A luxury resort close to Disney’s theme parks with a giraffe outside your balcony.
Disney know how to do deluxe resorts and this may well be the jewel in their crown. This is an elegant, African-themed hotel where wild animals roam free in the grounds and yet it’s situated in the heart of theme park country. Inspired by the ‘kraal’ – a horseshoe shaped layout of abodes surrounding precious livestock – the design of the hotel means you get spectacular views of giraffes, zebras and other animals right outside your balcony. Add in a central lobby that hosts the largest collection of African art in the States – plus a huge central pool area and a host of restaurants serving fine dining as well as more traditional burger type fayre, and you can see why this is considered one of Disney’s best offerings.
Animal Kingdom Lodge review
ROOMS & FACILITIES
The resort and rooms are safari-inspired but with a luxury twist. It’s split across two buildings – Kidani Village which hosts Disney’s DVC members (their version of time-share) and Jambo House – where everyone else stays. Rooms are a mix of dark, carved woods, light fabrics and splashes of brightly coloured soft furnishings.
The resort houses over 1000 rooms but despite that number it never feels overbearingly busy, instead a hushed calm pervades. The best rooms are those overlooking the savannah and its incumbent animals, while cheaper options (without the view) are also available.
Each room boasts the usual high-end hotel amenities – a walk in power shower, twin sinks (meaning two people can get ready at the same time in the mornings; all important for stealing a march on the theme park crowds), as well as a mini fridge, safe, iron and board, hair dryer, a clock-radio, coffee-maker and big flatscreen TV. Deluxe villas and suites are also available.
Outside of your room the hotel has an 11,000-square-foot pool with waterslide and gently sloping, zero-depth entry point, all surrounded by large canopy palm trees. There’s also a little kids wading pool and two giant hot-tubs to dip in and out of. The hotel also houses an outside playground, games arcade and evening campfire activities, as well as nightly movies (Disney obviously) played out under the stars on a huge outdoor screen.
FOOD & DRINK
The resort specializes in African-inspired dishes but also does the classic American favourites well too, and so it’s fair to say you are spoilt for choice.
For fine dining you can choose from either Jiko which produces vibrant, bold African flavoured dishes – the Tagine was excellent – all cooked in a wood-burning oven, or Sanaa – which sees Disney do curry. Biryanis, vindaloos, butter chicken, samosas and naan breads are all present and correct and provide a little taste of home – though be warned – the price tag is a little more than what your local curry house charges! Both restaurants are built around the savannah setting too, so do expect to be enjoying your meal whilst zebra amble past. (If you’re planning to go then grabbing a table before sundown is obviously recommended.)
Outside of these two establishments are the all-you-can-eat buffet of Boma, the grab and go quick service Mara and a hotel shop selling snacks, crisps and drinks. For those looking to wet their whistle, take your pick from three elegant lounges and two further, more-relaxed pool bars.
While the hotel is undoubtedly a high-end, luxurious establishment that further boasts a free bus service to all of Disney’s four theme parks (which means the added benefit of being able to beat the crowds by getting in half an hour before them and allowing you early booking onto it’s most poplar rides via its Genie+ app), you can’t look beyond the genuine unique selling point of getting to share your holiday with all those exotic animals. Zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu and flamingos all roam free around parts of the resort. You can choose to watch them from your room or at various specifically designed viewing platforms or pay for up-close animal encounters guided by wildlife experts, followed by a multi-course feast.
A luxurious African themed resort with Disney level customer service that offers early entry to their world-class theme parks all topped off with those once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters.
14 nights in Orlando from £7515 for a family of four 14 nights in Orlando, with Virgin Atlantic Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic Economy flights direct from London Heathrow to Orlando. Accommodation at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Price is based on a family of four (two adults, two children) travelling and sharing a Standard Room and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 2nd January 2023. For £9516 you can include 14 Day Disney Magic Tickets. This price includes Disney Dining Credit Offer Virgin Atlantic Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859.
Prices subject to change and availability. Virgin Atlantic Holidays terms and conditions apply.