As the sun sets earlier and earlier this fall, “Rivers of Light: We Are One” will come to life on Discovery River in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. This nighttime show includes dramatic new imagery and familiar animal characters from Disneynature films along with a colorful tapestry of unforgettable moments from Disney animation.
For the record I’ve got nothing against the classic Disney World resorts. I’m down with Disney’s Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts, Even Yacht and Beach Club. But gosh dang it, I’m sick of seeing hard working families toss aside one of Disney’s most beautiful hotels just because they think it’s too far from the parks. It’s by far the most unique hotel experience you’ll have without leaving the country and it’s right here at Walt Disney World! It’s also one of the cheaper Deluxe Resorts, not much more than some Moderate category hotels. To that end, here are 5 reasons to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort.
Authentic Africa - Disney Style
From the moment you pass the gates you’re immediately transformed into a whole new world. The lush landscaping has been carefully cultivated to resemble an African savanna. Here’s a Disney secret - the planting started two years before the resort opened so it had time to grow and mature. This gives the illusion that the plants and trees had always been there. Drive a little further and the towering thatched roof of the main lobby comes into view. At that moment you realize this is a very different kind of Disney resort. Upon entering the lobby you’ll discover rich woods, golden tones, and authentic African art throughout. There are over 380 museum-quality pieces throughout the hotel and over 4,000 handcrafted works of art in the guest rooms. A mud fireplace is always warm and giant floor-to-ceiling windows provide spectacular views of the animal savanna.
74 Acres of African Savanna
True, Animal Kingdom Lodge is remote, it’s built on 74 acres right in the middle of its own savanna. Surrounding the resort is an animal sanctuary with over 200 mammals and birds like zebra, giraffe, and impala that live authentically in the recreated African savannas. So the fact that this hotel is remote, is perhaps its very best feature! It’s an escape from the excitement and high energy of the theme parks. Here it’s quiet, tranquil, and relaxing. Yes, it’s possible to feel relaxed on your Disney World vacation! And speaking of location, let’s not forget that it’s very close to Animal Kingdom Theme Park including Pandora World of Avatar, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Blizzard Beach.
Dining is a Culinary Journey
The signature restaurant, Jiko - The Cooking Place, is one of Florida’s most notable restaurants having won numerous awards and has the most South African Wines than any other restaurant in the United States. Boma is one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World - it features an open kitchen, a wood-burning grill (that smells terrific from outside) and an incredible buffet. Victoria Falls is the mezzanine lounge that sits just above Boma and serves up specialty coffee, tea, South African vintage wines, international beers, and cocktails.
Each of the lodge’s rooms feature handcrafted furniture and art — much of it made in Zimbabwe.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of two Deluxe Resorts that offers the option of bunk beds in many of the guestrooms. Also offered throughout the resort are standard rooms with 2 queen beds or 1 king-bed.
Upgraded room categories include one and two bedroom suites and Club-level (concierge) rooms. It’s worth noting that the Club-level lounge is one of the highest rated among all of the Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts.
I know, this all sounds great but what about the animals! For the absolute best experience, try to be up just before sunrise (that’s early and you’re on vacation, but trust me it’s worth it). There are over 200 animals that live at Animal Kingdom Lodge and they become vocal and active just as the sky begins to turn brighter. And here’s a secret, you don’t need to stay in a savanna view room to enjoy views of animals. There are several outdoor overlooks around the resort with prime viewing locations. There are also several animal and authentic cultural experiences and tours that are offered exclusively to Animal Kingdom Lodge guests.
For more on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, check out this video tour below. And check for special offers on the Resort Offers Page.
Video: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
View the Offers Page to view special rates for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
TIME Magazine recently ranked Pandora World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park as a Top 100 World’s Greatest Places to visit. According to TIME, the list of 100 destinations from around the world recognizes newsworthy, groundbreaking and innovative travel destinations that stand out in the travel industry.
The list truly captures the best of the best from among more than 1,200 editor and expert nominations from around the world. If you haven't been to Pandora yet, now’s the time. It’s officially one of the world’s greatest places, even if it’s 4.4 light years away! Check for SPECIAL OFFERS and save big on your next Walt Disney World vacation!
Starting August 6, 2018, you can book a new Rivers of Light Dessert Party over at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
The party will include a buffet of Disney’s Animal Kingdom-themed desserts, snacks, and drinks followed by VIP viewing of “Rivers of Light.”
Guests start by checking in 60 minutes prior to the main show (8:15 p.m. for a 9:15 p.m. show) at the Rivers of Light Asia Viewing Area Terrace located across from Expedition Everest.
The price is $79 for adults and $47 for children (tax inclusive) and must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
The return of the holiday season to Walt Disney World Resort starts Nov. 8, 2018.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The return of Sunset Seasons Greetings featuring impressive new laser effects and “snow,” holiday magic transforms the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel with spectacular projections of Disney Characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Olaf sharing their favorite seasonal stories.
Another returning favorite is the nighttime spectacular Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! The new Toy Story Land also gets special seasonal fun including holiday songs on Alien Swirling Saucers and more!
11 World Showcase nations during Epcot International Festival of the Holidays beginning Nov. 18, 2018. One of my favorite holiday traditions at Epcot is the Candlelight Processional and this year it starts performances on Nov. 22, 2018.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
New this year the magic of nature will receive a holiday touch with the inclusion of Diwali, the holiday Festival of Lights in India, as part of the new live show UP! A Great Bird Adventure.
On select mornings now through June 30, 2018, Guests can enjoy Extra Magic Hours access to the most popular experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, including the newest attractions in Pandora – The World of Avatar, as well as Expedition Everest and Dinosaur.
In July and August Guests staying at select Walt Disney World resort hotels can access Extra Magic Hours daily – yes, daily! – to experience favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including the attractions in the all-new Toy Story Land.
For excusive offers on Walt Disney World Resort hotels, check out the Offers Page.
As a part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, you can get an insider’s look at some of the ways Disney brings the magic of nature to life in a new limited-time experience called A Path Less Traveled – Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary tour.
Go backstage to tour the Vet Hospital and Animal Nutrition Center, perform a nest check on a purple martin birdhouse as part of a Disney’s conservation project, gaze at some of the park’s largest inhabitants during Caring for Giants and end the day with VIP viewing of Rivers of Light.
A Path Less Traveled will be offered daily from April 1-May 5, 2018. Tours can be booked in advance for $59 per person, plus tax, by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (407- 939-7529).
Be sure to check out our exclusive hotel offers for Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
I'm excited to announce the newest addition to the Enchanting Extras Collection — the Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park!
You can prepare for an adventure like no other as this tour gives you the opportunity — as the park transitions from day to night — to experience the magic of nature in a totally unique way. Tour guides share detailed knowledge while you explore the Disney’s Animal Kingdom lands to observe the critters, creatures and other denizens of the park. Plus, you get to enjoy certain attractions with expedited FastPass+ access. The Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour is a great way for you to make the most of your time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Separate park admission is required. For more information about the Enchanting Extras Collection or to make reservations, call 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529)
Mobile Order will be available at Satu’li Canteen restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park on opening day – May 27 – and then expanding to Pizzafari, Flame Tree Barbecue and Restaurantosaurus during the summer. And better yet, more Mobile Order fast casual and quick service locations across Walt Disney World Resort are on the way.
Mobile Order, which can be found in the My Disney Experience app, offers the added convenience of being able to place orders and purchase meals on-the-go. You can select menu items, customize orders and pre-pay for meals during park visits – all within the app.
It’s easy to do. After you place your order, pre-pay in the app and arrive at Satu’li Canteen, you'll tap the “I’m here” button. That will notify the kitchen to prepare your meal. When ready, you will be alerted through the app to pick up your meal at the designated window with the Mobile Order pick-up sign.
Please note during the initial launch period of Mobile Order, the only form of payment accepted will be by credit card. Anyone with special dietary restrictions, or those who want to use discounts or redeem dining plan entitlements must place their order with a cashier.
By Darren Wittko, Specializing in Disney Destinations
Friends at Walt Disney Imagineering recently shared another video on the construction of Pandora - World of Avatar new land, which gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the project team has partnered with Lightstorm Entertainment and many of the original AVATAR filmmakers – including James Cameron and Jon Landau – to bring the new land to life. In this video, several members of the Pandora “Super Team” share what the experience of bringing Pandora – The World of Avatar to life has been like for them, and some of the amazing moments that have exceeded even their imaginations.
Watch carefully at the background footage as the video doesn't explicitly point out new reveals!
For a limited time, May 27-July 4, 2017, Guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can explore Pandora – The World of Avatar beyond regular Park hours.
Nightly Extra Magic Hours will take place from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. only in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This offering will provide you with an additional opportunity to enjoy everything Pandora – The World of Avatar has to offer – including navigating a mystical river, flying on a back of a banshee and walking under floating mountains. Please note valid Theme Park admission and a Resort ID will be required.
By Darren Wittko, Specializing in Disney Destinations
Today Disney announced that Guests staying at select Walt Disney Resort hotels can reserve Disney FastPass+ selections for attractions, including those in Pandora – The World of Avatar, up to 60 days prior to check-in beginning March 24, 2017. Disney FastPass+ service will be available at the two attractions within Pandora – The World of Avatar during regular Theme Park hours. Guests may select only one of these two attractions in their first set of Disney FastPass+ selections, subject to availability.
By Darren Wittko, Specializing in Disney Destinations
Pandora – The World of Avatar, which is set to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort on May 27, 2017, will transport you to a visually stunning world complete with floating mountains, bioluminescent plans and all kinds of immersive adventures.
Four ABC shows will offer sneak peeks into the new land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park at Walt Disney World® Resort. As “The View” broadcasts from Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week, several other ABC shows - including "Good Morning America" and "Nightline" - will be joining forces on Thursday, March 9, 2017 for a look into the highly-anticipated Pandora – The World of Avatar.
By Darren Wittko - Specializing in Disney Destinations
Now you can get a closer look at the African elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and learn what it takes to care for them during Caring for Giants – a unique family-friendly backstage viewing experience at Walt Disney World Resort.
During this 60-minute tour, you can meet with animal care specialists who provide for the care and wellness of Disney's elephant herd. African cultural representatives will also be on hand to share stories of Disney’s conservation efforts. Throughout this experience, you will be able to observe the elephants from approximately 80 to 100 feet away!
Caring for Giants will be offered several times daily beginning March 12, 2017. Groups depart throughout the day between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Guests must be 4 years of age or older to participate. Reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529). Cost is $30 per person (tax included).
As I announced today, “Rivers of Light,” the new nighttime show that debuts Feb. 17, 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. And, starting today, you can book "Rivers of Light" Dining Packages at Tiffins and Tusker House Restaurant.
For more than a year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort has continued its evolution to a day-to-night park by introducing new nighttime experiences. And today, I'm happy to announce one of the park’s newest nighttime experiences, “Rivers of Light,” will make its official debut on Feb 17, 2017.
“Rivers of Light” combines live performance, floating set pieces, a soaring musical score, fountains and more in a celebration of animals and nature. The story unfolds on the broad natural stage of the Discovery River, conveying the uplifting spirit of an ancient and timeless lantern ceremony and filled with symbolism, storytelling and plenty of heart.
Dining and FastPass+ reservations for this new show are now available.
And don’t forget that the next step in the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom – the grand debut of Pandora – The World of Avatar – will take place on May 27, 2017.
Today I'm excited to share that Pandora – The World of Avatar will open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park on May 27, 2017!
This new land will transport you to the visually stunning world of Pandora. Here, you will wonder at floating mountains and bioluminescent plants, and can join the Na’vi on two attractions that take adventure to the next level.
Today I'm excited to share this amazing sneak peek into one of the Walt Disney World Resort’s most exciting expansions: the construction of Pandora – The World of AVATAR, which will open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park this summer (stay tuned for an official date).
As you can see in the video, Pandora – The World of AVATAR will transport you to a visually stunning world complete with floating mountains and bioluminescent plants, first unvelied to me back in November. This new land will feature two never-before-experienced expeditions. The family-friendly Na’vi River Journey sends you down a sacred river hidden within a bioluminescent rainforest. The journey ends in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. And, the Avatar Flight of Passage excursion offers the jaw-dropping experience of riding on a Banshee over the world of Pandora.