Have you ever visited or stayed at a resort in North America that was just a “resort?” Sure it might have a great pool, health club, fine dining, and other amenities you would consider spectacular. It’s all part of a great resort experience. Let’s face it, most resorts have similar amenities, but what sets them apart are style, class, and maintenance.
Let’s put the traditional resort aside for a while because a specific hotel at Walt Disney World has broken the rules when it comes to your traditional resort experience. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has something you won’t find anywhere in North America, or maybe even the world. Right outside the resort or maybe your room balcony is a free-roaming savanna full of African animals you can view during your visit or stay at the lodge. The collection of savannas surrounds most of the resort, and most rooms have a view of one of these great savannas. As part of the Disney story at the Animal Kingdom Lodge the late Roy E. Disney said “The animals that live at the Animal Kingdom Lodge call it their home. The people who stay at the lodge are simply the animal’s guests.” A total reversal of what you’d expect and think at this resort.
You don’t have to be a resort guest to view the animals. You can visit the resort and walk to one of the common areas where the savannas are located. Most of the savannas are located in the back and sides of both resort buildings; Jambo House and Kidani Village. Each savanna has specific animals which collaborate well together. You can pickup a guide map at the front desk with animal and savanna locations. Viewing the animals in their respective savannas is a great family activity in the morning, afternoon, or evening when a visit to a theme park is not part of your daily itinerary.
Jambo House Savannas
Kidani Village Savannas
Animal Viewing Guide
The savannas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are very well done. If you didn’t know any better you would think you were somewhere in Africa and not in the friendly confines of Central Florida.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge has several Cast Members who came from the far reaches of the African continent. These individuals were selected to work at the lodge based on their ability to tell the African story and culture. A big part of the culture are animals that roam in the open savannas like you would find at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. You will find African representatives stationed at some of the savanna overlooks ready to answer any questions you may have regarding the various animal species.
There are several savanna overlooks to choose from at the lodge. Most of them are very conducive to viewing the animals. Some overlooks are at ground level while others are above the savanna with chairs and a nice place to relax and enjoy the piece and quiet.
One of the many aspects I enjoy when viewing the animals is the ability to leave one of the resort’s pools during a swim and walk over to one of the savanna overlooks. They are a great place to view the animals without ever leaving the pool area.
The new Pembe savanna overlook is connected to the Kidani Village pool complex.
One of the activities anyone can participate in is viewing the animals at night. No, the savannas are not lit at night; however, you can get a pair of night vision goggles from Cast Members at certain savanna overlooks. Viewing the animals through the night vision goggles is a big hit with children and provides a different perspective of viewing the animals. Be sure to check with the resort’s front desk for specific times when you can view the animals through night vision goggles.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge is a great place just to hang out for a morning, afternoon, or evening. There are so many areas to explore, pieces of African art to admire, places to eat, and areas to relax you’ll have a hard time trying to decide what to do next. But, the absolute best is stopping by the resort just to view the animals in one of the many free-roaming savannas.
If you think a visit to this resort is fun, staying at the resort is even a bigger treat. Definitely make it a point to reserve a savanna view room so you can see the animals from your balcony. If you need to just get out of your room you have the option to visit one of the many savanna overlooks across the resort.
Waking up each morning with the animals outside your room can’t be beat. It makes for a great start to your “Disney day.” It truly is one of the most unique resort experiences anywhere in the world. Walt Disney World is all about magic and fantasy, but the Animal Kingdom Lodge is as real as it gets.
Next Up: Resort hopping continues with a visit and tour of Disney’s Polynesian Resort
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