Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is full of things to explore and learn. We bring you bite-size pieces of all the Lodge has to offer, such as the beautiful artwork found in the lobby. Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to one of the largest collections of African art in the country. You’ll find it all over the resort, but in this article, we focus on the lobby.

IMG_4775There are display cases behind every sofa showing artworks of different materials, like wood, beads, metal, or clay. You’ll spot sculptures of humans and animals, as well as pieces used for adornment during special ceremonies. All are handmade, and they come from many different African cultures. Even the chandeliers that hang high above in the lobby are made from authentic shields and spears.

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One of the most impressive pieces in the lobby collection is the towering Ijele mask. This massive piece is worn by a single dancer during traditional ceremonies of the Igbo people in Nigeria. You can read more about how it is created, who gets to wear it, and what it represents.

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Be sure to ask the lobby concierge for information on the African art collection. The front desk can usually supply a small booklet explaining more about the pieces.

FL Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.K.H.1.1, VA.K.H.2.1, VA.K.H.2.2, VA.1.H.1.1, VA.1.H.2.2, VA.1.H.2.3, VA.2.H.1.1, VA.2.H.2.2, VA.3.H.1.1, VA.3.H.2.2, VA.4.H.1.3, VA.5.H.2.1, VA.68.H.1.3

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions. It’s a pretty amazing experience and fun for all ages. Board an open-air safari truck and get out your cameras to observe and learn about African animals in natural habitats. The 18-minute tour takes you through the Disney-created Harambe Wildlife Reserve, and promises lots of animal sightings.

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The learning begins in the queue. Placards throughout the line match African animals and their Swahili names, or give fast facts about the animals. Did you know that Simba means “lion” in Swahili? There is also a short video that plays as you get closer to the loading dock. The video introduces us to the warden of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, and teaches more about animal behavior and factors that are threatening those animals in the wild.

IMG_4128During the safari you can use overhead animal spotting guides to help you identify the animals that you see in the Reserve. But be sure to listen to your safari guide as well. He or she will help point out the animals and is sure to share lots of information about them. On our last safari, we learned quite a few new things. For instance, cheetahs are the only big cats that purr!

IMG_4133Kilimanjaro Safaris is a great educational attraction and a must-do for animal lovers. The ride is always different because you never know which animals you’ll spot! FastPass+ is usually recommended for this attraction during busy seasons.


FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.1.L.14.1, SC.1.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.4.L.17.4, SC.5.L.17.1

Uzima Pool

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of those places that is chock full of things to explore and learn. So we’re giving you bite-size pieces, starting with Uzima Pool. This main feature pool at Jambo House was one of the first on Walt Disney World property to be built with a zero-depth entry point to mimic a real beach. Visiting the pool is always a great, relaxing way to spend some vacation time. But when you’re at Uzima, be on the lookout for special signage that teaches a bit about the circle of life.

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Just beyond Uzima Springs pool bar is a singular post with four in-depth facts about how animals and plants depend on each other and their environment for survival. There are explanations of certain animal behaviors, such as how animals recycle in the wild and why they develop co-dependent relationships. You can also read about breeding seasons and how seeds travel miles and miles to be planted as food for future generations.


FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.1.L.17.1, SC.2.L.16.1, SC.3.L.17.1, SC.4.L.17.2, SC.4.L.17.4, SC.5.L.17.1, SC.7.L.17.1, SC.7.L.17.2, SC.7.L.17.3, SC.912.L.17.6

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great place to explore no matter what your preferred pace.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has some terrific walking trails that let you see animals up close and personal. If you don’t want to wait for the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, and are up for the walk, head next door to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. You’ll get to see a few of the same animals you’d see on the Safari, plus a bunch more. IMG_3161

The Pangani Exploration Trail is presented as a research facility and conservation school. Throughout the trail, you’ll see notes, bulletins, and photos left by the researchers and students. (This is just another of Disney’s famous themed touches meant to immerse you in a different place.) School kids might be interested to see how the kinds of notes and observations they make in science class could translate to a real-world scenario.

IMG_3171The Trail leads you through forest habitats where okapi and monkeys dwell. A Research Center is home to naked mole rats, tortoises, bullfrogs, and some real creepy crawlies! Don’t be afraid to open the drawers, too – they house specimens ranging from bird wings to shells to insects.
Be sure to grab a bird-spotting guide when you enter the aviary. There are over 20 species of birds that could be flying or waddling around!
The big draw at the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is the gorilla habitat. Cast members are frequently at these viewing spots to impart facts and answer questions about the gorillas. You never know what they’ll be up to so keep an eye out. We’ve seen them grooming, sleeping, climbing trees, and even arguing.

IMG_3169 IMG_3196There’s so much to learn on this trail. You can certainly get a lot out of just observing the animals and talking to the cast members. If you want even more info, stop and read the research notes along the way. This is a self-guided trek so take as much time as you like.


FL Next Gen Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.K.N.1.2, SC.1.L.14.1, SC.1.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.3.L.15.1, SC.3.N.1.3, SC.4.L.17.4, SC.7.L.17.2, SC.7.L.17.3