Step into the Heart of Africa at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Set on a 43-acre wildlife reserve, your stay at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is almost guaranteed to include wildlife sightings with over 200 hoofed animals and birds living here. Once you step into the Africa inspired Disney resort hotel in Orlando, Florida, take in your surroundings.

Giraffes are one of the over 200 hoofed animals and birds residing in the savannahs surrounding the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Giraffes are one of the over 200 hoofed animals and birds residing in the savannahs surrounding Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The resort is designed in a semi-circular layout like an African village and provides optimal views of the 4 lush savannas where these animals live. In addition to the wildlife, the resort offers a multitude of amenities, including casual and fine dining, pool, animal activities, children’s activities, and of course, access to everything Disney.

Arrival
Lions and tigers – oh my! For animal-loving families, Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a magical, safari-like escape.  There was a line at check-in, but the time passed quickly as I soaked in my surroundings.

African-inspired architecture starts in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

African-inspired architecture starts in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

The lobby kicks off your safari adventure with African style architecture: thatched ceilings, large beams, gold-toned furniture, and a mud fireplace. Tribal drums beat in the background, and the expansive lobby sweeps to the rear viewing area to offer your first glimpse of the many animals surrounding the resort. Be sure to look round you as you’ll also be inspired by the largest collection of African art in the United States.

Additional inspiration comes from the African uniforms of the employees, as well as entertainment in the lobby, all combined to create the feel of an African game reserve lodge.

The African ambience is enhanced with performances in the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby.

The African ambience is enhanced with performances in the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby.

Accommodations
My accommodations were just off the lobby, overlooking one of the four savannahs. Bright colored bedding blended with the wood accents, revealing a surprisingly calming décor. My family friendly room included a queen and twin beds, spacious bathroom, and a balcony.

Start with the view from your room by stepping out onto your balcony – and there you go, giraffes and zebras (and other wild animals) walking around the grounds. But let’s be honest…when your stay is near the Disney theme parks, you likely spend little time in your room.

Family-friendly accommodations include bunkbeds at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World.

Family-friendly accommodations include bunkbeds at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World.

You can splurge and include a savannah room with wildlife nearly at your balcony, or you can skip the additional cost without losing the African ambience. To me, early morning coffee on my balcony while watching the animals was priceless.

Amenities
Got have a pool escape to beat the Orlando heat, and you can easily do this in the on-site 11,000 square foot pool with waterslide, children’s wading pool, and 2 whirlpool spas. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get my feet wet, but I did take shade at the poolside bar. There is also a children
Hotel guests can also book their own “African safari,” the Wanyama Safari and Dinner for up-close animal encounters, which includes dinner.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge's pool is yet another reason to stay.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge’s pool is yet another reason to stay.

Other amenities include supervised children’s program, health club, and of course, the amazing Walt Disney World transportation system, complimentary to other Disney parks.

Dining
Two restaurants and a café give you plenty of dining options.

I’d highly recommend splurging with dinner at Jiko. Jiko’s décor is the warm and welcoming colors of the African landscape – browns, oranges, yellows, blues and reds. An open show kitchen with twin, orange, wood-burning ovens allows guests to watch the chefs prepare meals, such as the brick oven-fired flatbreads. The bar area is to your left and the Cape Town Wine Room straight ahead behind the glass walls of wines, where occasional wine tastings occur. The menu consists of flavors of traditional African, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, including vegan, vegetarian and meat-based dishes. The South African wine choices were spectacular and the food was an African tasting adventure. Jiko also caters to lactose and gluten intolerant diets also, but be sure to call ahead.

More views of the inspirational lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

More views of the inspirational lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Summary
I have to agree with fellow Hotel-Scoop writer Jodi Grundig:  “For animal-loving kids, you can’t beat Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge,” but the Animal Kingdom Lodge is off the Disney beaten path. That can be a bonus – a retreat amongst the chaos of theme parks, but it can also be exhausting, trekking back and forth via buses to al parks.  For me, it was worth getting away from it all to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

You can book online through the hotel website, or book through Priceline, Travelocity or Hotels.com.

Accommodations & Photos courtesy of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Check the hotel’s website for pricing.

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