Home » Thinking About Staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas? Read This First!

    Thinking About Staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas? Read This First!

    When is a hotel stay the same as a visit to the zoo? The answer is when you stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, the most unique properties at Walt Disney World and arguably any theme park resort in the world. Comprised of two similar hotels, this Disney Vacation Club-participating resort is a dream vacation destination due to its novelty. Here are six things theme park tourists must know about staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas.

    General resort appearance

    Image: DisneyThe first thing to know about the appearance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas is that you’ll see double. Disney built twin resorts, Kidani Village and Jambo House. You’ll have to pick one of them for your stay, but they’re similar enough that you’ll enjoy the same experience at either place. This article will point out any dramatic differences between the dual properties.

    As far as appearance, you’ll know the theme of Animal Kingdom Villas when you see it. Disney wanted to build an African-style hotel, and the structures reflect this culture. Both resorts have a horseshoe-curved design, an homage to an African kraal, a village enclosure that often has mud walls. Another name for this is Boma, which may explain some things to people who have visited this hotel for dinner.

    Image: DisneyOf course, the style of the hotel is only part of the story. Both Kidani Village and Jambo House feature an inimitable selling point. Wildlife lives on the premises. These hotels are functional zoos, and the animals are visible from right outside the lobby. Many guests in their own rooms can also watch the animals. The design of both hotels has decks that face the animal habitats. You can drink your morning coffee and see the giraffes play!

    Disney’s Animal Kingdom is wildly popular due to its unprecedented combination of theme park attractions and zoo elements. The pro tip that not enough people realize is that by staying at Kidani Village or Jambo House, you have the zoo part at your hotel!

    Hotel rooms

    Image: DisneyThe hotel rooms at both properties are almost identical. It’s not fair to call them cookie cutter, though. The horseshoe curve guarantees that the room styles are unique. The standard studios are 365-366 square feet and sleep up to four guests. Each room comes with a sleeper sofa, a microwave and coffee maker, and (best of all) a private balcony. From here, you can watch the animals playfully interact and occasionally give chase to one another. Fans of rooms with a view will never experience anything like Animal Kingdom Villas ever again in their lives.

    Jambo House does have one cheaper option than Kidani Village. It has a handful of Value Rooms that cost less money/fewer Disney Vacation Club points for a night’s stay. These rooms are slightly smaller at 316 square feet, which is on a par with a moderate resort but tiny for a DVC property.

    Each resort also has a second unusual feature for a DVC participant. For a large amount of points, you can stay on the concierge floor of the hotel. It’s called the Kilimanjaro Club Concierge option, and it’s about double the points of a value room and 25-50 percent more than a basic studio, depending on the season. The Value Rooms and Concierge selections have one thing in common. They sell out quickly. Only a few rooms at the hotel fall under these categories, and people WANT them. The demand wipes out the supply as far as 11 months ahead of time. If you want either of these room options, you have to plan well in advance.


    Image: DisneyDisney advertises its Animal Kingdom Villas at a starting point of $318. While that’s technically true, do NOT get your hopes up that you’ll pay that much for a cash room. Without discounts in play, the rooms are generally $423 or more per night. For Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, you should expect to pay at least $500 nightly.

    In terms of DVC points, a week’s stay is 81-116 points of the year save for parts of April and Christmas week. Then, the DVC cost soars to 146 points. Room rates behave similarly. Disney has meticulously calculated the best way to maximize revenue, and so you’ll pay more during the times when you’re also most likely to have vacation time. It’s a frustration.

    Another pro tip I can offer is that Disney runs several deals throughout the year. Many of them include a 30 percent discount off of hotels in the Deluxe Resort category. You can save $120 a night or more at Animal Kingdom Villas by using one of these discounts. That’s also why Disney says that rooms start at $318 per night. They do, as long as you’re not staying during a popular time AND you have a discount code.


    Image: DisneyThis is the primary and really only negative of a stay at Animal Kingdom Villas. You’re out in the middle of nowhere by Walt Disney World standards. Animal Kingdom is away from the other parks, and the resorts are both only a short drive away from it. So, when you stay close to Animal Kingdom, you’re willing staying away from other parts of the Disney campus.

    Your only means of free transportation is the Disney bus service. That’s a problem because the service from Animal Kingdom to the other parks is often unreliable. Some of our worst Disney transportation horror stories involve this resort, and we don’t even stay there a lot.

    As far as ride-sharing services go, Uber drivers are brutally honest that they hang out in the sweet spot of Magic Kingdom and Epcot instead, because there’s money to be made there. Even if you’re willing to pay for transportation, you’ll still have prolonged waits for this reason. The Disney Minnie Van service may help the problem, but that type of transportation, while stylish, isn’t cheap at $20 one way.

    On the plus, you’re only minutes away from Pandora — The World of Avatar, the state of the art new themed land that anchors Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

    Dining options

    Image: DisneyFoodies will love every second of their time at Animal Kingdom Villas. African and Indian cuisine is on the menu at most places, and the dishes are truly divine. While the two resorts have Quick Service restaurants such as The Mara and the poolside bars, the story here is at the Table Service restaurants. There are three of them, and picking the best is like choosing your favorite child.

    Jiko – The Cooking Place is a Signature Restaurant, which means that it costs more than a regular Table Service restaurant, and guests on the Disney Dining Plan will have to pay two Table Service credits per person for a meal here. Still, it’s worth the money. This restaurant offers high-end, authentic African cuisine with flavors you won’t at many places in North America including a banana leaf seabass that’s to die for. Jiko also has wine tastings, and its menu offers many pairing options to enrich your dining experience.

    Image: DisneySanaa vs. Boma is one of the most hotly contested debates at Walt Disney World. I’ll save all the participants some trouble. The correct answer is both of them. Sanaa at Kidani Village has an Indian-style bread service that will blow your mind. It also offers views of the animals while you eat, which is amazing. Boma is located one floor down from the lobby of Jambo House, and it’s the best buffet at Walt Disney World. Disney brags that this restaurant has offerings from 50 different countries, but all I remember are the zebra domes, one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever had.

    When you stay at Animal Kingdom Villas, you should plan to eat at all three of these restaurants. They offer the best international cuisine out of the World Showcase at Walt Disney World. And each one is different enough that you need to experience all of them.


    Image: DisneyLet’s be honest. When you stay at these two resorts, your primary recreation is watching the animals. You can walk out from the lobby and be standing in a savannah in a matter of seconds. Giraffes and zebras will find you every bit as curious as you find them, and you’ll have some magical moments staring at a different species. It’s seriously one of the best things that you can do at a Disney resort…or any resort, for that matter. You CANNOT touch or feed the animals in the savannahs, though. Please be respectful of their habitat.

    Disney offers several other walking tours and informational discussions at the hotel. These vary by time of the year, but if you absolutely must feed the animals, you may be in luck. Flamingo feedings are available from time to time. You can also do animal viewing in Night Vision, which is awesome, and you can even decorate cookies at Boma. Children can also participate in Adventure Camp, while adults can and should take advantage of any wine-tasting seminars available during your stay. The flavors of these grapes are otherworldly.

    Finally, the pools at both hotels are spectacular. The Samawati Springs Pool is a zero-entry pool with dual whirlpool hot tubs and a 128-feet long water slide. Meanwhile, the Uzima Springs Pool is arguably THE best pool at Walt Disney World’s resorts. At a minimum, it’s the largest at more than 11,000 square feet, and it has zero-entry as well.

    While its water slide isn’t as long at 67 feet, it’s a real crowd pleaser. Any time a reckless child comes hurtling out of it, all the adults stop to watch because it’s that humorous a visual. The only thing that resembles a downside to either pool is that the ratio of children at these pools is the highest out of the Deluxe Resorts. Parents love to take their children to the hotel with all the animals, and then they naturally hang out at the pool. So, it’s like the All-Star Resorts in terms of the percentage of children. That means it gets loud and wild. I don’t mind it, but your mileage may vary.