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Walt Disney World's New HotelMay 18, 2009 By: Ruthanne Terrero
We say the new Kidani Village at the Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom is a home run. Built as a component of the Disney Vacation Club, the property’s accommodations, which range from studios to three-bedrooms, are designed for residential use.
Bedroom of one-bedroom Suite
Our one-bedroom suite, No. 7216, was fit for any luxury traveler; it has two full bathrooms (the one off the bedroom is extremely luxe with a huge Jacuzzi-style bathtub, extremely spacious shower with a seating area and a rain shower head, double sinks and separate water closet.
Kitchen of a one-bedroom suite
There’s a kitchen area with small dining table off the living room and we must say, this kitchen is fully loaded with a large fridge, stove, microwave, coffee machine and cabinets filled with cutlery, plates and utensils. To our delight, there was an enclosed washing machine and dryer across from the kitchen with two different detergent options, one of them being hypoallergenic.
Living room of a one-bedroom suite
The living room and bedroom were large with plenty of storage space; making it even better was the double balcony outside. The crowning touch on this graciously large suite are the custom-made furnishings that were designed to evoke an African vibe. We say the designers carried it off.
Zebra outside our window
We always say that it’s all about the room, but at Kidani Village what’s happening outside is the main event. That’s because the resort is built on the savannah that Disney built for its Animal Kingdom Lodge. This savannah is real, as its denizens are African animals. Just outside our balcony, we saw giraffes, Ankole cattle, Roan antelope, zebra, and wildebeest, just to name a few. (Disney provides a "Wildlife Field Guide" sheet in the room.)
We found the best time to view the animals was around 5 to 6 p.m. as they're starting to wonder what's for dinner. One evening, we were mesmerized by the giant Roan antelope dozing in front of our balcony and the emus grazing to his left; but we were stunned when we turned slightly to our left and saw five giraffes standing about (one was a baby). A few minutes later, as we were going to dinner, we saw two giraffes directly in front of us, affectionately sniffing each other’s heads.
As for Kidani Village, other features include Sanaa, a table-service restaurant, whose floor-to-ceiling windows provide dramatic views of the wildlife on the savannah. The cuisine here is designed as “African cooking with Indian flavors"; there’s also a great cocktail lounge serving African-inspired mojitos (and more). For kids, there’s the Samawati Springs Pool, a zero-depth entry pool with a 128-foot slide and two whirlpool spas. Uwanja Camp has three separate programs for kids four or younger, those aged five to seven, and those eight and older.
A big part of staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort is the ability to easily take a safari on the savannah that surrounds the resort. Here, one of the program's guides, Sam Tshekonyany, who is from Kasame, Botswana, explains some of the activities guests will enjoy as well as how he interjects his heritage into the experience:
Next on tap: the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are slated to open. For additional information or to make reservations, travel agents may visit www.disneytravelagents.com .
When we checked out of Kidani Village we were delighted to find we could check in for our flight at Orlando International Airport (MCO); the best part was handing over our luggage with the assurance that the next time we’d see it was New York’s JFK. It was also easy to store our bags with the belldesk and head over to the parks to see what was new at the parks.
The front-row seats of the African wildlife made it tough to leave the room at Kidani Village, but there was plenty that was new at the parks. At Hollywood Studios, the “American Idol” attraction, which has a cool 1,000 seats, allows guests to mimic the television show experience by auditioning and performing- and being voted on - by the audience. It’s recommended those interested in participating (who must be age 14 or older) arrive early or register at www.disneyworld.com/idol.
Putting a focus on guests commemorating milestones at the resort, Disney has created a tool for travel agents to customize itineraries for their clients at www.disneyparks.com. The program is also available for Disneyland Resort in California.
For other updates throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, click here.