5 Reasons to Own a DVC at Animal Kingdom and 2 Reasons To Look Elsewhere
Potential Disney Vacation Club members have many options for where they can purchase a membership contract. The program currently lists 15 different participating resorts with another due to open in 2022. With so many different options, you may feel a bit overwhelmed and need some guidance. Here are five reasons to buy your DVC at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas as well as two reasons why you may look elsewhere instead.
The Negatives of Owning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
1. Easy to Get a Room Here
Out of all Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts, only three resorts sell more inventory than Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas. Importantly, one of those isn’t at Walt Disney World. While Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort are both notoriously easy to book, Animal Kingdom Villas isn’t far behind them in this regard.
Please understand that some room types are challenging to get at Animal Kingdom Villas. We’ll actually discuss some of those as positives, too, but the point stands. At the seven-month window, a time when most members can book everywhere, you’ll have an easier time booking at this hotel. And that negates the advantage of the 11-month window for your home resort.
2. Not Conveniently Located
While the introduction of Pandora – The World of Avatar has altered the conversation dramatically, this section of the Walt Disney World campus is still imperfect. When you vacation at Animal Kingdom Villas, you’re only close to one theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Even worse, transportation to other points of interest takes a while. You’re driving longer, and you’re wholly reliant on the busing system. Even rideshare services like Lyft and Uber aren’t readily available in this area. Drivers prefer the more lucrative places like Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Minnie Vans are another option, although they’re more expensive than standard ridesharing.
Realistically, a stay at this resort makes the most sense when you intend to spend most of your time at Animal Kingdom. Otherwise, the logistics work against you and cause you to lose valuable park time waiting on buses.
The Positives of Owning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
1. The Residents
When you stay at Animal Kingdom Villas, you’re a temporary guest. Even the cast members don’t spend all of their time here. As such, the only full-time residents of this hotel are the animals. And almost everyone will agree that the animals are what elevates this hotel as an unforgettable vacation experience.
Disney has married the concept of a hotel and a functional zoo in the same location. The benefit for you as a guest is that you are never more than an elevator ride and a few steps away from seeing the animals in their natural habitats.
In fact, you can book a room type, Savannah View, which looks out over these habitats. Once you watch animals frolic from your room, you’ll always want Savannah View.
2. Two Resorts in One
When Disney officials decided to construct a hotel near Animal Kingdom, they faced unprecedented constraints. The land couldn’t interfere with the habitats of the residents. Also, hotel guests had to stay far enough away from these places so that they wouldn’t prove disruptive. It was a challenging situation.
Disney turned a negative into a positive with an inventive solution. They built a larger hotel and a smaller sibling nearby. The outcome of this strategy is that Animal Kingdom Villas is really two resorts in one.
Jambo House stands as the main building, while Kidani Village is its smaller twin. A quick walk through either facility will clarify the scale of each one. The lobby of Jambo House should seem intimidating due to its massive scale, but it’s somehow one of the most tranquil settings on the Disney campus. The Kidani Village lobby is similarly soothing, albeit much more intimate.
To their credit, Imagineers built each resort as a standalone facility. When you stay at one, you’ll enjoy all of the standard amenities like pools and restaurants. Therefore, you’ll never need to visit the other resort unless you want. They even have individualized check-in areas. When you own at Animal Kingdom Villas, it’s really like buying two DVC properties at once.
3. The Amenities
I rightfully could have split this reason into multiple ones because it’s so strong. The Animal Kingdom Villas pools are among the best across DVC resorts.
The two primary options are Samawati Springs and Uzima Springs, the latter of which is one of the largest Disney pools ever built. Fans of zero-entry pools with giant slides and hot tubs will adore spending a sunny Florida day splashing around. Plus, when you’re in the mood for a relaxing beverage or snack, the Uzima Springs Pool Bar can satisfy your every need.
While the pools are terrific, I believe that the cuisine is the most exceptional amenity onsite. At Animal Kingdom Villas, you’ll find several of the best-reviewed restaurants on the Disney campus.
Boma – Flavors of Africa is only one floor down from the main lobby of Jambo House. It’s an all-you-care-to-enjoy (AYCE) restaurant that serves authentic dishes like Bobotie, Fufu, and Mulligatawny.
For even a more upscale dining experience, Jiko – The Cooking Place. It’s a Signature Dining experience with a wine list that will blow your mind. Also, the seating area overlooks some of the animals that are just outside.
Those of you who would prefer something less expensive or more conventional should visit The Mara instead. It’s a straightforward counter service restaurant that’s generally considered one of the best at Disney. You should be sensing a pattern here. All of the food at Animal Kingdom Villas is divine.
4. Specialized Room Types
I previously mentioned that some room types at Animal Kingdom Villas are challenging to book. The explanation is that these rooms are highly sought after due to the spectacular value of them.
I already discussed the addictive nature of Savannah View. To many DVC members, this room type isn’t even the most desirable one at the hotel. When you book here, you may choose two other room types that are only available at this resort. Both will incentivize you to purchase here.
The Value Accommodations room type is one of the least expensive DVC rooms available at Walt Disney World. It starts at eight points per night or 60 weekly points during Adventure Season. Even during Premier Season, Value costs only 15 points per weeknight or 111 points for a full week. Shop around; you’ll find you can’t beat those prices.
You’re probably wondering what the catch is. In terms of room size, there isn’t one. The Value Accommodations studio comes with 316 square feet of space, which is still larger than many hotel rooms. The concern is that Disney only books a small number of this room type. Unless you own here, you’re wildly unlikely to book it.
The same statement is true of another room type. Kilimanjaro Club Concierge rooms reside on the club level of the resort, the sixth floor. When you stay here, you’ll gain access to the club lounge and concierge services.
The lounge area provides free food and beverages throughout the day. Yes, that’s including alcohol. DVC members sometimes save money on food by frequently snacking at this lounge.
The points cost for club floor access is relatively reasonable. A Savannah View room starts at 14 points/102 points for the night/week. The Kilimanjaro Club Concierge starts at 19 points/139 points. The one problematic aspect of booking this room type is that Disney won’t guarantee a view. You could get lucky and have a Savannah View, too, but you might have a pool view instead.
The reality is that all three unique room types at Animal Kingdom Villas are in heavy demand. To guarantee that you can book the one you want, you’ll need to own here.
5. Pricing/Points Value
Supply and demand impact multiple aspects of DVC membership. The price that you pay for a contract obviously depends on demand. Disney crafts the points chart based on demand as well. And the size of the inventory matters as well.
A trend that you’ve probably noticed is that resorts with more availability are cheaper to buy. This phenomenon occurs because DVC members want to own at the places that are most difficult to book. The presumption is that they can schedule a stay at large-inventory resorts at the seven-month window.
I just explained the value of the specialty rooms at Animal Kingdom Villas. A standard studio is also economical. These rooms begin at 11 points per weeknight or 81 points per week. You’ll never pay more than 20 points for a weeknight or 146 points for a full week.
Given all of the positives of owning here, you’d expect the contracts to be expensive. They’re not. Because of the ample availability, DVCs at Animal Kingdom Villas sell for less than you’d expect. At the time of publication, many regular-sized contracts sell for $100-$125 per point. As such, this DVC property has several entry-level contracts available at reasonable prices. I consider it one of the better deals in the program.