Opened: April 2001 
Level:  Deluxe 
Theme:  African Village
We just returned from a wonderful stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  We reserved an Arusha Savanna view room and were upgraded to Kilimanjaro Club at check in which was a nice surprise.   The Club included access to the Kilimanjaro Club lounge where they had breakfast and beverages/snacks throughout the day, bathrobes, turndown service and the ability to participate in unique safari experiences (for an additional fee). 
The hotel is set in a 43 acre African savanna with rooms that look out over the savanna, pool, or the parking area.   We enjoyed our stay and would highly recommend the hotel.  
Welcome home and welcome to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The architecture is one of the most amazing parts of this hotel.   The lobby is over six stories tall with a huge 50 foot curved picture window that spans the back wall and looks out over the savanna.   The artistic details of the lobby, combined with the scents coming from nearby restaurants, will make you feel as if you’ve traveled to Africa.  The lobby is an experience in itself and worth the trip to the hotel even if you aren’t staying there.  

The room was nice, but overall felt smaller than the rooms we have stayed in at moderate hotels.   Although the room is actually 30 sq feet or so larger than the moderates, because of the position of the bathroom and the over sized furniture it felt cramped.  Our room was a standard room with two queen beds, a flat panel TV, small fridge, and bathroom.   The best feature of the room was the balcony, which overlooked the Arusha Savanna.   Imagine waking up in the morning, stepping onto your balcony and finding a giraffe staring at you.   The animals can only get up to around 100 ft from the building so they are not close enough to touch but definitely closer than most of us can experience anywhere else.     

Room amenities:

·         Small Refrigerator      
·         Coffeemaker (coffee and tea)
·         In-room safe
·         Hairdryer
·         Makeup Mirror
·         Iron and Ironing board
·         Internet ($10 for 24 hrs at the time of our stay)

While at the hotel we ate at two of the restaurants.

1.     Boma – Flavors of Africa:   Even though this is one of the most popular buffets at Disney World, I was not a huge fan.   One of the issues with this restaurant is the setup of the buffet – they say you can start anywhere but you get looks when you cut through the massive lines.   Even though we had an early dinner seating the line for the meat area of the buffet was long the entire meal.   The main room was crowded, loud and difficult to navigate. As for the food it was all very good, even our son sampled much of the African fare and enjoyed it.   
2.     The Mara – A quick service location at the lodge was very peaceful with great food.   We had chicken and the African stew; both were full of flavor very good.  
Free Items 

Well, not really free but included in the price of your room.  On this trip we decided to take in some of the “free” items that the hotel had to offer   For those of you staying at an onsite hotel, be sure to look at the information they give you during check in as you will find these types of activities at all Disney hotels.   

1.     Savanna views – there are 4 savannas to view at the lodge.   Even if your room looks out over one of them it’s worth wondering the hotel to see the other three.   We found that when our savanna was empty the animals had wondered off to another one of the other savannas.  

2.     Night vision goggles – After wondering around the large pool we noticed that there was a sign indicating a night viewing of the animals.   After walking down a small path we were met by safari guides who handed us a set of night vision goggles with which we could look out onto the savanna at night and see the animals.  A fun and unique experience! 
3.     Learn about Africa – Cultural representatives, many of which are students taking part in an international exchange program, share stories about their native homelands around the fire.
4.     Storytelling and marshmallow roast – This was another activity we just happened to stumble upon.   We followed some signs to a fire pit and listened to one of the culture representatives tell a story from her childhood while including members of the audience.   

5.     Parade – there was a parade that would start every night near the front of the gift shop (Zawadi Marketplace).   Each child would get a small musical instrument and they would parade through the lobby singing and playing.    Simple but fun for the little ones.   
Rating:   4 out of 5 

Rating Comments:   Overall this is a stunning hotel and should be included in your list if you are looking at Deluxe accommodations.    All cast members we encountered were friendly and they offered up a lot of knowledge of Africa.   For us the animals and the savanna view were the most unique and exciting part of the experience.  

One item of note, compared to other deluxe hotels this hotel sits on the outskirts of Disney property for a reason, but this makes getting to any park besides Animal Kingdom a long trek.  If you have ADR’s be sure to leave about 30 mins to get to the other parks.        

Welcome Home!