Pulling up to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I initially thought the building looked odd. A massive building with a thatch roofed appearance, totally out of place in Florida. My first impression melted to awe when I walked into the lobby. Holy smokes, I had never seen anything like this! I had been transported to a strange and delicious world, and I didn’t want to leave. Not one bit. There were artifacts, African themes taken to astronomical proportions, exotic animals in the distance.
The service at the desk was on par with the best luxury resorts. All my questions were answered, we got maps of the resort layout (a definite necessity), and lots of other goodies to go into our memory book.
The room was fabulous. The African theme was on everything…down to the light fixtures and tiles. I immediately conjured up visions of an African theme in my own house.
The best part of the room was the balcony. Two chairs, one table, and a SAFARI just feet away. It was the most exotic suspense of reality I could conceive.
We had reservations at the upscale restaurant Jiko’s. The meal was AMAZING, definitely French cuisine with African inspiration. We had the steak and the monkfish, and appetizers emblazoned on my tastebuds (a bread-curry-yogurt dish). The service was outstanding. It quickly became my favorite Disney Resort restaurant.
Next door, Boma’s boasts an exotic but less intimate buffet experience. They have an open kitchen here with a wood-fire rotisserie grill (that smells fantastic). We tried the breakfast buffet one morning, and there were some unusual and tasty choices. I was stuffed! They also offer a dinner buffet with some African cuisine touches.
Nearby is Mara’s a food court with Disney/resort priced meals. This is the cheapest way to eat at AKL (that’s not saying much, it’s a resort after all). There were some unusual snacks here, and the service was friendly.
The pool was beautiful and creative, and you’ll want to allow enough time to really enjoy it. Of course, the animals on the resort “savannah” are the highlight. There’s an observation deck, and you can see zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and all sorts of critters out there. There are higher observation decks and a fantastic outdoor bonfire spot where you can grab a rocker and decompress.
The first morning I woke up extra early to watch the sun. I had ordered room service. The experience of room service breakfast, coffee, newspaper, and giraffes on the balcony was such a stress reducer. For the first time, I didn’t want to go to EPCOT! Our stay was much too short — only two nights. And ever since then, I imagine going back real soon.
Since our visit, Disney has added villas to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for even more options!
~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200