Monday, June 10, 2013

Disney World Trip: Part 1 Kidani Village

World of Disney Store
by Adriana
One of the most amazing trips that I've ever taken recently was to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I was under the impression that no theme park can ever beat California's Disneyland or Tokyo Disneyland, but after experiencing what Walt Disney World has to offer, it pretty much blows any Disneyland out of the water! Don't get me wrong Disneyland fans, I'll always love Disneyland since I have the fondest memories of going there as a kid but Walt Disney World is just on a whole other level. But of course that is just my opinion. :)  Walt Disney World was always on the long list of destinations I've always wanted travel to. I remember when I was a kid my parents went to Walt Disney World on their own for my Dad's company business trip. When they returned they brought home so many awesome souvenirs; it almost seemed as if they had traveled the world. Among the treasures that they brought back were picture books of all the parks and I would just look at those books for hours and be consumed in the idea of going to this magnificent place! Fast forward 25 years and I finally got to fulfill this wish!
Walt Disney Resort Map courtesy of dizwhiz.com

Back in the summer of 2011 Nestor and I decided to plan a vacation to Walt Disney World for Christmas. It sounded like a crazy idea since Christmas is a very busy travel season but we just thought "the hell with it" and booked our trip after Christmas with the hope that it wouldn't be as bad. It ended up being a great idea since most of the Christmas crowds were heading back home and we still enjoyed all the Christmas decorations before they took them down. ;)
If you do decide to go to Walt Disney World, make sure you spend plenty of time out there to see everything. As you can see by the map above, this place is ginormous! We only stayed for a week and sadly that was barely enough time to see most of the parks! Not to mention Walt Disney World is quite expensive...but if you're already committed to saving money for a memorable trip, I think this place is so worth it! 
Boarding the Magical Express
In line waiting for our Magical Express bus, we were very impressed at how organized and non-chaotic the whole process was once we got off our plane.

We were ready to splurge on a family vacay so it would be completely fun and stress-free. At first we tried to book the trip on our own through expedia and buy the park-hopper tickets separately but it just was too time consuming and it meant we had to spend extra on a rental car to travel from a non-Disney resort hotel and find our way around Orlando. Then we found out if you stay in a Disney Resort Hotel there is no car needed- you have free bus transportation everywhere from your hotel to all the parks.
Time to go home :(
The prompt and spiffy Disney Magical Express Bus

So we decided to book our trip through Walt Disney World's website and purchase one of their vacation packages. Though the cost was significantly more than planning your own trip, it's very handy in the sense where you didn't have to worry about all the details. Booking through Disney meant you had your round-trip plane tickets booked, the Magical Express picking you up from the airport, taking care of all your luggage and taking you straight to your hotel, park-hopper tickets, taking advantage of the Disney transit system all through the park and the convenient Disney Dining Plan.
Animal Kingdom's Kidani Village Villas (picture courtesy of orlandocity.com)

Choosing which Disney hotel to stay in was the hardest part because you have over 20 Disney hotels to choose from with different price ranges. There were a couple that I really wanted to stay in but at the time that we were booking, they were all sold out. What made it a little more challenging was that we had a party of four and most of the bigger rooms in the hotels (2 bedrooms) were quite expensive and limited. We wanted to make sure our room was big enough and comfortable enough for everyone to sleep in without going too overboard with budget. 
Beautiful savannah that houses exotic animals that roam around freely (picture courtesy of blog.dwtickets.com)

We also wanted to be in a hotel that didn't have too much noise or crazy kids running around...it seemed more of the budget friendly hotels had the most complaints with that so we came across the Kidani Village Villas. Apparently these villas were primarily used by Disney Vacation Club members but had recently opened up for the public to enjoy as well. Kidani is probably the furthest hotel from everything, but that helps with keeping all the craziness away. The overall feeling there is serene and it truly felt more like a vacation resort. They even featured a beautiful savannah surrounding the hotel that had quite a few animals roaming about. It was gorgeous to look at during the day.
Huge window in the lobby so you can view the savannah

The other side of the lobby of Kidani Village, also includes a store where you can buy food and some souvenirs. Downstairs is a restaurant. (picture courtesy of orlandosentinel.com)

Savanna View
Balcony of our Villa at Kidani Village- we opted for the Savannah view

Villa View
The view from our room, we did see a few animals walk by, but not too many


For some reason we did not take a photo of our entire room but this picture is an example of how it looked like - it was so gorgeous! All the little details were Lion King & African inspired. (picture courtesy of orlandosentinel.com)

We ended up booking a one bedroom villa that said it could accommodate a family of four-five people comfortably. Our room had a living room with a flat screen TV, a kitchen stocked with plates, cups, utensils and cookware, a dining area with a table, a nice sized bathroom (tub & shower combo), closets, the main bedroom had a king sized bed with another flat screen TV as well as its own bathroom which featured a large soaking tub and separate shower. It was pretty luxurious!
My morning routine.

It was great having a kitchen and eating area where we could have breakfast before heading out.

Moam's Kitchen

My mom made great use of the kitchen! :)

Stove Swans

Housekeeping would always make amazing towel animals each time they cleaned the room!

Living Room
The couch that folded out into a bed that fit two people comfortably

Bedroom in the Kidani Village Villa
The main bedroom

Lux Bathroom
The bathroom in the master bedroom included a huge closet to hang your clothes and store your luggage.

Oooh…Soak Tub
The large soaking tub with jets - we all took turns and used this tub after long days of walking. It was wonderful...!


While our stay at the Kidani Village definitely exceeded our expectations, the only complaint that we had was that our room was so far away from the lobby and elevators. So after a long day of walking miles at a park with sore feet, we had to walk pretty far to get to our room. It was a bit of torture, but taught us to request a closer room the next time we decide to come back. I guess the upside to having to walk a long way was that there were huge windows where you can view the savannah while you walked. 
Hallways of the Kidani Village with the big windows

Layout of the Kidani Village- we were located on the far left - the seventh square away from the lobby...it was such a long walk!

On our first night there we did stop by our neighboring hotel, the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was massive and beautiful. I did want to stay here but they ran out of rooms to fit our party. But it's good that we didn't stay here because it was a very busy popular hotel, but I can't deny how beautiful it was just to sit in it's grand lobby!
Epic Lobby
The grand lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Jambo Centerpiece
Exquisite details everywhere you looked!

Cool light fixture
Thatched vaulted roof

Boma: Flavors of Africa Buffet Restaurant

We also made reservations to try Animal Kingdom Lodge's Boma Restaurant for dinner. Boma is buffet style and it was a good introduction to what the food was like at the park. They actually featured some African fare alongside some traditional American cuisine. The restaurant was extremely busy, but the service remained very fast and friendly. Though the ambiance as a whole was fun, it was just kind of disgusting how many kids were touching and tasting the food with their fingers while in the buffet line. It made you wonder just how many germs were really on all the foods being served. Ugh. The food itself was okay for what it was but not outstanding. But then again there are very few buffets that have outstanding food. :-/
So this concludes my first installment of our Walt Disney World adventure! I truly believe that choosing the right hotel makes a whole lot of difference during your vacation experience. I used to always stay at cheap hotels to save money but it was never a pleasant experience; the amenities were lackluster, linens seemed dingy, neighbors were noisy and the rooms were just not comfortable after a long day. I think it's definitely worth spending extra to stay at a comfortable place with nice surroundings. After staying at a place like Kidani, we were definitely spoiled in the sense that our expectations for hotels will remain high for our future vacations. ;)

Stay tuned for the following Walt Disney World entries where I will write about our adventures at Downtown Disney, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Harry Potter World!

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