As a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, I visit as often as I can, each time staying in a different resort. As a Travel Agent, I find it easier to assist clients with resort selection if I’ve personally been there. This summer, I finally stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. Wow! Just Wow! It is going to be really hard staying anywhere else.

Kidani Village

Giraffes grazing outside our room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE – KIDANI VILLAGE

I’ve always avoided staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge due to its distance from the parks. After spending a week at Kidani Village, I learned to actually appreciate the distance. This is hands down the most peaceful on-site resort.  It’s no surprise why so many Disney Vacation Club members call this resort Home.

RESORT THEMING AND DÉCOR

Disney's Kidani Village

Decor found in the lobby at Kidani Village. Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge consists of two buildings – Jambo House (the main resort) and Kidani Village (the dedicated DVC property).  While Kidani Village is quite a bit smaller than Jambo House, you still get that “WOW” factor when you enter the lobby. Every time you enter, the Cast Members will welcome you home.

Take time to look at the gorgeous African-inspired art and hand-carved masks. I felt completely immersed in the African culture. Pay attention to the writings on the walls. These are popular native Proverbs from the different African countries.

Kidani Village

Proverb located at the resort entrance. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

TravelingMom Tip: Jambo House is a half-mile walk from Kidani Village. There is a nice walking path between the two properties. Additionally, there is a free shuttle that will take you back and for the between the two.

THE VIEW AT KIDANI VILLAGE

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village

View from the lobby of Kidani Village. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

The views from Savanna rooms are simply breathtaking. While we originally booked a standard view room for our stay, we were pleasantly surprised upon check-in when we were upgraded to a Savanna view! I sure do love Disney’s pixie dust.

Disney’s Kidani Village has a 21-acre reserve with over 30 species of wildlife. Imagine opening your curtains each morning to find giraffes grazing outside your window. Grab a cup of coffee and go out to your private balcony and enjoy. How many resorts have you been to that have an African savanna outside your room? The kids loved watching for the different animals listed in the Wildlife Spotting Guide (found in each room).  Honestly, it seemed like they enjoyed watching the animals as much as they did being in the parks.

Kidani Village

Each morning I would wake to find a friendly face waiting for me. Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

Staying in a standard room? There are many different locations throughout the resort where you can enjoy the view.  I would recommend the observation porch located next to the lobby. The resort library also has seating with large windows if you prefer the air conditioning. In addition, you will find observation windows up and down the hallways of the resort.

Kidani Village

Animal Guides. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

DOING LAUNDRY IN YOUR ROOM

For years, I’ve traveled to Disney with rolls of quarters for laundry. Imagine being able to do a load of laundry each evening when you return from the parks. No quarters involved. Instead of hanging your bathing suits up to dry each day in the bathroom, you can throw them in the dryer. Almost too good to be true, right?  Each of the villas at Kidani Village come with a washer and dryer. The only thing you need to do is pack your own laundry detergent.

Kidani Village

View from our balcony at Kidani Village. Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

ACCESS TO A FULL KITCHEN

Think you won’t need a kitchen since you are on the Disney Dining Plan? Think again. It was so nice having a full-size refrigerator. Think of all the money you spend on soft drinks and bottles of water. With a villa, you can keep all the drinks you want in your refrigerator. Trying to save some money? How about eating breakfast in your room each day before heading out to the parks? With a full kitchen, you can prepare almost anything.

Kidani Village

The kitchen in our 1 Bedroom Villa. Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

THE RESORT AMENITIES

The pool at Kidani Village, Samawati Springs Pool, features a 128-foot adult-friendly waterslide. The slide was probably my favorite afternoon pastime after a hot morning in the parks. In addition to the fabulous pool, Uwanja Camp water playground offers three different areas for children to play. If you have a toddler, they will love the Observation Station. Children ages 5-7 will love playing under the water tower in the Departure Zone. The older kids will find endless fun at the Base Camp.

Kidani Village

The Departure Zone water tower at Uwanja Camp. Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

Want to keep up your exercise routine on vacation? Survival of the Fittest fitness center is a full-size exercise facility with strength training and cardio equipment.  The entire family will enjoy Community Hall’s video games, ping-pong, and billiards. In addition, the resort offers tennis courts, shuffleboard and basketball courts. Forget to bring your tennis racket or basketball? No worries. You can check them out at Community Hall.

THE RESORT ACTIVITIES

Kidani Village

Cultural Immersion at Kidani Village. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

There are so many activities you can choose from at Kidani Village. If Cultural Immersion interests you, participate in African Wonders. Here you will discover the continent of Africa through an interactive matching game.

Another great activity is the Cultural Tour of Sanaa where you learn about the inspiration behind the restaurant.

I highly recommend participating in  the African-Inspired, Disney-Designed tour where you learn the story behind the design of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village

Cast Member letting me choose a cake to decorate. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

Those who are interested in Culinary Exploration can participate in Miniature Cake Decorating at Sanaa Restaurant.  I was thrilled when I learned adults could decorate cakes.  Yes, I may have been the only adult in a sea of children, but that didn’t stop me. For an even more magical experience, register to Dine with Animal Specialists at Sanaa and enjoy an “untamed” four-course meal on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

There are many activities revolving around Animal Programs and Wildlife Discoveries. Animal Enrichments allows guests to assist animal experts as they prepare and present interactive objects to the animals. My favorite activity is the Night Vision Animal Viewing at the Kidani Rock Overlook.

You can even book a Starlight Safari for $70, plus tax. Guests age 8 and can enjoy a nighttime African Game Drive through the savannas. Night vision goggles are provided so you have an easier time seeing all of the animals.

Traveling Mom Tip:  A portion of the Starlight Safari price is donated to the Disney Conservation Fund.

THE DINING OPTIONS

Kidani Village

Can you find the Hidden Mickey in this photo? Photo: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent Traveling Mom

You can enjoy dining at three table-service locations.  Sanaa, located at Kidani Village features traditional African/Indian cuisine. Their bread service is one of the best things I have eaten in all of Walt Disney World!  Boma – Flavors of Africa, located at Jambo House, offers buffet style African fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you would like to experience a signature restaurant, Jiko – The Cooking Place, located at Jambo House, features African-style cooking with influences from India.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village

Bread Service at Sanaa is amazing. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

Quick-service dining can be found at Maji Pool Bar (Kidani Village),  The Mara  and Uzima Springs Pool Bar (Jambo House),

TravelingMom Tip:  Guests with refillable mugs can access coffee and soft drinks at Johari Treasures in the lobby of Kidani Village.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village

The refillable drink station located inside Johari Treasures. Photo Credit: Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom

We all know how hectic the hustle and bustle of a Disney vacation can be. Staying at Kidani Village felt like a separate vacation from the parks. We actually looked forward to returning to the room. Have you stayed here before? What are your thoughts?