Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) is divided into two sections. Jambo House is a smaller section which has some DVC rooms but is mostly the section of the resort open for non DVC members to book. Kidani Village is a much bigger section that is DVC specific. We stayed in Kidani Village and although we have heard wonderful things about Jambo House, sadly did not have enough time to take a look. It is on our list of desired locations for a future stay.
The amazing views and theming of the DVC resorts starts well before you get to the resort itself. It starts with the gatehouse. From there, beautiful themed signs so the way until you approach the front door where the welcome mat and DVC logo let you know that you are welcome.
The lobby of the AKL is magnificent. The soaring ceilings, the thatched roof and wooden beams, the colors and textures all indicate that you are staying at a deluxe African resort. The walls are strewn with inspiring quotes from African countries and beautiful African art. The large light fixtures in the lobby have colored glass erupting from them evoking an image of flames. There is a large seating area with comfortable couches and the gift shop Johari Treasures.
Even the public rest room in the lobby area is themed and beautiful.
Downstairs in the lobby is the restaurant, Sanaa. This too was beautifully decorated and a site to behold. Diners at Sanaa can eat in the main part of the restaurant or at the tables that line the tall windows with an excellent view out onto the savanna. Outside the entrance is a hidden Mickey, beside a fantastic cake titled Disney Nature’s Monkey Kingdom made specially for AKL that has been coated to preserve it.
The elevator and hallway continue the fantastic theming. Each parking section and corresponding elevator has a name of one of the characters from the Lion King. We had a room in the Rafiki section but were initially told to park in Pumbaa. All of the lights in the hallways are themed and random areas have display cases filled with African artifacts.
There are several different room sizes in the DVC resorts.
- The smallest is the Studio which sleeps up to 4. It includes a kitchenette including a mini fridge, sink and counter space.
- The next size is the One Bedroom, which sleeps up to 5 but comes with much more. Including a main area and separate room for the bedroom, a table, a full kitchen, a washer/dryer and a huge tub.
- The next size is a Two Bedroom, which sleeps up to 9, is basically a studio and a one bedroom together. In AKL, it also has an extra bathroom.
- The final size is the Three Bedroom Grand Villa, which sleeps up to 12. It includes 2 floors, 4 bathrooms a full dining room as well as the full kitchen and washer/dryer.
We stayed in a Two Bedroom this year as we were going to be there over the weekend and wanted a nice amount of space. I will say that estimates for sleeping counts include pull out couches. While this may work for many people, others may find it crowded.
As I said all of the theming was fantastic. From the light fixtures, to the wood engravings to the art. All was beautiful and unique. Even the table had specially designed legs to mimic animal hooves.
The Main Area
The One Bedroom
One of the theming touches that we loved was the Lion King themed tile in the bathroom. Another was the carved headboard. Really the whole room was beautiful.
All DVC Resort rooms come with many amenities such as a fridge and minimally a kitchenette. They also come with several other amenities which N and I used for the first time this visit. These include a highchair and crib. Both were in good condition, very clean and worked great for A.
This is a big draw for me as it makes traveling to Disney with a baby so much easier. I didn’t have to worry about traveling with a pack and play or a portable highchair as I knew these were complimentary amenities at the resort. There was also a pair of binoculars to look out at the savanna, which we sadly didn’t realize until we were checking all of the drawers to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind when we checked out.
I do have one issue that Disney has since resolved but I feel that sharing it is important. A had a cold for this stay and we thought that having a humidifier would help her sleep. We figured nothing ventured, nothing gained (a favorite phrase of mine) and asked the front desk if one was available. They said it was and sent up a dehumidifier. This was not at all what we were asking for so my parents headed down to the front desk to clarify. They informed my parents that they did not have a humidifier but would go out and buy one for us to use. We were blown away by this amazing offer. A short while later, they delivered the humidifier and we set it up for A.
The next day, we were switching resorts, so I asked the front desk if we could take the humidifier to the next resort with us or if we should ask for one at the new resort. They said that we would have to ask for one at the new resort as this one would stay at AKL for the next guest that needed it. We understood this and left it at AKL.
I was reviewing our Disney bills this week and say an odd charge on the AKL bill. I called up billing and asked what the $50 charge listed as PaidOut was for. They told me that it was the charge for the humidifier. I responded that first of all, no one had asked us if we wanted to buy a humidifier, if they had I would have said no. And second of all, we left the humidifier at the resort as instructed. If we were charged $50 (the price for a new humidifier) then we would have taken it home with us.
Disney reversed this charge. So I am happy with resolution. However, this had been bright spot of them going above and beyond by going out and buying an amenity for our use since they didn’t have one previously. It had been a true sign for me of how fantastic Disney service is and I had looked forward to sharing that with you. Now, it is a cautionary note, if you ask for an amenity, you need to check if they will charge you for it and then you can decide if you really want it or not.
The Balcony View of the Savanna
AKL has several room types with corresponding price differences that depend on the desired view. As we knew we would be staying in the room all of Shabbos we spent the extra bit to get a Savanna view. This meant that from our balcony we could watch dozens of animals right there. This was so incredible! We spent most of Saturday just sitting on the balcony watching the animals. We all loved it!
The Balcony View of the Fireworks
Another perk of the incredible savanna view was the fireworks in Hollywood Studios that we saw each night from the balcony. We had a great view. The line going through some of the fireworks are the cranes that were working on Pandora Land at Animal Kingdom.
The Resort Extras
In all DVC resorts there are many resort features for guests. These include a pool and specialty features that depend on the resort. Most include movie nights and movie rental, a bonfire, and special activities.
The pool area at AKL looked awesome. Sadly, the only day we saw it was on Shabbos when we took a walk to look at it. Therefore, I sadly have no photos to share. We were sad that we never got back to go to the pool as it looked so good and we usually head to Disney in January when it is a little too cold for the pool.
At AKL the special activities included complimentary nightly available Night Vision goggles at the resort savanna overlook. This was super cool!
There was one potential negative about AKL, which is also why there is almost always vacancy. It is located on the furthest edge of the property. It took us 20 minutes to get to the Magic Kingdom from AKL. If guests know this and plan accordingly this should not be an issue at all. However, it is understandable that with DVC resorts that are literally within walking distance of the parks, guests may hesitate from staying at a resort that is so far out.
Room size and comfort: A
Amenities: A- (sadly reduced due to the humidifier situation)
Overall Grade: A
We look forward to staying at AKL again. It was really a magical stay!!