As one of Disney’s Deluxe resorts, the Animal Kingdom Lodge is not the first place that comes to mind when trying to save money on a Walt Disney World vacation. Still, with the new 25-30% Deluxe Resort Summer Savings, Disney is offering a promotion that may make this stunning resort a possibility for your budget. Is it worth splurging on? In my opinion, absolutely! We had the opportunity to stay here for two nights several years ago, and to this day I can recall what an amazing experience it was.
What makes it so incredible? Let’s take a look:
Beautiful design…and oh yes, the animals
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is an African lodge-style resort that is set right in the middle of a 43-acre wildlife preserve. Thatched ceilings, large beams, hand-carved golden-tone furnishings, real African artifacts and an enormous mud fireplace in the main lobby leave no doubt when you walk in: you are in Africa! Take the time to explore this area, as there are so many wonderful pieces of art that have come directly from Africa, and they are fascinating. For example, there is a 16-foot mask on that is in the lobby that is the first of its kind ever to leave Nigeria. And if you are lucky enough to go over the Christmas holidays as we were, you will have the added bonus of a huge and magnificent Christmas tree right in the middle of it all, and decorated with more African items.
Most people think “animals” when they think of Animal Kingdom Lodge, and it is true that you can’t….nor would you want to….escape the fact that you are staying in a wildlife refuge. For those of you who are like me, and unlikely to ever actually go on a true African safari…this is an amazing experience. We knew what to expect but even so, we were truly amazed as we were walking past windows on the way to our room to see animals grazing right outside!
And that was nothing compared to walking out on our balcony and seeing giraffes, and zebras, and wildebeests just below us….contentedly grazing, without a care in the world. Watching and listening to them…day and night…is a memory that will live with me always.
Even if you can’t stay overnight, there is so much to explore at this resort, that I truly encourage you to take some time to visit. Just outside the main lobby, there is an elevated rock platform—Arusha Rock—where you can animal watch, in addition to getting a magnificent view of the resort. Or explore the many alcoves that overlook various parts of the savannahs, offering more animal views.
Great food and lots of fun
Then there is, of course the food. You can enjoy authentic African cuisine at the resort’s two award-winning restaurants, Jiko – The Cooking Place and Boma – Flavors of Africa. But if these don’t appeal to you or your family, you will also find The Mara, a Quick Service food location, where you will find a selection of soups, sandwiches, salads, pizza and burgers, and where you can enjoy your meal either indoors or poolside.
Personally, I think all of that is *plenty*, but it’s Disney, so of course there are tons of activities too. In our brief stay, we didn’t come close to experiencing everything this resort has to offer (hence my desire to go back there and do nothing else), but you will also find:
- Uzima pool, an 11,000-square-foot zero-depth entry pool that offers a 67-foot-long slide
- A Wading pool
- 2 Whirlpool spas
- 24 hour high-tech game room
- Animal-themed activities and programs, including the chance to watch animals via night vision, watch animal handlers feed, become a junior researcher, listen to African storytelling or go on a cultural safari.
How to afford Animal Kingdom Lodge
So how can you have the opportunity to experience this wonderful resort, in a way that is affordable? Here are some suggestions that I have:
- Watch for Disney room-only discounts (like the one for this summer) or special pin codes that will provide a good hefty discount for this deluxe resort. AKL is one of the deluxe resorts that tends to get good discounts, so this alone may make it affordable for you.
- Consider splitting your stay and planning just one or two nights here. Changing Disney resorts is not difficult at all, and many folks find this strategy to be a great way to save money and still experience deluxe resorts as a special “treat” for say, the last night or two of their trip.
- Go visit for a few hours or a day. It’s a great place to take a break from the parks! Go for lunch or dinner, and plan to spend some time animal-watching, or listening to stories by the big bonfire at night. Relax in one of the big comfy chairs in the lobby. You will love it.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is worth an entire vacation all it’s own. I hope you will plan some time in your next trip to explore and enjoy.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Finding Peace and Beauty with the Beasts (theaffordablemouse.com)
- Disney World Vacation April, May, June, July August 2011 Discounts (pixievacations.com)
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