Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: the Complete 2021 Guide

Giraffe walks in front of Animal Kingdom Lodge's Kidani Village

Disclosure: This Animal Kingdom Lodge Overview page contains affiliate links. Read full Disclosure Policy.

With more than twenty-five different resort choices in Walt Disney World, it may be hard to narrow down to just one for your upcoming trip.

That’s where we come in.

Using this guide, you will be able to determine if Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the right fit for you and your family, along with some helpful hints and perks about the resort.


Table of Contents


Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Resort Snapshot

Staying on Disney property is a magical experience no matter where you choose to hang your Mickey ears, but there is something truly special about the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

treetop view of animal kingdom lodge
Source: Disney World

The only resort located close to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the goals of protection and preservation stretch from the park to this African oasis.

The feel of the resort is unique with the traditional African vibes, the décor featuring natural woods and fabrics accented with authentic African artwork.

From the second you are greeted by a cast member with the friendly “jambo”, you begin to feel right at home. 

The lobby at the Jambo House (the main section of the resort) has high cathedral ceilings with an enormous floor to ceiling window opposite the entrance, displaying the wildlife preserve beyond.

As your eye roams over the rest of the expansive room, you begin to take in the rest of the beautiful scene, from the decorative chandeliers to the suspension bridge crossing above the lobby. You’ll be itching to get to your room so that you can get out and explore.

There are two sections to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Jambo House and Kidani Village, connected by a walking path.

Jambo House is the larger of the two, holding the majority of standard rooms.

Disney resorts are divided into tiers, and Animal Kingdom Lodge has rooms in both the Deluxe and Deluxe Villas categories. Most of the rooms in Jambo House are in the Deluxe tier, although there are Deluxe Villas available.

Kidani Village, as part of the Disney Vacation Club, is in the Deluxe Villas tier (although there are levels within that as well). 

However, the main feature of this resort that makes it stand out from the rest is the forty-three acre wildlife preserve on the property.

While not all the rooms look out over the savannah, you have the chance to wake up in the morning to a zebra grazing yards away from your room, or watch a family of giraffes munch on leaves as you sit on your balcony in the evening.

flamingos in pool
Source: Grace Hoyos

The animals are integrated into life at the resort, with flamingos sunning themselves a few steps away from where you sit at the pool and walking paths where you can see all sorts of African wildlife.

If you are tired of staying at a “normal” hotel, then the Animal Kingdom Lodge has the sense of surprise and adventure you are seeking. 

History of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

As has become the norm in Walt Disney World, resort areas spring up around the parks to provide guests with close access to their favorite destinations.

Opening April 16, 2001, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was the natural accompaniment to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

construction of animal kingdom lodge
Construction of the Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Source: Disney Parks

The resort was designed by Peter Dominick and his architecture firm, with a goal to take the mysticism of African culture and translate it into a form that would be understood and enjoyed by guests.

In order to ensure authenticity, the planning teams from Dominick’s firm and Disney traveled to South Africa as part of their research to visit natural safari preserves.

The goal always was to create an experience for the guests that felt like a journey, like their own personal safari.   

Resort Amenities

Rooms

The beautiful rooms at this resort are both comfortable and exquisite.

Each room in every section carries on with the theme of African artwork, which helps keep the continuity of the overall resort design intact.

Interior of a room with wood flooring, 2 beds, a dresser, a mirror, 2 chairs, a table, a wall mounted flat screen TV, curtains and a sliding glass door with balcony access
Source: Disney World
Bathroom with a double sink vanity, a toilet and a bathtub shower combo
Source: Disney World

All the rooms at the resort have the standard features of free WiFi, coffee maker, landline telephone, iron and ironing board, and in-room safe.

As the Animal Kingdom Lodge is separated into two sections, Jambo House and Kidani Village, the room styles and amenities vary based on where you choose to stay. It is important to note that just because Kidani Village is Disney Vacation Club (DVC), that doesn’t mean you have to be a DVC member to book there.

Rooms at the Jambo House come in Standard View, Pool View, and Savannah View, with different price ranges for each. The price also varies depending on whether you want a room with two queen beds or one king bed.

Jambo House also boasts rooms and suites with Club Level Services, including secured key access to the club-level lounge, complimentary health club access, access to Concierge service at the Kiliminjaro Club, and personalized Front Desk and Guest Services.

The smallest suite is a one-bedroom with two queen beds and a queen-size sleeper sofa, while the largest is a two-bedroom containing one king bed, two queen beds, and a queen-size sleeper sofa.

The jewel of the Jambo House is the Royal Asante Presidential Suite, which is the most expensive room per night at Walt Disney World, as well as one of the most lavish.  

For more detailed information about the rooms, check out our page here.

Uzima Pool

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge features one of the largest and most beautiful pool complexes on property.

Surrounded by palm trees, greenery, and animal enclosures, the Uzima pool feels like a true oasis.

While it is the only pool at the Jambo House (Kidani Village has its own pool), it is spacious enough to accommodate all the guests.

people lounging around a pool
Source: Grace Hoyos

On the one side is a zero-depth entry point, making it easy for anyone of any age to wade and splash in the shallow water.

Other entries are available around the pool, allowing quick access from wherever you choose to set up your camp.

A waterslide completes the picturesque scene, providing a waterfall-type feature and hours of fun for the whole family.

If you have younger children, there is a wading pool separate from the larger main pool. For adults looking to spoil themselves, two whirlpool spas are tucked into the shade of the trees. 

hot tub
Source: Grace Hoyos

Surrounding the pool are lounge chairs, which are a comfortable mesh, and tables complete with umbrellas.

If you prefer to get some sun, snag a chair on the pool deck. If you need a bit more shade, there are plenty of chairs along the tree line that give natural shade throughout the day.

On the side of the pool closest to the Mara, the counter service restaurant, there are a few standalone umbrellas to provide another section of shade for the chairs. 

Towels and lifejackets are provided at the pool, but you are also free to bring your own if you would prefer. 

poolside bar
Source: Disney World

Looking for a cool drink to add to your refreshment? Uzima Springs Pool Bar will suit your needs.

Right by the edge of the pool, the bar has both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available.

If you need a small snack to go with your cocktail or frozen concoction, the pool bar has a selection of salads and munchies available.

Spa and Fitness

Like many of the other Disney resorts, the Animal Kingdom Lodge has a fitness center open to all guests, and a spa with packages available for purchase.

Called the Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center, this space houses a small gym, locker rooms with showers, and the spa. 

sign for the zahanati massage and fitness center
Source: Disney World

The fitness center includes typical cardio machines such as treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, and stair climbers. Other items, like free weights and yoga balls, are also available.

The treadmills and other cardio machines face full-length windows which look out over the scenery and the pool, making you feel less like you are at the gym and more like you are running outside (with the perk of stellar air-conditioning).

As opposed to some other Disney fitness centers, the one at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is a bit more spacious, which makes sense for a resort of this size.

While not everyone is thinking about their exercise routine while on vacation, it can be a bit annoying to get yourself mentally psyched up for the gym only to come down and see all the machines occupied.

For a quick walkthrough of the space, check out this video.

Next to the gym are the locker rooms, which are extremely comfortable with excellent showers.

Each shower room is decently sized, with a lock on the door for privacy and plenty of space to keep your clothes and towel away from the spray.

While there are only two showers, they tend not to be busy as most people return to their rooms to shower. However, we’ve found these showers to be a great option if you need to get cleaned up before your room is ready. 

The spa offers several different types of massages and facials, including Swedish massage, extensive leg and foot massage, and pregnancy massage.

Facials are customized to your skin and its needs, and you can elect to customize your massage package as well.

In-room massages are also available, although they are slightly more expensive, and you can choose to add foot reflexology to any massage or “extend the bliss” by adding more time to your session. Additional upgrades include dry-brush techniques and aromatherapy.

While the spa will take walk-ins if there are slots available, it is highly recommended that you schedule an appointment.

You don’t even need to wait until you are on your vacation, in fact, you should book as well ahead of time as possible.

You can choose to cancel or modify your appointment, but it has to be within six hours of the actual appointment time.

FYI: If you don’t modify or cancel within that six-hour window, you will be charged the full price of the treatment (none of which are exactly inexpensive).

While it is not required, it is expected that you will show your appreciation to those that provide your service through a gratuity, which is not included in the treatment price.

Guests under eighteen are permitted to use the spa, but they must be accompanied by an adult over the age of eighteen during spa treatments.

Parking

In the past few years, Disney has added a parking fee for overnight parking at its resorts.

The amount is based on the tier of the resort, so at the Animal Kingdom Lodge overnight parking is $25 per night.

This fee is added to your bill at the end of your stay. If you choose to take advantage of valet parking, that fee is $33 per night.

If you are a Disney Vacation Club member or staying at the resort using DVC points, you will not have to pay the overnight parking fee. 

Handicapped parking is available for those who require special assistance. It is required that a valid disability parking permit is displayed in order to park in those locations.

If you are planning to just come over to the resort for the day to enjoy the restaurants, shopping, and other resort experiences, standard self-parking is available and you will not have to pay the parking fee.

However, you will be asked upon your arrival for your reason to visit the resort.

If it is peak time or a holiday season and you do not have a dining reservation, you may not be permitted to remain at the resort. 

Front Desk and Concierge Services

Cast members are always eager to help out, and those at the Front Desk are no exception.

Aside from helping you get into your room, the Front Desk is always manned to help you with your questions.

Also at the Front Desk, you can find pre-stamped postcards and letters, as well as pre-packed, pre-labeled packages to send home.

If you prefer to skip the Front Desk, however, you can use the My Disney Experience app to take advantage of Online Check-in. Using either your MagicBand or your phone, you can head straight to your room unlock your door automagically! 

Also located in the lobby is the Lobby Concierge, where you can receive help with park tickets and information, dining reservations, childcare arrangements (yes, babysitters on vacation!), transportation, and more.

For those staying in a Club Level suite, there is a special Club Level Concierge specifically to service those guests.

These cast members are knowledgeable in all aspects of your vacation experience and want to do everything possible to help you have a wonderful time.

Merchandise Pick-Up

Perhaps one of the most convenient perks of staying at a Disney resort is merchandise pick-up.

Say your little one sees this giant (like, truly enormous) plush toy and he or she has to have it.

No one will judge you for looking at it and thinking “I am not carrying that thing around all day.” Guess what? If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you don’t have to!

You can purchase any item you wish and have it sent back to your resort to pick up later. At the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the pickup location is Zawandi Marketplace in the main building.

Now, if you know that this is the last day of your vacation and you aren’t sure if the item will make it back to your resort before you leave, you might want to take advantage of one of these other options.

Otherwise, this is a great way to keep from weighing yourself down while you’re moving around the parks.

Resort Airline Check-in

Believe it or not, you can check in for your flight before you even leave the resort!

You must have the proper identification (government issues I.D. or passport) and all members of your party must be present to complete the check-in.

You must check in for your flight no later than three hours before your scheduled departure time, no matter what changes might occur to your flight.

Once you have checked in to your flight, the cast member at the Airline Check-in desk can print your boarding passes and even check your luggage, sending it to the airport on your behalf.

This is a great option if you want to spend a little bit more time in the park, hang out at the resort, or have one last dining experience.

It relieves the stress of checking in at the airport, and it also means you don’t have to schlep your luggage all over the property.

It is important that you keep an eye on the time and make it to the airport by your scheduled departure, but if you have used Disney’s airline check-in you can head straight to security.

Please note that some people will not be able to use this service and will still be asked to check in at the airport. It is not up to Disney, it is up to the airlines.

If you are flying with one of these airlines, you can use this service:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines (U.S. Domestic Flights Only)
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services

Just in case you need them, there are 24-hour self-service laundry rooms available throughout the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Most of the machines now accept debit and credit cards, making it easier than ever to wash your clothes should the need arise.

There are also dry cleaning and valet laundry services available, and these will be charged to your room to be settled at check out. 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Location

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is located at the backside of the Walt Disney World property, closest to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. 

Resort Address:
2901 Osceola Parkway
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830-8410

If you are traveling to the Animal Kingdom Lodge through your own transportation, rather than taking the initial exit off of I-4, it is better to keep going and use either W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway or World Drive to come onto Walt Disney World property.

This will save you time and frustration of trying to navigate through the Disney maze (worthy of a mouse), providing a more direct route to the resort. 

Disney Vacation Club: Kidani Village

As a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, Kidani Village has many of the amenities of home during your stay. 

There are four levels of rooms, all with Standard and Savanna View options:

  • Deluxe Studio – One queen bed, queen sleeper sofa, kitchenette, and balcony
  • One-Bedroom Villa – One king bed, one queen-size sleeper sofa, one twin-size sleeper chair, full kitchen, living and dining areas, and washer and dryer
  • Two-Bedroom Villa – One king bed, two queen beds, one queen-size sleeper sofa, one twin-size sleeper chair, full kitchen, living and dining areas, and washer and dryer
  • Three-Bedroom Grand Villa (two levels) – One king bed, four queen beds, one queen-size sleeper sofa, full kitchen, living and dining rooms, three bathrooms, and two balconies

The majority advantage of staying at a DVC resort are the home comforts that make a longer vacation, or even a weekend holiday, feel more relaxed.

It takes the stress out of travel to have the little things, like your son’s favorite yogurt in the fridge or your own brand of coffee in the pot.

No, this isn’t pre-stocked, but you can take advantage of grocery delivery services or run out to the store and then have a place to store the food.

Getting up and being able to make your breakfast in the morning is a vacation luxury for some, and with DVC you can do that.

Even in the studios, with the mini-fridge and other amenities, you don’t have to run out to grab a heavy meal.

Aside from food comforts, what the villas provide is needed privacy and separate space.

Depending on who you have traveling with you, you might not want to be sharing a sleeping space or bathroom. That’s when bumping up to the next level with the one or two-bedroom villas makes a huge difference.

Kidani Village also has its own pool area and pool bar, so guests don’t have to trek through the savanna paths to get to the Uzima pool.

It also has its own fitness center, Survival of the Fittest Fitness Center, so the Kidani guests can again take advantage of their own space.

In addition to these features, there is also a Community Hall with ping pong, billiards, kid’s activities, and sporting equipment.

Near the Community Hall are tennis and basketball courts, as well as shuffleboard. At night, enjoy the Kidani Campfire Activities such as roasting marshmallows.

If you’re taking the day off from the parks, there is no way you will be bored!

Transportation

Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge can take advantage of all the standard Disney transportation options:

  • Disney’s bus service to all the parks and Disney Springs. Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have their own stops, so if you are staying at Kidani Village you will not have to walk across to Jambo House just to catch the bus.
  • Disney has partnered with Lyft to create the Minnie Van Service, which allows you to skip the wait for other Disney transportation and get straight to your destination. Using the Lyft app, request the Minnie Van to arrive wherever you are and use the Lyft features to get where you want to go!
  • Lyft also operates on Disney property separate from the Minnie Vans, and this can sometimes be more economical.
  • Disney’s Magical Express, the complimentary service to and from the Orlando airport, stops at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

Contact Information

To book your reservation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, call (407) 939-5277 or you can book online here.

More Resources

There is so much to learn about the Animal Kingdom Lodge, make sure you check out our other AKL Resort pages:

Written by Grace Hoyos, Staff Writer

Grace is a life-long lover of all things Disney, particularly the parks at Walt Disney World. She is also an avid Disney Cruise Line enthusiast who regularly dreams of the white sands of Castaway Cay. Grace loves the fact that her Disney trips give her time to spend with her family, enjoy incredible food, and try new experiences.

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Jen

We love staying at AKL! So much beauty surrounding the resort. Nothing like waking up and seeing giraffes and zebras hanging out. Plus, I think Sanaa is one of the best restaurants on property.

wilhelmina

What a gorgeous place to stay! I didn’t know a thing about this resort, but now I am dying to visit!

Toni

This is amazing!! Can’t wait to bring my family here!