Animal Kingdom Lodge – Where Adults Vacation in Disney

25 Apr

When Doug and I joined DVC (somewhat impulsively while on our honeymoon) there were only 2 resorts at the time to buy into: the Aulani (where we were staying) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  One of the perks of DVC is the ability to book your “home resort” at 11 months out.  Now, as amazing as the Aulani was, there was no benefit to being able to book there before the rest of the DVC world can because, well, it will be another 7 years from this point before we can afford to go back.

That being said, by default we chose AKL.  Admittedly if the Boardwalk or the Beach Club was still available (keep in mind we did do this on our honeymoon so we didn’t really know about/look into resale options) we would have booked there.  But, the reality is, I LOVE the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The only thing that makes this hotel “less” than the aforementioned is because you can’t walk to a park or have some sort of “fun” transportation to a park from the hotel.  But at the same time, it’s perhaps this “lack of convenience” that contributes to one of it’s best features.  There are no kids there.

OK. This is not to say it is not kid friendly, it’s Disney, OF COURSE it’s kid friendly.  But whenever I have stayed there (both as DVC and non-DVC) I’ve never really noticed an abundance of children.  I know they are there.  I see them in the lobby listening to stories and creating crafts.  I see some of them by the pool.  But there’s no “OMG THERE ARE CHILDREN RUNNING AROUND AND SCREAMING EVERYWHERE” feeling there.

Animal Kingdom Lodge has two building/areas/sections: Jambo House (the original building) and Kidani Village (the DVC add-on).  If you are DVC you can stay at either location.  If you are not DVC you can stay at either location.  This post specifically will be about Jambo House.

Let’s discuss it’s awesomeness and beauty for a moment.

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Let’s talk animals for a moment.  I mean, it’s the ANIMAL Kingdom Lodge.  You can see a variety of animals just from wandering around the resort.  (Tip:  If you are not staying here and looking for something “free” to do, swing by the hotel and check out the animals).  There’s multiple Savannahs and Savannah views.  One of our favorite discoveries is a hidden “nook” that overlooks that Savannah with rocking chairs.  They also have outlets there if you need to recharge your devices while you relax and recharge yourself.  Because you can only access this area through a door, it often goes unnoticed and so you often have it all to your self.

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Such an empty pool for a beautiful day!

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The pool area is large and peaceful and comes complete with a poolside bar!  Plus, you can choose a chair that either allows you to look at the pool itself, or the Savannah.  Albeit, it’s not the pool at the Yacht and Beach club, but this pool is still delightful and has a slide and hot tubs hidden away.

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At night there are two fire pits, one indoors and one outdoors where you can sit, relax, sip a beverage of your choice.

For food options, there is a quick service at The Mara.  You have certain standards there, but you also have twists and African cuisine, making even the quick service a unique dining experience.  Don’t even get me started on the Zebra Domes and flatbread!  YUM!  Of course Mickey Waffles are available for breakfast.  There’s Boma if you prefer a buffet option.  Again, includes standards as well as African cuisine.  And then there’s Jiko.  Jiko is getting it’s own post, but it’s the “fine dining” option at the resort (amazing!).  It also has Victoria Falls lounge for cocktails or snacks.

As I previously mentioned, although you could see the animals from public access points of the resort, my personal opinion is that staying in a Savannah view room is a must.

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Waking up with the animals, falling asleep to the animals, it’s pretty freaking awesome.  Each Savannah offers different possible animals so you may see different ones with every stay.  This past trip from Princess offered the added bonus of being able to see the Star Wars fireworks from our room.  It’s definitely a view that’s hard to say goodbye to.

I had previously mentioned that there’s no “fun” transportation or anything with in walking distance, but, as far as having to bus it goes, AKL provides pretty sweet spots.  At the resort itself, it has the screen which reveal the times for the arrival of each bus.  I believe they are implementing this across the board, but it is definitely at AKL for now.  In addition, at MGM, sorry Hollywood Studios and Epcot AKL is the first bus stop.  I mean, it’s still taking a bus, but hey, if you gotta bus it, that’s not a bad drop off/pick up location.

Essentially my words (and pictures) do not do this resort justice.  What it boils down to, if you can stay here, do it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Part Deux

20 Apr

I know you were all hoping I wouldn’t recap the remainder of my trip after posting part one, but if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1000 times, DISNEY MAKES ME HAPPY AND SO I AM SHARING MY PHOTOS DAMMIT!

And on that note…

Day Four:

Animal Kingdom in the morning, Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, a walk over to mini golf and dinner to at Crews Cup.  Low key day, but a LOT of walking for the day before the 10K (During mini golf, I started making Doug place and pick up my golf ball.  I may have done too much for my back…OOPS!)

Day Five:

Didn’t really do much, Enchanted 10K in the morning, watched the Kids Races (recap coming) hung out at the hotel, headed to Epcot for dinner and then called it an early night as the half marathon was the next day.  There are NO OTHER PICTURES!  What?!?!

Day Six:

Princess Half Marathon in the morning.  “Celebrating” in Epcot in the afternoon (yes I went back and saw Baymax because BAYMAX!).  Dinner at Jiko (review in separate post).

Day Seven:

Yes, that’s right.  SEVEN DAYS!  Hung out in Magic Kingdom.  Breakfast at Crystal Palace (review done).  OK, given how few pictures I had of the remaining part of my trip, I probably could’ve/should’ve squeezed it all into one post.  Oh well.  After MK, it was back to AKL for pick up the Magical Express, which is never magical when it’s taking you to the airport😦

And sadly for me (but happily for you) we are at the end of the trip!  But fear not!  More boring reviews to come…again, see beginning where Disney makes me happy and so I’m gonna share stuff dammit.

I Will NOT Register For Goofy!

19 Apr

…maybe.

Today is early registration day for Annual Passholders and DVC members for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

I was originally planning on registering for Goofy due to the pangs of grief I felt when I was not participating in it this year (this is also the year they actually had a nice jacket for the challenge and the marathon.  While I love my “I Did It” shirt, I was MAJORLY disappointed there was no jacket for Goofy, and the marathon was a sweat jacket).

Anyway, I know, I know, I’ll never do another marathon, get all the “I told you so”s out of the way now.  I hate training for a marathon.  But the reality is, with the exception of a meltdown in the middle of Wide World of Sports (that place is evil), I HAD SO MUCH FUN DOING THE CHALLENGE!

Plus, just being down there that weekend is great!  The flights are extra cheap, the parks aren’t nearly as crowded.  You still get some of the Christmas decorations leftover.   Overall, marathon weekend is a great time and I’m really annoyed that it’s princess weekend that I’m “bound” to.  (Nothing wrong with Princess, it’s just more expensive and more crowded).

Plus, with the marathon costing the same price as the half, Goofy is pretty much the best RunDisney Challenge bargain you can get!

However, I have decided to pretend to be fiscally responsible and not register for Goofy this year (especially since Dopey 2018 is gonna be a hefty price tag).  Well, at least not register today.  I may need reminding of my fiscal responsibility when registration opens for everyone.

Until then, HAPPY REGISTRATION DAY!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

14 Apr

OK, weekend is misleading as we were there for practically a full week!  It’s so exciting, I know.  Please, try and contain yourself.  I have a couple of other reviews/recaps to do from this trip, but I’m having a REALLY shitty time and I need the pick me up of Disney, so I’m just gonna post the remaining non-review/recap specific pictures and try and relive the happiness…

Ahhhhh memory lane.

Day One: We checked into our home resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge (separate post coming), hung out, relaxed, ate lunch and headed off to the Magic Kingdom.  We had dinner at Be Our Guest (separate post coming) and caught the end of wishes from between Cinderella’s Castle and the Beast’s castle.  We were literally between the fireworks.  It was pretty awesome.  By the way, the weather was PERFECT.

 

Day Two:

Went to Downtown Disney…sorry DISNEY SPRINGS…had lunch at Jock’s Hangar Bar (separate post coming), and then went to Epcot for much drinking and enjoyment.  Thank the Phoenicians!

I had to resist getting this guy:

 

Introduced recently to Epcot was a new character meet and greet at Epcot:  BAYMAX!  Ummmm yeah, I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy to meet him.  And he spent lots of time interacting with us and it was worth EVERY second.  Yes, I am a dork.  Deal with it.

Day Three:

Had the race expo in the morning (separate post coming) and then we headed off to MGM…grrr…HOLLYWOOD Studios and caught both fantasmic AND the amazing fabulous Star Wars Fireworks (which are now a permanent fixture and I’m so EXCITED)!

 

And that’s where I’ll leave you for now…yes, there’s still more days for me to bore you with to go!

 

 

Crystal Palace – Character Buffet

12 Apr

Sometimes, as adults, Doug and I like to do character meals.  And sometimes your friend and her 3 kids are in WDW at the same time as you and you can totally pretend that you’re only doing the character thing for them.

Admittedly, had my friend not been there, Doug and I would have skipped this, but I’m glad we did it, although we probably will not be doing it again any time soon.

We had the breakfast buffet at the Crystal Palace, located in the Magic Kingdom.  The reviews on this experience were mixed.  There were complaints about crowds, noise, etc.  However, when we were there, there were plenty of empty tables.  Perhaps it was because our reservation was on the later side of breakfast (10:30am) when most kids have already eaten.  I don’t know.  I didn’t find the crowds to be an issue.  And believe me, I HATE CROWDS.

All the buffets at Disney are pricey, and the reality is you’re not paying for the food.  They pretty much all have the same food available, with perhaps a variation or 2.   The variation at Crystal Palace was this puffed french toast and that was amazing!  I may have had thirds of those.  It was essentially a fried piece of french toast.  Crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.  Almost like a french toast zepole, but better.  Yes.  I said something was better than a zepole.  Shocking.

The rest of the food is fine.  The standards: make your own omelets (although I did see a cast member make chocolate chip pancakes at this station for a little guest), breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, fruit, danishes, croissants, fritatta (or however they’re spelled) and of course the classic delicious Mickey Waffles (which no breakfast in Disney is complete without), just to name some.

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Mmmmmmm bacon

The reality here is while the food is good, you are not paying way too much money for the food, you are paying way to much money for the easy access and one on one lengthy attention from the characters.

All the character breakfasts have a theme with the characters used.  At the Crystal Palace, it’s the adorable characters from the 100 Acre Wood.  You get to meet Winnie the Pooh, Tiger, Piglet  and of course Eeyore!  If you’ve met me, you know I LOVE Eeyore.  Like I may have pushed kids out of the way to meet Eeyore.

The characters spend lots of time with you and never make you feel rushed like “OK, I got to move on to the next table, so please stop squeezing Eeyore so tightly, he needs to breathe and move on”

I loved the character experience.  If you WANT to do a character buffet, I have no hesitation recommending this one…especially if you’re gonna be in the Magic Kingdom anyway and your kids (or you) love the characters from Winnie the Pooh..  Just be prepared to pay a a large price tag.    They do accept Tables in Wonderland discounts, but they do NOT accept the DVC or Annual Pass ones  (drats!).

Late Cancellation Fees

7 Apr

Forgive me a moment for my lack of modesty here, but I have come up with an absolutely brilliant idea.  Well, at least I think it’s brilliant.  And technically it’s not MY idea, but rather a new application of an old idea.

We all suffer from the “I want to work out but I don’t want to work out” dilemma.  More often than not, the “I don’t want to work out” wins, at least for me.  And I knew this about myself.  So, when I went to CrossFit, I intentionally signed up for classes WAY in advance.  How does this solve the problem?   My box would have a $30 cancellation fee if you cancelled with less than 12 hours notice.  $30.  Who has money to drop like that and get nothing out of it?  I know I don’t!  There were a few times when I was REALLY sick and so had to suck it up.  But for the most part, it saved me from making excuses and I always felt much better after going.

With training runs, especially trying to get back into the swing of things, there’s no real accountability.  I don’t want to run, there’s nothing forcing me to suck it up and do it when I have no real reason not to.  I don’t run with anyone, so there’s no cancelling with a friend or a club or anything that I have to worry about.  I don’t feel like running, I don’t, I feel a little guilty, but that’s it.

Until now.  I am now implementing a late cancellation fee with my training runs.  If I do not have a valid excuse for not doing a run my training plan says I should, I have to pay.  Literally.  I have brought Doug into it to enforce it.  If I do not have the cash to put in the “bank” immediately, I am forced to write him a check.  No, he does not actually keep the money, he’s just there to make sure I pay.  The money will probably go to Disney or something.

Choosing the amount is important.  Too cheap, and you can cancel all the time.  Too much money and you end up forcing yourself to run when you shouldn’t.  I’m thinking $25.

Anyone else do anything to add a little extra motivation to get their run going?

Starting From Scratch – Week 1

6 Apr

Remember how I used to blog what my workouts where and all that other boring stuff that none of you cared about?  Well I’m doing it again!  Kind of.

Last you guys really heard from me, I was open about my injury and my depression and yadda yadda yadda.  Well, since then, there have been some developments.  Karla recommended her doctor to me, I went to see her, got the MRI, and it was confirmed that I have 2 herniated discs in my spine.  FUN!  But hey, at least it’s confirmation!  And also what’s been confirmed?  I AM ALLOWED TO RUN!  I always assumed that the pain during running was causing additional damage or delaying  my recovery because that’s what I was told by others.  But not this lady!  According to her, running has the same impact on my spine as laughing does!  I CAN DO SOMETHING!  OK, I still can’t go back to CrossFit yet, but baby steps.

So, since I’ve been given the go ahead to run, that is exactly what I’m doing.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no delusions of jumping right back in after months of nothing and being where I once was.  I know I’m not.  Starting from scratch is terrifying me, but you gotta start somewhere right?

Well, way back back back before Princess 2012 (my very first race), I began to train for it from the very beginning.  I followed a training plan that essentially eased me into running for a 1/2 hour straight.  So unlike a couch to 5K program, the focus was on time, not distance.  And I’m going back to the plan that started it all now, with some slight modification.  I’m doing it for approximately 40 minutes instead of 30 (long enough to catch up on DVR’d episodes of Supernatural).

Last week was my first week of running again, and it went pretty well.  It was only a run 1 minute walk 2, 3 days, but I felt good for that 1 minute.  I ran it at a “speed I want to be” pace and was pretty comfortable with it.  I even managed to talk during it without gasping for breath!  Woohoo!  BUT it was only for 1 minute and I got a pretty substantial rest.  Still felt good to be back to doing it though.

This week we start slowly upping the minutes run and the rest is dropped down to 1 minute.  Fingers crossed!

Sidenote – it’s been a really long time since I’ve done any regular training.  Motivation to get up and do something when I get home from work, especially after so long of having that not be my routine, is not my strong suit, so it kind of gives me a extra little “yay” feeling when Doug tells me he’s proud of me.  Yes, I’m lame.

What about you folks?  Ever have to start from scratch after MONTHS OF NOTHING?!?!

And with that, I leave you with Supernatural…

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