Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge: A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is a special place. We've been here many times over the years, usually to visit friends staying at the DVC (Disney Vacation Club) portion of the hotel, or on occasions to have a meal at one of the restaurants, but we've never stayed here until recently. When Pandora opened, we needed to stay somewhere on property so we could get the earliest possible Fastpass times for the new rides, and we were planning to cover this hotel in a later month anyway, so it seemed like a reasonable way to justify booking a couple of nights here at the lodge.
It's great to just walk through the lobby and take in all that Disney has done to decorate this place, but it's an entirely different perspective to walk through that same lobby on your way to your room. Suddenly you're in Africa. Well, you're in Disney's version of Africa where you see only the best of the best, but staying here still makes you want to visit Africa.
You may be in a large hotel with thousands of other people, but it's not hard to find a quiet place to relax. Here is a cozy little fire pit located in the main lobby of Jambo House. It's out of the way and restful. Photo by Donald Fink.
The Igdo people of Nigeria have a tradition involving a 240-pound headdress called an Ijele. It's a mask of sorts that is worn by a single dancer at various ceremonies. The mask represents the largest of all the masks used in Nigeria, and this one, here at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, is thought to be the only one in existence outside of Nigeria.
There's a convenience store adjacent to the lobby in Jambo House called Zawadi Marketplace. In here, you'll find items you may have left at home as well as a few things you might want to take home with you. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
At Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, many of the rooms are called savanna view rooms because they look out onto the savanna. Guests have an up-close view of the animals that are wandering freely throughout the savanna area at the lodge. These rooms come at a higher price than rooms with a view of the parking lot. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The third floor, where we stayed, is actually the level of the main lobby at Jambo House, and by the time you get to your savanna view room, you have a commanding view of the savanna and all the animals in the area. Photo by Donald Fink.
This is our view from the room. Now we're spoiled. With the continuous parade of exotic animals walking by, grazing, going about their lives, it was hard to pull ourselves away from the balcony to get on with ours. We'll find it hard to settle for anything less when we stay here again. Photo by Donald Fink.
Boma - Flavors of Africa, is a table service restaurant in Jambo House at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. It's located down a flight of stairs from the main lobby to the ground floor of the hotel. Photo by Donald Fink.
You can find more about Boma - Flavors of Africa at this link.
The fine dining restaurant in Jambo House is Jiko - The Cooking Place. This table service restaurant specializes in African-inspired cuisine including some African wines. There's a dress code here, so check ahead. Photo by Donald Fink.
At Jiko - The Cooking Place, wood fired ovens are used to prepare many of the dishes. This African, Indian, and Mediterranean restaurant prepared many of the meals here in this kitchen located in the main dining room. Photo by Donald Fink.
Here is a menu for Jiko - The Cooking Place.
The Mara is the quick service restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had only one meal here, which was lunch. There were some interesting—meaning really good—sandwiches on the menu. Photo by Donald Fink.
More about The Mara can be found on their web site.
One restaurant we keep coming back to at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is Sanaa. It's located in the Kidani Village, which is the DVC portion of the hotel. We've been here twice and both times have been a great experience. If you have an opportunity to eat here, be sure to try the Indian-style bread service appetizer with all of the accompaniments (spiced dippings). Photo by Donald Fink.
Here’s a menu from Sanaa.
This African Crown Crane spent some time with us as we had dinner at Sanaa. The bird was on the outside looking in, but was still interested in our bread appetizers, and so were we. Photo by Donald Fink.
As you walk around the perimeter of the main pool at Jambo House, you'll encounter areas where you can view wildlife in the savanna. Another enclosure near the savanna houses flamingos. Looking carefully, you can see that other local wildlife will stop by for the free food. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The details at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, like all Disney hotels, is simply amazing. Here, a giraffe is "carved" into a rock outside the Jambo House near the campfire area. This area exits Jambo House on the first floor into the savanna where guests can view the animals. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
With the savanna view available from many of the rooms and various places in the public areas of this hotel, we think Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has to be one of the most beautiful and inviting hotels we're stayed in. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
There's a fire pit behind Jambo House for guests to enjoy the outdoors. We would recommend this activity in the fall and winter months when the climate is more mild here in Florida. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
We understand that a hotel like this is on the expensive side, but the environment it places you and your family in while you're here is, in our view, something to consider. It's hard to quantify the value of a big fancy hotel compared to the feeling you get when you score a bargain by staying in a moderate or a value hotel. We understand that because we appreciate both the high value and the bargain, depending on our mood. While we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, we also enjoy our visits to the moderate hotels and even the value resorts. But truthfully, we tend to lean toward properties like Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge when we can. We enjoyed every bit of our stay here, and no doubt will be back at some point in the future.