When it’s time for a trip to Walt Disney World, I’m not sure who acts more like a kid. Me, or our kids.
Ok. It’s me. Throw in a visit to Jambo House and Kidani Village, and you’ve got the start to a great trip. I mean, how can you not get excited to revisit a place that provided refuge during a hurricane?
I get excited about leaving the real world behind, awesome family time, and of course, photography. I was pretty excited to get a chance to shoot at Jambo House and Kidani Village, since this resort combination holds a special place in my heart.
For this trip, I was particularly excited about the photography aspect. For one thing, I think I’ve gotten better as a photographer since the last time we went. And this time I had a couple of new lenses in my camera bag.
I’ve been fascinated by images shot with fisheye lenses, and not just those from Walt Disney World (there sure are plenty to check out though!). So I picked up the Rokinon 8mm. I also picked up the Sigma 30mm lens. I hadn’t shot with them all that much, so I was excited about getting some great shots during our trip.
After a long day of driving and getting settled in at Jambo House, I headed out for my late night walk around Jambo House and Kidani Village, a great chance for nighttime photography. I was too excited about our vacation to go to sleep anyway.
I enjoyed having the chance to just walk around Jambo House and Kidani Village, take in the atmosphere, and building details. You know – the stuff that makes Walt Disney World resorts stand out but also reach out to guests in very subtle ways.
If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’m a huge fan of Jambo House and Kidani Village, and their respective audio loops. I did notice that there are some new tracks mixed in I’ve never heard before, but the “classics” are still there. I had a great time walking around and enjoying the resorts. The theming and details are nothing short of spectacular, and I can’t do them justice by trying to describe them. But suffice it to say, that if I could pick 2 buildings that say “Welcome Home”, I would choose Jambo House and Kidani Village.
I could easily get sidetracked here and talk about the lobby smell. Is it just me but Jambo House and Kidani Village have two distinct smells, but are still very pleasant and welcoming? Unfortunately, I never got a chance to interview Cast Members about the smell or audio. Maybe that’s a follow up post topic.
Sorry for the tangents, but I have to say that Jambo House and Kidani Village combine to make a place where the weight of the world gets lifted off my shoulders, so the little things like audio loops and pumped in lobby smell get my attention. If it’s possible for a guy to have a fixation on a particular Walt Disney World resort, I’m “that guy”.
I wandered around Jambo House, first going to the Masai Bridge overlooking the lobby, then the lobby fireplace, and Victoria Falls lounge, just taking it in. If you ever stay at Jambo House or visit the resort for dinner, it’s worth going to the lobby fireplace and just sitting for a few minutes. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room to find a seat.
I also got some pretty decent shots of the light fixtures made from shields. Each has a story to tell, and you never know, if you look carefully, you might see some markings that are from a favorite character.
Then I walked down to Kidani Village. It’s my favorite all time resort, and there was no way I’d stay at Jambo House and not go to Kidani Village. I love that resort, the lanterns at the resort entrance, especially at night, and the lobby. Even though I have a ton of shots of the entrance lanterns, I had to shoot those.
One time I even asked NDM130 to shoot the lanterns for me. I think I have a problem. By the way, if you walk outside at night, you’ll hear an exterior audio loop mixed in with ambient sounds that combine to make you think you’re far away from civilization. Brilliant audio use to set the mood.
If there’s a warmer, more inviting place at Walt Disney World, I haven’t seen it yet. I walked outside to the savanna and fire pit and shot back towards our room at Jambo House. I really like the appearance of the buildings from outside at night – the lighting (at least the lighting that’s not washed out by the LEDs) make the buildings look safe and inviting.
One thing about the savanna areas behind Jambo House and Kidani Village – they’re worth a look after dark. You never know what animals you might see out there, even in low light. I headed into Sanaa for a nightcap and some photos. I wanted to get the bread service, since I’ve heard it’s amazing, and I should’ve because this was the only time I made it to Sanaa. That leaves me something to do next time. It was pretty late, and except for a couple of patrons, the place was totally empty. So I thought what the heck and took a couple of empty restaurant shots just as if I were a real Disney blogger.
Most of my shots that night are with the Rokinon 8mm fisheye. Not a tough lens to shoot with, but one thing to remember is it’s manual focus – so if you’re used to almost always using autofocus (like me), it’s one other thing to make sure you get dialed in before releasing the shutter.
I shot most of these by placing my Nikon D5300 on my MeFOTO tripod, but a few were handheld. I didn’t want too much noise in the shots, so going with long exposures on a tripod was the way to go for me.
As far as edits go, nothing too difficult – I think the shots straight out of the camera were pretty good. I edited a few in Lightroom to level them out, and brought up the shadows in a few that were really dark, and also enabled lens profile and chromatic aberration corrections. But other than that, these shots are pretty much what I got.
Our first park day was coming up, so it was time to get back to our room, but not before I stopped to shoot the Kidani Village sign that sits beside the road leading to the resort. I’ve always loved that sign, just like the lanterns. So I took a picture, just like any geeked out Kidani Village fan would, and walked back to Jambo House.
I’m not sure when we’re going back to Walt Disney World, or when we do, where we’ll stay. I can promise you though, if I ever get a chance to repeat my late night walk around Jambo House and Kidani Village, I’ll take it.
Since going to Walt Disney World and Disneyland at a young age, Chris has always enjoyed Disney music, TV shows, movies, and trips to Walt Disney World. But his appreciation of the overall Disney experience has greatly increased over the last few years. While waiting for the next chance to work on his Disney photography skills, Chris passes the time listening to Park/Resort audio, WDW podcasts, and checking out the work of other Disney photographers. To Chris, there are no bad Disney trip photographs or photographers.
Non-Disney pursuits include spending time with his wife and children, watching and listening to baseball broadcasts, and cheering for the Chicago Cubs and LSU. Chris is a third generation professional engineer in Louisiana, working mainly on asbestos, lead, mold and demolition projects. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisWhitePE and you can check out his Flickr photo stream: chris_white2323.