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Kidani Village Part 5

For lunch yesterday we went to the Maji Pool Bar. Disney offers two options for lunch at this location. The first is a more casual menu of premade sandwiches and salads at reasonable prices. These are handled by the bartender and service is immediate.


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The other option is called Private Dining (in other words, room service). Located at one end of the bar is a phone with a direct line to the kitchen. Just pick up the receiver and you’ll be connected to an operator. This menu is more substantial with prices to match.


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After placing my “Private Dining” order I was told there would be a $3 delivery charge and an automatic 18% gratuity. I was also told there would be a 35-40 minute wait for my food. Located next to the phone were large numbers to place on the table. I was asked to select one so a cast member could find me later. To my surprise, my order arrived in just a little over 10 minutes.

The food is beautifully served in a Bento Box and the display is well worth the extra cost. I ordered the Tandoori Chicken for $14.99. It was served on Naan Bread and it came with a cucumber dressing, a small green salad, and pineapple custard. All of it was extremely good and the chicken a little spicy. In fact, my lips were tingling after each bite. My friend Donald ordered the Club Sandwich on Multi-grain bread for $11.49. It was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, this meal comes with two sandwiches --- enough for a couple to share.


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The Maji Bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a lunch. African music plays in the background and the pool is nearby. And when the Pembe Savanna is completed this fall, animals will be within sight of the bar.


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Also in the pool area is a Walt Disney proverb. But I won’t tell you where. You’ll have to find it on your own.


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After lunch we headed to the Savanna Overlook that juts out into the Sunset Savanna. Here we spoke with Greg who is a Curator in the Animals Program department. One of the things he wanted me to share with you is the hours that the animals are available for viewing in the Sunset Savanna.


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Every morning at 6am, the animals are encouraged to return to an enclosed area for general care and treatment. And while the vets and other experts are tending to the animals, the horticulturists and groundskeepers use this time to maintain the savanna. By noon, all of the animals are returned to the grounds and will remain available for viewing until 6am the next day.

The reason this time of day was chosen to care for the animals was that it was thought that the majority of guests would be busy in the morning getting ready to go to the theme parks and interest in viewing them would be at its lowest. Then, in the afternoon when you return from the parks, these magnificent creature would be waiting for you.

My next stop was the sports area. Located next to a small retention pond you’ll find a half basketball court, two tennis courts, two shuffleboard courts, and a covered picnic area with tables and four BBQs.


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Here are two Hidden Mickeys for you. All I’ll tell you is that both of them are located in the lobby.


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Something I want to warn you about is the resort’s size. In order to maximize the number of rooms that have views of the savannas, the buildings needed to be long – extremely long. So if you have a room at the far end of one of the wings, it can be a substantial walk to the lobby, Sanaa Restaurant, or the Samawati Springs pool area. If you have mobility problems you would most certainly want to let Disney know when making your reservation and again when checking in.

Now that I’ve stayed a night at the Kidani Village, there are a few odds and ends I’d like to share with you.

The exhaust fans in the bathroom are motion activated and remain on for several minutes after leaving the room. Normally I don’t see this as a problem, but if you have light sleepers in your group this could wake them at night.

The bathroom vanity is well designed with plenty of space to store your toiletries.


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The clock-radio has a docking port for iPods.


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The balconies are large and reasonably private. However, noise travels and conversations from adjoining balconies are easily heard.


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There are no recycle trash bins in the room. Shame on Disney since I know these are available at other Disney World resorts. Maybe they were just missing because it was opening day and they hadn’t arrived yet.

One reader asked me what floor offers the best views of the savanna. After giving this question a bit of thought, here’s what I came up with.

The public viewing porches are located on the second floor. Obviously someone thought this would be a good location to watch the animals. However, the Grand Villas, the most expensive rooms, are located on the fourth and fifth floors. So it appears that Disney doesn’t have an answer for this question either.


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I found out that Night Vision Viewing of the animals is only available at Jambo House.

The pool's maximum depth is 4'11".

Sanaa


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Each day when the restaurant opens for lunch and dinner (11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.), a number of Sanaa cast members sing an African welcoming song to those guests in the lobby, waiting to be seated. This certainly isn’t a “knock-your-socks-off event,” but it is a pleasant way to start a dining adventure and it made me glad I had 5 o’clock reservations so I could experience it. Also, the first several guests to enter the restaurant are greeted by additional cast members who carry long, grass-like sticks and they wave them at you as you pass between them. I’m sure there was ceremonial significance to this, but I was so awestruck by my surroundings that I forgot to ask.


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Donald and I were the first party seated on May 1st and thus became the very first guests to have dinner at Sanaa. Our server was James and he epitomized the perfect Disney cast member. He provided us with enough conversation to be friendly, but never intruded. He was also extremely knowledgeable when it came to the menu. And the meal was timed perfectly. There is nothing I hate more than to be in and out of a nice restaurant within 45 minutes. Our meal took two hours as we were allowed the time to enjoy each course before the next was anywhere in sight.


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We started our meal with the Indian-style Bread Service for $8.99 (serves two). Here you can choose three flatbreads (from four) and three dipping sauces (from eight). For the breads we chose Roti, Paratha, and Paneer Paratha and for our dipping sauces we selected Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, and Tamarind Chutney.


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To be honest, I really couldn’t distinguish a lot of difference between the breads. But the chutneys were a different story. Each had a very distinct taste with the Coriander ranking as our favorite. But please note, while the other two were flavorful, the Coriander was kick-in-the-pants spicy. I would definitely order the bread course on a future visit just for the sauces.

For appetizers we decided on the Sampler for Two ($14.99). This included Roasted Cauliflower, Pulled Duck with Red Curry Sauce, and Potato and Pea Samosas. James left the dipping sauces (from the bread course) on the table just in case we wished to use them with the appetizers. I felt the Cauliflower and Duck held their own, but we both added some sauce to the Potato and Pea. There is a fourth appetizer that is not part of the Sampler. Although we were happy with these selections, we weren’t blown away by them either. Good, but not great. I think next time I’ll try the stand-alone appetizer of Mustard Seed Crusted Scallops.


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For an entrée, Donald tried one of the combination meals ($18.99). Here you can chose two from the following: Chicken With Red Curry Sauce, Paneer Cheese and Spinach, Shrimp with Green Curry Sauce, and Beef Short Ribs. Donald opted for the shrimp and ribs.


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I make short ribs at home and Sanaa’s version definitely had that distinctive short rib taste. But there were other subtle flavors infused in the meat that my down-home recipe is lacking. If there had been salt on the table, I would have used it, but the ribs were quite good and extremely tender.

In a way, I would have to describe the shrimp in the same manner. It certainly tasted like shrimp, but there were other flavors playing with my taste buds.

The gentleman at the next table opted for the spinach and cheese selection. He told me that it tasted like nothing he’d ever eaten before. When I asked him if this was good or bad, he said, “Good.” But the flavors were so new to him that it took a moment for his palate to become accustomed to the 30 spices used in the dish.

For my entrée I selected the Spice-crusted Cornish Game Hen with Turnips and Cherries ($17.99). I thought this dish was outstanding. I also make game hens at home, but they taste nothing likes this. Sanaa’s bird was heaping with flavor. So much so that the chef-selected wine is Pinot Noir (a red wine, not a white). And to be honest, I feel a more flavorful wine should be paired with this dish. Please note, the meal is spicy, not spicy-hot. However, James did tell me that the chef can add some “kick” to any dish if you request it.


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For dessert I ordered the Cardamom-Butter Cake with Orange Supreme and Saffron Syrup for $5.49. This offering has a subtle taste. I did like it, but after my spicy hen the cake seemed mild. I think this dessert would be better suited to follow a less spicy dish.

Donald ordered the Chai Cream with Tea Tuile. This was probably the highlight of the meal. A creamy custard, served in a glass, with a taste that’s very difficult to describe, but oh so delicious. I know what I’m getting on my next visit.


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Here is the view from our table.


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I’ve eaten at Jiko five times and have yet be overly impressed with the food. But I think Sanaa is on the right track. A few dishes might need some fine tuning, but this spot has the beginnings of a unique and fine Disney experience.

For pictures of Sanaa, see Blog 2 in my Kidani Village series.

That is it for this blog. I’ll be writing one final entry and it should be up sometime tomorrow.

The previous post in this blog was Kidani Village – Part 4.

The next post in this blog is Kidani Village – Final Blog.

Comments (28)

Sue VanVleet:

I can't wait! We will be there June 3rd for only two nights. Thanks for all of the info and you are one lucky guy!

tina:

Hi, my daughter wants to know if you get to keep the bento boxes?

Jack's Answer:

Sorry. You do not get to keep the Bento Boxes. They are made out of hard plastic and are considered "dishes."

Sarah:

Great photos! I am so excited about our stay in July and your blogs have been very informative! You have to have the best job in the world! One question: Is room service available? Specifically for breakfast?

Jack's Answer:

Good news! Room service is available -- including breakfast.

Jen:

Wonderful commentary and photos, as always, Jack. Do you know if the Private Dining option at Maji is a quick service dining credit?

Jack's Answer:

The "Private Dining" option I wrote about is not considered a "quick service dining credit." It's possible that the less expensive options that are available at the bar are, but I really don't know. Sorry.

Shawn:

Jack Thanks for the input, Being from rural Indiana our palates take a little bit to be woken up to new spice's and dish's, looks like we definately will need to try these dish's out for the expierance if for nothing else.
Hope the rest of your stay is great...Shawn

Rita:

I, along with my husband and some friends will be arriving at Kidani Village next week to celebrate my birthday. We were already looking forward to the visit, but.......
After reading your comments and seeing your pictures, Monday can't come soon enough!

Sarah Barnes:

I am loving all the detail! You've done a great job describing everything. It's been a pleasure to read about Kidani Village!

Roberta Klisiewicz:

Jack, thank you for another great report! Your description of your meal at Sanaa has re-enforced my desire to eat there during my next trip.

Audrey Ward:

Jack - Many thanks for taking the time to share your experiences at Kidani Village. I've especially enjoyed the sneak preview, because we'll be there May 15-20 and can't wait after reading your blog and seeing the pictures. Thanks, again, for all your effort on "our" behalf!!

Laura:

The first photo shows a menu at Maji that wasn't enlarged like you did for the the casual and private dining menus; was that a drink menu?

Jacks' Answer: Yes. That was a specialty drink menu. But I don't have a good copy of it.

Michelle:

Wow! This is great! I am so appreciative of your thorough review! Your pics are outstanding! I am so glad my sister & I are now Vacation Club members and that this is our home resort! You have provided a wonderful insight & we are sure to have a memorable "1st" Vacation Club experience! Thank you so much!

LeeAnn:

Jack, great reviews! Thanks so much! We are checking in this Saturday May 9th for a week in a 2 bedroom. Did you have a chance to look at the 2 bedroom suites? Is the pool area close to the lobby? Thank you, Lee

Jack's Answer:

There are pictures of the two-bedroom suites in the first blog I wrote about Kidani Village. I think you'll be pleased.

The pool is reasonably close to the lobby. However, as I said in an earlier blog, the two wings of the resort are long. If you're in an outer room, it will be a trek to the lobby and pool.

ross:

Jack,

Is Saana part of the Disney Dining Plan? If so, how does the appetizer selection work? Can you order the "combination" appetizer as one appetizer? Is the bread basket considered an appetizer? My family loves Indian food, so the spices will not be unusual for us. I'll let you know how this food compares to all of the Indian restaurants we go to.

Jack's Answer:

Sanaa is on the Dining Plan, but that's all I can tell you. Since I was paying for my meals, it never occurred to me to ask about Dining Plan details. Sorry. I guess I need a refresher course in Disney Reporting 101. ;-)

Lee:

Jack, thanks so much, I have enjoyed reading your blog and viewing all the pictures. Did you have a copy of the room service menu? I'm looking forward to your final blog! Thx, Lee

Jack's Answer:

I didn't bring a room service menu home with me for comparison, but it's almost exactly like the menu posted in this blog for Private Dining.

Bill Burgess:

Jack thanks for all the great informaton. You mentioned that the Pembe Savanna won't be open until fall. That lead me to wonder if any of the savanna view rooms are overlooking Pembe. We will be there in July and I would be very disappointed if my savanna view room didn't actually have view. Also, do you know if they plan on having a concierge level at Kidani Village (currently it says it's only available at Jambo House). Thanks again.

Jack's Answer:

None of the rooms that overlook the Pembe Savanna are open yet and will not open until this area is ready and populated with animals.

To my knowledge, there will not be a concierge level at Kidani Village.

brad:

Great reviews.

Mouserican:

We've dine at Sanaa Sunday evening, we all
really liked it.
Our server Giovani did an excellent job guiding us through the menu offerings;
we had the slow cooked short ribs and curry shrimp, the wild striped bass wrapped in banana leaves and the N.Y Strip.
Sanaa is a very good value as well as all items are very reasonably priced!

Jennifer:

I will be staying at Jambo House in a studio next month. Do you know if they will allow us to us the pool at Kidani House?

Jack's Answer:

All facilities, including pools, are shared between Jambo House and Kidani Village.

The only exception, each section has it's own check-in desk.

Sharon:

Jack,
As everyone has mentioned, thank you for a great lay out on what to expect when visiting the Kidani Village. My family and I will be there the 23rd of this month and now we are really excited now that we have so much to look forward to. Thanks to your reviews. Love the pictures.
Jack, I also wanted to ask if you were able to hear any of the animals during the weee hours of the night/morning, you know when you're suppose to be sleeping? :)

Jack's Answer:

I never heard the animals during the day hours, let alone at night. They just seemed content to graze.

However, I was awake one evening around 12:30am. I stepped out onto my balcony and there were several animals sleeping within sight. Disney dimly illuminates the savanna at night so I would suggest a late night look-see.

Tom Okon:

Jack.
Thanks for the great preview. We will be haeding to AK DVC this summer, and your comment regarding the size of the resort piqued my interest. My daughter is not able to walk great distances. What part of the resort would you recommend I request? We do visit the pools regularly, use the bus transportation frequently, as well as the carry-out dining.

Jack's Answer:

I would suggest to anyone with mobility problems to request as close to the lobby as possible. The pool, bus depot, Sanaa, and lounges are all clustered in this area.

Lucy McCoy:

My husband and I took the 7-hour Behind The Magic tour in January. The tour-guide said that all trash bins in the parks are hand sorted for recyclables (is there such a word???) so they didn't put out bins for such. But they received so many comments about Disney not recycling that they added recycling bins. They still hand sort from ALL the bins since too many people put the wrong thing in the wrong bin. I would imagine that they hand sort all the trash from the resorts also.

We arrive home on June 4th with our children and grand-children in tow. Can hardly wait!!!

Jack's Comment:

After reading your note I debated on updating/changing my actual blog to reflect this information, but decided not to -- and here's why.

I think it's fantastic that Disney sorts the trash backstage. But most people don't know this. I feel we all should be encouraged to recycle so it becomes second nature. Putting a recycle bin in our room would remind us how important this is. Without the bin, some of us would switch to a "vacation frame of mind" and forget about the environment.

Disney (and other hotels) encourages us to reuse towels in order to save water, so they should also be encouraging us to recycle by placing a bin in our rooms.

David Patterson:

Jack,

I was the gentleman sitting next to you for dinner and the large part of the couple you kept running into. It was a pleasure to meet you. The photos are fantastic and you did a great review of the resort. We loved it and had a great time at Kidani.

Karen Price:

Jack- Thanks for your informative blog. My family (11 members)will be staying at Kidani the first week in June. This great preview allowed us to share ideas for "child management"- pool times,etc. Thanks again!!

Sandra Hall:

Just returned from our stay at Kidani Village. We had a wonderful time!!
Please note the "Hidden Mickey" in your picture of the entrance to the Sanaa restaurant. It's on the left edge of the design and is dark brown. We noticed it when we were there, but didn't catch it when first scanning your pictures.

Dave:

I was able to enjoy a fine meal at Sanaa last Wednesday. I had seen the menus on this site and it seemed quite appealing. I found the service to be a bit slow at times. The restaurant was probably about 2/3 full. What was also surprising was the lack of complimentary bread or similar with your meal. The menu can be a bit confusing with the different pairing and combination options. It can take a while to sift through this and decide on your choices.

For my appetizer, I had the pulled duck with red curry sauce which I found exceptional and very flavorful. My main course was the Tandoori lamb chops. I thought the portion was quite generous as you received four chops in sets of two. The tandoori dipping sauce in a seperate small bowl was yellow in color and was quite flavorful. I also decided to go with one of the optional wine flights. I believe mine was called the London Flight that was paired with my lamb. I can't recall exactly what all these were, but I think two were from Australia and one from Spain which I think was a Tempranillo. All were reds.

Overall I found the experience dining at Sanaa in its' opening days to be quite exceptional, with a lot of flavorful cuisine. Although the service was a bit slow, the CMs were friendly and couteous. Sanaa has a lot of potential and I will definitely return. This place could really stand out some day soon as one of WDWs's best.

Dina:

Just wanted to note, since I don't see it here, but we stayed in a 2 bedroom at Kidani last week (May 2 - 9th) and in our room we DID have a GREEN Recycle bin, so it may have been something just missing from your room or maybe they just haven't put them in all the rooms. Our room was 7818.

Anita:

We are debating on room views. The only time we would be able to view the savannahs is in the morning while eating breakfast. The rest of the time we will be in the parks until dark. Since the animals will not be on the savannah during the times we will be in the room during the day, is there still an advantage to the savannah view or would a value view be just as good? Will the animal viewing times be different for the different savannahs? I think it would have made more sense to have the animals removed from the savannah during the afternoon when everyone will be at one of the parks. Thanks for all your pictures and information. This DVC resort look fantastic.

Jack's Answer:

I spoke to one of the supervisors during my visit. He told me that Disney completely understand that guests want the animals available 24/7. Unfortunately, this isn't possible. The reason Disney decided to tend to the animals between 6am and noon as it was thought that this time would have the least impact on the guests. They believe that most guests will be getting ready to go to the parks in the morning and not viewing the animals at this time. Then come afternoon, the animals would be available for those who chose to spend only a half day in the parks and return to the resort. Of course, this schedule isn't going to suit everyone's needs. Someone will always be unhappy with the hours selected.

I do not know what the schedule for the second Savannah coming on line in September will be.

If you truly won't be returning to Kidani Village until after dark, I'm not sure it is worth the money for a Savannah view. For that matter, why stay here at all. Maybe you should consider a different resort -- one that has easy park access like the Beach Club or the Boardwalk. Just a thought.

Steve Martorano:

We are staying in July in a 2 bedroom Savannah view room in the villas. We stayed in the main lodge a few years back and loved it. We usually stay at the Beach club but decided on the Animal Kingdom Villas because the reviews, and pictures you posted are awesome. I am hoping these villas are as nice to stay at as the Beach Clubs. We can't wait! Thanks for all the reviews.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 2, 2009 9:57 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Kidani Village – Part 4.

The next post in this blog is Kidani Village – Final Blog.

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