For a while now I’ve wanted to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It would be hard to find a review of the best Disney World resorts and not see this one in the top 3. Due to the pandemic, the Animal Kingdom Lodge area was actually closed along with most of their dining options. However, the Animal Kingdom Villas were still open and available for reservations, so we went for it!
This Resort is absolutely stunning inside the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby area (the Lodge was still open, they just aren’t reserving any rooms in that area at the time). We made a special trip over to the Lodge, which was about a 10-minute walk from our Villas over on the Killani side. If you are staying in the Jambo Villas, you will actually be closer to the Animal Kingdom Lodge than we were.
Everything from the hardwood floors to the high ceilings is beautifully designed to capture the unique décor that you would find in the African culture. The huge open window and bridge above the lobby area really make for a unique experience.
We also noticed there are plenty of areas where you can sit out on the deck to overlook the Savannah and watch the animals graze. There is also a large patio area right outside the lobby where you can walk out to get some close-up shots of the animals. You will also find a cast member who has knowledge of the different animals out in the Savannah.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge scores very high on everyone’s list mostly because of the animals and the experience that you receive, and I would have to agree on this. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only resort right now that allows you to immerse yourself in a completely different country.
The Pool Area
The pool area was surrounded by beautiful waterways and palm trees and as you can see, the pool is a beautiful blue with a slide. The pool looks plenty big enough for guests to splash and have a good time without swimming on top of each other. We also notice there were several seating areas with nice clean tables down by the pool. You will find the only restaurant open in the Animal Kingdom Lodge right next to the pool, however, it is only open for mobile order, and we were not able to try it at this time.
Update: Sanaa and Boma have opened back up for reservations. Both of these restaurants serve amazing African cuisine.
Our room was a Savannah view Villa in the Kidani Village. The rooms are somewhat plain, but the view is definitely worth the price. Every morning we woke up to different animals in the Savanna. If you’re lucky enough to “sleep in,” 8:00 a.m. is feeding time. During feeding time, you might see some giraffes, zebras, bunnies, and ostriches. The morning time was the most active time of the day for the animals.
There’s truly nothing like having a hot cup of coffee out on the balcony while watching the animals majestically eat their food.
(Photo taken from our room balcony)
In our room, we had a queen bed and a sofa bed, a small sitting area, a large bathroom and because this is a villa there was also a small kitchenette. The kitchenette included a sink, toaster, microwave, refrigerator, eating utensils, and a coffee maker. We did have our food sent in from Amazon Fresh to save some extra time and cash! If you’d like to see how to use Amazon Fresh we go over it in great detail here.
One thing to keep in mind when you do have Amazon Fresh delivered to your Resort is to be sure to go to bellhop to retrieve your items. If you do go to the front desk, be very specific and let them know that it’s groceries you are picking up. I made the mistake of telling a cast member we had packages delivered which caused a whole lot of unnecessary confusion. 15 minutes later, we pointed out that they were groceries… We were then directed to the bellhop. Learn from my mistakes!
Staying in a Villa made having our snacks and food delivered so much easier than in a normal room. This is mainly because regular rooms do not have a microwave or a toaster. To cut down on cost and the time we would have to spend waiting in line for breakfast, we had breakfast in our room. We then packed some snacks and drinks in our backpack which made our time at Disney so much cheaper! Rather than paying $4 for 1 bottle of water, we paid that for a 24 pack of water bottles instead.
I do have to warn you, I have yet to have an Amazon Fresh order come to us correctly. Every time we use it we always anticipate receiving at least one item incorrectly or not at all. However, Amazon does make it very easy to either reorder your items or receive a full refund for the incorrect items delivered or not delivered.
Breaking Down The Pros and Cons
The animals are so close to guests, and they are so much fun to just watch. I could spend hours just watching them stroll around the Savannah eating grass. It’s relaxing!
The Lodge is absolutely beautiful. There are simply no pictures out there that do this resort any justice.
You don’t feel like you are at a Disney Resort, it really feels like you have been transported to another country.
The cast members were very nice and informative.
You can tell that the cast members really care about the animals and their well-being.
You can watch the animals eat in the morning, while you sip on your coffee from the comfort of your balcony.
The beds were really comfortable. I did ask a cast member if the Deluxe resorts have better mattresses than the value and moderate resorts and they confirmed they are.
Because this is listed as a deluxe resort, you do have those deluxe amenities available to you.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge has some of the best-rated restaurants on Disney property.
The transportation needs some serious help. They only have buses for transportation whereas most of the other deluxe resorts have several transportation options. One morning we spent 45 minutes waiting for a bus to the Animal Kingdom.
The rooms are very basic, yes they were nice but they really don’t hang with the other deluxe resorts. This is where you are paying for the experience comes into play.
The hallways are padded, making it hard to pull your luggage but also nice to walk on at the end of a long day. We were the very last villa at the end of the resort hallway, by the time we got our luggage to the room we were panting.
The resort is far away from everything; you are not really near any other resorts. The closest thing to you is the Animal Kingdom. If you are planning on going to other restaurants at different resorts or Disney Springs, it could take a while to get there. Make sure to give yourself plenty of travel time.
If you don’t book a Savannah room you will have a view of the parking lot or trees.
No balloons are allowed in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Villas, or Animal Kingdom. So if you buy your child a Mickey balloon be prepared to “Let it go, Let it go”. Due to the animals being in close proximity, Disney does not want balloons near them.
No quick places to grab some food, only the little market.
It will ruin you, as in you’ll never want to stay at another resort!
We were the last bus stop for the
Magical Express Mears Transportation, our trip from the airport took 2 hours. Next time, we will grab an Uber and spend the extra cash to save us time.
The in-room and the bathroom lighting were very dim making it very hard to get ready.
To Sum It Up
If you are looking for a romantic resort this isn’t it, go to the Grand Floridian. If you are looking for a cheap resort this also isn’t it, go to the All-Star value resorts.
Now, if you are looking for the only resort on Walt Disney property that immerses you into a different country, allows you to watch the animals roam on a Savanna, and is specifically for those that love animals well then you found your resort. I would rate Animal Kingdom Lodge #2 on the deluxe resort’s list. The Grand Floridian is stunning, romantic, and will always hold the number one spot in my book. But this one is definitely a very close number 2.
If you are planning on taking your own snacks, here’s a list of grocery stores that now deliver to resorts. Having a hard time trying to figure what would be best to snack on? Well, we have a list of our favorite snacks for you to get some good ideas. Our packing list for Disney World goes over what to pack for adults and older kids or check out our new babies and toddler packing list. Need help planning your next trip? Check out Getaway Today for travel packages and tickets, Undercover Tourist for discount tickets, and Hotels.com for hotel and car rental deals!