When Doug and I joined DVC (somewhat impulsively while on our honeymoon) there were only 2 resorts at the time to buy into: the Aulani (where we were staying) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. One of the perks of DVC is the ability to book your “home resort” at 11 months out. Now, as amazing as the Aulani was, there was no benefit to being able to book there before the rest of the DVC world can because, well, it will be another 7 years from this point before we can afford to go back.
That being said, by default we chose AKL. Admittedly if the Boardwalk or the Beach Club was still available (keep in mind we did do this on our honeymoon so we didn’t really know about/look into resale options) we would have booked there. But, the reality is, I LOVE the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The only thing that makes this hotel “less” than the aforementioned is because you can’t walk to a park or have some sort of “fun” transportation to a park from the hotel. But at the same time, it’s perhaps this “lack of convenience” that contributes to one of it’s best features. There are no kids there.
OK. This is not to say it is not kid friendly, it’s Disney, OF COURSE it’s kid friendly. But whenever I have stayed there (both as DVC and non-DVC) I’ve never really noticed an abundance of children. I know they are there. I see them in the lobby listening to stories and creating crafts. I see some of them by the pool. But there’s no “OMG THERE ARE CHILDREN RUNNING AROUND AND SCREAMING EVERYWHERE” feeling there.
Animal Kingdom Lodge has two building/areas/sections: Jambo House (the original building) and Kidani Village (the DVC add-on). If you are DVC you can stay at either location. If you are not DVC you can stay at either location. This post specifically will be about Jambo House.
Let’s discuss it’s awesomeness and beauty for a moment.
Let’s talk animals for a moment. I mean, it’s the ANIMAL Kingdom Lodge. You can see a variety of animals just from wandering around the resort. (Tip: If you are not staying here and looking for something “free” to do, swing by the hotel and check out the animals). There’s multiple Savannahs and Savannah views. One of our favorite discoveries is a hidden “nook” that overlooks that Savannah with rocking chairs. They also have outlets there if you need to recharge your devices while you relax and recharge yourself. Because you can only access this area through a door, it often goes unnoticed and so you often have it all to your self.
The pool area is large and peaceful and comes complete with a poolside bar! Plus, you can choose a chair that either allows you to look at the pool itself, or the Savannah. Albeit, it’s not the pool at the Yacht and Beach club, but this pool is still delightful and has a slide and hot tubs hidden away.
At night there are two fire pits, one indoors and one outdoors where you can sit, relax, sip a beverage of your choice.
For food options, there is a quick service at The Mara. You have certain standards there, but you also have twists and African cuisine, making even the quick service a unique dining experience. Don’t even get me started on the Zebra Domes and flatbread! YUM! Of course Mickey Waffles are available for breakfast. There’s Boma if you prefer a buffet option. Again, includes standards as well as African cuisine. And then there’s Jiko. Jiko is getting it’s own post, but it’s the “fine dining” option at the resort (amazing!). It also has Victoria Falls lounge for cocktails or snacks.
As I previously mentioned, although you could see the animals from public access points of the resort, my personal opinion is that staying in a Savannah view room is a must.
Waking up with the animals, falling asleep to the animals, it’s pretty freaking awesome. Each Savannah offers different possible animals so you may see different ones with every stay. This past trip from Princess offered the added bonus of being able to see the Star Wars fireworks from our room. It’s definitely a view that’s hard to say goodbye to.
I had previously mentioned that there’s no “fun” transportation or anything with in walking distance, but, as far as having to bus it goes, AKL provides pretty sweet spots. At the resort itself, it has the screen which reveal the times for the arrival of each bus. I believe they are implementing this across the board, but it is definitely at AKL for now. In addition, at MGM, sorry Hollywood Studios and Epcot AKL is the first bus stop. I mean, it’s still taking a bus, but hey, if you gotta bus it, that’s not a bad drop off/pick up location.
Essentially my words (and pictures) do not do this resort justice. What it boils down to, if you can stay here, do it.