3 Reasons to Stay at Disney World’s Relaxing Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge

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3 Reasons to Stay at Disney World’s Relaxing Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge

There are many beautiful and easily recommendable accommodations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, but only one of them brings the wildlife of the Animal Kingdom park up close and personal to you: Animal Kingdom Lodge. Divided into two sections, Jambo House (the hotel we will be focusing on below) and Kidani Village (a collection of villas connected to Jambo House), Animal Kingdom Lodge provides its guests with a number of different ways to observe its wonderful wildlife. Below are three key reasons to consider the Lodge for your next Disney vacation.

The Animals

You can make a solid argument for the upsides of any of Disney’s deluxe hotels, but none can compete with opening the curtains and seeing actual wildlife from your balcony. And not just native Florida wildlife, but giraffes, zebras, gazelles, and a host of other stunning creatures whose names you will eagerly learn and excitedly spout during your stay (as in, “Look how cute that bongo is! It’s coming this way!!”)

There are three main room options when staying in Jambo House: Savanna View, Resort/Standard View, and Water View. Only the first will get you a direct look at the animals from your bedroom, but it’s also a very pricey option for that reason. The other two views (which face out the front of the building as well as over the pool) still provide you with tree-lined vistas, but no animals. However! You can visit any of the hotel’s many observation areas to see the wildlife no matter where you stay.

One of the best things about Jambo House and the viewing areas is that while you can see quite a bit from each, there is no one view that can see everything. From glass overlooks in hotel hallways and shaded outdoor patios with rocking chairs, to areas by the pool and a sprawling open deck straight from the lobby, you will see something different no matter where you look. Feeding times are particularly active and can bring the animals surprisingly close, but even in the heat of a summer afternoon you will see animals lounging in the shade or enjoying a friendly sparring match from a variety of different vantage points throughout the hotel.

Though we visited at the height of the summer season, we never found the decks or patios to be crowded; other visitors were also respectful in making sure everyone got a good view of the wildlife, but many times we were the only ones observing from a given patio or deck (maybe because it was so hot!)

Of course, if you can swing a Savanna View room you will not be disappointed, because sitting on your own balcony and being able to check in on the animals before you go to sleep at night and right when you wake up in the morning is truly magical. (That said, we did have our own personal alarm in the form of two South African Blue cranes, who very insistently squawked at 6:15 each morning; others in our party elsewhere in the hotel were spared.) But for the elevated price of that room, it may only be worth it if you have a decent amount of time at the hotel planned throughout your stay. If you are going to be going to the parks from dawn ’til dusk and just need a place to crash, there are definitely more affordable accommodations than Jambo House. But for the unique overall experience, it stands apart.


Disney’s hotels are known for their themes, but few are as immersive as Animal Kingdom Lodge. When you enter Jambo House, you are immediately transported. From its signature scent that wafts around you with woody and spicy notes, to the African folk music playing lightly in the background, Jambo House’s dark wood interior and relaxed atmosphere are a respite after a busy day at the parks. The soaring ceiling in the lobby is made to look like the underneath of a thatched hut, and these details permeate the entire hotel—including a water feature inside the lobby that guides you down the stairs to the Victoria Falls Lounge, the dual restaurants Boma and Jiko, and outside to a tropical pool and fast-casual dining spot The Mara (where we ate several of our meals, and they were delicious).

Jambo House’s thoughtful flow allows for the discovery of all kinds of nooks and crannies within the hotel to explore, like a “rope bridge” across the lobby from the fifth floor, additional observation areas, and fascinating displays of African art and cultural points of interest. There are also constant activities at the hotel, including live wood carving demonstrations, creative opportunities for guests (like learning how to drum!), and family events such as movie nights and storytelling by the outdoor fire pit.

The hotel’s rooms follow closely to theme, where framed paintings or pop decals on the walls have been upgraded to feature African art (and as a nice touch, a painted Lion King sunrise background just behind the coffee machine). The headboards are large and made to look like intricately carved pieces, and with the optional backlight turned on they provide a stunning presentation. The rooms in Jambo House are generally made to look upscale, but they do include some fun details (like a little Simba carved on the nightstand and tasteful—hidden?—Mickeys on the curtains); it was also lovely to enter the room and find the TV on playing a calming African-inspired theme when we arrived. Still, it is a busy family hotel, so you will hear plenty of pitter pattering feet all around you day and night.

And occasionally a Blue crane…


Animal Kingdom Lodge has a lot to offer just within the hotel itself, justifying (for some!) its deluxe price tag. Though Jambo House is within Walt Disney World, and therefore part of the excellent bus system that will take you to and from the parks, to make the most of staying at this particular location I would recommend building time into your itinerary to appreciate what the hotel has to offer as well. For both parkgoers and those who may be staying behind during the day, there is plenty to see and do.

As noted above, the animal observation areas are what make Animal Kingdom Lodge incredibly special, although exploring the hotel itself is also a joy. The pool area (which features a water slide) is also designed with a number of shaded alcoves (with many lounge chairs) surrounding it, as well as two hot tub areas and another set of observation decks.

Though we did not have reservations at Boma or Jiko during our stay, The Mara features some menu items from both restaurants, and there are genuinely no bad options. Quick and easy and well-priced, The Mara was our go-to for dining while at the hotel, where we either brought it back to the room to watch the animals from the balcony, or just hung out by the pool amid the lush foliage and relaxed tropical setting.

Back to the (free!) bus system to and from Jambo House and Kidani Village to the parks: The Lodge is closest to the Animal Kingdom park (naturally), but it can take up to a half-hour to get to Magic Kingdom, which is the farthest away. We were fortunate on our timing throughout the trip that it typically only took around 15 to 20 minutes to get to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Disney Springs, but coming back was sometimes a longer haul as you may have to wait for additional passengers or stops (it was 50/50 whether the drivers stopped at Jambo or Kidani first on the way back, but it’s ultimately not much of a difference in time).

The Bottom Line

Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House offers a very unique stay at Walt Disney World that is almost like another attraction unto itself. We had two half-days at the hotel when we arrived and departed, and I could have easily spent a full day or two more just enjoying all that was on offer. From the inviting lobby which features a cozy always-lit fireplace and wonderful thematic details, to the wonder of the animals themselves as observed from so many different places at different times, walking into Animal Kingdom Lodge always felt like a cool, calm, and relaxing embrace from the moment you step through the doors (the refreshing blast of A/C didn’t hurt, either). Though the hotel boasts over 900 rooms, even in the busy season it never felt busy, thanks to its winding design. For those who might be able to splurge a little on deluxe accommodations at the Disney World, Animal Kingdom Lodge is a worthwhile stop on your travels.

Allison Keene is a writer and the former TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV.

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