One of the coolest hotels near Animal Kingdom is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House & Kidani Village.) Find out why you will want to splurge for the Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah View room, especially if you’re bringing kids to Disney World.
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Whether you are planning your first Walt Disney World vacation or your twentieth, finding the right place to stay at Walt Disney World is crucial.
Part of the reason that we wanted to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is that we know there are so many things to do in Disney World besides the Parks.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge & Kidani Village was a great place for our first trip to Walt Disney World because we wanted to be wowed by the African animals and enjoy the resort on it’s own.
Let’s dive in!
Jambo House & Kidani Village
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has 2 separate areas: Jambo House and Kidani Village. It’s about an 8 minute walk between the two areas.
Guests are encouraged to use the amenities at both areas, as it’s one big resort. That means double the pools, restaurants, activities, etc.
Both Jambo House and Kidani Village offer public viewing areas of the savannahs (there are 4 total savannahs at Animal Kingdom Lodge.)
There are cool sitting areas on upper levels of the resort and you can also go down to expansive platforms right in the savannah. More often than not, there will be a wildlife guide down there to talk about the different animals and answer questions.
Jambo House is the new name of the original Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is where you’ll find BOMA and Jiko restaurants.
They also have a playground near the pool.
Kidani Village is the newest section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is where you’ll find Sanaa restaurant.
Both lobbies have an airline check in desk where you can drop off your checked luggage and get your boarding passes for most airlines.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Rooms
We booked the Savannah View Studio Villa room at Kidani Village. It featured a queen size bed and a full size pull out couch. Cribs and pack and plays are available per request.
There’s a spacious bathroom with a large counter and the shower has a full bathtub. There’s also a separate area for the toilet.
The kitchenette features a microwave and minifridge. There’s a large armoire, huge set of drawers, as well as a coat closet for storing clothing and suitcases.
There’s also a table and two chairs, if you want to sit and eat room service.
The balcony of our room overlooked the Savannah and we could see zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, birds, etc from our room!
Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah View
Even though I had seen YouTube videos of the resort prior to our trip, I really wasn’t prepared for just how awe-inspiring it is to see zebras and giraffes just hanging out right outside our window!
We arrived to the hotel right at dinner time, so it was dark out. But, we could still make out the zebras from our balcony!
But, when it was light out the next morning, we honestly couldn’t believe how many animals were roaming around!
And then, we walked outside the lobby of Kidani Village and it was the closest I’d ever been to giraffes in my life!
I’m a huge fan of giraffes and that’s where I encourage my kids to spend most of our time when we’re at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle!
Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurants
There are three Animal Kingdom resort restaurants at Jambo House and Kidani Village: BOMA, Jiko, and Sanaa.
They do book up quickly, so I recommend you place dining reservations through the Disney World app or website as soon as you can.
Located at Jambo House, BOMA features 3 rotating menus with African-inspired dishes.
It’s set up as a buffet and they have a carving station, soups, veggies, potatoes, couscous, fruits, a huge dessert bar and so much food!
We loved the food here so much that we went twice! Their soups were heavenly and the dishes were a great blend of African influence with American staples. There’s plenty for all palettes!
Get the sweet potatoes, they are AMAZING!
This is a bit more upscale than BOMA and it’s not a buffet restaurant. They are known for their artisanal cheeses and blends of Indian, African, and Mediterranean flavors.
Kids have a decent selection of meal options and desserts.
It’s also located in Jambo House, but they are only open for dinner.
If you’re hoping to get a quick breakfast before hitting the parks, this is a great option. They have a grab ‘n’ go menu with breakfast classics.
The dinner menu is a bit more exotic and perfect for adventurous taste buds. They have an extensive children’s menu (including a create-your-own meal option) with an array of flavorful foods as well as macaroni and cheese!
This is the only Animal Kingdom resort restaurant located at Kidani Village. If you go, try to request a table with the view of the Savannah!
And, you can also request Animal Kingdom Lodge dining in your room through their private dining menu.
As a Seattleite and avid coffee drinker, I do want to make a note that while there’s a coffee maker in the room, you’ll have to head to The Mara near the pool at Jambo House if you want a latte or cappuccino. Otherwise, you’ll have to hit Starbucks or Joffrey’s at the Parks.
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Kidani Village Gift Shops
If you are looking to grab milk or some easy breakfast items, the gift shops at both Kidani Village and Jambo House have a surprising amount of options.
Our kids drink tons of milk each morning and we found the prices to be so much cheaper than buying it in the Parks.
They also have diapers, medicine, snack foods, lots of frozen entrees, sunscreen, and the rest of your typical Disney gift shop stuff.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has so many fun activities for kids. You can see the full schedule in your room.
My 5 year old was obsessed with earning beads by participating in certain activities throughout the resort. One of them was all about how to track animals and he learned a lot of useful facts.
One day, there was a tornado watch and so we spent a lot of time in the community room. They had movies playing, plus lots of toys and games for kids of all ages.
Plus there were crafting and coloring stations set up.
Across from the community room is the arcade. This was another great way to stay dry and we came back on our rest day to play a bit more.
Since we were there during the holidays, my kids begged us to make ornaments on our last morning. The cast members were so patient and gave the boys special pins!
Simba’s Playhouse Kids Club
For $15/hour, parents can drop off kids ages 3-12 at Simba’s Playhouse so they can enjoy a kid-free date night.
You can learn more about it here.
Kidani Village Pool
There are separate pool areas for Jambo House and Kidani Village, but both are pretty awesome. Guests can use either pool area.
Uzima Springs Pool
At Jambo House, Uzima Springs Pool has a zero-depth-entry point and a waterslide. Plus, there’s a lounge and bar nearby.
Samawati Springs Pool
At Kidani Village, Samawati Springs Pool also has a zero-depth-entry, a waterslide, and a nearby lounge and bar.
But, it also has Uwanja Camp, a splash playground for kids 0-4 years, 5-7 years, and ages 8 and older. There are water cannons, a leaky water tower, bubbling geysers and more!
Kidani Village Spa/Fitness Centers
Our family does not work out on Disney trips (we count all the walking and carrying kids as our cardio!)
But, I made sure to check them out so I could report back.
Both Jambo House and Kidani Village have fitness centers (with Jambo House being larger with more equipment.)
There’s also a spa at Jambo House where you can schedule a massage. We were tempted after a few days of trekking around the parks, but they were completely booked.
Unique Kidani Village Resort Activities for Adults + Older Kids
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a lot of interesting activities for adults. Here are a few that jumped out at us:
Grab a pair of night vision goggles and head out on an African Game Drive through the savannas. A portion of this tour price is donated to the Disney Conservation Fund.
Drive through the savannas during the afternoon and then join your fellow adventurers for a family-style dinner at Jiko. A portion of this tour price also goes to the Disney Conservation Fund.
Guests can learn about African culture while tasting food from the restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with this free experience.
These are great activities to do while your young kids are at the kids club or during a resort day!
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How to Get to the Parks from Kidani Village
The easiest way to get to the Walt Disney World Parks is to use the bus system. There are bus stops at both Jambo House and Kidani Village, so you won’t have to walk far.
It’s closest to Animal Kingdom Park and it’s a decent ride to Disney Springs.
The cool thing about staying at Kidani Village is that it’s the first stop for pick up (meaning you get first dibs at grabbing a seat) and it’s also the first stop when dropping off.
HOW TO GET TO OTHER RESORTS
If you have dining reservations or just want to explore other Disney Resorts (each one has such a cool theme!) you can still get there using the buses.
You’ll just need to take the bus to one of the Parks and then transfer to a bus or monorail going to the Disney Resort you’re heading to.
There are no buses that will take you from Animal Kingdom Resort directly to another resort, so make sure you build in enough time in your schedule.
We had reservations for the character breakfast at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and we took the bus to Magic Kingdom and then hopped on the Resort Monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
And if you are staying at Kidani Village and don’t want to walk to Jambo House (or vice-versa) you can take a small shuttle that just goes between the two areas.
Animal Kingdom Lodge Review
For our first Walt Disney World experience, Animal Kingdom Lodge was the ultimate place to stay for our family!
It was really nice to skip baggage claim and go straight to the buses. We rode the Magical Express right to Kidani Village and our luggage arrived about 4 hours later.
Savannah View Room
I’m glad we upgraded to the Savannah View room because it was incredible to see animals from sun up to sun down right outside our window. It never got old!
We had 5 people in our room (3 adults, a 5 year old, and a 2 year old) and it felt a bit cramped. We thought our toddler would sleep in the pack and play, but he ended up in our queen sized bed.
It was fine for this trip, but next trip we’ll probably book 2 rooms so we can have a bit more space.
We loved how large the bathroom was! There was a separate area for the toilet (with a locking door) and there was a full bathtub, which was perfect for us. I also appreciated the large countertop.
With the microwave and mini-fridge, we were able to reheat leftovers for lunch and have cold milk on hand for the kids. There were even plastic utensils and paper bowls in the kitchenette!
We use packing cubes and there was plenty of drawer space for everyone. And the wardrobe had plenty of room to hang dresses and store one of our suitcases.
I loved reading the pamphlet about all the resort activities. My husband and I were tempted to do the night safari while my Mom watched the kids one night, but it just didn’t work out.
The really big hit for the kids was attending the activities where they could earn beads for their necklace. My oldest really liked learning about the animals.
And both boys were mesmerized by the wood carver at Jambo House. It takes him about an hour to carve a little monkey. He spent time playing peek-a-boo with my toddler and it was adorable!
We ended up in room 7648. It was actually on the main floor so we didn’t have to wait for elevators (total win for us!)
But, it was in the back of Kidani Village and after a long day in the Parks, it felt like we walked a mile to get to our room from the lobby! I’m sure it wasn’t a full mile, but the hallway felt never-ending.
Insider Tip: Ask for a room closer to the lobby to cut down on steps.
The only tricky thing for our family was doing the bus system with two strollers, especially when the kids were sleeping. We had to break down the strollers and wake the kids up to take the bus back to the resort.
We appreciated being the first stop and I was impressed that we only had to stand one time, even though we went during the busy holiday season.
But the incredibly unique view of giraffes and zebras more than made up for it! Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is like no other hotel I’ve stayed at!
How to Save Money Booking Animal Kingdom Lodge
For our first trip to Walt Disney World, my husband and I knew we wanted to stay at one of the top-rated Disney resorts. But, we didn’t want to pay top dollar.
One of our friends works for Disney, so we checked with him to see what kind of rate we could get for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. His rate was definitely cheaper than what we were seeing through the Disney website and Expedia, but it was still a bit out of budget.
CHECK RATES FOR DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE ON TRIPADVISOR HERE
So, I did a bit more online research and discovered that I could rent Disney Vacation Club points.
This is a great option if you want to stay at deluxe resort on a budget.
DAVID’S VACATION CLUB RENTALS
One of the top rated websites to rent DVC points is David’s Vacation Club Rentals.
How it Works:
First you need to figure out where you want to stay. David’s Vacation Club Rentals has a cost calculator so you can figure out which resorts fit into your budget.
Second, you’ll fill out their online form with your dates, resort/room selection, and submit with a refundable deposit.
Sometimes it takes up to 24 hours to secure the reservation (they have to confirm with the DVC owners), but once it’s confirmed, you’ll need to pay the full amount that day.
If they cannot secure a reservation at the requested resort, they will usually offer some alternative options.
DVC Rental Properties at Walt Disney World:
Here are the Disney resorts you can choose from (with TripAdvisor links so you can get real customer reviews):