by Christine Koubek
Opened in 2009, Kidani Village is an African lodge-style villa resort with a more intimate feel and a greater variety of savanna viewing options than its big older brother, Animal Kingdom Lodge, located down the street.
The smaller Kidani Village has a quiet hominess, from exterior adobe walls with colorful lanterns recessed into alcoves, to numerous peaceful sitting areas overlooking savannas, and African proverbs painted on walls throughout the resort, like Nigeria’s “A mother is gold, a father is a mirror,” and Egypt’s “Friendships doubles joy and halves grief.”
In addition, Disney’s architect, Peter Dominick, incorporated Animal Kingdom Lodge guest feedback when designing Kidani, most notably in the form of brighter hallways and a wider variety of animal viewing spots. At Kidani, the savannas can be seen not only from guestroom balconies, but also from the restaurant, elevator waiting areas and broader views from the lobby.
Important Note on Animal Kingdom Lodge
While many past guests may group Kidani under the Animal Kingdom Lodge, or “the lodge,” the resort refers to this structure as Kidani Village. Why?
When Animal Kingdom Lodge opened in 2001, demand was so great for larger villa-like accommodations that Disney remodeled the building’s fifth and sixth floors and opened them as phase one of Animal Kingdom Jambo House Villas in July 2007. Phase two is the new stand-alone building, known as Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge, which opened in 2009, adding 340 more vacation villas that are just a short walk away from Jambo House. Now both Jambo House and Kidani Village are referred to with the Animal Kingdom Lodge moniker.
This review focuses specifically on accommodations and activities available at Kidani Village. See the Jambo House review for details on Jambo’s amenities as many are available to Kidani Village guests.
Our Editor Loves
- Uwanja Camp water playground
- Kidani's Community Hall games
- More than 30 species of animals roaming around the resort's savannas
- Horse Back Riding
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The villas in Kidani Village are all slightly larger than their Jambo House counterparts and come with either a standard (parking lot) or savanna view and are laid out in the curlicue shape of a buffalo's horns However, there are no value or concierge club villa types here as there are at Jambo House.
Villas come in four sizes and are nicely decorated with colorful bead baskets hanging on walls, TV stands with zebras carved into the wood and headboards with Simba and Nalla carvings.
Studio villas are 366 square and have a queen bed and a queen-sized sofa pullout separated from one another by a bedside table.
One-bedroom villas are 807 square feet and include a king-sized bed in the master bedroom, a queen sleeper sofa in the living room, nice dining area with bench and chairs with Mufasa carvings, whirlpool in the master bath, and an orange club chair that converts into a bed, giving the villas the ability to sleep up to five.
Two-bedroom villas are 1,173 square feet and can accommodate up to nine people with a king bed in the master bedroom and a second bedroom with a queen-sized bed and full-sized sleeper sofa. These villas have three flat-screen TVs and three bathrooms, the master with a whirlpool tub.
The three-bedroom Grand Villas are 2,201-square-feet, two-story units featuring a loft, dining room table for six, fantastic views from the floor to ceiling windows and a beautiful master bathroom with separate shower and a whirlpool tub with a painting from the Lion King of Mufasa telling Simba "Remember who you are," above it. The Grand Villas can sleep up to 12 with a king bed in the master bedroom, two queens in two additional bedrooms and a queen-sized sleeper sofa in the living room.
Each villa (except studios) includes a small safe, a hairdryer, Pack 'n Play, in-room high chair, DVD player, iron and ironing board, in addition to a fully furnished kitchen complete with refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, toaster and coffeemaker and a laundry area with a stackable washer and dryer. Air mattresses (instead of roll-aways) are available for an additional fee.
All rooms are nonsmoking.
Guests can specify building, room type and view when making a reservation. The hallways are quite long so request a room close to the lobby for shorter walks. Once you have a reservation, you can check in online 10 days prior to your arrival.
We loved the room and the view. The informational tour and lecture were well done and very interesting. The restaurant is top quality like all Disney restaurants and not too pricey. The animals make a loop through the savanah area, keep an eye out and you will see giraffes, wildebeasts, birds, zebras and many others. We had a great view from our balcony.
The theming throughout the village is brilliant. The animals are real! Rooms are spacious, clean, comfortable and beautifully decorated. Disney toiletries are top quality and plenty of pillows, towels and room includes fridge, dishes, microwave, dishes and cutlery. Gift shop sells good range of groceries. Staff are observant, enthusiastic and very helpful.
Kidani Village has so many fun things to do it's worth allotting a day away from the theme parks to take advantage of them all, especially the safari (available only to Animal Kingdom Lodge resort guests) and the many activities led by the Cultural Representatives from Africa.
Experience a re-creation of a true African game drive on the Wanyama Sunset Safari. This three-hour tour around the savannas that horseshoe Animal Kingdom Lodge, offers a great chance to see the animals up close and learn about their idiosyncrasies from members of Disney's Animal Programs team. The safari ends with a multi-course dinner at Jiko - The Cooking Place. The sunset safari is offered exclusively to Animal Kingdom Lodge guests age 8 and up, and is available seven days a week ($60 plus, reservations: 407-938-4755).
Samawati Springs Pool
While the 4,700-square-foot Samawati Springs pool (Swahili for the color "azure") is smaller than Animal Kingdom Lodge's pool, Samawati offers something the lodge does not: Uwanja Camp, a water playground geared to three specific age groups. Children four and younger can unscramble animal images and play in a geyser and shallow pool. Kids age 5 to 7 can climb a water tower and run through squirting gardens. And, older kids, can stand beneath overflowing water buckets, blast water canons, or head over the main pool's 128-foot slide. Parents can take a break from it all with a soak in one of the hot tubs.
Organized (and free) poolside activities are offered daily and include dancing, bingo and Disney and African trivia contests. At night, see a Disney movie poolside. See the Kidani Village Activities schedule for days of the week and times.
Music and Cultural Events
Animal Kingdom Lodge offers several interesting activities designed to teach guests about African culture. Cultural representatives, many of which are students taking part in an international exchange program, share stories about their native homelands around the fire pit, lead a gaggle of instrument playing kids on a parade, and give culinary and art tours. The countries represented change based on recruitment. During our stay there were representatives from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Swaziland, and the Congo.
This open airy room, decorated with a big map of Africa, is the place to play foosball, pool, PlayStation 2, Wii, toys and numerous board games for all ages (think Indiana Jones-themed Life, Clue, Connect 4 and many more). Community Hall is also the place for arts and crafts activities and the place to go to borrow tennis racquets, basketballs and shuffleboard equipment for use on the sports courts. There is no fee to use the facility or borrow the equipment, unless children are dropped off for Camp Kidani.
Safari So Good Arcade
This 24-hour, high-tech game room, located near the lobby, offers classic to current arcade and video games.
Meaning "work of art" in Swahili, Sanaa is the only resort restaurant where you can watch animals roam the savanna while dining, and the only onsite restaurant at Kidani. Sanaa is open for lunch and dinner offering delicious tandoori oven and slow-cooked items inspired by many cultures along the historic spice route. Specialties include tandoori chicken, lamb and shrimp as well as Indian bread naan, which are baked until puffy and lightly browned. For family members with strictly American tastes, the restaurant offers things like flank steak, grilled pork chops and club sandwiches.
African cultural representatives are frequently on hand near the restaurant's entrance to help children play the drums. Be sure to look out the window across from the restaurant's restrooms. This small fenced in area is home to a few large tortoises.
See the Animal Kingdom Lodge review for additional dining choices a short walk (or bus ride) from Kidani Village.
Planning & Tips
Unlike Disney's Epcot and Magic Kingdom area resorts, walking to any of the theme parks from Animal Kingdom Lodge or Kidani Village is not permitted. In addition, for the safety of the animals, there are no fireworks shows anywhere in Animal Kingdom and guests are asked to leave balloons with Bell Services and to refrain from feeding the animals.
All About the Extras
One of the best perks of staying at a Disney resort is the "Extra Magic Hours" benefit where each day one Disney theme park opens an hour early or stays open up to three hours after the official park closing, allowing guests to ride their favorite rides with shorter waits. Pick up a copy of the park schedule when you arrive to determine which days extra hours are being offered at the park you'd like to visit.
Like all Disney resorts, children are treated like VIPs. It is not unusual for staff at the vacation desk to hand out Disney stickers to children passing by. Room towels are folded in three circles, the shape of Mickey, and place on a bed, and in room TVs offer a plenty of programming geared to kids.
Located in the lobby, this half gift shop, half mini-mart, offers African-themed souvenirs like Zulu baskets and hand carved masks, Disney pins T-shirts and toys, plus snack items like beer, wine and a small selection of grocery items.
Kidani's fitness center is a bright round work out space with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook landscaping and part of the pool area. The room is equipped with exercise balls, treadmills, weights, elliptical machines and a limited selection of weights. The sports court area has a basketball half-court, shuffleboard, and two lighted, hard-court tennis courts (supplies available at Community Hall).
Print boarding passes, driving directions and anything else you might need at the handy print kiosk in the lobby.
The Art of Smart Timing
The best prices and shortest waits at Disney are during the Value seasons: January to mid-February, mid-July to late-September, and post Thanksgiving through mid-December. Conversely, weekends and holidays are the busiest and most expensive times to stay at a Disney Resort, with New Years being the absolute priciest.
Guests of Disney hotels can take advantage of the complimentary Disney's Magical Express service and check bags at their hometown airport, bypass baggage claim at Orlando International Airport, and board Disney's comfortable buses to their resort. Guest bags are then delivered to the room after check-in. The service must be booked in advance and is not available with all airlines. Check with a Disney agent when you make your reservation.
For those driving and/or renting a car the resort is approximately 26 miles from Orlando International Airport.