Kidani Village savanna view

tough to beat this view

Continuing with the Photo Bucket List mini-series, I thought I’d move from the parks and into the resorts. As I’m sure you know,  Walt Disney World Imagineers carefully designed and constructed the layout and theming for each resort. So, whether it’s the feel of staying in a different part of the world, such as Polynesia or Africa, or bringing up different parts of 20th century American pop culture, such as Pop Century, the resorts operate exactly as intended – they’re an extension of the parks, and many times create the back drop for great memories. I think you could argue that if the resorts were designed and constructed as bland chain hotels, even on property, wouldn’t draw nearly as many guests.

Some of us have favorites, while others stay in different resorts each time in order to see something new. I can understand each approach, but I have to say that, while I’d like to experience different resorts, part of me wants to stay at the same 2-3 resorts each time we go. But there are many I want to visit and photograph. And yes, on past trips I’ve taken pictures of our room and other things that have no real photographic value – but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

Whether it’s a ride, attraction, or setting in one of the parks or resorts, I’m all for taking the photo that you want – these are your memories.

Here I have to pause a moment to say that I think there are no rules for Disney photography other than the following:

  1. no flash photography where WDW cast members/notices restrict use of flash photography.
  2. no flash photography for fireworks and night time parades/shows (there may not be a rule here, but you’ll be unhappy with results, and probably annoy those around you).
  3. don’t block or hinder the movement of people around you.

So the rules are, there are no rules (kind of). With that out of the way, I thought I’d start the resort part with my all time favorite: Animal Kingdom Lodge/Kidani Village. We’ve stayed there the most often. If you’ve visited or stayed there, you understand how the theming and the setting are as a result of WDI taking resort design and construction to a whole new level. If you’ve never been, I’d add this location to my list to visit – whether it’s to see the animals, for dining, or just to walk around. Not a bad way to spend time if you’re looking for some downtime away from the parks.

I love the layout and theming of this resort, and it starts with the entrance and lobby at Jambo House and Kidani Village. My lobby photos of either building aren’t great, since it’s best so shoot some areas with a wide angle lens, take some time to setup, and all that. For the most part, I was shooting on the way to/from the bus – you get the idea.

Jambo House lobby

Jambo House lobby


Kidani Village lobby

Kidani Village lobby

Also, don’t overlook the gift shops – we’ve spent a lot of time (and money!) in the Animal Kingdom Lodge gift shop, and I think about those times often. I’d love to go back to those days, not just for the vacation part, but to have our older kids be that young again, just for a little while.

If I could only go back for 5 minutes

If I could only go back for 5 minutes…

And there are other details to shoot – like the African proverbs in different Kidani Village hallway areas, or areas overlooking the savanna. There are also some hidden Mickeys in the carpet – and I’ll get those photos next time.

Kidani Village proverb - little details like this make the resort stand out

Kidani Village proverb – little details like this make the resort stand out

If you get the chance, take some time to visit the savanna – especially when it’s getting dark. You can watch the animals using some night vision binoculars – fun all the way around, with a learning experience mixed in.

Just sit back and watch your kids

Enjoy these precious moments


great any time of day - the resort is even more spectacular at night

great any time of day – the resort is even more spectacular at night

My favorite area in the whole place is the Kidani Village entrance. At night, recessed lanterns give the main lobby entrance a peaceful, inviting feel. And it blends perfectly with the smaller, quieter lobby at Kidani Village. I’m sad to say I haven’t gotten these photos – but I will next time. The photo below is courtesy of NDM 130, Maria H., who very thoughtfully shot some Kidani Village photos for me during a recent visit. Hey, if you can’t go yourself, try to experience Walt Disney World through others!

Welcome home. Photo courtesy of Maria H.

Welcome home. Photo courtesy of Maria H.

For the most part, I already have photos of my favorite areas. But capturing those photos again means reliving some great times and creating new memories.

Do you have a favorite resort, or do you have a resort you’d like to visit and photograph? Or do you have resort photographs you’d like to share? Send them to us!

What do you think?

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