As both Disney Vacation Club members and Walt Disney World annual passholders, our family is spoiled with fun weekend getaways.
I practically grew up at Disney parks, and my wife has been enjoying them throughout our nearly 11 years of marriage. For the past few years we saw Disney through the eyes of our young boys, but it was just last year that we joined Disney Vacation Club. Living less than an hour from the parks, we often looked for good deals on Disney hotels for a quick getaway, and DVC allows us to enjoy their best resorts for a fraction of the price.
Just a couple weeks ago, we took advantage of a great DVC rate on the smallest room at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village. January is always one of the cheapest times to use DVC points, so we drove up on Friday for one night in a deluxe studio, followed by an active day in Animal Kingdom.
This was our first visit to Kidani Village, and our first time staying in a room that did not have an extra child-size bed (a perk in certain deluxe studios at other DVC resorts). We arrived with less than an hour of daylight remaining and went straight to the savanna overlook to check out the animals. I think the boys were almost as interested in the big rocking chairs, and had it not been so cold we would have stayed past dark to enjoy the campfire.
Our room was cozy, just a queen bed and double-size sleeper sofa, but like all DVC deluxe studios it included a kitchenette with mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, and a bar sink. Having spent a few nights in this type of room at other resorts, we came prepared to cook breakfast the next morning: waffles with almond butter and jam, cold-brewed coffee and plenty of fresh fruit.
Breakfast wasn’t the highlight of the morning, however. We were in a “standard view” room, so I wasn’t expecting to see any animals, but our balcony was just over the edge of one of the savannas and our boys woke up to see an okapi just outside.
Many smaller animals came and went as we ate our breakfast. This section of the savannah didn’t have the big zebras or giraffes, but there were plenty of those waiting for us in the park…
We had fastpasses starting just after checkout time, but it was a race to get to our first ride in time. By the time we got the car loaded and around the corner to the Animal Kingdom parking lot, we had less than 20 minutes before our fast pass ran out. Luckily we scored the last EV charging spot and ran through the packed crowds, landing at the safari ride with only 2 minutes to spare!
This was our first time on the safari ride with both boys, and they had a blast. Henrik pointed out lots of animals and talked nonstop, and Kasper was bouncing in his seat, excited to see everything for the first time.
Because we caught the tail end of the first fastpass, we were able to go straight from the safari to our second ride, the Navi River Journey in Pandora. This was a bit disappointing, not much to it, just a slow boat ride in the dark, nothing engaging for our toddlers. Perhaps our expectations were too high given the 2 hour wait in the regular line, and I was glad we didn’t wait more than few minutes.
Our final fastpass for the day was Finding Nemo – The Musical, which has always been one of my favorites. I enjoyed it years ago before we had kids, but now that story is much more emotional. We had great seats and the boys not only sat through the show, they behaved for at least 15 minutes in the theater prior to showtime.
This was the highlight of the day for me, and in the weeks since we’ve been listening to the soundtrack both in the car and at home. Henrik even started to sing along, which amazed both of us since it’s the first time we’ve heard him sing something that wasn’t just a common children’s song.
Since the boys were so good in the theater, we needed a place where they could run around and burn some energy. Animal Kingdom has the best playground I’ve seen in a theme park, and our boys spent nearly an hour riding slides and running all over the place.
By the time we pulled the boys away from the playground, sunset was close and it was time to head home. We were in the park for just over five hours, but it felt like a long, active day, and it was good to get back in our Model X with a full charge. I hope Disney will add more EV spots in the near future as demand increases.
Overall, we had a great time at Kidani Village and Animal Kingdom, and it confirmed how nice it is to spend just one night on DVC points for a short weekend getaway. Look forward to many more short vacations in the future!