Animal Kingdom Lodge Archives

November 14, 2016

Temporary Parking Change at Kidani Village Animal Kingdom Lodge

Deb's Digest Blog

This past weekend I was at a guest at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was quite surprised that the "short term parking" area at Kidani Village was closed and blocked off. This parking area has always been convenient for check-in parking or getting something from Johari Treasures which has groceries and sundries.


Cast members told me this is "temporary" but gave no dates for how long this will be in place. I was informed that if you are checking in, tell the Valet and they will hold your car for 30 minutes for "free". After 30 minutes your car will be automatically valeted and you will incur a charge. The reason I was given for this change is that people were abusing the "short term parking" area.

The self-parking alternative is the underground parking garage. While there is a huge sign indicating Elevators to Lobby, unfortunately there are only 2 parking spaces in that immediate area. The other spaces are reserved for WDW Official Vehicles. The next closest parking area would be the Timon area.


November 6, 2012

Animal Kingdom Lodge - An Afternoon Outside the Parks

I recently had out of town house guests who didn't have park passes but wanted to visit WDW. We decided on lunch at Sanaa in Kidani Village followed by a tour of the savannahs.

Kidani Village

Animal Kingdom Lodge is made up of 2 complexes, Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House opened first and initially was totally a "regular" resort. Then the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) took over some of the rooms and transformed them into villas and construction on a total DVC resort, Kidani, was underway.

Kidani Village

Kidani Village has 2 animal savannahs, Sunset Savannah (which is shared with Jambo House) and the Pembe Savanah.

You don't have to look far at Kidani for animals especially if you dine at Sanna. We saw several giraffes wander by the windows during lunch.


After dining, we went out to the overlook and enjoyed seeing lots of animals and birds wandering around.


Kidani Village


Kidani Village


Kidani Village


Kidani Village


Kidani Village


Kidani Village

Next we headed over to the Pembe Savannah. To reach this one, you must go back out the lobby and turn right. Pass the swimming and recreation areas and finally you will reach a small viewing area. I had hoped to see the Okapi, but they were not visible.


Kidani Village

Kidani Village


Kidani Village


Kidani Village


Kidani Village

We went back to the car and headed to Jambo House. (There is a shuttle that runs between the two resorts). Three savannahs at Jambo, from left to right, Sunset, Arusha and Uzima.

Not much happening at the Sunset Savannah so we went to Arusha Rock.

Jambo House

Jambo House

Jambo House

Jambo House

Jambo House

And our last stop, the Uzima Savannah, near the pool and recreation area. There are several viewing areas so be sure to visit them all.

Jambo House

SABLE ANTELOPE - notice the horns. The male have the curved horns, the female's horns are straighter.

Jambo House

Jambo House

Jambo House

There you go, a wonderful afternoon at the Animal Kingdom Lodge enjoying the wildlife!

November 14, 2008

Founders Gift - Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas

Recently, Disney Vacation Club members who purchased Animal Kingdom Lodge Villa points as Founding Members received a beautiful gift in the mail.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Villa Founding Members Gift

No explanation came with the gift so I contacted DVC and received the following information:

Given to each Founding Member at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, these traditional Masai collars were handmade by African tribeswomen and incorporate various natural elements found around the women's village. Created especially for Founding Members, each collar was custom designed and no two pieces are exactly alike as the colors, patterns and adornments reflect the artisans' mood and whimsy at the time of creation.

In addition to their ties to the themes and design elements of Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, these collars also complement the resort's Founding Member ceremonial robes, which will be displayed in the resort lobby. Inspired by and modeled after traditional ceremonial robes worn by African tribal leaders, each robe will feature intricate stitched patterns that incorporate the names of every Founding Member in a unique and unexpected way.

Please send me a photo of your Founders Gift at I'll include them in a future blog!

September 23, 2007

Quick Overnight to Walt Disney World

I just got back from a quick trip to WDW and I do mean quick - less than 20 hours! I had a meeting to attend on Thursday, so I took advantage of the Southwest Ding fares to fly into Orlando on Wednesday evening. I had hoped to do some exploring once I checked in, but the flight was almost an hour late arriving in Orlando.

For those of you who fly Southwest, they recently made an announcement about a slightly revised boarding process. They will still board in groups of A, B, and C; but A and B will now have 60 persons in each group. In addition each boarding pass will be numbered. So Group A 1-5 is announced and boards first. The idea is to get rid of the "cattle" call. Another change may be in the near future, giving priority seating to those paying full price for tickets.. but that's just a rumor.

The Wilderness Lodge is an awesome as always. Ranger Stan was on vacation so I didn't get to chat with him. However, Jack (from the Old Faithful Club Concierge) was filling in for him. Jack is a great Cast Member, very knowledgeable and "hosts" a fantastic Flag Family experience.

Ranger Jack

I didn't get a photo, but some of the Dansani Water bottles now have Tinker Bell and the Castle on the label.

I arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge early and took the opportunity to check out the Arusha Savannah. In just a few moments I saw several giraffe and zebra. The Anakole cattle were off in the distance.

Giraffes on the Arusha Savannah

Work continues at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas. Workers could be seen on both the inside halls ways (from the lobby) and outside the resort. And construction continues on the new animal barn and Kidani Disney Vacation Club Resort. (More on that in an upcoming post).

Construction Workers outside the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Inside Lodge Rooms closed off

I was able to see one of the new Disney Vacation Club Grand Villas in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. One of the Cast Members was kind enough to point out numerous "Hidden Mickeys" for me. I'll be sending the photos to fellow AllEars blogger and Hidden Mickey guru Steve Barrett! Here is a sample of what you'll find on the shower curtain.

Shower Curtain Hidden Mickey

My whirlwind tour of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney Vacation Club Preview Center at Saratoga Springs was over way to quickly and it was soon time to leave for the airport.

Late last year I had applied for a CLEAR card for the Orlando Airport (one of 11 participating airports). This was my first time using the CLEAR system. It worked REALLY well!

Here's the brief description of CLEAR from their website: "Travelers who join the Clear Registered Traveler program are pre-screened for security and provided with a biometric card which allows them to pass through security faster, with more predictability and less hassle."

This program is not for everyone as you are required to supply lots of personal information as well as allow fingerprinting and iris scanning. It is $100 per year. Unless you are a frequent user of the CLEAR participating airports this program isn't for you.

I will say, it couldn't have been any simpler or quicker! I walked up to the area and identified myself. The whole process took about 5 minutes. I showed my CLEAR card, boarding pass and photo ID to the staff person. Check. Next, stand on a machine, insert my clear card, put my thumb on the slot. Check. While doing that, my shoes/feet are scanned and my thumbprint checked to match that recorded on my card. Check! or should I say CLEAR!
Then, I was escorted to the head of the security line, put my items on the belt and I was on my way. No need to remove my shoes (although TSA) can always request you do so.

Once I got to the Orlando Airport B Terminal, I noticed a few things that had changed since my last visit in April of this year. Not far from where you exit the shuttle is a kiosk for the Disney Credit card. They were giving away a non-descript white Mickey t-shirt for applying.

The eatery area is still under construction but 2 new venues have opened: Au Bon Pain and a bar and grill. Nice additions to the otherwise, McDonalds and Sabaro Pizza counters. I had a smoked turkey sandwich with Swiss Cheese from AuBon and it was very good. Fresh Romaine lettuce and tasty turkey! The salads looked good too!

Usually my flights on Southwest are very full and there is rarely an open seat near me. This time, however, I lucked out - less than 50 persons on the plane. I really got to enjoy an entire empty row! WOW! Talk about luxury!

July 3, 2007

Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas Construction Update

We have received lots of email the last 2 weeks about the ongoing construction at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Some readers reported they were contacted by Disney and moved to another resort (Saratoga Springs being the primary one). Others have written stating they have not been contacted and asking for advice.

All Ears Team Member Linda Mac is at the Lodge now, the first DVC guest to stay in the new Villas. She has been blogging daily.

I just received official word from Diane Hancock, at the Disney Vacation Club, who writes:

"Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas opened to Disney Vacation Club Members yesterday. We are pleased that our Members are happy with the new accommodations. There is construction occurring at the resort to complete the conversion of the fifth and sixth floors to Vacation Homes.

In an effort to accelerate the construction timeline and potentially complete this effort earlier than planned, portions of the resort will be temporarily closing. As a result of the accelerated timeline, we are working with Guests who have existing Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge reservations to assist them in selecting alternate accommodations for their upcoming visit. This does not affect all Guests staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The care and safety of the animals at the resort is at the forefront of planning the construction. No animals have been adversely affected by the construction and we are proactively managing their care."

June 28, 2007

Resort Reflections - Animal Kingdom Lodge Part 2

In Part 1 of Animal Kingdom Lodge I spoke of the pre-opening and the opening of the Lodge.

In this blog, I'll talk about the Savannahs.

The most unique aspect of Animal Kingdom Lodge are the animals and their savannahs. There are 3 savannahs encompassing a total of 11 acres, each with it's own look and feel. As you look out from the lodge they are from left to right: Sunset, Arusha, and Uzima! More than 200 birds and animals populate the savannahs -- a different group of birds and animals are on each of the savannahs. Only the reticulated giraffes can be found on all three.

There are several public viewing areas, both inside and outside where you can see the animals. If you have a savannah view room, you can watch the birds and animals from your balcony! The hallways inside the resort along the "trails" (aka wings) have areas of windows where you can view animals also! You will also find a few outside "balcony" viewing locations. Don't forget there are several exterior stairwells that also provide animal viewing opportunities. For the Arusha and Uzima Savannahs, there are ground level viewing spots too.

Thompson's Gazelle
Thompson's Gazelle - Larger Version Here.

Very important -- Keep in mind the savannahs are the home for these birds and animals. Disney can not guarantee any animal sightings. I suggest that you inquire at check-in to see what time morning feeding time is because the animals know what that jeep is doing out there and they gather! (If the front desk doesn't know, ask one of the animal guides in the outdoor viewing areas). In addition to morning feedings times, the animals tend to be out around dusk.

For folks who are up and out to the parks early and back late in the evening, you may not get to see many animals at all. While you may be in park commando mode, the animals have their own time schedule :)

Each day, each savannah closes for a couple hours. The animals are brought to the barns for training and health inspections. It also gives the keepers time for any special maintenance in the savannah itself. There is always at least one savannah open with animals.

blue line

The Sunset Savannah has an upper level viewing area that consists of a lounge and a balcony. From here you can see Ostrich, Red River Hogs, Waterbuck, Marabou Stork, Ruppell's Griffon Vulture and others. The Sunset Savannah Lounge is actually a very nice place to relax. Sometimes I'll bring morning coffee in there or perhaps a before dinner beverage. The theming in this room is amazing. If a tour is offered during your stay, be sure to take it to learn more about the artifacts in the lounge!

Sunset Savannah Animal Kingdom Lodge
Larger Version Here.

Red River Hogs
Red River Hogs - Larger Version Here.

blue line

The Arusha Savannah is probably the largest, or at least, appears that way and is the central area of the resort. There is a large rock formation that juts into the savannah, allowing for a variety of viewing spots. This Savannah becomes a huge horseshoe with the widest wings of the resort rooms bordering it. If you look at the resort map, you'll see what I mean.

Animals found here include Zebra, Eland, White-Bearded Wildebeest, Ankole-Watusi Cattle, Pink-Backed Pelican, and others. Night vision animal viewing is available on this savannah. A guide will be out after dark and can show you how to use the night vision goggles to spot animals (many of which are nocturnal). Again, be sure to check at the Front Desk for times.

Arusha Savannah Animal Kingdom Lodge
Larger Version Here.

White-Bearded Wildebeest
White-Bearded Wildebeest - Larger Version Here.

Zebra - Larger Version Here.

blue line

The Uzima Savannah is the furthest on the right if you look out from the Lodge. Its home to the Greater Kudu, Thompson's Gazelle, Blesbok, flamingos, Stanley Crane, and more. The Uzima Savannah is behind the Uzima Pool. You can always take a look at the animals while you enjoy the pool. There is a flamingo area directly behind the pool as well.

Uzima Savannah
Larger Version Here.

Greater Kudu
Greater Kudu - Larger Version Here.

Flamingos - Larger Version Here.

blue line

The first 2 animals on the Lodge savannahs just happened to be the first 2 animals brought to the Animal Kingdom theme park - 2 reticulated giraffes!

Giraffe on the Sunset Savannah Animal Kingdom Lodge
Larger Version Here.

Not all the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge were there for opening and some of the original Lodge animals have left. There were Gemsbok were on the Arusha Savannah in 2001, but they were found to be incompatible with the other animals and moved elsewhere. Also, in the last few years, the Red River Hogs were added to the Sunset Savannah.

As mentioned above, an important fact to remember when visiting or staying at the Lodge is that it is the home for these animals and birds -- their safety and well-being is the priority! You may not attempt to feed, throw things or get into the animal areas. If caught doing so, you may be expelled from the lodge. Security cameras view room balconies as well as the public viewing areas to keep an eye on guests and make sure the rules are adhered to!

Lastly, what are those fenced areas on the savannahs? Ever seen those wooden "pens" in the Savannahs that are very close to the resort? These are actually contingency locations for guests to use in case the lodge must be evacuated.

Larger Version Here.

More Photos can be found at:
Animal Kingdom Lodge Photo Gallery
Sunset Safari Excursion

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Animal Kingdom Lodge - Resort Reflections

June 21, 2007

Resort Reflections - Animal Kingdom Lodge Part 1

I'm often asked "What is your favorite resort?", which is actually a difficult question to answer -- much like "What is your favorite restaurant?" is a difficult to answer. My experience with just about anything Disney is that it's not just the resort or meal itself, but also the ambience, the cast members, the themeing, that intangible feeling.... With Disney, I've come to expect a complete package.

So I thought I'd begin a series on the Walt Disney World Resorts. These blogs will be a snapshot of my current personal thoughts and feelings. I can tell you my "favs" have changed over time, as I'm sure they will continue to...... Also, these come from an adult only perspective. I have no children and generally travel to WDW either alone or with another adult.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Preview Welcome

As I pondered where to start, my first thought went to Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was able to visit the lodge before it opened. There was a preview where we got to tour certain portions of the resort and see a couple of the rooms. I am quite surprised now, reading my thoughts from 6 years ago. Here's a few excerpts from that report:

-- " I walked through DAKL four times, and each time the place grew on me a little more. I was expecting a jaw-dropping, "WOW" feeling, similar to when I saw Animal Kingdom for the first time, but I didn't get that."

-- "The Savannah areas look awesome and the viewing areas put you much closer to the animals than I expected. I discovered, though, that not all savannahs will have animals all the time -- at least one area at a time will be closed for cleaning, maintenance, etc."

-- "If I had to name one major disappointment I had with DAKL, it is with the rooms. While intricately appointed in dark carved woods, ethnic decor, and kente-inspired fabrics, the rooms are very small. I had the same feeling I did when first entering the Wilderness Lodge Villas bedroom: These are Queen Beds? There is little room to move around in and anyone in a wheelchair in a regular room is going to have a tough time."

-- "There also seems to be a lack of recreational activities at the lodge. Other than swimming and animal viewing there is not much to occupy one."

Here's my original report from the preview in 2001.

I guess when I said the resort "grew on me" each visit, I wasn't kidding. It's now one of my favorite resorts. In fact, I give it my award for "Best Resort to Get Away from it All".

Entrance to Animal Kingdom Lodge

Anyone remember the exact date Animal Kingdom Lodge officially opened?

April 16, 2001, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge did officially open and I planned to be there. Prior to the trip, I had done the typical planning, sketched out theme park days, made dinner reservations and so on.

The entire resort buzzed with excitement and opportunities for discoveries. I recall waking up the first night about 2am and looking out the window. Oh My Gosh! There's a ZEBRA out here! WAKE UP!

The opening crew was amazing. There were cultural representatives from Africa who were around the inside and outside of the resort, just aching to share stories of their homelands. In fact, I still keep in touch with Thabo, a gentleman who was the cultural representative on the opening team. By the way, you can find Thabo over at the Swan and Dolphin concierge desks.

My Opening Week Report.

Roy Disney and Deb Wills
Much to all our surprise, each day we spent at the Lodge we fell more and more in love with it and began to cancel plans we had made at other restaurants. Indeed, we ended up dining multiple times at Boma and Jiko and spending a great deal of time at the lodge.

One of my best memories from that week was meeting Roy Disney! He too, was at the Lodge and I saw him walking along one of the hallways. He was as nice as he could be, even suggested the best place for us to stand for a photo. It was a real thrill for me!

I was hooked..... and still am. In fact, since 2001 I have stayed at the lodge numerous times in most of the room categories from Parking Lot view to Concierge Savannah View -- each has it's own uniqueness.

The Lodge currently has 3 savannahs - Sunset, Uzima and Arusha!

Arusha Savannah

I say currently because there are big Disney Vacation Club plans for Animal Kingdom which will include a new savannah. Right now a new animal barn is being built to care for the additional animals. Once that is complete, work will begin on the new savannah and Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas building!

Remember when I said AKL is one of my favorite resorts? Well, as a Disney Vacation Club member, I was thrilled to learn of the new facilities planned for the Lodge and have already purchased DVC points! Yes, I think I'll be staying there for a long time to come.

More on Animal Kingdom Lodge to come....

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About Animal Kingdom Lodge

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Deb's Digest in the Animal Kingdom Lodge category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Art of Animation is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.