By Tyler Slater
The epic adventure of a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is truly a fan-favorite for guests visiting Walt Disney World. There is something about waking up and seeing zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, and many other animals that graze the savanna from the outside balcony. This beautiful resort opened in 2001 as a journey into the wonder, romance, and mystery of the African savanna with its untamed animals, gracious people, and rich culture traditions. In honor of the 15th anniversary, fans are getting an inside look at the breathtaking lobby at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and how special details pay tribute to Africa’s wildlife, ancient civilization, and vast landscape.
A mystical world unfolds as guests enter the grand six-story lobby of the lodge, unleashing the spirit and romance of the vast continent. Eight enormous Maasai shields banded together create a chandelier over the majestic lobby. The shields are tri-colored—black, red, and white. The black identifies lineage while the red and white carry the age and geographical location of the owner. The geometric patterns painted on the shields also have special meaning: The ones marked with circles signify the Kisongo province of Kenya, the squares denote the Loita province, and the triangles are used by Ol bruggo province.
Each of the lobby’s six seating areas features traditional tables of alderwood and mahogany with tops of antique lapis, stone, and metal. Guests will even notice animal symbols hand-carved into the surfaces! These engravings tell stories of African spiritualism and proverbs of the people. Be sure that you also notice collections of art throughout the lobby that highlight the diversity of materials used by African craftsman.
Embedded in the lobby’s teak floor, guests will find five bronze medallions designed by West African artist and famed storyteller Babab Wagué Diakité. The largest medallion measures eight feet in diameter and is fashioned to look like a relief map of Africa, with mountains raised and water all around. The other four medallions are somewhat smaller, each four feet across, and all etched with different African themes showcasing the relationship between man and animal. Guests will see a fisherman, a peacock, a grouping of African wildlife, and a small humble village depicted in the medallions.
Follow the large, supportive columns to their top and guests will see Grand Bedu masks staring down from their six-floor view. The Bedu mask is a plankmask used throughout the Bondoukou region of the Ivory Coast of West Africa. It traditionally makes an appearance once a year at the festivities that commemorate each New Year. Bedu masks are seen as the product of transfer; perfect for the coming and going of the year, as well as the guests moving across the lobby from one location to another.
At the opposite end of the lobby entrance, a rope suspension bridge stretches across the lobby. The bridge not only allows guests to cross the lobby at treetop level, but also presents a spectacular perch with a grand overview that offers a floor-to-ceiling view of the animal kraal.
Guests visiting Walt Disney World are welcome to explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and discover these details on their own. Besides, no trip to this beautiful resort is complete without a walk around the savanna and a delicious meal at Boma—Flavors of Africa!