Our Wild Vacation Experience at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Our Wild Vacation Experience at Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Have you ever felt like you lived in a zoo? As a mom of two boys, I have felt like that often. This past week, we were able to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village at Disney World, and I really did feel like I was living at a zoo! My boys loved waking up each morning and looking out the patio window to see what animals were outside of our Savannah View at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I told them it was so amazing that they were able to eat breakfast with the animals! I took away their iPads, so they would be sure not to miss the animals in the mornings. Staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge was a great way to boost our Disney World Vacation to the next level!

I was so excited that I got to see my favorite animal, the giraffe! I couldn’t believe that I could just look out the patio door or step outside on the porch to see 3-4 giraffes every day! It was like a dream to me. I love that when you check into Animal Kingdom Lodge, they give each family a checklist called the Animal Kingdom Lodge Spotting Guide. It helps to identify each animal that may be out in the Savannah. My kids were learning and didn’t even know it. I love it when Disney creates fun ways to learn. It is a little pricey to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but it was worth every dollar. In addition to the giraffes, we also saw Zebras, Ankole Cattle, White-bearded Wildebeest, and Grey Crowned Cranes… to name a few! I highly recommend you try to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at least once in your life on a trip to Disney World!

We had this stay already paid for last year. We also saved on our park tickets and dining in various ways throughout the last year. I will write a post on how we do that soon. Our favorite way to pay for our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge is to rent DVC points through Scott Ferraioli at DVC-Rental.com. We have had a wonderful experience doing this the past few years. People have points from their Disney Vacation Club that they can’t use for some reason, so they go through DVC-Rental to submit their points. Then, other people, like us, can rent them. We have had some amazing savings renting this way. Last year we were able to get a 2 bedroom at the Grand Floridian and saved well over $2,000! It was definitely a vacation of a lifetime! My husband works from home, and I homeschool our boys, so we have a lot of flexibility for when we travel. Our flexibility helps us be able to take advantage of these deals. They do usually post these deals months in advance, so anyone could really be able to take advantage of renting DVC vacation points.

The boys standing outside of Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge

We have food allergies, so we love having a full kitchen available during our stay. Disney restaurants are great about food allergies, but it’s always nice to be able to have safe food we bring along or have delivered that we can quickly heat up for our kids before we go to the parks. I love that the villas have a full fridge with freezer, microwave, oven, dishwasher, and sink! Because we drive down from Wisconsin, and it usually takes us a couple of days and a couple of stops, my husband has purchased a couple of different coolers that plug into our car during our road trips. The biggest one is a truckers cooler that works as an actual refrigerator, and the smaller one works great too plugged into the back of the van. They both plug into the 12-volt adapter in the minivan. The Dometic 12 volt Electric Portable Powered Cooler and Fridge/Freezer also has the ability for us to plug it into a regular outlet when we go inside the hotel. The Dometic cooler is the one my husband prefers to travel with because it has so much room. Before this past trip, I did encourage him to buy this wheeled, folding hand truck to make it easier for him to get it into our hotel room. The smaller one is great for shorter trips or for those who only have 1 person with food allergies in their family. It’s the Wagan 24 liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer. These don’t need ice to stay cool as long as they are plugged in. When we dropped off our luggage before our room was ready, we were able to have Bell Services Plug our cooler in for us, so we could head to the parks! Then, when we returned to check into our room, we were able to have them bring it up with our luggage. Our food and medicine were able to stay cold the whole time, and we didn’t have to miss a park day worrying about where we would store everything. We also were able to do this on the day we checked out. We drove, but my MIL flew to Florida to be with us. She was going to have a later flight back, and we still wanted to have fun. We left our luggage and cooler with Bell Service and headed to Disney Springs for some last-minute fun and shopping.

By the way, did you know that they now have Dole whips at Disney Springs!?! We found them at The Marketplace. They also had Dole Whip Nachos that my MIL had to try with pineapple and strawberries! She loves strawberries too, so she thought it was great! The “nachos” were made from waffle cone pieces. They also had a Blue Raspberry Frozen Slushy decorated with Olaf on top or a special Olaf cup with either a light-up Elsa or Olaf toy. They also have a Red Raspberry Lemonade Minute Maid Slushy available too. They sold Pineapple, Vanilla, or Swirl Dole Whips at The Marketplace. It was quite a treat to find them at Disney Springs. We also had to go over to The Polynesian Resort after Disney Springs to try the new Cinderella Midnight Dole Whip treat that will be available until February to celebrate Cinderella’s 70th Anniversary! It was a pretty treat complete with glitter and adorned with a white chocolate clock perfect for any little princess. Just a side note; the Cinderella Dole Whip is not gluten-free due to the white chocolate covered crisp rice beads. You can ask for it without the beads, but, please, always check with a chef if you have food allergies. After all of that fun on our tour of Dole Whips, we headed back to Kidani Village to drop Grandma Kelly off to catch her Magical or Tragical Express back to the airport, and we picked up our luggage and cooler from Bell Services to begin our journey home.

During this stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, we had a 1 bedroom villa. Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas have 2 bathrooms, even in their 1 bedroom rooms. This was awesome since we had 2 boys and our Michigan Grandma staying there with us. In the bedroom, there is a King bed, a side chair, nightstands, and an amazing bathroom. The bathroom has a deep soaker tub. I have pain issues, so I love when we have a nice big bathtub on vacation. It’s so nice when we are at the parks all day to be able to come back and soak away the soreness and fatigue in the jacuzzi tub. My husband thinks the shower in the bathrooms are cool too. In the 2nd bathroom off of the living room, there is a standard tub shower combo that is perfect for our kids. I love that they also have a washer and drier in the DVC rooms. We drive from Wisconsin, so by the time we get to Disney, it’s always nice to be able to do some laundry. The living room has a queen pullout couch and pullout chair. If you don’t find these comfortable enough, you can ask the front desk for a memory foam topper. Grandma chose to sleep in the pullout chair and was fine the first night but she needed the memory foam after that. She mentioned it to the front desk, and a short time later, Mousekeeping arrived and put the memory foam topper on the pullout chair for her. She slept great after that.

You can access the patio from the Living Room or the Master Bedroom. It is a long patio with 4 sturdy metal chairs. They also have wooden privacy walls in between patios, so you can’t see the neighbors next to you. I love that Disney also puts a safety lock on their sliding glass doors. It gives me peace of mind that my kids can’t go out on the patio alone. The whole family can fit out on the patio to view the animals together. We had great fun identifying the animals with the help of the Wildlife Spotting Guide. They gave us one at check-in and left one in our room, so each of our boys had one. Sometimes I give them an incentive and offer a small reward to whoever finds the most animals in the Wildlife Spotting Guide. Of course, the adults do help the kids find the animals too. By the way, they have night-vision binoculars at the Jambo house, you can use to spot animals and watch what they do after dark. There are also rocking chairs and a firepit in the area. It’s a relaxing place to sit after a long day at the parks. Sometimes there are different animals outside of the Jambo House than there are at Kidani Village.

Animal Kingdom Lodge has 3 main restaurants, Jiko, Boma, Saana, The Mara quick service, and Kidani Village has the Saana Lounge. There are also several pool bars that serve food. We have eaten at The Boma buffet in the past, and it has some amazing African Dishes. The chefs have always done a great job with our allergies. We always speak to a chef to be sure the food we eat will be safe as we have multiple food allergies. This visit we only ate at The Mara quick service at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We at other table service and buffet meals while at the Disney Parks and while visiting other Resorts, but The Mara was perfect for us this time when we came “home” at the end of the day. We first spoke to a manager about our allergies, and then the manager got the chef who went over our allergies with us and went in the back and made our meals. Disney’s attention to allergies is why we spend the money to go back time and again and the reason we stay at Disney Resorts. My boys were able to have safe cheeseburgers and fries, and I had a grilled chicken sandwich with cheese and avocado on lettuce. There were many other options too safe for those with food allergies. A favorite of some people who are gluten-free at Animal Kingdom Lodge are the Zebra Domes! They have these pre-packaged at The Mara. I didn’t try them this time, but I have on past visits. They are delicious! The Mara also has smoothies and a coffee bar. In their coolers, they had a lot of non-dairy options as well as fruit and juice.

Overall we had a roaring good time staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani Village. Everyone is so friendly from the Greeters, to the Valet, to the Chefs and Mousekeeping. They all made sure our stay was top notch. The experience of the Savannah View and waking up to see animals such as giraffes and zebras every morning was the gift of a lifetime. I would highly recommend a stay here if you have kids who love animals in your family. I loved how amazingly themed this hotel is too. You feel like you have been transported to an African Safari for only a fraction of what a real one would cost. We did leave an extra tip for Mousekeeping one day, and when we came back we found an elephant made of towels on our bed! This was a special magical touch for my boys. Mousekeeping is sometimes very busy, so they can’t always do it, but we are glad they were able to do it during our stay. We had a very magical stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village. It was wild and an amazing amount of fun!

The special towel elephant that was left on our bed
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