Yesterday I ended my blog with a brief description of Jiko, the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s signature restaurant. Today I’ll continue my tour of the grounds and amenities of the resort and discuss the attributes of a standard guest room.
The watering hole next to Jiko meanders through the jungle and eventually joins Uzima Pool. Uzima means “clear water” in Swahili. This expansive pool covers 11,000 square feet and has a 67-foot long waterslide. Uzima Pool also features zero entry access. This sloping entrance allows those riding in specially designed wheelchairs to roll directly into the pool. This is also the perfect spot for toddlers to splash and play in shallow water. Remember, diaper-aged children are required to wear swim diapers or rubber pants whenever using any Disney pool.
Next to the pool is Uzima Springs Watering Hole. This is the spot to order your favorite liquid concoction or try a specialty African libation. Numerous tables, chairs, and lounges are nearby for relaxing in the shade or sun.
Also near the pool is the Hakuna Matata Playground. Parents should have “no worries” when their little ones climb and swing on this modern-day jungle gym. The ground covering is soft and bouncy and will absorb most of the “ouch” when young’uns fall down.
Another savanna overlook can be found next to the playground. Flamingos are a common sight here, but other animals are often seen in the area as well.
When everyone gets tired of fun in the sun, the kids can head over to Pumbaa’s Fun & Games Arcade and the adults can work off that meal enjoyed at Boma at Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center.
Besides Boma and Jiko, the Animal Kingdom Lodge also features a counter service eatery called The Mara. Open from 6am to 11:30 pm, this location offers grab-and-go snacks and cooked-to-order meals. For me, The Mara is perfect for breakfast as this meal is difficult to find within the theme parks unless you’re attending a character breakfast. However, many others know this and The Mara can become very busy starting around 8am.
The name “Mara” comes from the Mara River and the Masai Mara National Reserve located in south-western Kenya. The clever mural that lines the walls of the dining room represents this Serengeti ecosystem.
To see the current menu for The Mara, click here. The Mara seats 186 guests.
To see an overview of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, click on the video below.
As with all of the deluxe resorts, the Animal Kingdom Lodge has a special lounge dedicated to those staying in suites or who are willing to pay extra to partake in the services offered at this lounge. Here, this retreat is called Kilimanjaro Club and it is located on the sixth floor of the resort, overlooking the lobby.
The Kilimanjaro Club offers dedicated concierge services. These cast members will help you plan your vacation as well as make dining, show, and tour reservations. In addition, Kilimanjaro Club Level guests can book a special safari adventure not available to other guests.
The Sunrise Safari lasts approximately two hours and takes guests on a 45 minute tour of the Animal Kingdom’s African ecosystem. Along the way, a guide will be on hand to answer questions and provide information not usually disseminated on the regular Kilimanjaro Safaris. Afterwards, a lavish buffet breakfast is presented at Pizzafari. This tour is booked at the Club Level Concierge Desk and is subject to availability.
For those of you not staying in a Club Level room, don’t despair. Disney offers another program exclusive to Animal Kingdom Lodge guest only. The Wanyama Safari offers guests a three hour adventure where they will ride in trucks through the various savannas of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They will also have the opportunity to interact with Animal Program Team members and learn about the various creatures of the Lodge and the attention and care Disney gives them. The adventure concludes with a multi-course dinner at Jiko. This tour is booked at the Main Lobby Concierge Desk and is subject to availability.
This next picture is of the Club Level Concierge Desks.
The Kilimanjaro Club also offers a continental breakfast each morning, cookies, sodas, and other treats in the afternoon, and hot & cold appetizers and wine in the evening. Check with the concierge for times.
To see a short video of the Kilimanjaro Club, click on the picture below.
Eighty percent of the rooms at the Animal Kingdom Lodge look out onto one of the resort’s four savannas. Those that don’t have views of a savanna look over the pool area or parking lot. Room rates are appropriately set. To see current prices, click here.
The resort’s basic shape was inspired by a traditional African “kraal” (or corral). This centuries old village design created a circular wall of protection for its inhabitants and animals. This defensive layout can easily be seen on the resort map below.
The resort has four wings, or trails. They are named Ostrich, Giraffe, Zebra, and Kudu. In order to maximize savanna views, the Zebra and Kudu Trails are especially long. If you have mobility issues, be sure to let the cast member know when making your reservation and again when you check in.
Standard rooms are located on floors 1through 4 and measure 344 square feet. Deluxe rooms and converted DVC rooms can be found on floors 5 and 6. I recently stayed in a standard room and will be describing its attributes to you now.
Since the Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort, all rooms open onto an inside corridor. Many people prefer this arrangement as it affords more privacy and cuts down on noise.
Entering the room brings you into a short hallway. Off of this are a closet, the bathroom, and a door to the adjoining room (should you request connecting rooms.)
The closet is decent sized. Inside are a luggage rack, a fold-up crib, extra bedding, an iron, and a wall safe big enough to hold a laptop computer. Robes are provided in Club Level rooms.
The sink area of the bathroom is large and well lit. The marble countertop cradles two basins with pewter faucets. A large mirror is framed in dark wood and a hairdryer hangs on a side wall. The wallpaper in this room is especially fun as it displays a stylized colonial African map with steam trains, propeller driven airplanes, and a collection of animals.
Guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are treated to H20+ products such as shampoo and conditioner. An enhanced selection of toiletries is provided to Club Level Room guests. Some of these might include: Collagen Conditioner, Revitalizing Shampoo, Body Wash, Hydrating Body Butter, Foot Rub, and a dental package.
The toilet and shower/bath is located in an adjacent room. The wall behind the shower features large, earth-tone colored tiles with one row displaying vividly colored African designs. The shower curtain continues the African theme with tribal patterns and animals. The towels are fluffy and absorbent.
The bedroom is large and includes two queen sized beds. The wall color is tan and dark woods make up the bulk of the furniture. Much of this furniture was handmade in Zimbabwe. The carpet hints at an animal pattern.
The beds are comfortable and covered in a brightly colored spread African textile designs. The headboard is intricately carved and inspired by African butterfly masks. The sheer material draped above the headboard symbolizes the mosquito netting so necessary when sleeping outside while on safari. Between the beds is a nightstand with a phone and clock-iPod docking station.
On the wall opposite the beds are the other furnishings of the room. A small chest houses a mini-refrigerator and on top is the coffee maker and ice bucket. Although I don’t drink coffee and never used this appliance, I felt its position was a little low for convenient use.
The flat-screen TV is contained in a handsome chest of drawers. A DVD player and audio/visual connections are located on the open shelf below. If you bring your own cables, you can playback each day’s videos on the TV.
A table, two chairs, pole lamp, and mirror are positioned in the corner of the room. Free WiFi is now standard at Disney World resorts and this table doubles nicely as a desk.
To see a short video of a Standard Room, click on the picture below.
Of course, the real reason to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is to view the animals. All rooms have a long, narrow balcony with a table and two chairs. Please note, the savannas are under constant camera surveillance. It is possible for these cameras to inadvertently see into your room. To insure privacy, keep your drapes drawn during times of undress.
Here are a couple of pictures taken from my balcony.
At night, the savannas are bathed in a soft glow that resembles moonlight. Since I often have trouble sleeping, I’ve been known to step out onto my balcony at two in the morning. Sure enough, I can often see animals sleeping just below me in the peaceful surroundings. This is truly a magical moment.
Disney realizes that guests want to be able to see the animals every time they step out onto their balcony. But this just isn’t possible for a number of reasons. After a lot of consideration, it was decided that in the morning, most people are hurriedly getting ready for a day in the parks. They are showering, dressing, and thinking about breakfast. Animals are not the first thing on their minds at this time of day. So it is in the morning that the animals will be most scarce.
Each day at 6am, the animals are encouraged to return to an enclosed area backstage for general care and treatment. And while the vets and other experts are tending to the animals, the horticulturists and groundskeepers use this time to maintain the savannas. By noon, all of the animals are returned to the grounds and will remain available for viewing until 6am the next day. However, the animals are allowed to roam freely and can wander wherever they want within a savanna. Disney employs “tricks” (like placing food all around the savannas) to entice the creatures to venture near your room, but this doesn’t always work.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge has its own set of animals. They are not shared with the Animal Kingdom theme park. On occasion, a particular animal might be moved from one location to another, but overall, they call either the Lodge or the Park home.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House & Kidani Village) has four savannas, Uzima, Arusha, Sunset, and Pembe. Each is approximately 10 acres in size. These savannas are a representation of the plains used by migrating herds of the reserves in Zululand. Disney does not specify which animals will be appearing in a given savanna as their location changes frequently. This is done to accommodate the needs of the animals and the vets and to keep the savannas ever changing for the benefit of resort guests.
Here is a list of animals that might be seen while staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge:
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
East African Crowned Crane
Hartmann's Mountain Zebra
Okapi (Pembe Savannah only)
Radiated Tortoise (Found outside of the Sanaa guest waiting area located at Kidani Village)
Red River Hog
Is the Animal Kingdom Lodge right for you?
That depends. If you LOVE animals and are willing to spend the extra money to live among them for a couple of days, then by all means, book a room here. Even the rooms that overlook the parking lot and pool have easy access to several animal overlooks so the creatures are never far away.
But if the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at the Animal Kingdom fulfills your animal needs, then there might be better choices when it comes to a deluxe resort at Disney. The most common complaint I hear about the Animal Kingdom Lodge is that it is so far away from everything. If you don’t have a car, you must take a bus everywhere you go. All of the other deluxe resorts offer monorail or boat transportation to at least one park – a far more “romantic” way to travel.
Last month, I wrote an article about Golden Oak, the new community being built at Walt Disney World. For that press event, Disney provided me with free lodging at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I used this opportunity to my advantage and gathered information for this blog while staying there. Disney’s generosity did not influence my story and my opinions are my own.
I like the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Whenever I have out-of-town guests visiting, I make sure to book a meal at Boma so they can experience this excellent buffet, see the splendid architecture, and gaze upon the magnificent animals. This is truly a unique resort and it’s full of Disney magic.
The previous post in this blog was Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House - Part One.
The next post in this blog is Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids - Part One.