Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Farther from the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Downtown Disney than other Disney resorts
  • Up to two hours' wait for dinner (without a reservation) at some restaurants
  • No business center or services

Bottom Line

Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the Disney's most unique resorts. Its massive pool, free children's activities, knowledgeable staff, and excellent gym make it one of Disney's best, but it's farther from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Service

Good for families, though buses between the parks can be irregular

Guides are stationed throughout the hotel
Guides are stationed throughout the hotel

Like other Disney resorts, the lines during peak hours can sometimes wrap around the check-in desk and the restaurants can have upwards of two-hour wait times and snaking lines. But on the whole, the service at Animal Kingdom Lodge is exceptionally warm and friendly -- it's some of the best, most kid-attentive service of any of the Disney resorts. Service requests are answered within 20 minutes (not bad for such a huge resort) and staff members consistently engage children in conversation, often stopping to explain the origins of some of the animals walking around the grounds. (On the other hand, the "Have a magical day" at the end of every phone call can begin to feel a little contrived after a few days.)

  • Guides are stationed around the pool and the Arusha Rock to answer questions about animals, conservation, and African culture.
  • Free shuttle to and from Orlando International Airport; free delivery of one luggage item per person
  • Airline check-in desk at the entrance lets guests check bags and get boarding passes at the hotel.
  • Free shuttle bus to all Disney theme parks; buses are supposed to arrive every 20 minutes to ferry guests between resorts and parks, but guests complain that they're often late.
  • Guests can charge all theme park purchaces (and purchases at other Disney Resorts) to their rooms
  • Full room service menu available throughout the day -- most other Disney resorts only offer pizza delivery.
  • Concierge desk; open daily. The concierge is mainly available to help guests book an activity or get tickets to an event.
  • Book restaurant reservations early. Otherwise, wait times can be up to two hours.
  • Free copy of USA Today delivered every morning
  • No poolside drinks, like all Disney resorts
  • Valet parking is charged daily; self-parking is free.

 Location

Adjacent to Animal Kingdom, on the far edge of Walt Disney World

Located on the far southwestern edge of Disney World, adjacent to the Animal Kingdom theme park, the Lodge's most significant downside is its distance from most other theme parks. While getting to the Animal Kingdom only takes a five-minute drive, other parks, like Magic Kingdom and Epcot, can be a 10- to 25-minute drive (depending on traffic). However, the Lodge's distinctive surroundings, enormous pool, and free transportation system (which can be sluggish) make up for some of this inconvenience. Like most Disney resorts, the Lodge is set back from the main roads, so traffic and noise aren't much of an issue. Like most resorts in Orlando, there's nothing within walking distance.

  • Free bus to Animal Kingdom from the Lodge, a five-minute drive away
  • Free shuttle bus to Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Downtown Disney (all within 10 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic); buses, however, often don't arrive on schedule.
  • 25-minute drive to International Drive, a 14.5 mile road parallel to Interstate 4 that's full of hotels, strip malls, outlet shops, and restaurants.
  • 20-minute drive to SeaWorld and Wet 'n Wild parks
  • 35-minute drive to Downtown Orlando; Orange Avenue has a notable dining and nightlife scene, and non-theme-park attractions like the Orlando Science Center and Harry P. Leu Gardens draw some tourists, but otherwise there's not much to see.
  • 1.5-hour drive to Kennedy Space Center
  • Free shuttle bus to Orlando International Airport, a 30-minute drive away
  • Free self-parking; valet parking is charged per day.

 Rooms

Fun, kitschy rooms; plenty of bed configurations (including bunk beds) and above-average amenities

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

Standard rooms aren't especially spacious, but the brightly patterned bedspreads, few pieces of hand-carved wooden furniture, and sheer draperies above the headboards made to look like mosquito netting help create a fun, safari spirit in the rooms. At 344-square-feet, rooms are smaller than those at the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian, but the unique African decor makes up for the more cramped space.

  • Most standard rooms are 344 square feet, smaller than other Deluxe-category Disney resorts like the Polynesian or the Grand Floridian.
  • Various bed options in standard rooms: two queen beds, bunk beds and a queen, or a king with a daybed.
  • Comfortable, but not exceptional, beds: 250-thread-count Wamsutta sheets; synthetic (not down) pillows; polyester-blend bedspreads
  • Small bathrooms with double sinks, marble vanities, a small, separate shower area, and toiletries by H20
  • iHome iPod docking alarm clock (though mine was broken)
  • Small, 27-inch LG flat-screen TV with 30 basic cable channels and Disney programming
  • Electoronic safe, large enough for a laptop
  • Empty mini-fridge and coffeemaker with free coffee; no minibar items, though
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Most rooms come with balconies; room prices vary according to the view: savannah, pool, or "standard view" (which typically translates to a view of the parking lot).
  • Tip: Request a room located closer to the lobby -- the walk from the rooms on the outer edges of the horseshoe-shaped building can take up to 10 minutes (plus all the time waiting for the elevators)
  • Tip: Savannah-view upgrades aren't always worth it; it's easy to spot the animals anywhere else on the property, including special lookout points in the hallways.

 Features

Enormous pool (with a lifeguard) and the excellent Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center

The enormous pool features a waterslide
The enormous pool features a waterslide

A massive pool area, full-service spa and fitness center appeal to couples and families alike -- but there's no business center.

  • Huge, 11,000-square-foot pool with a 67-foot-long waterslide as well as a gradually sloping, zero-entry section (great for young swimmers)
  • Countless lounge chairs, plenty of shaded areas, and lifeguards on duty until 10 p.m. (pool is open 24 hours, though)
  • Two well-shaded Jacuzzis located near the pool
  • Popular playground near the pool; plenty of benches for tired parents
  • Spacious gym: 14 Life Fitness cardio machines, most with personal monitors; wide selection of weight machines and free weights; personal trainers available (for an extra fee)
  • Spa offers a full range of massage, facial, and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, and haircuts; treatments, like a 25-minute facial or a 25-minute Swedish massage.
  • No business center; however, guests can access the one nearby at Coronado Springs
  • Free Wi-Fi on entire property
  • Animal tours available (for an additional fee)

 Family

Lively, African-themed atmosphere, great amenities, and kid-friendly restaurants -- a superb choice for families

Kids activities at Simba's cubhouse
Kids activities at Simba's cubhouse

From the gazelles and giraffes grazing in the savannah to the enormous pool with a waterslide, the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge was made for kids. Plus, throughout the day, staff members lead educational activities for children like craft-making, African drumming, or mini-lessons about the where giraffes come from. The end result? Capitivated kids.

  • Standard rooms come with various bed combinations, like two queen beds, bunk beds and a queen, or a king with a daybed (maximum occupancy is four); Cribs are free, but an extra rollaway bed is charged per night.
  • Plenty of kid-friendly eats at the restaurants, like burgers and chicken nuggets
  • Simba's Cubhouse is a supervised kids' club for children ages four to 12, charged per hour. Includes videogames, dinner, snacks, and movies.
  • Concierge can arrange private, in-room babysitters through a separate company.
  • Free daily activities, including animal tracking and cookie decorating; most activities are free, but not all.
  • Coin-operated laundry rooms
  • Public bathrooms have convenient kid-high sinks.
  • Great playground
  • Excellent pool and waterslide; lifeguards on duty until 10 p.m.
  • Guides are stationed around the pool and the Arusha Rock to answer questions about animals, conservation, and African culture.

 Cleanliness

Spotless grounds and generally well-maintained guest rooms

Animal Kingdom Lodge is the newest resort in Walt Disney World (opened in 2001) and the grounds and public spaces still look immaculate. Rooms are also clean, though I did spot a hair on my blanket.

 Food

Four first-rate restaurants

African fusion fare at Jiko
African fusion fare at Jiko

There are three full-service restaurants, Boma, Jiko, and Sanaa, plus a quick and easy grab-and-go called The Mara. Boma, Jiko, and Sanaa claim to offer African cuisine, but it's really more like American offerings with a few African dishes and flares of spice.

  • Boma, arguably the kid-friendliest and most economical of the restaurants, offers a buffet for breakfast and dinner.
  • Open for dinner only, Jiko is the most upscale restaurant, and has prices to match, but its twin wood-burning ovens are fun for kids to watch.
  • Sanaa serves African dishes with Indian flavors, and is open for lunch and dinner. It overlooks the resort's "savannah".
  • The Mara is a cross between a convenience store and a fast-food joint, but with slightly healthier options, like flatbread pizzas, salads and sandwiches, plus some grab-and-go alternatives like pre-made salads and hummus. It's great for grabbing a quick snack to eat by the pool.
  • There are also two bars on site, the Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar and Victoria Falls.
  • Full room service menu available throughout the day.
  • Make reservations early -- wait times at Jiko and Boma can be up to two hours without one.

 Bottom Line

Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the Disney's most unique resorts. Its massive pool, free children's activities, knowledgeable staff, and excellent gym make it one of Disney's best, but it's farther from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties.

Things You Should Know About Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Address

  • 2901 Osceola Parkway, Orlando, FL

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Animal Kingdom Florida
  • Animal Kingdom Hotel
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Orlando
  • Animal Kingdom Resort
  • Disney Animal Kingdom Hotel
  • Disney Animal Kingdom Resort
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge

Room Types

  • Kilimanjaro Club Level 2 Bedroom Suite
  • Kilimanjaro Club Level One Bedroom Suite
  • Kilimanjaro Club Level Royal Asante Presidential Suite
  • Kilimanjaro Club Level Royal Kuba Vice-Presidential Suite
  • Kilimanjaro Club Level Standard Room
  • Standard Room
  • Standard Room with Arusha Savanna View
  • Standard Room with Bunk Beds, Arusha Savanna View
  • Standard Room with Bunk Beds, Pool View
  • Standard Room with Bunk Beds, Savanna View
  • Standard Room with Pool View
  • Standard Room with Savanna View

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 1293
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room):
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Hotel Information

Location: Disney World, Orlando
Address: 2901 Osceola Parkway, Orlando, FL
(See Map)
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