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Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures


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  • [Pictures] Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures

    My picture threads consist of images I have taken that focus on the architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, and theming of the facilities highlighted. They may also contain short descriptions and commentary, but will not focus on construction progress or special events or memorabilia or food selections or my traveling companions. Hopefully these threads are a good introduction for those who have not seen these places yet. All killer, no filler!

    Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge photographed in February 2008 and January 2010:
    This large resort is a contemporary-styled interpretation of Africa, arranged in two separate buildings, each with several large curving wings of rooms that radiate from impressive central lobbies. The interiors of the public rooms and restaurants strike a great balance of sophistication and exotic whimsy, while the exterior viewing areas for the animal habitats and the pool areas are perfect compliments to the theming of the nearby Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. The four large African savanna exhibits containing a mix of live hoofstock species and birds that surround most of this resort make this a zoo attraction unto itself, and admission is free for visitors. Guests staying at the resort often have even better views since a majority of the rooms are adjacent to one of the four exhibits. The two buildings are Jambo House and Kidani Village; the former is the part of the lodge for regular guests, while the latter is for Disney Vacation Club members and is less than a year old. Each has its own restaurants, shop, guest services, and pool and recreation areas. Together, the forms of the two buildings create the front boundaries of the four savannas. These exhibits total 46 acres and are populated by about 35 species.

    Jambo House Entry and Porte Cochere:

    Jambo House Lobby Map:

    Jambo House Lobby:
    The larger of the two buildings' lobbies, this grand space includes sitting areas in its center, a side inglenook called Ogun's Firepit that is housed in a massive columnar structure from which a high suspension bridge emerges to cross the lobby, a long front desk to the side, a lower terrace level leading outside, and a commanding view through a massive window with branch-like mullion detailing that overlooks one of the savannas.

    Jambo House Lobby back exterior, porches, and Arusha Firepit:
    On each side of the window, the back of this part of the building features a unique metal leaf-covered exterior stairwell and a half-round elevated porch. There is also an outdoor firepit surrounded by rocking chairs.

    Arusha Rock Savanna Overlook:
    The two main room wings that branch from the back of the Jambo House Lobby form a large curving U-shape that encloses much of the Arusha Savanna, one of the four animal habitats. Outside the back of the lobby, this viewing area is composed of a rock and wood-railing enclosed path that extends a short distance into the habitat. There are several rock outcrops along the walkway and trees and shrubs planted in a naturalistic setting. Several large interpretive graphics as well as small spinning species identification signs are here, typical of all the habitat viewing areas. A staff member is often stationed at each for education as well. The vegetation and containment of this savanna is typical of all four as well; each is dotted with a variety of hardy native trees that form canopies, interspersed with a scatter of exotics such as palms, set in a flat grassy landscape with occasional mounds and waterholes. Rustic keeper roads curve through each, the distant back containment boundaries are chainlink fence, and the front containment boundaries are a line of ground-mounted closely-spaced hotwire clusters set about 15 to 25 feet away from the building faces and viewing areas for separation. These features are not too obtrusive or distracting, but are a step down from the higher quality immersion techniques of the nearby theme park. According to a staff member, Arusha Savanna is 11 acres and currently occupied by 11 species. These include the antelopes bongo, bontebok, greater kudu, and roan antelope; reticulated giraffe; Grant’s zebra; ankole cattle; red river hog; and the birds East African crowned crane, pink back pelican, and vulturine guineafowl. A printed handout covering all the habitats also mentions that there are helmeted guineafowl that are often seen foraging with the vulturine species, so there may be 12 species here. The pelicans have an attractive waterhole traversed with deadfall perches directly adjacent to the overlook area. Before the addition of Kidani Village, this was the best of the then three savannas, but is now the second best, eclipsed by the enlargement of one of the others.

    Jambo House public rooms:
    Back inside, one side of the lobby leads to several facilities on two levels:

    This is the gift and sundry shop for Jambo House, and features a nice lion face metal sculpture in a niche behind the cashwrap.

    Victoria Falls:
    This lounge and bar is open to the lobby and adjacent to the restaurants, backed by a small rocky waterfall.

    A fun variety of rooflines and canopies cover this restaurant with an extensive kitchen open to the dining area.

    The more upscale dining room features an elegant flock of abstract bird sculptures overhead and on the walls.

    The casual counter-service cafe features an abstract forest of trees above its tables but is a less attractive environment than its pricier neighbors.

    Uzima Pool:
    The two wings on the East side of the Jambo House Lobby enclose the swimming pool area for this part of the resort which includes the spacious Uzima Pool with nice zero-entry coves and a small wading pool and two spas. The area also has Uzima Springs Bar housed in a boma, Hakuna Matata Playground (an unimaginative walled area with two generic play structures ordered out of a catalog) and access to a spa and fitness center and arcade and activity center in various parts of the adjoining wings. A stream begins near the Jiko restaurant and appears to feed the swimming pool; in turn, a stream appears to emerge from the pool and continue into a waterhole in the adjacent animal habitat, forming a nice illusion of naturalism.

    Uzima Savanna:
    The animal habitat at the far end of the pool area is Uzima Savanna, and begins with a nice rocky-walled habitat with a shallow lagoon for greater flamingo. This is viewed from the Uzima Savanna Overlook, a smaller but similarly-detailed area as the previous one. It runs along the side of one of the wings before ending at a view of the savanna which extends in a narrower layout than the Arusha Savanna that it eventually adjoins at the back. This one has no building to contain its other side, so a thicker forest forms its backdrop. According to a staff member, Uzima Savanna is also 11 acres and currently occupied by 12 species. These include the antelopes common eland, nyala, and sable antelope; Thomson’s gazelle; reticulated giraffe; and the birds African spoonbill, East African crowned crane, Egyptian goose, greater flamingo, ostrich, Ruppell’s griffon vulture, and shelduck (I am not sure which species). This habitat is the third in viewing and habitat quality, but not far behind the two better ones.

    Sunset Overlook:
    The third savanna visible from Jambo House is viewed from a small balcony outside an intimate oval-shaped lounge adjoining the lobby. Sunset Savanna is partly enclosed by the outdoor space formed by the two wings on the West side of the lobby, as well as the entire undulating length of Kidani Village where its best views are found.

    Kidani Village Map:

    Kidani Village Entry and Porte Cochere:
    The second main building is just as massive as the first and is for Disney Vacation Club members. It is a curving backwards E-shape whose entry is at its midpoint and faces the side of Jambo House across the Sunset Savanna.

    Kidani Village Lobby:
    Although not as large as Jambo House Lobby, this nicely detailed space features a similar thatched arched ceiling and a large window overlooking the savanna at its far side.

    Johari Treasures:
    The gift and sundry shop is located next to the lobby.

    Elevator Halls:

    The restaurant is downstairs from the lobby and is a festive room of columns and abstract tree canopies with windows looking out to the Sunset Savanna.

    Community Hall:
    On each side of the lobby, small curving porches hug round boma-like forms in the building; both are for viewing the Sunset Savanna, and one of them fronts this lounge room.

    Kidani Village Lobby back exterior:

    Sunset Savanna Overlook:
    A stairway leads down from the lobby to ground level, where a door exits to the outside and Sunset Savanna Overlook, a short peninsular path similarly-detailed to the previous two that juts into the habitat. At the far end of this nice rock and wood-railing enclosed path is another firepit surrounded by rocking chairs. According to a staff member, Sunset Savanna is 18 acres and currently occupied by 12 species. These include the antelopes blue wildebeest, common eland, and roan antelope; reticulated giraffe; Hartmann’s mountain zebra; ankole cattle; and the birds East African crowned crane, marabou stork, and ostrich. It is the largest and best of the four habitats, easily viewed from two overlooks as well as several windows in the hallways of the room wings.

    Samawati Springs Pool:
    Kidani Village's swimming pool area is located on the front side of the building near the entry. The pool is as nice as Uzima, but has the added benefit of far superior play features. A rocky small hill has a short waterslide course twisting its way down to splash in the pool, and another small waterslide is nearby; also, there is a water play area with splash fountains and waterguns and buckets and spitting snake head sculptures that resemble Kaa. An outdoor bar called Maji is on one side in a round building. Another nearby round building is larger and houses the Survival of the Fittest fitness facility.

    Pembe Savanna:
    Pembe Savanna is the newest one, created this past year on the far side of Kidani Village and hugging about one quarter of the building’s length, and is the only one not visible from Jambo House. It is viewed from a small outdoor overlook at one end, next to the Samawati Springs Pool area that serves Kidani Village. It is also viewed from several windows in the hallways of one of the room wings. According to a staff member, Pembe Savanna is 6 acres and currently occupied by 9 species (and in this case, she told me the numbers of each). These include the antelopes ellipsen waterbuck (4), impala (7), nyala (5), and yellow-backed duiker (1); okapi (2); red river hog (3); and the birds Abyssinian ground hornbill (3), blue crane (2), and spur-winged goose (2). This is the weakest habitat due to its narrow (at one point very narrow) layout, very visible fencing and back service road, and struggling new landscape. However, it is promising because it appears that in time it will be the most lush with large stands of bamboo and other plants that will form a scattered dense undergrowth.

    Last edited by geomorph; 02-08-2010, 11:27 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures

    Great pics. I find this hotel frustrating because some parts of it (lobby, main building, restaurant, Arusha Rock, pool) are extraordinary and place it among the very best themed hotels in the World, but your photos show a few of areas where the budget seemed to be chopped or the designers got lazy.

    The first issue is the very visible chain link fence bordering the edge of the "savanna." Disney has mastered the invisible animal barrier at AK, why couldn't they simply repeat it here and maintain the illusion of being on the edge of wild Africa. The fence completely shatters that illusion and what could be an awe-inspiring view, instead becomes a depressing one of giraffes in a pen.

    The second design issue I have with this resort is that while the thatched-roof main building is a beautifully-designed structure, the wings resemble bland warehouses with some wooden pilings and colorful railings slapped on to "theme it."

    The third issue is the presence of "Watusi" cattle on the "wild" savanna (and on Kilimanjaro safaris). In Africa, these are domestic, not wild, animals. Zoos buy these animals because they are cheap and their huge horns impress unaware tourists.

    It is sad and ironic that as African herders graze these cattle in the grasslands & savannas, they come into conflict with wild species, who are competitors for grass (herbivores) and meat (carnivores). As has always happened, human interests win out and wild Africa shrinks.

    Thus, the watusi cattle represents the end of wild africa just as european cattle represented the end of the wild American Prairie of bison, wolf and grizzly. These animals do not belong in a park or resort that is trying to represent wild nature.


    • #3
      Re: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures

      Randy Savage, I agree with your three critiques.

      The visible back fences of the savannas could have been hidden with an earthen berm, simulated rockwork would probably have been too expensive for such a length. Since it is far from the viewing areas, they must have felt it would not detract from the open feeling too much, and I don't think the fencing is that bad, just slightly annoying.

      The architecture of the wings does look a bit like standard construction, thinly veneered.

      The watusi (also known as ankole) cattle bother me too, they are indeed an African domestic breed and are exhibited by far too many zoos/wildlife parks. The International Species Information System (ISIS) currently lists 15 North American zoos/wildlife parks with them, with a total of 98 animals. DAK is one of those listed, with 11, amounting to about 10% of those on display, but their exposure to educate the public is far greater than the watusi at many of the other parks. In fact, the largest herd of them is listed as 36 at Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA. which has very few visitors in comparison. (It should be noted that the listings are not entirely comprehensive due to some reporting inconsistencies, volunteer cooperation, and a new system being implemented soon.) At any rate, DAK should eliminate them from their collection unless they are displayed in a specific educational display that interprets the collision between domestic cattle and actual wildlife.

      The other animals pictured here are also listed in ISIS as 8 roan antelope, 6 blesbok (also known as bontebok), 11 zebra of three species, and 18 giraffe of 4 species/hybrids. These numbers include animals in the adjacent theme park too, so there are not necessarily 18 giraffe in the lodge savannas!
      Last edited by geomorph; 11-26-2009, 12:19 PM.


      • #4
        Re: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures

        I have GOT to make time in our nest trip to visit these hotels. This one looks worth exploring. Thanks for sharing the pictures!


        • #5
          Re: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures

          Has anyone seen the new Pembe savanna? How does it differ from the other three?


          • #6
            Re: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Pictures

            Since my last reply question I have visited the new Pembe Savanna! I have updated this post with more pictures and detail and text, and also added a thorough rundown of the new Kidani Village and Pembe Savanna.


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