In celebration of the upcoming film Zootopia, we took a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge to follow the footsteps of the Walt Disney Animators who also visited the resort to study animals on the savanna to get a sense of their movement in their natural environment for Disney's latest film.
While at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, we not only had the opportunity to watch and learn more about the animals on the savanna, but to also interview Jason Bateman (Nick Wilde), Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy Hopps), and Directors Byron Howard & Rich Moore, and to experience the value of staying on property at a Disney resort with a world of amenities including extra magic hours, magical express, resort airline check-in, and of course the Disney difference.
The Magic of the Disney Experience
Enhance the magic of your Disney experience by staying at Disney resort when you visit Orlando, Florida. There are several amenities available to enrich your visit assuring you will revel in the full Disney experience. Here are a few of my favorite services offered, and why I loved them!
- Magic Bands – MagicBands are secure all-in-one devices that allow you to effortlessly access the plans and vacation choices that you’ve made with My Disney Experience. You can use your MagicBand to unlock the door of your Disney Resort hotel room, enter theme and water parks, check in at FastPass+ entrances, connect Disney PhotoPass images to your account, and best of all charge food and merchandise purchases to your Disney Resort hotel room. Plus, when you shop at a resort park you can have your merchandise delivered directly to your room. There's no more need to lug all those souvenirs around the parks all day.
- Extra Magic Hours – Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels enjoy extra time in the parks before they open and after they close! These extra magic hours are perfect for wandering around the park to capture magical photographs, like Cinderella's castle, with less crowds.
- Magical Express – Start and end your stay with complimentary motorcoach transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, with complimentary luggage delivery. This. And all this. We flew in on a red-eye and it was so nice not to have to worry about how I was going to get to the lodge. You can also check-in to your room online prior to your stay.
- Resort Airline Check-in – Guests who fly on a participating airline and stay at select Disney Resort hotels are automatically enrolled in the Resort Airline Check-In service when arriving through Disney’s Magical Express. The day before our departure all our flight information was left on our door to make our trip home effortless.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
While on our press trip to Orlando, Florida, we stayed at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, a deluxe resort showcasing the wonder and romance of Africa, from hand-carved furnishings to gourmet cuisine. Exclusive to this resort is the 46-acre savanna around the resort where animals including giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and a variety of wild birds roam freely.
The Grand Lobby
As you step into the grand lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House) you'll find yourself whisked into the heart of the spirit of Africa. Complete with towering thatched roofs complimented with rich wood and golden tones, this one-of-a-kind hotel provides spectacular views of sunrises and sunsets over the animal-filled savanna, putting guests within 15 feet of the animals.
At the center of the resort's celebration of African culture is the Igo Ijele mask. Created by the Igbo people of Africa, the mask towers more than 16 feet tall and is eight feet in width.
Hand-crafted Guest Rooms
Many of the guest rooms at the resort feature views into the animal sanctuary, with other rooms offering views of the Uzima Pool and Springs. Guestroom balconies overlooking the reserve putting guests within 30 feet of the rich grasslands and animals.
Each guest room features hand-crafted furniture and art with rich woods and vibrant colors showcasing the art of African craftmanship, with much of the art made in Zimbabwe. Each room sleeps four to eight guests, and bunk beds are available for families with children.
(The standard room with bunk beds is shown below.)
Animal Viewing on the Savannah
The savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to over 200 mammals and birds representing a cross-section of the African palette – greate kudu, Grant's zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, impalas, and marabou stork just to name a few, which can be viewed 24 hours a day as the animals roam freely throughout the reservation. Guests young and old will delight in watching the animals feed in the morning and early evenings.
Pro-tip: Catch a sunset over the savanna! It is absolutely breathtaking!
A Culinary Journey Through Africa
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House) features four restaurants complete with flavors from around the world to tantalize your taste buds during your stay.
Jiko – The Cooking Place features cuisines from around the world including berbere braised lamb shank, durban shrimp curry, and roasted chicken. Within the Cape Town Wine Room and Cape Town Lodge, you can sample a variety of South African Wines during your stay. Jiko's interior decor is inspired by Disney's The Lion King.
The stunning light structures in Jiko resemble birds flying through the savanna. A remarkable attention to detail in true Disney spirit.
Boma – Flavors of Africa is a marketplace restaurant featuring an exhibit kitchen with wood-burning grill and rotisserie, and resembles sheltered place within the brush.
Victoria Falls, the mezzanine lounge overlooking Boma, serves gourmet coffee and teas, South African vintage wines, international beers, and cocktails. For a limited time each night, you can also order food from the mezzanine lounge menu.
The Mara is a quick-service eatery serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee on the go in the morning.
Pro tip: If you love pastries you have to try the apple fritter. With large chunks of apples throughout the center and a cool drizzle of frosting, you'll fall in love with this fresh, lighter version of a grab and go breakfast.
A World of Amenities
Deluxe amenities with inspirations from throughout the world combine to create an unforgettable adventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House.
The Uzima Pool, as well as two bubbling spas offer a poolside view of the savanna. The Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center offers relaxing facials, body treatments, and massage therapy.
The younger guests will enjoy Simba's Clubhouse with fun activities, Pumbaa's Fun & Games arcade, and the Hakuna Matada Playground.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers a series of kid-friendly programs and adult enrichment opportunities to increase guests' knowledge and appreciation of the African culture.
You can even book and African Safari Experience on the Wanyama Safari, a 3-hour sunset safari excursion aboard a specially designed vehicle and dinner at Jiko – The Cooking Place. (A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Disney Conservation Fund, which supports conservation efforts around the globe.)
Book your stay today at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge to experience this one-of-a-kind, memorable experience you will cherish for a lifetime. To make a reservation, book online or call (407) 938-3000. Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort is located at 2901 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830-8410.
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything.
But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.
Portions of this material and expenses for this trip have been provided by Walt Disney Studios.