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Disney is expensive. There is no way to get around that: if you go to Disney, you WILL spend money. However, something I love about Disney is that there are SO many affordable/free options. We try to keep our trips as cost-effective as possible. I also always like to try to do something new and different every time we go when possible.
We have visited Art of Animation resort a couple times in the past and it’s REALLY cool to check out (you can see our visits here and here) but this time I wanted to try to check out a resort we’ve never visited before. Since Tess is so little I knew she wouldn’t appreciate the Disney stuff at AoA and thought she might enjoy seeing some real life animals instead 🙂
After naps we loaded up and headed over to Animal Kingdom Lodge. In case you didn’t know, you can visit any Disney Resort Property without actually staying there! You can do everything they offer, except swim in the pool 🙂
We’ve never been to this particular resort before and I was excited to check it out. It was BEAUTIFUL and really felt like we were transported to Africa (not that I’ve ever been there either but I’m sure the vibe is the same ha!).
We made our way outside and walked around a bit trying to find some animals!
I love that Tess was with us on this trip and could experience some Disney memories too!
The weather was a bit spotty and rain was expected so we weren’t very surprised when a cast member came over and told us we had to leave the outside viewing area due to safety concerns. Even if we didn’t get to see anything else, I was still glad for the visit! But we lucked out and the rain cleared away within a few minutes 🙂
So pumped to see giraffes!
Even with chlorine eyes, child will still roar louder than most lions 😉
All Disney resorts have super nice playground areas. I know this isn’t something my kids will always appreciate but right now they get pretty pumped about it! Even though we weren’t staying at the resort, we had no issues heading to the playground. The kids had a blast and it was totally free!
After some playground fun we headed back to a covered area we had seen earlier so we could set up dinner for the kids. And we lucked out and had awesome views of the giraffes!
It was great because there was NO ONE in the covered patio area! We just made ourselves at home and let the kids run around and play while we looked at the animals! I have heard they have awesome night vision goggles things too but obviously we didn’t stick around that late!
Other tips I learned about for visiting this particular resort:
- the animals are fed in the mornings around 6 am so it’s when they are the most active
- they have storytelling by a campfire in the evenings
- they have a free movie that shows after the campfire each evening as well
- there are other good areas to view animals as well, you can ask a cast member and they will direct you (we stuck to one area due to the weather and our need for a quick visit)
- I’ve also heard at Jambo you can do a scavenger hunt for free
Kye always surprises me. I expect him to not really enjoy something and then he ends up REALLY loving it! He was ALL about the animals and all about reading the info cards about them and pretending like he was our “tour guide” and pointing things out to us and telling us the facts he read 🙂
It’s really important to me to instill that love of Disney into my children. I think it’s trickier with a boy but I found THE ticket: hidden Mickeys. Man! Kye is ALL about them and I love it too! It’s a constant game (one which I’m pretty sure annoys Zach haha!) and we were on the hunt for some Mickey’s at the resort. Our best find ended up being a hidden Mickey in a stone on our way back to the car!
People are always asking me where we stay while visiting Disney. I also look through VRBO and stay in Davenport, Florida. It’s about a 15-20 min drive to Disney Parks which isn’t bad at all and the places are SO big and SO cheap! We paid right at $100 a night for a 5 bedroom house with a private pool! You can’t beat that! This particular time the neighborhood we were staying in was called Sandy Ridge. It had very good security which was nice but I will say I was more impressed with Highlands Reserve overall. Even with the security at Sandy Ridge, I felt safer at Highlands and like the overall area was a little nicer 🙂
Notice anything funny about this sign?!?
Casey and Jordan ready for their date night!
At this point with Tess I knew the days were near an end of nursing her. The night we were at MK she didn’t drink ANY of her before bed bottle and she still slept fine. Her nursing sessions at night had become very long and drawn out because she was really just using me to fall asleep and I did notice she was starting to wake early in the mornings. I knew it was time to end it, but I wasn’t quite ready! I didn’t mind the hour long feeding time because it meant more cuddles for me!
Once the kids were in bed we watched some of the FSU game together! Sadly it was mega delayed due to weather and I was straight up EXHAUSTED so I didn’t last long! No better way to end a fun day than curled up with my man 🙂