Review: Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: KIDANI VILLAGE AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas (a Disney Vacation Club resort) is a wonderful place 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, Kidani Village ranks second or third, depending on 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.
That said, 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. I’ve stayed in five different villas and studios in Kidani Village, most recently in November 2016, and this review is based on those stays.
Note: Kidani is undergoing a mild refurb expected to end in early 2017.
KIDANI VILLAGE AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAS
On this basis, Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas comes in third 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:
- One-bedroom Villas: Second best, after the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Two-bedroom Villas: for families that can fit into two two-person beds in one bedroom and a king in a second, third after the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and the Jambo House Villas. 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, Kidani Village is the best of the DVC options
- Grand Villas: Second after Jambo House
Kid Appeal. Both of the Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–Kidani Village and Jambo House–have stunning kid appeal based on the views of wild animals available from the balconies of rooms with savanna views, and from many public areas.
In addition, the Jambo House Villas have a jaw-dropping lobby.
Kidani Village has its own lobby. While lovely and charming for adults, it simply does not compare to the kid impact of Jambo house. (The image is from one of my holiday visits; your Christmas decorations may vary…There’s a view of the lobby windows at the top right of this page.)
Convenience. Both of the Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC properties are incredibly convenient to the Animal Kingdom theme park. (You cannot walk there, however–buses or driving are the only options.) They are distant from the other three Walt Disney World theme parks.
Just as Jambo House is more kid-appealing, it is–in general–more convenient for first-time visitors than Kidani Village. Kidani’s basic convenience problem is poor access to quick-service dining.
Kidani Village is a separate set of buildings on the Animal Kingdom Lodge campus, and does not have within it a permanent regular quick service dining establishment.
As of later 2016, Kidnai table service venue Sanaa is offering a quick service breakfast in the morning (apparently as a test)… and there are some options for lunch at the main pool–see menus for each below or go to my review (click menus to enlarge them).
Because of the architectural layout–which is designed to maximize the number of rooms with savanna views–it can be more than a mile’s walk to the quick service eatery in the main Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House facility.
Besides walking, you can take one of the park buses–ask the driver if its next stop is Jambo–or the van shuttle available at the guest drop off outside the lobby.
That said, some unique room features make Kidani Village a better choice than Jambo House for some first time family visitors–see the summary above, or the details to follow.
OTHER DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF KIDANI VILLAGE RESORT
- It is one of only a few Disney Vacation Club resorts that can fit 5 people in a One-bedroom villa, or 9 into a Two-Bedroom.
- Along with Jambo House, it uniquely presents savanna views of animals roaming.
- Changes it reflects to the older layouts of the typical Disney Vacation Club villas makes it among the most livable of DVC one bedroom villas.
- The kitchen/dining/living room area has been both widened and deepened.
- This space has been used to add both a second full bath to One-Bedroom Villas, and enough living space in the living room that it can be used even if the fold-out sleeper sofa is being used.
- (These features carry over to two bedroom villas as well.)
Compare the Kidani Village’s One-Bedroom Villa floor plan (above) with that of a similar villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa (below).
Kidani Village also has some distinctive negatives, mostly already noted—its distance from theme parks other than the Animal Kingdom, and its limited quick service dining.
BEST AND WORST ROOMS AT KIDANI VILLAGE
For those seeking an Animal Kingdom Lodge Disney Vacation Club experience, for most room types, Jambo House is a better choice than Kidani Village.
- Studio rooms: Prefer Jambo House, because of the stunning lobby and better access to quick service dining
- One-bedroom Villas: Prefer Kidani Village, for a much more livable floor plan, with extra size and a bath for each sleeping space
- Two-bedroom Villas:
- Families that can fit into two beds in one bedroom, and a king in a second, should prefer Jambo House for its lobby and dining flexibility
- Families that need to use the sleeper sofa and/or sleeper chair in the combined living/dining/kitchen space should prefer Kidani Village for its extra size and third bath
- Grand Villas: Prefer Jambo House for more square footage, the kid appeal of the lobby, and more convenient dining
If you do reserve Kidani Village, request a savanna view room on the third or fourth floor (these floors provides the best views).
- If quick service dining at Jambo is also an issue for you, ask for a savanna view room near the Jambo House. Specifically, ask for a room near the Zazu elevator. (The best of these are even numbered rooms 7338-7346 on the third floor, and 7438-7452 on the fourth floor.)
- If quick service dining is not an issue, request a savanna view room between the lobby and the elevator most convenient to the pool–the Rafiki elevator. Even numbered rooms 7614-7622 on the third floor, and 7814-7820 on the fourth floor, are the best of these.
The online check-in form will not let you get this specific, so you’ll need to call.
The first map shows all of the Animal Kingdom Lodge complex–Kidani Village in on the left. Note how far the most distant Kidani rooms are from the center of Kidani. I get them as about a quarter mile away.
The second map is Kidani Village itself. As always on this site, click the images to enlarge them.
Families on a budget, families looking for a particularly convenient place to stay.
PHOTO TOUR OF A TWO BEDROOM VILLA AT KIDANI VILLAGE
This review continues here!