Stats and Facts:
First opened: 2007 (Jambo House) and 2009 (Kidani Village)
Opening sale price: $104
Current sale price (direct): $176
Average sale price (resale): $107 – $120
Contract Expires: 2057
There are many reasons why Animal Kingdom Lodge is among the most popular resorts at Walt Disney World. There are also many reasons why DVC members are fiercely loyal to this unique property. The most obvious reason for this? The hotel has its own zoo! Literally, there are giraffes, zebras and a host of other animals roaming a savanah just outside your balcony. That fact is also the reason that AKL has higher maintenance fees for members ($7.44 per point as of 2019).
The resort is broken up into two DVC areas. You have DVC rooms at Jambo House, which is the main Animal Kingdom Lodge building (DVC was added to Jambo house in 2007) and Kidani Village, which opened in 2009.
Upon entering the resorts cavernous lobby, you’d be forgiven for thinking it looked familiar. Animal Kingdom Lodge was designed by architect Peter Dominick, the same man who designed Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. The resort is somewhat different from those in that it also houses millions of dollars worth of original African art. Keeping with the theme and adding to its authenticity is a large number of cast members who hale from various African countries and who are more than happy to share their culture with guests.
I’ve often said (and still say) that Animal Kingdom Lodge has the best dining of any Disney resort on property. The Mara is the resort’s quick-service location. The menu here ranges from African inspired dishes like African Potjie and Braai chicken flatbread to more traditional American fare like a black Angus cheeseburger or rotisserie chicken dinner. Boma is the resorts buffet-style offering and is open for breakfast and dinner. This restaurant offers a similar, if not expanded selection of African inspired dishes as well as traditional American favorites. Boma is roundly considered the best (or one of the best) buffet-style restaurants at Walt Disney World (and in my opinion is certainly the best of any Disney resort). Finally, there’s Jiko – the resorts signature restaurant that boasts the largest collection fo South African wines in the United States (for that matter, it’s the largest collection outside South Africa in the world). Consistent with the other dining options at AKL, you have a blend of authentic African dishes as well as dishes that might be more appealing for the less adventurous.
As I mentioned in the show (above), we were unable to do a “review” of the resort due to the fact that management knew we were there. We were treated exceptionally well (and from all reports, this is true of most guests), but under those circumstances, I felt it would be unfair to give a review of this property since our experience was not similar to what other guests would experience.