Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Disney Deluxe Resort located just outside of, you guessed it, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. In terms of pricing, its actually one of the cheaper options when it comes to the Deluxe Resorts. The price however, does rise if you want a Savanna view (and lets face it, who doesn’t want a Savanna view?).
We were lucky enough to stay in a Savanna view room for our honeymoon back in 2016 and it was a wonderful experience. We rented DVC points in order to afford it, but that is another topic for another time. The purpose of this post is not to tell you to necessarily stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge for your vacation, but rather to tell you why you should make time to visit it even in you are not staying there.
To get to AKL, we recommend taking an uber or lift (unless you have a rental car). The the only alternatives are either Minnie Vans or a bus transfer at the AK bus stop. Minnie Vans are way more expensive then uber or lyft, and bus transfers can take a very long time if the timing doesn’t work out just right. From most Disney resorts, you are probably looking about an $8 ride each way to AKL. We typically pay to uber there in the morning, then take the resort bus to Animal Kingdom park in the afternoon.
So, why should you make the effort to get to AKL during your trip? Let’s find out!
The interiors of both AKL buildings, Jambo House and Kidani Village, are nothing less than stunning. Jambo House has a massive open lobby (seen above) while Kidani’s lobby is smaller and more intimate with a great view of the Savanna. Both are fantastic, as is the architecture and theming throughout the buildings.
Now, I’m not telling you to wander every inch of the buildings. The corridors are still corridors, but the common community areas area all great.
Yes, it’s true you will be able to see a large savanna full of animals while riding Kilimanjaro Safaris (our #4 ranked attraction in WDW) during your time touring AK park. But there you will be moving at the ride’s pace. The trucks can stop for any extended period of time. At AKL, you can wander around to various viewing areas and take all the time you need.
In addition to that, there will be knowledgeable animal experts on hand most of the time to answer any questions you may about the animals. I have had some great conversations with these experts and they really can add to the experience. If you are viewing at night, you can even take a look through night vision goggles.
Here are some photos I recently took from the main viewing location at Kidani Village. These were all taken from around the same spot.
Again, this post isn’t really about staying at AKL, however imagine being able to wake up in the morning, make a cup of coffee and sit out on the balcony with this as your view. Its a pretty incredible place.
A reasonable case can be made that Animal Kingdom Lodge has the best overall dining game of any Disney resort. It has two of our favorite table service restaurants on property in Sanaa and Jiko. The third table service restaurant, Boma, is one of the few restaurants in WDW we have yet to try (mainly because we love the other two so much). For the most part though, we have heard nothing but good things for that as well.
Jiko is a “signature dining” restaurant, and therefore very much on the expensive side. That being said, if you are celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a romantic evening out, you’re not going to do much better than this. Its a seriously great meal in a perfect atmosphere.
Sanaa is probably the most underrated restaurant in all of WDW, with it being fairly easy to grab a reservation right up until the day of. This is most likely do to its AKL’s reletively remote location to the rest of WDW. Sanaa is also in Kidani which is the less busy of the two buildings.
A View From Our Table
We have never had anything less than fantastic experience at Sanna, and we’ve diner there many times. The big selling point of the restaurant is that it is right up against the Savanna, with one way windows so you can look out at the animals but they can’t see you.
While this is an amazing perk of the restaurant, the rest of the experience does nothing to hurt it either. The service is always top notch and the food is great. The signature bread service to start the meal is our favorite appetizer anywhere. Not just in WDW, anywhere! Its that good.
Entrees are always great as well!
To Sum It All Up
You will not be disappointed should you choose to check out Animal Kingdom Lodge for a few hours during your trip.
If dining at Sanaa, we prefer to arrive around 10:00 – 10:30 with an 11:30 lunch reservation. This allows up to spend an hour – an hour and a half exploring the hotel and viewing the animals on the Savanna. With an 11:30 reservation, you are pretty much guaranteed a window table as that is when the restaurant opens for the day. Then we typically head over to AK park for the afternoon / evening.
If we are dining at Jiko, we would do the opposite. We would head to AK early in the day and then take the bus over to AKL from there in the evening. Jiko, like most other signature dining locations, is only open for dinner.
Either way you can’t go wrong and your bound to have a great meal and a lot of fun.