Review: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAS–JAMBO HOUSE FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
Most room options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House (a Disney Vacation Club resort) are wonderful places for returning visitors to Walt Disney World to stay.
For typical first-time visitors, I don’t recommend the Disney Vacation Club resorts.
Among the Disney Vacation Club resorts, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House ranks second overall for first-time visitors, but specifics vary a little for by room type.
THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS
You can have a spectacular visit at any Walt Disney World resort. However, this site recommends that typical first time visitors to Walt Disney World avoid the Disney Vacation Club resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. (You can find extensive detail on the DVC resorts here.)
The recommendation comes from the simple fact that the distinguishing feature of these resorts–extra space and full kitchens–will not be of much value to first-time visitors following one of the itineraries on this site, as they won’t be used much.
However, the Disney Vacation Club resorts represent more than 10% of Walt Disney World’s total rooms, and are very appropriate for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.
Because of this, I’m providing a series of up-to-date reviews.
DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAS–JAMBO HOUSE
On this basis, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House comes in second overall of the Disney Vacation Club resorts. (See this for resort rankings.)
However, there’s a little variability here depending on room type and family size. You’ll find more detail on this below, but the upshot is this:
Regular Studio rooms: second-best, after the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Two-bedroom Villas: for families that can fit into two queens in one bedroom and a king in a second, second-best after the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. For families that can’t, and thus also need to use the sleeper sofa and/or sleeper chair in the combined living/dining/kitchen space, third after Kidani Village and Bay Lake Tower
Grand Villas: Best of the DVC resorts
(These rankings apply only to regular studios and villas–not “value” ones–and only to rooms with savanna views.)
Kid Appeal. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House share the services, resources and lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–Jambo House, plus compatible theming.
The spectacular kid appeal of the Jambo House, especially its lobby and views of animals, makes it third on the kid appeal list, and the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House share this ranking. (For more on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–Jambo House, click here.)
Convenience. For first time visitors following this site’s itineraries, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House are the 8th-most convenient of all the Disney resort hotels, and the fifth most convenient of the DVC resorts.
You will see some nonsense about how far away Jambo House is from, for example, the Magic Kingdom–e.g. that it’s a 25 minute drive. I’ve timed this drive multiple times and it’s 12-15 minutes, less if you drive past Coronado Springs rather than take Disney’s suggested route. That said, the complex is the most isolated of the Disney World deluxe resorts, and one of the least convenient.
THE JAMBO HOUSE VILLAS VERSUS KIDANI VILLAGE
If all else was equal, you’d prefer the DVC options at Jambo House to those at Kidani Village.
The Jambo House villas are both more kid-appealing (because of the Jambo House lobby) and more convenient, because Jambo House has a complete quick-service restaurant and Kidani Village does not.
For all room types except Grand Villas, Kidani Village options are larger than those at Jambo House.
Moreover, Kidani Village One and Two-Bedroom Villas have one more bath than do those at Jambo House.
The difference in Studios is just a few square feet, immaterial, and as noted Grand Villas are larger at Jambo House.
So for Studios and Grand Villas you’d prefer Jambo for its kid appeal and convenience.
See the floor plan to the right for Kidani Village, and above for Jambo House.
Kidani Village’s extra width makes the living room more usable when the convertible seats are opened into their bed position.
And the extra bath can be a godsend.
For Two-Bedroom Villas, my recommendations vary depending on how you mean to use the space.
- If you won’t be sleeping in the living space, then for Two-Bedrooms go with Jambo House, as the extra space and third bathroom at Kidani is not enough to make up for Jambo’s appeal and convenience advantages.
- If you do need the living space to sleep in, then Kidani Two-Bedrooms beat Jambo House, for the same reasons that give it the preference for One-Bedrooms.
BEST AND WORST ROOMS AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAS–JAMBO HOUSE
This site usually suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms.
This is because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms.
The single exception is for visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.
Rooms fronting Arusha savanna are the most popular.
If you do sign up for Arusha, request a “Zebra Trail” room (the Lodge is laid out in “trails”–see the map)–this will put you closer to the pool and restaurants.
But be sure to reserve a savanna-view room, whether Arusha or not!
The DVC options are mostly on the fifth floor of Jambo House, with some on the sixth.
Request a fifth floor room, about halfway down the trail. The fifth floor rooms have better views than those on the sixth, and halfway down the trail gives the best balance between quiet and walking distance.
UPDATE: KIDANI BREAKFAST COUNTER SERVICE
However, since around 90% of the hotel counter service meals in this site’s itineraries are lunch or dinner, this does not affect the recommendations on this page.
First time family visitors looking for extra or more comfortable space, who don’t mind the inconvenience, and prefer its theme to that of The Villas at the Wilderness Lodge.
Families on a budget; families looking for convenience; families seeking a One-Bedroom Villa (see above for Two Bedroom Villas)