It’s funny how old age, a few years and your baby turning into a pre-schooler can change your opinion of things….Back in February of 2013, I first visited Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) – Kidani Village for a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) stay with my family. My daughter had recently turned one. I had previously stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House pre-kids and fell in love with it. I thought I’d feel the same about Kidani but I ended up having mixed feelings.
While Kidani Village was stunning, my main gripes were it’s lack of quick service dining (with the exception of the limited menu and hours at the bar at the pool) and distance to not only Jambo House (where The Mara quick service dining is housed) but to the parks, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Park which is literally five minutes away. At the time, my 1 year old, threw a tantrum on every bus ride. Every. Bus. Ride. Screaming, crying, trying to hurl herself on the ground because she was a) tired, b) cranky and c) wanted to stand. The half hour to Magic Kingdom was a nightmare. In my original review, I actually said I probably wouldn’t stay here again.
Fast forward a few years…my 1 year old is now 4 and we are doing a last minute trip (last minute DVC trip is anything less than 11 months since you probably can’t get your home resort now). Because I was only a few months out, getting a room at my DVC home resort (Boardwalk Inn) was impossible. Our choices were limited BUT…there was a one bedroom at Kidani. I did hesitate remember our previous trip but I said let’s go for it. It’s still a beautiful place.
I’m SOOO glad we made that decision! We spent four nights in a one bedroom villa at Kidani this past January (2016). This was my first time staying in a one bedroom, normally we are a studio family. Now I’m pretty sure I can never stay in a studio again lol!! When we first arrived I remember that first feeling I got when I saw this gorgeous resort years ago. It is so intricately themed – from the thatched roofs to the African music in the lobbies, you feel like worlds away from Mickey and crew.
The lobby is beautiful, not as grandiose as Jambo House, but still one of the prettiest in all of WDW in my opinion. I spent a lot of time wandering around there and outside the main savannah with the fire pit. It was very relaxing to just go out there and sit peacefully among my animal friends. One particular morning, my family was scattered around the resort and I headed outside. It was feeding time and the animals were in abundance and not many other guests were around. I spoke with one of the Cast Members to get more info on the animals and could have stayed there in that rocking chair all day.
Resort Activities and Amenities
Because of our short trip and terrible weather (two out of five days, we had rain ALL day, record setting rain), we were at the resorts more than we thought we’d be. I didn’t realize it until this trip but Kidani has a full schedule to keep guests of all ages occupied including tours, arts and crafts and more. My daughter, now 4, was able to participate, appreciate and enjoy these things more now. She loved the Children’s Activity Center where she created complimentary and some paid for crafts, played games, watched movies and played with toys. It’s an excellent place for young kids, plus mom and dad can sit out on balcony and watch animals while Junior burns off some energy. My daughter also enjoyed participating in some activities at the resort and pool that distributed animal charms that were placed on a string. A nice, free souvenir. She also enjoyed decorating her own complimentary animal mini cake when Sanaa, Kidani’s table service restaurant, offered that to children one afternoon.
Another great amenity is the pool. While smaller than Jambo House, it’s definitely a great size with one mini and one bigger water slide. While we were there, they had a DJ and lots of kids activities. The best part about the pool at Kidani is the kids’ sprayground. A lot of guests would agree, it’s the best one on property. There is a mini pool, playground, water fountains and more. My kid loved it so much we had to take turns watching her there because she wouldn’t leave!
I’ve always loved the theming of both resorts at AKL. It’s not in-your-face Disney, but has some subtle hints, i.e. Hidden Mickeys. The African-theming carries from the building to lobby to rooms seamlessly. It’s very warm and inviting. As I said earlier, this was my first stay in a one bedroom. I felt like a queen. You walked into the room with the first bathroom on your left and are in this huge open space housing a full kitchen and living room. Off of this room is the master bedroom and the BIGGEST bathroom I’ve ever seen with a separate room for the toilet, huge closet, walk-in shower stall, two sinks AND a jet pool tub. The balcony had two doors – one in the living room and one in the master. The balcony was super long and spacious. We had a great spot too, the second room off the elevator. Our view might have been “parking lot” but every morning I gladly awakened to seeing the thatched roof over the lobby entrance. It was a pretty site to see in the early morning as the sun came out.
A new plus at Kidani was they offered shuttle service back and forth between Kidani and Jambo House, definitely a perk that wasn’t around last time. We used it a few times and never had to wait more than 10 minutes for the shuttle.
My main grief here last time was the last of quick service dining. There is one restaurant on site, Sanaa, that offered lunch and dinner table service. You could also grab some quick service options at the pool bar. But what about breakfast? Last time we were here, we either ate in the room with food ordered from Garden Grocer OR hiked over to Jambo House for breakfast at The Mara (quick service) or Boma (breakfast buffet, table service). But I am happy to say the gift shop at Kidani was now offering a very small, limited selection of grab and go breakfast options like muffins and egg wraps. I didn’t actually get to try it out but it was a nice option to now have. I’d really love to see Kidani offer a quick service all day and/or breakfast as Sanaa. (Update: Sanaa now offers a quick service breakfast!)
Speaking of Sanaa, this was my first time dining here. Wow. What an awesome dining experience. I highly recommend checking out Sanaa.
Of course, refillable mugs can be filled at the pool or gift shop with soft drinks, ice tea, coffee and tea.
Not much has changed for transportation here, but you can’t move Magic Kingdom closer can you? What did change was my kid’s tolerance to the buses. No more meltdowns! It still takes as long to get some places but it really didn’t bother us.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this but my last stay at Kidani has made me question if I should have bought my DVC points with Kidani as my home resort instead of Boardwalk!!! Yes! I loved it that much. I really appreciate it so much more this time around. I still have gripes about lack of dining but I can live with that! I really believe Kidani (and Jambo House) are two of the most beautiful resorts on Disney property. They are so unique, where else can you lodge with a savannah view? Perhaps African? No where else in the U.S. I can think of.
I think I could have stayed there all week, and not even go to the parks and be content (ok, maybe an exaggeration…). The resort offers so much and you really feel like you are on vacation. Kidani, I’ll be seeing you again one day….