Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Disney without the kids? Part 1: Kidani Village

I've been to Disney World several times as an adult before I had kids. But last weekend, I went to Disney World WITHOUT my 3 kids.

This trip was actually my husband's idea. Last year, he had knee surgery and couldn't walk or drive for 6 weeks. It was a very stressful time for me taking care of him and the kids by myself. After that time period was over, he suggested I reward myself by going on a girls' trip. And so I persuaded a friend from college to meet me at Disney World for the weekend!

I know some of you are probably thinking that it's a terrible thing to go to Disney World without my kids...but they have been there before and we will be going again in the summer.

My friend and I both had Southwest miles to use for flights and we shared a Disney Vacation Club deluxe studio at Animal Kingdom Lodge--Kidani Village.  We planned to visit only one park--Epcot.

I flew Southwest out of Dallas Love Field on Saturday morning. The art gallery now displays a history of the airport. If you are flying out of Love Field, definitely check it out. It was amazing to see how much people used to dress up for air shows!

Upon landing in Orlando, I made my way to the Magical Express area and got on a bus within a matter of minutes.

The famous Walt Disney World sign at the entrance:
Kidani Village was the first drop-off. Let me begin by saying I stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge back in January 2002 when it had only been open for 8 months, and I didn't really like it. We had booked a treehouse villa at a different resort, but at the last minute we were told our reservation changed to Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was a Disney cast member at an office in California at the time, so maybe that is a reason we got bumped. Anyway, we were assigned to rooms that faced the parking lot, and when I passed by the lobby viewing area on different occasions throughout our stay I didn't see many animals. I thought the hotel lobby was noisy and dark and I just didn't care for the resort that much.

But fast forward to this trip, we wanted to rent points to stay in a DVC studio. Since we only thought about this 4 months before the trip, Animal Kingdom Lodge--Kidani Village was the only place with availability. We rented points from a DVC owner for a savannah view studio for $180 a night. That is a great deal, since normally a savannah view room at Animal Kingdom Lodge sells for over $400 a night and even on a 30% off special runs over $300 a night.

So did I like Animal Kingdom Lodge better this time? I will elaborate more on that in Part 2 of this trip report.
The lobby was a lot smaller than the main part of Animal Kingdom Lodge were I stayed in 2002 (which is now called Jambo house). And kinda dark.

The check-in desk:
This is a map of Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had room 7456, which is in the horseshoe of buildings facing the Sunset Savannah.

I looked out the back of the lobby before heading to our room and already saw some animals!

At the back of the lobby were several sitting areas, with rocking chairs on the deck outside:

As I walked to our room, I noticed the hidden Mickey's in the hallway carpet:

And finally, after walking through 6 buildings, our room!

A Mickey towel was on the bed:

The room had a queen-size bed and a sofa bed:
Here is a pic of the sofa bed at night. I slept on it, and it was quite comfy!
Another pic of the room:
The room had a mini-kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, toaster and coffee maker. There were also paper plates/bowls etc. in the cupboards.
And the bathroom:
Notice the hidden Mickeys on the carpet?
And in the furniture?
There was an animal spotting guide in the room which explained all of the animals in the savannah:
I went out on the balcony and saw these giraffes:

I also saw some zebras and other animals. After about an hour, my friend Beth arrived from Kansas City. We gawked at the giraffes for a while, and then decided we would try to eat at the resort's restaurant, Sanaa.

So we headed to the lobby area of Kidani Village:

Up next: Part 2--Dinner at Sanaa

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