It’s 6am in the morning and I have just had a shower. Dawn is breaking as I slide the curtains of my hotel room across to check out the view.
After travelling from Sydney to Orlando Florida, I’m still a little jet-lagged and I can’t believe what I am seeing.
Outside my room, a baby giraffe munches on leaves. Its mother is not far away. Across the savanna, zebras graze on green grass and strange-looking birds ruffle their feathers.
Yes, this is Orlando, Florida in the United States of America. But I’m in Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. And it feels just like Africa.
Like everything in Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom Lodge feels like another world altogether. It’s possible to immerse yourself fully into the imagination of this place because the details are so perfect.
The mirrors inside my room are carved from wood with intricate African patterns. So too are the bed heads. Netting drapes from the ceiling – just like the mosquito nets in an African safari lodge.
Walt Disney World is entirely immersive. Staying in a Disney hotel really completes that experience. For a few days you will be transported to another place, a place of imagination and inspiration.
Animal Kingdom carries its African theme into everything it does. At reception the “cast members” (every Disney employee is called a Cast Member) speak a few words in a native African language. The lobby is filled with African artefacts. The breakfast buffet serves traditional African delights alongside European and American food. At night, the sound of the jungle drums beats through the heart of the resort.
Guests who stay in a Walt Disney World hotel are also eligible for a much coveted “magic band”. Magic bands are wrist bands that allow you to open your hotel room, access the fast lines in the theme parks, collect photos from thrill rides, pay for food and clothing and so much more.
Every single need is catered for here. As I walk to my room, I spy a corridor with payphones and mobile phone chargers. The games room downstairs is filled with pinball machines and video games. A free bus service takes guests to all the resorts and to Disney Springs.
The enormous swimming pool is sweet relief to the sticky Orlando heat. The resort also has a wheelchair accessible pool and spas for those who like it a little hot.
If you do stay here, make sure you look for the hidden Mickey Mouse in the room. Little Mickey Mouse icons are hidden all over Disney World and each hotel room has one in it.
But nothing beats the sight of zebras and giraffes outside my room in the morning sun.
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