Resort Review: Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village

Overview

This Disney Vacation Club resort is down the road from Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom lodge. It hugs the animal safari giving you many places to view and learn about the many creatures on the grounds. It’s a medium sized resort with industrial style rooms and an oddly laid out building. There is only one resort at this part of the Animal Kingdom lodge. What this resort lacks in other areas it makes up for with its pool. This resort is all about it’s animal and the area of the world it represents.

Location

This Disney Vacation Club resort is in the Animal Kingdom resort area. It is secluded. You can walk to the Animal Kingdom Lodge from Kidani Village. The rest of Walt Disney World is accessible by bus transportation. It’s main pro is the animals you get to witness. The building surrounds the Sunset Savanna with the Pemba Savanna located beside the pool area. Although you are not close to any of the parks, it is a once in a lifetime experience to be surrounded by Ostriches, Giraffes and Zebras.

Transportation

By Bus

All transportation from Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village is by bus. The important thing to consider for your transportation from here is time. Kidani Village’s distance from the other parks affects how long it’s going to take for you to arrive at your destination. One of the bonuses with Kidani Village being so far from the other resorts, the only other resort that you are sharing a bus with is Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is the furthest distance from Kidani Village. When travelling to the Magic Kingdom make sure you plan to go for the whole day. Don’t waste your time traveling back and forth. There are plenty of quiet places at the Magic Kingdom for you to sit down and rest. Give yourself an hour. If you want to be at the Magic Kingdom at 8am then leave your room at 7am.

Epcot

Epcot doesn’t look all that far from this resort on the map but the bus has to go from one road to another and another. This adds some time to your travel. I would recommend leaving your room an hour before you wish to get there.

Hollywood Studios

This park is closer to Kidani Village. If you’re going in the morning you would be safe to leave 30 minutes before, unless you’re hoping to get on Toy Story mania at the beginning of the day. If you’re heading to Hollywood Studios anytime after 10am you’re going to be also stopping at Blizzard Beach so be sure to take that into consideration.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is down the road from Kidani Village but the bus still has to exit the resort area and enter the Animal Kingdom area. You’d be safe to leave 20 minutes before you wish to get there.

Disney Springs

The length of this bus ride almost doesn’t make a trip to Disney Springs worth it. Disney Springs is on the opposite side of Walt Disney World property. If you’re a family of teens and adults then this will be a fine venture but if you have a bunch of pre-schoolers or elementary school ages kids it’s really not worth it. Unless you have a LEGO lover in your family. In that case take the time to get on the bus and take the very long bus ride to Disney Springs. This bus will also stop at Typhoon Lagoon.

Blizzard Beach

The bus for Blizzard Beach also goes to Hollywood Studios and does not run very often. If you plan on going to Blizzard Beach be sure to take a bus around 10am when the water park opens. Once it gets into the afternoon the bus runs less regularly and you can be waiting at the Bus Stop for quite a while.

Typhoon Lagoon

It will take a long time to get to Typhoon Lagoon because you will be stopping at Disney Springs first. Typhoon Lagoon opens at 10am so be sure to get to the Bus Stop around that time to get the most out of your day.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

The only time you’ll ever see buses going here is on RunDisney weekends. All other times of year make your way to the All-Start Sports Resort, Pop Century and the Caribbean Beach Resort on Thursdays-Mondays 5p-11pm. If there’s an event going on outside of those dates check with the concierge to see if there’s transportation from those hotels to get you to the complex.

Pools

A major selling feature for Kidani Village is its pools. This is one of the best locations for pools on Walt Disney World property for preschoolers. With a separate water play area, zero-entry pools, children’s water slide and playground, it’s a parents dream come true.

Samawati Springs Pool

Located on the Western side of Kidani Village this pool is surrounded by deck chairs and wildlife. Featuring a zero-depth entry and 128-foot waterslide there is something for every age group at this pool. There are two spa pools, one located on the ground, close to the wildlife, with another raised high up near the entrance of the 128-foot waterslide. There’s also a toddler slide for youngsters. It’s about 3 ft deep at the exit of the toddler slide so you need to be there to catch your young one if they’re not an avid swimmer. The pool is surrounded by trees, giving lots of shade and the Maji Pool Bar is steps away, giving you a great place to grab a bite during your day at the pool. This pool’s secluded location creates low traffic. There’s no need to rush to the pool in the morning to ensure you get a table or chair. As long as you’re down before noon you will be able to find a chair to keep your stuff at, maybe not one underneath a tree but you’ll have one none the less. This area is very separate from the splash play area, Uwanja Camp, which creates less noise and less chaos in this beautiful pool.

Uwanja Camp

In the same area as Samwati Springs Pool you’ll find Uwanja Camp, an area made for preschoolers and elementary school kids. With a playground area, water play area, slides, water skirting snakes, water buckets and so much more. This area is large with a variety of things for every kid. There’s an area that is away from the water for the kid who is water timid. There’s an area with water jetting out of the ground. For the adults there are plenty of benches under shade. The Samawait Springs Pool is too far away to have younger ones play in this area while you lounge, so there are plenty of spots for you to join in on the fun or sit and relax.

Uzima Springs Pool

This pool is at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Approximately 1/2 mile down the road, this is also a zero entry pool featuring a 67 foot-long waterslide. This is a very large pool with very little shelter so be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen in this water. The pool is surrounded by the Lodge creating a great barrier. There’s easy access to the Uzima Springs Pool bar, and The Mara (a quick-service restaurant) is steps away. There is a wading pool and whirlpool. One on each side of the pool area. Also nearby is the Hakuna Mata Playground. This pool is much busier then the pool located at Kidani Village. It is also a much larger space which can be nerve racking when you’re trying to keep a close eye on your kids. This is a great place to come to if you get tired of Samawati Springs Pool, but I would pool hop to another resort before coming here. To get to this pool walk to Animal Kingdom Lodge by walking down the sidewalk past the bus stops. You continue along this sidewalk, past the parking lot until the entrance of Animal Kingdom Lodge. To get to the outside pool you must enter the lobby and then head east to the elevator. Take the elevator down to the bottom floor. Take a right and head outside. The pool is at the centre.

Restaurants

Whether you’re on one of the dining plans or looking for a couple of nice meals during your stay at the Kidani Village there are some unique options at Kidani and also a short walk away at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Table Service

Sanaa.

11:30am-3:00pm

5:00pm-9:30pm

This Indian cuisine restaurant has a Savanna view. Explore this impressive menu of lamb and duck. This restaurant has a different menu for lunch and for dinner. The lunch menu is more focused on sandwiches and the dinner menu is more of a full plated meal. Come here intending to enjoy the unique flavours available at this restaurant that you won’t find many other places on Walt Disney World property. If you are paying out of pocket this is a great choice for a restaurant because it is not too expensive but you will experience a higher end feel because of the seclusion of the restaurant. Head to the main lobby and then follow the signs to the floor below. For the dining plan this restaurant requires 1 table service credit. If you are planning a last minute vacation you can usually get a reservation here a month before your date. We dined here last August and we LOVED it. It made my top 5 meals from that trip.

*New. Sanaa now offers quick service breakfast from 7am until 10:30am. *

Jiko- The Cooking Place.

5:30pm-10:00pm

Located in the neighbouring Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jiko- The Cooking Place is one of the Signature Restaurants at Walt Disney World. Located off the main lobby, this restaurant is known for its wine selection. It’s also very easy to get a last minute reservation. The menu here is constantly changing but you can count on a variety of African, Indian and Mediterranean dishes. Enjoy the show as chefs prepare food in the open kitchen. For the dining plan this restaurant requires 2 table service credits.

Boma – Flavours of Africa.

7:30am-11:00am

5:00pm-9:30pm

This buffet-style restaurant is located on the bottom floor of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. With a view of the pool, you have a wide selection of dishes to choose from at breakfast time and at dinner time. This is a great option if you want to try some of the Indian or African dishes but don’t want to commit to a whole dish. You can try a variety of things and still have some old favourites to rely on. This restaurant is also not very popular, so you can expect to get a last minute reservation.

Quick-Service

Sanaa.

7:00am-10:30am

This table service restaurant becomes a quick service restaurant in the mornings for guests looking for some delicious breakfast before hitting the parks. The menu is not extensive but there are waffles, egg platters and fruit options. Great for those wanting to stay put for the beginning of the day or for a lazy morning of breakfast in your room with cartoons and savanna views.

Maji Pool Bar

11:00am-9:00pm

You don’t need to go far if you’re enjoying a day at the Samawati Springs Pool. Maji Pool Bar offers a great variety of sandwiches and salads. I personally love the Roast Beef sandwich and the Hummus Platter, great for a day that is hot and you don’t feel like eating a big meal. They also have a variety of snacks and alcoholic beverages. Maji’s is located at the entrance to the Kidani Village pool area.

The Mara

6:30am-1:30am

Head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to The Mara for an extensive selection of breakfast, lunch and supper. A cafeteria style restaurant, The Mara offers great combos for everyone in your family. Whether you’re looking for bacon and eggs for breakfast or cheeseburgers and fries for lunch you can find it here. They also offer a late night dining menu for those nights you’re hungry after a long day at the park. This restaurant is a little hard to find. Follow the signs for the pool, which is through the lobby, down to the bottom floor and outside. Follow the paved pathway, passing Boma’s on your left, and then you will find the Mara. This is the only place you can find a quick-service breakfast on this resort property.

Johari Treasures

7:00am-11:00pm

To supplement for a lack of quick-service restaurants in close proximity this gift shop offers some breakfast options every morning. Bagels and muffins and fruit mostly. Instead of getting breakfast from here it’s a better use of your money to have these things in your room and make them yourself.

Uzima Springs Pool Bar

11:00am-9:00pm

You don’t have to go far to enjoy lunch by the Uzima Springs Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This pool bar has a large variety of lunch and supper items. From flatbreads to salads, there’s even an African Stew if you feel like you need to be warmed up. Find this pool bar bordering the Uzima Springs Pool.

Lounges

Maji Pool Bar

11:00am-9:00pm

This quick-service restaurant also offers many alcoholic beverages to enjoy on a bar stool or on their patio bordering the safari. Or take your drink to your chair by the pool.

Sanaa Lounge

11:30am-12:00am

This lounge is located by Sanaa restaurant and offers a few appetizer options. Unwind at the bar or grab a table and enjoy a late night snack with beer and cocktail.

Uzima Springs Pool Bar

11:00am-9:00pm

This pool bar is not open very late, which the guests probably love since a good number of rooms border on this pool. But when it is open pick from a variety of beer options or a cool pool side cocktail. Find this pool bar at the heart of Animal Kingdom Lodge pool area.

Victoria Falls Lounge

4:00pm-12:00am

Escape the busyness of your Walt Disney World vacation by parking yourself with a nice South African glass of wine at this tucked away lounge. It can be a little loud because it looks out on to Boma – Flavours of Africa. Find this lounge off of the lobby or by climbing the stairs at the entrance of the Boma restaurant.

Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar

5:00pm-10:00pm

Head to this lounge before your reservation at Jiko or you can order your meal here and eat at the bar. This bar has an extensive wine list, boasting in reds and whites from all over South Africa. This wine bar is located near Jiko. Head to the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and take a right and follow the signs for Jiko.

Rooms

At this Disney Vacation Club resort you will only find Villas and Studios. They all have some form of kitchenette and are all larger than your average hotel room.

Deluxe Studio

In this deluxe studio you have a small kitchenette: meaning microwave, sink and fridge. But with all the place settings you will need. Enter in and find the bathroom on one hand and the closet on the other. This room offers a queen-size bed and then a double pull out sleeper sofa. There’s also a table with two chairs in this room, cabinet, dresser with a TV. Enjoy your private patio and if you have a savanna view, watch the giraffes and zebras on parade. This room leaves a lot to be desired. If you need room for a playpen or crib it’s going to be a tight fit. They do have the beds raised so you have room underneath for storage.

$547-648 per night. Cost varies by view.

1 Bedroom Villa

Walk into this spacious, dark and industrial looking villa. With a full bathroom on one side and a full closet on the other (with laundry) you feel like you’re in a hotel. And then you walk into the main area of the villa where you have a full kitchen with beautiful countertops and a high island with bar stools. A large sleeper couch and sleep chair bring this room in. Coffee table and TV unit with DVD player and HD TV give you everything you need for a quiet night in. There is plenty of room in the space even when all the pull outs are being used. You also have access to a patio that is shared with the master suite. The master suite offers a king size bed. Desk, and dresser with lots of drawers. Of course there’s a TV in this room as well. Walk into the huge bathroom. It almost feels like an accessible bathroom. With a big soaker tub and a walk in shower that has a place to sit, you can bath everyone in your party at once in this space. There is also a toilet separated by door for extra privacy. Along the tiles in the bathroom you’ll see accents from the Lion King. These rooms are very large and can accommodate a lot of people. Even with luggage and purchases we felt we had more than enough room for everything and everyone.

$763-888 per night. Cost varies by view.

2 Bedroom Villa

There are two kinds of 2 bedroom villas. One is a deluxe studio with it’s door ajar to a 1 bedroom villa. The other kind is a 1 bedroom villa with a regular hotel room attached. The 2 bedroom has 2 queen size beds, a full bathroom, tv and tables and chairs. It also has access to the patio shared between all three spaces. In the first example you’re looking at the ability to house 9 people comfortably. The second example, even though you have 2 queen size beds you loose the sleeper chair that’s in the main area of a 1 bedroom villa. So you’re only able to host 8 people. With three bathrooms, three showers and one soaker tub there’s room for everyone to have privacy and get ready for a day at the parks.

$1,365-1,598 per night. Cost varies by view.

These rooms are very dark. Decorated with dark wood and animal prints. They are very spacious with a lot of detail in the wood work. It does feel industrial but I think that’s because of the dark colors.

Extras

Community Hall

Located off the lobby, check out the community hall for a vast array of board games, video games, DVDs to be borrowed and crafts. There’s a cast member on hand who hosts different activities throughout the day but who can also set you up with a tennis racket or basketball for the courts. Hours are 9am-10pm. A great place to go on a rainy day.

Safari So Good Arcade

Head to the arcade for some indoor fun where there are games for every age and every level.

Survival of the Fittest Fitness Centre

Located by the Samawati Springs Pool. Leave the lobby and go in the opposite direction of the bus stop. You’ll see a building on your left as you are approaching the pool. This is open to guests staying at the Kidani Village, so you’ll need your magicband to gain access. It is open 24 hrs 7 days a week. If you have a teen with you they need to accompanied by an adult. Use the free weights and the variety of machines offered to maintain your fitness while on your Disney vacation.

Basketball Courts

Near the entrance of the resort are the basketball courts. Head to the Community Hall to receive your balls and follow the sidewalk past the bus stop and across the driveway to the courts. These are first come first serve. This is a half-court

Tennis Courts

Just past the Basketball courts are the Tennis Courts. They are available on a first come first serve basis and you’ll need to check out your equipment from the community hall. Leave the lobby and walk towards the bus stop, make your way past the last stop until the sidewalk comes to a crosswalk. Cross the road and you will need to follow that sidewalk to the courts.

Shuffleboard

Have fun enjoying this classic game. Check out the equipment at the community hall and head towards the Tennis Courts and the Basketball Courts to find Shuffleboard.

Barbecue Grills

Bring your hamburgers and hot dogs down for a cook out. Find BBQ cooking utensils at the community hall. These grills are located down the lane by the outdoor courts. So after renting your equipment, leave the lobby and walk towards the bus stop. Keep walking past the last bus stop until the sidewalk ends. At which point cross the driveway to the Barbecue Grills.

Movies Under The Stars

Head to the Samawati pool grounds for the nightly movies under the stars. This happens every night at sundown. Check the schedule at the front desk or the one given to you upon your arrival to see what’s playing. They do offer a variety of animated and live films. So make sure the film is suitable for your family before promising this special evening to your kids.

Campfires

Head to the campfire to enjoy roasted marshmallows and a beautiful view of the savanna. Located off of the lobby, head down to the fire pit and immerse yourself in the beautiful wildlife. Offered around 5:30-6:30, check with community hall to make sure the campfire is on, it may be cancelled due to weather.

Savanna Overlook

Unique to this resort are the savanna viewing points. At different times of the day you will find cast members stationed at these places to give you information about the animals roaming the savanna. They can also point out certain creatures that may be hiding. If there is no one around there is a description written of all the different animals within view. There are two savanna overlook locations at Kidani Village and two at the neighbouring Animal Kingdom Lodge. At Kidani Village you’ll find a savanna viewpoint beside the Maji Pool Bar on the western side of the resort. Make your way to the pool and go as far as you can. The other location is down the stairs from the Kidani Village lobby. On the bottom level you can go out onto paved stones and watch the wildlife, you can also enjoy the view from the upper level on a balcony with rocking chairs. Pretty amazing spot to enjoy your morning cup of Joffrey’s. The two locations at the Animal Kingdom Lodge can be found off of the main lobby. Walk to the end of the lobby and out the doors. There’s a large area you can walk around and spy different animals. The other location is past the Uzima Springs Pool. Go past the pool, past the whirlpool and you will find the savanna overlook.

Playground

There is the mix of wet and dry playground at Uwanja Camp (the children’s pool at Kidan Village) but if you’re paranoid your child will end up wet and you want them to stay dry, check out the Hakuna Matata playground at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Located past the Uzima Springs pool, this is a long trek for a playground. But a great place to wear off some energy after a meal at Boma – Flavours of Africa. Or something to do if your kids are up very early, before your breakfast reservation or the pools open.

Spa

Located at the eastern end of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Zahanati, offers massages and facials. Swedish Massages are $115/50 min, $175/80 min. Firm-Pressure Massages at $125/50 min and $180/80 min. Facials are $185/50 minutes. Call (407) 939-7727 to make an appointment. This could be a great way to unwind after a stressful few days at the park or as a reward after a RunDisney race.

Simba’s Clubhouse

Check out this great place for your kids to spend some time without the parents. At this children’s activity centre your child will participate in games and organized activities. At a 2-hour minimum, kids from ages 3 to 12 (must be fully potty-trained) can enjoy dinner at 6pm or a snack at 10:00pm. The cost is $15 per child per hour. Make sure to call ahead to make  reservation. This activity centre is located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Find the entrance located past The Mara.

Running

This resort is the WORST for running. There are no paths. You can not run along the savanna, which makes sense, you’d probably alarm the animals. So you’re stuck weaving your way along the parking lot back and forth from Kidani Village to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s almost better to use the gym at this resort. Here is a little route I did up if you really want to run outside while stay at Kidani Village. Hopefully you have some good tunes or podcasts downloaded to keep you entertained.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=7047149

Shopping

There’s minimal shopping available at Kidani Village, there’s a little bit more variety at the shop location at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Neither of these shops carry dining plan refillable mugs.

Johari Treasures

Located on your immediate right upon entering Kidani Village, this shop offers plenty of food selections for your room kitchen or kitchenette. There are also some souvenir mugs and shirts. You can also find things you would find at your corner store: books, magazines, toothbrushes, razors. These are product necessities not souvenir style purchases. They also offer some unique African musical instruments.

Zawadi Marketplace

Located at the entrance of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this large shop offers a variety of Disney merchandise, including products you find at the Animal Kingdom. You can also find bathing suits and cover ups and pool side toys. This store is beautiful designed make sure to make a stop in here when you come over to check out the pool or restaurants.

Personal Touch:

We really enjoyed our stay at Kidani Village. We did not go to any of the parks while we stayed at this resort. We did a multi-resort vacation. Visiting all the parks while we stayed at a resort closer to the action. We then were able to relax and enjoy this beautiful resort. The pool is major highlight. With a great area for kids and some exciting waterslides for the adults, we will definitely stay here again just for that. It’s not the best place to stay if all your vacation days are going to be spent going to the parks. This resort should be enjoyed all on its own. It shouldn’t be just a place to crash. Take the time to enjoy all the views and the animals. If you’re on the dining plan there is very limited choice here and the Animal Kingdom Lodge is a very long trek. So either order in some groceries or expect to be spending quite a bit of time going back forth between the two Animal Kingdom Lodge locations.