Resorts: Animal Kingdom Lodge
The Resorts series features each of the resorts I’ve stayed at on Disney property! 2nd on the list is Animal Kingdom Lodge, one of 8 Deluxe Resorts on Disney property. Animal Kingdom Lodge is split into two buildings: Jambo House and Kidani Village. Kidani is home to most of the Disney Vacation Club Villas and Jambo House is where more of the standard rooms are, but you can end up at Kidani, even if you aren’t a DVC member, and there are DVC rooms in Jambo house, as well. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House) for the first time ever in November/December 2017 and it was so amazing!!!
I think the obvious draw for Animal Kingdom Lodge is getting to see the animals, but obvious or not, it’s worth a mention because it is the COOLEST thing!!
Ok, let me back up. The covered outside area is all beautiful and thatched and just indescribably beautiful. You enter Jambo House on the ground floor (which is technically level 3), and are greeted by the most stunning lobby I have ever seen. The lobby is 4 stories high with the most expansive ceiling and massive, intricate light fixtures. The theming is so carefully detailed – it truly takes your breath away.
Since we visited during the holiday season, the center of the lobby was graced with a massive Christmas tree, adorned with some of the most unique ornaments you’ll ever see, but it’s probably exactly what you’d expect at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
As I mentioned earlier, the lobby is level 3 of the hotel. You can walk straight back to where those massive windows are, trot down a few steps, exit out the back of the hotel to viewing areas right there.
Once you’ve re-entered the lobby, you’ll undoubtedly have your breath taken away all over again as you gaze at it from the other side.
Once you’ve stopped staring in open-mouthed wonder, you may notice there are ramps leading off the back of the lobby on either side. Those ramps take you to the actual rooms (by this point, you’ve probably forgotten you actually get to sleep in this glorious place).
They say the best floors for savanna viewing are 3 and 4. When we booked our room, I didn’t realize just how large the building is, so I requested high floor as opposed to near the lobby. I always worry that proximity to a lobby will be loud. Friends, let me tell you, beg, plead, do everything in your power to get a room near the lobby. We were on level 4, so we went up a flight of stairs or elevator about halfway down the hallway, after what felt like miles of walking, and we were the 2nd to last room.
We walked into the room and the curtains were opened and I immediately dropped everything I was carrying right where I stood and ran out onto the balcony because there was a GIRAFFE right there!!! Of course, by the time I fumbled my phone out of my pocket, it had walked far enough away that the phone camera didn’t really capture it.
But then we just stood there, completely awed by the expanse of savanna in front of us.
I don’t even know how long we stood out there, but I finally realized I hadn’t taken any pictures of the room, which is the first thing I do anything we go anywhere. So we picked up everything we’d thrown down so it looked like we’d just walked in so I could take my pictures.
If you’ve read any posts about my trips or plans, you know we bring cereal and plastic containers with us and snag plastic spoons from the food court when we go buy milk to keep in the fridge. It saves money on breakfast and, in the case of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, meant we got to spend every morning sitting out on the balcony, eating breakfast and watching the animals.
I will confess we never ate at Animal Kingdom Lodge, save for one late night we hung out at the Victoria Falls Lounge and decided we were hungry after the stopped serving food, so we got flatbreads from The Mara (the food court). As a New York native and a Connecticut native, we weren’t expecting much and our expectations were met, but a pizza at midnight doesn’t have to be good to satisfy the craving.
We loved the vibe of Victoria Falls Lounge and there were some great drink options. I don’t have a picture because one of the nights we decided to go hang out down there, we decided to leave our phones in the room, but I got a drink with a light-up ice cube in it, and it pretty much made my entire day.
I have heard incredible things about Jiko and I hear Boma is fabulous, too. Probably the only complaint I have at all about Animal Kingdom Lodge and Jambo House is the location of The Mara, the food court. I need my coffee fix every morning and I can’t wait long enough to just get Starbucks when we get to the parks, so it is vital for me to find the food court wherever we stay. My parents stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge once, a couple years before we did, and even with my mom warning me of that ahead of time and trying to explain it to me, I got completely lost trying to find it. So don’t be too prideful to ask for a map or directions. Or both.
The final feature I want to call out is the indoor fire pit. Or room was to the right off of the lobby, so we actually walked past this every day on our way in and out. One of the nights we got drinks at Victoria Falls Lounge, we took them up to sit by the fire pit. And, on our final afternoon, while we waited for the Tragic Express, we did spend one last time sitting there.
What is your favorite Disney resort? I’m always looking for where we’ll stay next time!