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Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village Preview

On May 1st, phase one of Kidani Village opens to the public. I am fortunate enough to have reservations and will be on hand for the festivities (watch for my blog). But today (April 22) I was allowed to preview the new facility.

When I arrived early this morning, DVC Cast Member Kristin greeted me and took me on a tour of this impressive property. One of the first things I learned was the resort has a slightly revamped designation. The term Animal Kingdom Lodge refers to the entire resort. The original structure is now called Jambo House and the new section Kidani Village. Kidani (ki-DAH-nee) means "necklace" in Swahili. Throughout the resort you will see evidence of this in the form of beads intertwined in the design elements.

We started our tour with the Porte Cochere. This is where guests staying at Kidani Village are first greeted by the hotel staff and can drop off their luggage.





Three major themes are used in the design of Kidani Village, fabric, art, and proverbs. The first proverb you encounter can be found under the Porte Cochere.


In case you're having trouble reading it, it says: Proverbs are like butterflies. Some are caught. Some fly away.

This first proverb sets the tone for others to be discovered around the resort. And each saying is accompanied by a small butterfly.



Kidani Village was designed by architect Peter Dominick, the same gentleman who designed the original resort. This becomes evident when you enter the lobby. The style is very reminiscent of Jambo House, yet different. The towering ceiling and grand windows are similar, but the artwork and smaller room size imparts a cozy feel.

The "fabric" theme is very evident in the lobby. The major patterns used throughout Kidani Village are from the fabrics of the kente cloths of Ghana and the kuba cloths of the Congo.






Kidani Village also has its own check-in desk.



Off of the lobby is Johari Treasures (joe-HA-ree), the resort's gift shop. Johari means "jewel" in Swahili. Besides the standard Disney souvenirs, this shop also stocks African themed merchandise. In addition, a nice supply of groceries is available if you choose to prepare your own meals.




Beyond the beautiful wall of windows in the lobby is the Sunset Savanna.





This is the spot where you can get up close and personal with the animals. There is also a knowledgeable cast member on hand to answer any questions you might have about the creatures roaming nearby.

A fire pit surrounded by rocking chairs can also be found here for tranquil evenings with friends and family.



This is a view looking back at the resort. Notice the thatched roof overhangs on several sections of the building. These designate the Grand Villas. I'll offer more information about these in a later blog.


You can also find another proverb in the Sunset Savanna area.


That's it for part one of Kidani Village. In part two I'll be discussing Sanaa (the new restaurant), the pool, and some of the other public rooms.

The previous post in this blog was Fort Wilderness – Swimming Pool Rehab and More.

The next post in this blog is Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village Part 2.

Comments (48)


Absolutely stunning! Thank you for the preview!

Robert Beach:

Great job with the commentary and photos. This resort is stunning and I can't wait to go there in May!


Thank you so much for the pictures. My family and I will be staying at Kidani Village at the end of May and I am so much more excited after seeing these pictures. I cannot wait to go!


Thank you so much for the detailed preview and wonderful pictures! I can hardly wait for my 1st trip to Kidani!

Mari May:

Deb, Just beautiful. Certainly reminds me of when Raleigh and I lived in Kenya. Wonderful memories. The architect did a fabulous job!!

Tamara Lasher:

What can I say, I want more!!! LOL MORE MORE MORE!

Mike Venere:

Wow it looks amazing.....The towering ceiling reminds me of the AK Lodge, as you said!!! I love that aspect of it!

Jack - any word if Sanaa will be open to those staying at different resorts and whether it will be available with the dining plan?

Jack's Answer: To my knowledge, Sanaa will be open to anyone just as Olivia's at Old Key West and the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs are.

As for the Dining Plan... The general rule of thumb is this. If it's a Disney owned and operated restaurant, it's on the plan, otherwise it is not. Sanaa is a Disney restaurant.

Oh my goodness - how fabulous!!


Awesome! Can't wait to see pictures of the villas...I'm staying in a dlx. 2 bdrm. savanna view in November!


wow can't wait for part two! when do you think it will be up?


It looks beautiful. I can't wait to visit in July,especially dining at Sanaa.

Neil Holmen:

Our Home Resort: I am very impressed - great pictures of Kidani Village. We are there from 15-29 December with a Savanna view. Looking forward to Part 2 with the pool, etc. Can't wait!

Danielle Kaplonski:

I have never stayed in the DVC before. We are staying in Kidani in October. Will you be able to get refillable mugs at Kidani and fill them at Kidani?

Jack's Answer:

To my knowledge, all of the Disney resorts offer refillable mugs so I can't imagine that Kidani Village will be any different. And according to a brochure I was given, DVC Members and Guests will have access to all amenities across the resort. The only separation will be check-in.

Roberta Klisiewicz:

Wow, Kidani looks incredible! Thank you so much for this report and I can't wait for part 2!

Jan Farmer:

Thanks for the preview. Can't wait for part 2! We will be there in 18 days! Yay!!!!


Looks great! We'll be there in about 3.5 weeks! My question is....is the parking for Kidani shared by the main lodge? Or do they have their own separate parking area?

Jack's Answer:

Kidani Village has its own parking. And you'll be happy to know, it's located under the building so your car will be in the shade on those hot summer days.


Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures. Kidani looks as breathtaking as I expected it to be! It makes me even more anxious to get there...12 more days and counting! :) Looking forward to your next blog.

joe degnan:

great pictures thank you


Jack, I can't wait to stay again at the Animal Kingdom Villas but this time in the Kidani Village.Thanks for your great pictures.


Mary Ellen Aliperti:

Thank you for the tour. We are in the process of purchasing a Vacation Club membership in the Kidani village. Can't wait to go. We just loved Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Mary Ellen Aliperti

Theresa Konno:

Extraordinary!!!! How beautiful!!! Thank you for the wonderful report and stunning pictures!

Heather Young:

You've gone and done it again! I need to go back to WDW (very soon) and stay in AKL at such a tranquil and stunning resort. Kidani it will have to be! It took my breath away just looking at the fabulous pics you have taken and your description. Now I really do need to go and see for myself.
Thanks for sharing!

susan hall:

What a wonderful job you have, thank you for sharing your work with us!! The resort looks amazing and I can't wait to take my children in July. Am greatly anticipating the next post!

Jessica Reaves:

Thank you so much I just called today for my son and mine trip next year can't wait to show him tonight. Thanks again.

Mario Costantino:

WOW! Thanks for the photos - looking forward to seeing the balance of the resort. We have a Magical Gathering booked for 18 in late August. Ils like to hear about the animals you see on the savanah and what you think about the new water play area...


HOORAY!!! Thanks so much for posting these pics and information!!

My partner and I (with my parents and niece) have reservations to check into Kidani Village on the day it opens on May 1st, too!! We're all super excited and have been hoping someone would get a preveiw and post pics!!!

Jennifer Thilo:

Any info re. the children's water park or pool? We will be staying at AKL in June!

Jack's Answer:

The children's water park, Uwanja, will be opening on May 1st. I discuss it extensively in Part 3 of my blog.

It looks fantastic!

Alison :

Great pictures
We were also able to view the Kidani village as we were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Love the pictures as i forgot my camera on our tour.
We are now considering DVC.


My home resort! First trip as a DVC member! Going down in October and counting the days, minutes & seconds!! Thank you so much for the preview!


I'm a huge AKL fan, and I say, this is one stunning new resort. Everything looks so detailed and beautiful, it's just amazing! What I like about it is that it looks very fun and playful, but it also looks very grown-up at the same time. I think Kidani Village looks just marvelous and I can't wait to experience everything it has to offer. :-)

Great pictures as well! Thank you so much for informing everyone about this. ;-)

This is so stunning, I am re-thinking my decision not to buy into DVC.
Thank you for the wonderful pictures. Looking forward to hearing about your stay in May.


Thanks so much for the beautiful photos! I'm so excited about our upcoming trip in September!

It looks like there are fountain drinks available at Johari? Basically I want to know if there is a place to use the refillable mugs at Kidani since there is no counter service restaurant, or if we can only fill them at Jambo House. Thanks Jack!

Jack's Answer:

I'm certain Kidani Village will offer refillable mugs, but at the moment, I'm not sure where this will take place. I've added this to my list to find out when I stay there on May 1st. Watch for my blog.

This preview is GREAT, it's making me even more excited. We already had AKL DVC points but we bought extra a few months ago. We'll be checking into Kidani on May 9th. Can't wait : )

Kris Kobata:

We are dvc members & AKV is our home resort. We will be going next July. I wish it was this year. It just looks so GREAT! Can't wait!

Barbara C:

Thank you so much for the preview; we will be staying there as new DVC members in September so I look forward to your continued information.Thanks!

Hillary Ann:

I can't wait to go! I stare at different pictures of this resort daily...imagining the wonderful time my parents and my twin sister will experience! We are staying for 2 weeks in September in a 2BD villa and summer can not go fast enough!

Thanks for the wonderful pics...I anticipate your new pics from the opening!

Carole Cherny:

Members since 92 and enjoy pic's and information on each new resort as details become available. Thanks for the photo's and captions. We are staying at Kidani later this month and are looking forward to it now even more. Anxious to see part 2!


I went to look at the animal kingdom lodge and it is absolutely gorgeous!


We met at the grand opening, great pictures! The pool was a lot of fun.


thank you for posting this, we will be going in oct for my childrens b-days and now i know we have made the right resort choice i will look forward to more of your blog.


Jack you have made my day. We are staying in Kidani for Christmas. It is our home resort with DVC. I am EXCITED. Thanks again, it's going to be a great Christmas.


Thank you for all this information!!! I just switched my 2 bdr Aug 13th check in from Jambo House to Kidani Village! How was the transportation to the parks? I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time at the resort.

Bill Doyle:

Jack, thanks for the pics.

Carlisle and Chris Albertson:

Thank you for all your input.

We just returned from 6 nights at Kidani. We had grandparents, us and three children ages 11, 5,3. It was fabulous. The Savana is so relaxing. We even saw an Ostrich lay an egg.

The pool at Kidani was a favorite for everyone. We are early risers and at most 8:00 park openings. When the waits for an attraction starts to look too long around noon, we say "how about the pool?" Everyone says "YES!!" They even had a dance party (for kids, they loved it) and poolside BINGO. And a hula hoop contest. Fun Fun Fun.

I give Kidani a 10! Sanaa was delicious. The wait staff very knowledgable. I can't think of anything Kidani could improve upon.



Wow! What gorgeous photos! Taking my 4 kids and mom (plus hubby of course!) in October and we can't wait. This gives us a wonderful feel for the resort and we are more excited than ever. It looks gorgeous! :) Thanks a bunch!

Shelly in Saskatoon Canada:

Jack thanks for all the beautiful pics. My family and I are bringing a few friends along to share this wonderful experience. I have never seen anything so breath taking. My husband and I became DVC members when we went to Disneyworld June 2008. FEb 2010 we will be visiting our 'home'. The moment I saw Kidani Village I new I had to be a part of it. I am not sure who is more excited the kids or me! Dreams really do come true. If I could envision a masterpiece of my dream place to vacation. Kidani would be it! It is everything one could only imagine, it is beyond my wildest dreams.


I am planning a Disney vacation for beginning of March and would like to know what busing from Kidani Village to Magic Kingdom is like? how long?


Hi Jack,
I read your blog on the opening of Kidani Village excitedly last April and this morning amidst a huge snowstorm here in the Northeast I am back again. We just booked 6 nights in a 2bdrm Savannah View and are very excited about our trip. Thanks for all the great pics and information to return to as we prepare for our trip!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 22, 2009 12:37 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Fort Wilderness – Swimming Pool Rehab and More.

The next post in this blog is Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village Part 2.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.