Nestled amongst brush and trees lies one of the newest Walt Disney World Resorts: the Animal Kingdom Lodge complex area. Within the Animal Kingdom Lodge lies two separate properties, the Jambo House and Kidani Village. Both are known for their speculator views, one of a kind dining and fantastic accommodations, but when booking your reservation, it can be quite confusing.
What do you chose? Where do you stay? What is the difference? What are the amenities provided at each resort? Here, we will break down all of the options readily available and what options would best suit your family for a safari themed stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Jambo House vs Kidani Village: What’s the Difference?
This is complicated question and we will cover it more throughout the article but the basic answer pretty much is, Kidani Village is considered the Disney Vacation Club property on site. Do not worry, you do not have to belong to the Disney Vacation Club to stay at Kidani Village but that definitely is a huge perk for those who are DVC members. The Jambo House is considered the main lodge and the original property but there are villas located there as well.
WHAT IS THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB?
Now you may be wondering, what is the Disney Vacation Club? The Disney Vacation Club is a vacation ownership program that would be comparable to a timeshare. You become a member by making a real estate purchase just like you would if you were buying a timeshare. In the case of DVC, wherever you make your purchase would be considered your home resort and would give you the perk of being able to book there 11 months in advance.
Now you do not have an actual piece of real estate but instead with DVC you would have points that you could use to book vacations not only at the Walt Disney World Resort, but also at hundred of others locations. Even though you buy into your home resort on the Disney property.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village is known for costing the least amount of points at some times for the years, so this is fantastic to look into if you do book frequent Disney vacations. If you think you may become a frequent Disney guest you can also book a presentation while you are at the WDW during your stay.
Disney will provide transportation and you will sit through an entire presentation that will last at least an hour. When you are done you will receive free ice cream at the parlor and then transportation back to the resort.
ARRIVAL AND ATMOSPHERE
In the past few months at the Walt Disney World Resort (starting in March) there has been come changes at parking at the resorts so it is important to keep this small tidbit in mind when making your reservations: all resorts now charge for parking. Yes, now there is a $24 resort fee per night for parking so when you are making reservation for Animal Kingdom Lodge whether it is the Jambo House or Kidani Village, it is important to add that into your budget. This does apply to person vehicles and rental cars.
Now that we have that out of the way, entering the Animal Kingdom Lodge is a sight within itself. Nestled amongst trees and foliage is an ever expanding Disney Deluxe resort that bring you right into the heart of Africa. Instead of being in sunny Florida you are now moved into a safari themed getaway complete with live animals and authentic smells.
If you are flying into Orlando you have two options of transportation to get to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The first will be the Magical Express which is complimentary transportation provided by Disney World. They will bring both your luggage and your family to which Walt Disney World Resort you are staying at. Please keep in mind if you select this option that you have to have it set up before you board the plane.
But maybe you want to spend some more time in the Orlando area and do not want to be limited to the Disney Transportation? Not a problem you may rent a car right from the airport and drive it directly to the Disney Resort, but do keep in mind that you will still be responsible for the $24 parking fee.
DISNEY WORLD TIPS: Remember that Animal Kingdom Lodge does have valet services that you can use for fee. You will not have to remember where you parked your car the entire time you’re here!
Now here is where the difference between Jambo House and Kidani Village do become more apparent. Both the Jambo House and Kidani Village have fantastic deluxe rooms available but the Jambo House is definitely going have to a wider array of rooms because not only is it just a standard Deluxe Hotel, but it also has the accommodations for the Disney Vacation Club. This means wider selection!
Now keep in mind that because this is a Deluxe Resort with some of the best views on all of the Disney Property, so the prices are definitely going to reflect that. Room rates start at $315 for a room without a beautiful Savanna view and will increase from there. If you are looking for a suite expect to spends hundred more. Now the price may be expensive but the options for views and amount of rooms (there are multiple suites that can sleep entire large families) will be available.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Disney Vacation Club Resort, so you do have an alternative to book your room. You can use the Disney website itself, or go to a separate not Disney affiliated website such as David’s Vacation Club Rentals. Basically what these websites do is they have points available through members who will not be using them and basically resell them.
You would be purchasing their points and using them to book the room you desire. This is another fantastic option to see if you would be able to get the amenities provided without the huge price tag.
If you are looking for unique cuisine, then the Animal Kingdom Lodge is going to be for you. Now both Jambo House and Kidani Village have their own dining options but a majority of eating adventures are going to be at the Jambo House. All inspired by international cuisine, there is an adventure for everyone while staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I do not even hesitate to say that they have some of the best dining at Disney World.
Jiko is located in the Jambo House and is known not only for its mouth watering food inspired by African, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine but for the fantastic view of the sunset provided during their dinner only service. Now the price for Jiko is expensive ranging from $35 to $59.99 per adult and is worth two table service credits if you are using a dining plan. Also, remember that there is a dress code here so make sure you put on a nice dress or some khakis and get out of your theme park threads. Reservations are strongly recommended here.
If buffets are more your thing then head right on over to Boma Flavors of Africa. This is an all you can eat buffet with cuisine from over 50 African countries and some American favorites as well. There is no dress code to eat here, so come after a long day and enjoy yourself. The price ranges from $15 to $34.99 per adult and is worth one table service credit if you are using the dining plan. There are available for all three meals and reservations are strongly recommended.
Sanaa is the ONLY restaurant located in Kidani Village (although, with the rate that Disney World and its resort areas are always expanding, this is of course always subject to change). During the breakfast hours they are a delicious quick service restaurant with fantastic early morning delights. During lunch and dinner they turned into a full service restaurant that is East African inspired with an Indian touch. My favorite part of Sanaa is that you can see the Savanna and all of the animals directly from your table. It is a dining experience like no other! Prices range from $15 to $34.99 per person and is worth one table service credit if you are using the dining plan.
If you are looking for a fast and casual option then the Mara at Jambo House is going to be your main choice. It is inexpensive ranging at under $14.99 per person and is a casual fare. You do not have to worry about making reservations and it is worth one quick service credit. They are known for their African stews so make sure you make a stop here when taking a break from all your park hopping for some delicious African cuisine.
Throughout the resort at both Kidani Village and Jambo House, you will find endless amount of small eateries and bars (especially at the pools) so always keep your eye open and an empty stomach so you can indulge your vacation away!
While staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge it is important to note that not only do you have the theme parks and Disney Springs to enjoy, but also on site entertainment that is one of the kind such as:
- Movies Under the Stars
- Pumbaa’s Fun and Games Arcade
- Hakuna Matata Playground
- Jambo House Campfire Activities
- Spa & Fitness Center
Now Jambo House and Kidani Village both have some of the best pools on property with their own waterslides. If you pick your resorts based on pools then this is going to be one of your top resorts. They are beautiful although I am more keen for the pool at Jambo House than Kidani Village.
Another huge perk of Animal Kingdom Lodge is Simba’s Clubhouse. It is a supervised activity center for young children over the age of 3 to 12 who are potty trained. You can leave your children here for a fee and enjoy some well deserved adult time around the resort. It is an amazing perk that every park should take advantage of!
Unlike some other Disney resorts there is basically only one way to get from Animal Kingdom Lodge to any other Disney theme park which is going to be the bus system so familiarize yourself quickly if you are solely using the Disney transportation to get around because this will be your only option unless you chose the new Disney service Minnie Vans!
JAMBO OR KIDANI?
So now this brings us to our final chapter of where do I pick: Jambo or Kidani? This is going to depend all on your needs. If you are looking for privacy and a quiet resort, Kidani Village is going to be your choice. A majority of the amenities are located at the Jambo House which also attracts a lot of guests from other resorts. It creates more of a hustle and bustle while Kidani Village only has one main restaurant and caters more to the guests staying at the resort.
If pools are more your thing, Jambo House is going to have one of the best pools on all of Disney property, but Kidani Village also has a fun pool area with a splash pad for kids which is appealing for families staying with little ones.
If you are looking for variety and dining, Jambo House wins this battle hands down. There are plenty of restaurants and amenities, a slew of different types of room situations and a large lobby with endless amount of seating to relax during your off time. If you want the slow feeling with an an intimate lobby area and don’t care much about variety then Kidani Village is going to be your main choice.
Either way you cannot go wrong with the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There is something for literally everyone and it is by far in my opinion, the best resort on property. You are secluded and immersed into the African scenery complete with the smells of animals and fantastic cuisine. So if you are ever on the fence on where to stay, stop worrying and pick the Animal Kingdom Lodge for an experience that you will never ever be able to duplicate whether you pick the Jambo House or Kidani Village.
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