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Thread: Sue (Holland) Rayford, Kidani Village, July 26-28 2017

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    Sue (Holland) Rayford, Kidani Village, July 26-28 2017


    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (59 & 60), my husband
    Cristina, SBs daughter
    Quentin, Cristinas husband
    Dates: July 26 28, 2017
    Resort: Disneys Kidani Village Resort
    Experience: Very Experienced First time for Cristina & Quentin

    A few months ago I had the idea of inviting our kids to surprise SB at dinner for his 60th birthday. Unfortunately, Chris & Amanda would be unable to attend, since Amanda was out of vacation time and SBs birthday is on a Thursday. Theyd have needed 2 vacation days. SBs daughter Cristina and her husband Quentin are able to fly down from Maryland, and in the end since it would just be the 4 of us I moved the party to Walt Disney World. Staying at a Disney resort is nicer than staying at our staff house (at work), or any hotel in Gainesville. Our passes are blocked out, Cristina/Quentin dont have park passes, and its too blasted hot & humid to go to the parks anyway. I chose Kidani Village, since nowhere else in this country can you have zebra, giraffe, ankole cattle and others wandering around off your resort room balcony. Im sure Cristina & Quentin have never even imagined such a thing.

    I was hoping theyd bring our grandson Ethan, but they wanted to be able to relax and enjoy themselves so Ethan is staying home. Well see him in January at Hilton Head, along with grandson Ari and his parents. I booked a 1-bedroom villa for SB & me for Wednesday and Thursday nights, and a studio for Cristina and Quentin for Thursday night. Theyre flying in Thursday and flying out Friday. Both the villa and studio are savannah view theres no point in staying here without a savannah view.

    For his birthday dinner I booked us at Whispering Canyon Caf, which is one of his favorite places (for the all you can eat skillet). Cristina said the menu sounded great to her and Quentin as well. Ill eat a small fraction of the moneys worth Im just not into eating $40+ of food for a meal, but no doubt the others will eat my moneys worth! SB has no idea Cristina and Quentin are coming down. As far as he knows, its just us getting away for his birthday. He suggested Whispering Canyon Caf, but I said no. Once were there Ill tell him I decided to book it for us for dinner on his birthday. Cristina and Quention should get in around 2. Our dinner reservation is 5:15, so they have time to surprise us before its time to head there. After dinner well hang out together, and perhaps tour the monorail resorts. One of these years they should choose to bring Ethan to Disney, so itll be good for them to see some of the resort options.

    I bought one of those cake mix/frosting/pan things, and will bake his birthday cake early Thursday afternoon, so the 4 of us can share it after we get back that evening. I also got a 6 and a 0 candle just have to remember to bring something to light the candles (or not). Sanaa now does a counter service breakfast, so we need to check that out. On Wednesday we may venture offsite to Joes Crab Shack for happy hour & dinner. Hes a seafood lover, and Im willing to go there since its his birthday trip. We may hit the outlets as well just not sure when.

    Itll be a short trip, but and exciting one due to the surprise of Cristina & Quentin! When I planned this I figured SB wouldnt have seen her since last September, and I know hed never expect them to be walking through the door into our villa Thursday afternoon. But, he ended up seeing her 6 days ago, when the Orioles flew him up to Baltimore to do some appearances at the ballpark. She didnt let on that shed be seeing him again this week!

    The plans so far are:
    Wednesday 7/26: Drive to Kidani Village, Joes Crab Shack?
    Thursday 7/27: Pool, Cristina/Quentin Arrive, Whispering Canyon Caf Dinner
    Friday 7/28: Sanaa Breakfast, Outlets, Drive to Gainesville

    DAY 1 Wednesday 7/26/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (59), my husband

    Plan: Drive to Kidani Village, Joes Crab Shack?

    Actual: Today SB was unexpectedly scheduled to be off for his personal holiday. However, since he worked 52 hours in the last 4 days, it will end up just being a non-work day since you can only use leave to bring you up to your 40 hours. When I planned the trip I figured hed be working and we couldnt get on the road until after 3:30, but with this change I decided wed get on the road around 1pm. With no park access, theres no reason to arrive too early, and I wanted to be able to get into the villa without waitng around for it.

    We were pulling out of the garage at 1:06 and driving into the Kidani Village parking garage at 2:55, so it was an uneventful drive. While on the road I got the text that our villa was ready. Id requested a low floor, near the lobby. We got top floor, almost as far from the lobby as possible (but not as bad as our last 2 stays here).

    The villas have been redone somewhat since our last stay, and I was very pleased. Now there are a couple stools on the higher granite countertop looking into the kitchen. I dont remember them before. The appliances are still black, which isnt the nicest looking choice. The living room has a ceiling fan (those seem to be disappearing), a sleep sofa and a sleeper chair. The dining table with a bench seat and 2 cushioned chairs are also in that area. The master bathroom is huge, and theres also a full bath (for Floyd, lol) off the hallway as you enter the villa. In the master, in addition to the large jetted tub, there a shower stall big enough to hold the entire executive management team at work. Ill pass on actually doing that, however. The balcony runs the length of the entire villa, of course. So far I havent seen any animals, but did see several in other places when I walked the mile to the lobby later.

    We got settled, and SB set up his computer for some horse racing. I unpacked the clothes, and then went to the lobby to take care of a few things. Wed forgotten to bring water, and I wasnt going to pay Disney prices for little bottles, so we may be heading to Publix. At the lobby I got new AP discount cards since wed renewed our passes online a couple months ago. They give them to you if you renew in person, but dont automatically send them on online renewals I guess. I also got SB a birthday button and confirmed that Cristinas studio would be close to our villa.

    Next I went to the little store in the lobby, where a liter bottle of water was $5. I spotted one gallon jug in another area, and brought it up to the cashier to check the price. It was $3.20 so I bought it. I also got a book of matches for SBs birthday cake candles, then went back to the villa. I no sooner sat down to update the report when it was time to head out for our dinner reservation.

    We drove over to Port Orleans Riverside, dealing with construction traffic along the way. It too almost 25 minutes, which is a bit much! Many years ago, before DVC, Chris & I used to stay here all the time. No doubt the rates then were half of what they are now, lol! In any event, since DVC I havent been back theres no point in moving down in the level of accommodation, and being charged cash for it to boot! We found a parking space close to the entrance and went inside.

    We got to Boatrights at 5:05 and were almost the only people there except for the cast members. There may have been one other party, and one party was seated while we were eating. We were seated on the upper level, and it was nice and quiet. With no young kids dining, there wasnt any risk of it being a noisy or disruptive dinner! I thought it might have been busier since the 30% is only good until 6:30, but evidently people would rather stay sweltering in the feels like 110 degree parks than sit in a restaurant eating dinner at this time go figure!

    The menu here is kind of southern down-home food, which is right up SBs alley. He went with the jambalaya, which had shrimp (some regular size but also 2 huge ones), andouille sausage and chicken. He loved it! He also had a root beer to drink, which with his diabetes is not the smartest choice. I had the French onion soup for my dinner, and it was outstanding even better than the soup at Chefs de France! The flavor was excellent, and it wasnt salty at all. I also had a glass of Riesling, which was also great (not too sweet). They brought out a basket of warm corn bread which was also delicious! Overall, we both really enjoyed this meal, and we would definitely consider making a trip over here for dinner again at some point. It wouldnt happen during Food & Wine Festival, though! The 30% discount applied to food and non-alcoholic beverages, so my DVC investment saved us $9.15 tonight.

    After dinner I showed SB the food court and he was quite impressed by the food he saw. The bakery looked really good, but we backed away without buying anything. We got in the car and drove back to the resort, taking a different route to avoid the construction areas as much as possible. SB assumed his position laying on the couch, while I put on my sneakers and did my walking indoors using the long hallways at this resort. Afterwards I stepped outside by the lobby, and was surprised by how stifling it still was. When I got back to the room SB said it still felt like 105 degrees (at 7:30). There were still hardly any animals in sight off our balcony, so they must have found a cooler place to be!

    I updated the report and did some work, then decided to pour myself a glass of wine. Before I did that, I checked the directions on SBs birthday cake mix and learned I needed butter and an egg. I didnt bring enough eggs from home, so I trudged back to the store in the lobby to buy a $3.99 dozen eggs, butter, and a bag of chips & bottle of coke for him. Hed brought a small bottle of rum hed brought back from Colombia (we found it in our Ft Myers home when we were checking on it a couple weeks ago), so he made himself a rum & coke before returning to the couch with the bag of chips. Hes not hard to please, lol!

    I texted with Cristina, then finally poured my glass of wine and went back to the laptop on the dining table. I sure wish we had some animals out there on the savannah, especially since well be here with Cristina & Quentin tomorrow night. We do have a view of the savannah lots of grass, trees, dirt, etc.

    At this point were in for the night. I expect Ill head to the bedroom for HGTV shortly, since hes got the NFL channel on the tv out here. Today was a great start to the trip, and were both really enjoying being here. We both love the spacious villa, as opposed to a studio. He still has no clue about his surprise tomorrow, and doesnt even know where were having dinner. Hes not real observant, so it took until 30 minutes ago to notice Id brought some Presidente beer (I brought 6 hes notice one of them in the fridge but not the others). He also has no clue about the birthday cake. Tomorrow will be a day of surprises for him, lol!

    DAY 2 Thursday 7/27/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (60), my husband
    Cristina, SBs daughter
    Quentin, Cristinas husband

    Plan: Pool, Cristina/Quentin Arrive, Whispering Canyon Caf Dinner

    Actual: I slept really well, turning in around 10:30 and getting up at 5. SB stayed up to watch a baseball game (online) on the west coast, and decided to just stay out there on the sleeper chair. I made my cappuccino, bringing the coffee maker into the master bathroom so the noise didnt wake SB. Once done, I enjoyed my cappuccino in bed while doing stuff online.

    At 7 I went out for my walk, once again using the resort hallways to avoid the heat & humidity. I walked for 40 minutes, and stopped to check out the Sanaa counter service breakfast. Our discount is only good for lunch and dinner here, so well pay regular price tomorrow morning when if we eat here. I also stopped in the store yet again, this time to buy a loaf of bread since I forgot the pieces Id set aside at home for SBs toast! In the store we do get a discount.

    When I got back to the villa, SB was awake watching tv and doing stuff online. We had the pair of ankole cattle outside, and soon several wildebeest came to hang around. Theres a tree directly across from our balcony that has one of the boxes giraffe eat from, but its currently empty. Hopefully later well have some of the tall guys!

    I made us breakfast, and realized the gallon jug of water Id put in the freezer to chill down quickly last night was still in there. It was now a 5-pound block of ice, lol! I put it out on the balcony, figuring it would melt faster out there. After breakfast we worked on the grocery list, then I got changed into a swimsuit and was at the pool by 9. With it being so hot, I need to get out here early or its not going to happen at all!

    The pool was surprisingly busy, mostly with families. Given the number of kids at the pool, it was surprisingly pleasant. There wasnt any unnecessary screaming or screeching for no apparent reason just people have a respectful good time. It was hotter than hell by 10am though, so I made use of the nearby shower and sat on the pool steps for a while. By somewhere after 11:30 I moved to the shade to dry off, and was back up in the villa by noon.

    I took care of some work stuff, then took my shower. SB took his too, then I asked him to shave. He asked why, and I told him another part of his birthday gift would be brought by this afternoon and I wanted him to look decent. That satisfied him, without any more questions.

    After my shower I started making his birthday cake, and Cristina called to say theyd landed. They were immediately put on a bus, and the bus pulled away to bring guests to Jambo House and Kidani Village. They were here in no time! The cake was out of the oven by the time they arrived, and SB had just finished eating an egg & sausage sandwich for lunch (I had a piece of toast we didnt have any lunch food).

    He was stunned when Cristina & Quentin walked into the living room, lol! I think initially he was somewhat shell shocked, as it was so unexpected, but he was thrilled. Hes also concerned about where the bar has been set, given that my birthday comes up in November, lol! I told him this wasnt a competition! I had another gift for him a pair of placemats full of family photos (us, Chris family and Cristinas family). Cristina gave him some gift cards, and we laughed when we realized wed each bought the exact same 60th birthday card, lol!

    The 4 of us sat around the living for a while, enjoying the beer & wine Id brought (which SB had no clue was even in the refrigerator). It rained briefly, and once it stopped we walked to the lobby in the hopes of seeing giraffe. Luckily 2 were out there (adult and juvenile), along with many other animals. We hung outside on the deck watching for quite a while, before Cristina got the text with their room number. We stopped in the shop in the lobby for them to get a couple snacks, and when Cristina saw they had pomegranate lemonade she bought a refillable mug. They both just love the whole magic band thing, and how easy everything is!

    We walked back to their studio, which is 2 doors before our villa. The studio looked great, and they were very pleased with it. We left them there, and agreed to meet in 15 minutes to drive over to Wilderness Lodge. I thought wed encounter some rain tonight, but we got lucky and it stayed dry the entire time! It had rained while we were in our villa, but that didnt affect us & it didnt last long.

    At Wilderness Lodge I dropped SB off since his knee is bothering him, and the rest of us met him by the restaurant after parking the car. Hed forgotten his birthday button, so I stopped at the front desk and got him another. We were seated right away, and our server was Lori she did a great job.

    We all went with the all you can eat skillet. For me it doesnt make much sense, but it was the easy choice. Cristina & SB had lemonade, Quentin had the unlimited refill milkshake (vanilla), and I stuck with ice water. The salad & corn bread came out with the beverages, and shortly thereafter the skillet arrived. The skillet had corn on the cob, green beans, great mashed potatoes, ribs, roasted chicken, pulled pork, sliced beef or brisket, fabulous sausage, and baked beans. Everything was unlimited, and we got extras of several items. All the food was great, but the ribs and sausage were the most popular with our group. Everyone was stuffed, too!

    We were too full for any dessert, plus we had birthday cake waiting in our villa. Lori brought SB a birthday cupcake and had taught the table next to us how to help when Happy Birthday was sung to SB. It was fun, and everyone had a good time.

    After dinner we walked out to the boat dock, and right onto the little boat. We rode to Fort Wilderness first, then to the Contemporary. We got off there and went up to the concourse on the 4th floor. SB sat and waited for us while we went into the shops. Quentin wanted a backpack, and they found one in manly colors so they bought that and a Mickey Mouse tee shirt for Ethan. From there we retrieved SB and rode the escalator up to the monorail station. Id forgotten they are doing security at the monorail resorts now, so it makes resort hopping by monorail a real pain because you have to go through security leaving each resort!

    The monorail arrived shortly after we got upstairs, and it was pretty full. The line to board was really long, too. This is definitely a crowded time of year here, so a good time for us to avoid, lol! We rode standing, and got off at the Polynesian to look around inside, then went through security again and boarded the next monorail (also standing). Our last resort to visit was the Grand Floridian, and this was clearly Quentins favorite. The live band was playing, which adds to the ambience here. We wandered around inside the main building for a bit before heading back out to the monorail.

    We got off at the Magic Kingdom and took the larger boat directly over to Wilderness Lodge. It was nice to see the new beach cabins from the boat, although you cant really see inside them. Im not sure if any were occupied. I think theyre doing tours for DVC members but only during certain afternoon hours.

    Back at the Lodge we walked through and out to the parking lot to get the car and drive back to Kidani Village. We came to our villa for birthday cake, and it was actually pretty good (red velvet with cream cheese frosting) even though I didnt have an electric mixer. Quentin did the frosting, beating it to death with a fork, but it worked!

    By 8:45 they left to get Cristina more lemonade and then go to their studio. SB was happy to undress and lay down, lol! I updated the trip report, so I could then go relax some before going to bed.

    Today was a terrific day, and the surprise went great! SB said this is the best birthday hes ever had, and he was touched that we all did this. Its great spending some time with Cristina & Quentin, which doesnt happen very often. Overall everything was pretty much perfect, just the way it should be at Disney!

    Tomorrow well meet them for breakfast, then see how it goes from there. Cristina may want to go to the pool for a bit, but if we go down with them Ill be in the shade so Im not getting all sweaty before hitting the road.

    DAY 3 Sunday 7/28/17
    Who: Sue (58), DVC Member
    SB (60), my husband
    Cristina, SBs daughter
    Quentin, Cristinas husband

    Plan: Sanaa Breakfast, Outlets, Drive to Gainesville

    Actual: Once again I got up with the alarm at 5, made my cappuccino and enjoyed some quiet time online. The internet here has been pathetically slow the worst Ive experienced. Disneys never been known for great internet, but this trip it seems much slower than in the past, even at 5am! At 6:30 I was tired of dealing with it, so I got dressed and went out to get my walking done (in the hallways again).

    SB was up before I left, having been up most of the night with his knee/leg hurting. If our doctor wasnt on vacation this week, he would have been able to get in to see him the day we came down here. Instead, well try to get him in Monday instead of waiting for his regular appointment on Thursday. I walked for about 40 minutes, stopping at the front desk to find out where the closest parking/elevator was to the lobby. I was thinking rather than walk to breakfast I could just drive and park close to Sanaa. Turns out theres a lobby elevator right outside the front entrance, so depending on how SB is feeling we may do that.

    Once I got back we both showered and dressed, and packed up our stuff. Cristina & Quentin were over just before 9:15. I offered them the last piece of birthday cake for their room later, but they werent going to be going back to their room. They all their stuff in her big purse and his new backpack they traveled really light! So, the cake got left behind.

    We went down to the garage and I drove over to park under the lobby. Unfortunately, the parking in this area is all for Disney carts, so we had to hunt for a space and ended up with a little bit of a walk. It was much shorter than the walk from our villa, though! I know SB wouldnt have been able to make that walk today.

    We went up to the lobby and then down to Sanaa, where we just happened to get behind a party of people without much clue about anything at all. Doesnt that always seem to happen when youre starving and know exactly what youre trying to do?? Quentin had gotten up early and worked out in the gym, so he was hungry too! Eventually the party ahead managed to get themselves off to a table somewhere, and we were free to place our order.

    Quentin had asked that I please let him buy breakfast this morning, after demasculating him by not letting him pick up the dinner check last night. He always wants to pick up the check, saying his mother will kill him if she finds out he didnt, lol! Here at Sanaa the cold items and pastries (some on a warmer) are grab and go (either out the door or to a table). The hot entrees are ordered at the cash register, and then youre given an animal with a number painted on the side so theyll know where to bring your food. Our animal was a rhino.

    SB, Cristina and I each ordered the Boere Breakfast (2 eggs, Tanzanian hash browns, bacon, some African sausage, tomato chutney & a johnny cakelike a tiny cornbread muffin). We each ordered our eggs slightly different. Quentin had a blueberry muffin and ordered the regular breakfast (Boere minus the chutney & sausage) and the Belgian waffle. SB secured us a table by the window, and while waiting for our food to arrive we watched the giraffe eat his or her breakfast. One of those tall petty birds with the crazy yellow hair (either a crane or a stork) came to the window and was entertaining people with his antics. When another came into sight, he really stepped up his game, so it may have been some behavior to attract a mate, lol!

    The food was good, although we didnt care for the chutney and would have preferred ordinary American hash browns. I didnt really care for the sausage, but Id figured that would go to SB anyway. By the time we finished it was just after 10, and time to head out. We went back to the car and dropped Cristina & Quentin off at Jambo House so they could look around there and walk back to Kidani in time for their 11:15 Magical Express bus.

    SB & I continued out to I-4, where we ran into more traffic. Is this road ever decent??? We went to the outlets on Vineland, where SB sat in the car in the parking garage and I went to Character Warehouse. I found a few things, and then went back to the car. Traffic still looked lousy on I-4 so I drove back through Disney property (which was only marginally better, lol) to get to the roads home.

    The photos are on shutterfly at
    I also shared them on facebook, in case thats easier for people.

    This was a great birthday trip for SB, and it was wonderful spending time with the kids. The surprise worked out perfectly, exactly according to plan. Everyone had a great time! Both of the Disney dinner meals were excellent, and a fair value in my opinion (with the discount). Breakfast was good, but not as excellent as the dinners. We loved the villa, but were disappointed there was never a giraffe on our part of the savannah.

    The weather was horribly hot & humid just disgusting. But, thats expected this time of year, which is why we dont come this time of year. Having the security/bag checks at the MK resorts and TTC may make the entry at MK better, but it definitely makes hopping or touring those resorts a real pain! If youre staying at the Poly and want to have dinner at the Grand Floridian or Contemporary, youll be going through that stuff twice! SB had to keep taking off his birthday button, as that set off the metal detector.

    Cristina & Quentin loved the resorts they saw, and WDW overall. Theyre looking forward to bringing Ethan one of these years, and it will probably be after the Star Wars stuff opens since Quentin is a big Star Wars fan.

    Our next trip will be the Labor Day weekend (Wednesday Monday) trip at Jambo House club level. It will be hotter than hell, but I love my annual stay in the concierge lounge. SB will be there for the start of the trip, and Chris & Amanda come in with Ari for the weekend portion. Food & Wine Festival will be starting during the trip, which is both exciting but also disappointing since its way too hot & I refuse to give up my concierge lounge evenings even for Food & Wine Festival!

    Sue (Holland) Rayford

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    Registered User ericles's Avatar
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    Jul 2002
    Maryland's Eastern Shore

    Thanks for another great trip report! We usually stay at the epcot resorts, but are seriously considering a AK stay next time.

    Mrs. Slocombe is my spirit animal

  4. #3

    I would love to stay at the AK or the Polynesian one day (probably without kids).

    Whispering Canyon sounds amazing. Too many great food choices.

    Thanks again for a great trip report!

  5. #4

    Yikes! I know the villas were dark but stark white paint now? Takes me out of the element. Love the balcony, tho!

    Last edited by spectromen; 08-05-2017 at 10:14 AM.

  6. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Drexel Hill, PA

    Great report as usual. Every time I read your reports it makes me want to go back again. Thanks for taking the time to post your reports

  7. #6
    Registered User
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    Aug 2014
    Gulf Coast of Florida

    Thank you Sue for continuing to provide us with written trip reports. They are becoming a lost art form and I for one am grateful that you take the time to chronicle your visits so I can read them at lunch.
    Maybe we can expect another one from Dan sometime soon?
    Or somebody. I would if I was going to visit anytime soon. My next trip is awhile off.



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