By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



Meet Dave and Josh and get your 2017 easy Guide signed Saturday 1/28 at Epcot. Details here!



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







Category — d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Shades of Green

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

SHADES OF GREEN

By Jim Korkis

Shades of Green originally opened as a Disney-owned resort known simply as the Golf Resort in December 1973 with 151 rooms. The Golf Resort was located in the middle of the Palm and Magnolia golf courses and was meant as an amenity for golfers using the courses.

It was designed to look like a two story country clubhouse and originally did not have any guest rooms. Guest wings were added in 1973 as part of Walt Disney World’s Phase 2 expansion that was also meant to include three other Magic Kingdom resorts that were never built.

The resort was generally known for its dessert of French Fried Ice Cream served in the Magnolia Room restaurant (later the Trophy Room) that also included live entertainment. In addition to golf, the resort had two lighted tennis courts for night time play and a pool.

Unfortunately, Disney guests did not consider it a resort since it was off the monorail loop so it suffered low occupancy. In February 1986, Disney expanded the resort and renamed it The Disney Inn in hopes of attracting more than golfers, promoting it as having the intimate and rustic charm of a quiet country inn.

In 1988, it was re-themed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in hopes of reinforcing the Disney connection. The snack bar was called “The Diamond Mine” to make the connection with the dwarfs. There was also a Diamond Mine Arcade. However, the resort still could not match the popularity or attendance of the other WDW resorts.

A that time, the U.S. military was looking for a continental America location to build an Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) and surveys showed that Orlando, Florida was the highest ranking location for its service members.

On February 1, 1994, the US Department of Defense to Disney’s delight at declining attendance leased the resort and the land it sits on with a 100-year lease to use for the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) program and limited the resort to eligible guests.

Eligible guests active and retired members of the U.S. military, National Guard and Department of Defense as well as their families. Others who are on vacation with an eligible sponsor are also allowed. Room rates are based on rank and pay grade.

In 1996, the resort was purchased outright, for $43 million, due to the high success of the resort, although Disney still owns the land on which the resort sits.

In the process the resort was renamed Shades of Green referring to the colors of the different uniforms. At the time, all war-fighting uniforms had some shade of green.

The resort was completely remodeled and expanded during 2002-2004. Those renovations by KBJ Architects included a new five story wing featuring an additional 299 rooms, a 500 seat Magnolia Ballroom, a fitness center, pools, tennis courts, new restaurants and dining areas and a new lobby featuring a vaulted ceiling, fireplace and veranda.

Jim Korkis on Shades of Green from yourfirstvisit.netThe front entrance overlooks a large, natural pool with plants, rockwork and five waterfalls, with each flume representing a branch of the U.S. military.

The architects designed the new building and surrounding area to blend with the existing resort to create the feel of a Floridian lodge. Its new five story parking garage was a first at a WDW resort.

The U.S. military funded the expansion project, coordinating its efforts with Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney World leaders.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! I’ve stayed at Shades of Green multiple times (thanks Dad!), and a complete review is here. Steve Bell, military moderator of this site, is the master of Shades of Green.  His web-based material is here. His book for military visitors is here.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
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January 20, 2017   No Comments

Other Hotels in Disney World

STAYING IN A HOTEL THAT DISNEY DOES NOT OWN

The best reason to stay in a non-Disney hotel is to save money. (For the Disney-owned hotels, see this.)

The Non-Disney Hotels at Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.net

Water Play Area at Four Seasons Orlando

Four non-Disney hotels are in the heart of Disney World, and offer deluxe-quality rooms and amenities for typically less than the Disney deluxes (at Shades of Green, much less).

Shades of Green Resort

Shades of Green Resort

Shades of Green Floor Plan

Shades of Green Floor Plan

They are the Swan and Dolphin, Four Seasons, and Shades of Green. (I’ve stayed in all these multiple times–the links go to detailed reviews.)

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Floor Plan Four Seasons Orlando from yourfirstvisit.net

Four Seasons Floor Plan

All these but the Four Seasons participate in Disney’s Extra Magic Hours program.

Disney World Dolphin

Disney World Dolphin

Dolphin Floor Plan

Dolphin Floor Plan

The Swan and Dolphin in addition use Disney’s transportation system and have access to FastPass+ 60 days in advance, not 30.

Swan Floor Plan

Swan Floor Plan

The Swan and Dolphin used to be part of Starwood, but are now part of the Marriott family.  These means many more folks will have points they can use to rent these, as they now go for both Marriott and Starwood points.

I’m not keen on any of these four for first timers.

  • None has any distinctive Disney theming–you could be anywhere.
  • Shades and the Four Seasons have less than great transportation, and only can access FastPass+ at 30 days.
  • The Swan and Dolphin have transportation comparable to the Disney-owned resorts, and get FastPass+ at 60 days, but are inconveniently located for a Magic-Kingdom-centered trip–which most first visits are.

They can each be great choices for returning trips–Shades of Green for its prices, The Swan in particular for a lower-priced way to be close to Epcot (the Swan has queen beds and two sinks, making it a better family choice than the Dolphin with its full beds and one sink), and the Four Seasons for its stunning amenities, and in particular its pool complex–the best at Disney World.

Complete reviews:

Another group of hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard are on Disney property but isolated from the main attractions at Disney World except for the shopping and dining at Disney Springs.

There are literally hundreds of other hotels and thousands of condos/villas/homes for rent off the property. The condos/villas/homes for rent will particularly save money for larger families or groups.

Be careful in your price comparisons to include added rental car costs, hotel parking, resort fees, theme park parking.

For more on saving money on lodging at Disney World, see this.

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January 19, 2017   No Comments

Accommodations and Theming at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, see this.)

ACCOMMODATIONS AND THEMING AT DISNEY’S PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER RESORT

Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Port Orleans French Quarter is one of 5 moderate resorts at Walt Disney World:

The moderates have much more room than the value resorts, more amenities, and (except for Fort Wilderness) much better landscaping. See this for what you get by Disney World price class.

disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-2

Although the typical moderate rooms, at 314 square feet (the cabins have 508 square feet), look much smaller than the rooms available at the deluxe resorts, differences in hall/entry layout make the living space of the typical moderates much more comparable to many Walt Disney World deluxes than raw square footage would imply. See this for more on square footage and livability.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is officially “inspired by the romance and pageantry of the historic French Quarter in New Orleans…” where you can “…stroll cobblestone walkways and gaze down ornate wrought-iron railings as you listen to the smooth jazz backdrop and breathe in the sweet smell of magnolia blossoms in the air.”

disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-7

Port Orleans French Quarter has 1008 rooms in seven buildings. These buildings are divided into a “North Quarter” and “South Quarter,” but, unlike other separately named sections of moderate resorts, have no difference in theming between them.

disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net

Rather, all share the same graceful New Orleans theming, and lovely walkways, gardens  and intimate courtyards.

The three story buildings have vertical sections divided by color, ironwork patters, and roof lines to create a bit of a townhouse feel.

disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-6

This is successful in some treatments…

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…but is mostly too low-contrast to be of much notice.

Most of the landscaping of the North Quarter is more intimate and romantic, with more of a street-scape and private garden feel, while the South Quarter is more open with more of a park-like feel. But this will vary by your room location.

Most rooms sleep four two queen beds, but rooms  that sleep two on one king bed are also available. According to Andre Willey’s invaluable PortOrleans.org,

“French Quarter rooms come in five category options: Standard (mostly parking lot views), Garden View, Pool View, River View, and King Bed (which are all corner rooms and could have any of the previous view types).”

disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-5

The river view.

Connecting rooms and and accessible rooms are also available. To the room capacities of four and two you can add one additional child who will be younger than three at your visit and who will sleep in a crib.

Prices for these bed and view categories vary. Search “Mousesavers.com Port Orleans French Quarter Room Rates” for the latest.

floor-plan-standard-room-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net

The floor plan of a standard two-queen room.

disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net

…and a shot of it.

These two images come from a detailed photo tour of a two-queen room at Port Orleans French Quarter here.

Among the moderates, Port Orleans French Quarter’s strength for first time visitors is its compactness and ease of getting around. Its biggest negative is its lack of visual kid appeal.

Returning visitors often find Port Orleans French Quarter to be a favorite, particularly if they have stayed before in one of the enormous moderates and therefore appreciate its relatively compact area all the more, and/or fall in love with the romantic setting. It’s my personal favorite among the moderates, and also the most romantic of the moderates.

See this for more on distinctions among the moderates.

PHOTO TOUR OF A STANDARD ROOM AT DISNEY’S PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER RESORT

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January 4, 2017   No Comments

Dining at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, see this.)

DINING AT PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER

Port Orleans French Quarter has one main dining option, the refurbed-in-2016 Sassagoula Float Works food court, and two minor options–the inside and pool bars.

Scat Cat's Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Across from the main entry hall of Port Orleans Square you’ll find the bar, Scat Cat’s Club…

Scat Cats Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

…with entertainment many evenings, and, more to the point, bar food–important as there is no sit-down restaurant here. (Mardi Gras Fritters are the specialty of the house.)

food-court-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net

The main food court, the Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory, was refurbed in 2016 and lost much of its prior distinctive Mardi Gras decorations.

Food Court Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

Above is what it used to look like.

food-court-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-8

And here’s what it looks like now…

food-court-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-9

It looks better at night.

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It retains only the lightest of Mardi Gras theming here…

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…and there.

Food Court Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

You order and pay for your food in a small area that not only did not get larger in the refurb (above is the old area)…

food-court-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-12

…but actually lost some space due to a larger central shelving point.

The food quality–most of what matters–improved after the refurb. Josh really liked his catfish rice bowl.

Josh’s post also has images of the menus that were up the night we went there, and you can also see them online here.

food-court-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-4

I marveled at the new drink dispensers. (Josh’s discussion of them noted that his dad would be confused…but his picture of a confused person trying them was actually of me–it was a kindness of his to not out my ineptness…but I eventually figured them out.)

food-court-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net-14

Peach Sprite, who knew it would be so good?

Port Orleans French Quarter is the only moderate without a table-service restaurant. It used to have one–Bonfamille’s Cafe–but it was shut down in at the turn of the century as a cost-saving move, and has never been re-opened (it’s now used as a test kitchen).

Even so despite the cramped size and long lines I do like the food court at Port Orleans French Quarter quite a bit–especially the beignets, made while you wait, and the barbecued ribs with sides of corn bread, collard greens and mashed potatoes! If I am staying at Riverside I’ll usually make my way here for beignets and greens.

boat-service-disneys-port-orleans-french-quarter-resort-from-yourfirstvisit-net

If you want a table service meal, Boatwrights at Port Orleans French Quarter is about a half mile walk or boat ride away. The increasingly great restaurants of Disney Springs are also accessible by boat.

Outside, the pool bar also offers a few snacks:

menu-mardi-grogs-pool-bar-from-yourfirstvisit-net

The online pool bar menu is here.

And speaking of the pool…

THE POOL AT PORT ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER

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January 4, 2017   No Comments

Review: Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

OVERVIEW: KIDANI VILLAGE AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM VILLAS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

Review - Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net

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.

review-kidani-village-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-lodge-from-yourfirstvisit-netFor typical first-time visitors, I don’t recommend the Disney Vacation Club resorts.

That said, these “DVC” resorts can be a great choice for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.

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.)

kidani-village-kitchen-and-breakfast-bar-from-yourfirstvisit-net

This 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. It includes:

Note: Kidani is undergoing a mild refurb expected to end in early 2017.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT KIDANI VILLAGE

Kidani Village has four room types

  • Studios, which sleep four in a space similar to a regular hotel room
  • One Bedroom Villas, which sleep five in a two bay space, one bay a master suite with a king bed and the second bay offering another bath and living, dining and kitchen spaces, with fold-out beds for three
  • Two Bedroom Villas, which sleep nine and essentially combine a One Bedroom Villa and a Studio
  • Grand Villas, which sleep 12 in a two story space twice the size of a Two Bedroom Villa.

two-bedroom-villa-floor-plan-kidani-village-from-yourfirstvisit-net

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

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.

Zebra Sunset Savanna Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net

That said, some unique room features make Kidani Village a better choice than Jambo House for some first time family visitors.

Living Area Kidani Village Living Dining Kitchen from yourfirstvisit.net

Kidani Village has a number of very strong positives.

  • 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 extra 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.)

Much more on accommodations at Kidani Village begins here, including photo tours of all the major accommodation spaces.

DINING AT KIDANI VILLAGE

Dining at Kidani is wonderful, but for a hotel that can sleep almost 3,000 people, it is quite limited.

sanaa-bread-service-kidani-village-from-yourfirstvisit-net

The principal venue is the wonderful Sanaa, with a quick service breakfast in the morning and table service lunch and dinner the rest of the day.

gift-shop-kidani-village-from-yourfirstvisit-net

There’s also a few lunch-style items at the pool bar, and a reasonable stock of food for the 300+ full kitchens here in the gift shop.

Sunset Savanna Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

There’s more options at Jambo House, but because of the architectural layout of Kidani–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.

For more on dining at Kidani Village, see the second half of this page.

THE POOL AT KIDANI VILLAGE

slide-samawati-springs-pool-at-kidani-village-from-yourfirstvisit-net-2

The pool at Kidani, Samawati Springs pool, is among the more fully featured and delightful of the Disney World pools.

Kidani guests can also use the pool at Jambo House.

There’s a detailed overview of Kidani Village’s pool here.

KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE AT KIDANI VILLAGE

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.

Lobby Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net

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 more convenient for first-time visitors than Kidani Village. Kidani’s basic convenience problems are long walks and limited access to quick-service dining.

Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

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.

Kidani Village also has some distinctive negatives, mostly already notedits 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

Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net (800x507)

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.

Kidani Village Online Check-in from yourfirstvisit.net

The online check-in form will not let you get this specific, so you’ll need to call.

Map of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net
The 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.

BEST FOR:

Larger families, families seeking a bit of extra privacy or more beds, families looking for a more comfortable place to stay, families looking for particularly kid-appealing space.

WORST FOR:

Families on a budget, families looking for a particularly convenient place to stay.

MORE ON THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT KIDANI VILLAGE

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December 18, 2016   No Comments

Theming and Accommodations at Disney’s Kidani Village

(For the first page of this review of Kidani Village, see this.)

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT KIDANI VILLAGE

Review Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net
There are currently nine official Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World.

However, I have come to count them as eleven and rank them as ten

Back of Lobby Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net

Ten because two of the resorts–Saratoga Springs and the Animal Kingdom Villas–have two very different areas, and a third– the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows–has too different an offering to include in the rankings.

In order of their appropriateness for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World, they are:

  1. The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
  3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
  4. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  5. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
  6. Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  7. Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
  8. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  9. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
  10. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Treehouse Villas area.

(I don’t include the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows in this ranking, as the offerings there–except Studios–are so different from all the rest. Ranking solely among Studios, the Poly Studios would come near the top of the list.)

These resorts are available to anyone to reserve through the regular Walt Disney World website or the resort reservations phone number at 407-939-7675.

They also are available to the general public at great discounts through renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member.

 THE THEMING OF KIDANI VILLAGE

Review Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas are described on Walt Disney World’s Disney Vacation Club website as a place where you can

“immerse yourself in the wonders of the wild, surrounded by colorful creatures … Delight in African-inspired details while you relax in accommodations that capture the adventurous atmosphere of the wild. Feel at home in this village alive with the spirit of the savanna.”

The Art of Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.net (8)

The two Disney Vacation Club areas here–Kidani Village and Jambo House Villas–share resources with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The original Animal Kingdom Lodge opened in April, 2001, as the most unique resort hotel at Walt Disney World, and one of the more unique in the world.

Kidani Village Savanna ViewThis distinction came partly from its stunning lobby, partly from its glorious African art and theming, but mostly from the fact that more than half of the rooms overlook “savannas” filled with wild animals.

Sipping your morning coffee on your balcony with a giraffe 50 feet away needs to be experienced to be believed…

The original Animal Kingdom Lodge also included two table service restaurants, a quick-service dining area, a pool and an exercise area.

In 2008, Disney completed converting some of the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s rooms into Disney Vacation Club rooms, and in 2009 it opened Kidani Village, a separate Disney Vacation Club building with its own lobby and check in area.

Kidani Village Pool 2Kidani Village also has its own pool, workout area, and adds a third sit-down restaurant to the complex, Sanaa.

When Disney World opened Kidani Village, it renamed the original Animal Kingdom Lodge as Jambo House, to limit–or perhaps simply re-nominalize–confusion between it, its check-in area, and its DVC rooms, and those at Kidani Village.

Among the DVC resorts, Kidani Village’s strengths for first time visitors are its views of animals–especially if you reserve a savanna-view room–its spacious and very livable One and Two Bedroom Villa floor plans, and the fact the One Bedroom Villas can sleep 5 and Two-Bedroom Villas can sleep 9.

Kidani Village’s restaurant, Sanaa–with an Indian-influenced African menu–is also delightful for adults, but has limited options for kids.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT KIDANI VILLAGE

All Disney Vacation Club resorts except the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows have studio rooms, One-Bedroom Villas, and Two-Bedroom Villas.

Most have Grand Villas as well.

Kidani Village floor plans of all room types are on this page.

Note: Kidani rooms will be completing a minor refurb in early 2017. This refurb simplifies fabrics, lightens walls, and adds power points. My Studio images are from a refurbed Studio; the rest of my images are from un-refurbed rooms.

refurbed-kidani-village-studio-floor-plan-from-yourfirstvisit-net

bed-side-disneys-kidani-village-refurbed-studio-from-yourfirstvisit-net

At Kidani Village, Studios sleep four and have a mini kitchen that adds a microwave and toaster to the usual coffeemaker and mini fridge found in all deluxe rooms.

A photo tour of a Studio begins here.

One Bedroom Villa Floor Plan Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.netOne-Bedroom Villas have a master bedroom with a king and a private master bath.

living-area-kidani-village-living-dining-kitchen-from-yourfirstvisit-net

They have as well a particularly livable full kitchen/dining/living space with a second bath, and sleep 5.

The three additional sleeping spots are on fold-out furniture in the living space.

Two Bedroom Villa Floor Plan Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.netbed-dise-from-back-kidani-village-master-bedroom-from-yourfirstvisit-net

Two-Bedroom Villas add a second bedroom with a queen and a sleeper sofa (two queens in some rooms) to the amenities of a One-Bedroom, and sleep 9.

Grand Villa Floor Plan Kidani Village from yourfirstvisit.netGrand Villas at Kidani Village sleep 12 in a little less than twice the space of a Two-Bedroom Villa, in three bedrooms (one with a king, and two with two queens) plus sleeper sofas.

At Kidani Village, Grand Villas are two-story spaces.

The master bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen are on the first floor, and the two other bedrooms are on the second.

Also on the second floor is a smaller sitting area, lofted to the main living room.

(To each of the capacity figures above, you can add one more kid under 3 at time of check in who sleeps in a crib.)

PHOTO TOUR OF A STUDIO AT KIDANI VILLAGE

This review continues here!

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December 18, 2016   No Comments