Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village Review
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.
With my recent stay at Kidani Village, I’m able to finally write this review, giving us reviews of every single resort at Walt Disney World, plus several of the best off-site resorts nearby in Orlando. (Sorry for that boast, but I spent over 3 months of last year staying in hotel rooms, so I’m proud of this resource that we offer. WATCH YOUR BACK, TRIPADVISOR.) While I have to say that I prefer staying in the main lodge, Kidani Village is a great alternative that offers most of the same upsides as the main building while having some unique characteristics of its own.
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 Cookbook and 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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help.
For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
For Walt Disney World news, tips, discount info, and free eBook downloads sign up for our free monthly newsletter.
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!
Unfortunately, we were extremely disappointed with Kidani Village. Our visit was for 6 nights in a 1-BR. We were sent a text our room was ready and we walked into a room that hadn’t been cleaned. We waited an additional 2 hrs before being given a room. We had stayed there on a previous visit and loved it. However, we discovered that Kidani rooms are in desperate need of renovation. The hallway carpets were faded (from the sun) and in some faded places looked like holes. The sofa bed was probably the worst sleeper sofa I’ve ever had in a room. Our son ended up pulling the cushions off and sleeping on the floor. The chair back cushion didn’t even match the chair upholstery. However, the bright spot was Saana, which was amazingly delicious and sitting out watching the animals.
Does anyone know if the employees play the drums and other instruments in the lobby at Kidani? That was one of my favorite parts of Jambo, walking in to the drums playing and kids dancing around. Really felt like I was in another world 🙂
I am so grateful for these comments and am looking forward to our stay in December. In looking at all the reviews, I can’t really tell which is better for viewing the animals from your room – Kidani or Jambo? I want to maximize that experience!! Thanks!
In case people aren’t into scrolling through older comments, let me agree with a previous poster that one of the VERY best things about Kidani is having 2 full bathrooms in the 1BR villas!! One is modest-sized, the other is huge. If it weren’t for the distance from the parks (your first point) I’d want to stay here every visit to WDW.
We are planning a trip in October and would like to stay at Kidani Village. We will have car so, given its location, would it be best to drive to each park instead of relying on Disney transportation? We will have children and older folks with us.
I read a review somewhere else that said the longest bus ride they had was for MK and it was about 1/2 an hour in AM traffic. We are staying at Kidani in November and we are driving as well so I am continuously looking for information!
Enjoy your stay!=
I love Kidani because it has a lobby unlike most DVC resorts that share a lobby with their hotel. It is a real lobby with a shop, front desk, etc. We absolutely love the main lodge and have been there every trip no matter where we stay typically for dinner. BUT the main lodge can be LOUD. So if we are going to stay at the Animal Kingdom which is not convenient for the parks we want to feel like we are getting break from all the people and noise of the parks. We think we get that more at Kidani. After a long tiring time at the parks it is a nice break.
Kidani Village is the first resort I fell in love with for this reason. There’s something homey and welcoming about the wall of lanterns outside the front doors…it just feels cozy.
If only they could spruce up the pool a bit and add a proper counter service, it would be absolutely perfect!
Hello! I am staying at Kidani Village with my family in May. Could anyone tell me the best method of getting to the parks? How long are bus rides to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM? Do you take a bus to Animal Kingdom or is it walking distance? Thanks in advance for your responses!
Use the Lyft app to access the Minnie Vans. Absolutely worth the money. Saves time and is much more enjoyable than a bus ride.
I think it’s worth noting that the is a splash park at Kidani right by the pool. Yes, the pool is better at Jambo, but with small children we actually like the pool at Kidani better because of the splash park area. It’s pretty cute too. Maybe you could add a picture or two of that area to your post on the Kidani pool.
Question, is the shower and sink behind a door separate from the rest of the room?
We are DVC members and have stayed in both Jambo and Kidani. A slight advantage to Kidani (if you drive to WDW) is that you can park under the building near the elevator closest to your room. While it may still be a long walk, we find it less walking than Jambo House. Also there is a shuttle between Kidani and Jambo so you don’t have to make the trek between them. Of course, you still have to make the trek to the lobby to get the shuttle
Am I the only one laughing about the ‘elephant in the room’ line? Oh, okay.
A Magical Place for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Took our 6 year old niece and was amazed at how wonderful and nice the staff are. The African drumming was the most AMAZING thing that my niece has ever seen. IT WAS AWESOME !!!!! The Safari guides at the resort are bar-none the best in the world and very knowledgeable.
We just stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, club level, for the first time. I was not expecting to love the animals outside my room thinking we would be gone too much. But they were amazingly! Waking up to see them and at night before bed was incredible and relaxing. I will say it was the worst club level experience by far. The pool was uninviting. We loved the sounds at night. We really felt like we had gone to some far away place when we were in our room.
Is the pool better at the kidani or Jambo for toddlers? We are looking for a place to take our 2 year old in February to escape winter and be able to have him run around outside.
Hi was wondering What’s the difference between normal Savannah view booking and upgrading to club level what extra benefits do you get and is it worth the money drew money we are going in 2017 for 3 weeks any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I have been searching the internet to find if there are multiple viewing areas outside main entrance at Kidani. I have found vague references to supposed viewing areas but no supporting documentation. Can anyone advise?
Right outside the main lobby is a pathway that leads into the central Savannah area. It has rocking chairs and a fire pit. Pretty nice place to chill. There’s also an indoor library type area with a great view if you don’t want to go outside. My dad with leg issues hung out here a lot when we went as a family. He thought is was a very present place to relax outside of the room, which (in our case) had a savannah view.
We can’t wait to stay at Kidani. We stayed at Jambo and loved it! Both offer so much. Our girls love the activity center, night vision goggles, story tellers, King Pin, cookie and cake decorating, floor rubbings, bead collecting… The food at every restaurant is amazing!!! We ate lunch at Boma (April 2016) and there was a shuttle from Kidani to Jambo. Thanks everyone for the great advice.