Anaheim Antics: Keeping Fit at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Today is a day that forever changed me and the events that occurred 13 years ago live with me everyday. Take a moment today to reflect, remember and most importantly tell people you love them…life is too short.

Now…let’s talk about vacations!!  Everyone loves a vacation, but what about your fitness?  Does that begin to suffer due to all of the fun you are having?  Well John is here to tell us that it doesn’t!  This month’s Anaheim Antics are brought to you from his recent vacation to Walt Disney World where he heroically kept up with his race training.  No excuses!!


“I’m on vacation!” The mantra we use to enjoy some much deserved time off. We get to eat what we want and do what we want, all guilt-free. But like all vacations, we eventually get the bill, and when it comes to our health, the bill can come with post-vacation lethargy and a few extra pounds.   In recent years, however, consumers have become more health conscious, and true to the laws of supply and demand, the market has responded. The fitness club industry is now a $25 billion industry, and vacation resorts are no stranger to wanting a piece of that pie. Disney is no exception, having added fitness centers to its Resort Hotels. Even the four Disney Cruise Line ships have fitness centers that rival the competition.

For better or worse, vacationing is no longer an excuse to not stay fit. On a recent stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I decided to see what the fitness possibilities were. Being a Disneylander, I was already familiar with the fitness centers at the three Disney Anaheim hotels. And, to be honest, on previous visits to the Walt Disney World, fitness was furthest from my mind. Not so this time. If you’ve never visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s a must see. The acreage is ample, the architecture and design are top notch, and the immerse experience is all-inclusive. And fitness? How’s about two fitness centers appropriately themed to the Resort?


Adjacent to Jambo House is the Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center. Loosely translated as “wellness center”, Zahanati is a full-service workout facility and sauna offering full-service massage, body and facial treatments. The workout room is nicely appointed, with a full variety of machines. There is an abundance of cardio equipment and strength training machines. Were this not African themed, I’d use the phrase “practically perfect” to describe this venue. The atmosphere was relaxing, clean, and motivating. It would be easy to spend an hour here as you work your way through a workout circuit and finish with a treadmill run while enjoying the lush view outside.


Zahanati is the larger of the fitness offerings, but its location at Jambo House makes it a bit of a hike for Kidani Village Guests. Sure, you could get on a shuttle or golf cart to Jambo House, but that’s the equivalent of pulling into an LA Fitness parking lot and finding the space closest to the entrance. Thankfully, Disney Imagineers took Kidani Village Guests into consideration.


Adjacent to Kidani Village is the Survival of the Fittest Fitness Center. The name alone is enough to make you smile. It’s smaller than Zahanati, but no less appointed.   A full array of cardio machines including treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, stair climbers, and weight machines are available here. It has the same relaxing and motivating ambience of its big brother at Jambo House. Its view adjacent to the Samawati Springs Pool makes good use of its bank of windows and ample natural lighting.


Both Zahanati and Survival of the Fittest Fitness Centers make use of MagicBand technology to grant access to Guests. But these fitness centers are not the only fitness opportunities available to Resort Guests. Being an Anaheim resident, where land at the Resorts is at a premium. I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of acreage dedicated to, well, just roaming. There are numerous walking paths coursing throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge that are perfect for that morning run, jog, or walk. Anyone jogging along these paths in an early morning will be taken by the lush greenery and spectacular views.


Contrary to popular belief, you don’t burn off more calories than you take in when walking a theme park. If that were so, theme park visits would be a mandatory part of every fitness plan (hey, I might be onto something there!). It’s still necessary to stick to a health and fitness plan when vacationing. Thankfully, vacation spots like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and other Disney Resorts make it much easier to stick to a plan. That means you’ll be able to continue training for that Disney race while on vacation, and when the vacation is over. We can officially say goodbye to weight gain and post vacation lethargy. Okay, maybe not, but at least we have the option, and that itself can be enough to make our vacation even more relaxing and enjoyable.

RADically yours,



John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

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  • Thanks, Lauren! I didn’t even mention seeing the savannah with live animals roaming free. It was the perfect “sitting on the balcony while enjoying your morning cup of coffee” moment. I could have included a tons more pictures, but I didn’t think readers wanted to see all my vacation slides 🙂 .

  • I’ve never been to the Anaheim parks but have been fortunate to stay several times in the Florida resort area. There are a ton of great places for running and walking the trails at Disney World. Earlier this year I stayed at the Port Orleans, Riverside, and that resort has ample room for running along a scenic river trail. There are also opportunities for cycling, boating, and fishing. In a different part of the World, the Boardwalk area resorts allow some excellent space for running in a more “urban” environment. Disney World certainly has the gift of space!

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