Guest Review: The Mara

I’m happy to welcome back Bill Iadonisi with another enlightening review. This time he explores the counter-service eatery, The Mara, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House. Take it away, Bill!

Hello Disney Food Blog fans! I know it’s been long between reviews, so let’s get started on this month’s eatery! I have always said that Disney’s resorts hold some of the best places to eat on property. Usually much quieter and less hectic then the restaurants in the parks, and many times you can just walk in and sit down.

Today we are going to the dark continent of Africa for this review. Well, maybe a quick safari trip to Disney’s Jambo house is what we’ll do. The main attractions at this beautiful resort are the breathtaking views of the African Savanna from select rooms. But it’s also home to some of Disney’s finest restaurants.

Although not a five-star eatery, Jambo House’s counter-service establishment, The Mara (named after the Mara River in Africa) is a wonderful place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it does all three equally well.

The Mara Story - click image for larger version

Atmosphere

So before we explore the eats, let’s take a look at the décor.

Themeing and Decor
Located very close to the Jambo House pool, the Mara is themed (like all Disney eateries), but not as strongly as, say, Pizzafari or even the Flame Tree Barbeque.

Entrance

Inside is a spacious dining area with a colorful mural of African flora and fauna on the two back walls.

Spacious Dining Area

The tables and chairs are plain and Spartan, but overhead are metallic cut-outs that resemble tree leaves, and several support posts that have large wooden beams resembling tree limbs make it appear as though you are [Read more…]

Sanaa’s “Dine with an Animal Specialist” Lunch Now Available Two Days Per Week

Thanks again to Vallen Tucker at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge concierge office for providing us with more exciting news about the Dine with an Animal Specialist experience and the Jiko Wine Tasting experience.

We have some great news to share about two brand new experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Dine With An Animal Specialist Adds Extra Availability

The Dine with an Animal Specialist program has been so successful that it will now be offered twice per week!

During the “untamed” lunch at Sanaa, your family will be immersed in African culture while posing questions to an animal expert regarding the animals on the beautiful savanna. Take a look at the delicious menu here.

Parts of the First Course Offerings

This dining experience has been in such high demand that it will be continued as an official offering that can be booked on Saturdays at Noon or Wednesdays at 11:30 am.

Cost
$49 adults
$29 children
Payment required in full at time of booking.

Reservations
The Saturday program begins October 1st and can be reserved now. Call 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463) to reserve!

Jiko Wine Tasting Now Available Through 407-WDW-DINE

In addition, the Wine Tastings at Jiko can now be reserved via Disney Dining. Read a guest review of a wine tasting here. [Read more…]

Upcoming Disney World Menu Changes: Rose & Crown, Beaches & Cream, and Sanaa

We’ve had a couple of menu update reports from friends of the Food Blog over the past couple of days! Here’s what we’re finding out…

Rose & Crown Restaurant

A new lunch menu started September 14th at the Rose & Crown in Epcot’s United Kingdom.

New Rose and Crown Menu - click for larger version

Thanks to @scarlettashley1 for the breaking-news tweet!

Sanaa

Over at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village, Sanaa will update its menu slightly this Fall. Our source isn’t sure of all the new details, but Sanaa will likely add [Read more…]

Review: Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Found at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Sanaa is a full-service restaurant offering fantastic meals with Indian and African influences.

From the floor-to-ceiling windows of the restaurant, guests have a fantastic view of the safari animals on the Sunset Savanna, meaning you’ll have a stellar show of zebra, giraffe, African birds, and several other breathtaking animals.

And while the animal viewing is a great draw for Sanaa’s guests, the interesting menu, food quality, and great service will surely bring them back time and time again. And the new test-phase of the Dine with an Animal Specialist program is surely going to bring plenty of folks to Sanaa!

Atmosphere

Sanaa is located in Kidani Village, which is the Disney Vacation Club Villas section of Animal Kingdom Lodge. It sits next door to Jambo House, the main and original part of the Lodge.

Outside of Sanaa

A major complaint about Sanaa is its distance from the parks and other resort hotels in Disney World — you will have to use a Disney Transport bus, your own car, or a taxi to get here — but with all of the great [Read more…]

Guest Review: New Jiko Wine Tasting

Welcome to Jenn Lazzaro (whom you’ve seen here before by way of her gorgeous photos), who’s treating us to her review of the brand new Jiko Wine Tasting happening on Wednesdays at the Animal Kingdom Lodge! Take it away, Jenn!

When I first heard that Jiko was starting up wine pairing Wednesday afternoons, I immediately grabbed a calendar to see if any of them coincided with trip in May. Sure enough, one did! Jiko is hands down one of my top two favorite restaurants on Disney property (the other is Citricos), so I couldn’t make a reservation quick enough.

Booking and Background

According to the Disney Parks Blog:

With one of the finest collections of South African wines in the U.S., sommeliers at Jiko – The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge love sharing tastes. Each Wednesday from 3-4 p.m., take a journey through the wine regions of South Africa and sample three delicious vintages paired with cheese and fruit. Cost is $25 plus tax and gratuity, and reservations can be made at 407-WDW-DINE.

Before even asking my other friends if they wanted to join me, I immediately called the Jiko reservation line that was given and left a message with my information that was requested. Within a few hours, I had a confirmation email from one of the Cast Members of Jiko confirming my reservation and letting me know that I can add guests with just a simple email back to her.

After all was said and done, there were 4 of us wanting to attend the wine pairing. We arrived at Jiko a little early and they were still setting up, so we wandered for a bit. After seeing other guests waiting by the bar area, we wandered back and hung out with the crowd.

Atmosphere and Tasting

The sommelier came around to each group to check us in. We were then ushered into the main dining room of Jiko where we all took our seats around a single long table, which sat around 16 or 18 people. The wines were already placed at each seat on top of a place mat that listed the name of each wine sample. As guests started to greet and meet each other, the cheeses were quickly laid in center of the table.

Tasting Wines

I’d wanted to take photos of everything before we were told we could start eating but, unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough. One of the Jiko chefs came to our table to explain the cheeses that we would be having [Read more…]

Guest Review: Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Welcome our Guest Reviewer Andrew Serio, who takes us to dinner at Boma inside the exotic Animal Kingdom Lodge. Let’s sample the flavors of Africa with him!

Boma, which is nestled down the stairs from the lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, is among the most popular “non-character” buffet restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort. After a several year span away from Boma, my wife Joy and I tried it again on a Thursday night in late February.

Atmosphere

Because Boma shares a common exterior area with Jiko, things can get a little hectic when approaching the podium. This was the case on this evening, as there were a good many people milling about. However, when we approached the host stand, we were greeted immediately and cordially by James and Anna. Our ADR was verified, and we were asked to wait briefly while being handed a pager.

Welcome to Boma!

After a very short wait, we were ushered to our table, which was [Read more…]

More Details on Disney World’s New Dine with an Animal Specialist Option: Menu, Photos, and Activities!

Jambo! Thanks to Vallen Tucker at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge concierge office, we have some great NEW information about the resort’s Dine With An Animal Specialist opportunity!!

As you know, the dining option is offered at Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village. Guests can dine with an Animal Specialist, savoring cuisine from Sanaa while learning about the animals grazing outside the window. During the “untamed” lunch, your family will be immersed in African culture while posing questions to the animal expert regarding the animals on the nearby savanna.

Dine With An Animal Specialist: Menu

The four-course menu will delight your senses during this exclusive experience limited to 12 guests. It is recommended for guests over 8 years old. Special Diets can be accommodated and there is a separate menu for kids

First Course: Indian Style Bread Service
Breads – Naan, Onion Kulcha, Papadum, Paneer Paratha

Accompaniments – Red Chile Sambal, Cucumber Raita, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Green Mango Pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Tamarind Chutney

Parts of the First Course Offerings

Second Course: [Read more…]

New Offering at Animal Kingdom Lodge: Dine with an Animal Specialist!

Update: See the Dine with an Animal Specialist menu, food photos, and details here!

Thanks to reader Cliff Yow for the heads up on this awesome new adventure! A new dining experience is available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — Dine with an Animal Expert!

Enjoy an exclusive and interactive experience while dining with a Disney Animal Expert at Sanaa, an exotic restaurant offering views of the African savanna. As you immerse yourself in African culture, you’ll get to ask questions of the expert while also learning fascinating facts about the care of savanna’s animals. See the resort’s savanna animals outside the window as you learn special insights into these African creatures.

View from Sanaa

Dine with Animal Specialists: An Untamed Lunch

Offered at Sanaa every Wednesday, 11:30 am to 1:15 pm, this unique opportunity will appeal to animal enthusiasts.

A four course meal and suitable children’s menu will be [Read more…]

African Inspired Meals in Walt Disney World — Tusker House

Jambo! Join me in welcoming Disney guru Mary Jo Collins and Disney World Moms Panelist Bernie Edwards back to the blog! In this article they’ll share with us various locations to enjoy an African Inspired Meal at Walt Disney World. We also get a close-up look at the Tusker House restaurant. Twende! Let’s go!

Theming Outside Animal Kingdom's Tusker House

Visiting the Walt Disney World Resort has become synonymous with the enjoyment of great dining at restaurants both inside and outside the theme parks. For many of us, these meals lend us the opportunity to experience exotic foods from exotic places.

African Food in Disney World
Fortunately for guests of Walt Disney World, African cuisine is showcased in a variety of table service restaurants offering a peek at the food that has been influenced by the marinade of cultures, colonies, trade routes and history of this land. To describe or categorize what African food is in a few words would be impossible.

The cuisine is as varied in Africa as the cuisine of any large continent. The continent’s regions each have significant differences in their own distinctive dishes and preparation techniques. However, in Africa the various cuisines traditionally combine [Read more…]

Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards Include Several WDW Area Restaurants

For those of you who plan your Walt Disney World vacation around your gastronomical dreams, you may want to take note of the restaurants listed in this year’s 13th Annual Foodie Awards by the Orlando Sentinel.

Readers and critics chose these restaurants for their outstanding cuisine, and with five of the restaurants located within the WDW theme parks, you’ll need park admission and an Advance Dining Reservation to cast your vote for best meal. Check them out here! [Read more…]