Disney World lets people soar into new locations from across the globe. From the heights of Mount Everest to the depths of the ocean and the skies of Neverland, people from all over come to be whisked away. Not only do guests experience this inside the parks but also throughout the Disney World resorts.
For example, guests can choose a tropical paradise and stay at the Polynesian Resort, or a European experience and stay at Riviera Resort, or a life at sea and stay at the Beach Club Resort. One of the most magical resorts is Animal Kingdom Lodge, where guests step into an African Savannah and come face to face with the wildlife that inhabits the area. But did you know that there are two parts to this resort? Let us examine how they stack up against each other in this comparison of Animal Kingdom Lodge vs Kidani Village.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
Animal Kingdom Lodge opened in 2001 and was so overwhelmingly popular, it was eventually broken into two resorts, Jambo House and Kidani Village. Animal Kingdom Lodge was renamed to Jambo House, and the new building is where Kidani Village resides. Jambo House is open to regular guests and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) guests, but Kidani Village is reserved just for DVC guests. Both resorts have views of the 33-acre savannah in which animals roam freely throughout the area. Many of the rooms at the resorts come with savannah views, yet some are just standards views that look out onto the parking lot or pool. Guests can travel to each resort by shuttle bus or by a walkway that was created so that guests can experience the different pools, shops, and restaurants that can be found at each resort.
Jambo House’s lobby has tall ceilings that are made of wood, and the limbs are tied with rope in a traditional African architectural style. The light fixtures are truly ones you would see in an African village. On the railings of the different floors, you will find stained glass that features animals you would find on the savannah. The lobby itself is mostly made of wood and the furniture has brown accents, but due to the tall windows, it is still very bright and inviting.
Kidani Village’s lobby is brighter in color and not as elaborate as Jambo House, which makes some people feel it gives them a more home vibe rather than a hotel vibe. It was designed around themes from traditional proverbs and art. Many guests enjoy the front desk at Kidani Village because it has large, striking poles that rise up to the ceiling and light fixtures that resemble fire.
Disney Vacation Club
Disney Vacation Club is a type of timeshare that Disney created in 1991. Rather than requiring you to purchase a set time to travel to each year, DVC allows you to purchase points to use to book your stay anytime throughout the year. You prepay for your Disney vacations by investing in a Disney Resort for a set number of years. Then, each year you are allocated a set amount of points, and you use those points to stay at Disney resorts. DVC villas are nicer than standard rooms since they come with more amenities such as full kitchens and often are in better locations within the hotels.
Jambo House has fewer rooms than Kidani Village. There are 134 rooms, which include studios, as well as one and two-bedroom villas. As previously stated, Jambo House has both regular rooms and well as DVC rooms. A regular room is about 350 square feet and contains either two queen beds, or one queen bed and bunk beds. It also contains a mini-fridge, coffee maker, table and chairs, and a balcony. Seventy percent of these rooms have a savannah view, while the other rooms have a standard view of the rooftop/parking area or pool.
DVC rooms at Jambo House consist of either a studio or one/two-bedroom villas. The studio villa can sleep four and is about 375 square feet. It has a queen bed and a full-size sleeper sofa as well as a microwave, toaster, mini-fridge, and cabinets that have items such as plates, cups, and utensils. One-bedroom villas feature a fully furnished kitchen with stove, dishwater, and full-size refrigerator, as well as a living room with full size pull out couch, separate bedroom with a king-size bed, bathroom with spa tub and tile shower, as well as a washer and dryer. Two-bedroom villas consist of a one-bedroom villa with access to an adjoining studio. DVC villas either have savanna views or partial savanna views.
Kidani Village is the newer portion of Animal Kingdom which opened in 2009. It has 324 rooms which include studios, one and two-bedroom villas, and three-bedroom villas. The villas are also slightly bigger than those in Jambo House. Studios are nearly identical to Jambo House’s DVC studios. However, one-bedroom villas at Kidani Village have an additional full bathroom just inside the entrance of the villa and a total of about 750 square feet. Another difference is that its two-bedroom villas are actually two bedrooms and not just locked off rooms. The two-bedroom villa has two queen beds in the second bedroom. The two-bedroom villas are about 1,175 square feet and also have the additional second bathroom, which means they have three full bathrooms. Kidani Village not only has an African style in its rooms but also features many Lion King accents throughout the villas. Kidani Village is much bigger than Jambo House, so guests might have to walk rather far to their rooms if they are located on the opposite end of the lobby and restaurants.
There are actually three savannahs in the area: Sunset, Arusha, and Uzima. Each savannah looks slightly different, and each has its own variety of animals. Jambo House and Kidani Village share the main Sunset Savannah. Over 200 mammals and birds (about 30 species) live on the savannas. Sunset Savannah’s animals include male giraffes, bongos, ostriches, impalas, gazelles, Ankole cattle, waterbucks, and a variety of cranes. Arusha Savannah has pelicans, giraffes, geese, Ankole cattle, Wildebeests, Zebras, Elands, and Gemsboks. Lastly, Uzima Savannah has giraffes, impalas, bongos, blesboks, kudos, and gazelles.
Animals can be viewed from multiple locations. Some families dream of waking up and drinking their coffee on the balcony as they watch a variety of animals go right by them. However, not everyone desires such a close view from their room. Jambo House provides multiple viewing areas on the second floor, which are easy to access from the lobby. Jambo House’s main viewing area is called Arusha Rock. It is a great area where many guests come to explore, relax, roast marshmallows at the fire pit, and talk to Disney Guides, who will answer questions and provide insight into the animals and savannah. Another fun experience is to use night vision goggles to view the animals at night. Kidani Village has a similar viewing area that is right past the lobby with the same amenities as Arusha Rock. However, the viewing area is much closer to the animals and there is a greater variety of animals. Lastly, guests can also experience the animals up close by signing up for Wanyama Safari, which includes a meal and a guide to take you through the savannah.
There are multiple pools throughout the two hotels that have water slides, pool bars, and hot tubs. Some pools are zero-entry, which makes is easy for little kids to enter. There are also three kiddie pools and an interactive water playground.
Jambo House has a zero-entry pool and a 67 foot long water slide. It also features two hot tubs, one of which is located next to the animal viewing area. Jambo house has a kiddie pool, yet is it not as busy as the one in Kidani Village. Uzima Springs is located near the main pool, so it is easy to get food and snacks.
Kidani Village has a smaller zero-entry pool called Samawati Springs. It also has a larger water slide that is 128 feet long and also contains a smaller kiddie slide for even the youngest visitors. There are also two hot tubs, albeit not near the savannah viewing area. Unlike Jamba House, Kidani Village has an interactive water play area called Uwanja Camp which is always a big hit. There are some shallow kiddie pools, buckets that dump water on guests below, water guns, and a playground.
Dining At Animal Kingdom Lodge
There are many grab-and-go as well as sit down restaurants between the two properties. Jambo House has the majority of restaurants since Kidani Village has more guest villas on its property which feature full kitchens.
Boma is the most popular out of the restaurants at these two resorts. This buffet serves breakfast and dinner but is especially popular for breakfast. The food is African-inspired, but breakfast is typically more American. Many people rave about the Jungle Juice that they get with their breakfast, but you can order it at dinner too. It is made up of passion fruit juice, guava nectar, and orange juice. If you go for dinner be sure to try out the famous Zebra Domes for dessert.
For a full review read: Boma Flavors of Africa
Jiko is a higher-end, table service restaurant that you can find at Jambo House. It is open just for dinner and is a great spot for celebrations and wine lovers. Their menu is also seasonal, unlike the other restaurants though our favorite item here is the filet and mac and cheese and we have found it to be on the menu year-round. It specializes in lighter African cuisine as well as South African wine.
For our full review read Jiko Dining Review at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The Mara is located at Jambo House as well. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a quick-service restaurant that opens at 6 am to accommodate all the early risers. The restaurant is known for its more modern take on African food. A favorite to get here is the Zebra Domes for dessert.
Victoria Falls Lounge is also located at Jambo House above Boma. It is a quick place to grab a drink such as unique coffees and teas as well as many themed alcoholic beverages.
Kidani Village’s main restaurant is Sanaa. It is not a buffet like Boma and instead is a table service restaurant. The food offered on the menu here is African-Indian fusion. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is one of the only restaurants where you can view the savannah as you eat. We have had a blast spotting the different animals that come up by the window while we have dined here. Little animals like bunny rabbits all the way up to giraffes.
The not to miss item here is ordering the bread service which is pictured above. Many guests also love trying the different types of dips included in the bread service. Don’t worry the sauces are ordered from mild to spicy hot so you can pick and choose what you want.
For a full review read: Sanaa Dining Review
Maji Pool Bar is a quick grab-and-go restaurant for many guests staying at Kidani who don’t want to have a sit-down meal at Sanaa. It has fun drinks and familiar dishes such as hamburgers and chicken.
Each resort has its own gift shop filled with one of a kind items for everyone in the family to enjoy. I don’t know about you but on my vacations, I try to hunt out a special souvenir that is specific to the hotel we stayed at!
Jambo House’s store is called Zawadi Marketplace. It features all your typical souvenirs as well as some African-inspired ones. Zawadi Marketplace also functions as a general store for guests to get groceries such as milk, frozen meals, chips, and ice cream.
Kidani Village’s gift shop is much smaller than Jambo House’s. It is called Johari Treasures. It has fewer souvenirs yet also has basic groceries. This gift shop also features DVC logo merchandise as well as complimentary DVD rentals for DVC guests.
Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have a lot to offer guests in terms of restaurants, rooms, pools, and animal sightseeing. Animal Kingdom Lodge vs Kidani Village, no matter which resort you pick, it will be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Here is a high-level list of the pros and cons of each resort. Jambo House has a lot more options for dining, which include both poolside lounges as well as quick service and sit down restaurants. It also has a larger pool, gift shop, and arcade. However, the rooms are smaller and not as grand, yet still more expensive for standard hotel rooms. Due to all the pros, many DVC members wish to stay here. Since there are fewer DVC rooms, booking one of the villas can be difficult.
Kidani Village’s pros are that its villas are larger and contain an extra bathroom in the one and two-bedroom villas. Guests tend to have no issues in booking a villa. They also enjoy the interactive water play area and superior animal viewing.
Lastly, guests find the lobby to be more quiet and more relaxing. Negatives for Kidani Village are that it has slim choices for restaurants, no arcade, and a smaller gift shop. It is also very spread out. Additionally, those who wish to stay at Kidani Village have to be DVC members or rent DVC through one of the DVC rental websites which can be a hassle for nonmembers. That being said, guests love that the bus to the parks picks up and drops off at Kidani Village first.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!