KIDANI VILLAGE POOL \u0026 SPLASH PARK | Animal Kingdom Lodge | Disney World
KIDANI VILLAGE POOL \u0026 SPLASH PARK | Animal Kingdom Lodge | Disney World

Honest Review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas

Are you looking for reviews of the Animal Kingdom resort at Walt Disney World?

Many visitors don’t realize that the accommodations in the Animal Kingdom resort area actually consist of three distinct hotels.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is classified as a deluxe resort hotel while Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kidani Villas and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Jambo House are both categorized as Disney Vacation Club villas.

We will discuss the differences between these three properties in more detail below. However, it’s important to note that all of the Animal Kingdom hotels share the same pools and amenities.

Therefore, no matter which of the three properties you choose to book, the Animal Kingdom Lodge review below will provide valuable insight for your trip.

These African themed properties are some of the most unique hotels in all of Walt Disney World.

From the moment you walk into the lobby at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can tell that the Disney deluxe resort is truly something special!

In this post, I will discuss the activities, restaurants, rooms, and amenities that are available at the Animal Kingdom resorts.

I will also include our favorite tips for finding the best prices when booking the Animal Kingdom Villas and hotel!

(This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. Please see my disclosure policy at the bottom of this page for more details.)

Animal Kingdom Lodge Prices

When you are planning a trip to WDW, you will learn about many tricks to saving money. Over the years, we have found that one of the BEST ways to save on your Disney hotel room is to use David’s Vacation Club Rentals.

If you are set on staying at a deluxe style hotel like Animal Kingdom, you can rent vacation points through David’s site for a HUGE discount on your room. Whenever I book a trip to Walt Disney World, I look at David’s website first. People who own timeshare points at the deluxe villas will often rent out their points.

giraffes at Disney's Animal Kingdom

David’s Vacation Club Rentals buys these points and will then rent them to you! This is by far the best way I have found to stay at deluxe Disney resorts for a MUCH lower price.

You can visit David’s Vacation Club Rentals to check out their amazing deals! Just use the cost calculator on David’s website to easily price out your vacation prior to booking.

The savings are usually quite significant if you can find availability for the dates you want. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas are some of the best priced options of all the vacation club rentals too!

If you are looking for tips on choosing the right Disney World hotel, you can also join our Facebook group for personalized help on finding the best resort for your family!

Resort Location

If you are looking at a map of Walt Disney World, the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas are located in the southern part of the property. You will find the villas and Animal Kingdom Lodge sitting just west of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Additionally, you will notice on the map of Disney World that Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village, and Jambo House are somewhat secluded. Because they are in a world of their own, the Animal Kingdom hotel and villas are not serviced by the monorail, ferries, or Skyliner like some of the other deluxe resorts.

Instead, the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas provide Disney bus service as their main form of transportation.

Is Animal Kingdom Lodge too far away?

Since Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas are tucked away in a more quiet section of Walt Disney World, you may be wondering if this makes it too far away from places like Epcot and Disney Springs.

If you utilize the free Disney bus service for transportation to the parks, you will find that you can reach Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney Springs each within approximately 20 minutes.

picture of monorail at Disney World

This travel time is actually pretty standard for Disney World unless you are staying at a hotel like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which provides walking paths and monorail access to a park.

The good news is that guests at the Animal Kingdom hotels can access Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park by bus within ONLY 10 minutes.

Since the Animal Kingdom Park is one of my family’s favorites, this super-fast access is a huge bonus when staying at the Animal Kingdom resorts.

Fun Activities

If you choose to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with your family, I highly recommend taking the time to enjoy the different things to do at the hotel.

water slide at pool with text overlay Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Many of the activities listed below are completely free of charge for resort guests.

And, you can find additional information on activities at the resort by reading this post – Best Things to Do at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Arcade

Pumbaa’s Fun and Games Arcade is a great place to spend time with kids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

If you are looking to kill time or escape rainy weather, this arcade is a really convenient option!

Campfire

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers evening campfire activities where kids can roast marshmallows over the fire. This activity is free of charge.

Outdoor Movie

After roasting marshmallows by the fire, you can enjoy a Disney movie right outside the hotel. This activity is also free of charge!

Playground

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to Hakuna Matata Playground.

If you are looking for things to do at the hotel for free, this is a great option! Kids love this fun play area located near the pool.

Painting

For a fee, visitors to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge can experience Wild About Painting. Located near the hotel lobby, this activity allows you to overlook the savanna while painting.

Guests who are 21 and older will be served a complimentary adult beverage. Guests must be 12 years old or older to participate in the painting activity.

Animal Tour

If you are looking for additional options of things to do for free, you can take a tour of the resort grounds to search for different types of animals. Some of the wildlife you may see include:

  • giraffes
  • zebras
  • ostriches
  • antelopes

*Insider Tip- If you are searching for animals while it is dark outside, ask to borrow the resort’s night vision goggles for a better view!

Pools

One of the most fun ways to spend time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas is to enjoy one of the resort pools.

If you are planning to swim, note that towels and life jackets are available for free right beside the pool area.

It’s also important to note that guests at the Animal Kingdom resorts have access to both the Uzima Springs Pool and the Samawati Springs Pool.

Uzima Springs Pool

Uzima Springs Pool is the main pool that’s located at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Jambo House.

It includes a zero-entry zone that’s perfect for toddlers and little ones. You will also find a 67-foot water slide that is a big hit for both kids and adults.

Note that Disney World does not have height requirements for the pool slides. However, you are NOT permitted to slide with your child.

If you have a little one who is interested in sliding, you can utilize the free safety vests near the pool.

Samawati Springs Pool

Samawati Springs Pool is a large pool that’s located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village. This resort is right next to Animal Kingdom Lodge, and guests are free to use both pools during their stay.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool Slide

*Insider Tip- This pool is often mentioned as being a “short walk” away from Animal Kingdom Lodge. However, my family and I find it to be quite a hike. You can take a Disney bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Villas for a much faster option.

Samawati Springs Pool features a zero-entry section, a 128 foot long pool slide, and a small kiddie slide.

Splash Pad at Kidani Village

Uwanja Camp is located near Samawati Springs Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Village-Kidani.

This climbing zone is designated for smaller kids and includes fountains and other fun water features.

Restaurants and Pool Bars

If you are searching for dining options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas, the resort provides many restaurants that offer both unique food and kid friendly favorites.

Sanaa

Sanaa is an African inspired restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village, and it provides views of the Sunset Savanna while you dine.

Because Sanaa offers such amazing views of the animals, it can book up quickly. Therefore, reservations are highly recommended for lunch and dinner.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge giraffe

Reservations are not required at breakfast as Sanaa becomes a quick service restaurant during morning hours.

If you start your day at Sanaa, you will find options like eggs, bacon, fruit, oats, and other family friendly favorites.

The lunch and dinner menus at Sanaa are full of unique foods with African and Indian flavors.

However, they also provide a kid’s menu with favorites like cheeseburgers, pizza, and macaroni and cheese.

Maji Pool Bar

Maji Pool Bar is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village near Samawati Springs Pool.

This restaurant offers mostly beverages, but it does have a few snacks and sandwiches on the menu.

Kids can choose from a hot dog, turkey sandwich, or Uncrustables sandwich.

Uzima Springs Pool Bar

Uzima Springs Pool Bar is located near the pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

It serves mostly beverages, but Uzima Springs Pool Bar also offers a few options like salads and sandwiches on the menu.

The Mara

If you are wanting more food options near Uzima Springs Pool, you can visit The Mara. This quick service restaurant sits right beside the entrance to the pool and offers lots of snacks and entrees.

The Mara has a grab and go section with pre-made salads and sandwiches. You can also order off of the menu at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Enjoy your food indoors, outside on the patio, or even by the pool.

This quick service restaurant is a family favorite of ours because it provides so many delicious options at reasonable prices!

Boma

Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and is open for breakfast and dinner. Since this is a really popular restaurant, reservations are highly recommended.

The food at Boma includes African inspired dishes along with some kid friendly favorites like macaroni and cheese, pasta, and chicken.

Jiko- The Cooking Place

Jiko- The Cooking Place is a signature restaurant located at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This restaurant serves African, Indian, and Mediterranean inspired food for dinner guests,

The kid’s menu offers items like macaroni and cheese, grilled steak or chicken, fish, and cheese pizza. Since this is a really popular restaurant, reservations are highly recommended.

Also note that Jiko- The Cooking Place is a signature dining venue and visitors must adhere to the dress code policy.

Victoria Falls Lounge

Victoria Falls Lounge is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge and serves appetizers and beverages.

Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar

Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge and serves lots of adult beverage options, including a vast assortment of wines.

In Room Dining

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers in room dining for its guests. You will find room service menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night dining in your hotel room at check in.

The in room dining menu offers a variety of foods that meet the needs of even your pickiest kids.

You can schedule your breakfast the night before so that your family’s meal is delivered at a specific time in the morning.

This is a great way to eat a nutritious breakfast while you get ready for the theme parks!

Specialty Dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas offer several opportunities for specialty dining experiences.

Dine with Animal Specialists

You can reserve a 4 course lunch at Sanaa where you dine with an animal specialist. Those in attendance can learn all about the animals located in the savanna outside.

After your meal, the animal specialist takes the group to an encounter with the radiated tortoises.

Note that only those guests 8 years of age or older are permitted to attend this dining experience.

Wanyama Safari

Wanyama Safari is a 90 minute tour of the savannas at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Guests board a vehicle with a tour guide who gives information on the wildlife and history of the resort.

Guests can view animals such as giraffes, antelopes, ostriches, and zebras before enjoying a multi-course meal at Jiko- The Cooking Place. Note that safari guests must still follow the Jiko dress code.

Reservations are highly recommended for this dining experience. Children under 10 years of age are not permitted to attend the Wanyama Safari and Dinner.

Guest Rooms

We have stayed in all different types of rooms at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge from the standard room category to a one-bedroom suite on the Villas side. The hotel rooms do seem smaller than those at some of the other Disney deluxe resorts.

However, this probably wouldn’t be a huge deal unless you were traveling with extra baby/toddler items like a pack-n-play. It would definitely still be doable; just tight.

We love that the deluxe resorts have balconies regardless of their views. My husband and I like the option of putting the kids to bed and enjoying the balcony without having to sit silently in the dark trying not to wake them.

Standard View Rooms

The standard hotel rooms at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offer views of the hotel rooftop or parking area. These rooms offer either 2 queen sized beds or 1 king bed. Note that a mini refrigerator is one of the room amenities in all hotel rooms regardless of view.

Pool View

The pool view room type overlooks Uzima Springs Pool. Although this is not a scenic savanna view, the pool grounds at Animal Kingdom Lodge are actually quite lovely. These rooms offer 2 queen beds or 1 king bed.

Savanna-View Room

Similar to the room types listed above, the savanna view rooms offer 2 queen beds or 1 king bed. The difference is that these upgraded rooms provide views of one of the savannas at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

This means that you can see giraffes, zebras, and other amazing wildlife right from your balcony. While not the clearest image, the photo below shows the view of the savanna from our hotel room.

Savanna View from Animal Kingdom Lodge Balcony

If the price of a savanna view room is not in your budget, don’t fret. You can still enjoy amazing views of the animals in other areas of the hotel!

Suites

If you are traveling with a larger group or if you just want more space, Animal Kingdom Lodge offers 1 bedroom suites and a Presidential Suite that sleep up to 6 adults.

Club Level

If you really want to splurge, you can reserve a savanna view room WITH club level access. Guests who book a room with club level access receive special amenities including concierge services and a club lounge with complimentary snacks and refreshments.

Kidani Village vs Jambo House

Visitors to Disney World who are looking to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge may also want to look into the Deluxe Villas that are located on the same property.

The Animal Kingdom Villas are divided into two separate sections: Kidani Village and Jambo House. Jambo House is actually part of the Animal Kingdom Lodge building, which can be confusing when you are booking your stay.

If you make a reservation through Disney, you will reserve a room specifically at the Lodge, Jambo House, or Kidani Village.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

If you are trying to decide between Jambo House or Kidani Village, you really can’t go wrong with either. Guests of both resorts are welcome to use the restaurants and amenities at each of the properties.

As mentioned above, the Disney bus will transfer you from the Lodge/Jambo House to Kidani Village. You are also able to walk to the neighboring resort.

The room options and savanna views at Jambo House and Kidani Village are pretty similar, so I wouldn’t base my decision on them.

If the pricing is the same for the room option you want at both resorts, I suggest trying to figure out where you would be spending more of your time.

If you have a toddler who enjoys swimming, you may prefer Kidani Village since the pool has a kiddie slide and a water play area.

Others like to stay at Jambo House near The Mara since this quick service restaurant is so convenient.

Don’t forget to join our Facebook group for personalized help on finding the best resort for your family!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Tips with a Toddler

My toddler LOVES staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for so many reasons. These are our top 10 reasons why Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great resort for toddlers!

  1. Animals– Toddlers tend to adore animals, so you really can’t beat the enjoyment of watching the wildlife at AKL.
  2. Pools– The pools at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village both offer zero entry areas that are great for toddlers.
  3. Pool Slides– Kidani Village has a great kiddie slide, and the pool slide at Animal Kingdom Lodge is mild enough for toddlers as well.
  4. Splash Pad– The water playground at Kidani Village is a super fun place for toddlers to splash and play.
  5. Prices– The prices of the rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge tend to be a lot cheaper than at some of the other deluxe resorts. Since we have a toddler, we tend to spend more time at the resort. Therefore we appreciate having access to deluxe dining and amenities at affordable prices.
  6. Balcony– The balconies at Animal Kingdom Lodge allow you to have a separate space from your toddlers. This way, you can sit outside while your toddler naps or sleeps at night. The balcony is also a great place to hang out if your toddler wakes up super early.
  7. Playground– The playground at Animal Kingdom Lodge is a fun place for toddlers and kids to climb and slide.
  8. Transportation– We find the bus transportation at AKL to be really well organized. You rarely have to wait long for a bus to pick you up at the resort or to take you back to the hotel after a long day in the parks.
  9. Location– Toddlers love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and it is located a short 10 minutes away!
  10. Food– Animal Kingdom Lodge offers really unique dining experiences, and the restaurants do a great job of providing kid friendly food options.

Final Review of Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas

Overall, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a wonderful place to stay with kids.

The pools are incredibly fun, and you can’t beat the view of animals wandering through the savannas.

Since it is usually the least expensive option for deluxe hotels at Disney World, the Animal Kingdom Lodge won’t break the bank either!

What is your favorite Animal Kingdom resort tips?

Let me know by commenting below!

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