We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge with my family in October for two nights (we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside for two nights as well). This resort is a deluxe resort but has one of the lower rates of that category, especially for a standard view room. There are many who consider AKL one of the best resorts at WDW, but we were not on board with that assessment. Although we enjoyed our stay, we have found other resorts, like Port Orleans Riverside, to better suit us. For some, however, AKL could be a great choice. Check out our review of each aspect of the hotel to help guide your decision:
The lobby at AKL is definitely as grand as pictures make it seem--The tall ceilings and large windows are striking as soon as you walk through the doors. Like any Disney property, there are plenty of details that bring the theme together; my favorite is the chandeliers, which I think look like wings...or flowers?
A view of the lobby windows from outside.
There are plenty of places to relax in the lobby, including rocking chairs and a fire pit.
One of the best parts of AKL in my opinion is that you can get to your room without having to walk outside; the majority of the rooms are connected in a large horseshoe that begins at the back of the lobby. Our room was a Savannah view in the Kudu Trail on the first floor:
The rooms at AKL are well-decorated, but we felt the set-up made them a bit cramped. Entering the room puts you in a short hall that really only serves as space for a closet. Our two queen bed room had a mini fridge, a table with two chairs, and a TV unit. Compared to some of the newly renovated rooms at, say, Coronado Springs, this actually felt like a downgrade. With four adults in the room, there was very little space to put suitcases or...walk around.
We did appreciate that the sinks were separate from the toilet and shower like they are at the moderate resorts; this definitely helps with multiple adults trying to shower/blow dry hair/do makeup at the same time. Otherwise the bathroom was nothing special, but it did the job.
But who stays at AKL for the bathrooms? The most important part of the room was the view, and it did not disappoint. We had a great view of giraffes, zebras, and fighting warthogs. We did wish the balconies were a tad bigger with more than two chairs, but that may be asking too much.
If your room doesn't have a view of the Savannah, there are viewing areas like this one throughout the hotel.
AKL as two table service restaurants, Jiko and Boma, and one quick service restaurant called the Mara. Since we were traveling with my family, who can be picky eaters, we did not dine at Jiko or Boma, but we did eat breakfast and lunch at the Mara.
Boma's dining room.
One of our least favorite things about AKL is the weird walk to the Mara. It is challenging to find at first and feels a bit hidden. Otherwise, it is a perfectly satisfying quick service restaurant with many of the same offerings as other resorts, including cheeseburgers, flatbreads, and deli sandwiches, with a few specialty items like falafel.
The Uzima pool is large, with a water slide and zero entry. There are two different hot tub areas that are separate from the pool (so no kids running around while you relax!), a full bar, and a playground.
You definitely won't have trouble finding a lounge chair!
The ambiance of the pool is really quite nice. It's surrounded by foliage and does feel like an oasis of sorts. We were impressed by the size and how nice the main spa area was.
AKL also has an arcade and a spa & fitness center. As expected, the arcade was empty when we stopped by. Why any of these still exist on Disney property is beyond me.
The bus station is covered, as is the walk from the lobby to get to it. Like the other resorts, it has TV monitors with bus arrival times, several benches, water fountains, and a vending machine. Another disadvantage of the resort is that it is a bit removed, especially from Magic Kingdom, so be sure to budget some extra travel time if that is your destination.
The ambiance of the resort is really what you're paying for when you book a room here. The grounds and buildings are gorgeous, and the close-up glimpses of animals normally only seen at the zoo is definitely a novel experience.
I really enjoyed walking around the resort to see what animals I could find, hanging out in a rocking chair, or just enjoying the landscape.
I don't know that we'll stay at AKL again, but I'm glad we experienced it. The price per night combined with the lack of room space is just not logical for us. I think eating a meal at Boma and spending an hour walking around the lobby and grounds would take advantage of the best parts of the resort without dropping $300+ a night. We also are not huge Animal Kingdom fans, and usually only visit that park once or twice on any given trip, so location is also not an advantage of the resort for us (or most people). Ken's main complaint about the resort was that it basically is just Animal Kingdom's Africa section, but as a resort, so it didn't feel like a particularly unique experience, which is understandable. In reality, you can see all these animals on the Kilimanjaro safari, so it's really about if seeing a giraffe when you towel dry your hair means that much to you. My two year old nephew did really enjoy looking at the animals, but I think he loved the safari even more. In all, because AKL is one of the less expensive deluxe resorts, it could be a great option if you're wanting to experience deluxe without destroying your budget. If you're not REALLY into animals, though, we recommend visiting for a meal or just an afternoon break.
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