Some of the best foods are breakfast foods, especially when we’re talking about breakfast in Disney. And now there is a breakfast option at Kidani Village.
Some of the best foods are breakfast foods, especially when we’re talking about breakfast in Disney. And now there is a breakfast option at Kidani Village.
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!
Thanks for reading!
Free(ish) Souvenirs from Disney
It is always fun to come home from Disney with a lot of souvenirs. For me, the souvenirs are something I can look at to remember our fun trip and I love that. However, buying a lot of souvenirs in Disney World can get expensive pretty fast. While it is fun to buy souvenirs, don’t forget about the free souvenirs that come along with your vacation.
Well, considering how much you pay for your vacation, they’re not technically free, but you don’t have to shell out any extra cash for them. So, it feels like they are free and I that works for me.
A couple of these free souvenirs you can actually get before you even book your trip. There is a Disney Planning DVD that is free for everyone to order. It’s pretty nice that you don’t have to pay for it. I order one for every trip and it’s so much fun to see what they have added to each DVD. There is a lot of good information and they take you through planning your trip to Disney World and Disneyland. Also on the DVD is information about Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. If you are thinking of taking a Disney vacation then I would definitely take advantage of this free DVD.
Another freebie you can get before you book your trip is a customized map for each park. I did this years ago, before they even started building New Fantasyland, but they still have them and it’s a pretty nice free service Disney offers you. Just go to this page to start customizing your maps. You can pick from two different boarder options and then you can pick which attractions you want to include on your map. It’s actually very helpful. Since you don’t have to have all the attractions on there it makes it easier to “map out” your day (see what I did there…insert groans here). I would recommend taking advantage of the free customized maps. You can print them out yourself or they will mail them to you. Like with any mailing or shipments from Disney, it takes a while, but the paper it is printed on is better than the regular printer paper. At least, it was when I ordered them a few years ago. If anything, it’s fun to play around with the maps!
Now, once you have booked your trip there are a couple of things that Disney will send you that you don’t pay extra for. The first is a box, which is actually a very nice little box, with a booklet about your upcoming trip and a flash drive that has a little video on it. We received ours about a month or two before our trip. Once you have watched your video you can delete it and just use the flash drive to store whatever you want. It has a Mickey symbol on it that turns green when it is plugged in. We have two and we use them all the time. A little extra magic added to everyday life!
***Update: We had posted that Disney was not sending the flash drive anymore, but since then we have been told that a family who booked a trip to Disney has received a flash drive. So, it looks like Disney is continuing this very cool free souvenir! Good news there!***
A little bit after the box and flash drive are delivered to your house, the Magicbands will show up too. These are included with the price of your reservation and you keep them after your trip. These make fun souvenirs. My daughter still loves to wear hers and she’s excited to pick out her next band. The Magicbands are a nice reminder of your Disney trip and if you have multiple bands that are different colors, you can choose a color that fits your mood for the day!
When you check-in at your resort make sure to ask for a button if it is a first trip or if you are celebrating something. These buttons are free and they are fun to wear in the parks. The buttons will usually get responses from cast members and, depending on what button you are wearing, some guests. They have birthday buttons, just engaged buttons, 1st visit buttons, and general celebration buttons where you can write in what you are celebrating. Sometimes, the birthday guest will get surprised with birthday desserts (usually a cupcake) at some restaurants. A little extra pixie dust for those celebrating their birthdays. Cast members have been known to do things for people celebrating other kinds of occasions and that just adds to the magic. I’ve seen people use the celebration buttons to celebrate anniversaries, graduations, divorces, and being cancer free (I love seeing those buttons!). So if you have something to celebrate, make sure to grab one of those buttons. As I said, you can ask for them when you are checking in and I believe they also have them at the parks where you purchase tickets.
You can also find some free souvenirs in your room. The most popular souvenirs from the rooms are the bath products that Disney has. Some people even ask mousekeeping for more to bring home. The bottles and soaps that they have now are really nice. A couple of them have Mickey ears on the cap, so cute! The scent is ‘blushing orange’ and it has a nice sweet smell. The other H2O+ bottles have Tinker Bell on them and their scent is ‘grapefruit bergamot.’ Those have a sweet smell too, but neither are overpowering. The other bottle does not have a scent to it, it’s just regular shampoo and conditioner.
The soaps are also part of the H2O+ line. The ones with Mickey’s face have the ‘blushing orange’ scent. The soap in the blue wrapper is bath soap, the orange wrapper is facial soap, and the clear wrappers with Tinker Bell are a sea salt bath soap and a sea salt facial soap. Not bad for something that is included with the room!
Also in the room are pens and note pads with the Walt Disney World logo on them. People like to collect the pens from each trip. They are not that exciting, but they do say Disney on them. The same thing goes for the note pads. There is nothing special about them, except for the Disney World logo, so some people like to collect the pads too.
Something else that comes with the room is a nice folder with all sorts of information pamphlets. These will give you information about your resort and the parks. I like to keep these as souvenirs because it’s fun to go back and look to see how Disney has changed over the years. The information folders that they hand out at check-in are so nice! I couldn’t throw them out. Plus, it’s fun to look through them and relive your time at the resort. Different resorts have different color folders. Below are the folders from Kidani Village and Pop Century.
Kidani’s Information Folder
Pop Century’s Information Folder
Each of the parks, including the water parks, and Downtown Disney have free maps that you can take to find your way around each of the locations. You can keep these maps and make some fun things with them when you get home. I have seen pictures of jewelry, coasters, mugs, etc., where people have decoupaged the Disney maps onto them. I like the way the coasters look and I think I might have to try this project for a future post. Also, you don’t have to stick to the park and Downtown Disney maps. You will get a map of your resort when you check in, so you can use that too. If you like to try different resorts each time you go to Disney, you can make a nice collection of decoupaged items with all the different resort maps. Wine glasses might be a fun project for resort maps or if you have old ornaments that need some freshening up, this project would be perfect.
The free souvenirs do not stop when you leave the resort. After we had been home for a month or so we received a piece of mail from Disney. I thought it was just going to be an offer to try to get us to book again or something along those lines, but I liked what they actually sent much better! It was a drawing of Mickey signed by the artist (a copy, of course, but still very cool!). Along with the picture was a thank you note and a little information about the artist who drew Mickey. Such a fun piece of Disney mail to receive!
There are quite a few souvenirs that come with the price of your vacation, so you don’t have pay extra for them. It is always nice to feel like you are getting something for free! So, on your next Disney trip, keep your eyes open for all the souvenirs that are not an extra charge. They are a great reminder of your time in Disney!
Thanks for reading!
Ross explains the art of hotel freebies (I know it’s not Disney, but it’s my other obsession, ‘Friends’)
[whohit]Weekly Tip 10[/whohit]
We have covered values, moderates, and deluxe resorts at Disney World. If you are looking for a little more space in your room and a kitchenette or full kitchen, then you should take a look at this resort category.
The deluxe villas were built for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) owners. People who buy DVC points will buy them at a certain resort and that becomes their “home” resort. Even though the villas were built for DVC owners those of us that are not part of the DVC can still book a stay in one of the villas.
The villas are located near the deluxe resort with a similar theme. Kidani Village is near Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bay Lake Tower is near the Contemporary, The Villas at Grand Floridian Resorts are near Grand Floridian, the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are with the Polynesian Village Resort, the Beach Club Villas are near the Beach Club Resort, the Boardwalk Villas are next to the Boardwalk Inn, and the The Villas at Wilderness Lodge are located with Wilderness Lodge. The Animal Kingdom Villas (Jambo House) are located in the original building of the deluxe resort. There are two DVC resorts that were built specifically for DVC and they are the original DVC resorts. The first is Old Key West and the second is Saratoga Springs.
Like the deluxe resorts, the villas are located close to certain areas at Disney World. Bay Lake Tower, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, and The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are all located near the Magic Kingdom. The Beach Club Villas and Boardwalk Villas are both near Epcot. Kidani Village and Animal Kingdom Villas-Jambo House are just a five minute bus ride to and from Animal Kingdom. Finally, the original DVC resorts, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West are close to the Downtown Disney area.
All of the rooms at the villas will have a kitchenette or a full kitchen. The studios have the kitchenette, which includes a microwave, sink, small refrigerator, cups, utensils, coffeemaker, and a toaster. The full kitchens come with the 1 and 2 bedroom villas. The full kitchens include, counter space, full refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, sink, microwave, toaster, glasses, silverware, plates, bowls, pots and pans, and a coffeemaker. You really get everything you need to cook meals on vacation with the full kitchen. We made use of our kitchen when we stayed at Kidani and it was great. There was also a table next to the kitchen with a bench and two chairs for dining. If you don’t want to eat every meal out then I would recommend going with the full kitchen.
The size of the rooms will differ depending on where you are staying. As I mentioned, we stayed at Kidani on the last trip and our room was huge. We booked a 2 bedroom villa and had 5 adults and 4 kids in the room (one child was in the pack ‘n’ play that comes with every villa room) and there was no shortage of space, even with all those people in the room.
Kidani is one of the newer DVC resorts, so they did make the rooms bigger and you can fit an extra person in them. In resorts like the Beach Club Villas you can fit 8 people, but the Kidani rooms fit 9 because they have a chair that converts to a twin sleeper. This is a great feature! Our 2 year old used the chair and we were able to move it into the master bedroom so she could sleep in the same room as us and her little brother. Even with the king size bed, the pack ‘n’ play, and the twin sleeper chair, there is still plenty of room in the bedroom.
Our friends had room to spare in their bedroom as well. The second bedroom has 2 queen size beds, so their kids were able to share the bed no problem. Each of the bedrooms has a television on a good sized dresser and each also has separate bathrooms with showers as well. The bonus with Kidani was that there is a third full bathroom in the main area of the villa. This is very useful if you have someone sleeping on the couch (like our group did), because they have their own bathroom to use to get ready. The older DVC resorts don’t have as much space. but if you are not packing the room to capacity that might not matter as much.
The 1 and 2 bedroom villas also have a washer and dryer right in the room. This was a huge bonus for my group, because we didn’t have to pack as much. We just did laundry a couple of times on the trip and we were fine. If you stay up planning your next day, like we did, that is the perfect time to do some laundry.
One thing that I really liked about the villas, and this goes for the deluxe resorts too, is that there are interior hallways. In the values and moderates your room door opens to the outdoors, where as the deluxe resort and villa rooms open to a hallway. It is nice that you don’t have to worry about the weather when leaving your room. The values and moderates do have overhangs, you don’t just open up the door and get soaked if it is raining, but I liked having the hallway and windows. Plus, we were staying at Kidani Village, so we were able to see the animals as we walked in the hallway.
The one downside to the villas, if stay on points, is that you will not have mousekeeping service everyday. On the fourth day you get trash and towel service and on the eighth day you will have full mousekeeping service. You can get additional cleaning, but you will have to pay extra for that. We didn’t mind the difference in the mousekeeping schedule for the villas (they supplied a vacuum in the front closet, some laundry detergent, and some dish washing soap with a sponge), but some people like to have them come everyday. If you are worried about having cleaning supplies the store in the lobby should sell some cleaning products. They probably won’t have a huge selection, but chances are if you need something they will be able to help you. If you pay cash for the room instead of staying on points then you should have mousekeeping everyday.
Since the villas are located in or near their sister deluxe resorts, all the dining and shopping that is available at the deluxe resorts is also available for those staying in the villas. Saratoga Springs and Old Key West are the exceptions since they are only DVC resorts and do not have a sister deluxe resort. At Saratoga Springs you can dine at The Turf Club Bar and Grill and Old Key West has Olivia’s, which is a restaurant that I hear has delicious food. These are both table service restaurants, so you can make reservations there if you want. Both also have quick service dining available. Kidani Village has a restaurant in the lower level of the building. Sanaa is unique, because it has windows that look out to the Savannah, so you can watch the animals as you dine.
In addition to the shopping and dining the villas will have the same transportation as their sister deluxe resorts available. If the deluxe resort has boat and bus transportation available, the sister deluxe villa will be able to use that transportation as well. For Saratoga Springs and Old Key West, both resorts have bus transportation and boat transportation (to certain locations) available. If the resorts are really spread out, like Saratoga Springs, there will be multiple bus stops throughout the resort. That way you don’t have to worry about getting to the main building to catch the bus. The map below shows the different stops around Saratoga Springs for the bus.
Since this map is of Saratoga Springs, let’s cover a different kind of experience at Disney, the Treehouse Villas. These are part of Saratoga Springs, but are located a bit away from the villa buildings, they are the cluster to the left. The Treehouse Villas are actually elevated 10 feet off the ground and are surrounded by woods. There is one pool located in the Treehouse Villas area and a boat launch where guests can take boats to Downtown Disney.
The activities for the villas will also be similar to those that are available for the deluxe resorts. For the Boardwalk Villas the nightly entertainment on the Boardwalk is as close as it is for the Boardwalk Inn. When you check in to the villas you will receive an activities sheet that will let you know what activities are going on for that week and whether they are free or if there is a fee. There are usually lots of things available for guests to take part in and this includes the usual activities like Movies Under the Stars, campfires, playgrounds, arcades, and jogging trails. There are fun tours that take place at some of the resorts like the Boardwalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour (this tour is free of charge!), so make sure to look over that activity sheet. You never know what kind of fun activity you will find!
The pools that are available to the DVC resorts vary. Some, like Kidani Village, have their own separate pool and others, like Beach Club Villas, use the same pool as the deluxe resort. If the DVC resort does not have it’s own pool then it will at least have it’s own quiet pool, but if they do have their own pool, both pools are available for use to both the deluxe and the villas.
Saratoga Springs has 2 feature pools (with waterslides), the Paddock Pool and the High Rock Spring Pool, as well as 3 other pools, hot tubs, and play areas for the kids. Over at Old Key West there is a main pool with a waterslide through a giant sandcastle. There are 3 other pools, hot tubs, and a play area for the kids (all the resorts on Disney property have aquatic play areas for the little ones).
Aside from Kidani Village and Bay Lake Tower, the other villa resorts use the same main pool as their sister deluxe resort. To get a rundown of the different pools at the deluxe resorts check out Part 3 in this series. Kidani Village has a fun pool and the waterslide is a lot of fun too! I don’t remember the last time I had been on a waterslide before this last trip, but I definitely tried out the waterslide at Samawati Springs. The pool is pretty big and it feels hidden from the rest of the resort, so it was both fun and relaxing.
Like the deluxe resorts, there is a lot to do at the villas. If you are looking for somewhere to stay that has the option of a kitchen, washer/dryer, more space, fun themes, and a lot of activities, then you should take a look at this resort category. Happy planning!
Check out the other parts in the series to compare resorts:
Thanks for reading!