Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge—Where the Wild Things Are
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge combines African tribal architecture with the exotic, rugged style of grand East African national park lodges. Your entrance into the lodge’s main building (Jambo House) with its five-story lobby, featuring a thatched roof and native art and artifacts, will definitely make an impression.
So, too, will the lodge’s restaurants—Boma’s buffet and Jiko’s fine dining—which readers consistently rank among the best in Walt Disney World. At Boma’s, the house specialties are watermelon rind salad, Moroccan seafood salad, roasted meats, Durban-spiced roasted chicken, and vegetable skewers. At Jiko’s, go for the wood-fired flatbreads, trio of dips with house-made naan (Indian flatbread), oak-grilled filet mignon with red-wine sauce and sweet-corn risotto, and maize-crusted corvine.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge’s swimming complex is among the best in Walt Disney World, too, with a zero-entry pool for small children and enough space for everyone. The largest, Uzima Springs Pool, sits near the outside of the lobby at the front of the resort. At 11,000 square feet, the pool is the largest in all of Walt Disney World.
The lodge’s rooms feature hand-carved furnishings and colorful soft goods. Most rooms have balconies, and those that face the savanna offer the opportunity to see wildlife grazing throughout the day. The savanna is home to some 30 species of wildlife, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and flamingos. If you do not have a savanna room, no worries, there are numerous viewing locations around the resort offering panoramic views of the wildlife. At night, the lodge offers campfire storytelling and night-vision goggles to better see the nocturnal animals.
Kidani Village, sister resort to Animal Kingdom Lodge, has similar design, theming, and artwork, albeit on a smaller scale. Kidani rooms are decorated in lighter tones but feature hand-carved furniture and balconies similar to those in Jambo House.
Kidani has one restaurant located downstairs from the lobby. Sanaa (sah-NAH) is not as upscale as Jiko, the resort’s African restaurant, but the kitchen offers diners a chance to sample and share a variety of Indian-African creations. The naan bread sampler is delicious. Try to be seated at one of the 9-foot-tall windows that look out on the resort’s savanna—giraffes, water buffalo, and other animals wander within yards of you as you dine.
For a complete review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and its eateries, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.