Blasius Erlinger
| Credit: Blasius Erlinger

When Disney recently opened its 1,293-room Animal Kingdom Lodge, members of the human kingdom rejoiced. Finally, a chance to go on a state-of-the-art safari without suffering the discomforts. Rooms, of course, are climate-controlled, the water always drinkable—and the mosquito netting draped over beds is just for show. Best of all, unlike an African safari, there's no risk of going home without seeing enough animals. Giraffes graze right outside your hotel window, blesbok and spiral-horned bongo roam the grounds—visible even at night, thanks to man-made moonglow. And more feathered, furred, hoofed, beaked, billed, and horned creatures are just a few minutes away, at the company's three-year-old Animal Kingdom theme park. Hush—was that a roar?

5 more cool things about Animal Kingdom Lodge

  • The African look is flawlessly consistent, from the side tables based on Bamileke stools to the Igbo ijele, a 16-foot mask in the lobby. A fire pit is where evening storytelling takes place.
  • Three restaurants serve not only chicken tenders and pasta, but couscous salad, oxtail stew, beef-stuffed papaya, and America's largest selection of South African wines.
  • When not ogling flamingos and sacred ibis, guests can shoot down the water slide into a 9,000-square-foot pool.
  • Under a copperpod canopy tree just off the lobby, kids learn about animal behavior from the keepers of the resort's surrounding 33-acre savanna.
  • A souvenir shop sells African market goods, such as Zulu baskets and Tanzanian carved animals, and very little in the way of mouse ears.
  • The Facts
    Rates at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge start at $204 for a double (children free). Admission to Animal Kingdom is $50 ($38 for kids 3 to 9; free for those under 3). For more information, call 407/934-7639 or see