by Daisy Diva
When Disney lovers unite, fabulous things can happen. Our family enjoys our visits to the House of Mouse for sure, but we are usually on a pretty strict budget. That means that we usually make our temporary home at a Value Resort like POP Century or All-Star Movies or we stay off-property. Well, there is a sweet older couple at our church that are Disney Vacation Club members. They decided not to go to Disney World this year and had points from last year that they could not bank another year. So THEY GAVE THEM TO US! Y’all, I can’t even tell you how excited I was! So back in March, I sat down with them and made the DVC call that got us three nights in a one-bedroom villa at Animal Kindgom Lodge’s Kidani Village. It was spectacular… I’m not sure how I will ever go back to the small rooms again!
I had completed our online check-in a couple of weeks before our trip and had requested that I receive a text when our room was ready. Around 3:30 as we were still on the road, I received the text that our room was ready.
Since we had never stayed at Kidani Village, I found the text both very informational and also a little confusing. I understood the room number 7851 and the 4th floor, but “Pumbaa” threw me off. Was the text message FROM Pumbaa or was that some sort of vital information? Then we pulled into the parking area, and it all made sense. The first thing I loved about Kidani Village was the very first thing we did–park the car! The buildings of Kidani Village are named after characters from the Lion King…Zazu, Timon, Rafiki, and (you guessed it) Pumbaa. Parking was under the buildings, and there were signs clearly marking where each buildings’ parking areas were located. So we followed the signs to the Pumbaa parking area, found a parking space pretty easily, dragged our stuff from the car to the Pumbaa elevator, and found our room just steps from the elevator (as I had requested during online check in).
The African theming was spot on, and I loved every bit of it from the light fixtures and carpet in the hallways, to the room numbers and door décor!
The layout of the room was perfect and made the room feel so spacious and relaxing with the perfect amount of cozy and private. As soon as you open the door, there is a short hallway with doors on each side. The small double doors to the left opened to reveal a stacked washer and dryer, a pack n play, a high chair, and a laundry basket.
The door on the right of the hallway held the first of two bathrooms. This nice sized bathroom had the necessary toilet and sink with a bathtub/shower combo. This was my kids’ bathroom, and we used it to dry swimsuits over night.
Down the little hallway was the main living area of the villa with the fully equipped kitchen, living room, and small eating area. The couch pulled out as a bed for the kids, and the small chair in the corner by the balcony pulls out as well.
We ate the majority of our meals in the room, and I can say cooking in this kitchen was quite nice. It had a microwave, oven/stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and a garbage disposal! DIVA TIP: If you plan to do a lot of cooking or washing, bring your own dish detergent and laundry detergent. They provided two boxes of laundry powder and one packet of dish washer detergent, but if you need more than that you will have to pay for it. The room was also stocked with the necessary items for cooking–pots and pans, cookie sheets, strainers, sharp knives, silverware, plates, mugs, etc.
The small table had hotel information, an Animal Identification Guide, and an Activities Guide for the hotel. Our family of four was able to sit comfortably around the table for meals, but it was a tight fit. However, the kitchen does have two bar stools that will seat two more people for eating.
Between the living room and kitchen, there was a door that lead to the bedroom and master bathroom. The bedroom had a king-sized bed, two night tables, a small dresser/entertainment center, a desk, and balcony access.
But for me, the coup de grace of the room was the master bathroom. If I could have packed that thing in my suitcase and taken it home with me, I would have. It was huge! The closet for this bedroom was in the bathroom, and held the iron and ironing board, a small safe for valuables, and the bedding for the pull out couch and chair. The bathroom had a small separate room for the toilet, a huge counter with the sink, a Jacuzzi tub and large tiled shower with glass door. So very luxurious!
The real draw to staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge is, of course, the animals. AKL has two savanna areas with animals–the Pembe Savanna and the Sunset Savanna. We had a savanna view room, but I don’t believe it faced either of these main savannas as we were toward the back of the building. There were several animals right outside our balcony when we arrived, and I snapped these pictures to prove it.
The balcony was spacious with four chairs and a small table. I felt very safe letting my kids go out on the balcony as the railing was tall and sturdy.
For those of you planning to visit AKL Kidani Village, here are a few tips I have for you:
- Complete the online check-in. You can make special requests for your room and sign up to get a text with your room information. This was great! We never checked in or out at the desk in the lobby. We already had our Magic Bands, so we were able to go straight to the room and completely bypass the lobby!
- If I could complete the online check-in over again, I would do things differently. When it comes to room preferences, I was given two choices from a list of 8-10. Since I wasn’t really familiar with the resort, I made some incorrect assumptions. I selected “higher floor room” and “close to the elevator.” If I could do it over again, I would select a specific savanna. I thought “savanna view” meant “MAIN savanna view” but that is not the case. Pembe Savanna View and Sunset Savanna View were listed as choices during online check-in, but I didn’t select either one. I should have–the larger animals (giraffe, ankole cattle, zebras, etc) are roaming those larger savannas. Since our room faced the back of the property, we only had smaller animals like okapi, cranes, etc. We missed getting the see the bigger animals. I would probably make my other online check-in choice “room close to the lobby” if that is an option.
- The AKL property is vast–so be prepared for a lot of walking. Our room was not at all close to the lobby (see Tip #2 above)–it was at least a 5 minute walk to get there. The long walk was… long.
- Kidani Village is smaller than the main building of AKL–Jambo House. There is a 15-passenger van that operates as a shuttle between Kidani Village and Jambo House. It pulls up and drops off right at the lobby door of both building where valet parking is. We never waited more than 10 minutes for the shuttle to arrive.
- Between the walking and shuttling, it’s going to take you a while to get from one place to the other. For instance, if you are staying at Kidani Village and have reservations at Boma or Jiko (which are both located at Jambo House), it could very well take you 20 minutes to get there from your room between the long walk to the lobby, waiting for the shuttle, and then riding the shuttle. Keep that transportation time in mind.
Stay tuned for more information on Kidani Village, Jambo House, The Mara quick-service restaurant, and more from this trip.
I loved our stay at AKL Kidani Village, and I would love to go there again. But I also know that for the most part, the Value Resorts are more budget friendly for us. So don’t worry POP Century, we’ll be back! And to the sweet couple who gifted us with this trip, there is not way we can repay your kindness! You gave us memories with our family that we will cherish forever!
To book your own magical vacation at Animal Kingdom Lodge or any of the fabulous Disney resorts, contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel.