Editor's Note: This article was provided by Chris, the last of our 'new' authors from several months ago. Chris has been working behind the scenes on some projects, but will be contributing stories from time to time. A warm welcome to NPN! ~Mike
One of the biggest draws for the hotel -- and a fact that makes it unique among all hotels -- is the ability to watch animals in the Lodge's 40 acre man-made savannah from the convenience of your own hotel room balcony. Approximately 70% of the Lodge's rooms offer a savannah view from the balcony. Disney spokespeople boast that the animals graze 22 hours per day in the savannah -- in full view of the Lodge's guests. This feature offers a rare chance to view animals that are more active in the night, when the temperature drops. In this respect, the Animal Kingdom Lodge offers an advantage over Kilimanjaro Safaris -- a jeep tour located in the Animal Kingdom theme park -- in that guests do not need to rush to the attraction in the cooler mornings to guarantee the best shot of seeing active animals.
Besides several overt differences (e.g., live animals), Animal Kingdom Lodge looks somewhat reminiscant to the Wilderness Lodge. There's reason for that -- both lodges were designed by Peter Dominick. The Animal Kingdom Lodge opened April 16th, 2001, but it wasn't until another 7 years that it earned its first expansion. On February 18th, 2008, Disney opened the first phase of its Disney
Vacation Club hotel, the Animal Kingdom Villas.
Despite the reference to the Animal Kingdom theme park in the Lodge's name, one must take a bus or drive from the Lodge to reach the Animal Kingdom theme park. Of note, the resort is accessible for free to anyone by the Disney bus transportation system -- simply board a bus heading to the Animal Kingdom Resort from any of the resort's four theme parks. Contained within the resort are four eateries -- Jiko, Boma, The Mara, and Sanaa.