This was my favorite lunar new year so far.
I’ll probably say the same next year (and the year after that) as our boys continue to grow and change. But this year was a big shift from past tradition, as we brought my wife’s parents to Florida and took them for a weekend at Disney, sharing everything we love about Disney Vacation Club, staying in a 2-bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village.
Our first stop was the community room, an awesome space with games, toys, activities, a pool table and foosball table, and a large balcony overlooking the savannah. The boys spent some time playing with their Korean grandparents while we unloaded our luggage and found our room. Amazing that we were at Kidani Village just a few weeks earlier and didn’t notice the community room. Even though we’re aware of this perk found in most DVC resorts, there is so much to do that it often slips our mind.
The room couldn’t have been in a better location. We were just around the corner from the elevator, and the exit for Disney transportation was two floors down and a short walk down the hall. Not only that, the room was huge! We’ve stayed in 2-bedroom villas at Saratoga Springs many times, but this felt much larger, especially with the addition of a 3rd bathroom. Kidani Village is quickly becoming one of my favorite DVC resorts!
We walked to the main lodge (Jambo House) for dinner at Boma, stopping at the savannah overlook to roast marshmallows and check out some animals. Chocolate and graham crackers were available for a fee, but marshmallows were free, so Jamie and Henrik enjoyed a small snack before dinner.
It was our first visit to Boma, the open-kitchen buffet at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we enjoyed the lively atmosphere. As with any family-style or buffet at Disney, it’s pricey at dinner time, but the quality of the food is top notch. The boys particularly loved the lentil stew, and everyone went back for a second plate.
Saturday morning we started with breakfast in the room, making good use of the full kitchen (found in every DVC 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom villa). We call this our “Saratoga Springs Breakfast” because we have many pre-DVC memories of staying in a 2-bedroom villa and cooking breakfast as a family. Rice, eggs, spam, plenty of fresh fruit, and waffles with almond butter and jam; all the fuel you need to hit the parks…
Which we did after a short bus ride to Animal Kingdom. It was Henrik’s first time riding the bus at Disney and he loved it. Even with our big stroller, taking the bus to and from the parks proved to be just as easy as driving, and we were in the park a couple hours before our first fastpass. We took the family through the walking trail in Africa, then ate lunch at Pizzafari before heading to the safari ride.
We saw a few different animals this time around but didn’t take as many photos. The weather was much warmer than our previous visit, so more animals were hiding in the shade or out of sight. But the heat gave us an excuse to head straight to the Dole whip station after our ride, which always makes Henrik happy.
Our second fastpass was the Navi River Journey, which is nothing special but got us out of the heat for a few minutes, after which we explored the second walking trail in Asia so Henrik could see the tigers. I love that trail for the details in the architecture, the way they make it look like you are exploring real east-asian ruins.
Another visit to the playground kept the boys busy until dinner time. We stuck with quick-service meals at Animal Kingdom, and used online ordering via the Disney app for the first time. The online ordering process was nicely done and it made our meal time as a family much easier.
We had to run from dinner to our final fastpass: the Rivers of Light nighttime show. This was another first, as we’d never stayed in Animal Kingdom late enough to check it out. I was blown away by the music and visual effects, more impressive than Disney’s well-known fireworks shows, and look forward to watching it again when Kasper isn’t so tired and cranky.
Another night at the resort, another breakfast in the room, and then another bus ride, this time to Magic Kingdom for some Disney traditions! This was especially fun for my in-laws, who hadn’t been to Disney in 20 years, and we hit the top family rides one after another: Little Mermaid, Carousel, Small World and Peter Pan. It was Kasper’s first time on the carousel and he loved it, though for some reason Henrik felt it was too fast and wanted to get down right away.
I had lunch planned immediately after our third fastpass, a favorite family-style meal at Liberty Tree Tavern. It was a late lunch (so late that we were not hungry for dinner by the time we got home that night) but we had a couple hours of daylight left after wolfing down a huge meal. Since we had used up our initial fastpasses, we could now book additional rides but available times were all late in the evening. Time for another Disney tradition: standing in line.
Henrik was begging for the race cars at Tomorrowland Speedway, had been asking for it on our previous visits when we weren’t able to get there, so I took him to the line while the rest of the family hit the Carousel of Progress and the People Mover. The wait time was 40 minutes, and Henrik waited without issue, never whining or complaining, just excited and filled with anticipation for the ride ahead.
When we were only a minute or two from the ride itself, he suddenly announced that he needed the potty, and I asked him the question most dads must ask a thousand times over the years: “Can you hold it?” The boy is three-and-a-half years old, and he held it until after the ride (which he loved) like a champ! It’s the little things that make a parent proud.
Our weekend wound down with a ride on the train (the family waited for the train and rode the last leg to Main Street station while I walked the big stroller through the park to meet them) and a final bus ride back to the resort. The boys were tuckered out and I think I was the only one who didn’t sleep on the drive home.
It was a wonderful weekend, and I hope we can enjoy this kind of DVC weekend every year for our lunar new year celebration!