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.
Amy is a former Disney Cruise Line cast member, Certified Cruise Counsellor and Vacation Specialist at Pure Magic Vacations.
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