Posts Tagged ‘Animal Kingdom Lodge’

Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: November 27, 2014

by on November 27, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re taking a look at resort decorations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, stopping by the Magic Kingdom to check out the new Peter Pan’s Flight queue, and wrapping up with a visit to Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom. I have so much to share, so let’s get started! :)

And what better way to start than with the stunning lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge? After all these years I’m still amazed walking in here. I think it might be my favorite hotel (and not just because Jiko is hiding inside). The tree towering inside looks perfect and coordinates with all the garland strung around the lobby. While there isn’t much else at the resort in the way of Christmas decorations, what more could you ask for? Be sure to click below to see what else is new this week.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! September 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on September 30, 2014

MMM positiveIt’s the end of September and the streets of Orlando are still wet from the constant rain during the month. Or maybe it’s the tears of the fans of Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin, Spirit of America, or the World Showcase Players, all of whom performed their last shows this week. We also saw the closure of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the first attraction in recent memory whose demise was met with almost unanimous support from theme park fandom. Oh, and we also had the start of a little something called the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, which has at least two items this year (a Duffy bear wearing a chef’s outfit and a new shirt featuring Figment) that we just may be covering in this article sooner than later.

With that out of the way, who is ready to hit the outlets?! Remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size (although that’s actually more of a warning than a reminder.)

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A water bottle filled with so many rare characters it should be sold during a hard ticket event.

First up is this aluminum bottle that blew my mind the longer I looked it at.  So many great characters. Mary Poppins. Figment. Lightning McQueen (in scale with the other characters to boot!) Marie from the Aristocats. Russell from Up. Pete’s Dragon. Mushu. Eve. The Rescuers. This cup is amazing. Originally $9.95, it was now reduced to $4.99 and you better believe I bought this.

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Mr. Toad?!!

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Crowd-Free Quick Service Restaurants

by on September 29, 2014

Crowds are probably the biggest complaint you hear at Walt Disney World; and throughout most of the year, crowds are pretty much unavoidable whether you’re in line for an attraction or to board the Monorail or even to dine at a restaurant. For me, a line out of the door at the nearest park quick service restaurant is the worst! This is especially true when I’ve burned off all the calories from my Gaston’s Tavern Cinnamon Roll eight or nine spins on Pirates of the Caribbean ago. So after much trial and error during my trips to the parks and resorts, I have compiled a list of crowd-free quick service restaurants which offer short lines even during the busier times at Disney World. Take a look!

Boardwalk Bakery - A Glass Slipper Vacation

The BoardWalk Bakery

Tortuga Tavern – Only open seasonally, I can’t say that Tortuga Tavern never gets crowded; however, it is known for shorter lines and lower crowds than its next door restaurant, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn. When lunch rolls around, ignore the line out the door for Pecos Bill’s and make your way over to Tortuga.

Gasparilla Island Grill – The Grand Floridian’s quick service restaurant is one of my personal favorite retreats. This is where I usually go for lunch after spending the morning at the Magic Kingdom; and as many times I’ve visited, I have rarely experienced a crowd. The Gasparilla Island Grill is an airy, spacious restaurant with a great selection of flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, and desserts, as well as gourmet cupcakes! If the weather is nice, I like to head outside for the outdoor seating which offers a view of the resort’s marina and the tip of Cinderella Castle in the distance. So if you’re looking to escape the lines for some fresh variety, this is where you should go.

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Menu Monday: The Fabulousness That Is Jiko

by on September 29, 2014

IMG_5151I’m not a fancy girl. If a restaurant employs someone to pull out my chair and place a linen napkin in my lap, then you can bet I’d rather be eating burgers. Over the years I’ve begrudgingly been dragged to nearly every restaurant on Disney property. While they’re all nice, only one has pulled me back over and over: Jiko – The Cooking Place isn’t just my favorite restaurant at any Disney Resort, but it might be my favorite restaurant in the universe! Of course, like all good things, I feel like I should share it with you. So sit back and prepare for the fabulousness that is Jiko!

Jiko can be found at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. When first approaching the lobby, you’ll notice that it’s just across a hallway from Boma – Flavors of Africa. You’ll likely hear loud drums and screaming children. Don’t be deterred: Boma is responsible for all the noise and craziness. That will make it all the more serene when you walk into the quiet calm of Jiko. Around the restaurant walls it looks like a beautiful sunrise. I wasn’t surprised to learn the interior of the restaurant was inspired by the opening scene of The Lion King. In addition to the large dining room, there’s also a smaller wine room for quiet, intimate dining. However, my favorite spot is at the bar. I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t for the alcohol! :) At the bar a full menu is offered with more relaxed service. Every bartender we’ve spoken to has been at the restaurant for many years and gone out of his way for us. Not to mention there are no reservations needed at the bar!

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Disney’s Beach Club Resort: Club Level Review

by on August 6, 2014

Staying on Club Level at at Walt Disney World resort is a fun splurge. After doing some rearranging of vacations, my husband, daughter, and I found it approaching July 4th weekend and no hotel room for July 4th and 5th. With the help of our travel agent, we decided to splurge for Club Level at the Beach Club. We had previously stayed at Club Level at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and wanted to compare a stay at Beach Club, with access to the Stone Harbor Club lounge. Here’s what we found.

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Theme Park Ticketless Options: The Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah

by on June 22, 2014

One of my favorite parts of any Walt Disney World trip is riding Simba-1 to view the animals on the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Unfortunately, with the combination of its reputation as a “half-day park,” and the limited park-hopping abilities of FastPass+, some travellers may avoid it. Thankfully, Disney has provided an alternative location to get a good look at some of the animals: the savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Giraffe strolling at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah

Giraffe strolling at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah – © John Kivus

Animal Kingdom Lodge is composed of two separate buildings: Jambo House and Kidani Village. In the space between these buildings, there is a substantial savannah (which is technically broken up into three distinct areas—the Arusha, Uzima, and Sunset Savannahs) that is home to a variety of animals, including giraffes, zebras, and Thomson’s gazelles. Though this savannah is not connected to the one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, it has more than enough residents to make a visit worthwhile.

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Get to Know the Disney World Pools, Part Four: The Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resort Pools

by on May 22, 2013

We’ve given you the basics about Disney resort pools in general and the specifics about the pools at the value and moderate level hotels. The series concludes with an in-depth look at the pools at the Walt Disney World deluxe and villa resorts: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas, Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower Villas, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Polynesian, Saratoga Springs and Tree House Villas, Wilderness Lodge and Villas, and the Yacht & Beach Club and Beach Club Villas.

So strap on your swim fins; we’re going in …

ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE AND KIDANI VILLAGE

  • How many pools are there? There are two large pools at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Uzima pool at the main Jambo House, and the Samwati Spring pool in the Kidani Village villas area. There is no “quiet pool” area at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
  • What is the pool themeing? The African wilderness.
  • What’s the kiddie pool situation? There are traditional kiddie pools in both the Jambo and Kidani pool areas. Additionally, Kidani has a large interactive water play area intended for children under 48″ tall.
  • Are there water slides? Yes, both pool areas have water slides. At Kidani, there is a small slide, appropriate for preschoolers, as well as a larger slide for older children. At Jambo, there is one large water slide.
  • Is there a nearby playground? Yes. There are playgrounds near both the Jambo and Kidani pool areas.
  • What’s the nearest food option? The Maji bar next to the Kidani pool offers drinks and very limited number of cold sandwich options. The Uzima Springs bar next to the Jambo pool offers drinks and a small selection of packaged snacks. The Mara quick service restaurant, with complete food offerings, is steps away from the Jambo pool.
  • Are there showers at the pool? Yes, there are restrooms with lockers and shower adjacent to both the Jambo and Kidani pool areas.
  • Are there hot tubs? Yes, there are hot tubs at both the Jambo and Kidani pool areas.
  • Are there towels available at the pool? Yes, towels are available at both pools.
  • How deep is the pool? The Jambo pool is four feet, ten inches at its deepest point. The Kidani pool is four feet, eleven inches at its deepest point.
  • Are there zero entry pools available? Yes. The main pools at both Jambo and Kidani have zero entry access.
  • Are poolside cabanas available? No.
  • Are there poolside activities? Yes. There are activities at both the Jambo and Kidani pools. Schedules may vary seasonally, but recently there were planned events from 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. every afternoon, plus a movie under the stars in the evening. Events may include: Bingo, Wild Trivia, Frisbee Toss, Giant Jenga, Chalk Art, Musical Rings, and others. Weather permitting, there is a free campfire with s’mores.
  • Anything else? The two sections of the Animal Kingdom Lodge are a substantial walking distance apart. Guests with preschool and elementary age children may prefer the pools at Kidani Village due to the appealing children’s water play area. Different evening movies are shown at the Jambo and Kidani areas. Feel free to view whichever film is more appealing to your family. The schedules for both will be available at the front desk.

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Free Tour Series: Culinary Tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge

by on February 27, 2012

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

For the second installment of our Free Tour Series, I want to share with you my experiences on the Culinary Tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Like the Wonders of the Wilderness Lodge tour, the Lodge’s Culinary Tour is a true hidden gem.  While this free tour is short on time and trivia, it involves food samples from both of the resort’s table service restaurants, Boma and Jiko. You heard me – free food! (Now, do I have your attention?)

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Animal Kingdom Villas have what I consider to be the best Activity Calendar of all Disney’s resorts. The Culinary Tour is just one of the many free activities available to guests, but is by far the most delicious.

The Culinary Tour is a 30-minute tour of the Boma and Jiko restaurants with a few food samples thrown in. You do not need to be a resort guest to enjoy this tour, all guests are welcome. I have done this tour twice as a non-resort guest. Most recently, I did the tour solo just to make sure it was still up to snuff. And by “up to snuff”, I mean I wanted to make sure they were still handing out free food. (Priorities.)

Boma Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Buffet at Boma

My tour group consisted of five other adults, several of whom had not yet dined at either restaurant. One of Boma’s Cultural Representatives greeted us at the restaurant podium right at 4pm.  Cultural Representatives are Cast Members who’ve come from Africa to work at Walt Disney World for a year.   The play a variety of roles at the resort, including working in the restaurants, serving as Savanna Guides or leading the many available resort activities.

Our Boma Cultural Representative was a young woman from South Africa.  She took us on a short tour of the dining area, explaining the story behind the decor. Boma is Swahili for “enclosure,” which is represented by the wooden walls used to section out the seating area and set the tone for the restaurant. Even though I had taken the tour before, I learned new things by taking it with a different Cultural Representative.

Zebra Dome at Boma

Zebra Dome at Boma

During the tour, the Boma staff are getting ready for the buffet to open at 4:30pm. Our Cultural Representative led us through the buffet line explaining the African influences of the various dishes. For anyone who is hesitant to try out Boma because it’s “too exotic,” I highly recommend taking this tour just to see first hand what they have to offer. Even the wilder sounding dishes turn out to be made of common ingredients in American cuisine. For example, the previously labeled “Zanzibar Katoga Soup” has been changed to “Zanzibar Crab Soup” since I took the tour in May 2011. Same soup, clearer label. (I’m sure those suffering from shellfish allergies are thankful.)

Speaking of the Zanzibar Whatever Soup, one of my Boma favorites, I got to try some on the tour! For our first sample, we choose one of the four soups that had been set out for dinner. The soup options depend on what is ready at the time of the tour, but we had the choice of the Zanzibar Crab, Chicken Corn Porridge, Lentil and Sausage, or Butternut Squash (which is sweet like pumpkin pie filling). The first time I took this tour, we ended up staying for an impromptu dinner at Boma just because of the soup samples. I channel the voice of Len Testa when I say “fabulous!

Jiko Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Jiko Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge

To wrap up the Boma portion, we each received one of the famous Zebra Domes from the dessert station. If you’re not familiar, Zebra Domes consist of an Amarula cream filling sitting on a thin chocolate cake base.  It is coated in white chocolate ganache, the bottom covered in tiny chocolate squares, and the top striped with dark chocolate.  Amarula, an African fruit liqueur, gives it a vauge alcoholic coffee taste.  I’m not a fan of anything with liqueur, but they certainly have a cult following.

Next, we met a Jiko Cultural Representative from Zimbabwe. She gave us a quick tour of the bar and main dining area, pointing out a Hidden Mickeys as well as the tributes to African culture. The Jiko portion of the tour was considerably shorter because we did not spend anytime discussing the food options since guests can read a menu, unlike for the buffet-style Boma.

Jiko, The Cooking Place, gets it’s name from the open view cooking area in the middle of the restaurant. Here, the six of us split two orders of the Tastes of Africa appetizer. This consisted of a trio of breads (papadum, whole wheat lavosh & flaxseed naan) and four hummus-style spreads of varying spiciness. While we ate, the Cultural Representative answered guests’ questions about the restaurant and her experiences working so far from home. I never felt rushed, but we were all done by the time they started seating dinner guests at 4:30pm.

Jiko Hidden Mickey

Jiko is home to one of the largest Hidden Mickeys on property.

All in all, I definitely recommend the Culinary Tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  It is a great opportunity to add a low key activity your day.  If you are staying elsewhere and looking to resort hop, I’d recommend paring the tour with an early meal at Jiko or Boma.  If you don’t mind eating early, you could probably get away without having an Advanced Dining Reservation and waiting to pick your restaurant based on the tour. Both will normally have space available right when they open at 4:30pm. You can also check out The Mara, the resort’s quick service option which has a few unique flatbreads and African inspired dishes in addition to standard quick service fare.

While you’re over at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, make sure to also check out the variety of African animals on the savannas outside the lobby.  Savanna guides are out there most of the time to answer guests’ questions about the wildlife.   Plus, if you linger long enough, they offer night vision animal viewing each evening at after dark past the pool on the far end of the resort.

Taste of Africa

Taste of Africa Appetizer at Jiko

However, I would not recommend going out of your way for this tour – particularly if you are relying on Disney transportation.  As fun as I thought it was, it is not worth dragging your kids out of the park and taking a bus over to taste soup.  Your kids may very well enjoy the tour, but the only children I’ve seen on it had to be taken away after 10 minutes because they were bored. Like most tours, the Culinary Tour is best for folks who have been to Disney a lot and are looking for a new experience. For those guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or Animal Kingdom Villas, it is a good way to make the most of your visit.

The Culinary Tour is currently offered at 4 p.m. daily. No reservations are accepted, and all you need to do to attend is show up at the Boma podium in Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The tour is open to all ages and lasts 30 minutes.   As resort activities can change monthly, check the Resort Activites Calendar or call (407) 938-3000 to confirm the tour schedule.

Have you tried the Animal Kingdom Lodge Culinary Tour?  Do you plan on trying it out on your next trip? Let us know what you think!

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New resort photos and video

by on November 27, 2008

We’ve posted photos and video for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness Resort to the photo gallery.

Links to the videos can be found here.

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More Animal Kingdom Lodge guest moves for July and August

by on July 13, 2007

In the next few days we expect to see Disney begin asking more guests with reservations at the Animal Kingdom Lodge to move to other properties. Families with July and August reservations seem to be affected most (we’ve not heard anything about September).

Many families will be asked to move to Saratoga Springs, and there’s always the option of cancelling the trip and getting a full refund on deposits. It’s not clear whether any other resorts are available. We’ve also heard that Jiko and Boma may still be open during the summer.

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