A luxury resort near Disney theme parks with a giraffe in front of your balcony.
Disney knows how to make luxury hotels and this just might be the jewel in their crown. This is a stylish African themed hotel where wild animals roam freely in the grounds and yet it is located in the heart of theme park country. Inspired by the ‘kraal’ – a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of mansions surrounding prized livestock – the hotel’s design gives you spectacular views of giraffes, zebras and other animals right outside your balcony. Add a central hall that houses the largest collection of African art in the United States – plus a huge central pool and a host of restaurants serving fine dining as well as more traditional burger-type dishes, 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 touch of luxury. It is divided into two buildings – Kidani Village which houses Disney’s DVC members (their version of the timeshare) and Jambo House – where everyone stays. Rooms are a mix of dark, carved woods, light fabrics, and splashes of brightly colored upholstery.
The resort is home to over 1,000 rooms, but despite that number it never feels overly busy, instead a hushed calm reigns. The best rooms are those that overlook the savannah and its animals, while cheaper options (without a view) are also available.
Each room has the usual high-end hotel amenities – power showers, twin sinks (meaning two people can get ready at the same time in the morning; all important for stealing a march from the theme park crowds) , plus a mini-fridge, safe, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, clock radio, coffee maker, and large flat-screen TV. Luxury villas and suites are also available.
Outside your room, the hotel features an 11,000-square-foot swimming pool with slide and gently sloping, shallow entry point, all surrounded by tall canopied palm trees. There’s also a small children’s splash pool and two giant hot tubs to dive into. The hotel is also home to an outdoor playground, game room, and evening campfire activities, plus nightly movies (Disney of course) played under the stars on a huge outdoor screen.
The resort specializes in African-inspired dishes, but does classic American fare equally well, so it’s fair to say you’re spoiled for choice.
For fine dining you can choose between Jiko which produces dishes with vibrant and bold African flavors – the tagine was excellent – all cooked in a wood fired oven, or Sanaa – which sees Disney making curry. Biryanis, vindaloos, butter chicken, samosas and naan breads are all present and decent and give a little taste of home – but beware – the price is a bit higher than what your local curry charges! Both restaurants are also built around the savanna, so expect to enjoy your meal while the zebras pass by. (If you’re planning on going, it’s obviously recommended to grab a table before sunset.)
Outside of these two establishments are Boma’s all-you-can-eat buffet, Mara’s quick-to-go service, and a hotel shop selling snacks, chips, and drinks. For those looking to wet their whistle, take your pick from three stylish lounges and two more relaxed pool bars.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HOTEL
While the hotel is undoubtedly an upscale and luxurious property that additionally has free bus service to all four Disney theme parks (meaning the added bonus of being able to beat the crowds when arriving half an hour before them and allowing you to pre-book on most Poplar rides through its Genie+ app), you can’t look past the real unique selling point of being able to share your vacation with all these exotic animals. Zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudus and flamingos roam freely in parts of the complex. You can choose to view them from your room or at various specially designed viewing platforms or pay for close animal encounters guided by wildlife experts, followed by a multi-course feast.
A luxurious African-themed resort with Disney-level guest service that offers early entry to their world-class theme parks, all topped off with these unique animal encounters.
14 nights in Orlando from £7,515 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) traveling and sharing a standard room and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Pricing is based on departure on January 2, 2023. For £9,516 you can include 14-day Disney Magic tickets. This price includes the Disney Dining Credit Offer Virgin Atlantic Holidays is a member of ABTA and protected by ATOL. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859.
Prices subject to change and availability. Virgin Atlantic Holidays Terms and Conditions apply.