We’re DVC members and spent the last three nights of our trip in the
new Animal Kingdom Villas (AKV). We have not stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge
in quite a while, but we get over there just about every trip to have
dinner at Jiko or Boma or both.
Back when they first opened up AKV for reservations I booked a
Savannah-View Studio for three nights. Check-in on Tuesday
afternoon was easy, and since it was a bit after 4:00 our room was
ready. We were in a room along the Zebra Trail on the 5th floor,
overlooking the Uzima savannah.
The room was gorgeous but a bit dark – that seems to be the major
complaint about the decor. Since the DVC rooms at AKV were converted
from existing hotel rooms the studios have no closet – that’s now the
location of the kitchenette. So instead there’s a big wardrobe – half
of it contains the vacuum cleaner, ironing board and iron, and the other
half has a closet pole and hangers. Not a lot of closet space, but it
worked ok for us. I think it would be pretty cramped for four people, though.
The queen-size bed is tall with a lovely dark wood headboard. We
found that the bed creaked and the sheets were too stiff (starched?) and
rustled any time either of us moved. The mattress was fairly
comfortable, though – not too firm and not too soft. In the other half
of the room is a sofa which pulls out into a queen-size bed, and a table
and two (very heavy!) chairs, and two wooden footstools/coffee tables.
I found the bathroom a bit cozy – it has an extra-wide door on it, and I had to stand against the tub to be able to open the bathroom door. It’s a nice big tub, though, with a curved shower curtain rod. And the border of the shower curtain has little hidden mickeys in it – those were cute.
We found our room to be very quiet – we never heard anyone on the other side of us, though we could hear those annoying stupid people who yell in the hallways and/or let the kids run wild and yell in the hallways.
We didn’t have a very good room location as far as savannah-viewing
went – our room was on the inside corner with the “people corral” (used
in the event the building has to be evacuated) right behind it. It
looked across the savannah towards the other wing of the building – we
could see the viewing area that’s near the
pool. It also never had a lot of animals on it – there was almost
always at least one eland on it, though – it seemed almost like they
had decided it was “their” part of the savannah, and the other animals
stayed away. We did see several giraffes cruise through at various
times, though. One evening there was also a bontebok and an impala, but
never groups of animals. We know they were on the savannah because one
afternoon we went all the way to the end of the hallway and out onto the
external stairway, and we saw a number of Thompson’s gazelles and
impala, two of the giraffes, several bontebok and some other
antelope-type creature I couldn’t identify. But they were on the far
edge of the savannah and not the main part that was viewable from the
majority of the rooms.
And there were these animals, that I didn’t recognize:
We were somewhat disappointed in the food selection at The Mara – the last time we were here, they had some more interesting/exotic food items available for lunch and dinner. This time it was mostly the regular food court fare – pizza, burgers, chicken caesar salad – though they did have homemade soups and an “African stew”. I was also disappointed that in the grab-and-go section the 4 piece assortment of zebra domes and chocolate mousse crunch was gone – now it’s just zebra domes. Though I found out why when we ate at Boma – the chocolate mousse crunch is just a bowl of chocolate mousse now, and not those little individual servings with the crunchy chocolate cookie on the bottom (and the cookie was my favorite part!).
Boma and Jiko did not disappoint, though, and still remain our two favorite restaurants on property. We had a lovely dinner at Jiko on Halloween night – the restaurant had lots of empty tables and we enjoyed a nice leisurely dinner. Boma the next night was as busy and noisy as it always is – but we were dining with friends and enjoyed the company (not to mention the food and desserts!) despite the atmosphere.
I was very impressed by the bus service – we never waited more than 10 minutes to catch a bus either to or from the parks, and usually it was less than that! We came back from Epcot one afternoon and were the only two passengers on the bus. Though one thing that annoys me…the walkway to the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus stop goes right by a smoking area – I had to hold my breath every time we went past it. Bleah.
Sooooo…Animal Kingdom Villas gets a big thumbs up from us – good thing, since we bought points there and will be staying there over the next 50 years or so. 🙂 Since the current rooms were converted from existing hotel rooms, I AM looking forward to the opening of the Kidani Village units which are being built in a separate building with its own savannah. They should be a little larger and better laid-out.