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  1. #1

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    Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    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.

  2. #2

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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    Interesting Review. I am even more interested in what the members who are staying there are going to say. There are some things I think your critics over look. I accept the parking the garage..... a little bit of paint won't hide those pipes but it would go along way into making the area more pleasent. It is nice in two respects in that you can park in the shade and you can park near your villa. You do not need to through the lobby every time you go to or come from your car.

    I think what many forget when they come to Kidani is that at completion, it is going to have less then 500 Villas. That is NOT a lot of capcity and hence it was built to its capcity. Its lobby, while small, does not need to be large and in this case doing so would not only been unnessary, but completely redundant with the Orginal Animal Kingdom Lodge. What they did do is design a lobby that is far superior at viewing the animals from INSIDE the lobby overlook then the original DAK Lodge. Also, while its animal out look with camp fire is smaller, again it only needs to host 500 rooms, it does a much better job of making you feel like your standing in the middle of the savanna. You are closer to the animals.

    Finally the pool bar close early simply because of traffic. With only 260 Villas currently open, the pool area and pool bar just are not busy. Period. That said, the pool area can easily be reached with out going out the front of the hotel. You just missed. There is a guest elevator right near the lower gate, which yes cannot be locked yet until the contruction is done and the contruction walls around the pool bar, which are hidding the savanna you missed come down. The pool area will have the Pumbe Savanna to look out over when phase two gets completed.

    I actually think your review is somewhat fair. Not everyone is going to love it and thats ok. No big deal The one part I feel was unfair was the lobby being compard to a non-Disney hotel trying to be disney. No no no... he level of detail far exceeds any none disney hotel. Your comparing apples to oranges when you compare it to the Wilderness Lodge, the Orginal Animal Kingdom Lodge, and thankfully you did not mention the grand. Compare it to... BoardWalks is somewhat large but does not offer fantasic views of the Savanna. I could see though with its plush setting some may perfer BoardWalks. But what about OKW? Saratogo's? Kidani's is much perferred.

  3. #3

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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kidgenie View Post

    I think what many forget when they come to Kidani is that at completion, it is going to have less then 500 Villas. That is NOT a lot of capcity and hence it was built to its capcity.
    Lets say 500 units averaging 4 per unit: that's 2000 people. Even 1/20of that (100 people) would make that lobby cramped.
    There's a bit over 700 rooms at Wilderness, and look at the space that lobby got. And those units hold less people. They tried for an intimate space and failed.

    Its lobby, while small, does not need to be large and in this case doing so would not only been unnessary, but completely redundant with the Orginal Animal Kingdom Lodge.
    Fair enough. But when you make a second lodge...you're already being redundant. Why not replicate what makes the 1st lodge successful?

    What they did do is design a lobby that is far superior at viewing the animals from INSIDE the lobby overlook then the original DAK Lodge.
    Great views over to the other hotel. You may see "more of the savannah" from inside...but its not like you sit in the chairs and see any of the Savannah...so that is a stretch in my mind. Walking around the hotel I never though "wow I can see the animals from inside here!"

    Also, while its animal out look with camp fire is smaller, again it only needs to host 500 rooms, it does a much better job of making you feel like your standing in the middle of the savanna. You are closer to the animals.
    Fair enough.

    Finally the pool bar close early simply because of traffic. With only 260 Villas currently open, the pool area and pool bar just are not busy. Period.
    Well it didn't help the desolate feeling, but fair enough.

    That said, the pool area can easily be reached with out going out the front of the hotel. You just missed. There is a guest elevator right near the lower gate,
    Um...no...I didn't. We took that elevator. There was still the physical separation of the pool & hotel. Walking along the road people drive on to park isn't what I expect of a Disney pool.

    which yes cannot be locked yet until the contruction is done and the contruction walls around the pool bar, which are hidding the savanna you missed come down.
    Well good, I am glad they are adding another savannah.

    The one part I feel was unfair was the lobby being compard to a non-Disney hotel trying to be disney. No no no... he level of detail far exceeds any none disney hotel.
    Mmm...level of detail only makes up for a claustrophobic space only so much.

    Your comparing apples to oranges when you compare it to the Wilderness Lodge, the Orginal Animal Kingdom Lodge, and thankfully you did not mention the grand.
    It is in no way apples to oranges. They are all deluxe Disney hotels which command a premium price, and should be a premium experience. And when hotel sizes are not that far off, its not too much to compare them. Had I compared it to the Caribbean, your point may have been more valid.

    Compare it to... BoardWalks is somewhat large but does not offer fantasic views of the Savanna. I could see though with its plush setting some may perfer BoardWalks.
    Well, the Kidani views look across to Jambo House, so they arn't all that great either. Boardwalk has no Savannah, but it has life, and is in the heart of the EPCOT resort district. And I don't think a great view is worth other sacrifices myself.

    But what about OKW? Saratogo's? Kidani's is much perferred.
    I'll agree Saratoga's views are poor. But the spaces Oooze "Disney". Old Key West I had a great river view, and sitting on my balcony watching the natural birds swim by and boats pass us on the river was very pleasant. Not all the views are comparable at OKW, but I still think the overall resort was better put together.
    But, the Old Key West doesn't try to be a luxurous lodge experience, so I guess I do give it more passes. I expect more from the Animal Kingdom Lodge name.

  4. #4

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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    It really is apples to oranges. You didn't compare it to a moderate true enough but you compared it strongly to all the other deluxe resorts and its not a Deluxe Resort. Kidani, as per WDW's own website, is a Villa resort, not a Deluxe resort. Jambo House is a Deluxe.

    AS far as the Villa Resorts go.... WL Villas did not duplicate the main Lobby, BLT Villas won't recreate the Grand Canyon Concourse, And the Villas at BC rely completely on the existing BC amenities... Kidiani is simular in that it is an add on to a Deluxe resort, but why have the expectation that Kidani will recreate Jambo's grand lobby? None of the others did.

    At slightly less then 500 Villas, KV is comparable to the other projects. BUT Kidani was given its own front desk, merchandise location and resturant. To BLT's credit its lobby will have a bar, but not a front desk. So when compared to simular projects, I think Kidani Shines. These other properties do not have real Lobbies to speak of but Kidani does, and you can see the animals on this savanna via an indoor overlook through a collection of three story tall picture window panes. While not as specatular as the Jambo house Lobby, you can't see animals from anywere INside the Jambo house lobby. And I think its a great view.

    You meantion the view is not, just a view of Jambo house across the way....... We are talking Jambo house here, not the HOJO across the street on 192. This is Jambo House. And sitting on the Horizon of the 18 Arce Sunset Savanna, Jambo House is a far better african themed background then the florida tree line could ever hope to be. Kidani also returns this favor for Jambo House guests on the Sunset savanna. But unlike Jambo House, KV is still not a deluxe resort. It is a home away from home Villa resort that for the first time in WDW history is also an add on to an existing deluxe resort. Aside from BW Villas and Vero Beach (which while grand truely has no view to speak of), none of the other DVC lobbies even compare to what Kidani can offer.
    Last edited by Kidgenie; 05-17-2009 at 05:57 AM.

  5. #5

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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kidgenie View Post
    AS far as the Villa Resorts go.... WL Villas did not duplicate the main Lobby, BLT Villas won't recreate the Grand Canyon Concourse, And the Villas at BC rely completely on the existing BC amenities... Kidiani is simular in that it is an add on to a Deluxe resort, but why have the expectation that Kidani will recreate Jambo's grand lobby? None of the others did.
    That is what I was saying above, you're comparing it to connected hotels. While this is an add on to a deluxe resort, it is completely stand alone. It is not directly connected to AKL. It isn't really a "walk" to the other amenities. The moment they made it standalone, it needs to compare to Old Key West and Saratoga, not BLT or Wilderness. If it was a new wing on the existing AKL none of my complaints would be valid. But they gave it it's own standalone setup.

    At slightly less then 500 Villas, KV is comparable to the other projects. BUT Kidani was given its own front desk, merchandise location and resturant. To BLT's credit its lobby will have a bar, but not a front desk. So when compared to simular projects, I think Kidani Shines.
    But that is where you & I differ, I am not comparing this to Wilderness which is an add on. To me this needed to be like Old Key West, completely self-sufficient. So they may have given it "more" than others, but the Wilderness shares a bus stop with the hotel, same with the Boardwalk. The BLT guests can walk to the Contemporary's Lounge on the Concourse.
    This is a separate bus stop, separate parking...
    You talk about how great it is to have a separate lobby...but I think the moment they took that step they invited comparisons to what is next door. We're fanboys...we might make distinctions. The general public doesn't always make these distictions we make.

    You meantion the view is not, just a view of Jambo house across the way....... We are talking Jambo house here, not the HOJO across the street on 192. This is Jambo House. And sitting on the Horizon of the 18 Arce Sunset Savanna, Jambo House is a far better african themed background then the florida tree line could ever hope to be. Kidani also returns this favor for Jambo House guests on the Sunset savanna.
    I'll give you that. I just felt the view from inside AKL is nicer.

    But unlike Jambo House, KV is still not a deluxe resort.
    I disagree, for how much they cost and how snazzy they have made some of thier rooms (Saratoga?) I think the DVCs do count as deluxe resorts. Having them use the names of deluxe resorts (Beach Club, Boardwalk, Wilderness) increases that feeling in my mind.

    It is a home away from home Villa resort that for the first time in WDW history is also an add on to an existing deluxe resort.
    Bay Lake Tower...Wilderness Lodge...Beach Club Villas...?

    Aside from BW Villas and Vero Beach (which while grand truely has no view to speak of), none of the other DVC lobbies even compare to what Kidani can offer.
    Fine, but my counter to that is at the Boardwalk Villas I can walk to all the Boardwalks' amenities in no time. There is no physical disconnect. Kidani House has a physical disconnect.

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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    since some of us are not familiar with the addition is there any way we could get pictures of the area or maybe a map showing what the conversation is about.

    The thread sounds interesting and the idea of that addition sounds interesting

  7. #7

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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by tloolgb View Post
    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.
    Thank you for your well thought out and detailed review. As a DVC member, I really appreciate the heads up. I'll give it a look, but I probably wouldn't stay in the new wing unless I love it as much as Boardwalk (Which is my favorite DVC property).
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    Re: Kidani Village walk-through review: not a fan.

    I totally agree with tloolgb. However I have two additions to his review which I found odd he missed.

    After staying at the new Kidani village last week (July 10 2009), I was extremely shocked to find that they [whomever thought this was a good idea] put the smoking section in between the lobby and the transportation to the parks!!!!!!

    So every morning, noon and night, when my family of 5 would walk back to the hotel lobby we were greated by a group of smokers sitting on the benches! What the heck were they thinking?!? Heck, I'd welcome the exposed sanitary pipes that you see in the parking area anytime, rather than pass a group of smokers. This is completely unacceptable, on so many levels. And better yet, the other smoking section...well that was well planned out too...that was put in front of the gym!!!

    Then there is the restrooms in the lobby. They only put one stall in for the mens room and one for the womans. So you'd pass a line of people waiting to use the restroom. What were they thinking?

    There were so many things that make staying at the Jambo house better. These were the two that REALLY stick out. Especially the smoking sections.

    Just a little Walt history: Walt Disney would NEVER allow the public to see him smoke a cigarette, nor have his picture taken with one. I think he'd be extremely pissed off had he seen where they put the smoking sections...

    GREAT post tloolgb!

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