So there we were. FINALLY at Disney World. The trip that had been planned, talked about, anticipated; planned some more, talked about some more and anticipated some more, was here. Ain’t nothin’ like it on the excitement scale. And even though we had already had a fantastic morning – from meeting the LaLas to initiating ourselves with a ride on Soarin’ – my MOST favorite moment of the Disney vacation had not even happened yet.
We hadn’t checked into our room.
In this case, for the first time ever, our two bedroom DVC villa.
To say my expectations were high is a big, fat understatement. They were Mt. Everest high. See-the-whole-entire-World-from-the-peak high. Because if there’s a skill I have in life, it’s looking at the pictures of a hotel room or condo online, and being able to tell if it’s a dump dressed up with some good photography, or if it’s legitimately a nice place. You can’t fool me.
And every single dadgum picture I had ever seen of the 2 BR at Kidani Village showed that sucker lookin’ FINE. And trust me. I’d seen plenty. I’d even seen some virtual tours on You Tube, and the place STILL looked great. Perfect, even. (Except for that stinkin’ BLANK wall in the kitchen. Can’t they hang a big basket there or something? The wall is just so…empty.)
This is a great walk-through if you're interested:
Now, before you start thinking we’re such rednecks that we think the AKL is a Conde Nast Gold List resort, we are. But we don’t. But I did expect it to be the biggest and newest and most enjoyable resort stay we’d ever had at WDW. And I expected a wow factor when we walked in for the first time.
So it was with great anticipation that we got off of Soarin’, pulled a FP for Test Track for later, and headed out of Epcot via the International Gateway. DH pulled the car around, and the ridiculous giddiness that has come to be commonplace when the NMs are at Disneyworld, was in full force. We were all smiling, chatting, laughing and listening to Disney tunes as we followed purple signs over to the AKL.
We arrived at the guard shack, rolled down our window, showed our DVC card to the attendant, and he said very humorously, “Welcome home, Mr. NM! Go right in! You own the place!” We all laughed as my DH rolled up the window, and then gloated all the way to the lobby of Kidani Village. “Oh yeah! Make way for the NMs! Good thing that CM knew who he was dealing with. Here we are, People! Don’t ignore the VSI! “(Vast Sphere of Influence…yes, Roger is an idiot.) But despite all the antics of my mature in age, but immature in actions DH, the thing that cracked us up the most, was that we know the deal. We absolutely don’t own the place. Or even a fraction of it. We prepaid for vacations for 50 years. That’s it. Nothing more. But the fact that this sweet elderly man at the guard shack chose THOSE words to say to us, instead of “Have a magical day!” (which would have been great, too) or “Here’s your car permit. Please put it on your dashboard for the duration of your stay” (which would have been lame, but acceptable) was just a fun way to start the vacation.
Once inside the lobby of Kidani, which is MUCH smaller than Jambo house, but really cozy and intimate, we all walked up and gave the check-in girl our name. She found our reservation quickly, and confirmed that we were booked in a 2BR standard view. I nodded yes, and my DH immediately piped up with the “but if you have a savannah view, we’ll be glad to go there” line. Bless this CM’s sweet heart…she said she would see what she could do. What she DIDN’T know, was that DVC doesn’t do upgrades. Or at least that’s what the person she called on the phone told her. They said we had a contractual agreement for our stay, and an upgrade would be more points and it was something that wasn’t possible.
You never know until you ask, I reckon.
It was about 2pm by this time, and since DVC check-in time is 4 pm, we were pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to get in our villa and start “gettin’ sicheeated.” We were correct. The villa wasn’t ready, but she took my cell phone number and said they would text us when it was. She showed us on the resort map where the room would be located, and she gave us our packet of happiness, our room keys, and bid us a magical vacation.
Armed with six nights worth of snack credits, we went straight to Jahori Treasures to check out the snack options. I’m sure I will say this more than once during this trip report, but the Kidani Village CMs are the most friendly and helpful CMs I’ve ever encountered at WDW. They are so proud of the resort, and really seem to WANT to make DVC members glad they purchased a membership. DH chatted it up with the cashier CM there as the kids and I discussed ice cream choices, and he found out there was an EXTENSIVE library of DVDs free to rent for DVC members. We all filed that away for later, and in my mind I thought we’d never actually take the time to make use of the DVD rental. I was happy to be proven wrong several times throughout the week. We finally picked out four ice creams of different varieties, and sat down on one of the cool-as-all-get-out couches in the lobby and ate ice cream and formulated a two hour plan. On the one hand, we were BEYOND giddy. But on the other hand, we were feeling that post-lunch crash and needed a little pick-me-up in the form of a bed to lie down on for a few minutes. Knowing that wasn’t possible at this point, we decided we’d just explore the resort and wait for our text.
We finished the ice cream, which was a pretty good pick-me-up for all four of us, and we set off to explore Kidani Village. We started with the location of our room. We were on the lobby level, close to the exit to the buses, and close to the lobby. It was an IDEAL location. After checking that out, we noticed we were also very close to the arcade. So we walked in and were immediately sucked in. The little NMs could have spent the whole afternoon there! They loved it. We filled a card with some credits for them, and while they played a full on COMPETITIVE (Hi DS!) game of air hockey, DH and I played the Galaga/Ms. Pac Man machine. GOOD. TIMES. I even thought I caught a whiff of some Love’s Baby Soft as I was gobbling up blue ghosts and pieces of fruit. (Level 10, Baybee!!)
After we’d used up our five bucks worth of arcade credits, we walked across the hall to Community Hall to see what they had to offer there. The little NMs thought it was an impressive mix of video games, crafts, board games (that DVC members could also check out and take to their villas) and sporting equipment that could be checked out and used on the sport court. One thing we were quickly noticing to be the case about Kidani, was that it was a TRUE resort. You could vacation there and never have to go to the parks at all to have a great time.
My daughter and I pondered our board game options, decided upon something I’d never heard of, and got the game set up. About that time, my “your room is ready” text came in. We had the rest of our trip to play a board game. But right now, there’s a 2BR villa waiting on us to slide our key in the door, walk in and make the place our home. Let’s roll!
We walked down the hall toward our room and the kids fought over who would actually open the door. DH settled the argument by saying that HE would open the door. He did, and the little NMs burst in around him as soon as it was cracked. All four of us dispersed ourselves throughout the villa “ooohhhing” and “ahhhhing” and exclaiming “This is AWESOME!!!” and “Look at THIS!” We were checking all the different rooms out, opening and closing doors, cabinets and drawers, sitting down on the sofa, squishing the mattresses (all THREE of them!) for softness, and opening the drapes to see our view. (Which wasn’t great, but was what I had expected.) The place was as big and spacious and comfortable and well appointed as I had expected it to be, and I couldn’t wait to move right in. I was full on impressed, and my expectations were absolutely met. This was gonna be a great place to stay.
We wrapped up our initial gushing over the place, and headed out to pull the car around to our garage parking area and take our stuff up via the Timon elevator. (We could have used bell services, but chose not to. I don’t remember exactly why, although I’m sure it was because the elevator was so close to our villa and we didn’t want to bother with waiting on someone. The garage parking and the elevators from the garage are a HUGE plus if you have a car at WDW.)
We were on cloud nine as we walked down to the car, pulled around to our section of the garage, and decided that although Kidani wasn’t our home resort, that as of that moment, it was our favorite. We had been wowed, and wowed good. Which is exactly how you want to start off your vacation.
Everyone got a bag and we were back in the villa unpacking in no time. We had placed an order with Garden Grocer and I called down to have it delivered. (Aside: Garden Grocer provided EXCELLENT service. Not only did they make a phone call to confirm my online order the day I placed it, they called TWICE on delivery day. Once to tell us the order had been delivered and was being held at Kidani Bell Services, and then again to assure we had picked it up and were satisfied with the contents. Highly recommend Garden Grocer!) Our food arrived from Bell Services, we were unpacking and getting sitched, and man, oh man, was life good for the NMs.
We were in our happy place. We were in Disney World.
I titled this TR The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.
And this day was a perfect example of how that would be the running theme of this Disney vacation. Things certainly had changed over the years and over the course of our Disney trips. The kids are so much older now than they were on that first visit. They have changed in SO many ways, and I could write an entire trip report just about that. But the most obvious is their physical growth. We can now tour the parks as a family unit instead of pairs because everyone is FINALLY taller than 48 inches. We’re spread out in a villa because of the DVC membership, instead of being all together in a hotel room for the whole week. Which is a good thing with a pre-teen daughter. (And don’t get me wrong: I always loved the cozyness of that hotel room. It worked for us then, and would work just as well now if we hadn’t taken the DVC plunge.) We regularly partake of the Dining Plan instead of winging it with our meals, and as a result, I’m always too full to have my evening Mickey head Rice Krispy treat. Bummer. And finally, after years of saying we’d do it, we really did slow things down and enjoy it this trip.
But there are those things that were the same. Just like they always are when the NMs are at Disney.
We whooped and hollered as we rolled under the Arches. We acted silly and giddy as we arrived on Disney property and drove to our resort. Roger immediately shifted from Type A, business owner, got-a-million-things-on-my-mind Daddy, to Disney-Daddy. The one that is all fun, all the time. I shifted from laid back, NON Type-A, it’ll-all-work-out-don’t-stress Mama, to Disney-Mama. The one that all of a sudden IS Type-A, and works by lists, itineraries and ADRs. (Although the itinerary was a little more laid back.) The kids remembered all the things they like about one another, and took great joy in settling into their shared room for the week. They immediately became best friends with a love of Disney World in common, instead of a boy and a girl with totally different personalities and interests in real life.
Yes, it was a perfect illustration of that very common phrase.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.