Jambo! Recently my family and I stayed for the very first time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani Village in a 2 bedroom Savanna view villa. (Jambo is a way of saying hello in Swahili! And if you find yourself at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or even exploring Animal Kingdom itself, you are likely to be greeted by the word Jambo, along with a smiling friendly face of course!)
This resort had been on my daughter’s Disney resort bucket list for years. Animal Kingdom is her favorite Disney theme park, and she enjoys interacting with all types of animals. Simply the thought of sitting on our balcony watching over 30 species of African wildlife freely roam the savanna sounded like her dream come true, and the reality definitely lived up to all of our expectations! Here are my 5 reasons why Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge should be on your Disney resort bucket list too!
1.Amazing Resort Theme: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is located adjacent to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park and it’s divided into Jambo House, which houses both Disney Vacation Club units and regular resort rooms, and Kidani Village, which only houses DVC. At Kidani the rooms are slightly bigger than Jambo, and boast an extra bathroom. Both Jambo House and Kidani have their own separate lobby, and when we entered Jambo House we could not help but be mesmerized by their amazing five-story one! Peter Dominick, who also designed the Wilderness Lodge, managed to fuse different parts of African architecture so seamlessly together that you think you are standing in an actual structure inside of the Continent itself. Considered one of the best Disney themed resorts, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge also houses the largest collection of African Art outside of the Continent of Africa with well over 380 museum quality pieces.
2. The African Wildlife and Savanna Views: You are easily able to travel between both Jambo House and Kidani Village via a shuttle bus, or by a 10 minute walk. The entire resort overlooks a private 43-acre preserve populated with over 200 free-roaming animals and 130 birds. There are several public spaces for you to observe the African wildlife if you are just stopping in to look around, and you’ll find several Savanna Guide Cast Members willing to answer your questions and tell you facts about the animals as well. After dark, you can still view the action taking place on the Savanna by visiting a designated common area and using complimentary night vision goggles, which was a big hit with my family!
3. African Inspired Dining: Jambo House also houses two highly acclaimed African inspired table service restaurants, Jiko- The Cooking Place and Boma- Flavors of Africa. It offers a quick service option as well called The Mara which we enjoyed on a few occasions; they had a nice selection of flat breads, salads, burgers, breakfast options, etc. However, our favorite thing to be found at The Mara was the incredible Zebra Domes! Zebra Domes are small white and dark chocolate covered mini cakes filled with an Amarula Liquor mousse. They are a favorite with many Disney fans so don’t forget to try them if you find yourself at this resort.
Kidani Village offers just one table service restaurant called Sanaa. (I hear that if you dine here you simply must try the bread service and you’ll be hooked!) There is no quick service option at Kidani, and we found that to be the only downside of staying at Kidani Village. However, there was an in room service option and one evening we ate a very tasty casual poolside dinner at the Maji Pool Bar which has a small menu with sandwiches, hot dogs and snacks.
4. Beautifully Themed Pools: There are two pools at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Uzima Springs Pool at Jambo House and the Samawati Springs Pool at Kidani Village. The Uzima Springs Pool is more than 11,000 square feet, which means it is the largest pool on Walt Disney World Resort property. It boasts a zero depth entry, and a 67-foot water slide! To us, it seemed pretty busy, so we opted for the smaller 4,700 square foot Samawati Springs Pool at Kidani Village.
In addition to a 128-foot water slide, it has a fantastic children’s play area and super fun splash zone with tilting buckets and water cannons, there were plenty of ways to keep cool! (My best memory was sipping a Margarita by the waterfall in the splash zone, we pretty much had the entire area to ourselves all night long!)
5. Nicely Appointed Villa With a Savanna View: Definitely the main reason we loved staying at Kidani Village was our amazing villa and balcony overlooking the savanna.
Every morning we used our full sized kitchen to make a hearty breakfast and headed right outside to see which animals were roaming around. There are four different savannas, and each one will look a bit different and host different species of wildlife. Our view was over the Sunset Savanna and we saw plenty of Giraffe, Ankole Cattle, Ostriches, Grey Crowned Cranes and more. In our room they provided us with a Wildlife Spotting Guide which our whole family enjoyed, it not only provided pictures and descriptions of all the animals that lived on the preserve, but had boxes next to each animal that you could check off as you got to see each one. It definitely made for a nice souvenir to bring home after our vacation! The rooms were also beautifully themed, very comfortable and having that 3rd bathroom really came in handy at shower time. Watching the sunset from our bed was a pretty nice unexpected surprise as well!
Bonus: The Relaxing Vibe: Because we were paying for a Deluxe Resort and a bit extra for a room with a view, we found that we visited the theme parks for far less time than we ever had before. And to be honest, this trip felt more like a relaxing vacation than some of our previous ones. My advice before you decide on any Walt Disney World Resort hotel is to think about how you want the overall feel of your vacation to be. If your trip is focused more on visiting the theme parks, you may not want to splurge on a Deluxe Resort, or a room with a view. If you are a Disney veteran who has seen much of what the theme parks have to offer or are just looking for a trip with a more relaxed vibe, think about the overall theme of the Resort and what your family might enjoy about spending time there. Disney has so much to offer that every single trip can be very different than the last, and where you choose to stay will have a huge impact on your overall experience.
So there are my 5 reasons (plus a bonus) to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I do hope you consider this amazing resort for your next Walt Disney World Resort vacation! Kwaheri for now, or goodbye in Swahili! And remember, you can be part of Disney’s efforts to conserve wildlife and wild places by supporting the Disney Conservation Fund which has provided more than $24 million to conservation programs worldwide. To learn more visit www.disney.com/conservation.