Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Report

What Did We Think Of the Lodge Amenities and Services...

Updated 11/21/03

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  Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Amenities and Services

Access
You may have heard that access to this resort is restricted, and we witnessed guests being turned away at the security gatehouse. In order to gain admittance, you must either have your name on the list (by holding a reservation for a room or by having a priority seating at Boma or Jiko) or you must know the full name of a registered guest. If you're already a registered guest, you can use your resort ID card for admittance. On the other hand, resort IDs were not being checked before boarding buses bound for Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, so it seems guests at other resorts MAY be able to visit the Lodge without a priority seating arrangement.

The Savannahs
From the start, the savannahs have been at the heart of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge's appeal, and Disney (once again) has exceeded our every expectation. Why go to a theme park? Who needs the 27" in-room TV? Get a savannah-view room, hang out on your balcony, and watch the slow rhythms of savannah life unfold before you. There's something happening nearly every hour of the day and night (the savannahs are each closed for maintenance for a few hours daily, usually during mid-day, theme-park-going hours). This is like no zoo you've ever seen, and turns your vacation into a truly magical and restful experience.

Despite the newness of the resort, the landscape looks well established and (unlike Animal Kingdom park on opening day) the animals are well-adapted to their habitat, roaming freely throughout their range. The savannah has already seen at least one birth - an Ankole calf was born during the opening week (right out on the savannah), and one of the antelope is due any time now.

The Lodge Tour
Would you like to learn more about all the intriguing African artwork around the Lodge? Meet by the Africa medallion in the Lobby at 3:30 pm any day of the week for a delightful walking tour led by a cultural representative of the Africa. This free, 30-45-minute tour introduces you to most of the art in the lobby and Sunset Overlook. Our tour on Saturday was lead by Njoki (pronounced "Joki") from Kenya and Thabo (pronounced "Tabo") from South Africa. We learned that there are over 4000 pieces of artwork in the Lodge, and that over 300 of the pieces are of museum quality! We also discovered that the large wooden piece between the front doors as you exit should be touched for good luck. Another interesting tidbit is the layout of the lobby, which apparently reflects that of a King's Hall -- and the Front Desk is the throne. Njoki and Thabo are excellent guides, and Thabo is particularly charming.

Sunset Overlook
Hands down our favorite space at the Lodge is the Sunset Overlook, located beside the Front Desk in the lobby. This cozy, oval room is full of comfy leather-backed chairs and African treasures -- you can just imagine a group of intrepid adventurers relaxing here after a long day on safari. The room represents the European foray into and influence upon Africa in the 1800 and 1900s. Male and female travel accessories are on display, from both Europeans and Africans. A delightful collection of photographs depicting Africa as seen through European eyes lines one wall. 

Sunset Overlook also boasts a savannah viewing area with a great vista of Sunset Savannah, and we've always seen a savannah guide here. In fact, we learned that one of the Ankole Cattle gave birth to a healthy calf on Friday morning, right outside the Sunset Overlook. 

The Sunset Overlook appears to be open 24 hours, and is a delightful place to relax, read, talk, or enjoy a drink (which you can carry over from Victoria Falls across the way). And, surprisingly, this room is rarely occupied -- many guests seem to "overlook" it on their way to the bigger Arusha Rock. 

Pools and Hot Tubs
The Uzima Springs theme pool has one very large, 11,000 sq. ft. pool with a zero-entry area that you can wade into. There's also a slide, but we suspect that only the smaller kids will get a kick out of it -- it's very tame and not even well-themed. A circular wading pool is set off in another area for the little ones.

What about hot tubs? After a long day at the parks you'll be happy to learn that the Lodge has two free-form spas (Disney lingo for hot tub). Both are located behind the Lodge's one and only pool--Uzima Springs--and within sight of the Uzima savannah. We passed up the smaller spa--even though it was closer to our room in Zebra Trail--because it was crowded. Soon enough we discovered the reason--the larger spa (which can hold 18 people) was VERY hot. We stayed to dangle our feet in the soothing waters anyway. The spa jets can be turned on with a timer mounted on a nearby post. The spa area was well-lighted (perhaps too well-lighted) and African music played in the background. The spas are officially open 8am - midnight, though we visited after midnight and had no difficulties. Towels are provided near the pool during the day--we recommend you bring a towel from your room if you're visiting after 10 pm. Maximum temperature is 104. The Lodge spas are free for the exclusive use of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge resort guests.

Transportation
Buses are the only method of public transportation from the Lodge to the parks. The bus stop is located a short walk out from the porte cochere (just outside the front doors). Five zones pick up guests for the four parks plus Downtown Disney. The covered bus stops are furnished with benches and drinking fountains. We experienced no problems with the bus transportation.


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