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Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

We really wanted to stay at Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge, and managed to convince ourselves that it was worth it to spend a couple of nights with a savannah view room. Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers standard view rooms, which overlook the parking lot, and water view rooms, which overlook the pool area. You can also upgrade to a concierge-level room on the 6th floor, which offers guests exclusive access to concierge services, the concierge lounge (which has snacks and drinks available throughout the day), and the Sunrise Safari.

We drove up to the rather unassuming looking building and walked into the immense atrium. The lobby extends five stories with intricate woodcarvings and tribal chandeliers. It really is a work of art, and we were awe inspired by its breathtaking majesty. Not only is the hotel itself a work of art, it also contains one of the largest collections of African art in the United States, much of it on display in the atrium or in the corridors. After lifting our jaws off of the floor, we walked over to the front desk, where we received our room keys.

Animal Kingdom Lodge has three different savannahs (Sunset, Arusha, and Uzima) that you can view not only from savannah view rooms, but also from overlooks and hallway windows. Each savannah contains animals  (giraffes, angoli cattle, and bongos,ostriches, zebras, and kudu). The Arusha Savannah is the largest of the three savannahs, and the rooms facing this area almost wrap completely round it. Arusha also has the most public viewing areas including Arusha Rock, the largest and most popular public animal watching spot. The public viewing areas have signs that describe the different animals contained within each savannah. There are also Disney cast members at each overlook area to answer guest questions. Disney actually employs a number of native African cast members who work at  Animal Kingdom Lodge and are more than happy to talk to guests about their experiences in Africa.

We made our way to the room, and were impressed with the hand carved shields on each guestroom door. When we opened our door, we were treated to even more carved wood fixtures and furniture. Our guestroom contained two queen-size beds with carved headboards, a carved armoire, table and chairs, refrigerator, and balcony overlooking an African-style savannah. It was dark when we checked in, but with our telephoto lens, could make out an impala and bongo into distance. The room was very comfortable with a balcony.

We woke up early each morning to explore this impressive resort in relative quiet. The savannahs appear very natural,  the zoological staff  place food in areas close to the overlook areas, so that guests can watch the various animals graze across each savannah.

In addition to the savannahs, Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a number of other ways for guests to be entertained. The hotel features three restaurants of varying opulence. The Mara features a counter-service menu with some African-inspired cuisine. This is also the restaurant where guests can pick up bottled beverages and pre-packaged snacks for a long day at the parks. Boma is the hotel’s buffet, and has been regarded by some guests as the best buffet in Walt Disney World. The buffet features an African-inspired menu that changes daily.  Jiko The Cooking Place, is one of Walt Disney World’s “signature” restaurants, and also features a menu that changes daily. Reservations are a must at Jiko, especially if you’re interested in sitting at the chef’s table, where you can watch world-class cuisine prepared right before your eyes. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, Jiko currently requires two table service credits, while Boma requires only one. The restaurants are all situated on the east side of the hotel near the pool. Guests can walk down a spiraling wood carved staircase from the atrium, by the Victoria Falls Lounge (bar), down to the restaurant area.

A hotel in Florida is never complete without a pool, and  Animal Kingdom Lodge has a very nicely themed pool area complete with a waterslide. The pool area also features two hot tubs, a wading pool, poolside bar, kid’s playground, and a massage and fitness area.

Unlike most hotels, the Animal Kingdom Lodge is operated similar to a cruise ship with activities and events scheduled throughout each day. Flamingo feedings, wildlife games, medallion rubbings, and African folktales by the Arusha Firepit are just some of the activities that guests can partake in. We were at the theme parks for most the days that we stayed here, but we did manage to participate in the night vision viewing at the Uzima Savannah where we were allowed to use a pair of night vision binoculars to scan the savannah for animals as they wandered the area under the cover of darkness.

Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge is quite an impressive hotel that is much more than just a place to sleep and shower. The hotel feels very much like another theme park that gives guests a bevy of entertainment options. It is a "Vacation" within a vacation.

 The Animal Kingdom Lodge is an amazing hotel, an exotic escape, and an African hideaway from the bustle of the Disney theme parks.

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