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Trip Report *COMPLETED* That time I paid for a dessert party and couldn't eat anything: I Kidani you not! A December 2018 trip report


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Hello All! This is my first trip report, so please bear with me! I have loved reading all of your trip reports on here for a long time and may (just may) be slightly obsessed with them. So, here goes my crack at it.
I guess I'll start with the basics:
Who: Myself (Katie), my husband (Mike), and our 8 year old son (Ben). We are from Michigan and I am the major Disney fanatic in the family. Mike mostly just goes along for the ride to keep me happy, but he does enjoy it, too. And Ben of course loves our trips as well. This was his third trip so far, as we have been going every two years. I would love to go more often, but convincing Mike to do yearly trips hasn't happened yet. I mean, what's his problem?! :rolleyes:

When: Dec 1st-Dec8th. We have historically gone the week before Thanksgiving, but decided to give the first week of December a try this time. I like going this time of year because of the cooler weather. I cannot handle walking around in the heat and humidity of Florida. I give major props to all those on this forum that go during the summer! Ben missed a week of school, but I'm ok with that. He's in 2nd grade right now and his teacher had given him a homework packet to do on the trip.

Where: Animal Kingdom Lodge-Kidani Village. Standard view studio. This was our first time staying at AKL. We decided to rent DVC points this year, which was also a first. We went through DVC Rental Store and it was a very easy and good experience. We ended up saving quite a bit on the room as compared to booking rack rate. However, it was still a bit pricey, so I opted for the studio room (1 Queen bed with pull out couch) with a standard view to save a little more money. Since there are only three of us, we don't really need that much room.
Also, I am a veterinary technician with a degree in zoology, so anything animal related is totally up my alley!!

Saturday, December 8th:

We left Detroit Metro airport around 10am on Saturday. The flight was uneventful and we landed at MCO a little ahead of schedule.
I had been debating prior to our trip about whether to have Magical Express take our luggage to the resort or just do it ourselves. I had packed our carry-ons with bathing suits and change of clothes, just in case we didn't have our main bags and wanted to go swimming when we got to the resort. We have had them handle our luggage in the past, but I know it can take a long time sometimes. However, on our way to the airport I suddenly remembered that I had left our ME luggage tags at the house. Mike asked if I wanted to turn around, but we were already on the freeway so I just figured we'd take our own bags after all.
When we got to the Magical Express area at MCO....IT.WAS.INSANE!!! Now, we have used ME many times in the past and we've never had the luxury of just walking onto a half full bus, and we have always had to wait in some sort of line before getting on the bus. In fact, I keep telling Mike that I read on here all the time about people just sauntering on to the ME bus, no lines, and he thinks I'm full of it :joyfull: . I kept saying "Maybe we'll get lucky like the folks on my Disney blog"! Well, that was definitely not going to be the case today. I have never seen the line so long and crazy. It was stretched out way past the elevators and you couldn't even see the ME check point. CMs were trying to guide people into some sort of organized lines. It probably took a good hour before we were on the bus! Ben got on and wanted the very last seat on the bus. You know, the one directly next to the bathroom :bored:. But, soon we were on our way. We stopped at Coronado Springs first and then AKL Jambo House, and then AKL Kidani Village.
When I stepped off the bus, it was warm, overcast, and a little windy. As I waited for our bags from the bus, I just kept looking around like "Oh my god, I cannot believe I am finally here!". After so much time planning this trip, we were here! And the sounds and smells from AKL were so wonderful, I may have teared up just a little.
Here are some pics I took from the front of the lobby area
Light fixture for @Doc Disney !

I had received a text while on the ME that our room was ready. I was crossing my fingers for a partial savannah view room and had put in a room request as well, but I knew it was a long shot. No need to check in at the front desk, so we went directly to our room on the 5th floor. I knew as soon as I stepped off the elevator that I would not be getting my wish, but that's ok.
Our room was very nice. It had a balcony that faced the hotel entrance, so while there may not have been animals, it was at least good people watching! Our room had a queen bed, a pull out couch, a small kitchenette area with microwave, mini fridge, sink, and toaster. The bathroom was pretty standard, but nice. Everything was clean.


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Here are some views from our balcony:
As you can seen, they were doing some work on the outside of the building. They were painting the outside and balconies, as well as the bus stop areas. It didn't really bother me that they were there, although I heard they were also painting some of the savannah view areas as well, so I probably would have been annoyed if I had paid for those rooms. At one point, the workers were actually on our balcony, but it was right when we were leaving for the day, so no big deal.

We were not going to the parks on this day. I like to leave the arrival day open for checking out the resort, relaxing, swimming, etc. before hitting the parks the following day. So, after we put our bags down we changed into Florida attire and talked about what our next step would be. I wanted to order a few groceries to be delivered, so I decided to give Instacart a try. I had never used it before, but after reading good things about it on another blog, I gave it a try. I had downloaded the app and entered my credit card before we left, so I just had to pick the things I wanted and submit my order. I got a few snacks, a case of water, and a bottle of wine. The app said the food would be delivered within 2 hours and you could track the person doing your shopping, which was kind of nice. It gave you little updates, like which items they had put in their cart so far and when they were checking out.
So, snacks ordered, we decided to go get some food and check out the resort. We had only briefly seen it on our way to the room.
You guys, this place is AMAZING!! Even though we didn't have a savannah view, there were so many windows and outlooks and common areas that looked out over the savannah that I did not feel like we missed out on much animal viewing. There were windows just outside all the elevator areas, several large balconies that looked out over the areas, and a fenced patio-type area on the ground floor where you could go and observe the animals.
Here's one of the windows by the elevators:
Here are some views from one of the observation areas:IMG_0023.JPGIMG_0025.JPG
Some of the animals we saw during our trip were: giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, ostriches, roan antelope, gazelles, tortoises, Maribu storks, and African cranes. The animals just roamed around as they pleased, with I think only the giraffes going in at night if it was too cold. It really was a great experience, especially if you love animals and African culture. I don't think I got any pictures unfortunately, but there were many African sculptures and artwork all around the resort common areas. It was very cool.

Up next: The Mara


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As most you probably know, AKL is divided into two separate resort areas: Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the main, larger area and Kidani is the small area that I think (please correct me if I'm wrong) is where all the AKL DVC rooms are? Kidani has one restaurant (Sanaa) and Jambo House has Boma, Jiko, and The Mara (food court). I will say that was one down side to staying at Kidani: I like having a food court in my hotel for easy meals and snacks. Sanaa is a quick service for breakfast, but the rest of the day it is a table service restaurant. The gift shop had a few small items and coffee/pop, but for the most part if you wanted a quick meal during the day you have to make the trip over Jambo House.
We were hungry, and we had to stick around the area for the Instacart delivery, so we decided to head over to The Mara for some lunch. We walked there, which was about a 10 minute walk. There is also a shuttle bus that runs regularly back and forth between the two buildings.
We walked into the main lobby of Jambo House and it was just as awesome has the pictures make it look. Huge lobby and so many beautiful sculptures and architecture! We followed the signs for The Mara, which lead us downstairs and outside again. I was a little confused, but apparently the entrance is outside in a little courtyard area, near the pools. I even asked a CM later in the week the best way to get there because I thought for sure we were missing something obvious. But no, that is the only way in and out. I just thought that was a little odd, that there wasn't a direct entrance from inside the hotel.
I ordered the Hand Carved Turkey with Avocado Club served with Kool Slaai and fries
The sandwich was just ok. There was way too much bread, so I mostly wound up eating the insides. The kool slaai (cole slaw?) was so good! I could have eaten an entire meal of that by itself.
Mike ordered the flat bread pizza and Ben got the kids burger with fries (as you will see, this become a theme throughout our trip. So. Many. Burgers!!)
We decided to share the peanut butter brownie as well. This looked amazing, but was WAY too sweet for me to eat more than just a bite. I have a pretty big sweet tooth, too, so that's saying a lot.

After lunch, I was worried bout missing the Instacart person, so we walked back over to Kidani. I got a text that the delivery person was on their way. We made it back with plenty of time and I ended up getting a text that they were there, so texted back to have them meet me at bell services. We went down to meet them and didn't see anyone by bell services. After standing there for a minute, I got another text saying the person was there and where was I? After a bit of confusion, we realized that the driver was outside by the valet desk. So, we met him out there where I showed my ID for the wine and collected our bags. Everything was there and accounted for. Pretty cool service!
I think these are some pics of the tree at Kidani. I was originally thinking they were from Jambo House, but I think this is the "smaller" tree of the two of them.
After getting our food put away, Ben wanted to go swimming. I wasn't really feeling the need to get into my bathing suit (I know, total party pooper), but luckily Mike is a good sport and they changed into their suits. I went down to the pool area with them and relaxed on a lounger while they swam. The pool area at Kidani is really nice. There's a water slide and kid's play area. It was not crowded at all and the sun was starting to go down. They were playing Disney songs over the pool loudspeakers and it was just so magical and relaxing. To complete my relaxation, I wandered over the pool bar and ordered a beer.
Sam Adams Winter Lager
It was a perfect evening!!!
After the boys had their fill of swimming, we went back to the room to change. I had not made a lot of ADRs for this trip on purpose. We have done a lot on previous trips and this time I wanted to be more casual and just play most meals by ear. I did have some ADRs planned, but not for this night.
Mike wanted to head to Disney Springs for dinner. I was like, "Um, you know it's Saturday night right? It's going to be nuts." Well, I swear on Mike's tombstone it's going to read "It'll be fine!" as his last words, because that's his answer for everything, right before it's not fine. So, Mr. It'll Be Fine, Ben and I got on the bus for Disney Springs at about 7:00pm on Saturday night. And (shockingly) it was insanely busy! :rolleyes: Please enjoy some poorly-lit night time pics:
Next: More DS
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As most you probably know, AKL is divided into two separate resort areas: Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the main, larger area and Kidani is the small area that I think (please correct me if I'm wrong) is where all the AKL DVC rooms are?
Jambo has a DVC wing as well, it has the value rooms as low as 9 points a night!. We prefer the size of Kidani rooms and Kidani's pool but, yeah, Jambo's lobby is impressive.


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Original Poster
Jambo has a DVC wing as well, it has the value rooms as low as 9 points a night!. We prefer the size of Kidani rooms and Kidani's pool but, yeah, Jambo's lobby is impressive.
That's good to know! Yeah, when I was researching DVC places, I had read that Kidani's rooms were a little nicer and the pool was better, too. It also seemed quieter and less hectic than Jambo House.


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Oops, sorry for the repeat pictures on the last post. I'm still getting used to this trip report business!

Ben outside Rainforest Café. He so badly wanted me to take his picture in front of the crocodile while it was moving. But, every time I would go to take the pic, he would turn back to the crocodile and then turn back to me and ask "Mom, are you getting it?". This happened like 5 times and I'm like "Would you just stand still for crying out loud!!" :hilarious:

I honestly cannot remember what, if anything, we had for dinner this night. I just remember it being so crowded that it was impossible to look in any of the stores and Ben was driving me crazy by darting off somewhere and not staying near us and I was so nervous he was going to get lost. At one point I stopped at the Aristocrepes kiosk while Mike and Ben went somewhere else and I got the S'mores crepe. I totally failed and forgot to get a picture, though. It was very good, although I did have to wait a while to get it because they were busy and they make them all fresh. It was also HUGE and even sharing with Mike we could not finish it. I ended up taking the remainder of it back to the hotel with me, thinking I would eat it later, but ended up throwing it out after I realized it wasn't very good as a leftover. I would definitely recommend it, as it was very tasty.
We took the bus back to our resort and turned in for the night. The bed was comfortable and Ben said the pull out couch was comfortable for him as well. With the couch pulled out, the room became pretty small. But, we would fold it up in the mornings before we left so it wasn't too bad. We all slept well and were looking forward to our first park day in the morning.

Coming up: 1st day at MK


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Sunday, Dec 9th - First Park Day!

We woke up around 6:45am to start getting ready for the day. I wasn't planning on making rope drop for any of the days, but I still wanted to get there somewhat early. Our first FP started at 9:00am, so my goal was to get there around that time. However, we are the family that is forever running late for things, so it usually didn't work out that way.

After showering, I went to dry my hair. Now, I had checked on another site to make sure there was a "normal" hair dryer in the AKL rooms. There's nothing worse than showing up to a hotel and seeing one of those horrible, tiny wall hair dryers! I was assured that there was a normal sized one, so I did not pack mine from home. And while this was technically the case, the dryer still sucked. It barely had any power, even on high, and so the result was that my poor frizzy hair that I try so desperately (with mixed results) to keep smooth, was no match against the Florida humidity this trip. Seriously, my hair was so poofy most of the time! I know some of you out there can understand my struggle! :joyfull:

So, after I did the best I could in the hair department, it was time to head out to breakfast and then Magic Kingdom. We ate at Sanaa quick service for breakfast. Since it's normally a table service, it was a little bit of a different set up than most places. You walked in and there were limited items out on tables with coffee and juices. There was also a printed menu card that you could order from the person at the cash register. Then they gave you a little animal with a number on it and you went and found a table while they bring the food out to you. I guess now that I write this out, it's similar to Be Our Guest in that way, except you could also take items to go if you didn't want to eat there.

It was not busy that morning and we found a table right by a window, which looked out into the savannah. It was so cool!
I thought the little monkey with the number was so cute!

I ordered the Savannah Platter - Two Cage-free Eggs served any style with Tanzanian Hash Browns, Bacon, and a Corn Johnny Cake. This was very good and the hash browns were the star of the plate!
Mike got the Sunrise Sandwich-Scrambled Eggs, Bacon and Cheddar Cheese served on a Croissant. He enjoyed this.
Ben ordered the Mickey waffles
We also had a visitor that hung out with us during our meal!
How gorgeous is this bird?!
This is a grey crowned crane, and he (or she) was obsessed with our window! These pictures are not zoomed in, this was how close it was while we were eating. I absolutely loved it and Ben was so excited. Like I said, I'm an animal nut and I have made sure to raise my kid as one too, haha! It was an amazing experience to be sure. When it was time to leave, I saw there was a table with a family with young kids sitting farther away in the middle of the restaurant. They were kind of trying to look over toward the windows, but their view was blocked a bit. So, I went over and told them if they walked over to where our table was, they would be able to see the crane close up. The mom thanked me and went to take her kids over there. I was just so excited about the crane I didn't want anyone else to miss out!

But, despite having made a new friend, it was time for the real star of the trip....Magic Kingdom! I love starting off our trips with MK, it just feels like the "right" thing to do. Of course, we were running out of time on our first FastPass, so we had to hurry and I couldn't take my normal slow stroll down Main Street like I would have liked.

Please excuse my finger in these next pics, I was rushing along :rolleyes:


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More hurried Main Street pics
Ben likes to read the maps and "direct" us where to go.

So where was our first Fast Pass?? Why, only the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness, of course!

This is Ben's favorite ride (at least most of the time you ask him). I got this shirt online and he loved it! I have to admit it was pretty cool, I kind of wanted one myself. These selfies are pretty horrible...yikes!
I think that's Mike giving us bunny ears in the background. Who's the kid here? :joyfull:

To be continued...


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I can attest when we went in May, we got to ME, and there was no line, and we just walked right out to the bus, waited less than 5 minutes and we were off!

Following along on this trip!


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Ok, so after Big Thunder, we headed to Pirates.
This was our first time seeing the new auction scene. It was fine. I did like the old scene better, but I get it.

Next was the People Mover. This is one of Ben's favorite rides and he requests to ride it several times during our trips.



I'm not sure exactly what face Ben is making in most of these pics? I swear, he does not smile like this in real life!! :hilarious:


We then walked over to New Fantasyland. We stopped at Gaston's for a cinnamon roll and LaFue's brew to share. The brew tasted different this time, I think there was more mango than apple juice. The cinnamon roll was just ok. It was not warm and it was a little dry. Still tasty though. There was also red icing drizzled on it for the holidays, which made it look like dripping blood all over it, so that was a bit off putting! :joyfull:

Next was The Little Mermaid. This is my favorite Disney film and characters. I was obsessed with it growing up (yes, I'm old) and would watch it every day after school until I knew every single line and song. And yes, the VHS tape I had was the original with the "special" cover on it.:rolleyes::jawdrop: I still own it to this day!! Not going to give that baby up! :hilarious: And if you're unsure what I'm talking about, just google Little Mermaid VHS cover art and you'll see...and not be able to un-see it!!



I even wore my super sweet shirt for the occasion. In case you can't read it, it says "Life is the bubbles under the sea". I love it!! :inlove:


After we went under the sea, it was time for lunch at our friendly neighborhood enchanted castle!!

I told him to make his best gargoyle face

Man, I love the detail in this place. Just amazing!


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Original Poster
I can attest when we went in May, we got to ME, and there was no line, and we just walked right out to the bus, waited less than 5 minutes and we were off!

Following along on this trip!
I think you're lying, but ok if you say so! :hilarious::hilarious:


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Great start!.

You'll have to tell Mike that the two times we used MDE in 2017 and again in 2018 it was a walk on.. I think we waited barely 10 minutes. The time before that was 2008 and I don't really remember a wait then either but that was 10 years ago and I can hardly remember yesterday.
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