Given the price of a Disney vacation, the urge to stay off property can be strong. All I can say is, don’t give into the dark side! There are a lot of reasons to stay onsite, and plenty of resorts to choose from. In my opinion, one of the best is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only is it beautiful, but it is also one of the cheaper options for the luxury resorts. You get all the perks and won’t bust your budget.
About the Animal KingdomStaying at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is like visiting the heart of Africa. The lush savannas give you an up close and personal view of the animals. There are over 200 hoofed animals and birds that call this place home. You can take advantage of the amazing pool areas or take part in the exciting animal programs. There are many more reasons to stay here, so I made a list for you to look over and decide if this amazing resort is right for your family!
The DecorThe decor at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is stunning. There are intricate light fixtures, huge wooden beams, and artifacts all over the place. You can learn a lot about Africa just by walking the hallways. In the main lobby, big plush chairs await you, just begging for you to take a seat. Even though the decor is a little on the dark side, it doesn’t feel closed in. It is actually quite open and airy. They decor is scattered throughout the lodge property, not just inside. When you first walk in, there is a sign that says “Welcome Home”. The staff makes sure that you really do feel like you are coming home.
The AnimalsWhen you book your room, make sure you get a savanna view. It is the best way to see the animals up close and personal. There is nothing more amazing than sitting out on your balcony when the sun is coming up and watching a beautiful giraffe eating its breakfast, nothing! Animal Kingdom Lodge has over 30 species of animals including: kudu, giraffes, gazelles, zebras, and flamingos. For a really up close and personal look at the animals, take advantage of the Wanyama Safari and Dinner. Not only will you get a great view of the animals, but also an AMAZING multi-course feast!
The RoomsThere are several types of rooms to choose from depending on your needs. We stayed in a Savanna View Bunk Bed room, so we could see the animals anytime we wanted. We had one queen size bed, 1 set of bunk beds, a TV, phone, refrigerator, and bathroom with a tub. In all honesty it was plenty for our family of four. We also had a balcony with two chairs. It was very comfortable and nice. If you need more space, check out the suites. They are very large with a bedroom and a living area.
The ActivitiesIf you have little ones like I do, they can play at Simba’s playhouse while you laze around the pool. Simba’s Playhouse is a supervised area for kids ages 3 to 12. It has a lot of activities and snacks! The property also boasts a huge pool with a slide. If your feet and back are hurting from all of the walking you do at Disney, you may want to check out the two hot tubs available. My favorite activity was Jumba’s Campfire. You get to roast marshmallows by an open bonfire, and later take in a movie under the stars. It is the perfect way to chill out after a long day in the park.
The FoodSince this is a luxury resort, there are several dining options located right on property. In fact, the Animal Kingdom Lodge boasts 3 amazing restaurants and 1 casual restaurant.
- The Mirra- This quick service restaurant is easy on your budget but not on the taste of the food. It has kid-friendly favorites but also caters to adults. If you are going for breakfast I highly recommend the Bobotie Platter. It is a traditional african dish with ground meat, seasoning, and egg custard on top. It is seriously delicious. For lunch or dinner I would recommend the African stew. It is such a hearty meal at the end of a long day. Another thing you can’t pass up is the specialty cupcakes. I am sorry but their red velvet cupcake gives BOG “grey stuff” a serious run for it’s money!
- Boma- This is a full service buffet. Breakfast here is amazing and my 2 favorite things are 1.) the Corned Beef Hash, which is made with sweet cornbread and 2.) the French Toast Pudding, which is something I can’t describe. All I can say is once you taste it, you will want the recipe. Don’t forget to try it with the Praline Pecan syrup! For dinner some favorite items were: Coconut Curried Chicken Soup, Pap and Chakalaka, and the zulu cabbage. Definitely leave room for the Kenyan Coffee Tarts. The Zebra domes seemed to be a hot commodity, but I thought the coffee tarts were so much better!
- Sanaa- This place is definitely different and amazing at the same time. African flavors meet Indian flavors for cuisine that is infused with flavor and awesomeness. Like most Disney dining places, it can be a little on the expensive side but you may decide it is worth every penny. It is only open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended and you should make them as soon as possible because they fill up fast.
- Jiko- This is fine dining at it’s best. The menu is infused with African, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisine. Jiko is only open for dinner; but it is an experience like no other. There are twin burning stoves that cast a golden color over the restaurant and you get to watch the chefs prepare food in the open show kitchen. It is an experience as well as a meal. The dishes change seasonally but here are a few dishes that were highly recommend: Grilled Wild Boar Tenderloin, Manti Dumplings, Mrouzia-style Moroccan Lamb Tagine, and Ghanaian Chocolate and Kenyan Coffee Pot de Crème for dessert! If you have picky eaters in your family (or are a picky eater yourself) then the dishes at Jiko may be a bit exotic for you, but make sure to check out the menu for yourself.
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