Animal Kingdom Lodge-Jambo House

meg1214

New member
Animal Kingdom Lodge was beyond our wildest imaginations. Last July when we were trying to decide where to stay, someone here recommended looking into renting DVC points, which I never knew about. Boy, am I glad they told me. In August, we rented 2 studios for 7 nights in May from dvcrentalstore.com. In February, we decided to add a day to the beginning of the trip, and had no problem doing so.
We did online checkin 9 days before arriving. When we landed at MCO about 11:00, we were able to hop right on a Magical Express bus. After dropping off at 2 other resorts, we made it to Jambo House about 12:15. As we walked up to the door, a woman welcomed us and greeted us by name. She then walked us to the registration desk while telling us about the resort and its activities. She mentioned that AKL has the second largest collection of African artifacts in America and the bead activities for the children. She then left us to checkin. Since we were first time visitors, we all received “first visit” buttons. Mom & I received roses. My daughter received a tiara. Hubby & son received pirate bandanas. One room, located on the fifth floor in the Zebra Trail not far from the elevators, was ready so we were able to drop off our carryons after checking out the stunning lobby. It was just beautiful. After checking out our room we headed to Mara for lunch. So, the lobby where we came in is on the third floor, but Mara, Boma, Jiko, the pool, arcade, and fitness center are all located on the first floor. Confused us at first. I guess because the AKL map doesn’t really show this or I missed it.
Mara was a nice quick serve. My husband liked the cheese flatbreads & salads. My mom really liked the African stew. The kids & I liked the chicken breast nuggets. The bakery area there is really great for breakfast or an evening snack with a refillable mug of decaf coffee. My only complaint is that it is far from your room to refill those mugs, but the elevators at AKL are very quick so it’s not too bad. I must be in the minority because I could take or leave the zebra domes. My family was happy that here and everywhere we went in WDW there were fresh fruit choices. We all love our fruit. I really like that both fruit and yogurt are choices with all the kids’ meals. But I digress. While we are on the topic of food, you can check out my review of Boma’s breakfast here if you would like.
The entire resort is just beautiful and the attention to detail is amazing. I have read reviews that you feel like you are in a different world when you go there and it is so true. You feel like you left WDW and you are somewhere else. You could really imagine being in Africa while you are there. There were so many activities or opportunities for individual exploration that you could go there for a week and not ever leave and have plenty to do. It’s so relaxing too. It really helped you rejuvenate.
The kids participated in Music of the Savanna.
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We all enjoyed African Folktales at the Arusha Rock Fire Pit. We were the only family at the story until another couple came about halfway through. The cast member who told the story used a thumb piano which was fascinating to DD8 and she bought one from Zawadi Marketplace before the end of our trip.
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They also joined the Primal Parade at the marketplace 1 night but we didn’t have the good camera at the time and the pictures are too dark.

They enjoyed the pool, though it took a little coaxing to get them to try the slide. Once they did you couldn’t get them off it. I love this pic of DD on the slide.
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The kids really loved to hang with their dad in the arcade for a little while at night too. They did that a few times, which gave mom & I some time to hang at a table outside Mara enjoying a snack & drink. Many nights it was quiet out there.
Of course, we also enjoyed watching the variety of animals on our own while we were there. We all, especially the kids, loved catching the giraffes. We walked down the Arusha Rock several times, sat for a long time at one of the public viewing areas. We were surprised only 1 other family came out there the whole time we were there. We also climbed up the stairs outside the building to view the Arusha Rock from comfy rocking chairs and had a nice shady view and enjoyed that for a long time one evening. Again, no one came up. I wondered if no one knows about these little areas or perhaps they’re busier at busier times of year. We had such a great, relaxing time at the resort.
The DVC representative who caught us one day when we were looking at the giant headdress (below, you can see how big it is compared to us) in the lobby told us Travel & Leisure just named it #1 resort in the US. The headdress is the first of its kind to leave Nigeria.
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I guess this wouldn’t be an AKL review or a WDW resort review without mentioning transportation. We didn’t have any trouble. The busses were there as we walked up to within 5 minutes. We may have waited 10 minutes once. They often had cast members blowing bubbles or playing with hula hoops with the kids at the stop but it really wasn’t necessary, the wait was so short. 5 minutes to AK, about 15 or so to Hollywood Studios. 20ish to MK & Epcot. The ride to Downtown Disney was the longest at about 40 minutes. I didn’t time it because I read about them beforehand and we decided we wanted to stay there and would deal with it. But we never felt it was too much. The kids filled out their Guide to the Magic books during the trips back home so that filled the time.
One unexpected bonus on the trip was since we were staying on points we expected trash & towel service on day 4 and nothing until check out. We got back after the first day and things had been replenished, towels changed, and our beds made. We usually put the privacy sign up at hotels because we don’t require daily maid service and we hadn’t since we didn’t expect this. We put it up after that until we really needed something halfway through the stay. But my mom had mousekeeping every day I believe. Totally unexpected. Also, renting points, we were able to use our room cards to use the free DVC laundry room that was just down the hall from us so we washed 3 loads Thursday evening (came home Saturday) so we had very little dirty laundry. Made me happy, especially coming home right before Mother’s Day!

All in all, if we ever went back to WDW I would be seriously tempted to stay at AKL again. I loved it that much & there's still so much we didn't do there. But we'd probably want to see another resort too. So we'd have to see. I would highly recommend it though. Wonderful, beautiful resort.
 

vicki_c

THE RULES!!!
Thank you for the great review! We have stayed at AKL and AKV-Kidani in the past, although only for short trips - it is a great resort.
 

steph123

New member
It looks like you had a great time! We are thinking about renting points for BCV next year for a 2BR villa. How was your experience with the company that you listed? It scares me a little when thinking about renting points and trusting the person you are renting from. Did they help you with any room requests?
 

AR81

New member
If you don't mind me asking about prices, Approximately how much did it cost to rent the dvc points and for the room part of your reservation? I am curious about renting points but I don't have a clue on where to start or how it all works. I was also kind of leary about it because I thought I understood the reservation was not actually in your name but the owners? Is that correct? Is the price considerably cheaper renting points vs. a cash reservation for the villas? If so, if you don't mind telling me, about how much cheaper? This sounds so intriguing to me and AKL is my dream resort!!!
 

meg1214

New member
In answer to both your questions, I loved the company I chose. I chose them for 4 reasons. I had never rented points before and didn't want to rent from a board from someone I didn't know. I felt like even if they gave references, how do I trust even those aren't some elaborate scheme? I mean, don't get me wrong, I've heard people do it all the time and it works but I personally couldn't take even the slightest chance of losing that much money. I think I'd be sick til we checked in worrying about it. The second reason I chose this company was they don't charge a fee up front to check for you. I was committed because it's the guy's livelihood and I'm not going to waste his time, but I'm not the type to pay $50 upfront to have someone check. Again, that's just me. Third, he was a dollar cheaper per point than the leading competition. Fourth, the leading competition has a monopoly which I detest. So I went with him. Again, that's just me... Paul was great! I also have a friend who's a DVC and rented points thru him after I recommended him and had great service.

He did help with room requests. He also gives you the confirmation number so you can check on the reservation which is listed under your name. Disney World just won't deal with you til you've actually checked in. So the DVC member has to do that. Like I said, we were able to add the dining plan through the member (through the rental store) and then I bought my tickets using Mousesavers newsletter Undercover Tourist link to save a little more money. He also answered all kinds of other questions for us anytime and always answered within hours sometimes minutes of sending an email to him. It was amazing! Always so friendly.

The first stay we booked was $1140. That was 7 nights, Sat-Sat checkout. We added Friday night at the beginning and paid another $180 for that night. So for the price of a moderate we stayed deluxe. I just looked and that same room would've cost us $400 a night thru Disney. A standard view at POR during the same time would be $180 weekdays. Because of this I can't imagine ever going back any other way.

Here is a link to the points charts to figure out when and which type of villa you'd want and then multiply by $12 if over 100 points for his service. $12.50 if less...
http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-vacation-club/DVCpoints.shtml
 

jmanz

New member
Thanks for the review. We stayed there in 2009 for the first time and just adored it! Like you, we had no transportation issues, either.
We are planning on heading back this Nov for our anniversary so I was glad to hear it's all still good.
 

Jana

New member
Great review and I totally agree! Our upcoming trip in January will be our third stay at AKL, our second renting points. We love the ambiance of AKL, the background music, the wood fire smell from Boma.....aahhh! I find it hard to want to try another resort:RpS_wub:
 

meg1214

New member
Oh, yes, I love the music of the drums and how could I forget to mention the woodfire smell? I hope we can go back someday too.
 

meg1214

New member
From what I read before we went the pool is open 24 hours but lifeguards are only on duty during daylight hours and they close the slide when lifeguards aren't on duty. We were never there when a lifeguard wasn't on duty but I did see people down there pretty early in the AM. They had movies at 9:00, which we never made it to.

We rented points from Paul Little of www.dvcrentalstore.com.
 

Jana

New member
Both times I rented, I found a private renter on the rental board of Mouseowners. I used a contract I found on the Disboards. I get the renter's home address and phone number, making sure to call them and speak to them prior to sending any money. I also check their ownership on the Orange County Comptroller's website. This is not a 100% guarantee, but by using an established poster on Mouseowners, a written contract and confirming the renter's info online, it makes me feel safe enough to complete the transaction. Both times I rented points for $10 each. YMMV!
 
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