In November I had the opportunity to stay at one of the places on my Disney Bucket List, The Animal Kingdom Lodge. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort at Walt Disney World positioned near the Animal Kingdom, the primary attraction at this resort is the animals. The resort is made up of two separate areas, Jambo House and Kidani Village and has several savannas where animals roam free and are viewable from room balconies and general guest viewing areas.
|The view at night from my balcony|
I stayed in a Arusha Savanna view standard room with 2 queen sized beds. The Arusha Savanna rooms appears to be the largest section of the resort (though I could be wrong) and while room rates only start at $265 a night for a rooftop view during value season, you’ll find that prices quickly rise if you want a savanna view room, which I’m guessing is the case for most people. For a fall weekend in November expect to pay $330 for that parking lot view. I paid $420 a night, plus taxes.
My frame of reference for Deluxe Resorts is a stay at the Polynesian in a standard room and a stay at the Boardwalk in a villa.
The simple things that I loved about the resort – it was simply beautiful, the rooms were accessible by hallways (no walking outside), and it had giraffes!
Themeing is where this resort excels. The lobby is designed after an African lodge and it felt like an African lodge, though I guess I wont really know that until I actually go to an African lodge. It had all the little touches you would expect and even the ones you wouldn’t expect, like giraffes in the fire extinguisher grating.
One thing that was cute, but annoying is that the hallways were named, such as the giraffe trail or the zebra trail. It’s cute, but not effective in communicating to new guests locations. It reminded me of when I was on the Carnival Elation and the decks had names instead of numbers, highly ineffective. You’ll notice that most ships have deck number instead of names. To add to the confusion, the hallways/trails are not well marked.
The themeing was so great that at night the place even smelled like animals. Maybe I just got “lucky” on my two nights there, but there was a definite animal scent in the evenings that wasn’t all that pleasant.
Rooms were well designed, they had lots of drawer space, a proper closet, 2 sinks in the sink area, which was separate from the toilet and shower (an issue I had with the Poly). What I didn’t like was that the room was a bit small for a Deluxe Resort, significantly smaller then at the Poly and because the room was small the sitting area was next to the TV. That’s a typical design in a Value or Moderate resort, I expected more space with a better sitting area at this resort.
One thing that I found odd was the water pressure, it was strong in the sinks, but sucked in the shower.
Unless your an Animal Kingdom fan, the location is probably the worst of all the deluxe resorts. You’ll need to take bus service to all parks and it’s not always a short ride. Though, I did think the bus service was better here then at the Epcot resorts, which has 4 stops and takes forever.
There are 2 restaurants and 1 quick service location at the resort. I’ll talk about my dining experience at Boma in another post. I did not get to eat at Jiko on this trip; but, I did eat at The Mara a couple times. The Mara had a lot of the usual foods you would expect and a few African items too. There were pizza’s, flat breads, couscous, chicken fingers, burgers and African stew. I did try the African stew and it was tasty, I would put it in the good food, but not the great food category. The thing I didn’t like was that there always seemed to be a line for food. However, at dinner time they did bring your food to your table which made it a better experience at night.
The Zawadi Marketplace was a fairly large and had a lot of the typically stuff you would find in a Disney gift shop, plus a few unique items to the resort too, in the African and animal theme.
|Even the vending machine was themed|
I did take a quick little tour of Kadani Village. Although I thought the resort was about the same size in footprint as Jambo House, the lobby and shop were significantly smaller. In this case, smaller was better, the resort had a much more intimate feel to it. Also, the common area to view the savanna’s was smaller and had one larger viewing area instead of several smaller little spots, making it easier to see the whole savanna from one point.
Overall I really liked this resort, I particularly liked the giraffes. I did have trouble reconciling the price of the resort with the resort offerings. If there were no animals here, the resort would be significantly overpriced, particularly when compared to the other deluxe resorts at Disney World. While I was able to easily say I could see myself staying at French Quarter or Art of Animation, I don’t necessarily see myself staying at this resort again unless I had a specific reason to.