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.
A new offer from Walt Disney World Resort has been announced for this fall!
You can get a FREE dining plan when you purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day Walt Disney Travel Company package that includes a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and a ticket with a park hopper option. Book through September 29, 2019 for arrivals most nights:
When you stay at a Value or Moderate Resort, you'll get the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan:
Offer Terms & Conditions:
I see a lot of questions floating around in Disney-themed Facebook groups about the rapid refill mugs that guests can use at Walt Disney World Resort. I usually spend some time chatting with my clients about how the mugs work, and I even carry one around with me when I get together with folks to plan their vacation, so I can show it to them and they'll know exactly what to expect! I thought it would be handy to have this set of frequently asked questions and answers all about Disney's rapid refill mugs for folks to look at before their trip to Walt Disney World. If you find this helpful, please feel free to share with your other family members or friends who are traveling with you, or in the Disney Facebook groups where you hang out!
What exactly are these plastic Disney mugs I keep seeing and hearing about?
A rapid refill mug is a refillable mug that each guest can use during their stay at Walt Disney World.
How much do the rapid refill mugs cost?
The rapid refill mugs are included with any Disney dining plan for guests age 3 and up. However, they can also be purchased separately upon arrival at your Disney resort hotel to be used during your stay. The cost varies from year to year, but as of the time of writing this article, the mugs cost $18.99 USD plus sales tax, per guest, for use throughout your resort stay.
Where do I get my rapid refill mug?
After you've checked into your Disney resort hotel, you can visit the quick service dining location to pick up your rapid refill mug. If your vacation package includes a dining plan, then your mug is already paid for, and you will simply scan your Magic Band at check-out when you've selected your mug in order to activate it. I usually suggest each family member choose a different colour lid so that you can easily keep track of whose mug is whose!
Where can I refill my rapid refill mug?
Your rapid refill mug can be filled at any refill station at any Walt Disney World resort hotel. This includes hotels where you aren't a guest, as long as it is being used during your stay. For example, you might be a guest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, but having a meal at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. You can still fill your mug at the Grand Floridian even though your reservation is held at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Can I take my rapid refill mug with me into the parks?
While you are welcome to bring your mug with you into any Disney theme park, they are not refillable inside the theme parks, with the exception of tap water. You are welcome to ask a Disney Cast Member for a complimentary cup of ice water, which you can then pour into your rapid refill mug to drink.
Many guests like to fill their mug on the way out of their resort hotel for the day and enjoy a cold drink or coffee on the way to the theme parks. This way, their mug is already with them upon their return to the resort after a fun and busy day, and can easily be refilled on the way back to their hotel room.
You can also fill your cup with ice on the way out of your resort and take that with you. It'll be ice water in no time.
A lot of guests prefer not to bother carrying their mugs into the parks, since they can be a little bit bulky. I've seen folks clip them to a bag or backpack using a carabiner clip, and this seems to work well as long as the mug is empty.
A stroller cup holder is also a good spot to keep your rapid refill mug when wandering through the parks.
What can I put in my rapid refill mug?
The refill stations at all of the resorts typically have a selection of soda, lemonade, iced tea, a sports/energy drink such as Powerade, coffee, tea and water.
My husband and I have also used our mugs to carry our own wine, beer or my personal favourite, Lime-a-Rita, down to enjoy at the pool.
How do I clean my rapid refill mug between uses?
The refill stations located throughout the resorts feature a "mug wash station" where you can rinse your mug for the next use.
Some guests also like to bring a small container of dish soap for use in their resort hotel room for a more thorough cleaning.
Are there places where I can't refill my mug?
Yes. Your rapid refill mug is not refillable at the Disney theme parks or at Disney's water parks.
How secure are the lids on the rapid refill mugs?
The lids go on pretty tightly, but there is a hole in the lid for drinking, so the mug is not air-tight. If you put it in a bag or backpack with liquid inside, there's a pretty good chance it will leak. The hole is large enough for a standard-sized straw.
What design will be on my rapid refill mug?
The design on the mugs changes from time to time.
Can I use a mug from a past vacation the next time I visit Walt Disney World?
No. The mug contains an RFID chip that will only allow the refill station to add drinks to the cup during your specific stay.
Can I take my mug home with me?
Of course! We use our rapid refill mugs all the time. They're really handy for taking coffee out of the house, or just for kids to drink from. It's always been really helpful to have a cup with a lid on it for children in the house, and these are no exception. Plus, it's a fun reminder of your time at Walt Disney World, and a little bit of Disney always brings a smile to the faces in our home.
Have you visited Walt Disney World and used a rapid refill mug? How did you enjoy using it? Please share in the comments below!
Ready to plan your family's Walt Disney World vacation? Reach out! I would be happy to help!
Amy is a former Disney Cruise Line cast member, Certified Cruise Counsellor and Vacation Specialist at Pure Magic Vacations.
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