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An Empty Nester's View of Animal Kingdom Lodge
This article appeared in the January 8, 2002, Issue #120 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
(Ed. Note: Empty Nest Special Reporter Barbara Rubenstein recently spent some time at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and shares her perspectives as a traveler without children along.)
We recently returned to Disney and decided to try the new Animal Kingdom Lodge. We weren't sure if this would be suited to adult tastes, but decided to give it a whirl. Since we were only going for an extended weekend we decided that we only had two room priorities, first being a Savanna view and second trying to get a room that would be ready upon check- in. It turns out that not only did we get an early check-in, but also had a choice of room location.
We opted for a room at the furthest end of the Arusha Savanna. The room was on the lobby level, but far enough away from the lobby that this did not present a problem. The resort was not overly crowded, so we found it to be very quiet. The room was comfortable and, of course, the view is the central focus of the room.
I would not call the Animal Kingdom Lodge "romantic," but would certainly call it a fun, different experience. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the animals from our sliding door and out on the balcony. I found myself acting like an excited kid upon catching my first glimpse of a giraffe. At all hours, day and night, you can spot another type of animal to gaze at. The resort also provides a guide that explains each animal to you and a pictorial so you can identify each one.
Since the focus of the resort is the animals, you don't have a romantic beachfront area (such as that of the Polynesian) to walk around at night. Nor can you view the castle as you can at the Magic Kingdom resorts or the countries of Epcot like at the Yacht and Beach Club.
We found the pool area to be quite large and very attractive to adults. Where Yacht and Beach Club's pool is like a miniature water park, this pool was set up like a very, very large regular pool. The nice part was that you walk right in at ground level at one end of the pool (what they term zero-level entry). There were plenty of available chairs and we found the pool area to be nice and quiet.
Eating at the Animal Kingdom Lodge saw us breaking some of our usual habits. We almost never eat a dinner buffet, but we opted to eat at the Lodge's Boma. We made a later seating request to avoid the onslaught of small children. We decided that since we were in this African-themed resort, we would like to try some of the native foods, and with a buffet you can taste the regional cuisine. The buffet was probably the most crowded restaurant in all of Disney -- even with priority seating we had to wait about 15 minutes. As we were waiting we kept discussing whether we had made a mistake with this choice and were anticipating a disappointing meal. At first the server was very slow in approaching our table and we really were prepared for the worst. What a wonderfully pleasant surprise this meal turned out to be, though. It was fun trying out different foods and still having the availability of standard fare. And, after the initial slow start, our server turned out to be very efficient. Even though buffets are not my usual dining choice at Disney, I would recommend that couples give Boma a try for a little fun and a different type of meal. A plus for a non- resort guests is the chance to peek at the animals.
As a side note, one evening we decided to take a bus to the Downtown Disney area for a quick shopping visit. A MISTAKE! We waited 35 minutes for the bus to come to the AKL to pick us up and were ready to walk away when it finally arrived. We found out that they only had one bus doing the route so we spent 30 minutes in the Downtown area not wanting to miss a round of the buses again. We learned our lesson. Never break your own rules. (One of ours is "never take the Disney buses"!!!)
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and found it to be a different type of Disney treat, but as a couple it would not be our first choice of resort to return to.
Be sure and visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge Photo Gallery and FAQ at: http://allears.net/acc/gallery.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.