We love resort hopping at Walt Disney World. Just taking time to try the resort restaurants, explore the resort grounds and sometimes even just checking out the resort gift shops makes our Disney trips extra special. Of all the Disney Resorts, Animal Kingdom Lodge has always been a favorite of ours. And it’s one we find ourselves regularly whether it’s for a meal at Sanaa, to see the Christmas decorations or just get away from the crowds. It was on our Disney Resort bucket list for a while. And now, we’ve been lucky enough to stay there a few times! Read all about Animal Kingdom Lodge and what you can expect from this deluxe resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Review
Have you ever considered staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge? As one of Disney’s best themed resorts, you can experience a little bit of your Disney wild side away from it all. Tucked back in the wilds you can take in quiet evenings, easy going afternoons on the balcony and learn a ton about African culture!
Is Animal Kingdom Lodge a Deluxe Resort?
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 is also home to Disney Vacation Club. So you can use your existing points to stay here is you’re a member. Or you can rent points, and even just book a DVC room without them.
The Difference between Jambo House and Kidani Village
By far one of the most confusing parts of visiting this resort, is that it has two sections which means two Disney bus stops. So if you’re on the Disney Bus and going to Animal Kingdom Lodge, this is what you will find at Jambo House and Kidani Village.
Here you will find regular resort rooms along with villas and a more grand common area/lobby. Jambo House is also home to Boma, Jiko The Cooking Place and The Mara Restaurants.
Kidani Village has villas only, so their rooms tend to be a bit on the pricier side as a result. They have a smaller lobby, and you can find Sanaa at Kidani Village on the ground floor.
How to get to Kidani Village from Jambo House
These two buildings are just a short bus ride away from each other. So it’s easy to get to and from them if you’re staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. If you prefer to walk, there is also a walking path between Jambo House and Kidani Village that makes for a nice stroll when the weather permits.
The Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge has several kinds of rooms. We have stayed in both a standard view room and a Savanna view room.
Savanna view rooms offer a view of the Savanna of course! Which is lovely. Especially if you prefer easy mornings or afternoons. Being able to sit on your balcony and watch the animals is very peaceful and relaxing. If, however, the Savanna view rooms are just not in your budget, any room here is great. And there are plenty of hidden little spots that you can sit on a rocking chair and enjoy the views. Standard room views can give you views of anything from the parking lot to even a partial view of the Savanna if you’re lucky.
The rooms are beautifully decorated; simple, classic and clean with touches of African flair to stick to the theme of the resort. Disney really executed this resort well. Creating a welcoming, beautiful space that makes you feel like you actually could be going to Africa for a safari.
Animal Kingdom Lodge rooms have recently gotten a slight refurb. They now include small touches of The Lion King throughout, and we were glad to see that it didn’t overtake the rest of the decor in the room. The bathrooms are probably the biggest improvement and we love to see AKL getting the attention it deserves. There is also now a Keurig, with a full drawer of any coffee and tea supplies you may need.
What are the Best Rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
The Arusha Savanna rooms are generally considered the BEST. And while we LOVE a good luxury stay, rooms that expensive are hard to justify when we’re in the parks all day. But, if you’re considering a Disney staycation at this resort, then by all means break the bank and grab the best room.
Is Animal Kingdom Lodge a DVC Property?
Yes! Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Disney Vacation Club property, so if you’re interested in staying in one of the DVC villas, you can read more about how that works and how that can save you money here. When you stay in a villa at any resort you get accommodations for 6+ people, often multiple rooms, and a kitchen. While we haven’t tried renting DVC points yet, this is a common way to stay and you can still enjoy all the luxury without the price!
Club Level at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Club level is a type of room stay at Walt Disney World. Many of the deluxe resorts offer it, and so does Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. It’s a higher priced stay. And includes drinks and food, enjoyed in a concierge lounge dedicated to guests who are staying Club Level. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s called Kilimanjaro Club. You can read our full review about staying club level at Animal Kingdom Lodge here.
The Grounds at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Everything at Animal Kingdom Lodge is just beautiful. And the grounds are no exception. From waterfalls, to streams, palm trees and the savanna. If you’re a nature lover, this Disney Resort 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 or sit on one of the big rocking chairs on the big overlook balconies. Or walk down to the savanna 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.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurants
It’s no secret that Animal Kingdom Lodge has amazing food. In fact, 3 of the 4 restaurants here made our Best Disney Resorts Restaurants List. the first time we ever visited this resort was to eat at Boma! Known to many as the most amazing brunch at Walt Disney World. Since then we’ve tried a bunch of food here and are never disappointed. So here’s where you can eat if you’re heading to Animal Kingdom Lodge. Disney Pro Tip: Make an Advanced Dining Reservation as an excuse to visit and see what you think for yourself!
Boma At Jambo House
Boma is a wonderful restaurant that is budget friendly, good for families and even picky eaters will find something great here. Since Boma is a buffet you can count on loads of food options; many dishes are flavorful African fare. Take a look at the Boma Buffet Menu ahead of time. One of our favorite parts of any buffet is the dessert island. And at Boma you can grab Zebra Domes, one of the Best Snacks at Animal Kingdom.
Sanaa At Kidani Village
Ok, just to be clear, Sanaa is a Disney MUST DO Restaurant. Even on Disney Vacations when we have no time to head to Animal Kingdom Lodge, we always get lured out to Sanaa. Whether it’s for the amazing views, or the hearty potijie, or the bread service, you will find amazing foods here you will want to have again and again. In fact, the bread service here is so renowned that we actually learned about it from die-hard devotees on our Wild Africa Trek Tour. While some may say this is just naan and sauces, let us clear that up for you. The Bread Service at Sanaa is a selection of naan and thin breads that are flavored with garlic, peppers, spices and African flavors. Then they add 9 sauces. Yes, NINE! So you can dip and try the breads and sauces to your hearts delight. Just get it. It’s so amazing you won’t be disappointed. We also love the desserts here. Of course. Check out the Sanaa Menu.
Jiko The Cooking Place At Jambo House
At Jiko, which is a signature restaurant, you will have to pay a little more. If you’re looking to snag the Beef Short Rib, that’s a 48 dollar dish! So be prepared. Check out the Jiko menu for everything that can savor. This restaurant is worth 2 dining credits on the dining plan so build that into your Disney Dining Budget if you’re looking to try this fancy restaurant.
The Mara At Jambo House
The Mara is the resort Quick Service Restaurant. This 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 theme of the resort perfectly.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Amenities
So here it is guys. Probably one of the top reasons we’d recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge. As if the beautiful themeing, savanna views, delicious food and proximity to Animal Kingdom wasn’t enough, the amenities here 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’mores making out by the fire at Jambo House. 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. Check out all the Animal Kingdom Lodge activities you can do throughout the day!
We were super impressed by how much you could actually do at the resort that it almost made us not even want to venture out to the Parks! Wait….what?! No seriously. We continually found ourselves finding more excuses to stay in. It’s the first trip we’ve ever had at Disney where we actually wanted to get back to our resort early.
Can You go to Animal Kingdom Lodge Without Staying There?
YES! You don’t have to be a guest at Animal Kingdom Lodge to participate in most of the extra activities. 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. Our favorite thing to do? Head to the balcony and grab a rocking chair. Watching the animals roam is the best way to take the stress off of a crazy Disney day. The gift shop even sells Mickey Bars, so it’s a perfect excuse for snack break.
Transportation at Animal Kingdom Lodge
One thing that sets Animal Kingdom Lodge apart from other Disney Deluxe Resorts is the transportation. And maybe not in the best way. Animal Kingdom Lodge doesn’t have the magic of the monorail, the convenience of the Disney skyliner, or a boat for transport. And since the buses at Walt Disney World can be crowded and make you late for important things, our expectations are never too high. BUT, we were 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, Animal Kingdom is about 5 minutes away from Animal Kingdom Lodge. Thankfully, we never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus to arrive at our stop and the lines for buses at Animal Kingdom Lodge were never long. 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.
However, if you’re a Magic Kingdom fan be aware that Animal Kingdom Lodge is the farthest resort from Magic Kingdom. It’s also the farthest resort from Epcot. So you can expect bus times of 20- 30 minutes to both these parks. Hollywood Studios is what we 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.
Can you walk to Animal Kingdom from Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Unfortunately, no. You cannot walk to Animal Kingdom from Animal Kingdom Lodge. Unlike the Boardwalk Resorts that offer walking distance to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, you really are quite out in the middle of nature when you stay at the Animal Kingdom Resort.
Is Animal Kingdom Lodge Worth It?
For us, yes, Animal Kingdom was Worth it. Of course, depending on how you vacation at Walt Disney World and how you plan to spend your time, this resort may or may not be worth it for you. If you are planning to stay at a deluxe resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge is usually one of the cheapest Disney Deluxe Resorts. But it is also the farthest from most of the Walt Disney World Parks when compared to other deluxe resorts.
If you’re planning to add resort time to your Disney Vacation then we highly recommend spending a little more to get all that this resort 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.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Overall Review
Animal Kingdom Lodge feels like home for us now. We love coming back and always feel welcomed. If we are planning to have a busy trip at the Parks, then we may opt for something in the value or moderate categories. But if we know ahead of time that we will be relaxing a bit, which we always recommend if possible), the Animal Kingdom Lodge is at the top of our list. Do you like Animal Kingdom Lodge? What else would be good to share about this resort for people on the fence about staying here?