge. Many times when we are traveling, we look at our resort as just a “place to stay”, and usually that is all it is for us. We’ve stayed at several other deluxe resorts at this point, but for us Animal Kingdom Lodge is definitely at the top of our list now and we are hoping we can make it back there again real soon. I knew we would like it, but I honestly didn’t know how much we would love it and for us, it really did feel like home.