4 Reasons You Have To Stay At Animal Kingdom Lodge

by | Aug 24, 2021 | Animal Kingdom, WDW Blog, WDW Resorts

Striking views, unrivaled food, and pure serenityjust a few reasons to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

As you know, Walt Disney World gives you a plethora of options when it comes to your accommodations. While choices are good, sometimes they can get a little overwhelming.

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Do you want to be able to walk to your favorite park? Which hotel has the best food? Is this a Disney Vacation Club property? Tell me what I want!!! 

While I may not know exactly what you want, I do have four reasons to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney for your next WDW vacation.

1. Savanna – ooh na-na!

child sees giraffe during stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Spot animals on the savanna during your stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Photo by Brett Svenson

AKL boasts four separate savannas, which are alive with more than 200 animals, so every day is like waking up on safari.

There are over 30 species of wildlife living within the Kraal (village)-inspired property. Even if you decide not to splurge on a Savanna-facing room, you can check out plenty of overlooks scattered throughout the hotel to catch a glimpse of the zebras, giraffes, and gazelles (just to name a few!) day or night. 

That’s right—you can take advantage of night vision goggles, free at the concierge desk, to observe the wildlife later in the evening. 


Your Animal Kingdom Lodge stay includes free access to night vision goggles. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Better yet, guests of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge have the exclusive opportunity to enjoy the Wanyama Safari and Dinner for an even more up-close animal excursion, followed by a multi-course feast. 

Have any questions? Just talk with any one of the many Safari Guides who are on-hand and eager to explain facts and trivia about the animals

2. Atmosphere

The lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Photo by Cliff Wang

Prepare to be immersed in the heart of Africa from the moment you walk through the doors. Often, you will be greeted by musicians playing Djembe drums—the first display of the spirit of Africa that runs through the art and decor. 

A guiding principle in creating Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was to welcome guests on a “journey.” Living alongside wildlife, you are front and center of your own personal expedition, literally lit up by Zulu shield-inspired lighting fixtures.

art - reasons to stay at animal kingdom lodge

An incredible costume on display at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Photo by Danny Shuster

To create this setting, the architects and designers infused as many native materials as possible. 

From the thatched roofs to the chunky, dark woods, the grandeur of the lobby alone is breathtaking. Make sure to set aside time to explore the interior as AKL houses one of the largest collections of African art and artifacts in the United States. 

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 3. Foodie’s Paradise

Botswana Style Beef Short Rib at jiko - animal kingdom lodge restaurants

Botswana Style Beef Short Rib with Hominy, Sea Peas, Butternut Squash and Mushrooms at Jiko. Photo by Danny Shuster

From pool bars to grab-and-go to signature dining, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers many award-winning, African-inspired specialties. But I’m going to focus on the big three Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants:


Boma - animal kingdom lodge restaurants

Buffets have returned to Boma. Photo by Courtney Reynolds

Boma is a buffet open for breakfast and dinner and is often regarded as Walt Disney World’s best buffet (and it’s finally reopened as a buffet after a long year of modified operations!) Designed to resemble an African marketplace, here you will find a selection of items native to 50 different African countries. 


wine at jiko - animal kingdom lodge restaurants - reasons to stay at animal kingdom lodge

The African Wine Collection at Jiko; easy access to Jiko is yet another reason to stay Animal Kingdom Lodge. Photo by Danny Shuster

Then there is Jiko. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Before you even see the menu, you will be captivated by the sunset wall. That’s right—you will see the lighting shift from dawn to dusk throughout your meal.

Jiko offers adventurous dishes that change seasonally, so you never know what new item you may have in store to try. It also houses the most extensive collection of African wine outside the continent of Africa itself.


The sign for Sanaa - restaurants Animal Kingdom lodge

Photo by Cliff Wang

Finally, in the Kidani Village, Animal Kingdom Lodge’s dedicated Disney Vacation Club area, is Sanaa. This Indian- and African-inspired casual Table-Service restaurant is the only restaurant on property where you can see the animals while dining, making it a must-do.

A Runner-Up 


Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

OK, I know I said I’d focus on the big three, but I’d be remiss not to mention a Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge-exclusive, fan-favorite treat: the Zebra Dome. These little baubles of joy are Amarula Cream Liquor Mousse cups surrounded by a layer of white chocolate, drizzled with more chocolate and sitting on a thin cake base.

Be sure to grab these beloved bites at either The Mara or Kidani Village’s Johari Treasures. Just another reason to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

4. Activities

Sense of Africa backstage tour at Animal Kingdom

Sense of Africa takes you backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Photo by Stephanie Shuster

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is bursting with daily adventures throughout the property each day. If you’re already splurging on a Deluxe resort at Walt Disney World, you will want to make sure it’s worth it. Luckily, AKL does not disappoint. 

Like other resorts, AKL has its own Lion King-themed arcade and playground, but it also has activities specific to the authenticity of the resort itself.

Cultural representatives offer plenty of educational opportunities for both children and adults. Among other activities like tie-dye and face painting, kids have the opportunity to make instruments, do animal brass rubbings, and hear African folktales while seated around a campfire.

Older guests may prefer to partake in the free culinary tours at Boma and Jiko, which include food samplings. 


Photo courtesy of Loren Javier

Additionally, you can decorate cookies, catch a movie under the stars, or take a dip in one of the two pools on the property. If that’s not enough water adventure for you, take a ride on the water slides or let out your wild side at Uwanja Camp, the water playground. 

Ultimately, Disney’s AKL is unparalleled in authenticity, adventure, and relaxation. Ever since opening its doors on April 16, 2001, this AAA Four Diamond-Rated Resort is not just a piece of Africa in the heart of Florida but an attraction in itself.

Say goodbye to the typical resort experience and Jambo to the journey awaiting you at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

What’s your favorite part about staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge? Sound off in the comments on Facebook!

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Written by Amy Lynne Berger

Written by Amy Lynne Berger

Amy Lynne Berger is a New York-based actor, writer, and comedian, with a Disney World-based soul. Select credits include performing/writing for Disney+, Disney Food Blog, Hulu, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. She’s always in the mood for Mickey-shaped food and can often be found hiking her favorite mountains: Big Thunder, Expedition Everest, and Space Mountain. For more about Amy, you can check out her website or follow her on Instagram and Twitter!