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Personal Review: We had the pleasure of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge during its opening week back in April 2001 (see our trip report with review of guest rooms and hotel amenities). Since then, we've had many wonderful visits -- Dave Marx considers this his absolute favorite Disney resort!
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Last edited by Jennifer Marx; 01-26-2010 at 09:53 AM..
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Our first stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge had been in May 2004 and we were both really looking forward to it. Somehow, it just didn't live up to our expectations and I suspect a lot of that was down to a particularly nasty set of insect bites I experienced while staying there. While the Cast Members were very good about it and moved us to another room, it just didn't leave good memories of the place. Still, we continued to visit, as it's home to one of our favourite Disney restaurants, Boma and, when we heard that the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas would be the latest addition to the DVC family,
We booked on the first day that bookings opened to those who hadn't purchased points at the Lodge and all we could get for the nights we wanted was a one bedroom villa with a standard view. I was a bit disappointed not to get a savannah view, but I wanted to experience the facilities and the theming, so it wasn't the end of the world.
Fast forward to December 2007 (see our trip report). Our room was on the fifth floor of the main building. All of the new DVC accommodations are on either the fifth or sixth floors, depending on whether you've booked concierge. You can book concierge here, along with value accommodations and of course standard and savannah views, so there's a lot of choice. Eventually, more DVC accommodations will also open in the new Kidani Village building that's currently under construction and is due for completion in 2009.
When we walked into our toom, the first thing that struck me was the size of the place. It seemed very big.
For those who donít know, with a one bedroom DVC villa, you get a full kitchen and I mean full! Itís literally got everything you could ever want, along with a living room, bathroom with a spa bath and main bedroom. Of course, because these rooms are all brand new, they have all the latest mod cons like flat screen TVís, so my husband was in his element. I immediately loved the dťcor and all the little touches. We could even see Simba in some of the artwork and one of my favourites was the savannah sunset dťcor above the bath. A really neat touch.
We wandered around for a while, just taking it all in and taking photos of everything we could see. It was truly stunning and far beyond my dreams. It was easy to see how a family could stay here for a week, especially with all the storage space. Everywhere you looked, there was space to put things. It was so luxurious and you just had everything you could ever want or need here.
As you can probably tell, I was very impressed with the latest offering from the DVC, but if I had one complaint, it would be that it was very dark in there. Part of that was down to the theming of the place, but part of it was also down to the lack of lighting as well. There didnít seem to be many lights anywhere in the villa, but that was really my only issue with it.
As for the view, we had a lovely view over Uzima Pool from our huge balcony - it felt like it went on forever! We did wonder if it would be a bit loud, but once the doors were shut to the balcony, you couldn't hear a thing. With them open, you did get strains of children playing in the pool, so it seems that the soundproofing here was first class.
As to the rest of the resort, I've already commented that Boma is one of our favourite restaurants on property and we also returned to Jiko during our stay, enjoying it a lot more than on our first visit, although it's still not one of our top favourites.
The real draw here is the animals though and we spent a lot of time at the savannahs, as we didn't have a savannah view. We were very lucky and, during the course of our stay (and visits back later in the vacation), we saw a herb of zebra up close, kudu, giraffes, ostriches and a herd of Ankole cattle. You really do need to try and get to the savannahs at feeding time, which is early morning and mid afternoon, as then you will see a lot of animal activity very close to you.
As we walked around the resort - particularly the main pool, hot tub and the kidsí play area, we also couldn't help but think how quiet and peaceful it was. I think thatís one of the great beauties of Animal Kingdom Lodge. Itís so far away from everything that you do feel as if youíre in the middle of nowhere and really out on an African savannah. It's great theming, but of course, that is one of the problems with this resort - it is literally on one of the edges of Disney property, away from most places and it does take longer to get around from here.
We weren't troubled at all by any construction noise during our stay, although I know other people have been. It was a bit odd to see the cranes in the distance (and I mean the mechanical ones, not the animals!) with work underway on the DVC resort, but they did do everything they could to disguise them.
beautifully themed rooms with just about everything you could need
the ability to view animals out on the savannahs either from the public viewing area or your room
two wonderful restaurants
some beautiful grounds
location - it's very remote from the rest of Disney property, which means it takes longer to get around from here
lack of lighting in the rooms
construction work underway on new DVC resort
Outside the Church on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg on our Baltic cruise. Read the pre-trip report for western Canada, Disney World for Bagman Days to remember Bill (LizardCop) and our Disney cruise.
We have stayed many times at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. In fact, it is our favorite resort to stay at
Our first trip to AKL was in May 2004, followed by December 2004, April 2005, December 2005, and August 2006!
The one thing I love most about the Animal Kingdom Lodge is walking into the grand lobby, and the smell of incense burning! It just calms me, and to look thru the huge panes of window at the back of the lobby, it's just so comforting. I feel like I've been transplanted to Africa, never mind that I'm in central Florida! We also enjoy walking down the various trails (both inside the Lodge and outside) to see all the different animals. Seeing a baby giraffe just a few weeks after it has been born and watching it from not too far away was thrilling.
On our first trip to Animal Kingdom Lodge, we reserved a regular room, and were happily upgraded to a savanna room, overlooking the Sunset savanna. Magical! We've also had rooms overlooking Arusha Rock (my favorite area), and we've had a pool view room on the Zebra trail as well. While we did miss the view of the animals from our balcony, there were many opportunities to watch them in other areas of the resort. However there's nothing more great that waking up, opening up the blinds, and watching the animals right outside your door! If you can afford the savanna room, I'd highly recommend it at least once!
I can't say enough good things about the pool at the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort. Having the zero entry with small children is a godsend. They could just walk in and out at their own leisure (and power). The pool is quite large, not too deep, and has a great water slide that we've spent many hours going down! My kids have also enjoyed the playground here. While not large by any means, it was big enough to keep them entertained (and to help them burn off some energy)!
The kids have also found many things to do at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We've participated in decorating animal cookies at Boma (in the afternoon). They've made animal Christmas ornaments in the lobby, and done animal rubbings as well (putting paper over "stamps" in the floor and rubbing with a crayon). Traversing the trails looking for animals is also a favorite of theirs, as well as rocking in the big rocking chairs on some of the overlooks. Don't forget the night vision goggles as well out on Arusha Rock - another fun experience!
The food options at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are varied and should suit everyone's needs. We love Mara for it's great selection (including Zebra Domes ) and having cartoons playing in the back to keep the children entertained. Boma is a fantastic restaurant for both breakfast and dinner (we've done both). Don't forget to ask for the "frunch" at breakfast....a delicious juice drink. Dinner had a variety of both traditional and African offerings, and even this picky meat and potatos girl had no problem finding plenty to eat! We finally made it to Jiko on our last trip, and had an outstanding meal. The food was delicious, and again, quite a varied selection from which to choose. Even the kids enjoyed their meal here, especially the desserts.
A big selling point for me on the Animal Kingdom Lodge is not having to share a bus with another resort. While the location of the Lodge is somewhat remote, we've been lucky enough to have great bus experiences, and things aren't really that far when you're not making 3 of 4 stops along the way.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is by far the most unique hotel on property. You WILL feel like you are in Africa as soon as you see the entrance sign surrounded tall grasses that you might see in a Savannah.
As we drove in I felt like we were very separate from the rest of the property and I didn't really like that. Of course you are 5 minute bus ride to Animal Kingdom but all the parks are a bit of a hike. The lobby was very similar in height and look to Wilderness Lodge but that is where the similarities end. Lots of interesting artwork and such to look at. The gift shop is just off the right of the lobby and down from that is the staircase down to the sit down restaurants.
We had a Savannah view room and it did not disappointment. The zebras were just below us and I could hear them ripping up the grass to munch on! The room was a bit darker than I like but it was just fine for this trip. Bathrooms had all the usual things in it, nothing unusual.
One thing that did bother me but probably only because I was just starting to have morning sickness was the constant wood smoke smell. As soon as you step off the bus it hits you. Like I said it was probably due to morning sickness and nothing else.
The animal look out areas were great. And I wish we had gone to fire pit but we didn't have time.
The pool was great. I really enjoyed walking in and out of the pool rather than climbing up the ladder. It's a zero entry pool which was kind of looks like a lake surrounded by rocks. Right near the pool is the quick service food court. It was convenient as you could just run in to fill your mug up while we were relaxing by the pool.
Most unique hotel on property
Wild life surrounds you
Zero entry pool
Price wasn't that bad compared to other Deluxe resorts
How far away you are from the rest of the "world"
Wood smoke smell (well if you are pregnant it might bother you )
I've stayed at the AKL three times (twice in concierge.)
The hotel wraps itself around your heart the moment you walk in from the portico. The vaulted ceiling in the lobby makes you draw in your breath -- and that gives you the opportunity to smell the wonderful spices in the air.
The staff is extremely helpful and very warm. We've had some of the best conversations with the Cast Members, many of whom are from Africa and love to talk about their homeland with joy and animation that makes me want to visit.
The rooms are spacious and have lovely carved furnishings. The double-sink is a blessing and the large closet is great.
The beds are firm and really helped my back and legs relax after a long day in the parks.
The savannah view is worth the money -- there's nothing like watching the sun rise over the animals grazing at your feet. You can even hear them crunching as they eat!
The pool has a zero entry area that's wonderful for little kids. It's worth bringing goggles just to see how well the imagineers have made the bottom of the pool look like a natural watering hole. The hot tubs are great too!
The Mara is a very nice quick service food spot with great grab-n-go options and a unique menu. Boma is hands-down one of our favorite places to eat -- don't forget to ask for the Frunch (a fantastic fruit juice!) I haven't tried Jiko yet, but people rave about it.
One tip, try to walk around and see as much of the authentic African art, textiles and artifacts as you can. Also notice the amazing light fixtures of the whole resort -- from the bathrooms, to the elevators, hallways, lobby, and restaurants.
Concierge is amazing and the Sunrise Safari is worth every penny for concierge.
I stayed here once at a travel agents learning seminar and I LOVED it, but I was alone, with only another agent (who I didn't know sharing the room)
The quality was amazing everything was perfect from the entrance in the lobby to the view from the window. I could not find a problem there at all, even if I wanted to.
Acessibility is by bus ONLY and it is quite a distance away from everything except the AK. I personally think that for the price of a Luxury Resort, there should be some other form of transportation to and from the parks. AND the waits were long between buses
I wasn't paying for the trip that I was on, but I checked on the price they would have charged and found it to be high in comparison, although you ARE staying in a VERY unique situation so it IS understandable.
The Theme is unbeaten by any restort ever made Disney or Non.
The Amenities...top notch Disney, as far as things go but I marked them down to a 9 because of two points...the first is the distance between the lobby and my room. I found it to take away from the experience of the day at the parks to then have to walk all that distance when I got off the bus. The other point is minor but the lighting throughout the entire inside of the resort seemed to be too dim. I guess that it is part of the themeing, but I found it a little to dim in the common areas.
As for Magic, once again Disney hits the mark, I would go even higher if the rating would allow it. Where else could you enjoy your morning cup of coffee on the balconey to you room as you watch giraffe waltz by ??
Over All just an '8' but this resort is a definite "MUST-SEE" even if you decide NOT to stay there.
"A dream is a wish your heart makes."
NOVEMBER 2001--ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE
JUNE 2002--ALL STAR MOVIES
JUNE 2003--ALL STAR MOVIES
AUGUST 2004-PORT ORLEANS RIVERSIDE GRAND GATHERING
THIS is Disney Magic at its best....there is nothing like looking out your window and seeing wild animals casually walking around. Plus, Boma is one of my favorite restaurants and Jiko isn't bad either!!
We stayed in June of 2004 for our anniversary. We booked a standard view room but were upgraded complimentary at check in to a savannah view room. We loved this resort!!! We have stayed at GF, Poly, and CR and had good experiences at all of them, but AKL is our favorite. We found this resort to be a completely transporting experience.
The smells that fill the lobby, the huge window and bridge overlooking the savannah, and the warm decor are beautiful. We loved coming back from the parks every day just to walk through the lobby. The rooms were lovely as well and had lots of beautiful furnishings and touches, such as the mosquito netting canopy and the hand carved armiore and headboards. And what can beat sitting on your balcony with your morning coffee and watching the giraffes have breakfast on the savannah.
We didn't mind the busses since AKL was the only stop it seemed not to take as long as the resorts that have to share routes with each other. The gift shop was amazing.
We enjoyed Boma for breakfast, but not for dinner (too exotic for us during dinner).
We loved it so much we bought DVC here so we can keep coming back!
Resort is large and walks to your room can be very long!
It is more distant from all the other parks except AK. Some don't like the bus only transportation.
Last edited by mickeycrazy; 01-10-2008 at 08:16 PM..
I'd originally stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge in August, 2003. My only complaint about AKL at the time was the rudeness and lack of knowedge on the part of some of the front desk staff.
This time around, I did not encounter any rudeness whatsoever but I did find the staff to still be less than knowledgable in important areas. For example, perhaps because AKL is new to the DVC family, the staff are not still fully aware of how DVC works. Whatever the reason, there was a tremendous amount of confusion regarding my room reservation when I checked in and it took a VERY long time to get it sorted out. Also, apparently Disney is having trouble with some of the new furniture they purchased for the DVC accommodations. For example, our sofa bed was broken and the only way they could get it to work for the night was to have someone from maintenance come up with a crowbar and actually pry it out of the frame. All of this was happening late at night and it took three separate Disney cast members coming one at a time to our room before the issue was eventually resolved. And they did change our room to a different one the next day so that ended our room woes. In my opinion, a lot of the problems with the staff at AKL and Villas stem from a lack of communication between their various departments. As a result of this, things get overlooked. For example, we didn't get our trash and towel service or full room cleanings on the appropriate days and each time, I had to phone in order to get any service at all. Perhaps the biggest complaint I have about AKL at the moment is the placement of one of their designated smoking areas. It is located just to the left of the front entrance as you exit the doors. The problem with this is that EVERYONE has to walk right through this area on the way to and from the buses. It is a highly unpleasant experience and could prove to be a health and safety issue for those guests with health problems such as asthma or guests with children who don't want to expose their kiddies to second-hand smoke.
Those glitches being said, everything else about Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas was as magical as it could possibly be. The bus service was the best I've experienced on property. Yes, the resort is a little farther away from most of the parks but I didn't find the travelling time to be even as long as the buses from other hotels mainly because of not having to share with any other resort or not having to make multiple stops within the resort itself.
The decor in the new villa rooms is stunning and there is a ton of room for clothing. We had a full size closet plus an armoire and tons more space in the drawers below the television unit. The flatscreen TV and DVD player are also welcome additions to the studio accommodations. From our room overlooking the Arusha savanna, animals were visible pretty much 24/7 and we spent a great deal of time on our balcony ooh-ing and aah-ing over them.
I was amazed by the wealth of activities available for folks of all ages. I tried their culinary tour and found it to be fantastic - much better than I had anticipated.
As always, their restaurants didn't disappoint, the pool and hot tub were wonderful and the grounds were as gorgeous as ever.
I will definitely stay here again but not until they resolve the issue concerning the placement of the designated smoking area.
1968 - Disneyland
1976 - Offsite
1984 - Offsite
February, 2003 - All Star Music
August, 2003 - Animal Kingdom Lodge & Wilderness Lodge
December,2003 - Wilderness Lodge
December, 2004 - Beach Club Villas
August, 2005 - Port Orleans, French Quarter
November/December, 2005 - Old Key West
July/August, 2006 - Disneyland Hotel
January, 2007 - Boardwalk Villas
Who says you cant write a review six months after your stay
We stayed at the AKL 6 months ago from today and i miss every aspect of it. Everyone always had a smile on there face we loved. Everything about I will just give each section a review
My Overall Rating- My overall rating was a 10 everything was wonderful only thing that could of made the trip better was cooler weather but why am I talking about that as we were there in June and June is like only the hottest time of the year especially coming from Washington where it rains all year long
Quality- Everything was up to standard I believe our room had been recently renovated as there were plasma tv in our room everything was there that we needed and this made our trip quite enjoyable. We also knew about construction before we had arrived thanks to disboards.com but decided not to switch resorts as we had wanted to stay at AKL for quite some time and we didnt know the next time we would be back as we are from Washington it isnt like we can make a day trip to WDW happen in a heart beat and Disneyland is more covient so we knew we would probally be down there a few more times before we got back to WDW
Accesibility- Everything was very accesable they have the zero entry pool which is great and plenty of elevators so I think it was very accesable for anyone
Affordability- The cost for our room was quite spendy at least in my opinon we spent about $350 a night on hotel room alone we had a Savannah view room with bunk bed which i knew was going to be more expensive than a standard room with out bunk beds and also we went during the Summer season so it made it even more spendy but all in all we would be happy to pay the price again with all things considered
Theme- The theme at AKL was amazing we really felt like we were in Africa as I had read mousesavers.com foward and backward in my sleep and also disboards.com foward and backward in my sleep I knew many things and tricks to make the most out of our vacation even before i had heard of the Passporter we knew what to expect and many of the little details down to the bedding. Everything was amazing and if you would have not told me i wasnt in Africa but in Florida i may have never known
Ammeities- The amenities at AKL are quite nice as it is deluxe there were 3 restraunts i bar/lounge and a pool bar all at AKL. Also there was a arcade, a gift shop, a wonderfully themed pool with a waterslide, animals, night vision goggles, ect. and many other fun things to do well here at AKL we were not bored for one single moment
Magic- The magic here at AKL was amazing there were alot of disney touches from the hidden mickeys across the hotel, the mickey carpet in the hotel hallway, the hidden mickeys were everywhere. Also the Cast Members made this trip very magical the Cast Members at Zawaidi get a honorable mention, there was this one cast member there(I'm bad and forgot her name) that got to know our family since there seemed to be one family in Zawaidi 24/7 which said we love to shop and love to spend money lol they learned where we were from and by the end of our trip we would talk to them lots.
Disney and AKL is a place that brings tears to my eyes I hope you see how much I loved AKL hope you have enjoyed reading my review of one of the greatest hotels around AKL
May 1997 Disneyland--- Offsite
May 2002 Disneyland---Offsite---Embassy Suites Anahiem South
June 2007 Disneyworld--- Animal Kingdom Lodge
Last edited by disneydance; 01-25-2008 at 12:28 AM..
We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge back in December 2005. We had a savannah view room. We received all our requests, we were on the third floor, in the Zebra Trail section, in room 3463. First, the theming of the animals and the savannah were amazing. It was truly magical waking up every morning and see the animals outside your door. The rooms were spacious and themed so well. I think that's what stood out to us the most. The theming and the ambiance. Just walking through the lobby was magical. The smells, the sounds, the sights. We also did the storytelling around the firepit one night. Since it was Dec. it was a bit chilly that night and it was nice to be sitting around the cozy fire. That same night we ate at Boma. Not really one of our favorites, but we're glad we tried it. We also did the nighttime viewing that they provide. That was a really neat experience.
This is from my trip report:
Our room was on the Uzima Savannah, to the right off the lobby. When we walked in it was overwhelming. We had our king bed which was another request. And then we opened the curtains and looked out. WOW It was surreal to see the animals right there! The ankole cattle was one of the first things we spotted. Then some bongos and some gazelle. The thing I found the funniest was that by leaving the door open you would hear "mmoooooooooo" every few minutes This place has what I call a view!
On the down side, Andy made a point to bring up the out of the way location. It is furthur from all the parks except the AK. But we really didn't have a lot of problems with WDW transportation. It just took a little longer to get where you were going.
It is a deluxe so the price is a lot, but it is one of the cheaper of the deluxes. You do have to pay a good bit to stay savannah view, but I think it's worth it!
We definitely can't wait to stay here again! When I think of choosing a special place to stay for a special occasion, this is the place I think of
We stayed at this resort in October of 2006. It was myself (28 at the time) and my friend (also 28 at the time) and another friend joined in after a few days (27).
From the minute you walk in the lobby you know that this place is going to be nice. We loved the lobby area and couldnt stop staring at everything it was so beautiful and so much detail put into everything. We had a great room. I dont remember the name of the location but it was to your left immediately after walking in the lobby doors. It was only a few rooms down that hall but it was nice and quiet and had a nice balcolny. The room was very spacious and we loved the decorating and details in the rooms.
The views from all over the hotel of the animals were amazing. I didnt even feel like i was in florida at times you felt like you were on a safari. The pool is amazing and absolutely large in size. We loved it! The food court was a bit small and hard to find at first. We loved the store and the lobby area was fun to lay in a chair and relax at times. We did go to the bar in the hotel one night which was nice with a few tv's and nice little conversational setups to drink your drinks. We did eat at Boma which i thought was great. It was fun to try something different and maybe something I wouldnt choose anywhere else.
The room maids were great. However no towel animals. Come to think of it, i have never seen any towel animals. The beds were nice and comfy and we liked the coffee and tea nook they had set up on top of the mini fridge. It was a very nice room.
The shop was conviently located right next to the bus stop which made it easy to pick up your packages on your way back to the room.
Pros: The resturants, the views of the animals and savannah, the service was great, the amenities were great.
Cons; The price. When you only have a few people splitting the cost its pricey BUT WELL WORTH THE MONEY!!!! Honestly I have no cons about this place really.
Overall: It was an amazing resort. I wish I could stay there again. I highly reccommend this place to animal lovers!!
We stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, December 9-16, 2008, 2nd floor savannah view. We had 2 rooms, one with a bunkbed, that connected us with my in-laws. It was our first stay at a deluxe resort, since we are normally "as long as it's clean and the bed's comfy" people. We had previously stayed at ASS and ASM, but that was 10 years prior.
Overall, it was a great experience. However, it lost a few points (avoiding a perfect 10) for a few reasons:
- Location, location, location: sure it's close to the AK, however, the bus ride to anywhere else is quite long.
- Luxury is nice if you take advantage of it, but we didn't stay in our rooms during the day, therefore we did not experience as much of it, nor did we want to.
- The rooms aren't so regally appointed that I felt a moderate hotel could cover our needs just as well.
The reason to stay at AK is the animals. It was really wonderful to step out on the balcony in the morning, as the fog was burning away, and watch a gazelle and zebra play a game of chase. The kids loved it and we frequently had to "shush" them because they would get so worked up over seeing them.
However, now that we've done that, we most likely won't worry about staying there again. So while it's a great place, it wasn't compelling enough to get a repeat stay out of us.
We stayed here last year, Sept 2007 and just loved it. Had a savanna room AND free dining. My kids both loved the theme (well we all did) and the pool especially. It was so nice to get up in the morning and sit out on the balcony watching the animals roam about. The CMs went out of their way with anything we asked. My DD9 was asked to participate in an African drum line snaking throughout the lobby. At first it was just her (she's definitely not shy) and as they went through the hotel they would pick up more and more people. It was just wonderful!
I marked accessibility as a 10 which some might find strange but I have never considered its location or the fact the you have to use buses as a negative against it. I really don't understand why having to take a bus is difficult - at least you don't have to drive. You walk on, you sit, you arrive - no problem. The longest I waited for ANY bus was 5 minutes, I always got a seat and it was never crowded. I can't say the same for the monorail. Heck, the way I look at it, if someone else is doing the driving I quite happy to come along. Also the time it took to get to any park was not inordinately long - my commute to work on the other hand, now THAT's long.
Wonderful theming - it exudes atmosphere. I can't go to Africa but I sure feel like I'm there in this resort.
Great activities for the kids
Location - yes, that's right, I said location. It's a resort afterall and I want it to be a little removed from everything to feel like I've really gotten away.