Super-quick and last-minute AKL (mainly) resort stay with parents - ideas for extra magic?

I live abroad and am visiting the US east coast for 5 days for work. My parents (who are in their early 80s) live 2 hrs driving distance from Orlando, so I’ve decided on a whim to book flights that will allow me to see them very briefly while I am in the US. Since I don’t want to spend any of the limited time I have driving back and forth to their home from Orlando (and of course am always happy to sneak in some extra WDW time), I have talked them into meeting me in Orlando for a short but hopefully magical 1-night staycation. They say they are “too old for theme parks/rides” (they walk a bit slowly but are happy to stroll for around 30-45 min at a time), but that they are looking forward to exploring a Disney resort and having a nice dinner somewhere.

I will land in Orlando close to midnight on Friday (10 October) and probably grab a cheap room at a Disney Springs resort to crash for a few hours, then rope drop Animal Kingdom (because it opens the earliest of any park, and I only have a few hours for solo touring before parents arive in Orlando around 10/11am).

So my rough plan is as follows:

Saturday 11 Nov

  • Solo touring for me at AK 7-10am (FOP, NRJ, KS, all of the animal trails I want and maybe FotLK)
  • Meet parents at Animal Kingdom Lodge (none of us have ever been!) around 11am, check into room if ready, otherwise explore resort including light lunch. Christmas decorations will already be up!
  • Around 4/4.30pm Head to Epcot and leisurely stroll towards Germany for early dinner at Biergarten (my mother is German, my parents lived there together for 25 years including most of my childhood). They will LOVE the Biergarten (none of us have ever been, and they don’t know it exists), and there will definitely be tears when my mother hears the musicians.
  • Experience 1 or 2 attractions if I can talk them into it. Soarin if line not too long? See American Adventure (my dad is a veteran and would love this)? New Moanaa walkthrough? Spaceship Earth because it’s classic Epcot?
  • Head back to lodge, early night (could consider something low-key like strolling in resort)

Sunday 12 Nov

  • QS breakfast at Sanaa with animal views.
  • Relax/pool time? They will drop me at the airport for my onward travel around 1pm.

I’m super excited to be able to combine seeing my parents and giving them a magical experience with getting to do a few things that I have never seen/done at WDW myself, but have read about from other Liners! I’m so grateful for this forum. A few questions for those who know may know:

  • For AKL regulars: how would you use the 3-4 hrs of resort time that we will have both on Sat and Sun? We will all want to see the animals, so would love to hear about the best spots for wildlife viewing, and any resort activities that would particularly appeal to elderly parents? They will definitely want to check out the resort hot tub and pool, and my mother loves to people watch.
  • Best way of getting from AKL to Biergarten: could I take a Minnie Van from AKL to Beach Club and walk into IG from there? While my parents could walk from the main entrance if they had to, IG looks shorter to me and allow for a stroll through the other countries of World Showcase, even if we don’t stop there. An alternative could be a bus to DHS and then Skyliner to IG? On the way back, we could even take the Friendship Boat to Boardwalk, watch street performers (exactly the kind of people watching my mom loves), and Minnie Van from Boardwalk to AKL back? Has anyone done any of these and have feedback, or better suggestions that I haven’t considered?
  • Anything I’m forgetting to make this an extra magical stay?

Additional info for background: my parents have been to Kenya and Tanzania on safari and love animals, and I’m certain that they will love Animal Kingdom Lodge. They do not eat a lot (usually only late breakfast and early dinner rather than 3 meals), and I think they would find character meals awkward. I plan on getting a 1-day park hopper ticket for myself and after 5pm conference tickets for them to get into Epcot.

Looking forward to any thoughts you might have to share, thanks in advance!


Fyi Nov 11 is a federal holiday, Veterans Day, which is being observed on Nov 10. I don’t know if this will affect you at all just fyi in case something is closed etc. And I suppose there might be Veterans Day events at WDW but I’m not familiar with what WDW does for this, if anything.

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Your itinerary looks nice, and I’m not sure I would revise much.

There is loads of artwork to observe at both Jambo House and Kidani Village, and animal viewing at both. There is a shuttle between the two ends of the resort to minimize walking. I would encourage this - taking in all there is to see - as how to spend the time. In addition you could go eco out the resort activities on arrival. They always have plenty going on at AKL.

In terms of how to arrive, I am not sure if Minnie van will get you into a resort without a dining reservation. But you could get a Minnie van to HS and take the Skyliner to IG.

Given this statement I don’t think riding Soarin or Spaceship Earth, or visiting the new MOANA attraction is going to be feasible for you. These are incredibly far apart from the Germany Pavilion, nearly as far apart as two things could be at Epcot. Just a word of warning on that. Probably better to limit your time to World Showcase to minimize the walking

Nothing will be closed (WDW operates 24/7/365) but it may well be a more crowded weekend due to the holiday


Thanks so much @Kitty_Ellas_Mom and @OBNurseNH

Good to know! This was not on my radar yet, will keep an eye out for any special events and otherwise just potentially expect higher crowds, which shouldn’t be much of an issue except for the strolling through World Showcase part.

Thanks for the reminder on the shuttle - that sounds like a perfect plan: wander as far as we can go from one end of AKL to the next, and then shuttle back.

Good point, I think you’re right on this one. We’ll play it by ear, but also given that it’s Veteran’s Day, perhaps dropping in on the American Pavillion/Adventure is particularly appropriate - and we can appreciate both our American and German family heritage during the visit!


I would plan to enter IG and walk around to Germany, hitting up American Pav on the way. After dinner, head to Spaceship Earth, ride, and exit through the Main entrance. This would keep walking to a minimum. I wouldn’t try to deviate to Moana or Soarin.

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