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Sue Holland

The Concierge Life at Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort

Friday, Feburary 8, 2002
by Sue Holland, MousePlanet staff writer

The rope bridge that spans the lobby of the Lodge.
The rope bridge that spans the lobby of the Lodge.

Although I am a frequent guest in Disney resorts, my recent stay as a concierge guest was a new experience. Many of the deluxe resorts have a number of rooms set aside for guests who desire-and are willing to pay for-an extra level of service.

What can concierge staff do for hotel guests? Generally they can make any priority seatings or other arrangements you request, and might be able to get you in somewhere that is unavailable to the general public. In big cities, the concierge can sometimes obtain tickets to sold-out shows, for example.

Each Walt Disney World resort with concierge service has a lounge area that is accessible only by concierge guests, with food and drink throughout the day, and concierge staff available to do whatever might be needed.

Concierge service does not come cheap, and whether it is worthwhile is a decision that can only be made by each family individually. It is not unusual for a concierge room to cost an additional $100 or more per night over the cost of regular rooms. In general, unless you plan to take advantage of the perks, there is no point in paying for them. In other words, if your family is in a theme park from opening until after closing, with plans for nightly dinners at restaurants, then concierge is probably going to be a waste of money. If however, you plan to spend significant time at the resort, then concierge service makes that extra special!

After years of reading about other people's experiences with concierge service at various Disney resorts, and the encouragement of a good friend, I finally decided to spend a weekend as a concierge guest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort.

The atmosphere of the African savannah is obvious from the moment you drive up to the Lodge's porte-cochere.
The atmosphere of the African savannah is obvious from the moment you drive up to the Lodge's porte-cochere.

We arrived at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. When we told the valet that we were concierge guests, he immediately notified bell services. A bellman took all of our luggage and brought us immediately to the concierge lounge, with no waiting in line at the front desk.. This perk would have been even more significant had we arrived during a busy period, but it was still nice to get checked in while seated across a desk from the concierge staff. It was immediately apparent that these people were eager to provide whatever we wanted - no request was too small.

The concierge staff is eager to please.
The concierge staff is eager to please.

I had been contacted by the concierge staff before our arrival so they could assist with planning our itinerary. Since we were primarily planning on just enjoying the resort and this was such a short trip, their assistance was not really needed. They would have arranged for child care, dinner show reservations, priority seatings for meals, tour reservations, tee times, and anything else a person needed. I did decide to have them book us for the Sunrise Safari, which ended up surpassing my expectations.

African art in the concierge lounge. (photo by Chris Holland)
African art in the concierge lounge. (photo by Chris Holland)

The Sunrise Safari is a private safari before the Animal Kingdom park opens, followed by an elaborate breakfast buffet prepared by the African chefs. Conducted on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, Sunrise Safari is exclusive to Animal Kingdom Resort concierge guests, and is limited to no more than 28 people. The safari jeep follows the same path as the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, but without the storyline. The guide provides extensive information about the animals, and since no other vehicle is following, the driver stops the jeep frequently to allow people to take lots of pictures of the animals. At $39.50 per person, it is an experience worth every penny, and the food following the safari was incredible!

The concierge lounge is on the top floor of the Lodge.
The concierge lounge is on the top floor of the Lodge.

The concierge lounge.
The concierge lounge.

The concierge lounge is on the sixth floor, and overlooks the lobby. Surprisingly, it is very peaceful there despite the lobby being only two stories below. The lounge is a comfortable gathering place, with people stopping in throughout the day. There are several tables with chairs, as well as some comfortable sofas and easy chairs.

The children's area in the conciege lounge
The children's area in the conciege lounge

A television keeps the children occupied while the adults are chatting, although on Sunday afternoon a few men were watching a football game. I would imagine during the Superbowl the lounge TV will be tuned to the game! Newspapers and magazines are available as well.

Snacks are available in the concierge lounge throughout the day. (photo by Chris Holland)
Snacks are available in the concierge lounge throughout the day. (photo by Chris Holland)

Some degree of food is available most of the day. The day starts with Macheo, or Sunrise Offerings, from 6:30. From 7:00 to 10:30 is Miamko (Adventurous Awakenings), a continental breakfast of pastries, cereal, bagels, fresh fruit, juices, and beverages. There is a wonderful espresso/cappuccino/coffee machine - press a button and you immediately get the coffee drink of your choice in your cup. The lattes were perfectly made each time, and were absolutely delicious!

From 11:30 until 3:00, they serve Vitafunio, or Safari Snacks, which consisted of pretzels, crackers, mixed nuts, gummi bears, trail mix, and beverages. A popular item is the African Smooth, a mixture of juices along with some yogurt. From 3:00 until 4:30 is Chai-Afternoon Tea-with teas, scones, cookies and a few small pastries.

Dinner boasts a more substantial offering. (photo by Christ Holland)
Dinner boasts a more substantial offering. (photo by Christ Holland)

The most substantial food is available from 5:00 until 7:00, with Kisikusiku, or Twilight Offerings. Each night features a different mix of items from the resort's restaurants Boma and Jiko. There were chicken nuggets were every night, and during our stay we had pork tamarind, Durban chicken, salmon, steak satay, veggie rolls, tamarind chicken flatbread, veggie flatbread, cheeses, crackers, and three varieties of Cape Indaba wine: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. The wines are sold downstairs in Mara for $24 a bottle, but they are also sold at local wine/liquor stores for $6.99 to $7.99 per bottle, which is where I buy mine.

Deserts and adult beverages are available from 8-10:00 p.m. (photo by Chris Holland)
Deserts and adult beverages are available from 8-10:00 p.m. (photo by Chris Holland)

The final food opportunity for the day is Rehema, or Evening Indulgences, from 8:00 to 10:00 nightly. People start arriving before 8 in anticipation of an array of desserts and cordials. Some people put a shot of Kahlua or other liqueur into their mug and add a latte or coffee. The desserts vary each night, and generally include something chocolate.

Standard concierge rooms are the same as deluxe rooms for other Lodge guests.
Standard concierge rooms are the same as deluxe rooms for other Lodge guests.

Some resorts have a designated part of the hotel set aside for concierge rooms. However since Animal Kingdom Lodge does not enough rooms on the sixth floor, some concierge rooms are on the fifth floor, mixed with non-concierge people. The rooms themselves do not appear to differ from the deluxe rooms rented to non-concierge guests. People paying for concierge in one of these rooms get a gold-colored resort id, which is programmed to work in the elevator to gain access to the lounge on the sixth floor.

Another view of the concierge lounge. (photo by Chris Holland)
Another view of the concierge lounge. (photo by Chris Holland)

Our deluxe savannah view room sleeps five people, with a queen bed, a set of bunk beds, and a daybed. Some concierge rooms have a savannah view, while others have a pool view. It appears that the resort makes every effort to put a concierge guest into a room that was vacant the night before, as checking in to find your room ready in the morning seems to be the norm here. The concierge staff is very friendly, and encourages the guests to stay as late as they want on the day of their checkout - into the evening if they wish. The room would not be available, but people can enjoy the lounge.

Concierge staff provide bottled water and cans of soda at no charge, which is particularly nice when headed to the parks on a warm day. Each night housekeeping provides turndown service, leaving chocolate mints and a card with an African proverb.

The concierge rooms boast excellent views of the Lodge savannas.
The concierge rooms boast excellent views of the Lodge savannas.

On our final morning, not only did we have our express check-out bill, we had a notecard wishing us a safe journey home - and they even told us what weather to expect back home. Prior to check-out, food and drink from the lounge can be brought back to your room to be enjoyed while sitting on the balcony watching the animals. Good wine, great food, and a couple of giraffes munching on leaves nearby make for a great combination, and one that sets concierge service at Animal Kingdom Lodge apart from most other resorts. We eagerly await our next concierge stay at this resort in July, and recommend it to anyone interested in trying concierge!


Contact Sue at sue.holland@mouseplanet.com.

MORE INFO

MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide has some more pages on the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort:

- The Animal Kingdom Lodge "Fast Facts" page has information on the resort, restaurants, and shops. 

- Brian Bennett has another photo tour of the resort.

- The WDW Resorts from A to Z page has more details about the resort including rack rate pricing information.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.