Thrifty Thursday: Animal Kingdom Lodge ~ Free and Almost Free Activities

Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) was exciting from the minute we stepped inside the sliding front door!  I could almost hear the tribal drumbeats! 

The lodge has thatched ceilings with huge exposed beams, hand carved furniture, and genuine African artifacts.  Just exploring the lodge to discover the hidden alcoves throughout is inspiration for a grand treasure hunt of Hidden Mickeys with wonderful surprises in almost every nook and cranny. Keep a tally for each person so you can award a small prize in the Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt for your group.  (Each resort features a coin press machine that you can supply a coin to convert to a Disney coin for a very special souvenir prize.)  Disney Imagineers have gone to great lengths to place Hidden Mickey head silhouettes throughout the lodge, so be sure to look up, down and all around! 

After finding all the Hidden Mickeys venture on out to the four savannas to watch the exotic African animals roaming free.  More animal activity occurs in the early morning or in the evening around sundown, so planning an afternoon visit to Animal Kingdom Lodge is recommended to see more animals.  Cultural guides are on duty to answer all the questions  you can think of about the animals roaming in the savanna.  We’ve had such fun watching the giraffe, zebra, ankole, and cattle that we almost missed our dinner reservations at Boma!

The Cast Members are on the verandahs for several hours with night vision glasses for guests to see nocturnal animals too!  Dust off your binoculars and take them with you!  Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers a campfire with a storyteller out of the verandah.  There is a special ambiance at AKL  with the open fire and animals roaming

After the campfire and storyteller, the nightly movie begins at 8:30 pm.  While the storyteller weaves his/her special tale each night, campfire marshmallow kits and roasting sticks are available for a small fee or you can bring your own. The current movie schedule is:

Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House – Arusha Savannah Overlook

  • Sunday – Alice in Wonderland 
  • Monday – The Pirate Fairy
  • Tuesday – Meet the Robinsons (April 22 only: Brother Bear) 
  • Wednesday – Mulan 
  • Thursday – Brother Bear 
  • Friday – Frozen
  • Saturday – The Jungle Book

Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village – Tembe and Kidani Rock overlook (poolside recreational area)

  • Sunday – Chicken Little 
  • Monday – Lilo & Stitch 
  • Tuesday – Up!
  • Wednesday – A Bug’s Life 
  • Thursday – Tangled 
  • Friday – Tarzan
  • Saturday – Frozen

This is a great free activity that is open to all guests of Walt Disney World, not just those staying at the resort.  Be sure to check with the front desk or a cast member for show times as the schedule can change weekly.  Restrooms and refreshment stands are available. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village have three restaurants, Jiko, Boma, and Sanaa, offering authentic African and Indian cuisine.  Beginning at 4 pm each restaurant offers a free 30-minute pre-dinner tasting tour to tempt guests with exciting new flavors and tastes.  Boma and Jiko begin at the Jiko podium.  Sanaa begins at the Sanaa podium.  If you have less than adventuresome eaters in your group, this is a way to expand their eating horizons! 

Animal Kingdom Villas Community Hall offers games, such as foosball, air hockey, pool, ping pong, darts, and crafts for guests.  There is also a TV viewing area with DVD rental and books for rainy day activities.  Many of these activities are complimentary while some have a small fee.  Be sure to keep your Magic Band with you!  Tennis, basketball on a half court and shuffleboard are available in the sports courts area with complimentary equipment available on a first-come, first-served basis for resort guests.  Again, your Magic Band is required for the equipment usage.    

Till Next Time! ~ Leigh Anne

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Leigh Anne, originally from Mississippi, lives in North Alabama with her husband and a menagerie of furry kids (FIDS), including dogs, cats, exotic birds, fish and a lionhead rabbit. Figment, her African Grey parrot, is named after Disney’s small purple dragon, Figment. She works as a motivational speaker and pastoral counselor. In 1974, Leigh Anne marched with the Enka High Marching Band in the Magic Kingdom daytime parade. Leigh Anne fell in love with Disney while on her Disney honeymoon with her husband in 2002. They have made an annual trip back to Disney to celebrate their anniversary every year since. Since they own a piece of the mouse with their Disney Vacation Club (DVC), some years they go twice! She also plans to be the grandmother that introduces all her grandchildren to Disney World first. She has a great start ~ 2 out of 3 so far! As a DVC member married to the best Disney shopper in the world, Leigh Anne has lots of experience in finding the most frugal way to have the most fun in the parks and resorts! Leigh Anne admits to being spoiled as a DVC member but is always on the lookout to keep their WDW vacations fun and frugal! She blogs at Queen of Hysteria and tweets @la_haygood

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