If you are Looking for a unique experience on your next vacation to Disney World, I highly recommend staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Animal safaris are on the top on my travel bucket list, but, it will be sometime before I make it to Africa. Thanks to Disney and the Zootopia Event, I was one step closer to being surrounded by Africa’s wildlife. My journey took me to Orlando, Florida for a 4-day stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge along with a visit to the awesome Animal Kingdom park.
The ride to the lodge was 20 minutes via Disney’s Magical Express. Before my visit I checked out photos of the lodge online but I honestly wasn’t prepared for my entrance into the hotel. The massive lobby is quite impressive featuring African architecture, wooden furniture and gorgeous arched ceilings. The chandeliers are breathtaking. My heart skipped a beat when my eyes swept over the lobby to a view of the Savanna. My arrival time was quite early, but thankfully my room was ready. I couldn’t wait to explore the hotel and see my room!
Navigating to my room was a bit of a challenge until I figured out the layout of the hotel. My room 2550 overlooked the Sunset Savanna. I dropped my bags, drew back the curtains to my balcony and there were giraffes, antelopes, and birds all grazing, feeding, socializing. One of my favorite things to do at the hotel was simply sitting on my balcony, relaxing while enjoying this fabulous view/show. My surroundings were quiet and peaceful, and they became part of my morning ritual. I became friends with a duck who appeared near my window every morning. He showed up, quacked while patiently waiting for his animal keeper. Of course, I named him Donald.
More than 200 animals call Animal Kingdom Lodge home. Make sure to step out on one of the many viewing areas located on every floor with your family and have your kids point out zebras, kudu, gazelles and more. Flamingos have their own viewing area near the pool. I also spotted an ostrich on my first day at the lodge.
My standard room had two double beds, a bath/shower combo and a separate vanity area. The room was spacious and the beds were extremely comfy which made falling asleep a breeze (Waking up was the challenge!) A flat screen TV, refrigerator, blow dryer, coffee maker were part of the room amenities, but wished the room had a clock. Maybe the goal of the lodge is for guests to lose track of time? I had some early mornings so I took advantage of wake-up calls which can be arranged through the room phone. Other rooms are equipped with bunk beds (what kid doesn’t like bunk beds??) and larger suites are also an option.
Families need to schedule water play in the Uzima Pool. Kids will love the water slide and smaller children can enjoy the wading area. Parents: The Uzima Springs Pool Bar is nearby for drinks or light snacks. After pool time, kids can run around in the Hakuna Matata Playground while Mom or Dad enjoy a time in the hot tub. Other features for families include Simba’s Cubhouse and Pumba’s Fun and Games Arcade! If fitness is a must, you can workout at the on-site fitness center (behind the hot tub). I walked 5-10 miles a day so I stayed away from the elliptical machine.
You won’t have to go far for a good meal. The lodge offers fine dinging as well as quick-service and in-room dining options for guests. On-site restaurants include: Jiko, Boma (flavors of Africa), and the Mara (perfect for an on-the-go meal). All dining options including African-inspired dishes and American favorites. Room service was right up my alley on late nights (available from 6-midnight). I loved having breakfast on my balcony. The food was delicious and served hot! Mickey waffles are a must! You can make-your own omelet (egg whites are available).
If I had more time I would have taken advantage of different dining options especially the Wanyama Safari which provides a closer look at the wildlife followed by a with a meal at Jiko, — The Cooking Place. The lodge also offers encounters with animal specialists, wine tasting and more! Definitely check out their after dark activities — I noticed an evening campfire and movies listed in the hotel brochure.
The hotel offers 1,293 guest rooms and the Concierge-Club level for upgraded amenities is also available. To the right of the hotel entrance is the bus stop. Express buses zip you to any of the parks in Disney World. Why worry about a car when buses are on hand to take you to your destination within a 15 minute bus ride? The Animal Kingdom Park is only a few minutes from the lodge.
Wrap up your stay with a souvenir from the lodge gift shop. I watched an artist create one-of-a-kind art while we were there.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge really has it all and is perfect for the entire family or even as a couple’s getaway. I booked everything through My Disney Experience on line. The magic band is your room key and I never once lost it! Imagine that! Please let me know if you have any questions about my stay at the Magic Kingdom Lodge. Make sure to watch Zootopia on March 4th for a different kind of animal adventure!