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WILD about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge…

WILD about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge…

img_8103Have you ever woken up to a giraffe stretching to reach leaves on a tall tree thirty feet off your balcony?

There may be no cooler way to wake up. If you stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (DAKL) in a room with a savannah, you can have this experience every morning. This is part of the Disney Magic at DAKL — the Animal Kingdom literally comes to you and lives within reach.

As my oldest started to get to an age where people don’t look at me like I have six heads when I say I’m taking my kids to the Walt Disney World Resort, I began fantasizing about staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I even wrote about how I wanted to #takethekids earlier this year. I knew he would be absolutely fascinated by the wildlife right at our fingertips. Indeed, he was.

I personally believe that the views of the savannah right outside your room is the best thing about this fantastic deluxe resort, although there are so many things here that I enjoy!

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Kidani Village Lobby
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Jambo House Lobby Area

DAKL is split into two areas: Jambo House, the main lodge, and Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club Lodge. I previously refused to stay over at a Kidani because the main Lodge is simply so incredible, but with our party size this time around we needed to use the One Bedroom Villas in order for everyone to have a place to sleep comfortably, and those were available at Kidani.

Our room was 7806 on the 4th floor of the Rafiki Section in Kidani Village. This particular section of Kidani is nearest to the main lobby and super convenient for a family with several young kids.

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The one bedroom villas include one master bedroom with a King bed, and massive en-suite. The en-suite has a luxury tub with separate shower, complete with a seat (always a selling point for me!). It also has a separate room with a toilet, a large closet with safe, and a double wide vanity with significant storage space.

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Master Bedroom
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Master Bath Tub and Shower
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Master Bath Vanity

The balcony overlooking the savannah extends from the master  bedroom all the way to the living room, giving you plenty of space to view the animals in the savannah. This also provided a great space for the kids to safely play while the rest of us were getting ready, making lunch, or taking care of the baby.

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The main living space includes a queen sleeper sofa and chaise lounge sleeper, allowing these rooms to sleep up to 5 guests (infants under 2 don’t count towards your total). There is also a full kitchen, complete with microwave, stove/oven, full size fridge, and sink area. There is a second full bathroom off of the main living space and a table with bench and chairs for dining.

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1BR Villa view from front door
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1BR Villa Living Room
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Second bathroom
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1BR Villa Kitchen

As I was describing above, each of the rooms at Kidani Village has their own kitchen or kitchenette, which is a big sell and a huge part of why we stayed in those rooms. I’d love to say that with #3Under3 I go to all my favorite Disney restaurants, but the fact of the matter is we avoid sit down meals for the most part (unless character meals, we usually sneak one or two in a trip!) because you just don’t know on any given day when the kids will want to eat or how long they will sit for. So making big meals in the room and snacking throughout the rest of the day works best for the season of life we’re in right now.

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We loaded up on an Amazon PrimeNow delivery, which was delivered to the resort the morning of our check in (to save Disney’s fee, retrieve the bags yourself from bell services). I get everything delivered so that I can save room packing- whether it be food and drink items- milk, water, eggs, applesauce or veggie pouches, etc… or bigger/heavier items like diapers/wipe/ointment. Not having to think through packing all of that or finding room for it just makes traveling with 3 littles much easier.

 

Kidani Village has its own lobby, restaurant- Sanaa, pool and pool bar, and an amazing splash pad for kids of all ages.

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Milana’s first pool day
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Wading Pool
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Kidani Village Pool

 

I was not very impressed by the pool bar- Maji. There was a very limited food menu, and not much that young kids would want to eat. That was especially frustrating on arrivals day, when we had left the house at 3am, dealt with a flight (and delays), and had hours to kill before being able to get into our room. I was extremely frustrated by the lack of options, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced at any WDW pool bar before.

The Samawati Springs Splash Pad at Kidani Village is consistently rated as one of the best splash pads at Walt Disney World, and it’s not hard to see why. There are three unique sections, geared for kids of different ages (thank you, House of Mouse!) : the Departure Zone, Observation Station, and Base Camp. Super cool.

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As with everything Disney, the details that are throughout the resort are truly outstanding. Every single thing is thought of, and the theme is executed with precision. Here are some of my favorite details at Kidani Village!

 

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Kidani Village has transportation to all Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. Busses come at intervals of approximately 20 minutes for each of these destinations. There are three bus stalls and plenty of space for guests to wait for the next bus. There are televisions near the vending machines in the waiting area that tell guests when the next bus will arrive down to the minute. You can also find this information on the in-room televisions or resort brochures at reception should you wish to do a little advance planning.

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Jambo House Lobby
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Jambo House rooms as seen from Jambo pool
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Jambo House Courtyard Decor

Over at Jambo House, the main lodge, there is so much to do and see for guests of all ages. Jiko – The Cooking Place, one of my favorite signature restaurants on property, is located here, along with BOMA- Flavors of Africa, DAKL‘s buffet. All fantastic options.  The Mara, DAKL‘s quick serve restaurant, is also here off the Jambo House lobby. You can also find two of my favorite places- Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar and Victoria Falls Lounge. I’ll leave it your guess as to why!

The Jambo House Pool might just be the largest pool at WDW, featuring a zero-entry area that has mom’s of littles like me jumping for joy, along with a water slide. There is also a decent sized playground next to the flamingo pond.

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All in all, I want to tell you where I stand on DAKL as a whole and Kidani Village. DAKL is by far one of my favorite resorts. It was absolutely special for me to stay there with my kids and see their expressions each morning as we opened the curtains and they could see the animals. However, I’m not sure it is worth it with young kids.

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For my family — we had to take two strollers because my kids are so young. One City Mini GT Double and one Britax B-Agile. Those have to be folded up to get on and off the WDW Transportation. That means you can’t really pack up the strollers prior to heading out for the day, because you’d have to take everything out from them to get on/off the busses. The ride to each of the parks, with the exception of Animal Kingdom, is a good 15 minutes or longer. That can be an exceptionally long time to ask young children to sit still (especially when mom and dad have their hands full with said strollers, bags, snacks, and everything else). Kidani Village, while providing the benefits of larger space and the kitchens, is even more remote and physically separated from most of the things that make DAKL so amazing. I didn’t think there was enough options for dining, and the savannah outside the room is smaller. It’s also an extra few minutes on the WDW Transportation busses since it’s a little further along than Jambo House.

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All that to say- when my kids are older and I don’t have to deal with strollers, we will definitely come back to DAKL. But for this season of life you’ll find us on the monorail line or at the EPCOT resorts. Not having to fold and unfold strollers is just worth it!

 

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By 3under3andme

Krista is an attorney residing in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, son Nico, daughters Gabriella and Milana, and their au pair, Chloe!

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