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Old 04-13-2014, 09:35 PM   #1
nd43
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 182

AKL - from a non-Animal Kingdom person

My family just returned from a 7 day trip at the AKL.

We purchased DVC last year with the opening of the Grand Floridian. We spent 7 days over Christmas at VGF and loved it. Prior to this (and before we were DVC members), we have stayed at BW, BC, SSR, Poly, and WL. For a change (and to save points), we decided to spend Spring Break at the AKL.

It was just the 4 of us this time so we reserved a 1 bedroom - Savannah view - Kidani Village.

To be upfront, I am not an Animal Kingdom (theme park) person. In fact, it is my least favorite park by a large measure. I was somewhat concerned the entire theme at AKL would be misfit for me. I am just not that interested in Safaris, animals, etc. So I arrived with very low expectations.

From the very start, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the theme might not be immediately interesting to some, it was just so well done, I would think it would impress almost anyone. My wife and I both agreed it is one of the best executed resorts at WDW. To me, it was the perfect balance of luxury, theme, and "Disney" touches.

Some highlights:

First, the one bedroom had a great layout. The two full baths are just great. The kitchen is straight forward but the layout works well. The pull out chair was very comfortable for our 14 year old DD. The noise in the room was minimal. The quality in the room (shower, counter tops, bedding, etc.) were all great. Nothing disappointed us about the room, in fact, it exceeded our expectations. Coming from VGF, it is a great "value" in terms of points for a 1 bedroom. I would think BLT would be the only other 1 bedroom, for us, that might compete with this one. We are going to try that (BLT - one bedroom) probably next year to compare!

My daughters (14 and 18) actually loved the resort activities. Sure, they may be geared for small kids, but my older kids really enjoyed them. It was the only resort where my kids actually did multiple resort planned activities. Frankly, I cannot even remember reading the "resort activity board" anywhere else. However, my daughters started checking it daily. That was a complete surprise.

I loved the food. We ate at Boma, Jiko, and Sanaa. We liked them all for different reasons. Mostly, for us, they were just "different". After going so many times to Disney it is nice to be surprised by a new experience. All of them offered a new experience in their own way. I would not eat there every time, however, for a change of pace it was perfect for us. I would absolutely recommend this entire setup for a person that just wants a change of pace at Disney and is interested in trying something new.

The Savannah view, even though we were on the smallest Savannah and not an animal lover, still offered a unique view. Frankly, it was the most interesting view we ever had at Disney. It was just a constant conversation piece. There is something about real, unplanned, animal activity that just generates conversation. By the end, I think several of the animals had names (given to them by my family).

The walk to Jambo house (which we did for dinner and breakfast a few times) was 10 minutes at a leisure pace. It was a non issue. On the map, I was not sure if it would be long or not. It turns out, it was a pretty easy and simple walk. We never took the shuttle (which is the Downtown Disney bus when going from Jambo to Kidani and any other bus when going from Kidani to Jambo). It was always easier and faster just to walk.

Lastly, this is a full service DVC building. Kidani offers a store, some quick pickup items, a restaurant, some nice sitting areas, activities, and a dedicated staff. It is a very "complete" DVC location. It just had everything we needed in the resort. It was not "lacking" in anyway important to us in terms of facilities.

Some challenges:

You need to take a Disney bus to any park location or downtown Disney. You are also on one edge of the entire Disney property. The ride to downtown Disney is pretty long. Everything else is also "longer" feeling except for Animal Kingdom park (which is very close). We do not mind the buses and they were always very regular / prompt on our trip. However, we did miss not having Magic Kingdom and/or Epcot really close. We happen to use those two parks the most. In the end, for us, it was not a large enough issue to prevent us from happily returning to AKL. For us, it is just one of the downsides to this particular resort that it is really close to the one park (Animal Kingdom) I happen to not mind "skipping" on my Disney trips.

You can end up (like us) way down a hallway and far from the lobby. The layout of Kidani creates a very long hallway between the many buildings. If you are in an outer building, you can end up very far from the lobby. The upside is the elevators were the fastest I have ever experienced at Disney so, even on the 5th floor, we never waited for an elevator. So it was just the hallway walk. At least, along the way, you get a few glimpses of the Savannah so there is some "viewing" that can be done during your walk. In all seriousness, if you have a walking issue, you really *must* request a room close to the lobby. It can make a huge difference in your daily walk. I would also request "Sunset Savannah" if you want the largest Kidani Savannah.

Lastly, the pool area is in front of the building (parking area) to one side. With the Savannah, it really cannot be centrally located in the back area like many others resorts. It is a little strange going out the front of the resort to get to the pool, but no big deal. It was well surrounded by trees and foliage so you do not feel "exposed" once you enter the pool area, it is just a different type of walk to get there. I think Jambo house did a little better job of integrating the pool area in a more traditional way.

Recommendation:

In the end, I would highly recommend this resort to anyone (even if they dislike Animal Kingdom, have older children, or no children). It is just too well done not to try at least once IMO. If you need a one bedroom, it has to be one of the best available in terms of size and layout. Lastly, if you have small kids, I think they would absolutely love this place. I went with some reservations. I would return without hesitation.
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Old 04-14-2014, 11:47 AM   #2
DavidA
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You nailed it. I too am not crazy about Animal Kingdom park. Pathways are far too narrow to accommodate the crowds. I have not yet stayed at Kidani , however we did stay a week in a savannah view studio at Jambo House. This is so far my favorite DVC resort. We've stayed at SSR, BCV , and OKW. Not a "bad" stay yet. Great experience at each respectively. However, we loved everything about Jambo House. If you are not impressed walking into that lobby for the first time, break out the defibrillator. Amazing theming, great pools and 3 my favorite Disney restaurants. Can't wait to stay at Kidani. Thanks for your post.
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Old 04-14-2014, 02:23 PM   #3
actopp1017
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Thank you for your honesty. I can say I fit somewhere in the middle where me personally I am not an AK lover but my daughter who is 2.5 loves the animals. We are staying in a 2-BR Kidani (standard view) in September. We just bought into DVC a couple months ago and were SUPER impressed with AKV so we booked our first trip on points there.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:00 PM   #4
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Loved your review, and loved that you liked your trip. AKV is one of our home resorts and we love it too. For future trips, know that there is a dedicated shuttle that runs between kidani and jambo house that is separate from the buses. It picks you up right outside the lobby, and looks like a van. They keep towels in the van for you to sit on if you are wet from swimming. While I enjoy the walk, we have made use of the van many times with my 4 year old son to pool hop between the resorts. Max wait is 5 minutes, and that's if you just missed it.
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Trip report with a potty training toddler: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2987412
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A Magic Kingdom Ultimate Tour Adventure http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...92&postcount=1
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:48 PM   #5
nd43
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyRegulars View Post
Loved your review, and loved that you liked your trip. AKV is one of our home resorts and we love it too. For future trips, know that there is a dedicated shuttle that runs between kidani and jambo house that is separate from the buses. It picks you up right outside the lobby, and looks like a van. They keep towels in the van for you to sit on if you are wet from swimming. While I enjoy the walk, we have made use of the van many times with my 4 year old son to pool hop between the resorts. Max wait is 5 minutes, and that's if you just missed it.
Thank you for pointing out the van! We completely missed it.
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:21 PM   #6
LynnH
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Enjoyed reading your review. I too am not a fan of Animal Kingdom, but thought I would give the resort a try for our next vacation. We are booked there next month for 4 days and also have a dinner scheduled at the the Lodge. Sure hope we like it as much as you.
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