Family Travel Review: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a very unique and special resort located in Walt Disney World. This African lodge-style resort sits in the very middle of a 43-acre wildlife preserve.
Upon entering the resort you really feel as though you’ve entered a part of Africa. From the drums, wooden artifacts and masks to the overall ambiance, everything is so authentic, so incredibly realistic, that you find yourself submersed in African culture. Looking out the window, exotic animals walk the grounds and can be viewed from the observatory area, or if you opted for the Savannah balcony room (as we did) you can watch them from the comfort of your own room!
Our room was comfortable, equipped with two queen size beds and decorated in an African theme. Disney keeps families in mind when designing their washrooms, leaving the sinks separate from the toilet and bathtub. When you have two kids brushing their teeth and dad wants to take a shower at the same time – no worries. There is plenty to see and do on the premises and kids will never get bored.
TIP: Savannah rooms are lovely if you want to view the animals right off your suite, however I do want to note that there is a neat little elevated rock platform (Arusha Rock) just off the lobby of the resort which offers an incredible view and up close glimpse of the animals. Something to keep in mind if you want to save a bit of money and opt for a standard room.
Every person who has stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge has raved about the food, so we were excited to see what all of the fuss was about.For lunch we decided on Sanaa. As we were staying at the Jambo House (main lodge), we had to make our way to Kidani Village to eat there. We hadn’t made reservations, which was our one mistake as the wait was about 40 minutes for lunch. If you are planning to eat at Sanaa, I highly recommend reservations.
The service here is beyond and the food is incredible, offering both Indian and African flavors. After we sat down, we informed the hostess that our daughter had a dairy allergy. Not only did they provide us with a vegan menu, they also had the chef come out and discuss various meal options. He took his time and gave a couple of his recommendations for menu items, it was lovely.
Our food was delicious and some of the best I’ve had at Disney World. While dining we sat by the huge windows and were able to watch the giraffes as they walked by. The kids got a real kick out of that. Was also a nice distraction for them as they waited for our meal.
Boma – Flavors of Africa
For dinner, we opted for Boma. Located inside Animal Kingdom Lodge, this buffet style restaurant is very spacious and there isn’t much of a wait time.
Boma is designed to resemble an African marketplace. The decor like the rest of the resort is very rich and exotic. In regards to food, all I can say is wow! There are so many different options for everyone regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore.
In regards to cuisine, the options are almost endless. You can also watch as the chefs prepare the dishes as the kitchen is open. Very cool! The buffet had everything from pistachio crusted salmon to curries, pastas and salads (just to name a few). The desserts were incredible as well. Love, loved this restaurant.
Boma is also open for a full breakfast buffet, but as we royally filled ourselves for dinner, we weren’t up for a huge breakfast, so I made my way down to The Mara to bring up some food for the kids. The Mara is a fast casual dining restaurant set up like a cafeteria. They have a full breakfast selection of eggs, waffles, toast and cereal.
Everyone has raved about the Mickey waffles, so I was a little sad that my daughter would be unable to try one. Turns out, they have a special allergy free mix, all you have to do is ask. They made her a special batch and personally I couldn’t tell the difference. They are delicious! Food isn’t overly priced here and it is a good choice for those looking to stay on a budget.
There is plenty to do at this resort! They offer everything from special animal programs to Movies Under The Stars. If you are looking for your kids to let off a little steam, the Hakuna Matata Playground is a great choice, as is Simba’s Cubhouse. The Cubhouse is a supervised activity center for kids ages 3-12 and is open for guests from 4:30 pm to midnight. Of course, there is also plenty of swimming. The property has two pools on premises, both with water slides.
We LOVED our stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to stay at Walt Disney World. The food is incredible, in fact it is some of the best at WDW in my humble opinion. In addition to all the many activities, there are lots of African artifacts, masks, art and music playing in the lobby. We spent our morning just touring the lobby and our kids (then 2 and 4) had a great time.
There wasn’t any cons that we experienced, however for those spending a lot of time at the Magic Kingdom note that Walt Disney World is HUGE and if you are looking to spend a lot of time at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom Lodge is quite far from that particular park. We were only here one day and spent the rest of our visit at the Grand Floridian which is a better choice for those looking to stay closer to Magic Kingdom. When you have small children, you may want to take into account how far the hotels are from the parks you are planning to spend the most time. Switching shuttle buses and then jumping on the monorail several times can be daunting after a full day at the park.