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May 3, 2009

Kidani Village – Final Blog

In this final blog I'm going to try to tie up any loose ends and answer a few more questions.

When I checked into Kidani Village early on May 1st, I was the only guest at the front desk and I had seven eager cast members ready and willing to tell me everything there is to know about Kidani Village. When I mentioned that I had lunch reservations at Sanaa, in unison they said "Try the pork chop."

Yesterday, it was time to put their recommendation to the test. But before I ever arrived at my table, I learned something new about the restaurant. It was designed to look like a stylized outdoor marketplace and all of the waitstaff are referred to as merchants. I realize that this is sort of gimmicky, but it works. Hey, it's Disney and getting lost in our imaginations is what it's all about.

Take a look at the design in the middle of the tables at Sanaa.


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Since I knew I'd be writing a mini-review about lunch at Sanaa, I felt it important to order two different meals. Since Donald and I were both still full from our large dinner the night before, we decided to skip appetizers and desserts and only order entrees. But now the hard decision - who gets the Grilled Port Chop ($17.99)? It was finally decided that Donald would get the recommended selection.

This chop is available at lunch only and is the sole pork item served. Because this meat is not commonly served in Africa or India it was decided to limit its use. In fact, the bacon used on the Club Sandwich is Turkey-Bacon.

The Grilled Pork Chop is glazed with ginger and pickled lime sauce and served with sautéed spinach. However, Donald opted for the stir-fried green beans.


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Donald did allow me a small bite of the pork and we both agreed that the front-desk cast members were right - this dish is a winner. It was tender, moist, and flavorful. Note, I would call the serving size a "lunch" portion, but there was enough food here to satisfy Donald.

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


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The Chicken Curry was good; however I wish there had been a few more bites of meat in the bowl. As for the curry, I liked it. Curry is certainly a robust flavor, but it wasn't overpowering. It had a slight tingle, but not so strong as to scare away those of you who don't like spicy-hot food.

The Paneer Cheese and Spinach was interesting. I want tell you more, but I'm really not sure what to say. I finished it all so it must have been good, but words escape me when I try to describe it. Sorry.

Overall, I'm pleased with Sanaa. The menu is diverse and it would take several visits to try everything. And the food is unique. Even though I found it difficult to describe the Paneer Cheese and Spinach, I'm still glad I ordered it. It was fun to try something new. And I love the décor of the restaurant. The designers created one of the most inviting and warm spots at Disney.

Now it's time to move on to some final odds and ends about Kidani Village.

High Speed Internet Access: Each room is equipped with a cable to connect a laptop to the internet. You'll find the cable in a cloth bag hanging in a closet. The price is $9.95 for 24 hours. However members (and their guest) get this service for free. Non-members making general reservations must pay. Also, if you take the cable home with you, you'll be charged $9.95.

Disney is installing WiFi in many of the public rooms of their resorts. It will eventually make it to Kidani Village, but no date has been set for this to happen.

Throughout the resort you will see wonderfully shaped pieces of colorful glass in a number of chandeliers. This glass was crafted by Savoy Studios. For more information, check out their website. http://www.savoystudios.com/


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Take a look at the hidden Mickeys found in the hallway carpet.


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In your room, look for a "Wildlife Field Guide." On it you'll find a list of animals that roam the savanna and a brief description of their habits.

Of course, as nice as the resort is, the real reason anyone would stay here is to see the animals. Greg, Curator in the Animals Program Department, told me that when you see the animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari, it's only for a brief moment. But when you view them from Jambo House or Kidani Village, you can actually watch them behave and interact over a period of time. This gives you a far better understanding of the animals than a quick "drive by" can provide.

All of the pictures below were taken from my room on the third floor.


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May 1, 2009

Kidani Village – Part 4

I arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge this morning around 8am. The first thing returning visitors will notice is that the guard shack has been moved as it now serves two sections of the resort. You will also notice signs for Jambo House and Kidani Village.


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When I arrived at the check-in desk, a number of cast members were waiting to help me - all of them smiling broadly. It was obvious they were excited to be a part of the opening team at this new resort. While I was checking in, a number of them were eager to impart information about the details designed into this newest Disney Vacation Club.

The first bit of trivia they shared was the fact that all of the artifacts below the check-in counter and behind them on the wall were different types of ancient African currency. In addition, the marble counter was quarried in Africa.


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I also learned that the front desk offers balloon baby-sitting. Because of the danger to the animals, Disney requests that all guests purchasing a balloon check it at the front desk so it doesn't accidentally find its way to the savanna.

And here's an interesting bit of detailing. It seems that the night sounds of Africa, like crickets and other insects, were recorded and are played in the evening in the outdoor areas. It was hoped that this would add a bit of realism to the ambiance.

Since many of you peppered me with questions, I spent some of my check-in time asking Claudia and Lisa for the answers. Here's what I found out.

* Valet parking is available.
* Bell services are available.
* Magical Express serves both Jambo House and Kidani Village.
* Airline check-in is available at both Jambo House and Kidani Village.
* Additional buses have been added to the Animal Kingdom Lodge route to handle the increased number of guests. This will continually be monitored to maximize service.
* Refillable mugs are available at the Jahari Treasures merchandise shop and the Maji Pool Bar. They can be refilled at both Kidani Village and Jambo House.
* Coffee is served at Jahari Treasures merchandise shop.
* The only indoor fireplace is located at The Library.
* Survival of the Fittest Health Club does not offer massages.

A limited number of covered parking spaces are available on the first floor of the resort underneath the guest rooms. The second picture is of the parking lot elevator.


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Since this was opening day, the hotel was empty and I was able to get my room immediately. I am staying in a studio.


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I mentioned in my very first blog that Kidani Village has three themes: Fabric, Art, and Proverbs - and each proverb is designated by a butterfly.

When I arrived at my room, I found a washcloth shaped as a butterfly and a proverb card on the bed. In case you can't read the card it says: "A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place."


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Here are a few pictures of my room.


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The television has a dedicated box so you can plug in and play your video equipment easily.

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Take a close-up look at the curtains. Here you'll find characters from the Lion King.


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Here's a picture of the balcony and chair.


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And finally, here is a picture of my view. I'm on the third floor. At the moment, the only animals on the savanna are humans. I'm hoping for more exotic creatures later in the day.


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I'm off now to do some exploring. More later.

April 24, 2009

Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village Part 3

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I think "Survival of the Fittest" is a fantastic name for the Kidani Village health club!

Survival of the Fittest offers state-of-the-art exercise equipment in a very pleasant atmosphere. It is also located next to the pool so a cool-down swim is just a short walk away.


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A number of the machines have pleasant views of the pool area or natural surroundings.


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The Samawati Springs pool (Sah-mah-WAH-tee) measures 4,700 square feet and offers a zero-depth entry. Samawati is the Swahili word for the color "azure."


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Also part of the pool is a 128-foot slide and two whirlpool spas.


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Plenty of lounge chairs are available for sunbathing. But don't forget your sunscreen!


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Adjacent to the Samawati Springs is Uwanja Camp (oo-WAHN-jah). This is a children's play area, but after you see the pictures, I'm sure that you'll agree there will be as many adults here as little ones. Uwanja means "play area" in Swahili.

Let's start at the entrance where two African masks spray mist on you as you pass by.


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Once through the entrance gate, prepare to get wet. Water comes at you from all directions.


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These next two pictures show how a water-canon battle could erupt between the attackers and the defending fort.


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There is also a "Jungle Gym" type apparatus for the kids to climb on, slide down, and burn off energy.


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Also located near the pool is the Maji Pool Bar (MAH-jee). Maji means "water" in Swahili. Besides soft drinks and adult concoctions, a limited selection of food is also served.


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At Kidani Village, DVC Members and Guests can choose between four different room categories: studio (sleeps up to 4), one-bedroom villa (sleeps up to 5), two-bedroom villa (sleeps up to 9), and three-bedroom, two-story Grand Villa (sleeps up to 12). All rooms feature a balcony, most with spectacular views of the resort's savannas.

Studio units feature one queen-sized bed, one double-size sleeper sofa, and a kitchenette.


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Once again, the Fabric theme of the resort is evident in the bedspread. Also, check for hidden Mickey's on the spread and carpet.


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One-bedroom units and larger feature a living area, a full-size kitchen, washer & dryer, multiple bathrooms, and a whirlpool tub.

Here are two pictures of the kitchen.


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Below are pictures of the living area. Notice the wood-carving on the TV cabinet.


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Next we see photos of the two basic bedroom styles. One features a king-size bed while the other has two queens.


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Here are pictures of the bathroom that is connected to the bedroom with the king-size bed.


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Below are pictures of the bathroom that is associated with the bedroom with the two queen-size beds.


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One-bedroom rooms at the Kidani Village feature a second bathroom. This is a nice feature in the morning when multiple family members are trying to get ready.


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Jambo House offers the same type of accommodations with slightly different floor plans than Kidani Village. In addition, The Grand Villas in Jambo House are one-story and feature a pool table. The Grand Villas at Kidani Village are two-story and have entrances on both the fourth and fifth floors.


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Well folks, that's all I have for now. I will be staying at Kidani Village on May 1st and 2nd so I can explore this resort in more depth. Watch for updates.

I'd also like to extend my thanks to Kristin for spending over an hour with me and showing me this fantastic resort.

April 23, 2009

Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village Part 2

I'd like to start this blog with some logistical details.

Guests and Members must check-in to their respective section of the resort - either Jambo House or Kidani Village. But other than that, all resort facilities are shared.

Kidani Village will have its own bus stop with service to all four theme parks, both water parks, and Downtown Disney.

Guests wishing to travel from Jambo House to Kidani Village can board any Downtown Disney bus.

Guests wishing to travel from Kidani Village to Jambo House can board any Theme Park bus.

Much of the parking is underneath the building. You will appreciate this when you go to get your car during the hot summer.

Phase 1 of Kidani Village is opening on May 1. Phase 2, including the Pembe Savanna, is scheduled to open this fall.


Kidani Village was designed with three themes, Fabric, Proverbs, and Art. And when it comes to Art, it is abundant everywhere. But it's far more than just paintings hanging from the wall. The building was designed with all types of artistic creations in mind. Everywhere you see alcoves and recessed shelves that were designed specifically for sculptures and statuary.


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Other pieces are strategically positioned in the middle of a room.


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The ceilings are equally impressive.


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Even the elevator doors are magnificent!


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And let's not forget about the public restrooms. This is the men's, by the way.


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Here's one of the hallways leading to other public rooms. This, in and of itself, is a work of art.


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Sanaa (sa-NAH) is a 150 seat restaurant that will be open for both lunch and dinner. Sanaa means "artwork" in Swahili and will offer culinary traditions of East Africa.

Below is a picture of the check-in podium. Notice the hidden Mickey? Also, if you look closely at the counter you can see a colorful band running horizontally. This band is made up of small, ceramic beads. As I mentioned in my first blog, Kidani means "necklace" in Swahili and these beads are keeping with this theme.


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Sanaa also has its own Proverb.


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Right off the entrance of the restaurant is a 24-seat lounge. This is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail while waiting for your table. The lounge is dimly lit, so in order to give you a better view, I have lightened the first two pictures.


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The restaurant portion of Sanaa is broken into sections by the use of half-walls, trees, and giant beads. Hanging from the ceiling are light fixtures that resemble gourds dangling from a tree's limbs.


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Other architectural features also help give this restaurant an intimate feel.


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There are a handful of tables that look directly out onto the Sunset Savanna. Don't despair. The chain-link fence will be gone by May 1st. Note, "window" tables can be requested, but not guaranteed.


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This next picture shows off another of the resort's themes, Fabric.


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Here's a picture of a booth with a not-so-hidden Mickey on the wall. Once again, notice the rich Fabric used on the cushions.


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I was quite impressed with the décor of Sanaa. I will be eating there on May 1st so watch for my review. In the meantime, check out their Pre-Opening menus: Sanaa Lunch and Sanaa Dinner. There is also a Press Release from Disney about Sanaa.

Another of the public rooms is Community Hall.


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Community Hall is the place where you can play games to your heart's content. Computer games, including Wii, board games, pool, foosball, and more are waiting for you. This is also the place where you can check out basketballs, tennis rackets, and other outdoor sporting equipment.


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Kidani Village also has its own electronic game room, the Safari So Good Arcade.


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A very nice laundry room is also available for those of you in Studio units or if you have more loads than your room facility can handle.


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The last public room I'm going to talk about today is The Library. Now don't think of books when you venture this way, think of activities. Posted outside this room is a list of programs that will be offered to entertain and educate. Besides a description of the activity, times and locations are also listed here.


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In a sense, this bulletin is like a cruise ship activity sheet. I realize you can't read it, so let me give you a few examples of what's offered.

Make your own beaded jewelry
Cookie decorating
Face painting
Culinary Tour
Animal Viewing with Night Vision
Pin Trading
So you think you know Disney Trivia
Bingo
Story Time
Ceramics

Obviously, not all of these activities take place in The Library, but some do. Here's a few pictures of this innovative room.


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That's it for this blog. Next I'll be talking about the swimming pool and the guest rooms.


April 22, 2009

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Kidani Village also has its own check-in desk.


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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.


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


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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.


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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.


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


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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.

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About Kidani Village

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Kidani Village category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Jack's Mail Bag is the previous category.

Legacy Award is the next category.

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