By now we hope you have read how to get big discount Disney Resort rates.
You may be thinking, Self, what is the big deal about staying at a Deluxe Disney Resort?
Well because it is unbelievably amazing. That’s why.
Why I'm Right!
We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge for this first trip out to Disney.
Most all the activities are run by African Cultural Representatives, interns actually from Africa. All of the interns were very friendly and really enjoyed getting questions about their home countries. We learned so much about Africa and felt we got a fairly authentic experience because of our interaction with these interns. Many of them said that the Animal Kingdom Lodge was so authentically African they had trouble adjusting to being away from family because the Lodge made them homesick!
Here are some things we did at the resort when we weren’t running around the parks.
Behind the pool at the Jambo House, each night from 9 to 11, some more of our African friends lead night vision viewing of animals on the savannah. Wow! We saw a giraffe sitting down, another galloping around some trees. And yes, looking through night vision goggles is just like it seems in spy movies. Everything was in green. It felt pretty dang cool.
Samawati Springs Pool
The pool at Kidani Village was for Disney Resort guests at Animal Kingdom Lodge only. They had ping pong tables, 2 jacuzzis, a children’s area, and 2 water slides. Oh and towels are provided too. This was a great activity after a long day at the parks.
Upclose Animal Viewing: Pembe Overlook
We decided not to get a Savannah view room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Even with our discount Disney Resort price, staying in a Savannah view room would’ve cost us an extra $40 a night. Over 5 nights that’s an extra $200, and that was how much we spent on food and souvenirs for the week.
So in order to get the most out of our Animal Kingdom Lodge experience, we made it a priority to spend some time at the various animal overlooks throughout this Disney Resort.
Another overlook by the pool at Kidani village was staffed by a man from Botswanna. He had been a safari guide for 5 years in his home country. And you could tell. He was extremely knowledgeable about all the animals. And he was hilarious. He pointed out the crowned crane, ankole cattle and zebra.
As mentioned before, you don’t get much more cheap at Disney than FREE! This was probably one of the cooler things we did at Disney. And anyone can do it. You don’t even need to be staying at Kidani Village.
At 8:30 each night a cultural representative gives a 20-30 minute PowerPoint presentation on their home country or an area of expertise. It’s in the Palace Library around the fireplace there. Both nights we went there were only 2 other people listening to the presentation. So the African presenter gave us lots of attention and was very happy to see us there.
The first night we went a young women name Limu from Namibia gave a presentation on her country. It’s ok, we didn’t know were Namibia was either. She showed us some stunning pictures of the Namibian landscape. Later in the presentation we realized these were all photos that she took herself! She was studying ecotourism in Namibia and had worked in all sorts of national parks there. She had taken people on safaris and had actually been to all these beautiful places. Limu was also half bushman and spoke the click language. That was a great experience talking with her and having Namibia come alive.
Another African Cultural Representative gave a presentation on cave art found in Africa. He was ethnic Indian, but his family had been living in South Africa since the 1800s. According to our presenter, Durbin, South Africa has the highest concentration of ethnic Indians, living outside of India. Whoddathunk? Our Indian South African friend taught us all about cave paintings in South Africa, which is what he studied back home. The pictures he took of cave art were fairly recently discovered! We learned that elands are creatures of good luck in cave art. We also learned that they can jump over 9 feet high! Anything that can be as big as a horse and have a nine foot vertical jump is good luck in my book!
There are a couple eateries around the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We decided to eat at Sanaa. It means art, and the restaurant sure lives up to it’s name. In fact, we were told that the Animal Kingdom Lodge has the most African art on display in the world - it's fun to find sculptures and paintings tucked away in every corner. We were a bit skeptical and had it clarified that some museums like the Smithsonian may have more art, but that it's not all on display. The most-African-art-on-display award goes to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. So no surprisingly this restaurant is very beautiful. We had just enough money left over in our budget to eat there at the end of our trip, and since we probably won’t eat African food in the near future, we decided it would be a fun culinary experience. What's even more fun, Sanaa overlooks the savanna. Our “merchant” (that’s what the servers at Sanaa called themselves), pointed out that the rambunctious zebra Kidani normally liked to bother the other zebras. So we enjoyed watching Kidani, the young zebra horse around with the other zebras. Pun intended. We did the bread sampler with sides of mango chutney, cucumber riata, and roasted bell pepper hummus. We also ordered potato and pea samosas and roasted cauliflower with mango chutney and tomato sauce. Yeah, that beats chicken fingers.
If you can't tell from our review, we LOVED Kidani village at the Animal Kindgom Lodge. As mentioned in the lodging article, we were able to get our room for only $550 for 5 nights. Read our review of Beth Haworth's e-book "The Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide" to see how we did this.