Did you know that some of the best experiences during a Walt Disney World vacation can actually be found outside of the theme parks? It’s true! Some of the most memorable experiences Guests have during their stays take place at Disney Springs, and even more at Disney Resort hotels.
Each Disney Resort comes with special perks just for Guests staying onsite, like complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks, early entry to the Parks, exclusive recreational offerings, and more. Some Resorts are steps above the rest however, offering so much to see and do, you may not even need a trip to the theme parks.
One of our favorite Resorts in terms of dining, recreation, pools, theming, shopping, and more, is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. With so much to do right at the Resort, including spending time with all kinds of animals who live on the savanna, we could easily spend a complete getaway at the Resort without ever setting foot in a Disney Park.
In terms of theming, Animal Kingdom Lodge simply cannot be beat. The Resort is designed after a traditional African kraal, or a village enclosed by a fence, and it offers views of four different savannas where over 200 animals and birds reside.
Before leaving the main building, or Jambo House, Guests can take in some of the Resort’s best art and architecture. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has one of the largest collections of African art outside of Africa, with one of the focal pieces in the Resort being the Igbo Ijele Mask located near the back of the lobby. Created by the Igbo people of Nigeria, the mask measures about 16 ft. tall by eight ft. wide and is the only one known to exist outside of an Igbo community.
Outside, Guests either staying at or just visiting the Resort can explore the savanna and see numerous animals including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu, and flamingos. To make sure you don’t miss any of the animals at the Resort, stop by the front desk to pick up a Wildlife Field Guide, and information about programs with Disney’s Animal Specialists that could be happening during your visit. Exclusive for Guests staying at the Resort (and the Disney Vacation Club Villas) is the Wanyama Safari and Dinner, which comes with animal encounters and an authentic, multi-course African dinner.
The front desk at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge can also provide you with scavenger hunts, including Hidden Mickey hunts around the Resort, and a full calendar of recreational offerings for the whole family. Some of these activities can be perfect for filling up a rainy day outside of the theme parks.
As for dining, Animal Kingdom Lodge has quick-service dining available at The Mara, with delicious African-inspired and traditional American eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with signature dining at Jiko, savanna-view dining at Sanaa, and the extremely popular buffet at Boma. (Don’t forget to try the Zebra Domes! They’re available at Boma and The Mara.)
Lunch or dinner, combined with a trip to Zawadi Marketplace, the Resort’s gift shop, can easily fill a couple of hours on its own. Zawadi Marketplace stocks the perfect balance of Disney branded goods and authentic African gifts, bringing Guests some of the most unique shopping opportunities of any Disney Resort.
Exclusive for Resort Guests, Animal Kingdom Lodge also boasts one of the most underrated Disney Resort pools with a 67-foot-long waterslide at the Uzima Springs Pool (near Jambo House) and the 128-foot waterslide at the Samawati Springs Pool (at Kidani Village).
Ready to book your stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge? The Resort’s standard-view Guest rooms are often among the most affordable for a Disney deluxe Resort, but if you are able to splurge, you won’t regret a savanna view room. And, if you are just visiting for the day, be sure to make advanced dining reservations and check out all of the fascinating works of art around the Resort.