Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Planning a Resort Day with Phased Reopening

Jambo! Welcome to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a resort with the perfect mix of adventure, African culture, deluxe accommodations, and top-notch relaxation. The original Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House, first greeted guests in April of 2001, and the dedicated Disney Vacation Club building of this resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, opened to guests in May of 2009. An internal shuttle offers transportation between the two buildings, or guests can opt for the walking path.


Both African-themed buildings let guests enjoy a lush tropical setting situated around several savannas that feature distinctive African wildlife. Giraffes, ostriches, zebras, kudus, eland, wildebeest, gazelles, and waterbuck, just to name a few of the animal species, all wander freely on the grasslands 24 hours a day. Many of the guest rooms in both Jambo House and Kidani Village feature breathtaking views of the savannas, but there are a multitude of viewing areas inside and outside of the resort for all guests to enjoy. With all of this grandeur, who wants to leave for the theme parks? Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the parks and spend a day enjoying all that the Animal Kingdom Lodge has to offer. Check out my list of must-dos for a perfect day of exploring this truly unique resort with Disney’s phased reopening in mind.

1. Rise and Shine

Greeting the giraffes and ostriches in the morning from your private balcony is the perfect way to start the day. Enjoy the peaceful savannas and the cool morning air as the animals find their breakfast.

2. The Most Important Meal of the Day

Sanaa, meaning work of art in Swahili, offers a casual quick-service breakfast on the bottom floor of Kidani Village. Choose from pastries, bagels, waffles, and more African-inspired options like egg bobotie pie and boerewors sausage, and find a table by the large windows that gaze out onto the savannas, or take your meal back to the comfort of your room.

Sanaa Breakfast


3. Time to Explore

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is full of African art and artifacts. Around every corner is an exotic treasure, and beautiful sayings can be found painted on the walls. Take the time to explore the culture that is represented in this exceptional resort, starting with the massive lobbies with their soaring ceilings and wildlife lodge feel.

4. The Great Outdoors

Both buildings feature large outdoor viewing platforms for all guests to enjoy, and cast members are typically available to answer any questions you might have about the animal inhabitants. Cast members can be observed on the savanna throughout the day as they distribute food for the animals. It’s easy to spend hours outside observing the animals in a very intimate setting.

5. Cooling Off

After all of that exploring and animal viewing, grab your swimsuit and flipflops and head to the pool. Jambo House features Uzima Springs pool, and Kidani boasts the Samawati Springs pool. Both are tropical paradises that feature a waterslide pool bar, children’s play area, and zero-depth entry section. Find a lounge chair or shaded table and order a delicious lunch from the pool bar. Cast members entertain guests during the afternoon with dance parties, Disney trivia contests, and fun music. Cool off in the refreshing water or relax in a shady spot in the beautifully landscaped pool grounds.

6. Shopping

Escape from the Florida sun and head back indoors to Johari Treasures, the resort gift shop to browse for snacks, wine, African crafts, and Disney souvenirs. There is also a small selection of groceries available to purchase for your room.

7. Dinner Adventures

The adventure continues with dinner at Sanaa, which has transformed into a full-service restaurant. The menu offers delicious African and Indian-inspired dishes, such as tandoori chicken, seafood curry, and spicy Durban shrimp. The Indian Style bread service is a definite must-do, featuring naan breads and various sauces like mango chutney, pepper hummus, and tomato date jam. The African ambiance is present through Sanaa with its African baskets and artwork. The restaurant also offers a full-service bar with African beer and cocktails, as well as traditional American favorites.

8. Night Views

End your day at the Animal Kingdom Lodge with a night viewing of the animals on the savanna from one of the outdoor viewing areas. Cast members provide night-vision goggles as many of the animals are more active at night. If you’re in the mood to enjoy a movie, check out the pool areas on certain nights of the week for an outdoor viewing of a favorite Disney movie. Either choice is a perfect way to end a relaxing day at Animal Kingdom Lodge! 

About Melissa Fegely

I have been a professional writer for over 18 years with degrees in Biology and English. I am a lifelong Disney fan and a Disney Vacation Club member of over nine years. Having visited Walt Disney World several times growing up, I really caught the Disney bug after many trips with my husband. Now I am happily addicted to taking our son to Walt Disney World as often as possible and watching him experience the magic and Mickey Bars as he grows up. Traveling to Walt Disney World twice a year, I enjoy attending the Flower and Garden festival held in the spring and strolling around the World Showcase, as well as exploring all of the hidden gems that all four parks have to offer. I love helping my family and friends plan their next Disney trips based on my experiences. I also enjoy reading, swimming, traveling, and cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania, attended Shippensburg University, and current live in suburban Philadelphia with my husband, son, and two cats.