In November 2020, my husband and I embarked on a 10-day Walt Disney World Vacation. We planned what we in the biz call a “split stay”- 7 Days at Walt Disney’s Polynesian Resort and then 3 Days at Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House. This is the tale of two resort stays.
DISNEY’S MAGICAL EXPRESS
When we arrived at Disney’s Magical Express at Orlando International Airport, it was quiet- not the normal hustle and bustle that is usually in that area of the airport. We arrived at the podium, were assigned a bus and chaos ensued. Our bus driver was not happy to take us to the Polynesian as he claimed we were assigned to the wrong bus. He was going to Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Caribbean beach and one other resort. Well, after some deliberation between him and some other drivers he took us. He was correct we were assigned to the wrong bus and our Magical Express experience was a long ride. Here is the first caveat of this blog, if your driver says you are on the wrong bus, listen to him- our ride was much longer than it should have been. The director inside should have assigned us to the correct bus. Side note, during COVID, you are given an assigned seat on the bus to help with social distancing. If you need to sit in the front of the bus due to motion sickness, I asked and the cast member who was responsible for assigning buses told me I could take my assigned seat or wait for another bus which could take up to 45 minutes. I took the seat in the back.
Walt Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
“Welcome home Harrell Family”- some of my favorite words. We completed ON-LINE CHECK IN via the My Disney Experience app, so we went straight to our room. Our room was lovely, on the first floor with a gorgeous view of Cinderella’s Castle. When we sat on our back porch, we enjoyed watching the boats arrive and depart from the Ticket and Transportation Center. The pools were open. The Lava pool was fun- we rode the slide (a must do for me in every resort). Capt. Cooks, the quick service option, was open and running smoothly with mobile ordering in full swing. If you purchased a refillable mug, they had cast members filling disposable cups for you after you showed your mug. They were great, and the greeters at the door were kind, funny and entertaining while you waited for your order. The tables where cleaned as soon as you got up. All in all, safety protocols were amazing all throughout Disney. We also got some mobile order sushi from Kona Café. We loved the sushi that we ate by the pool. Movies were out on the Lilo play area, towels where placed six feet apart on the ground in order to keep a social distance and enjoy the movie for the night. The Monorail is not currently stopping at Walt Disney’s Polynesian; however, it is a short walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center to catch a monorail or a boat. The buses were running often and smoothly from the Polynesian. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here; even with the minor inconveniences of construction. My only one wish was that Trader Sam’s would have been open. I have never been in there and I have heard it is great. But what better excuse for another stay here in the future??
If you have never done a split stay in Walt Disney World, I will explain. A split stay is as simple as its name implies: split your stay between two resorts. On the morning we were to move to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Jambo House, we called Bell Services to pick up our luggage. Bell Services will move your luggage to your new resort. Keep in mind, however, that luggage will take some time to arrive. Anything you may need you want to be sure you have on your person (inhaler, EpiPen, motion sick medication, swimsuits). If you go to the new resort before a park or Disney Springs, Bell Services at the new resort will hold any items you may not want to carry around that day. You must find your own way to the next resort.
Here are some options:
- Park day? Take a bus to whichever theme park you are planning to visit that day. At the end of the day, take the resort bus back to your new resort
- Disney Springs? Take the Disney Springs bus from your current resort, shop around, take new resort bus back
- Car? Well, that’s simple- drive. Don’t forget that there is an overnight parking fee at the resorts.
Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom Jambo House
This is where our journey takes a turn for the not so great…I will never say BAD, because, hey, it is Disney. We arrived at Jambo House, checked in with the Front Desk and asked where we could get refills on our Resort Refillable mugs. Let me interject: I NEVER BUY THESE MUGS- but this trip I did not have groceries delivered so we purchased the $20.00 mugs. The front desk informed us that there were absolutely no quick service options currently open in Jambo house- NO BAR- NO Zawadi Market Place, NO Quick Service (The Mara). We were told we may be able to fill our mugs at the pool bar at Uzima Springs…but only on certain days.
So, when we want to fill our refillable mugs, we must get on a shuttle bus and go to Kidani Village just to get a drink. We were not happy with this situation at all. Food options where only available at Sanaa, also located at Kidani Village. Again, you need to board a shuttle to get food. Since the shuttle runs sporadically, getting a drink or food becomes an ordeal. Uzima Pool Bar did have limited food options but, again, only on certain days of the week. Be sure to check the information on your resort television as they will keep you up to date on what is open when.
We did find a great pizza delivery service when we asked a cast member working at the pool bar. Flippers Pizzeria– great pizza, wings, bread and good delivery.
We did not enjoy our resort stay at Jambo House during Covid-19. However, I stayed there in March 2020 and when everything is up and running, it is a great resort. Our room was lovely, we did not see as many animals on the Savannah as we have in the past. We did use the hot tub at night which was delightful, but we also did not spend as much time at the resort as we had at the Polynesian. I do want to shout out to the drink station cast members at Kidani Village who took pity on us, gave us each two drinks at a time so we did not have to get on the shuttle as often. A shuttle trip for drinks or food could take up to 45 minutes roundtrip.
So here is a valuable lesson. I strongly suggest you read the “KNOW BEFORE YOU GO “more than once. We should have read the fine print. Our expectations were high after my great stay here in March, and we were extremely disappointed when things were different this time. We need to remember these are ever changing times in Walt Disney World. I cannot recommend Travel Professional enough to help you keep up to date with the current changes and policies. Lastly, do not let these hiccups ruin your vacation. My husband and I kept reminding ourselves that it is a pandemic and that we are fortunate to be on vacation in the place we love. You just have to roll with it. And we lived happily ever after……
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post—keep in mind these are my opinions and these circumstances may have changed since November 2020. Please, leave your comments below- we love to hear your feedback.