This week’s featured photo takes us to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Today’s Picture of the Day comes from the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby.
Today’s Picture of the Day comes from Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Today’s Picture of the Day is from the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Planning a Disney World vacation takes a lot of planning and decision making. Your first big decision is where to stay. There are many factors that go into choosing the resort you would like to call home for the duration of your trip, price and location being two of the bigger factors. There are so many different resorts to choose from, all with fun themes, in Disney World. So it can be a hard choice to make, but there is a way to see the resorts you don’t choose. It’s called resort touring.
Lots of people do this on non park days. You can hop on the monorail and tour the monorail resorts or take a bus from any park or Downtown Disney to the resort you want to see. It actually makes for a pretty relaxing day.
On our last trip, we made a lot of dining reservations at different resorts. We actually had more dining experiences at the resorts than in the parks and it worked out pretty well for us. If we showed up a little early we were able to look around the resort before our reservation, otherwise we would tour the resort after we were done with our meal.
We had dinner at California Grill one night and we had a little time before the fireworks viewing, so we decided to do the monorail loop. We didn’t have enough time to get off at each stop, but it was still fun to ride the monorail and see all the monorail resorts.
Here are some things to see on your resort tour:
Obviously, there are areas you will not be able to go to if you are not a guest at that resort, but there is plenty to see in the areas that are open to the general public. The grounds of the resorts are fun to walk around, because so much goes into the theme of each resort. It does not matter if the resort is a value, moderate, deluxe, or deluxe villa, all of the grounds are well-kept and make for a fun way to tour a resort.
At Pop Century there are signs positioned along the walkway with fun pop culture tidbits. It’s fun to read the signs as you have a leisurely stroll around the resort. The grounds at Kidani Village and Animal Kingdom Lodge are the savannas. So, seeing the grounds means watching the animals, and that is fun for both kids and adults. Wandering around the grounds of the Polynesian Village Resort will make you feel like you are in the tropics. I love taking pictures of all the tropical plants that the Polynesian Village Resort has on their grounds, they are so beautiful.
Another area that you can visit are the hotel lobbies. Those are also fun to walk around. Some are pretty grand, like Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge, and others are just fun and colorful, like Pop Century and Art of Animation. The Beach Club lobby is warm and inviting with all of the pastels on the furniture and walls.
Off of the lobbies you will find the resort gift shop and those are always fun to poke around in. The gift shops are designed to the theme of the resorts. So it is fun to look for those extra Disney touches, even in the gift shop.
A dining reservation is a good excuse to tour a resort. You are already at the resort, so if you have no where else to be that day, I would definitely recommend sticking around to see the rest of the resort.
If you don’t have a dining reservation you can look at the list of quick service restaurants at the resorts and choose one of those to try. Once your get your food you can find a place to sit and people watch at the resort.
Whether you try a quick service or a table service, make sure to look around at the decor of the restaurant. Like the resorts, the restaurants have themes. We enjoyed the theme at Cape May Cafe. We were seated near the sandcastle that they have on display. The beach umbrellas that line the back area of the restaurant were a nice touch. The characters at the character breakfast are dressed in beach gear and the kids loved that. It is a very fun theme.
Some resorts will have special activities that you can take part in even if you are not a resort guest. For instance, there is nightly viewing of the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge that everyone can enjoy. So if you are there for dinner at one of their delicious restaurants, head up to the viewing area afterwards and check out the animals with night vision goggles. Please note that the night viewing is different from the Night Safari. The Night Safari is only available to guests who are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House, and Kidani Village.
Another activity that is offered at many of the resorts is nightly campfires. The activities at the campfire will vary depending on the resort, but there are usually stories, singalongs, and marshmallow roasting. These are a lot of fun and they are free activities offered at the resorts.
Sometimes it is fun to just spend the day taking different forms of Disney transportation, especially if you are staying at a resort that only has bus transportation. The monorail is fun to ride and you can take it to the monorail resorts or you can transfer and take it to Epcot and back. There are boats that will take you from some resorts to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Downtown Disney. You can also walk to some parks from certain resorts. Epcot is a short walk from Yacht and Beach Club and from the Boardwalk Inn, you can also walk to Hollywood Studios from these resorts (about a 20 min. walk). The Magic Kingdom is a short walk from the Contemporary. So you can walk to and from the parks and just enjoy the scenery and landscaping.
There are lots of ways to experience different resorts at Disney World. Not only is it a nice relaxing day, but it can also help you decide which resort you would like to book for your next trip. When we had our first breakfast a Boma, we knew we wanted to book a stay there at some point. For our last trip, we did end up booking at Kidani and we were certainly not disappointed. So, if you know you want to try different resorts for each trip, I definitely recommend giving yourself a tour of different resorts. Plus, it is good to have days off from the parks to relax and this is a great way to do that. Happy exploring!
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Deluxe resorts are the third category up for discussion in this series. When you are picking a resort to stay in you want to make sure that it is somewhere that fits what you are looking for and what you can afford. If you are not as concerned with cost as you are with having space and more amenities at your hotel, then the deluxe resorts are for you!
In the first two parts of this series we discussed the value resorts and the moderate resorts. Now it is time to focus on the deluxe resorts that Disney has to offer. Of course, the deluxe resorts will run you at least a few hundred dollars a night (unless Disney is offering one of their 30% off deals), but they are beautiful resorts. There are 8 different resorts in this category and they are: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Contemporary Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, The Wilderness Lodge, and Polynesian Village Resort.
Just like the values and the moderates, each deluxe has a theme for the resort. The designs for the deluxe resorts are a little more sophisticated than the values, with less in-your-face decor. The themes are still fun though. The Grand Floridian has a beautiful Victorian theme and once you enter the lobby you will understand why “Grand” is in the title of the resort. The Yacht Club and Beach Club are designed after New England style resorts and are known for having the best pool on Disney property. The Contemporary Resort has the A-frame tower that the monorail actually goes through, it’s pretty fun to be inside the Contemporary and see the monorail come through. Animal Kingdom Lodge has, you guessed it, animals. This beautiful hotel has giraffes, zebras, and other animals roaming the Savannah, so if you have a Savannah view room you can have your morning coffee while watching the animals. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has a fun tropical theme. This resort has been undergoing some renovations for both the Disney Vacation Club and also for the original part of the hotel, so some things have changed (like the waterfall being removed from the lobby), but it is still a gorgeous resort. You will find a rustic Northwest theme at the Wilderness Lodge. The hotel has a very impressive lobby. Lastly, the Boardwalk Inn is designed after a turn-of-the-century Atlantic City. This resort has a lot of fun entertainment found right outside its doors.
The deluxe hotels have lots of activities available for the guests. At check-in they will give you a sheet that will list out everything that is available to take part in for that week. Some things you have to pay for and other things just come with your stay. The resorts that are located on a body of water offer boat rentals, so you can spend some time on the water. There is child care offered, for an hourly rate, at deluxe hotels, so mom and dad can have a night out. Of course, each resort has the jogging trail, arcade, and playground. Also offered: campfire activities, the Pirate Adventure Cruise, safaris (at Animal Kingdom Lodge), parasailing (Contemporary), and more. To see what is offered at each resort just look under the “Recreation” tab and the “Amenities” tab on each resort page on Disney’s website. There is so much to do at these resorts, you can have a resort only trip and never get bored! In addition to all the activities offered at the resort, each one has a good sized gift shop.
Moving on to the pools at the deluxe resorts. Each of the resorts has a very nice and good size main pool, as well as other quiet pools. The main pools all have a fun waterslide for guests to use. The Yacht and Beach Club’s slide is a sunken ship and the slide is down the mast of the ship. At the Boardwalk Inn you will slide down a “roller coaster” and come out through the mouth of a (kind of scary) clown. The Contemporary has a 17-foot-high twisting waterslide. Over at the Polynesian (now Polynesian Village Resort) there used to be a Volcano slide, but the pool is part of the extensive renovation, so I’m not sure what is happening to the slide. You can slide down a mountain at the Grand Floridian’s main pool, all 181 feet of it. The Wilderness Lodge has a stream that starts in the lobby, flows outside, and goes into the pool via waterfall. The waterslide is build into the rocks. Finally, the Animal Kingdom Lodge has a small waterslide, but it is located along the Uzima Savannah, so you can check out the animals while you are at the pool. The deluxe resorts that have a second main pool for Disney Vacation Club Villas are also available for guests to use, as long as you are staying at the corresponding deluxe resort. For instance, if you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge you can use the pool there or the one at Kidani Village.
The big draw for each of these resorts is their location. To a lot of people the location is worth the bump in the price. First, you have the Magic Kingdom resorts. These consist of The Grand Floridian, The Contemporary, The Polynesian Village Resort, and The Wilderness Lodge. The first three are on the monorail line. So, you can just hop on the monorail from you resort to get to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (though for Epcot you have to transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center). The Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, and Wilderness Lodge have boat transportation available to the Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary is a short walk from Magic Kingdom. All four of the resorts have bus transportation available to other Disney destinations.
Next are the Epcot resorts. These are all within walking distance to Epcot’s backdoor,” which is officially called The International Gateway. Having such a short walk to Epcot, especially with all the dining options there, is a plus for many people. If you want to take a bus to the Yacht and Beach Club, do not take a bus to Epcot. Since it is within walking distance, there is no bus from Epcot to the Yacht and Beach Club. On our last trip I asked one of the bus drivers how to get there and he actually dropped us off after his stop at Hollywood Studios! He was so nice! Just a little tip in case you have reservations at Yacht and Beach Club. In addition to walking there is also a boat available that can drop you at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the surrounding Epcot resorts.
Lastly, is Animal Kingdom Lodge which is located near Animal Kingdom (only a five minute bus ride). This is the only resort that does not have transportation other than buses. However, if you are looking for a quiet place to stay this is your hotel. Since people view it as “out of the way” it doesn’t get as busy as some of the other resorts. We stayed at Kidani Village (this is the Disney Vacation Club building near Animal Kingdom Lodge) during our last trip and loved it! I really don’t understand how it is “out of the way.” None of the bus rides were that long, except for Downtown Disney (that’s a problem with every resort though), and the grounds at both Kidani and Animal Kingdom Lodge were beautiful. So if you don’t mind taking the buses and you want a quiet place to stay, check out Animal Kingdom Lodge.
There are multiple dining options available at the deluxe resorts. There are usually at least two table service restaurants, as well as a quick service. Plus, most deluxe resorts have a signature dining restaurant. At Animal Kingdom Lodge there is Jiko – The Cooking Place, Contemporary Resort has California Grill, at the Yacht and Beach Club is Yachtsman Steakhouse, it’s the Flying Fish Cafe for the Boardwalk Inn, and Wilderness Lodge has Artist Point. The Grand Floridian actually has three: Victoria and Albert’s, Citricos, and Narcoossee’s. The only deluxe with no signature dining is Polynesian Village Resort, but they do have a dinner show, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. Each resort also offers room service. For a little more info on the dining experience at Victoria and Albert’s you can check out my previous post: Disney for the Big Kids and for a review of our experience at California Grill you can check out my previous post: California Grill Review.
The rooms that are available at the deluxe level offer you a choice of a studio, one bedroom suite, or 2 bedroom suite. The studios are set up like the studios at the moderates. They have 2 queen beds, television, dresser, closet area, sink/vanity, and the tub/shower and toilet (separate from the sink/vanity). The rooms at each of the resorts may vary with what type of beds are offered. Some, like the Beach Club, have a daybed, so the studios can sleep five people. Each of these room types have different views available for different costs. In addition, you also have the option of reserving a club level room (for an additional cost). The club level rooms come with the privilege of using the club level lounge. These lounges offer food and drinks throughout the day. You also have the services of club level cast members to help you book restaurants and tours during your stay. It is a little extra pampering for you while you are on vacation.
As you can see, there is a lot to do at each of the deluxe resorts. If I were to put everything they offer into this post It would be very, very long. The best thing to do is figure out if this is the resort category for you and if it is then you can start figuring out which theme interests you the most. They are pretty expensive, but Disney does have a 30% off promotion once or twice a year for this resort category. They are all beautiful resorts, so half the fun is in the actual planning! If you want to see some walking tours of the resorts, just do a search on Youtube and you will find a bunch of videos. It does help to see what the resort looks like if you are having trouble deciding. Plus, it’s just fun! Happy planning!
Next up, Deluxe Villa resorts!
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