Giraffes.. Ankole Cattle…Cranes..oh my ! Oh wait, wrong movie, but still a magical experience. This week in our Disney Resort Spotlight we are looking at my personal favorite resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge (also known as AKL in Disney acronyms). Opening in April of 2001, this hotel propelled Disney Resort properties to the next level. Not only was this a deluxe resort, it was an interactive resort that immersed guests in a full African experience.
More Than Just a Pretty Resort
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is known for, well, it’s animals. There are rooms that overlook the savannas of the resort, which offers guests an up close and personal experience with residents. Nothing says “Good Morning” like enjoying a cup of coffee on your balcony while watching the giraffes eating breakfast. Around the lodge, there are three total 11-acre savannas (Sunset Savanna, Arusha Savanna, Uzima Savanna) housing a variety of African mammals and birds. This doesn’t include the Savannas at the sister property, Kidani, which is strictly a DVC resort. There are so many unique touches throughout that make this resort special. Not only does it have native artwork everywhere, each door has their own special piece. Every door is adorned with an authentic shield, and no two are the same, so when we say unique, they really mean unique.
More Than Lettuce Served Here
Like all of Disney’s Deluxe resorts, ,the dining is on point. There are a few restaurants on property, especially if you include the ones at Kidani, but my favorite is Boma. Hands down, my favorite breakfast buffet on all of property and even when we don’t stay there, we will still travel for a good breakfast. Check out where else you can get your grub and drink on…
- Jiko—The Cooking Place: This Signature Dining restaurant is located in Jambo House and features African Style Cooking with influences from the Mediterranean, India and Europe. Jiko also features South African vintage wines. The private Cape Town Wine Room seats up to forty guests and showcases a collection of wine-based sculptures. Jiko means “a cooking place” in Swahili, thus the restaurant’s subtitle “The Cooking Place”.
- Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar: Located near Jiko, this quaint lounge features a wide variety of specialty African wines, along with hand-crafted cocktails, imported beer, and other specialty drinks.
- Boma—Flavors of Africa: This restaurant is also located in Jambo House and features African-style cooking in a buffet setting. The buffet itself features items from fifty different African countries. The restaurant was designed to resemble an open African marketplace. Food is prepared in view of diners in open cooking areas which allows for interaction between chefs, cooks, and guests. Boma is a word in Swahili and several other African languages, meaning an enclosure, such as a fort or a livestock pen.
- Victoria Falls Lounge: Perched above Boma, this lounge offers a variety of African wines, beers, specialty cocktails and other drinks. In addition, the lounge also features a small menu of African-inspired bar fare.
- The Mara: This is the counter service restaurant serving American and some African food, located also in Jambo House.
- Uzima Springs Pool Bar: This quaint watering hole-inspired pool bar is located on within Jambo House. Located right beside the Uzima Springs pool guests can indulge in various cocktails and African beers and wines. Food is also available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. offering multiple selections from the quick service with the convenience of dining poolside. The Disney Dining Plan is also accepted at this location.
- Sanaa: Located in Kidani Village and overlooking the savanna, this restaurant draws its inspiration from the cuisines along the historical spice route of Africa, India, China, and Europe. Serving foods from tandoor ovens as well as slow-cooked specialties, the selections here are filled with flavorful spices of Africa. There is also a lounge area inside Sanaa with a more limited menu.
- Maji Pool Bar: Similarly to Uzima Springs, Samawati Springs (the main pool of Kidani Village) contains a quaint pool bar, featuring a variety of cocktails, African beers and wines. Along with this, the bar also features various food options from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Maji” translates to water in Swahili.
Let’s Head To Africa
Staying in a Disney Deluxe Resort, not only gives you that extra special feeling, there are a few perks as well. Like all Disney Resort guests, deluxe guests are allowed to enter the parks 30 minutes before everyone else, but there is more. Just for Disney Deluxe Resort guests, there is extended evening hours. At the time of the article, these special hours include Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but things may change in the future. If you are ready to escape to Africa without the flight, spend some time with the giraffes and Mickey contact your favorite Enchanted Adventures Agent today. Here is a little brochure to help you delve deeper into the magic that is Animal Kingdom Lodge.