Before you even step inside Kidani Village, you immediately know that it's a DVC resort, with the obvious, but still subtle, "Welcome home" sign above the doorway. And it did indeed feel like home the second we entered the lobby. It's strange, considering that it is technically a new resort, that it really feels as though it's not. It's very much part of Animal Kingdom Lodge and the architecture is very similar, although some of the fixtures inside are different, including the lights. I loved the design of those, as they looked as if they had vibrant orange flames emanating from them.
Anyone who's been to Jambo House will instantly recognize the layout. The shop, Johari Treasures, is to the right of the lobby and check-in is to the left. Walk through and you head down the stairs to the savannah outside and the restaurant, Sanaa, which is located immediately below the lobby. We dined at Sanaa on its opening night (see the May 21 PassPorter News for the review), it's a great addition to the wonderful selection of dining that Disney has and it's definitely worth trying out. I can easily see it becoming just as popular as Boma and Jiko, and cements Animal Kingdom Lodge's position as one of the best resorts when it comes to dining.
It's really only when you head away from the main lobby and up to the rooms that you again remember that this is a Disney Vacation Club resort. The first thing I should say is that Kidani Village feels huge. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at both a one bedroom villa and a studio that friends were staying in and the studio seemed to be miles away from the lobby. It's something worth keeping in mind if you plan on staying here. If walking distances is an issue, requesting a room near the lobby may be useful.
The rooms come as no surprise to anyone who's seen the model rooms at the DVC Preview Center at Saratoga Springs Resort. I had taken a good look at those on our last visit and I couldn't spot any differences. What you obviously couldn't see from the model rooms was the savannah view and this is what I was most interested in. I wasn't disappointed and spotted a few ostriches out on the savannah. The impression I got immediately was that this savannah felt a lot quieter and more peaceful than the ones we had previously had outside our rooms at Jambo House. I couldn't help but wonder if that was just because it was the first night of operation, as there was no way of knowing how busy Kidani Village was on that particular night.
The long hallways are broken up by various examples of African art along the way, which is a lovely touch and very homely. I don't doubt that's the feeling that the Imagineers were trying to create, as DVC resorts are all about feeling at home.
Like any other DVC resort, Kidani Village has a range of facilities to reinforce that feeling of home, including the guest laundry, an arcade, and the community hall, which is the place to hang out and enjoy your free time. When I poked my head around the door, it was being well used, with people playing pool and others sitting at the tables there.
Sadly, the only part I didn't get the chance to check out was the new swimming area, called Samawati Springs Pool, but it's something I can't wait to explore on our next visit there, when we'll be staying there as members. The same is true of the basketball, shuffleboard, and tennis courts that Kidani Village adds to Animal Kingdom Lodge, but it leaves me the excitement of knowing there's more to see when we return in December.
From what I saw of Kidani Village on its opening night, it's a great addition to Animal Kingdom Lodge and I have a strong feeling that we're going to enjoy our stay there and will probably be returning there more than once.
Exotic Driving Experience
Pictures from the Exotic Driving Experience, the shuttle pick up sign at the TTC - photo by goofyboysmama
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!
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