We are celebrating our 10 year anniversary as Disney Vacation Club Members. Becoming a member was not something we ever thought we’d be interested in doing, but it really is a great fit for our family. Plus, with Animal Kingdom Lodge as our home, it’s the best of both worlds. Our entire family loves it, and we especially love all the FREE things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
When we first became Disney Vacation Club Members, we were also annual passholders. Therefore, we spent a lot of time in the parks all through the year. So, during many of our beginning stays at Animal Kingdom Lodge, we did resort only. As a result, we explored so much of the resort, and got to see all it has to offer.
Exploring the Resort: FREE Things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Can I Visit Animal Kingdom Lodge and Walk Around?
First, you may be wondering if anyone can walk around the resort. If you are staying at either Jambo House or Kidani Village, then you are easily able to walk around the resort. Plus there is a shuttle between each end. Those staying at other Disney resorts, or off property, to park at the resort, you must have dining reservations. Without dining reservations, you can either take a bus from a Disney theme park or Disney Springs. Or get dropped off by Uber, Lyft, or taxi.
1. Educational Exhibits
Walt Disney World Resorts are all about the immersive experience, based on the theme of each resort. But one thing that sets Animal Kingdom Lodge apart from all the others, education. You can literally walk around the resort for hours reading all about life in Africa. Throughout hallways are large displays on all different topics.
Sometimes in the lobby they will have additional tables set up with more educational things on display. Like these wildlife footprints. Workers are there to answer questions too.
What Animals can you see at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Is Animal Kingdom Lodge in the park?
The Animal Kingdom Lodge is not inside the Animal Kingdom theme park, but it does border it. Therefore, the behind the scenes where they take care of the animals is accessible for Disney to have Savanna wildlife at both the resort and park. Many animals from Kilimanjaro Safari, are also on the savannas at both Jambo House and Kidani Village.
2. Savanna Overlooks: Popular Things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Arusha Rock Savanna Overlook is located at Jambo House, straight through the lobby, down the stairs, and out the doors. This is the main public savanna overlook. You will find boards and interactive displays to learn about the wildlife on the savanna. Plus, there is usually guides to answer any questions you may have.
Often you can catch both zebra and giraffe on the Arusha Overlook.
Pembe Savanna Overlook is at Kidani Village, by the pool. But there’s also a main savanna overlook through the lobby. We’ve actually only stayed at Kidani Village once.
If you would like to know all the animals you can see on the savannas, you can find the Animal Kingdom Lodge spotting guide HERE.
3. Relax on the Overlook
Spend some time just relaxing on your balcony, even if you don’t have savanna view. Or, if you prefer to be watching the animals, there are several seating areas with rocking chairs where you can relax. Maybe even read a book.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Experiences
4. Off the Path
At Kidani Village Pemba Savanna you can learn from the guides several times daily. You can get the times from the activities guide at the check in desk. More of the great educational fun.
5. Animal Enrichment
This is probably the most fun thing to do at the resort. My girls still talk about preparing interactive objects and puzzle feeders for the animals. Currently they are doing this on Saturdays and Sundays. These are the feeders they put out on the savannas for the animals.
6. Coloring in Lobby
Not sure if they have people come out and do this with the kids anymore, but you can definitely just do it on your own. All you need is plain paper and crayons. You can create rubbing designs on your paper from the beautiful metal designs in the floor of the lobby. There are several of them. My girls really enjoyed this too.
7. Wood Working Demonstrations
Just inside the main entrance, to the right, and by the marketplace, there are a couple chairs. Daily you can catch an artist out there creating wood designs.
8. Find Hidden Mickeys
If you’ve never looked for Hidden Mickeys, it’s another great way for kids to pass the time, and even get a little competitive. This one is found on the metal leaves that cover the stairway on the Arusha Overlook. If you really enjoy Hidden Mickeys, my girls used to use this book.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Activities
9. Community Hall and Simba’s Activity Center
At both Jambo House and Kidani Village there is an activity center where kids can color, do crafts and play games.
Outdoor Recreation at Animal Kingdom Lodge
10. Hakuna Matata Playground by Uzima Pool
The only playground is at Jambo House, by the pool.
Does Animal Kingdom Lodge Have a Pool?
Actually, there are two pools. Both Kidani Village and Jambo House each have a pool with large slides, toddler areas, hot tubs, and more.
12. Poolside Activities: FREE Things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Another favorite of our girls. Whenever we spent time at the pool, they were always joining in the dancing and games. Kids can even win some prizes.
13. Educational Games
January visits will have some cold days. So instead of swimming, our girls would play educational games by the pool. Learning about ecosystems, and how they can make a difference in the world around them.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Walking trails
With lots of property around, and a walkway from Jambo House to Kidani Village, there are a couple different places you can walk or go for a run.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Things to do
Located between both main entrances, you can either bring your own equipment, or grab some from the activities desk.
Depending on which way your balcony is facing, you can catch some very beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Or from any of the public overlook areas too.
Things to do at Night
20. S’mores and Campfire
At sundown each night you can head down for a campfire. Bring your own s’mores supplies to make yourself some snacks.
Night Safari and Night Vision Googles
21. Starlight Safari – Night Vision
Take a look at the animals on the savanna after dark with night vision googles. Daily at the Kidani Sunset Overlook.
22. Movies Under the Stars
Nightly Disney movies are shown under the stars and rotates between Jambo House and Kidani Village. Movies switch monthly, so check the activities guide.
If you are staying at another Disney resort, you can get the movie schedules by calling (407) 939-2273. **Movies and entertainment are subject to cancellation or change without notice, and are weather permitting.
23. Sitting by the Lobby Fireplace
To unwind at night, grab a seat around the fireplace in the lobby. This was perfect for our visits in January and cool weather. Adults can even grab a cocktail from Victoria Falls Lounge first.
Does Animal Kingdom Lodge Have a Gym?
24. Work out at the Gym
Lastly, if you don’t want to lost momentum on your exercise progress, take some time in the gym.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Video
If you’d like to see a tour of Jambo House and our room, here’s a video from our January 2020 visit.
How far is Animal Kingdom Lodge From the Parks?
This all depends on which park you are coming from. Animal Kingdom Park is right next door, so that’s a quick drive. The other three parks are pretty close to each other, so depending on traffic, about a 10 -15 minute drive.
How far is Animal Kingdom Lodge From Disney Springs?
Disney Springs is at the east end of Walt Disney World Property, and the Lodge is at the west of of the property. So, they are as far away as you can get. It’s about a 20 minute drive.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Map
A map showing how large the resort property is.
Final Thoughts on FREE Things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Which Animal Kingdom Resort is Better?
As you can see, there’s a lot to do at both resorts, but we personally prefer Jambo House because of the grand lobby, lounge access, and pool location.
Why Stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Is it Worth Staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge?
If you, or your kids love animals, and hands on learning activities, then this resort is the best place for your family to stay. Being at the edge of Walt Disney World property, it just seems so much quieter. The views can leave you speechless. In our opinion, it is totally worth staying.
Our other favorite place to stay on Walt Disney World property is Fort Wilderness Campground. Check out our: