Thursday, April 11, 2013

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani Village Review

Our most recent trip to Walt Disney World we stayed in a 2-bedroom villa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas. This resort is in the deluxe villa category, although it is part of the same complex as the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has two separate buildings called Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the original structure and while some of the rooms in this building are the villa type, the majority are standard Disney hotel rooms. Kidani Village is all villas. The Disney Deluxe Villa resorts are primarily for Disney Vacation Club members but you can still reserve these rooms directly through Disney as you would any other room, but they come with a hefty price tag if you do it that way. Disney Vacation Club is essentially a timeshare that allows members to purchase a yearly point allotment and then they can choose when to visit and what accommodations and resort they wish to stay at within their point allowance. Tracy, the other magical mom, and her husband Scott are DVC members and I plan on purchasing myself in the next few years. If you plan on going to Disney at least every 3 years, this is really the most economical way to do Disney vacations.

Before I get to the actual review I would like to point out that you can "rent" points from DVC owners and this enables you to get heavily discounted prices on Disney's nicest rooms and resorts. While I suggest you spend some time researching this, you can rent through David's Vacation Rentals and he will find you a legitimate person to rent from with a rental contract to protect your agreement. One of the best perks of the DVC villas are the larger spaces and full kitchens. And by renting points, not only are you saving almost 50% of the rack rate on the room, you also save by being able to prepare/pack your own food and avoid paying the high price of eating out at Disney.

So now onto the actual review...

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is incredibly convenient to get to if you're coming in from the west side of Orlando. When we pulled up, we circled the minivan right up to the front door of Kidani Village and, like every Disney deluxe resort, bell services came right up to us and started to unload our luggage onto several luggage carts. They took our name and let us know they would hold it while we checked in. We had done online check in (which you can do 10 days in advance on Disney's website so we headed right to the counter and only had to answer a few questions and before you knew it we had our "Welcome Home" folder and our Key to the World cards (room keys). Unfortunately our room wasn't ready yet, but they were able to take our cell phone number and said they would text when it was ready.

It wasn't long before it was ready and when we did get into our room, I have to say we were quite impressed! The kids loved it and ran through all of the rooms exclaiming about how awesome they thought it was all the while. We have stayed at many Disney resorts, including Art of Animation, Bay Lake Tower, Boardwalk and Saratoga Springs, and this was by far my favorite room..

The 2 bedroom villas have 3 full bathrooms, so there is plenty of space for everyone when it comes to taking care of their business. And the bathroom in the master is wonderful! The bathtub is almost as large as the kitchen! (maybe not, but it is large) Below is a picture of the floorplan so you can see just how much room there is.

The master bathroom was HUGE!  It had double sinks and a separate tub and glass shower.  The toilet had a separate door which was very nice when we were all trying to get ready at the same time.  In the bathroom was also a fairly large closet.

The finishing touches in this room really make it special

There is a nicely themed living room and open kitchen with granite counter tops, full size refrigerator, sink, stove with oven and dishwasher. There is also a big enough sized table with banquette seating on one side and chairs on the other.

Now this room sleeps 9 but there is not really enough room for 9 people to comfortably sit at the table and eat a meal. But honestly we didn't really eat full meals in the room and when we did, the adults ate in the living room.

Here is the master bedroom.  Along the opposite wall, it had plenty of dresser space and the bed was pretty tall so you could stash suitcases under the bed.  The master bedroom also has a sliding door to the balcony.

And the other bedroom with 2 queen beds,

We did not pay the extra for the savannah view, but many people say it is worth it. Especially if you think you would enjoy having a cup of coffee on your balcony while watching the animals. The view from our balcony was really just a view of bell services.  We were very happy with our choice because there are so many other places to view all of the animals.  In addition to checking out the animals from the various look out stations, make sure you look out the windows as you get on the elevator.  You will see something different every time since the animals roam as they please in the savannah.  We saw this giant turtle one time.
 Giraffes rarely lay down so this was cool to see too!

Even without a savannah view, there are plenty of areas in the resort to animal watch, and they usually have super comfy rocking chairs for you to just lounge in while taking in the beautiful theme of this resort.
Here are a few pictures from various observation places

All Disney deluxe villa resorts have a Community Hall where kids can go to play games and make crafts. We visited Kidani Village's Community Hall once during our trip and found that it was quite uncrowded and had lots of activities for the kids. There is also an animal viewing balcony here where you can sit in previously mentioned rocking chair while the kids color inside.

We also found that we loved the pool at Kidani. It has a zero entry pool and same kind of water slide you'd expect at a Disney deluxe resort.  Even the adults enjoyed the water slide!  It also has a great kids water play area and playground with water slides and jungle gym type playground. There is a much smaller wading pool in this section which is great for the very young (even acceptable for babies who are not even walking yet).

If there are any downsides to Animal Kingdom, it is that it is one of the most remote resorts which means a longer bus rides to all of the parks except Animal Kingdom. However it doesn't share bus service with other resorts, so it's probably a wash. Kidani Village does not have a quick service restaurant which means you have to walk or take the bus over to Jambo House to eat at a counter service restaurant. If you're spending a lot of time eating at the resort this could be quite inconvenient, but we ate most of our meals at the park quick service restaurants. Kidani does have a table service restaurant called Sanaa, but we did not eat there this trip so I can't give you a review for it. We did eat at The Mara, the quick service at Jambo, and we really enjoyed it. It is themed to be African but even my picky children had plenty to choose from. I also had the best hummus I've ever had here.

Overall, I give Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge a 9.8 out of 10. The fact I can't walk to a park is really the only thing that keeps it from being a 10. It has my favorite theming, atmosphere and rooms. I rate it just behind Bay Lake Tower and that is only because nothing can make up for the fact you can walk to Magic Kingdom from Bay Lake Tower.

I hope you and you're family get the opportunity to stay at the incredible resort during one of your trips to Walt Disney World.  Have a magical vacation!

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