Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a villa-style hotel, and one of the newer Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World. This review features room photos, thoughts on the ambiance, and our opinion on for whom this resort is best suited.
Despite not having previously reviewed it, Animal Kingdom Lodge ranked as our #1 Deluxe Hotel at Walt Disney World. I’d take that a step further, and say it’s the best resort at Walt Disney World (which is no earth-shattering news since the Deluxe Resorts are the creme de la creme). Suffice to say, this review has been a long time coming. We’ve stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge a couple of times, but I’ve previously forgotten to take room photos, so a review had to wait.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village…
First up is the elephant in the room: location. For as much as I love Animal Kingdom Lodge (every time we go to Animal Kingdom Lodge, I ask myself why we don’t stay there more often), its location relative to the majority of Walt Disney World (save for Animal Kingdom) is inconvenient. This is an unfortunate but necessary reality, as the unique characteristics of the Lodge simply wouldn’t be possible if it were in the heart of the action.
When viewed in isolation, I absolutely love Animal Kingdom Lodge, but this makes it a difficult practical recommendation for those guests who value a convenient location. For first-time visitors to Walt Disney World who want to accomplish a lot or those who will need to take afternoon breaks, Kidani Village might be an impractical choice.
For frequent visitors, honeymooners, or retirees looking for a slower-paced trip or a resort that they can enjoy, I can’t think of a better choice at Walt Disney World. In fact, I can think of few better “hotel experiences” anywhere.
The biggest reason for this is the huge savanna outside the lobby, where 30 species of animals roam in the view of guests. Now, I know what you might be thinking: “sure, zebra and giraffe are dope, but ostrich are creepy and isn’t a kudu something from the mind of Stephen King?!” Fear not, these species of antelope will not kidnap your children in the dark of night, although I think it is somewhat disappointing Animal Kingdom Lodge still hasn’t acquired some Tauntaun. It’d be great for synergy.
Seriously though, the savanna is incredible, and there are few things more relaxing than sitting in a rocking chair overlooking the roaming wildlife. It’s a nice change of pace from the normal frenzy of visiting the parks, and is far and away the top draw of both Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village.
This alone would be enough to rank Animal Kingdom Lodge near the top of Walt Disney World’s resorts, but it doesn’t stop there. The rich theming throughout the lodge is one part stunning design crafted by the Imagineers and one part authentic pieces on display, including the largest African art collection in the United States. Meandering through the resort demonstrates quite clearly that the attention to detail put into Animal Kingdom was also put into the Lodge.
No other resort at Walt Disney World makes this kind of effort to inspire and educate guests about its source material. I really appreciate how there’s more to Animal Kingdom Lodge than theming that presents an idealized version of Africa; both the Lodge and Kidani Village aspire to more than simply transporting guests to a different time and place. The presence of “Cultural Representatives” at the Lodge really drives this home, and the free daily tour is a nice way to gain a greater appreciation of Kidani Village.
In these regards, Animal Kingdom Lodge feels like EPCOT Center: The Hotel.
For me, those are the two greatest strengths of Kidani Village, and although I don’t think it feels quite as rich as the main Lodge, it is still impressive. Likewise, I would say the dining in the main Lodge is superior, although Sanaa at Kidani Village might be the most underrated restaurant in all of Walt Disney World.
To those of you anxiously awaiting my “Top 10 Places to Nap at Walt Disney World” you can rest assured this little fireplace area overlooking the savanna will make the list. I’m happy to report that I found this to be an exemplary napping location after arriving at the hotel around 6 a.m. on the LAX redeye.
Beyond the savanna, art collection, and stellar napping corners, there are the expected amenities that you’d find at any Disney Vacation Club (or other) resort, from a pool with water play area, to guest laundry, a fitness center, etc. If you’ve researched hotels at Walt Disney World, you know the basics.
I know pools are a big deal for a lot of families, and I can’t say the pool here is anything special. It’s a large, lush, and has a nice play area, but it leaves a lot to be desired as compared to some of the “feature” pools at some resorts. It lacks a hook or defining characteristic that makes it stand out–despite the size it fails to impress. Perhaps Disney needs to stock it with some merfolk and sea witches to complete the “live animal” theme of the resort?
Now let’s take a look at the room. This review takes a look at the Studio, but there are also 1-Bedroom, 2-Bedroom, and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas at Kidani Village. As you can probably deduce from the names, that list of rooms gets progressively larger.
The room is themed exactly as you’d expect based on the rest of Kidani Village, and I have to say that we are big fans of the style. The rooms have a unique character of their own that stay true to theme without going over the top into garishness. There’s a lot of texture and patterning here, from the detail in the woods to the carpet and in the art on the walls. It all works really well.
It seems Disney is working on toning down the style of many of its rooms, and in so doing swings back too far in the other direction sometimes, making them a bit on the bland side. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Animal Kingdom Lodge. The rooms strike a good balance between character and class.
By Disney standards, I thought the bed was very comfortable, but still below the comfort-level of what you’d expect from this caliber of hotel. The sofa sleeper was also fairly comfortable (for what it is).
Thematically, the bathroom also looked nice, and the split approach with the shower and sink in one area and toilet behind another door was a setup that works well, I think. Having the shower also behind a separate door would be ideal, but this wasn’t bad.
Directly across from the bathroom was a small kitchenette, as is the case with all Studio Villas. This includes a mini-fridge, sink, toaster, coffeemaker, and microwave. It’s a nice little plus if you want to make a small breakfast or snack, but obviously it’s not suitable for cooking Thanksgiving dinner or that sort of thing. That is, unless you have worn out your copy of the Microwave Cookbookand memorized its teachings. (Now that’s my kind of cookbook!)
Overall, Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite resorts at Walt Disney World. Thematically, it’s unrivaled, and the Imagineers deftly balanced culture and theme with quality and luxury, without making any compromises to either. The only compromise here is location, and that’s going to be a big one for some people. Location is probably the main reason why Animal Kingdom Lodge doesn’t receive more accolades from Disney fans, because otherwise, it should be an easy pick for the best resort at Walt Disney World. While I prefer the main Lodge by a slight margin over Kidani Village for its more grandiose style and convenience to dining, it’s a 1b to Animal Kingdom Lodge’s 1a, in my opinion.
If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, we’d really appreciate it if you’d share it via social media to help spread the word about DisneyTouristBlog. We put a lot of work into making this site a helpful planning resource, and hope it’s useful to you! 🙂
Are you a fan of Kidani Village or Animal Kingdom Lodge? Why? Would you consider staying here in the future, or is it simply too far away from the rest of the action at Walt Disney World? Have other thoughts or questions? Please share in the comments below!