ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE: A REVIEW

ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE: A REVIEW

As part of our Disney Fairytale Wedding package, it was a requirement for the bride and groom to stay on property for four consecutive nights. This wasn’t a problem, as I thought it would be a great addition to our wedding and a fun mini honeymoon!

Dee and I have a plan to never stay at the same resort twice, until there are no more resorts on WDW property to stay at. We have all of the value resorts covered and most of the moderates, so we knew we’d be staying in a deluxe resort. The next step was to look at which resort was our dream resort, since it was our wedding weekend, and we landed on Animal Kingdom Lodge!

We booked a Deluxe Studio Suite, Savannah View at the Jambo House. We requested early check-in, since my bridesmaids and I would be getting to the resort around 10:00 that morning. Dee wouldn’t be showing up until after the wedding, as we planned to not see each other or stay together until then. He stayed at the Polynesian Resort for the first part of our stay to be closest to the ceremony space.

Finally, this is where my review begins. I am going to base my review on three categories: (1) Customer service, (2) Food options, and (3) Room/Resort Amenities.


Customer Service

In this category, they get a 10/10. If it were possible to go over ten, they absolutely would.

The outstanding customer service started the minute we pulled up to the resort. My car was beyond packed – I had my wedding dress and everything else we needed for the wedding, our suitcases, gifts for the entire wedding party, wine and champagne, snacks – literally a car full. The bell attendees at the front of the resort immediately unpacked my car. Since it was too early to officially be “checked in”, they kept my things safely in the baggage area, but allowed us to go in and out to grab what we needed until we had our room.

Next, during check-in, I was speaking with the receptionist about the size of the studio I had booked. I explained to her that the morning of my wedding, all of my bridesmaids would be with me plus my hair dresser and MUA as well as all of my family. I asked if that room was large enough to accommodate all of those people, and she assured me it would be fine. I didn’t find out until later that she upgraded my room from the studio to a Deluxe 1 Bedroom Suite, Savannah View. It was a DVC room, and let me tell you – it was able to accommodate all of those people. It was very spacious, laid out nicely, and was perfect for what we needed. We didn’t even find out about the upgrade until unlocking our room and walking inside. It was a wonderful surprise!

Another magical moment that was made for us was at the pool bar. The first day there, my bridesmaids and I frequented the pool bar – both while sitting at the pool, and as a stop before heading for my bachelorette party. My MOH, Megan, made sure everyone knew I was getting married the following day. The next day, after the ceremony, our friends and family came to our resort and suite to swim and hang out. We, of course, frequented the pool bar. The same bartender as the day before was working and he remembered our group. He ended up surprising Dee and I with a plate full of sweets as a congratulations. The plate included zebra domes (my favorite!), homemade chocolate candies, and truffles. It was such a cute surprise!

The great customer service doesn’t stop there. The cast members native to Africa were a joy to speak with – one even gave Dee and I a complimentary light saber and autographed pictures from Mickey and Minnie! The bartenders at the bar inside of the resort were also very engaging and a pleasure. One of the cast members that worked in The Mara recognized us daily and would be sure to acknowledge us. It truly felt like a community of people that enjoyed their job and loved creating magic. Everything that was done for us was done without expectation, and it was beyond magical.


Food Options

For the food category, I would score 9/10!

During our stay, we wanted a laid back honeymoon. We headed to MK for an evening, but the rest of our time was really spent at the resort. We ordered room service and ate (plenty of times) at The Mara, but that was it. We really wanted to try Boma, but we couldn’t score any reservations and the wait was always a bit too long.

However, room service and The Mara did not disappoint! Room service was pretty pricey, of course, but the food was always still hot and spectacular. The Mara offered plenty of different and unique options, which was a refreshing change from the rest of the resort food court options we have had in the past. The food was, once again, always hot and tasted fresh. We ate 2-3 meals there a day, during the whole stay, and I never felt bored of the food.

The reason why this category only got a 9/10, even though all the food we had was awesome, is because of how hard it was for us to get into Boma. I would have loved to had tried that option since I’ve heard such good things about them, but I’ll just have to make reservations and head there another time!


Room and Resort Amenities

I give this category a 10/10!

I’ve already touched on the room – it was beautiful. When first walking in, you see a full size kitchen equipped with a dish washer, oven/stove, full size refrigerator, and microwave. There was also plenty of counter space, a large sink, and the cupboards were filled with cups, plates, bowls, etc. The kitchen flows into the living room that included a dining table (for four), a couch that pulled out to a queen size bed, two end tables, a coffee table, and a large chair which pulled out to a twin sized bed. There were also two french doors that opened to the very large balcony which overlooked the Savannah.

There was then a hallway that lead to the bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom had a California king size bed, a chair, a desk, a large television, a dresser, and an armoire. It was very spacious, and also had two french doors which opened up to the balcony. The bathroom was separated into two areas – the area with a sink, a mirror, and a closer, then the area with the toilet and shower/Jacuzzi tub. There was also a closet with a washer and dryer in unit!

I am still mesmerized by the room. As if the upgrade wasn’t enough, I loved the balcony with the beautiful view. You really can’t beat waking up every morning to a giraffe 100 yards away from you and zebra all around. It was beyond breathtaking, and I don’t think I could have spent too much time out on that balcony!

As far as amenities, there were plenty. Our favorite was the pool, which was large and had a pool bar and a water slide. It was surrounded by tropical greenery that gave it an exotic view. There were also fire pits where they had fires in the evenings, and they offered plenty of other activities during the day. Of course, the best amenity was the Savannah itself, which included plenty of fun and exotic animals to see!


To wrap it up, this resort is beyond a dream. If you’re looking for a staycation at WDW – a resort that you don’t have to leave – this is it. Never did I get bored just sitting at the resort. There is plenty to do, and so much to explore, that a week there just at the resort would be an event in itself.

I could honestly go on and on about this resort, but I’ll end it here. Below are some pictures of our room, our view, and the resort. Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next. See ya real soon šŸ™‚

Our Room

The Resort

Our View

MY UNPOPULAR OPINIONS – DISNEY!

MY UNPOPULAR OPINIONS – DISNEY!

There’s currently a huge Youtube and blog trend about “my unpopular opinions”. My best friend, Emily, just recently posted one on her Youtube channel which got me thinking about my unpopular opinions! For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to “disneyfy” the popular trend by listing a few of my unpopular Disney opinions. So, here we go!

  1. Dole Whip is gross. Maybe it’s because I don’t like pineapple, but I really do not get the hype. I’d so much rather spend my money on regular soft serve ice cream or a bag of cotton candy.
  2. Children should not be allowed on parent’s shoulders during parades, fireworks, stage shows, etc. I completely get why parents do this. However, if as a society we become kind enough to let small children stand in front of us for parades and shows, or decide to all sit down (like they do in Tokyo Disneyland), then everyone could enjoy each show and this wouldn’t be an issue!
  3. I approve of the ticket price increases. In fact, I think prices should continue to increase or something else should be done to limit the crowds at WDW. Once Galaxy’s Edge opens, it’s going to be beyond unbearable to be in the parks. Ticket increases are the only way, in my opinion, the crowds will lower in size.
  4. Pandora- World of Avatar is overhyped. I mean, it is absolutely beautiful to see and experience. I love watching everything illuminate as it gets darker at night. And, Flight of Passage is truly the best WDW ride thus far. However, it’s still overhyped in my opinion. It’s never been something I’ve gone out of my way to see, or planned my vacation around!
  5. I enjoy the All Star resorts. I think it’s more of a nostalgic thing for me, but I really do enjoy all of the All Star resorts! If you’re heading to WDW on a budget and there is availability, these are a great option. Movies is, in my opinion, the best choice out of the three with Music being my least favorite – but each resort has something for everyone.
  6. There is too much of a Star Wars presence in the parks. I understand the licensing issues between WDW and UO, but I would so much rather see a Marvel presence than Star Wars. I get that Disney is trying to target a whole different audience, and I do love Star Wars, but it’s just too much.
  7. Walt Disney World is superior to Disneyland. Before heading to Disneyland, I always craved visiting and experiencing the land that had so much history behind it. I was captivated knowing that Walt worked hand-in-hand with imagineers to create this land where it all began. When I finally had the chance to go in 2016, I was elated. However, I feel like my entire visit was me saying to myself “Wait – this is it?” The intimacy of the parks might be appealing to most, but I absolutely prefer the grand scale of everything at WDW. Sure, a few of their rides are far better than our versions (specifically Small World, Pirates, and Space Mountain) – but those rides don’t make me love our versions and less. Maybe it’s because WDW is my home park and I’ve created so many magical memories here that I’ll cherish forever. I know very few people agree with my opinion, but I’ll absolutely choose WDW over DL any time!

There you have it! A few of my unpopular Disney opinions. Do you have any unpopular Disney opinions? Do you agree or disagree with any of mine? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next. We’ll see ya real soon šŸ™‚

A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!

A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!

When helping friends and families plan their magical vacations, I often get asked several questions about Disney World dining plans. The dining plans can be confusing to first-time guests or those who have never used one in the past. So today, I thought I would break down the disney dining plans based on the questions I’m often asked!

Before I dive into the dining plans themselves, it is important to get a basic understanding of the different types of dining options that you will come across on property. There are four main types:

Grab-and-Go: Grab-and-go locations are usually stands in the park that have a walk up window with readily prepared foods and beverages. Mostly, these offer snacks such as popcorn, Mickey pretzels, cotton candy, churros, ice cream, and more. They are normally just small, walk up stands located outdoors with little-to-no seating.

Quick Service: I refer to these locations as the “fast food” locations in WDW. Quick service locations are usually indoors. They will have a cashier/window waiting area for guests to walk up and order food, and an indoor or covered seating area that is first come, first serve. There are no servers at these locations.

Table Service: Table service locations are traditional “sit down” meals. At these indoor locations, you will check in at the hostess stand in the front and wait to be seated. You will have a server, and will need to leave gratuity. These locations may be buffets, a traditional “order-off-the-menu” style dinner, a family style dinner, or may have a prix fixe menu.

Signature Dining: Signature dining locations are also “sit down” meals, however they are typically higher quality, more expensive, popular character dining spots, or dinner shows.

Now that we have those four types of dining broken down, we can finally dive into the three dining plans WDW currently has available for guests. Keep in mind, these plans are what are currently offered at their current prices in 2019. Below, I will break down the three different plans into pricing per person as well as what is included in each:

  1. Quick Service Dining Plan ($52.20/day for adults, $23.78/day kids 3-9)
    • 2 quick service credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)
  2. Disney Dining Plan ($75.49/day for adults, $27.98/day kids 3-9)
    • 1 table service credit (per person, per night of stay)
    • 1 quick service credit (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)
  3. Deluxe Dining Plan ($116.25/day for adults, $43.49/day kids 3-9)
    • 3 meal credits – each credit can be used for any combination of table service or quick service meals (per person, per night of stay)
    • 2 snack credits (per person, per night of stay)
    • Refillable mug (1 per person)

Which plan is best for you?

When considering which plan is best for you and your family, there are several factors that come in to play. Here are some things for you to keep in mind before you make a decision regarding a dining plan:

  • You can only book a dining plan if you are staying at a Disney-owned resort. If you are only going for the day, or are staying at a hotel not owned by Disney World, you will not be able to add a dining plan.
  • Refillable mugs are only refillable at your resort. You can fill and refill this mug as often as you’d like, but only at the resort you are staying in. If you bring it into the parks, you’ll have to purchase a beverage to put inside, or fill it with water from a water fountain!
  • Each person in your party must be on the dining plan, and you must have a dining plan for each night of your stay. You cannot assign a dining plan to only a few in your party if you are all booked under the same reservation. Likewise, you cannot choose to limit your dining plan to certain days of your stay.
  • Although the credits are assigned “per night”, you don’t have a limit or a requirement on when you have to use your credits. Much like a college dining plan, you can use your credits at your leisure. Usually, we save up all of our snack credits until the end of our stay, then purchase candy and other edible souvenirs for our friends and family!
  • Signature dining requires 2 table service credits per meal, per person. No matter what plan you are on, whether it’s the Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan, you will need to cash in two table service credits to eat at signature restaurants. This factor is a major one in and of itself, which will make or break the difference between the Disney or Deluxe plans for your family!
  • Snack” credits can be redeemed for a pretty wide margin of options. There are really so many options for snacks – from ice cream, to Starbucks drinks, to certain food items offered at EPCOT festivals – there is so much to choose from. You will be able to tell if an item can be considered as a snack credit if it has the DDP purple icon next to it – or, just ask a cast member!
  • Children under 3 eat free. You will not need to purchase a dining plan (or ticket) for any children in your party under 3. They will be able to eat off of your plates!
  • All meals on the Quick Service Dining Plan and Disney Dining Plan include a meal and a dessert per person.
  • All meals on the Deluxe Dining Plan include an appetizer, meal, and dessert per person. This one can be a lot of food, so take that into consideration when deciding which is best for your family. You’re paying for it regardless, and it will be a waste for your family to have this level of the dining plan if you won’t eat it all – you will not get your money’s worth.
  • All meals on any dining plan include one drink – either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Drinks may include beer and wine, soft drinks, and even milk shakes! There may be limitations, and you would only get refills on the soft drinks, but the option is definitely a nice addition.
  • Gratuity is NOT included. Some people think that if they get a dining plan, they won’t have to touch their wallets at all – which isn’t necessarily the case. You will need to pay gratuity to servers at table service meals, and may need to pay more if you order an extra beverage or two.
  • You can track your credits on the My Disney Experience app, or on your receipts. Your credits will show up as a sum of everyone’s in your party, so be mindful of how many credits each of you has left as a whole.

Are the dining plans worth it?

I often get asked if the dining plans are worth it, and there isn’t a baseline answer – It really depends on your family and your preference. Here are a few things that I tell friends and family when posed with that question..

  1. It is really easy to waste money on dining plans. If your family isn’t going to use every credit or consume all that is offered in the meals, then you’re basically throwing money away. It may not seem like it on paper, but you really do get a ton of food.
  2. Be sure to weigh the factors of how much time you want to spend eating vs. how much time you want to be in the parks. If it’s your first, or once-in-a-lifetime visit to WDW, I would stick with either the Quick Service or Disney Dining plans. Eating at a table service restaurant may take up to two hours out of your day, which is a long time when you want to experience everything there is to do in the parks.
  3. It is convenient. One of the main reasons my fiance and I love the dining plan so much is it’s convenience. Although we still factor gratuities into our budget, it is nice to not have to worry about how much to put aside for meals.

Dining plan tips.

  1. Do not waste snack credits on bottles of water. It’s easy and convenient, and I’ll admit I have fallen victim to doing this, but it really isn’t worth it. Instead, ask for a cup of ice water – which is free – and fill up your refillable mugs.
  2. Plan your days ahead. Have a game plan of what parks you are going to be in per day and MAKE ADVANCED DINING RESERVATIONS! Also, have a game plan in mind on how you will take advantage of the quick service and snack credits – will you get snacks for breakfast, and use a quick service credit for lunch? Will you buy breakfast, use a credit for lunch, and save your snack credits for an EPCOT festival? You don’t need to have it planned down to where you’ll eat and when, but keep a general plan in the back of your mind.
  3. Order the more expensive things on the menu. Get your money’s worth!

Personal thoughts…

Personally, my fiance and I love the dining plans. When we would come for vacations, we added on a dining plan every time. We would usually do the Disney Dining plan, but we’ve tried the Deluxe and found it to be worth it. Once we did the dining plan once, we never went back to not adding it on. The convenience factor was what really got us, and we never wasted food.

We would frequent the parks so much (3 times a year) that we didn’t mind spending half of our day sitting down and eating because we’d done everything in the parks. That may be different for other people, and it’s really all based on your individual priorities.

I hope that this breakdown helped you better understand the different dining plans offered at WDW! I get asked more questions about these plans, and just dining in general, than I do about anything else when helping others plan their vacations. It may seem very confusing now, but [in my opinion] in the end a dining package makes your vacation a bit more magical.

Another question I get asked very often are which restaurants specifically are one credit vs. two. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see a blog where I list all of the restaurants, sorted by quick service locations and locations that are one table service credit vs two table service credits!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified of any new posts. Have a great week, we’ll see ya real soon šŸ™‚

IS WDW STRUGGLING TO FILL ROOMS THIS SUMMER?!

IS WDW STRUGGLING TO FILL ROOMS THIS SUMMER?!

Within the past two weeks (keep in mind – itsĀ January), Disney has surprised fans and travel planners by releasing discounts, free dining, andĀ Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party tickets. Yes – Halloween tickets. Released. In January. The release of these things may not come as a shock to you, but the timing of these releases says a lot. Is Disney struggling to fill guest rooms this summer?

Let’s backtrack for a second and talk about some background information…

Free dining. Disney releases free dining deals every year. Usually, these free dining deals are released around mid-April, when Disney sees where it’s “weak spots” are in reservations. In the past, guests would receive a free Quick-Service Dining Plan or Disney Dining Plan to guests staying in certain resorts. They were also set, in the past, for times during Disney’s slower periods – usually the beginning of the school year, the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, and early December. To get the free dining package, guests would be required to book a room at rack rate with a ticket package.

Room-only discounts.Ā Also during slower times, Disney would release room-only discounts for Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and other guests planning to visit the resorts. Guests would be able to add on tickets and dining to these discounts, but at full price. These discounts would be for select resorts as well, and would range in percentages based on the resort.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.Ā Even though the Halloween party starts ridiculously early (mid-August), Disney would hold off on releasing the dates and tickets for this event until at least March or April. The dates of the party would range from August to October, and vary in price depending on the date as well as the day of the week the party fell on.

Now that we covered some background information, let’s take a closer look at 2019. Last week, I released a blog post aboutĀ 19 Things Coming to WDW in 2019. The biggest item on that list, and what most people are looking forward to, is the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. For those of you living under a rock, this is a Star Wars themed land set to open in Hollywood Studios in “late Fall 2019”.Aside from this much anticipated land opening, Fall 2019 and later in the year will bring many other attractions and openings, which you can read all about here:Ā 19 THINGS COMING TO WDW IN 2019!

Now, you might be asking “How is any of this connected?” or “Why are all of these early releases a big deal?” and I have one theory – Disney is hurting for guests during [what is usually] their busiest time of year.

Now, here are the issues with these early releases.

Free dining 2019.Ā The free dining deal that was releasedĀ much earlier than it has been in recent years is for stays during summer 2019. As mentioned above, Disney releases free dining deals during their slower periods to try and reign in more guests.

Room-only discounts. Now don’t get me wrong, Disney has released room-only discounts in the summer in previous years. However, the discounts available for resorts during summer 2019 are reachingĀ extremely low prices.Ā So low, in fact, that for a stay at the Grand Floridian mid-June, I found a price for $410/night – that’s over $200 less than rack rateĀ for Disney’s flagship resort.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween PartyĀ tickets. I mean, Halloween party tickets released inĀ January.

So, finally, this brings me to my point. DisneyĀ has to be hurting to fill rooms in the summer. The summer used to be one of theĀ worstĀ times to visit the parks due to the extreme heat and the overwhelming crowds. However, it was the best time for families to visit due to summer vacations, so people would go regardless. They would never release crazy room discounts orĀ free dining plans, simply because they didn’t need to. People would come regardless of the deals that were available to them.

In my opinion, it is pretty evident that the future opening ofĀ Galaxy’s Edge has a large part in these low crowds. This land has been highly anticipate for years, which makes it no surprise that people seem to be holding out their vacations for “late fall”, which is when the land is expected to open. Pair that opening with the fact that fall is a wonderful time to visit the parks due to the weather, the Food and Wine festival in EPCOT running, andĀ the various holidays and parties that come with them – why not hold out until the fall?

Another factor to these discounts being released, and what I theorize as the possible low bookings in WDW, isĀ Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland. Disneyland and WDW are opening identical lands, but Disneyland’s opens inĀ summer 2019. It could be possible that people are heading out west for their summer vacations to experience this land instead of waiting until the fall. Regardless, it still means less bookings here in Florida.

What do you think – Is WDW hurting for bookings in the summer? Free dining deals, extreme room-only discounts, andĀ Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party are huge draws for many regulars to the parks, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Disney is pulling out the “big guns” to try and fill rooms. I’ll be interested to see the crowd levels this summer compared to recent years as well as this fall!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog to get notified of any future posts. See ya real soon šŸ˜‰