Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is famous for its hotel rooms that look out over four savannahs, each teeming with African wildlife, like zebras, giraffes, ostriches and more. Made up of two areas, Jambo House and the Disney Vacation Club Kidani Villas, the Lodge is a Deluxe resort on Walt Disney World property. Not surprisingly, the Lodge is adjacent to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, but the two do not share animals between savannahs.
While the savannah rooms are highly sought after, many guests miss out of the truly amazing opportunities Animal Kingdom Lodge offers. Yes, the room views are incredible, and the pool is very well themed, but did you know these six things about the resort?
6. Shares Architect with Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge
If you think the lobbies of Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, and Grand Floridian have some similarities, with their soaring ceilings and spectacular chandeliers, then you’re right. Architect Peter Dominick designed all three resorts. While the theming between the resorts differs, the general feel of the three lobbies have the same feeling. Dominick played with height to his advantage. When guests first enter the lobby, the ceilings in the vestibule are quite low, which makes the change to high ceilings in the lobby itself that much more dramatic and impressive!
5. Under the Radar Restaurants
This isn’t to say that no one has heard of the restaurants in Animal Kingdom Lodge. But you won’t find them on everyone’s must-try list. Animal Kingdom houses three table service restaurants: Sanaa, an African-Indian fusion menu with savanah views; Boma, a buffet with an African marketplace theme; and Jiko– The Cooking Place, a Signature restaurant with an extensive African wine list. In general, resort restaurants show up on fewer fan lists than those inside the parks, but California Grill, Victoria and Albert’s, and O’hana always seem to appear. On the quick service front, there’s Mara, where guests can score a pack of Zebra Domes, and fan-favorite dessert from Boma. Now you don’t need a reservation to get your hands of those goodies! Try one of the off-the-beaten-path choices at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and you will not be disappointed!
4. Foliage Came From Pop Century
Disney Imagineers knew they wanted Animal Kingdom Lodge to have a lived-in feeling. So they planted shrubs and other foliage around the resort two years before it even opened so the plants had time to settle in, spread out, and mature. Much of that foliage came from the area that is now Pop Century Resort! Why buy new plants when you already have some? Something to think about next time you visit either resort!
3. Special Tours
Animal Kingdom Lodge has some tours only for its guests. Explore the wilderness by night with an hour-long Starlight Safari aboard a safari truck. Guests are provided night vision goggles for the excursion. For a more intimate look, join the Sense of Africa tour to learn about how Cast Members care for animals and enjoy breakfast at Boma. You can even take a free tour of the restaurants every evening starting in Boma at 4:00pm. Your guide talks about the different architecture styles and cooking techniques in Boma and Jiko.
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2. Cookie Decorating
As if the Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants weren’t cool enough, Boma offers free cookie decorating to kids every afternoon! Simply show up and decorate your cookie. Guests are provided a sugar cookie (often giraffe shaped, but sometimes there are hippos or rhinos) and all decorating supplies. This truly is a unique experience that you can’t get at other Disney resorts, and your kids are bound to remember their cookie for years after it’s been eaten!
1. Fireside Stories
Many of the Cast Members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are Ambassadors from their home countries in Africa. Just like over in Epcot’s World Showcase, these Cast Members are a wealth of knowledge and insight into their culture, heritage, and history. Feel free to ask questions and learn about Africa and its countries. Every night, the Arusha Rock fire pit comes alive with African folktales told by a Cultural Representative. The stories are a fun, relaxing (and still uniquely Disney) way to end your park day.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is like a destination is and of itself. You could practically spend a whole vacation there and never even visit a theme park! There are details to be found around every corner. What are some of your favorite things about Animal Kingdom Lodge? Let us know!