What’s New Around Walt Disney World: November 18th, 2014

Ready for another trip around the World? We’re heading to three parks and a few resorts to check out holiday treats, gingerbread feats, and new menu eats! And which Counter Service location is now serving up steak? Just read on to find out and see What’s New!

HOLIDAY TREATS

Red and green aren’t the only colors taking over Disney World now that the holiday season has launched around here… hues of blue decorate the festive snacks at this year’s brand new “Frozen” Gingerbread Display at the Contemporary Resort!

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

We tried the Blue Raspberry Cake Gelato

Blue Raspberry Cake Gelato

Blue Raspberry Cake Gelato

Read our review and see all the other treats available at the new display here!

Get ready for all your favorite Disney World bakery items (we’re talking Krispy Treats, Candy Apples, and Mickey Macarons) to be dressed up for the holiday season in spots like the Main Street Confectionery, Seashore Sweets, and Big Top Treats.

Holiday Bakery Case

Holiday Bakery Case

Ornament Candy Apples

Ornament Candy Apples

More candy apples!

More candy apples!

Holiday cupcakes

Holiday cupcakes

Red and Green Mickey Macarons

Red and Green Mickey Macarons

And now let’s look into some ways the Parks are getting into the [Read more…]

Review: Peanut Butter and Candy Bar Brownies at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Not so long ago, I took a trip to The Mara, the Quick Service location at Animal Kingdom Lodge to check out the Giraffe and Zebra Cupcakes. But when I posted my review, we also shared pics of a couple of delicious looking brownies that we’d seen at the bakery… .

Peanut Butter Brownies in bakery case

Candy Bar Brownies in the bakery case

I guess they grabbed the attention of a few DFB Readers as well :), because when I read over the comments on that article, several went something like this:

“Yep, the cupcakes look great. But, ummm… HELLO! What can you tell me about that Peanut Butter Brownie?!?” (And THIS is exactly why DFB Readers are So. Great. :) )

So, with that… it’s back to The Mara we go!

Atmosphere

Located on the ground floor of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Mara is one of the more interesting quick service locations in Disney World.

The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Mara offers unique eats in a unique setting. From African Stew and a delicious variety of soups to something on the menu called an “African Chili Cheese Dog” (Note to self: find out what that’s all about), there is so much more here than your standard cheeseburger.

The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge

What I most appreciate about the atmosphere is that it has a more “grown-up” feel for a Quick Service location, with its nods to the majesty of nature. Yet it’s still completely comfortable and approachable, in large part due to the whimsical artwork on the walls.

Part of the wall mural at The Mara

Part of the wall mural at The Mara

For this visit, I took my goodies to the outdoor seating area.

Outdoor Seating at The Mara

Outdoor Seating at The Mara

It’s lovely and [Read more…]

Review: Chocolate Butterfinger and Orange Marmalade Cupcakes at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

DFB author Wendy tempts us with treats from The Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World!

Steps away from the Uzima pool at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and head over to The Mara!

This awesome counter-service spot is a hidden gem, and well worth your time to head over to AKL and explore. We’re always impressed with the offerings here — many of which have an African flavor — and they’ve surprised us again with some unique desserts in the bakery case!

Let’s head over and see what we can find… .

The Mara

Located on the bottom level of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Mara has a nature-ific theme — including “trees” that grow up onto the ceiling!

The Mara

The Mara has earned its reputation for some truly unique quick service options: African Stew, a rotating array of soups, and the Falafel Pita, to name a few.

Menu

Previously, though, The Mara Bakery has flown under the radar as a spot for unique desserts.

Though you can certainly find some awesome items in The Mara’s chilled grab-and-go section (HELLO, Zebra Domes!), the bakery case itself often seemed to feature items that are standard across Disney Resorts, especially in comparison to spots like the Contemporary Resort’s Contempo Café or the Polynesian’s Captain Cook’s, where one can often make a new dessert discovery.

Mara Bakery

Bakery Case at The Mara

So it was with some excitement that I went in to sample the Zebra and Giraffe Cupcakes, unique to The Mara!

Cupcakes on the menu

Cupcakes

I must say, while my visit was intended for the cupcakes, it was a little difficult to stick to the plan when my gaze fell upon the Peanut Butter Brownie, and the Chocolate Candy Corn Cupcake complete with Oreo Mickey Ears (this one, of course, being unique to the Halloween season)!

Peanut Butter Brownie

Candy Corn Cupcake with Oreo Mickey Ears

Oh, and by the way, Candy Bar Brownie… one day, you WILL be mine.

Candy Bar Brownie

Even among these happy distractions, however, I was able to regain focus rather quickly, thanks to the awesome presentation of the Zebra and Giraffe Cupcakes. These would stand out in any bakery case!

Giraffe Cupcakes in Case

Zebra cupcakes in case

I love how the animal themeing of these cupcakes help them fit right into their surroundings!

Safari theme at The Mara

Alright, let’s dig in!

Zebra Cupcake

Right off the bat, it should be noted that The Mara’s Zebra Cupcake is NOT the same Zebra Cupcake that you may have enjoyed previously at Animal Kingdom. (And to those of you who became understandably excited when you read the name of this cupcake, I offer my apologies!).

Zebra Cupcake from Animal Kingdom park

Considered on its own, however, this Zebra Cupcake is exactly [Read more…]

Review: Victoria Falls Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Today, I thought I’d invite you to come along for a visit to the serene and scenic Victoria Falls.

Well, OK, I’m not springing for airfare to Africa, but we’re going to the Victoria Falls Lounge, which is pretty nice in and of itself.

Victoria Falls Sign

This gathering spot, located in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, is a great place to meet with friends, enjoy a quiet solo drink, or await your table at nearby Jiko or Boma. I love meeting friends here, and I thought you’d enjoy taking a closer look with me.

Atmosphere

One of the coolest things about Victoria Falls is its name and its relationship to the lounge’s location. It’s actually suspended between levels of the hotel, below the main lobby, and yet overlooking Boma. It’s situated very much as a waterfall would be. Cool, eh?

View of Victoria Falls from Above

Open iron railings allow light from all sides to pool in, and the stacked columns display colors of the savanna as well as the sunset. I especially love the indirect lighting that peeks up from within the stacked columns.

Bar Area and Painted Columns

Tables for two overlook Boma, and are especially great for [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma…Flavors of Africa is a tried-and-true Disney fan destination.

Many guests number it among their must-have advance dining reservations for it’s fun atmosphere, unique menu, and cult favorite dishes.

On a recent visit to Walt Disney World, we had the pleasure of eating at Boma not once — but twice…in the SAME DAY! Yep — we had breakfast and Boma AND dinner at Boma!

While I’ll be sharing the details of our Boma breakfast in a later post, today we’re taking a look at the rockin’ spread available for dinner.

Atmosphere

Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma is just one of three incredible restaurants at this resort — it’s a true food-lovers haven here.

Boma Sign

You’ll find Boma on the ground floor beneath the lobby level, adjacent to both The Mara and Jiko. (Sanaa is located in nearby Kidani Village.) And while The Mara is the resort’s counter service location, Jiko is a signature restaurant, and Sanaa features a table service fusion of flavors, Boma serves as the resort’s buffet offering.

But while many Disney buffets are more about character interaction than cuisine, a trip to Boma is all about the food. A sign in Animal Kingdom’s lobby provides a little background on the meaning of the restaurant’s name — and encourages you to make your ADR for Boma well in advance!

Boma Background Information

The term boma loosely refers to a fence fashioned of sticks, and you’ll see this motif throughout the restaurant’s interior. A wrought-iron version of a boma borders either side of the wide, winding path into the restaurant.

Walkway into Boma

Here, the fence borders a low wall separating the seating area from the [Read more…]

Review: The Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Mara is absolutely a “go-to” spot for me at Walt Disney World. It’s a great place to get away from it all and just take a breather in the middle of one of my favorite Disney resorts.

Located at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, The Mara counter-service restaurant offers exotic eats inspired by the diverse flavors of the African continent, while also providing more traditional American fare for the less adventurous eaters in your crew.

And don’t even get me started on all of the special Disney food cult favorites that we’ll make a trip here just to snag!

But I just realized that for all of my visits to Mara, I didn’t actually have my own review of the spot up on the blog! Time to remedy that right away.

Atmosphere

Located on the ground floor, The Mara is just a stone’s throw away from Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Uzima Springs Pool. It’s accessible through an outside entrance near the doors to Jambo House’s other restaurants, Boma and Jiko.

Outside Menu and Information Stand

The Mara is named for the Masai Mara National Reserve in North Tanzania, a game conservation area established in 1948.

The reserve serves as home to dozens of native animals and over 470 species of birds, making it an excellent place to observe the big game with which Africa is associated.

The Mara Story

The indoor seating area takes its themeing from the wetlands and grasslands of the Reserve, with colorful murals painted on the back walls, and a canopy of trees overhead. With the predominant background color of blue, the setting is soothing with plenty of natural light flooding in, which gives you the impression of a cool space.

Indoor Seating

There is also ample outdoor seating at tables that are shaded by umbrellas and plenty of foliage and trees.

Outdoor Seating

On your way over to the ordering area, you’ll find last minute pool gear and an assortment of bagged candy available for purchase. This is a great option near the pool since the gift shop, Zawadi Marketplace, is relatively far away if you forget your pool noodle or need some extra sunscreen!

Gifts and Gear

On the day we visited, we found the restaurant to be fairly uncrowded and quiet as we headed to the food area to make our selections. This is often the case with the Mara for me, but perhaps I’m just visiting during “off-hours.”

Eats

You’ll find The Mara open from 7 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Mara Menu and Info -- Click to Enlarge

The menu features many [Read more…]

Tip from the DFB Guide: Free Tours at Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurants

We’ve added lots of fun and new dining info to our updated e-Book — The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013. One of my favorite tips in the book is the recommendation of the free tours at the Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants! Yep, free!

After you read all about this great Disney Dining Tip, learn more about our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining grand launch — including a limited-time discount code — here!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Restaurant Tours

The Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World is known for quality table-service restaurants that offer some exotic menu items and exquisite, African-themed decor. But there’s a way to explore the restaurants without actually dining there!

Learn The Meaning Behind the Decor At Jiko Restaurant

Jiko, Boma, and Sanaa offer half-hour culinary tours each day! These tours cover some of the decor and meaning behind the architecture of the restaurants, and also explain certain menu items. You may even get to sample some of the restaurant’s dishes.

You can see our review of the Boma and Jiko Tour here.

Seating at Sanaa

When you don’t have time to eat at each restaurant, [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: April 1, 2012

Pomegranate Martini Conquers Everest

Happy April Fool’s Day! No tricks here, today — just treats!! In the Disney Food news this week, we take a look at Springtime treats, new menu items, more menu changes, and some new adult beverages!

We’ve also gathered some really fun and fascinating reads in the round-up. Cheers!

Disney Food News

Here’s the latest…

We’ve got more delicious news on our Disney Food News Pin Board, where Disney Food News is updated on a regular basis!



The DFB Podcast Second Episode

Episode 2 of the DFB Podcast is rarin’ to go! In this episode, we’re talking about some of our newest counter-service finds, answering listener questions, and awarding our first DFB Podcast Trivia prize!! :-) Head on over and click on the Mac and Cheese Hot Dog!

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it. :-)

If you have any Disney dining questions, send them along to us to be answered on the podcast! Just contact us here, and put PODCAST in the subject line!

On to the Round-Up

Walt Disney World for Grown-Ups heads to the Wilderness Lodge for breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe.

Pixie Crust throws a vintage Disneyland party featuring Dole Whip cupcakes!

AllEars.net tours Europa – the adult entertainment district aboard the Disney Fantasy!

Disney Tourist Blog reviews one of my favorite counter service spots in Disneyland — the Plaza Inn!

Main Street Gazette samples the new Slow-roasted Pulled Beef Sandwich at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in the Animal Kingdom.

Laughing Place reviews one of the rotational dining restaurants on the Disney Fantasy — Animator’s Palate! But Inside the Magic didn’t love the Animator’s Palate food on the Fantasy — see why here!

stuff from the park looks at a vintage menu from Disneyland’s Cafe Orleans.

DisneyContemporary.com shares a recipe for Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta from the California Grill. Love this stuff!!!

Dessert Menu Changes at Sanaa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Sanaa, the table-service restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village, features an African- and Indian-inspired menu, delicious food, and gorgeous savanna (read: Zebra! Giraffe!) views.

While many of us don’t need any further enticement to return to Sanaa, there’s a new dessert on the menu that looks delicious!

Check out the Banana Kulfi Sundae with warm chocolate sauce, strawberries, and spiced cashews for $5.49. Looks amazing, right? I hope I get to try it soon.

Sanaa Dessert

Dessert at Sanaa

Also note that the Chai Cream is no longer available as a single-serving option; however it remains part of the Dessert trio, which includes [Read more…]

News! Jiko Wine Dinner Announced for April 5th, 2012

The Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jiko has announced their first Wine Dinner of 2012!

Jiko kicks off this year’s Wine Dinner series highlighting the wines of Paul Cluver on Thursday April 5, 2012, at 6:00 PM.

The Cluver Family has owned property in the Elgin Valley near Cape Town since 1896 and are known as pioneers of wine in the area. The chefs at Jiko will create a masterful menu including some great wine pairings.

Jiko’s wine dinners are particularly recommended not only for the outstanding food and wine, but also for the chance to speak with a winemaker who has come all the way from South Africa. This is something we don’t get to do everyday, and I give props to Jiko for going to distance to make sure these events are high-quality and out of the ordinary.

Jiko Tasting Wines

For a reservation, email [Read more…]