Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – The Best Disney Resort for Kids!

Our first trip to Disney with a child and we chose Animal Kingdom Lodge – top-of-the-line Disney and an amazingly perfect resort for a child, including the 43-year-old child!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Balcony View

The trip started out on a whim because Disney was offering a nice sale for January – March and I we could afford to upgrade from our usual All-Start Resorts with the discount.  We were looking at the Moderate Disney Resorts and a 4-night package for three was in our budget.  Remember, travel agents no longer get free rates or deep discounts, we simply get to keep the small commission built into travel so 10% is the usual.  Then I priced 6 nights and realized it was the same as 4-nights regular rate so it was two nights free — how could we turn that down?  Add the Disney Dining Package and we were saving more money — a true travel-aholic working the magic numbers to justify a vacation.

In any event, I decided to surprise everyone by upgrading to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and not telling them until we got there … and it was a big hit!

When we arrived in Orlando I had to let on that we were at the Animal Kingdom Lodge instead of Caribbean Beach Resort because we were ushered to the bus queue for the Animal Kingdom Lodge and it set off alarms… “They’re sending us to the wrong resort!”

Orlando Arrival and Baggage

When you book your trip with us, we work with Disney directly which gives you many perks than booking with Expedia or other online giants.  One of these perks is the luggage delivery which is incredibly helpful when you have children — take your luggage to the airport and it arrives at the resort or cruise line without touching it!  MAGIC!

When we arrived in Orlando, we simply went to Disney’s Magical Express and checked-in, given the bus queue and that was it!  No juggling luggage, squiggling child and carry-ons.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Check-In

Everything can be done online these days including check-in for Disney’s Resorts and it saves quite a bit of time at the front desk, mainly filling out your name and address and presenting a credit card for payment.  Remember, your resort key allows you to charge anything in the parks directly to your room and then you’ll have one charge to your card at check-out.  Do all of that at home before your arrival and check-in is extremely quick and you’re vacation starts!Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

When we arrived, a representative met us at the door and when we advised we did the online check-in they walked us to the front desk, but not before giving our daughter, Clare, a few Princess Stickers to keep her entertained and happy.  The front desk representative verified my ID, gave me a quick introduction to the Disney Dining Plan since it was the first time we used it and then a map to our room — we were off!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Amenities

Of course the biggest amenity is having animals right outside your room, freely roaming and even sleeping outside your window at night.  What kid, or adult for that matter, wouldn’t love that?  Giraffes, Roan Antelope, gazelles, Guinea Fowl, ostriches and more freely roaming, grazing and playing right outside your balcony — as if you’re on a true safari.

There was a gorgeous pool which we didn’t use due to lack of time and a small child. It was heated, as judging by the steam in the mornings.  There was a water slide and a kids area.  The resort also featured a game room for kids as well as a gym, none of which we used!Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool Panorama

The gift shop included everything Disney as well as African art, a well-stocked pantry, drinks and medications – which we did have to use to help stave off a cold that a few in our group had. Keep in mind everything is extremely expensive but if you forget, you’ll pay just about anything to get what you want!  In our case I wanted Airborne and paid $10 for one container which is typically 1/2 of that.

Transportation to/from Disney Theme Parks

Due to the location, all transportation to all of the Disney Theme Parks was by shuttle bus, with Animal Kingdom being a 5 minute drive.  The other resorts were typically 20-minutes from Animal Kingdom Lodge but the buses ran approximately every 20 minutes and it was time to figure out what we wanted to do in the park, creating our method of attack.

Restaurants

Animal Kingdom Lodge has Boma, a buffet restaurant with “American Food with African Influences” and it was bountiful – and part of your Disney Dining Plan!  There was too much food that I couldn’t get to it all and always feel that way with buffets.

There as another sit-down restaurant that was on the higher-end price-wise and we, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to try that.

The “Quick Service” restaurant was downstairs and we used that for breakfast every morning, including our free refillable coffee/soda cup (another perk when booking with us!)

Room service was plentiful, judging by the trays sitting outside of rooms in the morning.

Check-Out / Luggage

Disney makes it magical again by having the airlines right in each resort, checking you in for your flight and handling your luggage right there in the lobby.  Now that airlines charge for luggage, you must call the day before and pay for your luggage on the phone, obtain a confirmation # and take that to the check-in desk with you.  Not too hard, just a slight inconvenience of paying for it when you check-in.

Otherwise, we simply handed over our luggage and identification and quickly received our boarding passes – no luggage to carry to the bus and through the airport!

You will be advised many times by the airline representatives that they do NOT work for Disney (despite their Disney coats!) and that they work for the “airline”, offering you a courtesy at the resort.  I was oblivious to this until it dawned on me, they want a tip for checking the luggage, similar to doing it curb-side at the airport.  I did tip the guy but it really irks me that I am paying to check my luggage and I’m also tipping them… they work for the airline that I just paid $50 to transport my luggage!

Where Do We Go Next?

This is the dilemma we’ve now put ourselves in, “Where do we go next?” when we visit Disney.  Any of the resorts will pale by comparison because it won’t offer the uniqueness that Animal Kingdom Lodge does.  We could select a resort that is closer to the main parks and has easier transportation?  We could stay in one of the Disney Moderate Resorts now that we’ve experienced Animal Kingdom Lodge?

It’s Disney — they do it right and if this is the only problem we have — we are very fortunate!

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