When: August 2013
Where: Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World Florida
Cost: Approximately $350/night for a pool view
Why this is on my list: I have wanted to stay at this resort for years. A hotel with Zebras and Giraffes...you'd have to be a lunatic to stay somewhere else!
Something I'd recommend? That's a big fat yes. Personally I think the Animal Kingdom Lodge has the most to offer for ALL ages of all the Disney Resorts but they all are truly unique and special. Also, I have not stayed at any of the other Disney resorts....
As far as authenticity went, we certainly did not feel like we were in Florida. Yes, we were in a luxury resort in Orlando but it was as close to feeling like I was in Africa as I've ever been....expect for once when I was in Hawaii after I had a strong Mai Thai.
Will I do it again? As soon as we pulled out of the lush entrance we both emphatically agreed that we would not have enjoyed our trip to Disney as much as we did had it not been for this spectacular resort. From floor to ceiling this place was everything I had hoped for and more...way more. From the sounds of African drums filling the hallways to s'mores around the campfire this place had so much to offer that we didn't even have time to do it all. In fact, I could happily spend an entire week at this resort without ever even leaving. This is one of those resorts that IS the vacation.
the room- I love the decor in our room, we had a balcony with a view of the pool which was actually pretty gorgeous with perfectly placed and well maintained landscaping. I would have preferred a Savannah View so we could look our windows and see the animals but that was going to be about $700 more...just couldn't do it. Every day they left little treats for us daily in our room including pins and towel art making it just so Disney.
the lobby- The lobby was a perfect grand entrance it was decorated in African theme, African music played throughout, there were many seating areas with big flat screens playing Disney movies and every day there was an entire staff waiting to please you. Several times I even saw the staff handing out coloring books and crayons to the kiddos and they would sit down on the floor with the kids and color with them while their parent checked in.
The Activities- Every day they the resort offered a plethora of free activities for the kids, some were poolside and others were in designated locations throughout the resort. Each one was different; one day we made snacks for the Giraffes, we played games, we even had Sounds of Africa drum lessons. Not only were they free but the kids also got a bead to go on their necklace. The guides conducting the African themed activities were all themselves African.
In the evenings the resort offered 'Disney Under The Stars' every night a different Disney film was projected outside near the pool area. There was also a large bonfire with s'mores and storytelling held nightly.
the pool- The 11,000 square foot pool was a dream. It was enormous enough to accommodate the large volume of guests without feeling crowded, it had shallow areas perfect for the younger kids to play in but was deeper in other areas and it had a water slide which we took full advantage of . When I say we, I mean me and my husband- our daughter hated it, but there was no way I was going to let that hold me back. Sure I would have preferred to stand in line holding my daughters little hand with the other children rather than standing in a line with 8 year olds. She may have enjoyed the slide had she been able to sit on my lap while going down the slide but it was only 1 person at a time. I thought there'd be more adults anxious to go down the fun water slide but no...nope, just me. Separately my husband would be the one standing in line with the kids, but thank God for us, we broke up several altercations. The most embarrassing aspect was walking into the line, luckily the waiting area was completely ensconced by palm trees and other fauna so no one could actually witness this adult waiting in line with 5-10 year olds. It was the walk to the line...there was no disguising what I was up to so while walking into the line I would LOUDLY announce to my family that "Mommy will go down first to show you it's not scary" this was all for show my daughter found this slide terrifying and had zero interest. I said it every time I got out of the pool to go down it.
the food- I would have loved to have tried each of the restaurants at the AKL but we were so happy with the atmosphere and service at Boma that we had no real desire to eat anywhere else. The had a large buffet with all sorts of delicious breakfast foods including a variety of traditional African dishes that I wasn't adventurous enough to try. Also we really liked our waiter Kyle.
the gift shop- I was surprised that the gift shop was geared toward African themed gifts. I had expected more Disney goodies but it was nice to see so many sides of Disney.
the animals- Walking around our hotel and seeing giraffes, ostrich, zebra and 30 other species native to Africa every time we looked out the window never got old. Certain animals were brought into the viewing area at certain times so it was always a surprise to see what we would find.