I always look at Animal Kingdom Lodge among the DVC property’s in a category of its own. I don’t mean to say this is my absolute favorite resort – that tag is reserved for Wilderness Lodge. With that being said, I think its the coolest, most unique – and best stand alone property. As in you could remove all the Walt Disney World resorts and make them just regular hotels off-site and this one would shine above the rest due to the amount of amenities and entertainment offered.
I decided it might be a fun time to try out the Wanyama Safari at the Lodge after talking a bit with Sean Faulk about it – so I surprised my wife with a little private safari excursion. Now here are all the details.
- $209 Per Person (So we paid $418 total)
- 12 Person max per Safari – If your party does not fill this, you will be with other families/guests
- Safari is 90 minutes long
- Check in is 10 minutes prior to start time at Jiko
- Price includes Safari, African inspired snacks & Pre-Fix Dinner at Jiko with wine pairings.
- NO DISCOUNTS (DVC, TIW, or AP do not apply)
To start off the Safari was awesome, like nothing I’ve done before – it was extremely personal and you got SUPER close to the animals. Our tour guide told us sometimes the Giraffes would literally poke their heads into the truck to say hi. While this didn’t happen during our safari, it sure did come pretty close to that.
I was also pretty happy to find out before the safari even started they offered you a variety of African inspired snacks (I was hungry). This included spiced nuts, granola, iced tea, sausage, as well as bread and dips. Our experience was set to begin at 3:30 PM and check in for it ended up being at 3:20 PM. However, this isn’t what guest services informed me. The lady on the phone advised me to arrive 1 hour prior – which I did. Well let me tell you don’t do that, nobody will be at Jiko at all minus a few chefs at 2:30 and you’ll be waiting around confused if this thing is even happening. Obviously some confusion on the process of this experience.
The Safari itself like I mentioned was great, our guide was super informative and I can honestly said I learned quite a bit about Disney conservation efforts and the personality behind the animals here at the lodge. Jiko however was another thing that through me back a tad. I mentioned this is a pre-fix menu – with that being said you do get a lot of different foods. Chicken, Fish, Braised Beef, Veggies and the list goes on. However, this is all served in a family style with the food all coming on the same plate, like a family holiday but in my case with complete strangers. That may not phase some people in the slightest – but I must admit, makes me a little uncomfortable. Besides that fact – the food was GREAT, this is my 2nd experience dining at Jiko and I honestly cannot wait to get back there.
Now, another thing that bothered me a little is how much they flash the wine pairings around. If you look on the website it just mentions you’ll have wine pairing with your dinner – but this is actually a BIG part of the dinner. They brought out roughly 5 different types of wine throughout the whole night and explained each origins – which again, really awesome for a lot of people – I’d even say most people. But when you don’t drink and everyone else at the table does and you’re kind of twiddling your thumbs, it can make you feel out of place. This experience is also not 21+, kids can do it but the price doesn’t change. The wine pairings definitely comprised a chunk of that $209 – and for non-drinkers and children, replacing that with a soft drink is hardly a fair trade off. I don’t believe having virgin alternatives for the non-drinkers would be too much to ask (There was 1 – but the rest of the dinner you are kind of left out). With all that being said, our server was great, the atmosphere is fantastic – and the live music is impressive at how they maintain such a peaceful environment while having that continuous entertainment. Jiko is a very impressive location to me.
In conclusion – who is this for? I think this experience is mainly for adult couples or parties who enjoy wine – or even a larger party of all friends and family. I think those groups would get the most value from the Wanyama Safari. However, even if you don’t fit into any of those categories this is still a very cool experience I think anyone would enjoy – but it is expensive. Another thing that crossed my mind is people who are here on vacation, but do not have annual passes – this would be a great thing to do on your non-park “break” day. Have a relaxed day by the pool and do this experience in the evening in place of the days park ticket.
Have you ever done this safari? What are your thoughts? I prepared a short video for you to enjoy as well giving you a closer look at the experience.