This review is sponsored by by DVC Magic Resales at www.dvcmagicresales.com (they used their DVC points to book the room and in exchange will also be posting this review and reviews of the other properties). If you’re looking to buy into the Disney Vacation Club or purchase more points for less than you’d pay Disney directly, they’re a great choice. They also take excellent care of those looking to sell their contracts independently.
- Saratoga Springs review is available here
- Old Key West is available here
- Wilderness Lodge is available here
- Beach Club is available here
We spent something like 10,000 words looking at Animal Kingdom Lodge and a 1-bedroom Villa in this post and this post, which also reviews The Mara, Jiko, Sanaa, and includes a couple hundred pictures in and around the resort. This time, we’ll take a look at Studio accommodations at Kidani Village and pop over to Jambo House for dinner at the Boma buffet.
The DVC reviews so far have mostly considered the 1-bedroom accommodations with separate living rooms and full kitchens as pictured above.
In addition to the bedroom. While 1-bedroom Villas are about twice the size of a regular room, they still sleep just four or five people at about double the cost of Studios, which also generally sleep four or five people.
Studio rooms are much more similar to typical Disney hotel rooms with two major differences. The first is each Studio arrives with just one queen bed, in addition to the sleeper sofa.
Couples or those willing to share a single bed might prefer this setup as the couch is arguably more comfortable to sit on than a bed.
For those that need the extra sleeping surface, the sofa bed is a little less convenient and a little less comfortable.
Otherwise, most Studio rooms are going to come in between about 340 and 380 square feet with Bay Lake Tower (339 square feet) on the low end and the Polynesian (447 square feet) on the high end. Kidani’s Studios come in at 366 square feet, which is the same size as most Jambo House Studios. There is one exception in that Jambo does see some “Value Studios” that come in at 316 square feet, which is just about the same size as Moderate-class rooms.
You’ll want to keep that in mind when looking over the rate chart.
The other major difference as compared to a regular room is the addition of a kitchenette area. The two things that will probably come in handy are the microwave and toaster.
Compared to the 1-bedrooms, amenities are significantly reduced. More specifically:
But most of us are probably not planning to prepare a lot of involved meals on vacation.
The other furnishings are fairly standard property-wide, though each resort offers its own thematic touches.
One thing I’m not crazy about at AKL in particular is just how yellow everything appears, along with a motif that might best be described as “wood on top of wood.” It does give it more of a lodge-y vibe, but another, tempered color might go a long way to making the room “feel” more pleasant.
This large cabinet offers some storage, in addition to the drawers underneath the television.
And there’s another small closet that also houses the ironing board, iron, safe, and extra pillows.
Overall, the sleeping/living area at Kidani is going to be very similar to those at the other resorts. The Polynesian is pictured above. It does have a second bed side table on the other side, in addition to the pull-down bed and the second bathroom. More pictures of that room are available here. Otherwise, the setup is largely the same.
There’s a single bathroom with a single sink, in addition to a mirror on the door that separates this vanity/bath area with the toilet.
The shower/tub combo. It seemed like it would be a little inconvenient to have the bath/shower inside the same area as the vanity area and no way to get to the toilet without traipsing through. There is potentially not a ton of privacy if people are moving through different stages of getting ready in the morning. But hey, we are all friends here.
About what you would expect.
Our standard view room looked out at the front of the resort.
It’s somewhere between $70 and $100 more per night for a savanna view, or $516 more for six nights during Regular Season.
It comes down to personal preference and budget of course, but with so many public spaces to enjoy the animals out on the savanna, I’m not sure I can definitively recommend paying so much extra for a view. It obviously also depends on how much time you plan to spend outside on the balcony. Here in June with highs in the mid-90s and daily thunderstorms, it’s not always as pleasant as one might assume to be hanging out outside.
I enjoyed watching the sun go down for a few minutes on the balcony before heading downstairs to see the purple sky over the savanna.
It’s not quite as private as your outdoor balcony, but being able to move around affords an opportunity to see animals that don’t happen to be right below you.
Moving over to Jambo House, Boma – Flavors of Africa is the buffet restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner daily.
With more than 75 items, many of which are unique to the restaurant, Boma offers a wide variety of items that range from the usual to the slightly-out-there.
Wine and beer:
Most of the standard bar menu is also available.
Themed to a “lively African marketplace,” the restaurant has an airy, open feel to it. It can be busy and loud earlier in the evening. For whatever reason Disney thinks letting kids bang on drums outside in the lobby is charming. With our 8:30pm reservation, the restaurant had already mostly cleared out by the time we arrived and here at 9:10pm, there are just a handful of people remaining. Don’t worry about a lack of fresh food later in the evening – they are still constantly switching things out.
I don’t think stating that Boma serves the best buffet food on property is debatable. And with its chief competition coming in the form of Chef Mickey’s and Crystal Palace, it’s probably leaps and bounds better. Not that it necessarily matters, but I am not a big buffet person, which is why the site only visits a handful each year. Dinner here is $37.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids. Breakfast is $21.99 and $11.99.
For similar money, you could split Sanaa’s bread service ($6.50 per person), order their main “slow cooked in gravy, simple, and well-seasoned entree ($23.99), get the most expensive dessert ($7.50), and add a soft drink ($3) and spend just three dollars more. You’d probably have a lot of food left over to bring back to the room for later and enjoy a properly plated meal with personable service and a view. But that’s just my preference. If you are after a non-character buffet or otherwise in the mood to eat big, you’re not going to find higher quality food with more variety than Boma.
Out of all the awkward photos I take, buffet photos at the buffet are by far the worst. You’ve got a dozen or more people preparing food that are like, “uhhhh,” fellow diners that are like, “get the !@#$ out of my way you are delaying me my spoonful of mashed potatoes by five to seven seconds,” and the general, “what are you possibly going to do with those photos anyway you freak” vibe. But I bring them to you nonetheless. From left to right we have: Nut Crusted Salmon, Chakalaka (South African Spicy Tomato Stew), Pap (Creamy White Cornmeal), and Fufu (Western and Central African Sweet and White Potato Mash).
Mace and Cardamom-roasted pork shoulder is on the right with African-carved Strip Loin at the top. Toppings include things like Sambal (Indian and Asian-style sauce with Chipotle Peppers and Sun-dried Tomatoes) and horseradish. The strip loin is a standout and you can get some real value if you procure a couple of slices.
The Durban-style Roasted Chicken is another standout – juicy and flavorful.
Tamarind Barbecue Ribs (not pictured and as far as I can remember, not offered like they usually are).
Bobotie – Ground Beef, Mushrooms, and Egg.
Marinara and Meatballs, Penne Pasta, Sweet Corn and Spinach Pudding, Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini with Spiced Tunisian Paprika Olive Oil, and Fried Sweet Potatoes.
Geel Rys (Turmeric and Cinnamon-spiced Basmati Rice with Golden Raisins from South Africa), Cous Cous with Dried Fruits and Nuts, Carrots/Peas and Corn, Macaroni and Cheese, Mealie Dogs.
Curried Coconut Seafood Stew, Sambal Chicken Corn Chowder, Butternut Squash Soup, Ghanaian Oxtail Stew (Western African-inspired Tomato Based Stew with Tamarind), and Basmati Rice. Don’t sleep on the soups – they are all excellent.
Haria (Northwest African Vegetable Lentil Soup).
Kool Slaw (Mayonnaise-based Cabbage Salad), Avocado/Papaya and Grapefruit Salad, Watermelon Rind Salad, Pasta Salad (Tri-colored pasta in a curried mayonnaise). I particularly enjoyed the pasta.
Salad. The Sambal Buttermilk Dressing and Mango Vinaigrette do make things a little more interesting.
Lavash (Thin Flatbread), Mealie Bread (Sweet Corn Muffins), Pita Bread, French Rolls, Butter, Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus, and Kalamata Olive Hummus.
Spinach and Quinoa Salad, Marinated Cucumber Salad with Pappadew Vinaigrette, Chicken Salad with Chili Cilantro Dressing, Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese, Marinated Artichoke and Preserved Lemon Salad, Africa Fruit Salad.
Key Lime Cheesecake, Kenyan Coffee Tarts, Zebra Domes, Guava Panna Cotta. All-you-can-eat Zebra Domes is a big selling point.
It wouldn’t be Disney World without cupcakes.
Cassava Cake, Bread Pudding, Salted Caramel Sauce.
Overall, there’s plenty of variety to fill you up, though the “75+ offerings” might be a little overstated. We don’t give Pecos Bill credit for having more than five entrees because they have mustard packets, after all. But everything is fresh, the flavors are unique and interesting, and there’s plenty of variety. Maybe I’m just complaining about the price here.
Overall, your experience in a DVC Studio should be similar to regular rooms in the same resort. With the exception of the sofa bed in place of the second queen and the extras in the kitchenette, most other things are virtually identical.
Contact Rachel Thompson at www.dvcmagicresales.com for more information on selling or purchasing a DVC contract for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or any other Disney Vacation Club property. With 10 years experience on the resale market, you will be in good hands.