I know what you're thinking... the words "free" and "Disney" don't often go hand in hand, am I right? This time, however, they actually do!
One of my favourite things to do when I'm down in Florida visiting Walt Disney World is to go resort hopping, and one of the resorts I love to visit the most is Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort is so beautiful, with a cozy and comfortable atmosphere, authentic artwork to look at, and delicious food, not to mention the spectacular views of the savanna! Whether you are a guest of the resort or staying at a different Disney resort hotel, you are welcome to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge for a meal, cocktail or simply to enjoy the grounds and see all the resort has to offer. Here are just five of the fun activities you can do absolutely free when you visit this beautiful resort.
How do I get to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Because Disney transportation buses do not go from resort to resort, you'll first have to get to one of Disney's theme parks. The natural choice here is to take a Disney bus from Disney Springs, one of the other theme parks or resorts to Disney's Animal Kingdom park. From there, you can easily hop on the bus over to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is just a few minutes away. If you have a car, you can also drive over to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Unless you have a restaurant reservation, you may be charged a parking fee. You can also take Uber, Lyft or a Minnie Van and get dropped off right at the main entrance.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is divided into two sections: Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the main resort and Kidani Village is the Disney Vacation Club section of the resort, which guests are also welcome to visit and stay at, availability permitting. When you take a bus to the resort, you can get dropped off at either of these locations. You can also travel between these sections by bus, but we've found it isn't too far to walk, and takes about fifteen minutes to get from one to the other.
1. Explore the Lobby
The first time I entered the main lobby of Jambo House at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, I literally gasped. The space is enormous, with a vaulted ceiling made to look like an African lodge. Sometimes I just sit and look up and marvel at how Disney was able to accomplish such an incredible feat of construction and decor. It's breathtaking in there, and with so many cozy places to sit, you'll have a lovely time just relaxing and taking in the atmosphere.
2. Take in the Savanna
When you walk through that main lobby toward the back, there is an enormous floor-to-ceiling window that looks out onto the savanna. You can head down the stairs there, and outside to the savanna! From this viewing area, you may see:
"Welcome friends of wildlife! To assist the animal care staff in maintaining the health and safety of the animals, please refrain from feeding the animals or dropping items into the habitats. Also, please do not attempt to approach or cross the barriers designed for guest and animal safety. Remember, if any guest attempts to harm the animals or their habitats, they will be immediately asked to leave the resort. Thank you for your help in making Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge a safe and magical place for everyone and every creature."
(Source: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge resort map for guests.)
3. Take a Tour of the Restaurants
At Jambo House, there are several restaurants, including Boma--Flavors of Africa, a popular buffet, and Jiko--The Cooking Place. If you plan to meet at the host stand in front of Boma at 4 pm, you'll be on time for the daily culinary tour of these two restaurants. You'll learn about the art and architecture of these establishments, and maybe even get a taste or two. This tour is probably not ideal for young children, but would be a great start to a Disney Date Night that features dinner at any of Jiko, Boma or Sanaa, which is located at Kidani Village.
4. Play at the Hakuna Matata Playground
If the culinary tour isn't up your kids' alley, the Hakuna Matata playground will be! Located beyond the main pool of Jambo House, this playground is designed for young children to blow off some steam. The playground features that spongey surface that kids and parents appreciate, with two climbing structures adjacent to the flamingo enclosure. Take a stroll around the Uzima Springs Pool (main pool) and you won't miss it. The playground is open 24-hours a day.
5. Simply Sit by the Fire
There are a few places you can sit and enjoy the ambiance of a fire at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. One of these spots is indoors, right in the lobby, just off to the side from Victoria Falls Lounge. The fireplace here features some really lovely tile work, and the cozy seating around it will definitely have you feeling relaxed!
The other spot where you can enjoy an evening fire is located just outside the rear entrance to the main lobby at Jambo House. Remember when I mentioned you can go down the stairs and outside to take a look at the savanna? Well, that's the same door you'll go out of to reach the fire pit.
Whether you are a guest of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge or simply visiting, you have to agree that there is a lot you can do while you're here! Have you stayed at this deluxe resort before? How did you enjoy your stay? I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.
For more photos of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, click here.
Would you like to take your family to stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge? Click here to request a free, no-obligation quote.
When I opened up my Disney travel agents portal this morning, I was delighted to find all kinds of new information about special events, treats, celebrity appearances and nighttime spectacular shows coming to Walt Disney World Resort for the holiday season later on this year. I know, it's only the beginning of the summer season, and already we're talking about Christmas! But that's the way it is in the travel industry, and the Disney Destinations are no exception.
Here's a brief list of what's new for the holiday season at Walt Disney World Resort in 2019!
Dates for this year's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party are: November 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 24 as well as December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 22.
In January, I had the pleasure of dining with some of my Pure Magic Vacations colleagues at Tusker House, a buffet restaurant in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Tusker House offers character interactions with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy. We headed to Tusker House following the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular. It had been a chilly evening, so walking into the cozy atmosphere at the restaurant was certainly wonderful!
No matter what time you plan to eat at Tusker House, you can find it fairly easily by heading into Harambe Village. The restaurant is fairly close to Festival of the Lion King and tucked in behind the Dawa Bar, a busy, covered outdoor patio where you'll find guests enjoying a cold drink on a hot day. Reservations are highly recommended for Tusker House as it's a popular restaurant in this park.
The menu at Tusker House is quite varied, and there is likely to be a lot of options to please everyone, from carnivores to vegetarians, and from folks who enjoy simple meat and potatoes-style meals to more adventurous eaters. There are several vegetarian dishes offered at the buffet, as well.
Sample dishes include roasted pork or chicken, mashed potatoes, salmon, tabouleh and hummus. Children will enjoy mini corn dogs, macaroni & cheese or any of the other offerings available. The full menu is found on the Walt Disney World Resort website here.
The buffet space itself is quite large, with plenty of space to walk around and choose the dishes you'd like to eat, with the dessert station in the middle of the room. One of the features I especially love is the child-height section of the buffet, perfect for kiddos to reach and choose their own meal.
As we began to enjoy our dinner, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy began to visit the table, taking time to interact with us and take photos with anyone who wanted to do so. Their safari-themed outfits were especially cute! As usual, Daisy was jealous of the attention Donald paid to any of us!
I recommend this restaurant for families who would like to experience a character dining experience within a theme park, and with a variety of foods they may not find in other dining locations at Walt Disney World. The pace of the meal was not rushed, and the food really was delicious! The value for this meal is wonderful, since the meal is all-you-care-to-enjoy and casual.
For more information about how to reserve your dining reservations at Tusker House in Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, please reach out to Amy at Pure Magic Vacations.
Amy is a former Disney Cruise Line cast member, Certified Cruise Counsellor and Vacation Specialist at Pure Magic Vacations.
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