Once we had decided to have our Wedding & Honeymoon in Florida, our next decision was choosing where we wanted to stay. Thankfully, this was a very easy decision for us as one particular Walt Disney World Resort had been at the top of our list for quite a while; Animal Kingdom Lodge.
We booked a 3 week stay here and took advantage of the Free Dining Plan offer, which we discovered had been upgraded to the Deluxe Plan for us for free by our tour operator! We had opted for a regular room, which meant we wouldn’t be guaranteed a view of the animals on the Savannah, but with the cost of the wedding the upgrade just wasn’t affordable; I was hoping due to being honeymooners we may possibly get an upgrade, but wasn’t counting on it.
Our Virgin Atlantic flight landed in Florida mid-afternoon and we were at our Resort by early evening. I personally love the direct flights to Florida. You arrive at your hotel at a much more reasonable time, allowing a chance to explore the Resort, or even head on into the Theme Parks to watch the fireworks. Service at check-in was fantastic. The woman who served us managed to get us into a Savannah-view Room with a King bed and really did try to help us with our every need. She even made a point of coming out to wish me well as I left the hotel on our wedding morning!
Our room really was incredible. The unique aspect of this hotel is the ability to watch animals roam around their ‘savannah’, but nothing can prepare you for the amazement you’ll feel walking into your room and looking straight out of your balcony window to a view of giraffes and zebras. This view alone really sells Animal Kingdom Lodge, and I loved nothing more than spending some time each day sitting on our balcony watching the animals
Another big seller for us was the size of the King Bed. Generally, rooms in Walt Disney World come with 2 queen sized beds, and that is what we were expecting. However, with only 2 of us, the second bed was redundant, so being able to stay in a room with a King Bed and a sofa was a big plus. And the King Bed really was huge – I could easily across it without my legs hanging off the end! The sofa was a nice extra also, almost providing us with a small sitting area in our room.
The room itself was clean and a very good size. There was plenty of storage, which was handy given the amount needed for a 3 week stay, including all bits and pieces needed for the wedding. I also loved the decor; while the bedding was a little busy, the detail in the dark wood furniture was beautiful.
The food court at Animal Kingdom Lodge was brilliant. It was a really good size and had plenty of menu options, as well as plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. My favourite dish from here was the Beef Stew, which was served in a large, hollowed-out bap. There are also two restaurants in this Resort, and both are delicious. Boma, the buffet, serves African-inspired cuisine for both breakfast and dinner. We tried both meals served here and I struggle to decide which one is better – I would definitely recommend trying them both! The other table-serivce restaurant here is Jiko, a Signature Restaurant. While a more expensive choice, the offerings here are delicious and not to be missed; this is now one of my favourite Walt Disney World Restaurants.
Animal Kingdom Lodge only has the one pool, which is zero-entry and located just outside the food court. We didn’t spend a lot of time at the pool, but it was large and had a slide as well as two jacuzzis. Any time we passed there seemed to be plenty of loungers and seating areas, and just beyond the pool was an Animal Viewing Area, so it seemed like a lovely place to spend a relaxing afternoon.
We did however use the Massage & Fitness Centre – well, the massage part! Our first day as a married couple was spend relaxing at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we booked in for a massage each in order to really make the most of our down time. The service in the massage centre was fantastic and the massage itself was wonderful. I would definitely recommend budgeting a little extra spending money and taking advantage of this hidden gem.
I would also recommend taking some time out from the Theme Parks to explore Animal Kingdom Lodge fully. The hotel is packed with authentic African artefacts, some with truly incredible stories and histories. You’ll also find animal experts dotted around during the day to answer any questions you may have about the surrounding wildlife. The evening brings more unique experiences, from African storytellers around the campfire to night-time viewing areas.
Overall, I really loved our stay in Animal Kingdom Lodge. We were treated wonderfully, and the whole theme and experience of the Resort is unique and unforgettable. There is very little I can fault about this Resort; the only (very) small negative would be the distance from here to the main Walt Disney World areas. Whilst Animal Kingdom is close by, most other attractions are much further away. However, your hotel is in the middle of its own private savannah, so distance from populated areas is somewhat expected.
We are trying to make our way around all the Walt Disney World Resorts, but I wouldn’t hesitate to book another stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The whole experience here felt special and well worth the money spent for a Deluxe Resort
We originally visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge during our holiday at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. We’d booked into Jiko for an evening meal, and were completely blown away by the whole resort.
Top of the list of our resorts to visit, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was a must for our honeymoon. We booked 3 weeks here, 1 week before the wedding and 2 weeks after for honeymoon. We’d booked through Virgin Holidays, flying Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick, and availed of the free dining plan. One way or another, we’d added some upgrades to our wedding package, we ended up with a free deluxe dining plan.
When we arrived at the airport the usual chit-chat with the rental agent led to us getting a discounted upgrade from our basic car to a Ford Mustang convertible. Not a bad way to start 3 weeks in the sun! We loaded up the car, and hit the road, arriving at the resort late afternoon.
At check-in we had a very helpful cast member check us into our room. We’d originally booked a standard room, however she asked about our visit, wowed by the 3 week stay, she enquired and got us a free upgrade to a savannah view room! We were very grateful!
The room was on the lower floor, and featured a king bed and sofa bed. The room was an excellent size, with decor themed around African tribes. The view from our balcony was of zebras and giraffes walking around the savannah.
We took a walk around the resort to see what all was available. On our first visit for dinner, we saw the lobby, and Jiko. This time we toured around whole resort. There are 3 dining options, a health and fitness centre, the largest pool of all Disney’s resorts and viewing points for watching the animals.
The first of the three food options is The Mara, a quick service restaurant offering your usual Disney food treats, complemented with food of African influence. My favourite was the African stew – aka a hollowed-out crusty bap filled with beef stew! We also discovered one of Disney’s best kept secrets – the cheesecake!
The 2 other restaurants are tables service; Boma and Jiko. Boma offers a buffet service. At breakfast, be sure to try the fruit juice. Orange, passion fruit and guava. Very more-ish! Jiko is a signature restaurant, meaning it offers fine dining experiences. I strongly recommend both restaurants!
The resort features a health and fitness centre for those who wish to help manage their deluxe dining plan impact on the waistline. On our trip we used this to have a Swedish massage. Very relaxing – I have to admit – I fear I fell asleep!
The swimming pool is one of the largest on all of the Disney resorts. It offers easy entry for little ones. The pool it themed as a lagoon in the middle of the savannah, skirted by plants and trees. There are a large number of loungers available, and towels. There are 2 jacuzzis to help loosen up your limbs after a long day in the park!
The lobby offers many seating areas that you can relax on with a book. There is a large fire that helps with the ambiance of the lobby. You can also walk around the viewing areas and speak to guides about the animals.
There are other activities at the resort, for example, night tours of the savannah and story time for kids.
The stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was truly fascinating. It is definitely the one resort that packs punch and wow-factor! We’ve since been back with family for dining reservations, and their expressions on entry to the resort reinforce this.
The only downside, if you want to call it that, is the proximity to other attractions. Animal Kingdom is closest, and Blizzard Beach, but it is at least 15mins drive to all other attractions. Personally I’m not put off by this, but if you’re tired at the end of the day, it is worth baring in mind.