We recently got back from an amazing stay at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge and I just had to share a few thoughts and snaps from our trip! This is, by no means, a comprehensive review or trip report but I will be posting various nuggets from our little adventure over the next few weeks. On a side note, I also have a November 2015 trip to Disneyland which I'm working on so to say I'm backlogged with Disney trips is an understatement (not a bad problem to have, by the way).
Now, Animal Kingdom Lodge - wow! When you hear people talk about "Disney theming" and "Disney details" when it comes to resorts, this is what they're talking about. At the initial approach, the resort is definitely subdued and buried among trees and bamboo stalks. This quickly changes upon passing through the entry vestibule where you're greeted with the above view! We loved coming "home" every night after a day at the parks and being welcomed by this beautilful atrium.
The lobby at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is also one where you actually want to spend time in during your stay as opposed to a spot where you simply rest your luggage while you're checking in or out. The savanna lodge-inspired furnishings are gorgeous (and comfy!) and the resort also houses a pretty impressive collection of African art.
Animal Kingdom Lodge also boasts numerous places to wine and dine:
- Boma - Buffet with American and African-inspired dishes
- Jiko The Cooking Place - African Signature Restaurant
- Sannaa - African and Indian-inspired Sit-Down Restaurant
- The Mara - Food Court with American, African, and Mediterranean dishes
- Maji and Uzima Springs Pool Bars
- Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar
- Victoria Falls Lounge
As I'm writing this blog entry, you have no idea how I wish I could confidently offer a comprehensive dining review on each of these venues and show off close-up photos of decadent meals and drinks and desserts but, unfortunately, The Mara was the only on-site restaurant we had the pleasure of dining at. However, as far as Disney resort food courts go, The Mara was pretty spectacular. We had breakfast there every morning (Bounty Platter!) as well as dinner one late night after a long day at Hollywood Studios. I had the Mediterranean Chicken Pita and it was delicious! We were actually hoping to eat at Boma that evening but since all of the on-site table service restaurants close at 9:30. our only option was quick service since it is conveniently opened until 1am. In the tradition of all restaurants at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, The Mara offers a nice blend of traditional American fare (burgers, salads, etc.) as well as quite a few African dishes such as stews, soups, and bobotie - a curry, almond, and raisin meat pie.
Oh, and don't forget to try the Zebra Domes! I had heard many a tale praising the deliciousness of the Zebra Domes but, for some reason, I was expecting something more along the lines of a cake pop. They're actually closer in consistency to a mousse with a solid white chocolate shell. Nevertheless, I happily devoured my serving as well as my husband's since he was not a fan.
The end of the lobby offers a fantastic view of the Savannah as well as a little courtyard area where they offer stories and games for children as well as performers - we saw a drum trio performing here a few nights of the week! And how spectacular is that ostrich light fixture? Can I get one for my house?
Now, on to the room! We booked a Standard View Room on the official website and requested the Kudu Trail at online check-in. If you've booked a Standard, I highly recommend doing this because it'll give you amazing views of the animals without the hefty price tag that typically accompanies an actual Savanna View Room reservation. Word is, however, that Animal Kingdom Lodge actually has more savanna rooms than standard rooms so the odds of getting an upgrade upon checking in (which, I believe, is what happened to us) are very much in your favor! Oh, and a word of caution for couples traveling child-free in hopes of a romantic getaway - most Disney resorts offer either two Queens (in Deluxe and Moderate Resorts) or two Doubles (in Value Resorts) with Kings being a rarity so be prepared for some Lucy and Ricky beds!
We were in room 3350 which was about a five minute walk from the main lobby. One thing that I really appreciated about this resort's layout was that many rooms were located on the same level (Level 3) as the lobby so no stairs or elevator trips were necessary when getting to and from our room.
Oh, and even though I don't have any photos (I don't know what came over me), the pool area was excellent! The resort offers two pools (one with a slide!) as well as a large hot tub which we enjoyed often during our stay. Tip of the Day: Strongly consider a resort with a hot tub when heading to Disney - you'll thank me after hours of walking!.
And last but not least, our spectacular views! We saw animals at, literally, all hours of the day with mornings and late afternoons being the busiest times. Zebras and giraffes were always hanging around followed by ostriches and wildebeests! While Animal Kingdom Lodge, as a whole, is an amazing resort, there's nothing quite like waking up in the morning and seeing a whole menagerie grazing in your backyard.
So, just in case you couldn't tell from my glowing review, we loved Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and definitely plan on staying there again in the (hopefully) near future. Not only is it a visually stunning resort but it is unmatched in terms of amenities and features. I mean, where else can you wake up to a zebra outside your window?