Animal Kingdom Lodge Photo Tourby MousePlanet Staff, contributing writer
Animal Kingdom Lodge Navigation tips: The lobby is on the third floor and the Arusha Rock savannah overlook is on the second floor. The Uzima pool is located on the first floor. The restaurants (Jiko, Boma, and the Mara) are all located on the first floor (just inside the building from the pool) and Victoria Falls is located on the second floor, suspended between Boma below and the main lobby above.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is located, not surprisingly, down in the South Western part of Walt Disney World near the Animal Kingdom park. The theme of this lovely resort is central Africa.
As you walk up to the resort the outside layout is very similar to that of Wilderness Lodge.
Themed guest room wings stretch to the right and left of the central part of the building.
A series of terraced stairs take you up to the level of the porte-cochere from the lower elevation of the parking lot.
The grass-thatched roof of the porte-cochere looks great and sets the stage as you approach.
The inside details of that same roof are incredible! The rough log framing supports the thatching material shown in the picture above.
Inside, the lodge has a lobby that is also very reminiscent of the one at Wilderness Lodge. This view is actually of the lobby facing the front entrance. Unfortunately, the pictures I took of the lobby looking in from the front doors didn't turn out well. There is a huge glass wall (you'll see pictures of it shortly) that displays the savannah behind the hotel from the lobby. The sunlight streaming in that wall just washed out the pictures. It's too bad, because to the naked eye, the view is spectacular!
The lobby stretches up a good five or six stories, has a great set of chandeliers, and a criss-cross pattern of supports on the ceiling.
Near the back of the lobby, a rope-suspended bridge provides access for guests from one side to the other.
(Photograph provided by Sue Holland)
To the left, as you enter the lobby, the check- in area is located under a much lower ceiling. With almost 1300 rooms, the lodge is almost twice as big as Wilderness Lodge. The amount of space set aside for check- in and guest services is huge! There must be room for ten or more cast member stations to help guests. Less than half of those stations were manned when we were there, but clearly the resort is ready to handle big crowds if need be.
Immediately to the right from the main entrance, across from the check- in area, is Zawadi Marketplace, the resort's shop. It's much larger than the mercantile at Wilderness Lodge, but I would guess that it is smaller than the combined shops at the Grand Floridian or Contemporary Resorts. Even so, it's a very large amount of retail space... it's just all collected in one place instead of being spread out like in those other resorts.
...and other themed items are available for sale, as well as the more typical resort wares.
s you exit the first floor, you'll notice a little stream that flows away from the building to the Uzima pool. It's another similarity that Animal Kingdom shares with Wilderness Lodge, but the stream doesn't seem to originate inside the building like it does at Wilderness Lodge... it just suddenly exists as you exit the building.
To the left, the Zebra Trail guest room wing forms the backdrop for the pool area. In the picture below, you can also see the Uzima Springs pool bar (the thatched-roof building near the pool to the right of center.
The pool itself is very large. It's the only pool on property, unlike some resorts that have a main pool and one or more quiet pools... this is it at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Still, I think it's more than sufficient since it is quite a good sized body of water.
If you walk away from the main building toward the farthest extreme of the pool area, you'll walk past the Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center on the right and eventually you'll come to the Hakuna Matata Playground. It's a nice place for the little kids to use up some of that extra energy. Allan, our four-year-old, really enjoyed playing in the area for a few minutes during our tour.
Here's a view of the main building from the far side of the pool. The slide is visible to the far left and the pool bar is located to the right -- but outside of this view. The playground is almost directly behind us here.
Here's a better view of the slide. It's not as spectacular a drop as you'll find at Storm Along Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, but it's respectable. It actually reminds me of the slide at Ol' Man Island at Port Orleans Resort Riverside.
Here's a closer view of the pool bar. The thatched roof is a nice touch. Notice, too, the nicely decorated pool edging. Uzima pool is not just a "ce-ment pond" (like the Beverly Hillbillies used to have), but a nicely themed pool.
One feature worth noting is that the pool is a zero-depth one, so it's nice for kids and for folks that need easier access to the water.
Pumbaa's Fun & Games Arcade is located off of the pool area, too, behind the kids wading pool and next to the Mara (counter service restaurant).
The great themeing of Animal Kingdom Lodge extends not just to the visual appearance of the resort and the incredible savannah that winds through and surrounds the resort, but also to the food that is served at the resort's restaurants.
Here is a great view from the lobby. Below, to the right of the colorful pillar in the picture, is Boma. To the left of the column is a set of stairs that go up to Victoria Falls, the resorts premier lounge. Victoria Falls is suspended between the lobby on the third floor and Boma down on the first.
Here's a picture of the Victoria Falls bar from the opposite direction. It wasn't a very busy place in the late afternoon, but I'm sure it gets a bit more lively in the evenings.
This is a close-up picture of Uzima Springs Pool Bar, that you can also see (from further away) on the page with the pool pictures. I love the thatched roof on this building... but you already know that if you've seen that other page already.
Here is a ground level view of the seating area in Boma. Boma is a buffet-style restaurant with an incredible array of food options. Many, but not all, are African- themed.
Here's a picture of the serving line of Boma. In the background, and above the thatched roof of the center of the serving line, you can see the rail of the Victoria Falls Lounge above the restaurant.
Here's a picture of the carved meats on the buffet. Beef, lamb, and chicken are among the offerings.
Here in the center of the buffet is the salads and relishes... again, many of them with an African twist. The Egyptian apple salad is one example.
The deserts shown here, at the far left- hand side of the buffet, are spectacular! I wish I could describe them, all, but suffice to say, they are excellent and varied. Chocolate lovers need not be concerned... but neither do folks that enjoy other types of desserts.
Jiko, the resort's table service restaurant, is located just across from Boma on the first floor.
Like many of WDW's more upscale restaurants, Jiko features a show kitchen that provides some entertainment while you wait for each course of your meal.
At the other end of the cost (and ambiance) spectrum is the Mara. The Mara is a simpler, American- style, counter service fast food place. If you were to stay at the Lodge for any length of time, I'm sure you'd enjoy at least a snack here at some point during your visit.
The Mara is nice, but not spectacularly themed. Still, it serves a necessary purpose.
What really makes Animal Kingdom Lodge different from the other resorts at Walt Disney World is the fact that the guest building is surrounded by a large savannah area that is stocked with all kinds of African wildlife. The vast majority of the rooms of the resort actually have views of the savannah!
At the back of the resort, down one floor from the lobby is the Arusha Rock savannah overlook. (Note: you may need to use one of the elevators located opposite the check- in area, near Zawadi Marketplace, if you have a wheelchair or stroller.)
Here's a picture, from just outside, of the four-story high observation wall of the lobby.
Immediately outside and a little to the left as you exit the building, is the Arusha Rock fire pit. This is another great example of the great themeing here at the resort. The fire burns continuously, and there are scheduled times in the evening when storytellers entertain guests here.
By the way, the building in the background is the Zebra Trail wing.
Looking to the right from the fire pit, the Kudo Trail wing is very similar.
Here's a better view of the Zebra Trail wing. If you look carefully, you can see a brown object to the left of center. It's actually one of the savannah animals munching on the grass.
Here's a closer look.
The group of animals were visible from the far end of Arusha Rock and would be clearly visible from a large number of guest rooms in the Kudo Trail and Zebra Trail wings.
Here's a closer view of those same animals.
This picture was taken of a Kudo grazing on the Kudo Trail side of Arusha Rock. Allan, my son, clearly is safe from danger... yet has a ring-side seat to see the animals.
In the foreground is part of Arusha Rock (the whole area is themed this way, with several different overlook areas for viewing the savannah).
The next two pictures were taken at the savannah overlook behind Uzima Pool.
The themeing, including in no small part the savannah areas, of this resort are just top-notch. The pictures in this tour don't really do the resort justice. Perhaps you can visit the Lodge on one of your own upcoming visits to WDW and see for yourself?