Acting like a kid comes naturally to me, so I was totally ready to grab fun by the mouse ears last week for a 4-day getaway at Disney’s African-safari themed Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando. Since I was a previous guest I received a significant discount off the room, which had a remarkable Arusha Savanna view at the spacious Jambo House. Various exotic animals, such as giraffes, wildebeests, antelopes, zebras, and more roam freely on the 43-acre wildlife preserve. But no worries, lions are not part of the deal on the resort (Mickey would not want any unfortunate mishaps). Nothing beats gazing out of your balcony at graceful giraffes with coffee in hand. Sigh…
As a whole, the “cast members” at Animal Kingdom were very accommodating. The first night I struggled to sleep because of a lumpy mattress, so the next day after saying something to the front desk, a new one was promptly delivered to our room. Next night, Sleepy had nuthin’ on me.
We loved the bustling, lush property so much we decided to stay an extra night. However, Disney does not make it easy, which is just Goofy. I had to call the universal reservation line even though I was literally staring at the front desk. Because I booked a package with room, theme park pass and deluxe meal plan, we had to move rooms to get a comparable rate. But it was worth the shuffle. They totally hooked us up with another great savanna view.
We paid for a 1-day Park Hopper pass for all theme parks and planned on taking the monorail to Epcot later in the day to catch the IllumiNations fireworks show, but little ones can tire easily, so know your group, plan ahead and purchase accordingly. And if your child is a fan of the Disney Princesses, hit the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique and have lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the castle. I had the vegetarian cassoulet and it was surprisingly delish!
At Disney, you can choose a meal plan and pay ahead for X amount of points for snacks, quick service meals with refillable drink mugs and/or full sit down meals. Or, you can simply pay as you go. Either way, Disney’s fare is pretty great. At Animal Kingdom, Boma was an African-inspired delight for breakfast, and Jiko was a gastronomic journey for dinner – the tender African perch and comprehensive South African wine list were worth dropping 2 meal plan points per person (cocktails extra). We also strayed off the property and had a great meal at the family style Hawaiian-themed Polynesian resort’s restaurant Ohana, which also accepted the meal plan, but we had already run out of points. They do go quickly when you fine dine.
If you’re going during high season when the kids are off from school, be prepared to shirk off ride lines or use the FastPass option as much as you can. The resorts, theme parks and surrounding areas (the free Disney BoardWalk is a must visit) are orchestrated to authentic synthetic perfection, so embrace your inner child and the sublime fantasy of Disney.
Oh, and don’t forget to look out for hidden Mickey’s. Spotting them is great fun, and they’re hidden everywhere!