2001: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Editor’s Note: This post is part 31 in a forty-part blog series in celebration of Walt Disney World Resort’s upcoming 40th Anniversary. Please welcome to The Window Seat Jackie Stevens, Walt Disney World Moms Panel Guest Author.
On April 16, 2001, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge officially opened to guests. This African-inspired lodge sits on 43 acres of wildlife preserve and is consistently one of the highest-rated Disney Resort hotels by its visitors. Learn why.
Jambo everyone! It seems only fitting to use a traditional African greeting when speaking of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. After all, the attention to detail in this resort is so true to life that one would swear they were in the middle of an actual safari lodge! As you round the drive to the resort entrance, you are greeted by what appears to be a small village in the distance. However, once you enter the Lodge, you realize that the small village has given way to a massive six story lobby, complete with a HUGE window overlooking the savanna. The only thing that tears you away from the gorgeous savanna views is the delicious aroma of the wood burning stoves in the nearby restaurants. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge truly is a feast for all the senses! Join me as I explore some of the more unique aspects of this amazing resort destination…
Need a wake-up call – how about a giraffe at your balcony? That’s right, I said giraffe! Not surprisingly, Animal Kingdom Lodge’s claim to fame is that more than 200 animals inhabit its three savannas. If you have ever dreamed of lying in bed at night and watching animals graze outside your window, then you are the perfect candidate for a Savannah View room. The animals actually live on the savanna and thanks to Disney’s “moonlight,” they are visible 24 hours a day. Disney is VERY protective of its animals and asks that you do not feed or touch any of them – no matter how tempted you might be!
Wild boar…It’s what’s for dinner! An amazing array of authentic dishes, including Grilled Wild Boar Tenderloin, are available to tempt your palate at the three restaurants on property. While many of the dishes have an exotic flair, there are plenty of options available for those who long for something a little simpler. Fantastic vegetarian and vegan options are also available! Of course, fabulous wines and cocktails are also available to complement your meal. The decor is equally impressive and if you can tear yourself away from your food, you may notice that handcrafted authentic African artwork is everywhere. Just be sure to make an advanced dining reservation, as these restaurants fill up quickly!
Honey, I forgot my night vision goggles! Didn’t remember to pack your night vision goggles in your carry-on bag? No worries, you can borrow a pair and take the nightly guided savanna tour that takes place each night at 10:15 p.m. This is an awesome adventure for those night owls in your group that want to check out the other nocturnal creatures. Of course, many other animal adventures are offered here – everything from feeding flamingos to a Sunset Safari. Day or night, plenty of entertaining options are available for everyone at the Animal Kingdom Lodge!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge truly is a resort within a resort and one could easily spend their entire vacation exploring this amazing gem. Just in case you are tempted to visit one of the theme parks, bus transportation is available to bring you anywhere you desire. While this resort is a little more distant than some of the others, to many folks, that is the appeal! Oh and whatever you do, be sure to touch the wooden beam between the main doors at the entrance for good luck – ENJOY!
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From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.