Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando Florida

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I just returned from a fun-tastic family vacation to Disney World. It was so nice to get away with the family for a few days and escape the cold here in NY.

It was pretty last minute, I wanted to go before my older daughter had to go back to school. It was our first time staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and I can’t say enough good things about it. If you’re planning a trip to Disney with your family, I think you’ll love it. For starters, this was the view outside of my balcony…

Arusha Savannah view

The African theme throughout the lodge really made you feel like you were on a different continent, from the grass and bamboo hut ceilings, African wildlife roaming all around the grounds and the beat of live African drums in the lobby – I loved everything about it.

The weather was around 70°F, so I didn’t take advantage of the 11,000 square foot pool, but it was heated, so my older daughter Karina had to test it out.

The restaurants offered great flavors of Africa weather you wanted an upscale meal or something more relaxed. We really loved Boma, which offered a buffet of African dishes as well as American kid-friendly dishes.

In the past, when I went to Disney World, I didn’t stay in a Disney hotel, but now that I have, I wouldn’t do it any other way. There are huge advantages to staying in a Disney Hotel that you couldn’t get if you stay elsewhere.

For starters, the Extra Magic Hours, which
allow guests to enter one theme park each day for an hour or two for
which the general public is not permitted.

Disney also gives hotel guests free transportation to and from the airport with Disney’s Magical Express. They even get get your bags if you wish so you don’t have to wait for them in the airport, and everything arrives in your hotel room later so you can go straight to the park from the airport. A taxi charges about $67 each way without tip, so that’s a pretty good savings.

Transportation to the parks – no need to rent a car, Disney offers free transportation to all the parks, whether by monorail, bus or boat.

It’s all about the kids! The hotel has so many activities for children – outdoor movies, face painting, arts and crafts, campfires, a Hakuna Matata playground (that Madison loved), an arcade, safari rides, and more! We didn’t even get to do everything the hotel offered, I guess I’ll just have to go back next time or try one of the other Disney hotels.

Have you stayed in a Disney hotel? With so many to choose from, what’s your favorite?

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121 comments

  1. I love AKL and Sanaa at the lodge is one of my FAVORITE restaurants in Orlando, hands down! A must check out, even if you aren’t staying at the lodge!!! The bread service is to die for and the fish dishes are too! The kids love the butter chicken and the Naan so everyone is happy! Plus if you go at lunch, you get a view of the animals. We were down (from NC) for a Universal Studios /Harry Potter trip and caught an Uber all the way to AKL to eat at Sanaa, even though that’s the only place that we visited in Disney on that trip. Magical. 

  2. OMG! Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures and article. I always dream going to disney land and i hope I can make this year finally. Keep posting, loved every detail of it!!!

  3. Golly, takes me right back, I adore the animal kingdom lodge so much, I dream of it at least twice weekly,One day I hope to return 🙂

  4. I've stayed at the Animal Kingdom which was fantastic and most recently at the Caribbean Beach Resort and for the price, it was AWESOME. It was an adult only trip and we were barely in the room but it was beautiful and decently located in relation to the theme parks. We stayed at the animal kingdom when my son was 3 and he just loved the animals, it was perfect for that trip. Glad you had a good time. 🙂

  5. My family and I are Disney freaks. I am less than a week out from my 21st birthday and I am quite certain I've been to the parks 100-200 times. We are about 4 hours from Orlando up and would head to the parks 2-5 a year from the time I was born. Now that I go to UCF in Orlando, I have an annual pass and often go once a month. It's a nostalgic place for my family and me and we can go and just walk around and have the best time ever. Likewise, we've stayed at many hotels including: Boardwalk, Beach & Yacht Club, Port Orleans (Riverside & French Quarter), Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness (camp ground), Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Pop Century, All Star Sports and Music, and Caribbean Beach. I've also stayed at countless off-site hotels and it's just not the same. It's not as magical and you don't get the free transportation (although we have parked at the Boardwalk and used the free trasportation…whoops).
    My favorite is probably Boardwalk or Wilderness Lodge. However, one of my favorite childhood memories was singing campfire songs and making s'mores with Chip and Dale at Fort Wilderness. Seeing how everyone loves AKL, I'll have to check it out! The animals sound incredible!

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    Enjoy your vacation 🙂

  7. I just stayed at AKL in December–would love a recreation recipe for the monkey bread on the buffet at boma or the house juice! Love your blog!

  8. We stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter when we were there back in November. We adored the resort. It was nice and small and really quiet too. Staying in a disney resort is so worth it! I loved being able to pick up our purchases at the hotel and we got a lot of use out of the extra magic hours. Just thinking about it makes me wish we were going back this year again! If only I had more vacation time off work.

  9. We stay at Boardwalk. Lots of fun things to do at night and it's a short walk into the back entrance of EPCOT!