Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort in Walt Disney World. Inspired by African and Asian culture, as well as Animal Kingdom, this hotel is one of the more unique places to stay at any Disney Resort in the world. This review will include photos of the hotel and our thoughts on the resort’s room, amenities and values.
If you haven’t been to Animal Kingdom Lodge before, it is broken into two sections – Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House has the grand lobby as well as more restaurants while Kidani is on a smaller scale and is geared towards Disney Vacation Club members. These two locations are easy to walk in between (about 10 minutes) and all amenities are available to guests regardless of which section you are staying in. I’ll mainly stick to Jambo House in this review but will try to chime in on the other location, as well.
While Melissa and I enjoy nice hotels, we tend to stick to the moderate option at Walt Disney World when we’ve gone in the past. After seeing a good price on Animal Kingdom Lodge when looking earlier this year, we decided to go for it and splurge for a few days. A good price for these locations is typically around $250/night. If that price already makes you uncomfortable then this hotel simply might not be for you. Experiencing these hotels without actually staying at them is a good plan and something that is fairly easy to do. I’d highly encourage anyone to do that with Animal Kingdom Lodge. The atmosphere, dining options and other unique experiences make this a very inviting place.
Another option for those that can’t fathom the price is to look into renting DVC points. While it’s difficult to get the cost under $250/night, it is possible. There are several sites that offer this service and it’s a good way to save money on the more expensive Disney World hotels.
Now, for those interested in staying here, let’s take a look at the room! Again, this was a studio room at the Jambo House.
The room can sleep four with the pull-out couch. Unfortunately, the white bed spread has followed suit with the rest of the WDW resorts. Outside of that, the theming is fantastic. The carpeting and art work add texture to the room and the colors follow along with the lobby and Animal Kingdom. While the room sleeps four, two fully grown adults sleeping on the pull-out couch would be hard after a few nights. The bed is very comfortable though.
A look from the other side of the room shows off the TV and dresser. That side of the room isn’t as decorated, although I really like dresser and closet. There are gorgeous details throughout and this main room remains one of our favorites in all of Disney World.
A hotel bathroom! This one does look better than 95% of my hotel review bathroom photos and that’s not due to photography improvements. The mirror bordering and shower pattern are nice touches. While neither the sink or shower room are huge, they’re pretty standard for a hotel room.
Because this is part of a DVC resort, there was a small kitchenette in our room. While we didn’t really take advantage of this, it may be useful for a longer stay. I like the elephants behind the sink.
The actual room itself was really nice as a whole. I thought there was quite a bit of space even with four adults in the room. Of all the hotels I’ve stayed at in Walt Disney World, this room has the most personality. That might be a common theme throughout this review.
Now, that was our actual room but I haven’t mentioned the best part of the AKL room yet – the deck.
Outside of our room was a savannah filled with animals, notably giraffes, antelope and some fun birds. I absolutely loved this. Animals were out throughout the day and even in the night. After getting back from a long day in the park, I liked to sit outside for about half an hour, unwind and try to spot animals in the dark. If you don’t care about animals then this is just a nice view and you have no soul. If you do care about animals then this is huge reason why you should stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Outside of the room, the resort offered many other activities. There are plenty of places to visit animals. Maybe the best spot for that is at Kidani Village where you can go out and learn about them with the help of a cast member. They do get fairly close to you.
The pools here are nice but nothing spectacular. I took a dip in the pool at Jambo House and went down the slide there. I wouldn’t put that pool very high on my list of resort pools. I did look at the Kidani Village pool and thought that it looked a little more unique and better overall.
Animal Kingdom Lodge offers more tours and interactions with cast members than the typical WDW resort. There are also plenty of chairs to sit around in and watch animals pass by. The hotel (and theme park for that matter) take a different approach than the rest of Walt Disney World. It’s okay to slow down here and just soak everything in.
On top of all of that, Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers the best array of restaurants of any resort. Sanaa is a cheaper (relative to other WDW restaurants) and unique table-service option at Kidani Village. Boma and Jiko are fantastic restaurant at Jambo House, both offering African-inspired fare. The counter-service option, The Mara, is also a good choice as far as quick-service goes. You can’t really go wrong with any of these.
I’ve done nothing but rave so far in this review and that’s because we haven’t got to Animal Kingdom Lodge’s one negative – location. The hotel is a pretty long bus ride (about half an hour) from Magic Kingdom. Many other deluxe resorts offer great locations but that’s not true here. Of course, the hotel is very close to Animal Kingdom. This is a factor and if your main goal for a trip is to spend as much time in the theme parks as possible, then Animal Kingdom Lodge probably isn’t the place for you. Still, I don’t think it’s a big enough deterrent to outweigh all of the quality this resort offers.
As far as value goes, Animal Kingdom Lodge is typically one of the cheaper deluxe resorts. The hotel is certainly head and shoulders above any moderate resort and is close to fairly priced, which isn’t something I can say about many Disney hotels. You certainly get what you pay for here. If the location isn’t a big deal to you then I highly recommend staying here if you can get a price under $300 and are willing to splurge. I know many people can’t afford this very often, myself included, so I’d recommend going to visit the hotel on your trip even if you aren’t staying here. You can also do a split stay, mixing in a night or two here with the rest of your trip at a value resort. This hotel also has bigger rooms if you have a large group, and we’ll have a review of the 2-bedroom villa in the next few weeks. Of course the price does go up in that case.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of our favorite hotels at Walt Disney World and one of my favorite hotels I’ve stayed at anywhere. While the location isn’t ideal, the theming plus the animals outside your room are unique enough to warrant splurging for a hotel room.
Overall Rating – 9.5/10
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Categories: Hotel Reviews