The sights and sounds of Africa conjure up classic notions of graceful, grazing giraffes, colorful birds and striped zebras roaming the savanna all to the steady underlying rhythm of drums.  All of this and more can be found at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Just this past Christmas my family & I spent our very first Disney Christmas as very delighted guests.  This was also our first stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  As we are nature lovers & big fans of Animal Kingdom Park, the AKL proved to be a great fit for us, especially during the holidays when some serenity is usually desperately needed!

Disney Scrapbook Page Layout by Sharon - Animal Kingdom Lodge
In addition, we chose Animal Kingdom Lodge as we had a feeling that this resort would be a huge hit with our older children, then aged 20 & 17 – this proved to be true.  The lobby is spectacular and the massive tree was splendidly decorated with authentic animal masks and other ornaments made of organic materials such as wood, seed pods and woven grasses.In true Disney fashion, it seemed as if every corner contained something to discover that made this resort incredibly unique.  It was not hard to imagine that we were perhaps accidentally swept away to that mysterious continent.  What I really appreciated about our choice to be at Animal Kingdom Lodge was that it was the polar opposite of all the other wonderful resorts we have stayed at in the past. (with the exception of Wilderness Lodge which has some of the same overall feel as the Animal Kingdom Lodge)Instead of ice cream colors & bright activity the Animal Kingdom Lodge was dark, warm and intimate which was surprising given the overall size.  It was especially enjoyable in December as we had some overcast, dreary days for part of our stay.  We did not gaze upon Cinderella’s castle glowing in the distance (even though I have enjoyed that view from the Polynesian) & the Animal Kingdom Lodge is not on the monorail- it is more removed from the hustle & bustle.

Disney Scrapbook Page Layout by Sharon - Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Decorations

Instead, each evening we walked among hallways adorned with art, the atmosphere quiet, dark and hushed with warm fires in the outdoor fire pit.  Glimpses of animals seemed almost startling after being immersed in crowds of humans all day long.  Each time we came home to Animal Kingdom Lodge it truly seemed like we had left Orlando all together to some unknown private oasis of warmth and comfort.  We stayed in Kidani which has its own lobby and contains the new Disney Vacation Club Villas.  We were delighted with the peace & quiet and the view.

Animals were plentiful at all times for viewing & photos.  The pool was outstanding with a jumbo sized spa for 18 people, perfect on the chilly December nights.  We loved the Lion King details in the suite – again every detail so carefully considered.   One of my favorite touches was the bathroom tile in the master bath which was a hand painted scene of silhouetted animals from the Lion King. Another was an African verse left on our nightstand which read, “A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place.”- Ghana proverb.

Disney Scrapbook Page Layout by Sharon - Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Mood

The two star restaurants, Jiko & Boma, have long been favorites of ours & they did not disappoint this time either.  We’ve eaten at many of the top restaurants in Disney World yet Jiko still remains our very favorite for all 4 of us.

Which brings to mind the other thing I love about Disney in general is that one can walk into a top notch restaurant wearing shorts & mickey ears, bring children of any age & feel completely at home all while eating amazing, creative dishes.  We had heard that Boma offered the best breakfast buffet in Disney and we experienced that to be true.  Dishes authentic to parts of Africa were present including a favorite of ours, a homemade yogurt mixed with melons.  We were never quite sure what the exact flavors were but whatever it was it was good!  Another offering was corned beef and cabbage with a unique spicy sauce – a combination of African flavors and European colonial influence.

I wasn’t sure how this trip would be given that our children are now older with their own tastes and busy lives.  We are well past the mickey balloon and character greeting age…however we did happen upon Stitch in the Kidani lobby one evening.  My then 20 year old son happens to love Stitch and he was actually excited and we posed together for a photo.  Sadly the photo did not turn out but the memories of enjoying Disney together as an older and changed family will last forever.

My daughter happened to fall in love with unique hand painted china that was available for sale only at the AKL and Animal Kingdom.We all purchased pieces for one another as holiday gifts.  We had so much fun searching for just the right pieces as no two were alike.  I found myself wondering: since when did she like china?  Ahhh, the magic of Disney – that must be it!  Enjoying the same classic Disney experiences we shared when they were younger yet also having these new experiences with them now that they are grown made this particular Disney trip an unforgettable holiday.  It also provided me with all the proof I need that Disney magic does indeed exist.  The perfect holiday gift.

Sharon Signature

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