On this vacation, we stayed 6 nights in a 2 bedroom villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort complex is made up of 2 resort areas, Jambo House and Kidani Village. The theme of the resort is an African lodge where you might stay when traveling on a safari.
Below is the Resort Map and our activities guide from July 2014.
Jambo House was built first. It is the cup looking structure on the right of the map. It consists of hotel rooms and was later renovated to include some villa rooms (I will discuss the difference in hotel and villa rooms later on). Kidani Village was added on and is completely villa rooms. Kidani Village is the E looking structure to the left on the map. Jambo House features 2 restaurants, Boma and Jiko, a quick-service food location, pool, playground and nice sized gift shop. Kidani Village features one restaurant, Sanaa, a pool, and a small gift shop. Both areas have wonderful viewing areas where you can view the animals that are on the property. Giraffes, zebras, spectacular birds, along with other exotic animals call the resort home. As a guest at the resort, you are free to use the pool and other amenities of either area when you stay. There is a shuttle (white passenger van) that continually runs between the main lobbies of each resort. We used this and found it very efficient. I did make the walk and I timed it and it took less than 10 minutes.
This next video is a continuous walk through of the room so you can see the flow of the connecting rooms a little better.
Villa rooms are different from the regular hotel rooms because villas are primarily available for booking for members of Disney’s Vacation Club (Disney’s timeshare). The villas typically have features that create a home away from home feel. A hotel room would have 2 queen beds, a mini-fridge, and a bathroom. The deluxe studio villa has 1 queen bed, a couch that is a queen sleeper sofa, mini-fridge, toaster, microwave, and bathroom. Villa options include units with full kitchens and washers and dryers. These units are the 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and Grand Villa rooms.
Now that you know a little about the resort, I can tell you about our stay. We stayed at Kidani Village. We are Disney Vacation Club members and stayed in a 2 bedroom lock-off. A 2 bedroom lock-off is a 1 bedroom unit that has a connecting studio. There are dedicated 2 bedroom units and the difference is in the 2nd bedroom where the studio is replaced by a room that has 2 queen beds and still has a private bathroom. Please watch the videos to see our room. There are 2 room views: Savanna View and Standard View. We booked a standard view to save costs. Our room view was the sidewalk to the pool. We were the first room off the lobby. Great for a quick walk to our room after being in the parks all day. It was not so good for just hanging out on the patio.
On this vacation, our room held 4 adults and 3 children (ages 15, 8, & 7). This room was spacious and we were all able to spread out and have our own personal space. The only criticism I have of our room is the counter top and storage space in the kitchen. I wish there was more.
On the day we arrived we dined at Sanaa, a table service restaurant with African and Indian inspired food. We arrived at 11:30am. I feel we had one of the best seats in the restaurant. We were seated near large windows that overlooked the savanna. While we dined we could enjoy watching the animals. We even had a bird friend who seemed to enjoy that we were watching him. For an appetizer, we got the famous Naan bread service (as seen on Food Network). For $11.99 you get your choice of 3 of the Naan bread and all the different sauce samplings. There is a cheaper option for $9.99 where you only receive 3 sauce choices, but since we were wanted to try it all we splurged the extra $2. It was worth it because we liked some of the sauces we would never have picked. For lunch, Ryan had the Tandoori Shrimp and I had the Tandoori Chicken. The boys each had the children’s meatloaf. We added a fruit cup and 1 adult beverage. The food was very good and reasonably priced by Disney standards. Our lunch for the 4 of us with a 10% AP discount including tip was approx $75.
Since we are on the topic of restaurants, we also enjoyed a meal at Boma located in Jambo House. Boma is considered one of the best buffets on Disney property and it is recommended that you have an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation). We used the shuttle to get over to the Jambo House. We had to wait about 5 minutes for the shuttle to arrive and then it was a couple of minute ride in the van. Boma is an African-inspired buffet. We were seated within a couple of minutes. The food is really good if you like trying new foods. It truly is one of the best buffets you will get on Disney property…..again if you like uniquely flavored food. The buffet does keep the flavors mild and there is a kid’s section. However we had 3 non-adventurous eaters with us and this really was not a good value for them. They got enough food to eat, but I don’t think this was a great dining experience for them. They found the couple of items they would eat and then just kept eating them instead of sampling the variety of food offered. This buffet is pricey. Adults run $36 per person and children 3-9 are $16.99 per person during regular season. Summer is considered peak season and prices were increased a couple of dollars per person. Our party (5 adults and 2 kids) total with 10% discount and tip was $270.41 (we did add a beer and a smoothie drink).
At Kidani Village the quick service food location is the pool bar. There are burgers, hot dogs, and other options. For breakfast, you can grab a hot egg sandwich from the gift shop for a reasonable price of about $4 each. My mom really enjoyed the egg sandwiches from the gift shop. Speaking of the gift shop, the name is Johari Treasures. If you get the refillable mugs that come with dining plans, the drink station is here. Johari Treasures is small, but efficient. Everything you need is here, including drinks, pantry items, milk, eggs, etc. We chose to have groceries delivered to save money, but we did buy 2L bottles of Coke to hold us over for the last day. I will have a separate post on the grocery delivery process. The gift shop also carries a small selection of themed merchandise for the resort.
The highlight of our stay was the pool. We spent a lot of time over at Kidani Village’s pool. Sorry, we don’t have a lot of pictures; we were too busy having fun! The pool area consists of a zero-entry pool (gradual incline to the deeper water) which is perfect for smaller children to find a depth of water just right for them. There is also a slide for smaller children that is about 15 feet long and splashes down in 3 ft water and a longer more thrilling slide that splashes down in water that is about 4 ft deep. There are 2 hot tubs, plus additional kids splash and play areas that are perfect for children ages 2 – 8 years old. This area has a slide that lands on dry land, a waterfall, a small wading pool, plus an interactive water area that dumps water buckets on the children. We loved spending our evenings at the pool. We would swim for about an hour and then they offer pool-side movies. Before the movies start they also had a campfire with marshmallows. We didn’t spend much time at the pool during the day, but my mom did. She said they offered fun activities all day long to keep the kids entertained with things like Bingo, hula hoop contests, and such.
Transportation to the parks is via the Disney buses. We found the transportation to be OK. Picking us up in the mornings to get to the parks went very well. We never waited more than 5 minutes. Waiting for a bus to pick us up for a return to the hotel in the afternoon or evening was a little more iffy. Once we waited close to 25 minutes for a bus to show and pick us up, then the bus filled and we had to wait for the next one which was 5 minutes later. Another consideration is that if your trip is going to be primarily spent at the Magic Kingdom park, this is a rather long ride. Magic Kingdom is the farthest park and the rides home at night after a long day of being on your feet were rough. Remember that buses fill completely up and you may be standing for that ride home on the bus. If your vacation will be spent with a day at each park, then your hotel location isn’t as big a consideration. Every resort has its transportation sore spot; you just need to know what it is when you book a resort location. Sounds like a blog post for the future.
To wrap up our thoughts on our stay at Kidani Village. We loved our stay, primarily for the pool. However, when we stay in the future, we will choose to stay over at Jambo House. Jambo House has a much larger gift shop, more food options, and a more energetic feel about it. I would choose Kidani Village if you want the home-away-from-home laid back feeling. The overall resort property is amazing and an experience that is unique. Both Jambo House and Kidani Village will make magical vacation memories.
The blog post was written by Kim Slusher (aka Mrs. Travel Agent Dad).
We paid for 100% of this vacation. We were not compensated for any portion of this trip by Disney or any other service provider.