Review: Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE
Because of their differences, I count three separate properties here:
- Jambo House, the topic of this review
- The Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”) villas at Jambo House, reviewed here, and
- The DVC villas at Kidani Village, for which see this for a review.
I will call Jambo House in the rest of this review both its official name and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the name that most people still know it by.
But whatever I call it, the key is this: Jambo House/Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great place for first time visitors to stay, bested only by Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
You can have a wonderful visit at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.
However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort.
Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the deluxe resorts are distinguished by having (on average) the most amenities, nicest views, best dining options, best transport options, largest rooms, best service, and highest prices.
(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)
Standard rooms at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are tied with those at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge as the smallest deluxe rooms on property.
See the floorplan, courtesy of a great unofficial Animal Kingdom Lodge fan site, aklresort.com.
The bedroom component of Jambo House standard rooms is smaller than even those at the moderate resorts, being almost a foot narrower and, on the long side, 2.5 feet shorter.
(See this for more on comparative Disney resort room sizes.)
Most Jambo House rooms sleep four–two each in two queens. Rooms with a queen and two bunk beds are also available. The bunk beds are 5’9″ long, and 39″ wide. For some reason, bunk rooms are more expensive. Rooms with one king bed, or one king and a daybed, are also available.
You can add to this capacity of four a child younger than three who sleeps in a crib. A crib fits well between the closet and TV credenza, where the door to the connecting room is shown in the floorplan.
JAMBO HOUSE AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE
On this basis, Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is the third best resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.
Jambo House Kid Appeal.
- Three of the deluxe resorts–the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Polynesian Resort, in that order–have spectacular kid appeal.
- None of the moderates do.
- All of the value resorts–Disney’s All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies, its Pop Century Resort and its Art of Animation Resort–have strong kid appeal.
The kid appeal of Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge comes from its sense of exotic African adventure.
The architecture of the resort recalls the great national park lodges of East Africa, and the resort itself is filled with wonderful authentic and replica artifacts, and instances of Sub-Saharan African art.
This architecture is crowned by Jambo House’s magnificent lobby, stunning in its own right, but also reminiscent of that of the Wilderness Lodge. (Peter Dominick was the architect of both.)
This architecture alone would be enough to put Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Lodge near the top of Walt Disney World kid appeal.
Add the animals, and you have something even more special.
The Animal Kingdom resort is surrounded by four savannas, each of which is populated by dozens of wild African mammals and birds.
Most rooms have a view of these savannas…and waking up to a giraffe outside your balcony is a very cool way to start your day!
Savanna views are also available from many public spaces.
Jambo House Convenience.
Jambo House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is least most convenient of the deluxe Disney Resorts
It is distant from all the theme parks other than Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and you can’t walk to the Animal Kingdom–all theme park transport is by bus.
Buses from the Animal Kingdom Lodge do not serve any other Disney resorts, but there are two stops–Jambo House and Kidani Village.
Best places to stay at Jambo House.
This is because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms.
The single exception is for visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.
Rooms fronting Arusha savanna are the most popular–and $30 per night more expensive.
For most first time visitors, the extra cost of Arusha is probably not worth it.
If you do sign up for Arusha, request a “Zebra Trail” room (the Lodge is laid out in “trails”)–this will put you closer to the pool and restaurants.
But be sure to reserve a savanna-view room, whether Arusha or not!
Also request a third or fourth floor room, about halfway down the trail. The third and fourth floor rooms have the best views, and halfway down the trail gives the best balance between quiet and walking distance.
Families too large to fit into its 4 person rooms. See this for more on large families at Walt Disney World.