Be forewarned: I wasn't a fan. This isn't a positive review. If you want rainbows and not a dose of negativity, don't read on. Summary: for the price, I wouldn't stay there.
So we decided to go check-out the new Kidani Village, ie the DVC villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Its been a while since a new hotel opened at Disney, so we were kind of excited to see what cool new things they would do...ie Disney does a good job on their hotels, and always seems to try to make up for flaws in their last hotel.
Even better than that is though I don't think the AK Lodge is overrated as far as the $$ to stay there (a deluxe with no special transportation), you cannot deny how grand the lobby is, and how you can spend a very nice (romantic too) evening there.
So we figured the new village would be another Disney masterpiece.
HAHAHA. I crack myself up even writing that. This new hotel is such a disapointment. My best way to describe it: imagine an off-site hotel chain trying to make a safari hotel to mimick Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. They try really hard, and make you say "almost", but they don't quite pull it off.
But instead of being an off-site hotel...its a Disney one!
Now let me say this: I understand it is unique...it is the first DVC hotel that isn't actually conected to the main hotel (see Wilderness Lodge or Boardwalk), but it isn't a standalone (Key West, Saratoga). So it has unique problems to solve, its tough to decide how many amenities it needs. But if this is how they are doing it, it makes me worried about how the "treehousese at Saratoga" will come out.
So let me go into detail: it seems like Disney said "how can we do a new ldoge for as little money as possible and build it on the old Savannah". Not to be blunt, but it just seems amaturish in design.
First of all I was excited for the thought of "underground parking". I thought, "Yeah, cool! Florida needs it". Even looking at Kevin's pictures, I figured going into an underground parking garage I could excuse all the expose pipes...they'd be hidden and the parking would be protected from the sun.
Except it really isn't underground...its just one row of parking "under" the cover of the building at the ground level. So when you look at the outside of the building, the themeing clearly stops and just becomes "Pipes and concrete" at a certain point along the building. They just kinda...give up. I expected better for the cost of the DVC units.
Ok, fine. Maybe I could excuse that if the rest of the hotel was great, but it seems like they tried for "an intimate experience" and failed. The space at the Wilderness Lodge, that huge lobby, is a very intimate experience, it allows you to feel lost in its grandure. It is romantic and grand at the same time. The new Kidani lobby feels cramped. Its short, small, and the check-in is on one side, and the store is on the other. You walk right in to a sitting area, there is no place to stop and gawk...nor is there anything to gawk at. Everything is all in one area. Its kind of "heres a lobby...go to your room". Considering how welcoming the lobby at AKL is...I was expecting so much more. I knew it was smaller...but I wasn't expecting this at all!
So you go downstairs. There is no nice terraced dining are like AKL with the bar overlooking Boma, a nice elegant staircase, great landing. None of that, it is just stairs to Saana, and thats pretty much it. Even the outside "fire pit Animal viewing area" is tiny...its one little strip. I just think that the whole hotel will feel cramped an uninviting when it is full. There is not enough space for people!
Plus, with it being just one LOOOOONNNNGGG hallway, there is no sense of discovery to the place. There is nothing that invites, it is just a long hallway (which is a complaint of mine at AKL too). Yeah the little sitting area/fireplace area is quaint. But again, it lacks the warm and inviting nature of Hemmingway's at Old Key West. It's just "there".
My biggest WTF moment however was the pool. It isn't in a tucked in nook, it isn't in a great little area nestled in the hotel or with a great Savannah view, it is on the backside of the hotel. The backside, where the parking is. You have to walk across the parking lot or port cochere to get there. Immersion? None. Envelopment? None.
BUT! The water play area looks cool though...we walked around and it could be fun! I would like to see them expand that concept to other hotels!
Back to the pool, they couldn't even arrange their hotel to make the pool area feel like part of the hotel. Plus the bar was closed at quarter to 9pm (and they locked the pool gate while leaving the car gate immediately next to it (we're talking mere feet) wide open...defeats the purpose of the gate no?).
I mean AKL has flaws too. But it is a wonderful space. Expansive Savannah views...a great lobby. A lively dining area Jiko/Boma/Bar. It isn't my cup of tea (my favorites are still Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian). But I like to try all of Disney's hotels, and I would stay at AKL again if it came up. But I have no deisire to try Kidani Village.
I would be very sad to stay at Kidani Village, and then see what "Jambo House (AKL)" has. I think Disney just sorta did the minimum they had to. Its sad...its like Pop Century. I felt like they reached the point with DVC where they arn't trying to outdo what they have done in the past, they are just trying to add space. While I think Pop is better than the All-Stars, I do think with the Pop they were just trying to add rooms to add rooms. Same with Kidani Village. I didn't feel like a great Disney hotel to me.
After checking it out, we were ready to leave after less than an hour. We went to visit the Polynesian, and spend 2 hours there (Ohana Chicken wings at the bar is a beautiful way to spend an evening).
It won't be a great hotel to visit and relax at...I shutter to think about trying to hang out at the hotel while staying there.
We like to frequent the hotels, we get dinner. We have drinks. We like to try all the places, and frequent the places we really liked. And we were in 100% agreement about the Kidani Village .
I expect (and usually feel like we get) so much from a Disney hotel. But I can't see us ever having the need to go back to the new village. It let me down, and I was excited to check it out.