We just returned from our Walt Disney World vacation! Yes, it was July and yes, it was hot, but we still had one of our best trips to date.
I’ll have more coming in a future post (read to the end for a spoiler on that) but for now? Here’s what we thought of where we stayed and what we ate!
Yes, it’s far away from everything. And yes, it’s a little tough if you don’t have a vehicle (you’ll need to add about 20 extra minutes travel time in comparison to other resorts on property). But if you’re driving or have rented a car, and if you like feeling a million miles away from everything, I think this is your place. I know it’s mine.
The “Disney Factor” here is subtle. The theming just doesn’t lend itself to it. But the Africa part is spot on, from the truly jaw dropping architecture, to the authentic African art throughout, to the music piped in the lobby and the amazing cast members (many of whom are from Africa), it’s just wonderful. Oh, and of course the animals! We LOVED seeing the animals!
Also, I’m a big fan of the layout of the rooms (which are being updated as I type this so can’t wait to see the refurbished villas). There’s plenty of space, and 2 bathrooms in a 1 bedroom villa is essential for a mom traveling with 3 young men!
Full disclosure: my family doesn’t love it as much as I do. Their favorite places to stay? Anything in the Epcot resort area (preferably Beach Club) or the Contemporary. They like being right in the middle of the magic all the time. But since I make all the plans, I win (don’t feel too bad for them, we’re already planning a Boardwalk Villa trip for November 2017).
Where We Ate
Food is a big part of the experience for us! We ate a lot. And enjoyed almost all of it!
- Yak and Yeti (at Animal Kingdom Park) – LOVED. This is our second time here and it didn’t disappoint. Food and service were amazing and we were seating upstairs with a lovely view of Animal Kingdom below.
- Biergarten – LOVED as always. The food here is not the best in the world, but it’s consistent and since I’m a vegetarian with a starch problem, the abundance of potatoes in many forms makes me swoon. And the beer, the music, the communal seating and the “look, you’re really outside at a music and drinking festival not inside a restaurant in a theme park” thing is magical. We’ll be back.
- Tokyo Dining (Epcot) – they recently changed their menu and a couple of our favorites our gone, but we always enjoy it here. And the Japanese wine I had was truly delicious. I’ll be looking for that locally. And the service is always spot on – they are the kindest people at WDW and always seem genuinely happy to see us.
- Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom) – This was not my favorite this trip. The characters were very slow. We were there almost an hour and only saw Pooh. And the service was . . .surly. Our server seemed burned out and bored. Which was a huge departure from literally every other time we’ve eaten there. I would like to skip this next time, but my traditionalist children will insist. Hoping for a better experience next time.
- Be Our Guest – MK(dinner). This was, perhaps, my favorite meal of the trip. We did the full treatment – cheese plate to start, appetizers, main course, dessert and coffee (for me). I couldn’t believe it when we left because our meal took TWO HOURS and it was a lovely 2 hours at that. Our server was attentive but not over-bearing, the wine was really good, and the room where we were seated (the Music Box room) was very pretty and happy. This is a place to go and linger over your meal so set your expectations appropriately. If you want to eat there but have younger kids or just want to go for the atmosphere, I recommend lunch (which we haven’t done). I don’t think any child younger than 15 is going to want to sit through a 2 hour meal. But we had really good conversation and I think that time will be a stand out for my memory bank.
- Boma! (Animal Kingdom Lodge)This was a fun birthday celebration with some family from the area, and it was really good. The food was very fresh and interesting, the service was good (not great – again, our server seemed a tad burned out and annoyed), and I love the atmosphere there. Very fun for a celebratory meal and perfect for a group because everyone can find something they enjoy!
- Sci-Fi – Disney Hollywood Studios- as always, this is a fun, cool spot to get out of the heat and enjoy some good food. Although it’s very pricey for a burger and we’ve gone so many times we may be over it.
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe – Disney Hollywood Studios– Tied with Be Our Guest for the best meal of the trip! This was our final night and the food was truly delicious, our server just the right amount of fun, and the “Dad’s Brownie Sundae” was TO DIE FOR. Oh, and the margarita was good, too. My oldest had never been here, and he really loved it. Moving forward if we have to choose between Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time, I think this one may win. Great experience.
- Jungle Skipper Canteen (Magic Kingdom) – This was my second time here and I loved it again! Warning: the food is a bit unusual so if your crew is super finicky, this may not be the place for the. The inside of the restaurant is just gorgeous – be sure you stroll through all the different dining rooms – and the servers are all really wonderful and “punny” (basically it’s the same type of humor you see on the Jungle Cruise but executed by the guy or girl bringing your food. Very groan worthy but in the best way;). The boys ordered the Whole Fried Fish and as you can see from the pic, they were a little unsure, but they really loved it! And how often does one get to eat a fish eyeball? Really?
- Lord, we ate a LOT. No wonder I can barely get my rings on right now. But so worth it! To this family, our dining at Disney is a huge part of the experience. It gives us that time to sit and really talk that we rarely get at home. And although we sit down for dinner as a family almost every night, it’s not the same as when you’re being waiting on and can really just relax (well, maybe it is for my kids . . . ;).
Up next: the spa at Saratoga Springs, a teenager getting a haircut on Main Street, and Animal Kingdom after dark!