We absolutely LOVED Animal Kingdom Lodge when we stayed there in February 2007!! I booked it originally because I wanted a deluxe resort and it was the least expensive; and I choose it over the Wilderness because I wanted to see the animals (plus we're from Iowa, and we can get the WL feel by just going north).Our AAA TA booked up 7 nights in a Water View; when we arrived, we were upgraded to a Savannah view. We were given room 2542 on the Zebra Trail...all the way around the resort facing the Uzima Savannah. What a hike!! We arrived at night, so at first I was really disappointed to find that our room was right in the corner of our section, so when we were on the balcony, we were almost facing the people next to us. Plus we were right above the fenced area where the keepers come out from.
However, when we woke up I realized none of that mattered...we had giraffes, zebras, Kudu, Impala and birds outside our window all week! Plus there are tons of viewing areas all throughout the hallways (one was right outside our door). If you are looking to save money, don't worry about booking a Savannah View room; the animals are easily accessible throughout the resort. We booked early, so I wasn't surprised we were upgraded, even if it was far from the lobby. This is a running joke with us...seems we always end up with the furthest room possible! Still, we soon became familiar with the layout and the walk to Mara was no problem.
One our previous stay, we'd been at the Beach Club, and I honestly felt no difference in the room size. We had 2 queen beds, armour with TV, dresser, hutch that held mini-fridge and coffee maker, table with 2 chairs, balcony with 2 chairs and table, and all the deluxe amenities (nice new H20 bath products...which they restocked every day even if we hadn't used them).
It was too cold for the pool, and I was disappointed we didn't get to use it! Looked absolutely beautiful!!
The Mara was wonderful; we had dinner there twice and got breakfast to take back to the room every morning. Breakfast was always Raisin Bran and bananas, although the first couple days I did have a croissant and then a muffin (both excellent). The line for the hot food at Mara was always very slow moving. It's a pretty small area, so even a few people in line clogged it up fast. They did have a huge refrigerated case section with all kinds of beverages and some ready-to-go salads and desserts. Everything was very clearly marked for those on the Dining Plan using Snack credits.
Hot food we had while here include the Ham & Cheese Sandwich (paninni), Chicken Cease Salad, Butternut Squash Soup, and the Sweet Potato Chips (so good!). Choices were pretty limited there, but really they had what most people order anyway (burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza). Everything was very fresh and good; not the kind of place you'd want to eat every night, but it was great when we were tired and didn't want to leave the resort.
The staff at AKL was wonderful! So friendly!! When we arrived all the valets greeted us. Probably the friendliest hotel staff I've ever met.
I've heard a lot of people wonder about transportation since AKL is more remote, but we had no problems. Bus service was fast and reliable...probably more efficient since AKL doesn't share a bus with other resorts.
The Zawadi Marketplace shop was a great store with not only souvenirs, but also bottled drinks and snacks. I would stop there every night upon our return to get more bottled water and a treat.
I would definitely stay at AKL again! The animals alone are worth it, but the amenities and staff really make it special!! Again, don't worry about booking a Savannah view as you'll have plenty of areas to see the animals. If possible, I'd request a room on the Zebra or Giraffe Trail sides as they are the closest to dining, the pool and the gift shop.