Review: Sanaa at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

On a recent whirlwind trip to Disney World, I planned to get together with friends for lunch. I had a hankering for the totally incredible Butter Chicken at Sanaa, so I couldn’t wait to head over there for lunch!

This wonderful restaurant, located at Animal Kingdom Lodge‘s Kidani Village, still flies under the radar. However, in the past, it has been the location of some of my very favorite meals.

And, let me tell you dear DFB readers, it is going to be VERY difficult to edit this review considering how much I want a big ol’ plate of that Butter Chicken right now. I had half a twix bar in preparation, but I don’t think it’s going to do the trick.

That said…we’re off to the races!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Sanaa at Kidani Village, the portion of Animal Kingdom Lodge that’s a Disney Vacation Club property.

Outside of Sanaa

The same care and attention to detail that went into the decor of Animal Kingdom Lodge is at play here as well. The soaring lobby greets you with colorful African decor and a thatched roof! I love it!

Kidani Village Lobby

Once you get to the restaurant downstairs, you’ll see why they chose the name. The word “sanaa” is Swahili for art, and is the perfect description of this beautiful spot that marries handcrafted artisan touches with food that’s prepared with care and tradition.

Sanaa is open for lunch and dinner. We suggest lunch or an early dinner for first timers — more about that in a minute.

Sanaa Hours

The entrance features some beautiful, handcrafted African artwork. The beads that line the podium are gorgeous.

Entrance

Look closely at the mats on the wall and you’ll likely spy a Hidden Mickey! We have two more hidden mickeys for you in this post — can you find [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: How to Avoid Crowds When Dining in Disney World

If you’ve ever eaten at a crowded Disney World restaurant, you KNOW it’s not something you want to repeat.

Endless lines, deafening volume, long waits for tables (or sometimes even having to sit on the floor at counter-service restaurants)…it’s definitely not a “magical moment.” After all, vacations are for relaxing — especially at meal times!

We know that you want to make the most of every moment of your trip, and that means eating when the restaurants aren’t crowded — and taking advantage of rides and attractions when restaurants are busy. You need stress-free Disney Dining!

Our recommendations will give you a chance to unwind, enjoy a great meal (or quick and tasty pick-me-up), and get you back to the Walt Disney World attractions! We’ve done the meal time research for you! After years of touring the parks and countless meals at Disney World, we’ve gathered tips to avoid the crowds!

Book an early ADR to get a great table without the crowds!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have a whole section dedicated to avoiding crowds in Disney World. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time!

With our in-depth DFB Guide, you’ll learn tips for avoiding the crazy in Disney World — and ensure  you have a relaxing and nourishing meal so you’re ready to get back out to the parks. Don’t go on your vacation without these tips for stress-free dining!

3 Awesome Tips to Avoid Disney World Dining Crowds

Let’s get right to our meal time strategies that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to make the most of your Disney Dining without the crowds.

We found Tortuga Tavern empty at 11am during a June visit! An hour later, there were no seats available!

1. Dine at “Off-Times”

If you’re visiting Disney World during a busy time (yes, Spring Breakers, Summer visitors, Christmas Folks, that includes you!), finding a restaurant without a wait will be difficult.

Still, crowds thin after the throngs depart during major meal rushes. We suggest avoiding 8-9AM, noon-1:30PM, and 6-7PM. We’ve found that booking meals for “brunch” at 10:30 or 11AM, late lunch at 3 or 4PM, or late dinner at 8 or 9PM works well for avoiding the crowd crunch. For counter-service restaurants, we [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Getting Kids to Try New Foods at Walt Disney World

It’s no secret that my daughter Louisa is more than a little produce averse. There was a period of about four years when NO fruit or vegetable crossed her lips, and even now at age 12 she still has to be cajoled into having more than a bite or two of something as innocuous as sweet potato or banana.

Frozen bananas, a gateway fruit.

So you can imagine my surprise when, on a recent trip to the Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti restaurant, she consumed nearly the entire plate of wok-fried green beans we had ordered for the table. It was one of those parenting moments where you hold your breath and move slowly so as to avoid breaking the spell.

Yak & Yeti wok-fried green beans. My hero!

Those Yak & Yeti yummies didn’t turn Louisa into an inveterate bean eater, but she is now occasionally willing to nibble on a tempura string bean if we’re out for Japanese. Based on our prior track record with legumes, I’m going to count that solidly in the win column.

The Theme Park Food Effect

What was it about the Yak & Yeti beans that made Louisa such a fan? Yes, they were quite tasty, and yes, the green part was handily obfuscated by a crunchy, yumtastic fried breading coating; but we had tried similar ploys in the past to no avail. My theory is that the Yak & Yeti beans were flavored by the spice of (cue the orchestra) The Theme Park Food Effect.

Much like campers will say that meals eaten on the trail are the BEST, you know that their experience is colored by the fact that their senses are overwhelmed and they’re starving from an [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Great Disney World Restaurants for Boys

Much fuss is made about the ballyhooed princess dining experiences at Disney World. So much fuss, that parents of young boys sometimes find themselves wondering, “What does Disney have that’s special for me?”

The down and dirty dino loving boy will be right at home at the T-Rex Cafe.

Well, never fear sports fans; I’m here to tell you that while, yes, the girly girls are pretty visible in the parks (it’s hard to miss the Florida sun glinting off a tiara), there are plenty of Disney dining experiences where the men in your family will feel right at home.

Let’s break it down …

Character Meals

There are 10 different character dining venues at Walt Disney World proper. Of these, only three and a half of them have princess themeing. The rest are totally gender-neutral.

Boys are certainly welcome at any of the princess meals, and many boys love them just as much as the other character meals (PLUS they’re given a neato plastic sword at the Royal Table); but honestly, they do skew more heavily toward girl interests.

All of the other character dining restaurants appeal equally to boys and girls. Your best options for boys in the character dining department are the following (characters are always subject to change): [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…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: January 22, 2012

Did the Frito Kid have a hand in inventing Doritos?

Lots of Disney food news popped up this week, including lovely, flavorful things like wine, chocolate, caramel, coffee, cake, and more!!

Plus, we’ve found some seriously interesting posts to share with you — did you know that Doritos may have been invented in Disneyland?? Check it out…

Treat Yourself to Updated Disney Food News

For more decadent food news, stop by our Disney Food News Pin Board, where Disney Food News is updated on a regular basis — even little stuff that you might not see in a full post on the blog! Worth a look… :-)

DFB Disney Dining Adventures e-Book

Have you read our newest Disney Food Blog e-Book?

DFB Disney Dining Adventures includes over 80 pages of pre-planned food fun to add to your family’s plans on your next trip! Let us do the planning for you — all you need to do is have a blast!

Want a day full of Dole Whips or a day planned for a Princess? Perhaps you have a dino fan in the family — we’ve got two days of pre-planned Jurassic-sized fun! And if you’re traveling with the grown-ups, check out our full two-day Beer Adventure!

The e-Book includes:

  • Fully themed strategies that cover one day, two days, or a full week
  • Themed breakfast, lunch, and dinner suggestions
  • Disney attraction and ride suggestions that complement each Adventure theme
  • Our favorite snacks that are within easy access during each Adventure
  • Historical and behind-the-scenes tips and details that make the Adventure come alive!
  • Plus more bonus sections!

You can check out sample pages and even more details here! Or get your instantly downloadable copy right here! Use code: ADVENTURE for a $2 discount!!

On to the Round-Up!

AKL Resort takes us to the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Sanaa at Kidani Village. Try the yummy Naan bread!

OC Weekly investigates the origins of Doritos? There may be a Disneyland connection!

Main St. Gazette clearly agrees with me that the Picnic Burger is a slam dunk at Disney World’s Sci Fi Dine-In! Woo!

WDW Parkhoppers heads to dinner at the Polynesian’s Kona Cafe.

MousePlanet reviews the story behind Mama Melrose’s at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

DisneyParks Blog shares favorite healthy eats at Walt Disney World.

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…]