New theme parks, lead to new resort areas. On April 20, 1998 Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened, increasing the overall footprint of Walt Disney World and creating a demand for a new resort area. Less than 2 years later we saw the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House (as it would later be named), a resort like no other on Disney property. By 2009 we had the opening of Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) section of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Hope you packed for a seven week safari, as we’re heading out to the savanna for our DVC Duo review of Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Kidani Village brings you to a traditional African kraal, a circular “fenced” in area for cattle and animals within a African village. The resort rooms serve as the kraal to encompass the free roaming giraffes, wildebeest, cattle and 30 other different African species within the 21 acre wildlife preserve. Making your way around the resort you feels as if you’ve been transported from Walt Disney World into an African safari outpost. The theme carries through the resort, complete with a “lookout post” with binoculars for animal spotting. The only missing piece is the oversized jeep, but you can find that at Kilimanjaro Safari in the Animal Kingdom. The rooms carry forth the theme, think uber- luxury camping (glamping, if you will).
Passholder Insight: The layout of the resort is part of the theming. The kraal is shaped like the horns of a tradition African cattle when viewed from above.
With 492 guest rooms Kidani Village is a double horseshoe design with a walking path connecting the resort to Jambo House. It has a separate lobby area from Jambo House that is elegant and welcoming, with grand views of the kraal through the 30 plus foot windows. Guests have the option of a Savanna View, or Standard View (facing away from the animals). Below are the room options for both views:
- Deluxe Studio – Similar to your normal hotel room with two queen sized beds and a bathroom. Sleeps 4 people.
- 1 Bedroom Villa – Similar to 1 bedroom apartment, as these rooms have a kitchen, laundry facilities, living room and large master bedroom with a jacuzzi tub. One bathroom with a standup shower and second bathroom.The living room couch can convert into a pull out queen bed and a pull out chair that convert into a twin bed. Sleeps 5 people.
- 2 Bedroom Villa – The 2 bedroom villa is made up of a deluxe studio and 1 bedroom villa. The only difference is the addition of a walk-in closet in the deluxe studio portion where the entrance would normally be located. Sleeps 9 people.
- 3 Bedroom Villa – A two story “house” that has the same facilities as the 1 and 2 bedroom villas with the following additions: a larger dining room, 4 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms (1 king bed, 4 queen beds in each bedroom). The couch in the living room converts to a queen bed, as well the couch on the second floor converts into a queen soft. The second floor “living room” has views overlooking the downstairs living room and out the two story windows. Sleeps 12 people.
Passholder Insights: The lobby area has an outside viewing area of the animals. If you choose the Standard View room, grab a cup coffee and head to lobby for a relaxing morning watching the animals graze through breakfast.
We’ve stayed in all the room types at various resorts. In our opinion, what makes Kidani Village different than any other DVC resort is the viewing areas from either your balcony or the lobby area of the resort. Similar to Bay Lake Tower, Kidani Village has the addition of another bathroom in the 1 bedroom and above rooms. The extra bathroom is always a great addition, especially if you’re traveling with multiple families or friends.
When arriving at Kidani Village either by the Disney Magical Express, car, taxi or rideshare you’ll be dropped off at the main lobby area. You’ll be greeted by bell services for any of your luggage needs. Walking through the front door you’ll have guest services and check-in on your left and the “grab and go” area on your right. The grab and go area is great for a quick snack or refilling your refillable resort mug. Walking further into the lobby you find the most comfortable rocking chairs, a great place to recharge and watch the animals out the grand windows.
The Pools and Recreation
Out the main entrance and off to the right of lobby you’ll find Samawati Springs Pool. A tranquil oasis within the savanna, you can relax with a drink from the poolside lounge or have a wild time on the 128-foot waterslide into the zero entry pool. For the little ones (4 and under), there is Uwanja Camp with 3 different zones featuring cargo crates, bubbling geysers and animal games.
Guest staying at Kidani Village are also able to enjoy the Uzima Pool at Jambo House. One of the larger pools on Disney property, the Uzmina zero entry pool has a 67-foot long waterslide. Like every great pool, there is a poolside lounge and bar.
Meal Time, Let’s Eat!
Kidani Village and Jambo House has arguably the best resort food options at Walt Disney World, in the DVC Duo’s option. The offerings range from quick serve to signature restaurants. For a quick bite we highly recommend The Mara in Jambo house. We enjoy the mix of familiar breakfast options with the African inspired dishes like pap and chakalaka, similar to grits. Yum!
The resort offers a variety of sit down restaurants. Below is a breakdown of the options:
- Sanaa – Located on the bottom level of Kidani Village is a great place where your taste buds can go on a safari. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sanaa is a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. For a full review of the restaurant check out our DVC Duo restaurant review.
- Boma – Located on the bottom level of Jambo House is a great place for perfectly grilled meats, and you can enjoy both African and familiar dishes. Open for breakfast and dinner. Boma is a buffet for all meals and great choice for either . We would recommend making an advanced dining reservation as it books up quickly.
- Jiko – Located on the bottom level of Jambo House, and directly across from Boma. One of Disney’s highest rated restaurants. Centered around a wood-burning oven, Jiko offers vibrant African flavors and the largest offering of South African wine in the United States. Open for dinner and two meal credits on the Disney Dining Plans, Jiko is a wonderful boutique restaurant with food that creates a memorable experience. Expect a full DVC Duo dining review soon.
Outside the restaurants, Kidani Village and Animal Kingdom Lodge have one of the DVC Duo’s go to places for an adult time out, Victoria Falls Lounge. Grab a seat either at the bar or on one of the comfy chairs and enjoy your beverage of choice!
Workout, Why Not?
If walking around Walt Disney World is not enough exercise for you, check out the gym at Kidani Village. Located just steps outside the lobby area, down by the pool is one of the best gyms at Walt Disney World. It is a DVC Duo favorite.
Overall, we loved our time at Kidani Village. It is the perfect resort when you want to enjoy Walt Disney World, but are also looking to “get away” from it all. There is nothing better than waking up to the sunrise and seeing the animals grazing, while you sip away on your morning beverage of choice. The one thing we would change is the limited options for transportation. When staying at the Animal kingdom Lodge it’s about a 15 to 20 minute bus ride to all other parks and Disney Springs. Despite that, we would definitely recommend staying at Kidani Village, you’ll have memories that last a lifetime.
All that is left to do is kick back on your balcony and enjoy the view of the animals, just keep an eye for the giraffes as we’ve heard they love pizza!