AKA: Why Animal Kingdom Lodge is the best hotel ever…. unless you’re my mom.
Sigh. Last year my family and I were at Disney World, celebrating my mom’s sixty-fifth birthday and having an awesome time. This year, my family and I are deep cleaning our house. Which is great, I love getting the house in shape, but I’d rather be at Disney World. But since I’m not, I’ll take a break from all the cleaning to reminisce and write about Disney World.
Today I thought I’d talk about Animal Kingdom Lodge and why it’s an awesome hotel for some, but not all. I was blown away by the hotel, and would gladly stay there any time. My mom, on the other hand was a little underwhelmed. Since I’d rather end this post on a happy note, I’ll start with why my was less enthusiastic than I was.
My Mom’s Cons:
Animals 😦 Sad but true, my mom was underwhelmed by the animals at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I chalk this one up to reality not meeting expectation. I’ve talked a bit about the importance of expectations before, and my mom is a good example of being disappointed when expectations aren’t met. To be fair, the promotional pictures for the hotel do quite a good job of upselling the animal experience. My mom was expecting it to be more naturalistic, like you are waking up in Africa and can see savannah for miles and miles. In reality, you see other hotel room balconies, a well worn road that the keepers use, and (if you’re looking close enough) feeders and barriers.
Crowds 😦 Okay, so usually when we stay at Disney World we stay at Old Key West Resort which is the largest resort at Disney World in terms of square footage, and has the least amount of rooms. Which means it’s a sprawling, spread out, very quiet resort. Animal Kingdom Lodge has much more of a bustling hotel feel to it. My mom prefers the quiet hotels.
Location 😦 Animal Kingdom Lodge is a tad further from the parks (besides Animal Kingdom), and the only form of transportation is bus which gets tiresome. Especially after staying at the Grand Californian Resort at Disneyland the year before last. Walking from your hotel directly into the park will spoil you pretty quick.
Animals! I was blown away with the animal encounters! I was expecting to see the occasional zebra, or oxen in the distance, but we saw so many animals throughout the day. There was one ostrich that would keep coming by our balcony, strutting her stuff, I loved starting the day, drinking my coffee, watching her do her thing. And the animals are all over the place. Tortoises and birds outside the window of the restaurant, flamingos by the pool, if you are an animal lover (or have an animal obsessed kid) the animals are a lot of fun.
Food! Everyone in my family agreed that the food at Animal Kingdom Lodge was delicious. The hotel has a signature restaurant (i.e. fancy), a buffet, a more casual sit down restaurant, a quick service restaurant, a lounge, and two pool bars that also serve a limited menu of food. And the food was goooood. There is a great mix of safer options (hamburgers, chicken nuggets, etc) and more adventurous, African inspired dishes. The best dish I had there was also the simplest, the bread service at The Victoria Falls Lounge. The lounge is a fun place to grab a drink, located between two floors, and overlooking the buffet. It was a nice place to unwind after a busy day of traveling. Listening to the African drumming didn’t hurt either.
Activities! This right here is why I’d go back to Animal Kingdom Lodge over and over again. The resort offers a whole slew of activities. It’s great for people who want to do something besides the parks. Most of the activities are geared towards kids, but there are several for adults only, some of which include wine ;). A lot of the activities were educational as well which I appreciated. My daughter actually chose to hang out at the hotel over the parks an afternoon or two, so that she could take part in more of the activities. She helped make enrichments for the animals, learned about conservation, how to track animals in the wild, and about Africa itself, she got her face painted by two sweet women from Kenya, and got to decorate a cake. All of these were free activities that added an extra layer to our stay.
In my humble opinion, Animal Kingdom Lodge is a breathtaking resort that is great for families who don’t want to spend all of their time in the parks, and don’t mind the extra hustle and bustle. It would be a waste to stay there and not explore all that it has to offer. Gorgeous pools, artwork around every corner, rocking chairs in quiet nooks for watching the sunset over the savanna, it has so much to offer. I can’t wait to go back some day!