Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my favorite Walt Disney World Resorts. It has so much to offer, with so many pros. But there are also some cons to staying here. Here’s my comparison list:
Animal Kingdom Lodge is extremely elegant. It is not classically so, like the Grand Floridian, but it has so much charm and grace. The lobby to this resort is massive – grand and regal. While AKL is absolutely wonderful and appropriate for kids and families, there is nothing “kidish” or “cartoonish” about it. From ornate chandeliers, to high-class dining, to top amenity rooms, AKL is at the top of its game.
Animal Kingdom Lodge has some absolutely amazing dining options. They have room service, pool bar options, and a cafeteria just like a normal resort, and all are wonderful. But their signature dining options are remarkable. The three specialty restaurants are Boma, Sanaa, and Jiko, with their respective lounges. Boma is a one of a kind buffet. It has a glorious selection of authentic African cuisine that you can eat as much as you want! Sanaa has a one-of-a-kind view: the savanna. The dining room is right at eye level with all of the amazing animals at AKL. Jiko is top of the line dining. It’s extravagant and gourmet, with flavors to die for.
Clearly this is on the pro list. The animals of Animal Kingdom Lodge are amazing. There’s really nothing like it. There are 30 species of animals that call this lodge home. Guests can view this preserve day and night, either from their room or Jiko or just from the many viewing areas around the resort. From the flamingo enclosure, to zebras, to giraffes, you’ll never get bored of the view. Waking up to a giraffe walking past your window is Disney magic like no other.
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One thing I love about Disney and Animal Kingdom is their dedication to conservation. Part of their conservation efforts includes spreading the word about the incredible animals that they protect. Animal Kingdom Lodge does just the same. Often there is a cast member by the savanna that is around to talk about the animals or answer questions. It’s so cool to learn new things while actually watching the animals live. Speaking of cast members, the cast members at the lodge are mostly from Africa and love to talk to guests about their home. On important dates, like Botswana Independence Day, there are even special events and parades and ways to commemorate this amazing part of the world.
The details at Animal Kingdom Lodge are out of this world. Just the lobby is bursting with ornate detail and thoughtful design choices. Every bit of décor is authentically African influenced, from the wicker chairs, to the fireplace, to the carvings that stretch all the way to the ceiling. I love how rustic and natural it all feels. There are many artifacts carefully placed around the hotel that tell incredible stories, like the giant hat in the back corner of the lobby! There’s so much to explore at AKL.
1. Further Away From Parks
The biggest con to staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge for me is how far from the other parks it is. The bonus is that it’s really close to Animal Kingdom. But the other three? Not so much. And unlike most deluxe resorts, AKL isn’t on the monorail loop, which means guests are forced to rely on buses to get absolutely anywhere. Disney buses are either amazing or horrendous, so it’s a bit of a gamble. I don’t think this should make or break staying at AKL, but it’s definitely something to consider.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort, which automatically means that it is going to be an expensive stay. There’s no way around it. A single night stay is going to be upwards of $400 at minimum. That’s no small thing. The thing to understand is just how much you’ll be getting for that price. AKL isn’t just a “rest your head” kind of hotel, it truly is an experience, so you’re going to pay for that.
3. Not All Animal Views
The bummer, then, about paying so much money at this amazing resort, is that not everyone can have the breathtaking, magical views. One of the biggest draws and selling points of Animal Kingdom Lodge is its view of their own savanna, a 43-acre wildlife preserve. It’s truly incredible, but not everyone can have that stupendous experience. There are savanna view rooms, but also pool view and standard (parking lot/roof) view rooms. This is understandable, but can be a con if you’re really hoping for the view.