Each resort at Disney World has a unique theme and feel to it. Some are more \”over the top\” Disney like the Value Resorts or more subtle like the Moderate Resorts or the Deluxe Resorts, but Animal Kingdom may be the most unique of all!
Not only is is located on a savanna surrounded by African animals, but so much of the resort–from the architecture to the foods to the Cast Members who work there–came from Africa and are authentic. It is so secluded and tucked away that it\’s easy to forget you\’re still in Florida.
I like to recommend that Disney World visitors build in a down day if they can. It gives them a day to recharge–a day without a schedule and FastPasses. A day where they can just explore or swim in the pool. Animal Kingdom Lodge is set up for a fabulous day to explore.
So, what should you do on your day at Animal Kingdom?
1. Wanyama Safari and Dinner: This special safari is only available to guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House and Kidani Village. The 90 minute tour only goes out once each afternoon and has a maximum of 12 people so it\’s an intimate and personalized experience. In addition to seeing the animals, guests also learn about the care of the animals and learn about the architecture and history of Animal Kingdom Lodge. After the safari, you return to Animal Kingdom and Jiko restaurant where you enjoy a delicious with dessert and wine pairings. Guests must be at least 8 to participate. Current price is about $191, but this might be the one splurge at Disney!
2. Cultural programs: More so than any other Deluxe Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge offers a number of cultural programs each day. These may include learning about African cultures, foods or traditions, playing African instruments, taking the culinary tour through Boma and Jiko restaurants to learn about the history and cuisine, or just participating in a poolside activity with the kids–learn about flamingos, make a beaded necklace, or create an animal masterpiece using ink and stamps. Each evening there is a cultural safari in the Sunset Lounge where a Cast Member will tell about their native home.
4. Explore the hotel: Take some time to actually look at the architecture here. Like most of Disney, there\’s a back story! You are visiting an African kraai (and enclosed and protected savanna) built on top of an extinct volcano. Look up in the lobby of Jambo house to the unusual lighting and look around at the hundreds of authentic African art pieces around the resort including the Igbo Ijele mask in the lobby–it\’s 16 feet tall and 8 feet wide! Of course, there\’s also two pools with slides, and the evening storytelling and s\’mores by the firepit.
5. Eat at a restaurant: Whether you choose the vast variety at the buffet of Boma, the signature dining experience at Jiko, or the flavors of Africa and India at Sanaa, you will be treated to some of the best food in all of Disney World. If you\’re not an adventurous eater, Boma is a great place to try–lots of African and middle Eastern flavors as well as some more common American foods thrown in. Try the hummus and the soups at Boma; grab a zebra dome for dessert. Don\’t miss the bread service and the views at Sanaa! At Jiko, you\’ll find the country\’s largest African wine selection and a romantic evening. If all that sounds out of your price range, stop by The Mara, the quick service location at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and try a pita or the African stew. Make sure you grab a zebra dome or a zebra or giraffe cupcake while you\’re there!
Whether you are a guest at Animal Kingdom Lodge or just a day visitor, Animal Kingdom Lodge is worth taking the time to explore and enjoy!
robot-programming, space-loving 11 year old!
She and her family love visiting Disney World and taking Disney cruises. With six Disney cruises under her belt, she is now preparing to embark on a seventh Disney Cruise–this time to Norway–and planning her next Disney World visit, too!