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Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

4.6

For many (us here at Park Savers included), where you choose to stay for your Walt Disney World vacation is half the magic. From themed rooms and dining to perks like not having to track down your car in the Epcot parking lot, staying at one of the Disney resorts doesn’t just make your trip easier; it can also be an attraction in and of itself. That is especially the case at Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

Right next door to Animal Kingdom Park, the resort is basically a Disney safari hotel tucked away in the largest theme park in the world. And honestly, what’s not to like about that? So, we decided to stop by the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge and check out what the resort has to offer. Keep reading for everything you need to know in this Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge guide, and our take on what you can expect during a stay there. (Updated September 7, 2022)

Staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Lodge hotel surrounded by blue sky
Jambo House

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, as we mentioned earlier, is located next door to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and is split into two main parts: the main hotel, called Jambo House, and Kidani Village, the resort’s Disney Vacation Club villas. In fact, if we’re getting technical, these are actually considered two separate Disney hotels, namely Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village. 

Both are what Disney calls “deluxe”, which is basically just code for expensive. Yes, deluxe resort hotels and villas are among the costliest stays on Disney property. And while laying your head at Animal Kingdom Lodge will certainly cost you a pretty penny (more on that in a bit), it’s also certain to be a trip that you won’t soon forget. 

Although a night at this Animal Kingdom hotel is steep, we’d argue that it’s totally worth it, thanks to some amenities that are completely unmatched by other Disney resorts. We’re talkin’, sweeping views of lush savannas and over 30 species of African wildlife, specialist-led animal programs and exclusive safaris, and award-winning dining all squeezed into an environment that makes you feel as if you’ve been plucked from the tourist jungle of Central Florida and transported to lodge a bit closer to South Africa or Kenya. If you think that sounds like a pretty amazing place to stay whether you’re at Disney World or not, we can’t agree with you more.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Rooms

Hotel room with TV and couch

Everyone has different priorities when picking a hotel room. Some are ok with bare-bones accommodations, while others want it all – the more bells and whistles, the better. Even though nothing about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge will ever be considered scaled-back, guests shouldn’t expect traditional luxury. 

Given that you’re meant to feel like you’re at a grand lodge on a nature preserve somewhere in Africa, the vibe does feel a tad rustic, which is a welcome departure from many of the other resorts on property. You can also expect a variety of African or African-inspired touches throughout, from the fabrics and patterns that are chosen to the art of the walls. In fact, the resort actually boasts one of the largest collections of African art outside of Africa.

Even the design and layout of the resort is inspired by a kraal, or a traditional South African village made up of huts and surrounded by a fence. Not only is this a subtle nod to the resort’s inspiration, but it also ensures that a fair number of the guestrooms have a view of the savannas, some of the highlights of the resort. 

Amenities offered in your room will vary depending on whether you’re staying at Jambo House or Kidani Village. Basic amenities are offered in the guestrooms and suites at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House, but you can always expect to find a blow dryer, coffee machine, ironing board and iron, mini-fridge, and an in-room safe. A villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, in contrast, will have many of the conveniences of home including a toaster, microwave, TV, DVD player, and whirlpool tub, as well as everything listed above.

Jambo House

Up at Jambo House, rooms are enveloped in warming tones like oranges and reds. It’s like the opening scene from the Lion King made real. You know the one – where a golden sun rises to meet a rust-red-turned-burnt-orange sky, and the animals scurry to greet the day. Intricately carved, dark wood furniture can also be found throughout.

Jambo House currently boasts a 4.5 on TripAdvisor, coming in in the top 15% of all Orlando hotels. Guests can decide from a variety of room types, but in general, the main thing you’ll want to keep in mind is the view.

Standard View
  • Looks out over a rooftop, landscaping, or parking area
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds or 1 King Bed
Pool View
  • Views of one of the resort’s pools
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds or 1 King Bed
Savanna View
  • The Rolls Royce of Walt Disney World resort views – Looks out over one of four savannas
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds or 1 King Bed
Club-Level Savanna View
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds or 1 King Bed
Standard View 1-Bedroom Suite
  • Views of the rooftop or parking area
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds and 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper
1-Bedroom Suite
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds and 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper
2-Bedroom Suite
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 2 Queen Beds, 1 King Bed and 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper
Value Studio
  • Views of landscaping or parking area
  • Comes with 1 Queen Bed and 1 Full-sized sofa sleeper
Standard View Deluxe Studio
  • Views of landscaping or parking area
  • Comes with 1 Queen Bed and 1 Full-sized sofa sleeper
Savanna View Deluxe Studio
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 Queen Bed and 1 Full-sized sofa sleeper
Club-Level Deluxe Studio
  • Views of the pool or one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 Queen Bed and 1 Full-sized sofa sleeper
Value 1-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of landscaping or parking area
  • Comes with 1 King Bed and 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper
Standard View 1-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of landscaping or parking area
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Savanna View 1-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Club Level 1-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of the pool or one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Savanna View 3-Bedroom Grand Villa
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 4 Queen Beds and 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper

Kidani Village – Disney Animal Kingdom Villas

If Jambo House looks like it’s been inspired by a South African sunrise, then over at Kidani Village and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, with taupes and darker browns coming into play, it feels a bit closer to dusk. Kidani Village also touts a 4.5 on TripAdvisor, landing it in the top 23% of all specialty lodging in Orlando. As at Jambo House, the view should be a deciding factor when considering your room type.

Standard View Deluxe Studio
  • Views of landscaping or parking area
  • Comes with 1 Queen Bed and 1 Full-sized sofa sleeper
Savanna View Deluxe Studio
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 Queen Bed and 1 Full-sized sofa sleeper
Standard View 1-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of the parking area
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Savanna View 1-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Standard View 2-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of the parking area
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 2 Queen Beds, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Savanna View 2-Bedroom Villa
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 2 Queen Beds, 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper and 1 Twin-sized sleeper chair
Savanna View 3-Bedroom Grand Villa
  • Views of one of the savannas
  • Comes with 1 King Bed, 4 Queen Beds and 1 Queen-sized sofa sleeper

Animal Kingdom Lodge Prices

Great lobby made of carved wood
Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

As we already mentioned, both Jambo House and Kidani Village are considered deluxe Disney hotels, making them among the most expensive Disney resorts. Aside from which room type you choose, your room rate will also depend on when you travel to Disney. Holidays and marathon weekends can be especially pricey. 

For example, smaller rooms overlooking the parking lot will cost less than an Animal Kingdom villa around Christmas and New Year’s. Here’s what you can expect to pay for each room type at Animal Kingdom Lodge in 2023 (plan on slightly cheaper rates in 2022):

Jambo House

  • Standard View: $469 to $861
  • Pool View: $506 to $903
  • Savanna View: $672 to $1,132
  • Club-Level Savanna View: $804 to $1,485
  • Standard View 1-Bedroom Suite: $1,236 to $2,138
  • 1-Bedroom Suite: $1,315 to $2,404
  • 2-Bedroom Suite: $2,104 to $3,792
  • Value Studio: $441 to $1,364
  • Standard View Deluxe Studio: $507 to $1,380
  • Savanna View Deluxe Studio: $659 to $1,470
  • Value 1-Bedroom Villa: $720 to $1,722
  • Savanna View 3-Bedroom Grand Villa: $2,660 to $4,362

Kidani Village

  • Standard View Deluxe Studio: $468 to $838
  • Savanna View Deluxe Studio: $670 to $1,109
  • Standard View 1-Bedroom Villa: $771 to $1,357
  • Savanna View 1-Bedroom Villa: $906 to $1,526
  • Standard View 2-Bedroom Villa: $1,158 to $2,380
  • Savanna View 2-Bedroom Villa: $1,366 to $2,841
  • Savanna View 3-Bedroom Grand Villa: $2,629 to $4,542

Animal Kingdom Lodge Amenities

Disney’s deluxe resorts boast some of the best resort amenities in all of Walt Disney World, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge is no exception. In fact, we’d argue that these offerings are what make the whole resort. Here’s a quick rundown of everything guests can look forward to:

Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurants

Restaurant with tables
Jiko – The Cooking Place Restaurant

As a deluxe resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom hotel is blessed with an abundance of dining options. Even better, most of them are really, really good. Whether gorging yourself on Disney-friendly takes on African favorites (and Zebra Domes!) at Boma, eating your weight in naan as you watch the zebras and giraffes at Sanaa, or sipping on a South African vintage or two at Jiko, there are enough memory-making meals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas to make you want to come back again and again.

In addition to the restaurants, Animal Kingdom also has a number of lounges and pool bars perfect for unwinding with a drink after a long day of park hopping. These include the Maji Pool Bar, Uzima Springs Pool Bar, Victoria Falls Lounge, Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar, and Sanaa Lounge.

The Mara

The Mara is Animal Kingdom Lodge’s quick-service restaurant and is located in Jambo House. Fun fact: if you develop an addiction to Zebra Domes while dining at Boma, you can also buy them here.

Boma – Flavors of Africa

Located in Jambo House, Boma serves breakfast and lunch and is the resort’s all-you-can-eat buffet. Although a boma refers to a fortified outpost in Swahili, this table-service restaurant feels more like a bustling marketplace. Despite the themed setting, breakfast is a decidedly more American-style affair, though you will find a few more adventurous options like bobotie. 

Dinner features a rotating menu of African-inspired favorites, with buffet islands themed around a specific food item like bread, soups, salads, meats, and desserts. While this may sound intimidating to some people, we can assure you that this is African food presented in the most American-tastebud-friendly way possible. This is Disney, after all! With a buffet stand for kid-friendly options like chicken bites, mac and cheese, and pasta with meatballs, there’s also a considerable safety net. 

Although you might be tempted to load up on all the meat at Boma, don’t! Trust us, you’ll want to save some precious stomach space for all that delicious soup just a few steps away. Yes, soup. From chicken-corn chowder and seafood gumbo to peanut stew and coconut-chicken-curry soup, you will not want to miss a bowl or three of these. Personally, the carrot-ginger soup is basically the nectar of the gods. Oh, and just try to not eat more than one Zebra Dome. We dare you.

Overall, as the top Disney restaurant for many Walt Disney World fans, this writer included, we highly recommend giving Boma a try if you’re at all curious. And if you do go for dinner, remember that the menu rotates daily, so if you’re hoping for something specific, be sure to see if you can find the relevant menu online to make sure you won’t be disappointed. 

Jiko – The Cooking Place

Located next door to Boma, Jiko is the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s signature dining option. A jiko is a stove in Swahili, so, it’s only right that Jiko’s menu features dishes cooked in wood-burning ovens. 

Although flavors from across the continent appear throughout – Ethiopian tibs, Moroccan lamb, Botswana-style short ribs, and Cape Malay seafood curry are all on the menu – South African flavors are evident throughout thanks to elements like peri peri, biltong, braii spice, and, of course, South African wine.

Sanaa

Tucked away in Kidani Village, Sanaa offers guests African-Indian fusion cuisine with a view of the Sunset Savanna. As you might imagine, the view is the star here. Fortunately, the windows are huge and plentiful, creating tons of room to see the animals even if you aren’t right next to the windows. 

Currently, the restaurant serves table-service breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While breakfast at Boma is pretty standard, Sanaa’s breakfast is filled with more adventurous flavors like French toast with saffron-scented raisins and chai whipped cream or a breakfast sandwich with masala potatoes. So, if you’re trying to decide between the two, be sure to plan accordingly. 

Lunch and dinner offer an array of Indian-inspired dishes like curries, biryani, and samosas. However, no meal at Sanaa is complete without the bread service. This sampler is a great way to try a ton of flavors, and still have some left over to wipe up all that tasty sauce with. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge Pools

Outdoor pool at night
Jambo House Pool

When you can’t make it to a beach, no trip to Florida is complete without a pool, and luckily, guests of the Animal Kingdom Lodge are lucky to have two to choose from. The Uzima Springs Pool can be found near Jambo House. This sprawling 11,000-square-foot oasis has a 67-foot waterslide and a zero-depth entry like that of a natural beach. Plus, the whole pool looks out on the Uzima Savanna. Talk about a view! In between trips down the slide, guests can relax with a drink or a snack at the nearby Uzima Springs Pool Bar. 

The smaller, 4,700-square-foot Samawati Springs Pool can be found over in Kidani Village. Though smaller, what it lacks in size, it makes up for with a waterslide that is almost twice the length of the one at the Uzima Springs Pool. Kids can also play at Uwanja Camp, a water playground divided into three, age-specific zones. Guests can also unwind at the Maji Pool Bar nearby. 

Merchandise Locations

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has two shops: Johari Treasures at Kidani Village and Zawadi Marketplace at Jambo House. Both stock an array of Disney merchandise, sundries, snacks, and even African art and crafts. These include milk, cereal, bread, butter, jam, eggs, condiments, donuts, ice cream, beer and wine, soda, medicine, personal items and more.

Other Recreation at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Of course, you can rely on any Disney World resort to have the basics: at least one pool, at least one dining outlet, and at least one shop to pick up Disney merch and whatever else you forgot. But depending on which resort you stay at, you might also have access to a whole bunch more. 

Adult guests looking to get in a workout or take their relaxation to the next level can actually do both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas, with the Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center in Jambo House and the Survival of the Fittest Fitness Service at Kidani Village. 

As for the kiddos and teens, they can get a break from mom and dad (or is it the other way around?) at one of the resort’s arcades or playgrounds. Kidani Village also houses a Community Hall filled with video games, ping-pong, and billiards, as well as basketball and tennis courts. Family-friendly favorite campfire activities and Movies Under the Stars also take place at both parts of the resort.   

All of these are pretty standard amenities at Disney deluxe resorts. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, however, it’s the special programming that really sparkles. Thanks to the resort’s savannas, all Walt Disney World guests have the opportunity to go on not one, but two unique animal adventures: Sense of Africa at Jambo House, a behind-the-scenes tour with breakfast at Boma, a morning safari, and up-close animal encounters, and Starlight Safari at Kidani Village, an after-dark game drive. Guests specifically of Animal Kingdom Lodge also have exclusive access to the Wanyama Safari and Dinner, a multi-course meal followed by a tour of the savannas. 

Finally, for those who would rather observe nature from afar (and with a drink in-hand), Wild About Painting is basically Disney’s version of paint-and-sip, except your inspiration is the savanna you’ll be gazing out upon (and your complimentary, alcoholic beverage). 

Animal Kingdom Lodge FAQs

Lobby of hotel from wood

Have a burning question about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas that we haven’t answered yet? Keep reading below. 

Can you see animals from Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Yes! In fact, animals are basically the highlight of the entire resort. Much of the resort is surrounded by savanna, with viewing areas, restaurants, pools, and even guest rooms looking out over the animals. Nature lovers can also opt to enjoy a variety of animal experiences including special safaris and other programming.

Can you feed giraffes at Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Before you get too excited, Giraffe Manor this is not (for those of you who don’t know what that is, look it up on Instagram – you’ll thank us later). The only time you might get a chance to feed giraffes is on the Sense of Africa backstage tour we mentioned above, and even then, don’t quote us on that. However, we think that all the opportunities to see these beautiful creatures both close-up and from afar more than make up for it.

Can you see fireworks from Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Nope! Animals are the focus at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and for anyone who has ever had a dog knows, fireworks may not be the best idea if you want to keep all those animals happy. Fortunately, there are plenty of other spots around Walt Disney World where you can view one of the nighttime spectaculars without being in a park

What is the best room at Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Without a doubt, the resort’s savanna-view rooms are the cream of the crop. After all, what’s better than looking out your window after waking up to see zebras walking by? Not much. Best of all, a variety of room types are available with a savanna view, so it’s easy to pick one to fit the size of your party. 

Is breakfast included at Animal Kingdom Lodge?

No. While breakfast is available at multiple locations throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas, it is not included with your stay there. An exception would be if you booked a Disney Dining Plan with the rest of your vacation. 

Which popular attractions are close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge?

As you can guess from the name of the resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge is located right next door to Animal Kingdom Park. It is also near Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and the Winter Summerland Mini-Golf Course. Of course, the rest of Walt Disney World is just a short drive or bus ride away. 

How long does it take to get from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Animal Kingdom Park?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is just a short drive away, approximately eight minutes, from its sister resort. Guests of the resort can also take a shuttle bus to and from the park, however, the ride will likely be longer due to stops and needing to wait for it to arrive. 

Can you walk from Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge to Animal Kingdom Park?

Although it’s possible, we wouldn’t recommend it. First, it would likely take you almost an hour to get there as there isn’t a direct walking path available between the two. Second, there aren’t really any sidewalks, so you’d have to scoot to stay out of the way of traffic. Best to be safe, save time, and stick to a car or bus. 

Is the Animal Kingdom Lodge worth it?

Set of chairs in a courtyard

Definitely! If you can afford it, anyway. As we’ve already established, staying at Disney’s safari hotel has the potential to be very expensive. Even the most basic room will run you over $400 for a single night during the low season. That’s pretty steep considering a Disney vacation normally lasts at least a few days. But for those who can do it, we’re sure you won’t regret a stay there.

Fortunately, many of the perks Animal Kingdom Lodge provides can all be enjoyed if you’re staying at another Disney resort or are even off-property altogether. If you’d like to experience Animal Kingdom Lodge without those pricey room rates, you just need to get a little creative. Consider a dinner at Sanaa overlooking the savanna or the Starlight Safari. Even though both of these options are still at theme-park prices (i.e. expensive), they are much more accessible than a full stay. 

Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed our overview of all there is to know about Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is an incredible resort with lots to do and see, and we highly recommend you stop out for a little resort hopping, even if it’s just for a meal and to see the animals. 

If you do go, why not make the most of your trip with our one-day plan for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park? We’ll help you make the most of your time, and make sure you knock everything off your must-do list along the way. And for those of you looking to save cash on Walt Disney World tickets, we can help with that too! 

Finally, if you’ve stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge before or are simply devotees of Boma’s soup rotation, we’d love to hear from you! What tips and tricks did we miss? How about any FAQs? We’d be happy to add it to the list. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge Review
The Final Word
It's one of the most unique hotels to stay at. Its theming is incredible and experiences can be found no where else. It can be stinky sometimes depending on where your room is because of its closeness to the animals. Dining options are fantastic here.
4.6