Lately, it feels that many members of the DVC Fan Facebook Group have asked if they should choose Kidani Village or Jambo House for a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas. It’s an excellent question and always elicits a large range of opinions. There is so much to love about both lodges, but when it comes to deciding which is the best fit, there are many things to consider. I thought it would be helpful to create a list of the advantages to each of these Disney Vacation Club resorts so that next time you’re asking yourself which one, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision.
Kidani Village is the true Disney Vacation Club resort of Animal Kingdom Villas. Inside the traditional horseshoe architecture, you’ll find that Kidani does not house typical hotel rooms. Instead, it is made up entirely of villas. Here you will find Deluxe Studios, One and Two Bedroom Villas, and Three Bedroom Grand Villas. The lobby at Kidani is smaller and more intimate, but the massive room inventory leaves many opportunities to snag a reservation here. Let’s dive into the reasons you may want to choose Kidani Village for an upcoming stay.
Larger Rooms: The difference in square footage between Kidani and Jambo House rooms can vary. At Jambo House, studios range from 316-365 sq. ft. depending on room category and location within the resort. Whereas, Kidani’s studios are all listed as a solid 366 sq. ft. The gap becomes more prominent as you move to larger villas. For example, Kidani One-Bedroom Villas are anywhere from 87-178 sq. ft. larger than those at Jambo House, and Kidani Two-Bedroom Villas have 98-228 sq. ft. more space. Kidani rooms are always larger except for the Three-Bedroom Grand Villas at Jambo House that are 148 sq. ft. more than Kidani’s.
More Bathrooms: Not only do the Studios here offer a much larger bathroom space, One-Bedroom and larger units give guests an extra bathroom when compared to Jambo House. For example, One-Bedroom Villas have two bathrooms, and Two-Bedroom Villas have three.
Dedicated Two Bedrooms: Unlike Jambo House, Kidani Village has the option between Two-Bedroom Lock-offs or Dedicated Two-Bedroom Villas. For some families, a dedicated villa is valuable for the extra queen-sized bed instead of another sleeper sofa.
Two Story Grand Villas: This can be a pro or con depending on your family needs, but a two-story Grand Villa means two stories of balconies and a beautiful two-story window. It should also be noted that Kidani has both standard and savanna view Grand Villas, whereas Jambo House only has savanna. The standard view allows you to have a Grand Villa for fewer points.
Kid-Friendly Pool: Between the two, Kidani has a more kid-friendly pool. Inside the Samawati Springs Pool, you’ll find a 128-foot water slide, zero-depth-entry, and the Uwanja Camp- a water playground with three different zones.
Covered Parking: Unlike any DVC or Disney resort, Kidani Village offers guests a covered parking garage located underneath the resort. This is great if you want to protect your car from the elements or keep it from getting super hot in the Florida sun.
Best Savanna Views: While I don’t have any evidence to support the hypothesis that savanna views are better at Kidani, it is my personal experience that they are. Kidani has two savannas, The Pembe and the Sunset Savanna. The Pembe is a smaller savanna in the front of the resort with smaller animals, including the rare Okapi. The Sunset Savanna is the main savanna. Even though it is shared with Jambo House, we have experienced some of the best animal encounters on the Sunset Savanna closest to Kidani. The animal, especially giraffes, seem to really enjoy hanging out near the Kidani building. Add to this the fact that the rooms at Kidani begin on the 2nd floor so that you can get a pretty close room to the animals.
Sanaa: The more I visit Disney, the higher up Sanaa has climbed on my restaurant favorites list. I would place it in my top five right now. I love the food and atmosphere. It’s also the only restaurant on the property with a savanna view. It’s also ground level to the savanna, making it even more spectacular.
Despite all the great reasons to choose Kidani Village, Jambo House has my heart. There is just something about the original Animal Kingdom Lodge that never ceases to draw me in. Jambo House is primarily a Disney hotel, with DVC added to a previous hotel portion. It has a lot smaller room inventory than Kidani Village (fewer DVC units than Beach Club even), so you might be wondering why anyone would pick Jambo House over Kidani Village. Here are some thoughts on what makes Jambo House so magical.
Grandeur: If I had a dollar for every time I told someone Jambo House is grand and gorgeous, I could pay my dues for next year. I can’t help it. It’s just that impressive when you enter. There are only two other resorts on property that hold a candle to it. This multi-story lobby is amazing all year long, but especially at Christmas. It has a way of drawing you into the African theming so that you want to stay there forever.
Larger Pool: We actually prefer the Uzima Springs Pool at Jambo House. This is probably because we are childless adults. The pool doesn’t have a splash area, and the water slide is smaller. However, it is much larger-11,000 sq ft compared to Kidani’s 4,700. It’s also more wide and open. I really love the foliage surrounding the pool, where you may actually find bananas hanging over your lounge chair (or are they plantains?).
Value & Club Level: These two Jambo House booking categories aren’t always accessible for everyone and book up quickly by Animal Kingdom owners. Despite that, even non-owners can get lucky. We have been fortunate to score a value villa three times, and the point savings are well worth it. The Kilimanjaro Club is the only way to access club level with DVC points, and it is also well worth the points if you can snag it (during normal operating times).
More Savannas and Overlooks: There are three decent sized savannas at Jambo House: Sunset Savanna, Arusha Savanna, and Uzima Savanna. All three savannas have giraffes, and each also has its own overlook. Let’s not forget about the cool flamingos between the pool and savanna. There are a lot of animals to explore at Jambo House.
The Great Value of Standard Views: Every single standard view at Jambo House is either a pool view or a partial savanna view. There are no parking lot views when you book standard (value rooms have a small chance of parking lot views). This is much different than Kidani, which has a large amount of parking lot facing standard views.
Single Story Grand Villas: If you’re not a fan of steps, all of the Grand Villas at Jambo House are a single-story design. It should also be noted here the balconies are huge when compared to the Kidani Grand Villas. All Grand Villas at Jambo House are savanna view. They also have four bathrooms, just as Kidani’s do.
Dining and shopping: When we’re not in the initial reopening phase for Disney and things (hopefully) return to some form of normal, Jambo House has some of the best dining on property. I would argue that The Mara is one of the best DVC resort quick-service restaurants. It has a great menu and ample seating. There is also the popular and well-loved Boma and Jiko. Add to this lounges/pool bars, and there are many dining options for guests staying here. The Zawadi Marketplace is one of the largest hotel gift shops on property and has a great variety of souvenirs and even food.
Great Bus Stop: I say this all the time, and I’m sure it sounds crazy to rate a bus stop. However, Jambo House has my favorite bus stop area in all of Disney World. It’s large, there are a decent amount of benches, and it’s well covered and remains covered all the way to the lodge entrance. I realize this is because transportation is all busses, but no resort is immune to needing busses, and all main bus stop areas should be this nice (I’m looking at you, Polynesian).
High DVC Floor: This may not be an advantage to everyone, but it is to us. Since Jambo House is primarily a hotel, all the DVC units (except for the club level on the 6th) are located on the 5th floor. I love this because my number one request when booking any DVC room is to be on a high floor. This may not bode well for you if you want to be a lot closer to the animals, but I always feel like I can see more of the savanna from my balcony up high.
If you have digested all this information and still can’t decide, my advice is to try both and see which lodge feels best for you and your family. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how you will feel until you experience a resort for yourself. Both have amazing theming and wonderful savanna views. You really can’t go wrong with either choice. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Do you have a favorite Animal Kingdom Lodge? What are the best amenities that set your favorite apart?