Disney’s Animal Kindgom Lodge- 5 reasons to stay here on your next Disney trip
While we have a strong loyalty to the Boardwalk for our Disney vacations, this high demand resort sometimes does not have availability. After many successful wait list openings on previous trips, we finally met our match when our DVC wait list for the Boardwalk turned up empty handed. This was a good way to force us to try a new place to stay.
Having heard the praises of Animal Kingdom Lodge, a last minute opening afforded us the chance to experience it for ourselves. Needless to say, we were extremely impressed with our stay at Kidani Village and want to share the reason with you. This also makes a great stop for a park-free day – so much to see and do!
Staying an Animal Kingdom Lodge means you have access to two different resorts- Jambo and Kidani. This is one of the reasons why we like the Boardwalk area so much as it allows you to explore multiple resorts. While both are themed to Animal Kingdom, Jambo and Kidani offer different things to entice guests. For the four savannas (two at each resort), there are different animals to see at each. The pools are also different creating separate environments to enjoy. Dining options at both resorts offer guests meal options. There is a shuttle that operates driving people back and forth or a walkway that takes approximately ten minutes.
Animal Kingdom is often referred to as one of the most immersive parks with areas that take guests out of Orlando into another world and the Lodge is no different. While traveling to South Africa is on my bucket list and I am well aware it is still Florida, it felt as close to what I would expect a savanna to be. The experience in the lobby and on the overlooks is simply transformative. Of our three day trip, we spent over half a day just exploring all the nooks in the resorts and could have easily devoted more time.
Some of best dining on Disney property can be found at the Animal Kingdom Lodge with Sanaa and Jiko. The food and service is exceptional at these establishments if you are looking for an elevated dining experience. We ate twice at the Sanaa lounge enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, even seeing people get the popular bread service as take out (brilliant idea)! Boma and The Mara are available for more casual dining options. There are also pool bars at both resorts offering food and beverages, as well as lounges at Cape Town, and Victoria Falls for small bites and drinks. We personally enjoyed how wine focused the locations are serving South African wines with extensive lists at Cape Town Wine Bar and Jiko, which offers Wednesday wine tastings. Want something more adventurous? Hop on one of the safaris offered from the resorts that includes a meal in the savanna!
An obvious benefit of staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is the animals! There are four savannas (two at each resort) and multiple overlooks giving guests optimal viewing of the animals all day. Each guest room comes with an animal viewing guide to assist in spotting all the animals on the property. Make sure to ask cast members for the best times of day to see certain animals, such as feeding times, and do not forget that there is still activity on the savanna at night – there is even a night time safari you can sign up for! There are activities throughout the day at both resorts to educate and identify all the animals throughout the savanna. It is truly amazing how close the animals are and how entertaining watching them can be. We sat on an overlook every morning with our breakfast just enjoying the moments of this unique environment.
One of the reasons we are drawn to the Boardwalk is the immediate access to two of the four theme parks – and I say immediate because there is a walking option. One of our hesitations staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge was the heavy reliance on the Disney bus transportation with no walking access to anywhere. And while this is certainly a draw back, it shed light on another benefit of staying here that we did not expect. The guests that stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are not the aggressive park hungry people. Those guest preoccupied with maximum park access are at the deluxe resorts at Epcot and Magic Kingdom to have close proximity and alternative forms of transportation to the parks. Everyone we interacted with just had a level of chill that is sometime difficult to find in the “must get everything done” Disney vacation mode. It really felt like a secluded destination away from the craziness of the Disney parks (any boy were they crowded!).
If you haven’t tried staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, it is certainly worth a visit. Staying at a new resort is the perfect way to shake up a routine Disney trip and try something different to keep the magic exciting and new!