Animal Kingdom DisneyI was recently transported from Middle Tennessee’s rolling hills to the African savanna in less than two hours. Walking into the breathtaking lobby of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with its jaw-dropping high thatched ceiling and African-inspired architecture, it was hard to believe I had just left chilly weather and all the trappings of Nashville soccer mom life, from laundry to car pool duty, behind.

Although many Middle Tennessee families head to the Florida Panhandle for spring break, the weather is often too cool and unpredictable to hit the beach or pool. Disney World offers warm temperatures in late winter and early spring, making it the perfect family destination in late winter or early spring. Nashvillians headed to Walt Disney World can take advantage of direct flights to Orlando that have them knocking on Mickey’s door in less than 2 hours.

Getting from Nashville to Disney’s African Savanna

I recently traveled to Disney World for the first time along with several of my fellow writers and was surprised at what an easy direct flight it is from BNA to Orlando International Airport.

Disney strives to make every part of your experience not only memorable from every detail, from the Mickey Mouse shaped bath towels greeting me in my room upon arrival to the hidden Mickey Mouse motifs, but as stress free as possible. Complimentary airport transportation is provided via the Magical Express, a comfortable motor coach that brought me to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, an incredible African style resort amidst a 43-acre wildlife preserve. I simply called (407) WDW-MAGIC with my reservation number and my flight information to book my seat.

As if staying at a Disney World resort wasn’t magical enough, the morning of my departure I found my Southwest Airlines boarding pass was delivered to my room. Disney World offers Resort Airline Check-in Service, which allows you to receive your return boarding pass and check luggage at your Walt Disney World hotel, bypassing airport check-in with your government issued photo I.D. and room key. Although not available on all airlines, the list pretty much covers all the major airline carriers. Simply visit the Resort Airline Check-In Desk located at your Disney World hotel up to 3 hours prior to your flight departure time.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Amenities

All Disney hotels offer a wide variety of dining options to suit your tastes, from toddlers to adults traveling to Disney, and I was excited to enjoy an incredible diner at Jiko, the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s signature restaurant. The butternut squash soup I had at Jiko was the most incredible I had ever tasted. I also sipped on Graham Beck champagne, the Obama’s inaugural festivities bubbly of choice.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World offered an incredible view of giraffes, zebras, and antelopes from my own private balcony – something you surely miss when you head back home.

One of the other amenities I hated to leave behind at Animal Kingdom Lodge was the enticing 4,700-square-foot zero-entry Samawati Springs Pool. The afternoon of my departure I sat and enjoyed a cool virgin pina colada in this tropical paradise. As I relaxed in the sunny 80 degree weather, in late February no less, I started planning a family vacation to Disney.