PROS & CONS of Animal Kingdom Villas
A recent stay at Kidani Village, part of the Animal Kingdom Lodge complex at Walt Disney World left me with some key takeaways. I’ll outline those for you here and give you my two cents on what’s what at Animal Kingdom Villas.
First off the pandemic is still very much affecting the operation at the Disney Resort hotels. AKV is no different, Usually this resort boast some of the best restaurants on property from Jiko to Boma to Sanaa. But right now, only Sanaa is open. Well that and the two pool bars. Even the quick service spot, The Mara, is closed. This is a huge bummer for those assigned to rooms on the Jambo House side of the resort since that means there’s nothing open for you over there beside the food and drink at the pool. And as I outlined in a YouTube video (below), Animal Kingdom Lodge’s grounds are vast and you really can’t walk from Jambo House side of the resort to the Kidani Village side in a timely fashion. You have to either wait for an internal bus, or take your own car. Sure you could walk, but that shit ain’t what I’d consider a leisurely stroll. So, luckily for me I had a room at Kidani Village where I had two options for food, Sanaa and the The Maji Bar. Which for those staying at Kidani Village is par for the course as these are the only two eateries on this side of the complex anyway.
Right now I can fully understand someone who ended up on the Jambo House side as a first time visitor hating their Disney experience. So, if you’re planning a trip here in the foreseeable future get a room at Kidani Village. That being said our room was a studio villa with the coveted savanna view. Let me just say this clearly – TREAT YO SELF! Don’t be stingy and get that standard view or the value view, you owe it to yourself to look at that damn savanna from your balcony every morning as you pretend the in-room coffee from Joffrey’s is better than it is.
The room itself I’ll give a B–, it’s got plenty of storage space, but the lack of the murphy bed and only having the pullout-sofa is a minus for me. Also there’s only the one sink in the bathroom and the shower area isn’t as nice as some of the other Deluxe/DVC offerings on WDW property. This is why I urge you to upgrade to the savanna view room, without that your basically in the Hampton Inn with some African tapestries on the wall. It’s not a bad place by any means but a room at the Hampton Inn is going to cost you less than half the price so if you’re going to pay Disney rates you might as well get the full Disney experience. Here’s a quick tour of the room we had.
The food right now is basically all systems go on the Kidani Village side (obviously tweeked for CDC guidelines). Sanaa is still a wonderful place to sit down and grab a meal and they’ve added “Sanaa To-Go” in the My Disney Experience app to give you an option for food without spending the time for a fully seated meal. This is a huge benefit right now for those staying on the Jambo House side who have minimal dining options. With heavy-hitter, Jiko, being shuttered during the Rona, along with what is probably the best buffet on property, Boma. The usual food landscape at Animal Kingdom Lodge as a whole have taken a hit. Thanks Rona! Managing you’re expectations right now is key. If you want to have a sit down meal make a fucking reservation. There’s only one restaurant for the whole resort operating so don’t get all pissy when you’re told the walk-up wait is over an hour…Karen.
Around the Resort
The grounds of the hotel were immaculate as you would expect from a Disney offering. Also there was a solid pool with an above average water slide on the Kidani side of the resort (I did not visit the Uzima pool on the Jambo House side). The odd thing about the resort layout here is you have to cross the street to get to the pool (it’s a street inside the resort ground so not some crazy feat but just odd). I did really enjoy the Maji pool bar and had my share of Yuenling there. However, I found it a bit odd that the bar wasn’t fully inside the pool area. There is the bar then a gate then the pool. So, you couldn’t exactly supervise children whilst enjoying the bar area, not that you have shitty kids that need constant supervision – I’m sure they’re great.
Another thing you cannot overlook about this place is the price. All Disney resorts are going to be more expensive than their real world counterparts so will throw those out of the mix. Coming from a strictly Disney Deluxe Resort/DVC Villa the studio rooms here are going to average out to be some of the lowest prices you can find in the category. Even when upgrading to a Savanna View you’ll find that you’re basically middle of the pack on rates vs say a standard view room at Bay Lake Tower or Beach Club. This is a huge bonus in favor of Animal Kingdom Villas. BUT it comes with a gotcha. This resort ain’t close to a damn thing. You’d think you could at least walk to Animal Kingdom Park from there – NOPE. Not even a boat ride or a Skyliner they’ve got nothing for you but a bus ride. You are secluded AF here, and that’s what the cost of having animals roaming freely on a savanna is. You need tons of space and can’t exactly be in the middle of things. So, know going into it that your transportation options are by far the shittiest when compared to other Deluxe/DVC Disney properties.
Would I stay here again? YEP! I loved the place, it’s not my favorite resort by any stretch, that’s still the Poly. However, the experience of the savanna in your backyard everyday just can’t be topped for a view. So my disclaimer for anyone looking to stay at Animal Kingdom Villas would be to pay for a savanna view and make sure you have your own transportation. I think that if I had to wait on a bus all the time and not had the great view from my balcony I would have felt slighted. Without the view this resort would be classified Moderate by Disney. So don’t short yourself of that benefit. As for transportation hopefully Disney will get a Skyliner route between the resort and Animal Kingdom Park in the coming years, it would be a nice add for the property. It really is a let down that there’s not a Disney-esque travel option from Animal Kingdom Villas. Hell even Value category resorts have the Skyliner now. So, if you’re flying into MCO make sure to rent a car so you can get around the 43 square mile Disney property in a timely fashion. My last tip is to try the bread service at Sanaa – you’re welcome.