The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Kidani Village & The Race Expo

I’m gonna split this trip report up a little differently than usual – rather than go strictly one day at a time, I’m going to separate out the posts by individual activity. That being said, day 1 was very chill, so I’ll be pretty comprehensive with this first foray. Onward with the trip report!

This tale of Walt Disney World begins as they always do: with a trip to the airport at an ungodly hour. Despite not planning to check a bag, I left extra early in case the government shutdown was causing a bad backup at airport security. It wasn’t, but it never hurts to be prepared!

My flight was delayed by faulty wiring, but we made up the time in the air and landed just about as scheduled. I hightailed it over to the Magic Express stop, where I hopped aboard a bus with my fellow travelers. I wound up being the only person headed to Kidani Village – by the time we arrived, I had the bus to myself!

I hadn’t received a text from Disney that my room was ready, so I found an out of the way bathroom, changed, got tarted up a bit, and headed over to the expo. Once again, I was the only person on the bus! Kidani sure is tiny to a girl used to value and moderate resorts.

The bib pickup area was pretty quiet with only the marathoners still to go, and I had my bib in no time flat. From there I headed over to the exhibitor hall to grab my race shirt and check out the vendors. I did a quick lap to get the lay of the land and picked up some Clif Shots (mocha, natch) at Track Shack before settling into the KT Tape line.

Which took foreeeeeever. Last time I got taped up you had to buy a roll to qualify and the line was practically nonexistent. Well, not only did they revert to making it free for anyone, they were taping multiple body parts (it used to be only one) and explaining how to do it as they went along.

Which is all well and good from the standpoint of generosity, but the end result was that it took over an hour before it was my turn. And then when it was my turn, I had a very nice and personable lady who didn’t tape my knees to my liking. I wound up ripping it all off and redoing it myself later that day. Oh well – it’s not like I had anywhere to be!

You know who would make me feel better and lives around there?

Mickey pantomimed he liked my dressed and requested I do a spin! And then I curtseyed because spinning is a ballet thing and autopilot kicked in.

It was lunch time by that point, but first I wanted to investigate the official merch, which is now housed in a separate building. I gazed longingly at the runDisney puffer jackets, but the $90 price tag gave me pause. There was still plenty of inventory, so I decided if it was meant to be it’d be in the merch tent after the race. (It wasn’t and I was sad, but that’s $90 I didn’t spend. Maybe next time?)

That about wrapped up my expo to-dos, so I picked up a bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge, getting off at Jambo House for lunch. I got a little lost trying to find The Mara – it’s a bit of a labyrinthine route. But once I was there I was able to pick up a falafel platter and enjoy lunch outside. (The Mara review coming later on!)

By that point my room was ready, and I took a quick spin around the savanna observation before walking back to Kidani and taking a look.

This was my first time staying for any real length of time in a deluxe-tier resort, and it was a definite upgrade. I had a balcony, for crying out loud! The themeing was rich but also classy, with a sitting space alongside the web. The bathroom was much bigger than what I was used to, and offered individual tubes of H2O products rather than the dispensers in the value resorts. I rented DVC points for the room, so it was also set up with a very bare-bones kitchenette with a microwave, toaster, and coffee maker plus real glasses and mugs.

I scooted back out of the room to go pick up my checked bag, although I took a very meandering route that included a look at this side of the savanna before getting to bell services.

I hauled my bag back to the room and turned on some dumb hotel TV, which is a strange but well-loved activity of mine. Something about watching TV in a hotel feels good. Anyway, I was in luck – a soothing marathon of Say Yes to the Dress was on TLC, and I basked in the glow of the idiot’s box while I prepped for my actual, physical marathon.

Around 6:30pm I headed down to the Palace Libary off the lobby, which is a sort of cozy community space and I loooove it. There’s even a fire going 24/7! I caught the tail end of a drum circle in there before joining a small group for what the activity calendar promised would be a presentation on an African country from a Cast Member.

Our CM was named Elvis, which I can’t give you a backstory on because “Is that your real name???” felt suspiciously like a microaggression. Anyway, Elvis (not that Elvis) spent about 40 minutes teaching us about Zimbabwe, which I am happy to report has cracked down hard on trophy hunting. Hooray! 😀

After that I walked over to The Mara for dinner, where I was sad to see they didn’t have my favorite pre-race meal. I settled for a flatbread, which I brought back to the room to eat while watching more dumb TV.

Then it was time to attempt to sleep but not actually sleep because I will never not be nervous about waking up on time. That is my gift and my curse.

Up next: The marathon! (Assuming I got up in time.)

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has ALLLLLLLL AKL THE ADRs!!!!

I know Wine & Dine Half weekend is coming up first, but I can’t help but peek ahead just a bit to my next WDW trip – the one in January for the Walt Disney World Marathon. Despite not planning on any park time, I’m super excited to stay at Kidani Village. Only deluxe accommodations for me this time around!

Outside the race itself I plan to take time to relax – check out the savanna observation areas, hang by the pool, book a massage and chill in the spa area… and EAT ALL THE FOOD??????

It started with an innocent Sanaa advanced dining reservation. You can’t stay at Kidani and not eat a Sanaa, right? And what better way to carb up than with some Indian bread service.

So I had that. But then I thought, you’re there. You’re running a marathon. Why not treat yourself to a post-race early dinner at Jiko? So I booked that too.

And yet, later, I began to doubt myself. I’ve been to Jiko once before, admittedly a pretty long time ago. On the other hand, I’ve never done breakfast at Boma, and when will it ever be more convenient? Buffet breakfasts are time consuming, but when you’re already at the resort in question and don’t have any FastPass times to make, the situation is ideal. 

So I started leaning toward cancelling my Jiko ADR and picking up breakfast at Boma. Of course, if there were no Boma breakfast ADRs available, the point would be moot – so I checked. There was one at 10:50am for one person, and, because this isn’t my first rodeo, I grabbed it just in case.

But… I didn’t cancel my Jiko reservation.

Yes, as of this writing, I currently have an ADR for Sanaa, Jiko, AND Boma. Over the course of three days. Naan and African wines and French toast bread pudding can be mine!


Will I cancel any? I dunno. If I do, it’ll probably be Sanaa – I’ve been there many times and the bread service is so big I’d probably never order anything else. Yeah, I should probably cancel my Sanaa ADR.

… But I haven’t. There’s something strangely satisfying about having all three. Now, somebody tell me if there’s anything worth eating at The Mara…

Am I crazy? What’s your favorite AKL restaurant?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is All About That DAK Area Background Music

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, say! Jenn hasn’t mentioned anything about what Disney background music she’s been listening to lately.

It’s cool. I saw you coming. Here’s how I’ve been easing the pangs of WDW homesickness:

You saw my news about staying at Kidani Village, right? When you stay at a new resort, it’s important to prepare yourself. I aim to ease my acclimation by carefully familiarizing myself with Kidani’s background loop.

I’m hella jazzed about this new Disney resort adventure and have all sorts of activities planned for myself! This includes wandering across the way to Jambo House for some exploring and maybe even dinner at Jiko. Naturally this means that I’ve added the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s main music loop to my rotation too.

And as the final feature of this musical installment, let’s take a verrry short trip over to Nomad Lounge, because I <3 Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Next time you’re in Nomad, drink a round of Hightower Rocks in my name!

What Disney parks background music are you currently digging?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Goes DVC…ish

Like I said a couple weeks ago: it’s gotten hard to book a room at Disney, let alone find one at a discount rate. This was making me antsy for marathon weekend. Generally I would stay at Pop Century as per usual, but what would Disney charge this time around? Wine & Dine weekend room costs are definitely not rock bottom. Would I be able to get a room for only two nights? 

I began to ponder an option that’s been on my mind a lot lately: renting DVC points. As much as I’d love to actually join the Disney Vacation Club, the… entry fees? …down payments? …initiation fees or whatever you call them are just too high for me. Points via rental, however, are potentially within my reach, and as Pat and I have discussed trying to stay at the Polynesian sometime point rental has been on my mind.

I did a little research, checked out some potential pricing, agonized and obsessed for a requisite period… and decided to try an experiment. I put in a request through a dedicated DVC points broker for a studio at either Animal Kingdom or the Boardwalk (two of the cheapest available considering I didn’t want OKW or Saratoga) for Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend.

Annnd got rejected. Not only got rejected, but was told that there were no DVC rooms available whatsoever for that time frame.

Daaaaaamn. See what I mean about snagging rooms nowadays? Good thing I already have a room at Pop!

That was apparently that. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that DVC points rental was a good fit for me. While there are risks involved – the broker I worked with does not allow for cancellations (unless you want to buy outside insurance) and payment is required up front. But the pricing is better than what you can get directly through Disney and after a decade of staying in values with the occasional moderate thrown in for fun I am itching to try out some deluxe resorts, y’know?

So I took a leap: I requested the same AKL or BW studios for marathon weekend. Once again, no dice – BUT there was a Kidani Village studio available. It was more expensive by about $100 but still – a deluxe resort, Sanaa and Jiko and the savanna all there for the taking, the amazing ambiance an extension of DAK, my favorite park… A couple hours of pondering and a very necessary Twitter poll, and I took the room.

In truth, this doesn’t really “save” my money, per se – if I waited patiently for Pop’s rates to come out they’d probably be $100 – $150 cheaper total. But… for Pop. And I love Pop, but I have a feeling Kidani Village is going to compare favorably. I can’t wait to find out!

Save me some naan from Sanaa!

Have you ever rented DVC points? Would you like to loan me $17,000 so I can join?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!