by Derek Burgan
on April 18, 2015
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Most Unique Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World. Nobody enjoys eating at “The World” more than us. From outrageous snacks like the King Cupcake at Pop Century, to Disney food trucks, to table service restaurants like Bongo’s Cuban Cafe or ‘Ohana, food may have actually replaced attractions in what we look forward to the most on our Disney vacations. Can you blame us though? WDW has some of the greatest restaurants you will ever go to, with several one-of-a-kind experiences that you will never get back at home. So today we’re going to take a look the six most unique dining experiences on property, starting with…
# 6 – Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
The Animal Kingdom Lodge just may be our favorite resort at Disney, and one of the biggest reasons is how much we love Sanaa. Located in Kidani Village, this is the only restaurant at AKL that has a view looking out into the beautiful savanna and all the animals. The decor is fantastic, with the chairs having backs echoing tribal shields and lighting fixtures based on nests that Weaver birds would make in Africa. The dining room floor has beautiful representations of acacia trees while the entire room is filled with art, which is appropriate since Sanaa is the Swahili word for artwork. Sanaa is hands-down one of the most gorgeous restaurants in Orlando.
The famous Sanaa bread service while seated next to the Savanah. (photo by Brandon Glover)
There are plenty of places at Walt Disney World to get chicken fingers and hamburgers, but Sanaa (along with other AKL venues such as Jiko and Boma) is where you can expand your culinary palate and try dishes you normally wouldn’t. It is worth making an ADR for Sanaa based on their bread service alone. There are five different types of Naan and you can choose up to 9 accompaniments to go with the bread. From a gamut running sweet to spicy, there is a dip for everyone in your party.
Sanaa’s acacia tree decor. (photo by Tom Bricker)
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by Derek Burgan
on February 14, 2015
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Each of Walt Disney World’s onsite hotels have their own unique feel, and that rings true from the value end (such as Art of Animation) through the moderates (including Port Orleans French Quarter) and all the way up to the deluxe resorts like The Contemporary. That said, no hotel in Orlando stands more by itself as a one-of-a-kind original experience than Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Located directly next to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park (and absolutely nothing else,) many guests consider Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) too far out of the way to consider staying at. While the wait for the Disney buses may be a little bit longer than other resorts on property, today’s edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to count down six reasons we feel everyone should consider staying at AKL as part of their next vacation, starting with…
# 6 – Indian-style Bread Service at Sanaa
Sanaa bread service. A first ballot hall of famer for Disney food. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Animal Kingdom Lodge is broken up into two parts, the main hotel (Jambo House) and the Disney Vacation Club wing (Kidani Village.) In these two areas there are three of Disney’s best restaurants including Boma and Jiko at Jambo House, and Sanaa at Kidani Village. Unlike many restaurants at WDW that have dumbed themselves down in order to maximize profits as part of Disney’s Dining Plan, AKL’s restaurants deliver an experience that is true destination dining. The standout of these three venues is Sanaa’s bread service. With five different types of Naan bread available and up to nine different accompaniments to go with it, this is a bread service like no other.
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by AJ Wolfe
on April 12, 2010
To me, dining at a restaurant with a beautiful view makes the meal taste just a bit better. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived so much of my life in snowy trundra and urban wastelands (where very few restaurants have wonderful views); or maybe I’ve just always been the type of eater who’s greatly influenced by surroundings like table location, smells, sounds, crowd level, etc.; but an incredible view from my table is something I’m willing to fight for.
So, whether you want to do some people-watching, see the Magic Kingdom fireworks or Illuminations from your table, spend your dinner spotting African wildlife, or just relax with a tranquil lookout, here are a few Disney World dining spots that I think afford incredible views:
California Grill Sunset
The California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort is probably my top suggestion when someone wants an outstanding restaurant view. From the top floor of the resort, the floor to ceiling windows offer amazing views of the whole of Walt Disney World — and the rest of Orlando. Watching the sun set behind the Grand Floridian Resort, or catching the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks show from this location, will probably be one of your grandest memories from your vacation.
Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room
Because this is one of the most well-known “good view” locations, it’s also one of the very crowded! Guests line up nightly to wait for Rose and Crown‘s outdoor patio tables where the view of Illuminations is one of the most spectacular in Epcot, but I also suggest booking a table for lunch. Sitting outside on the lovely patio, watching the boats glide back and forth over World Showcase Lagoon, and taking in the detail of the other pavilions within your view is a wonderful way to spend a mealtime.
View of Giraffe from Sanaa Table
Sanaa‘s casual, relaxed atmosphere and tucked-away location make it a wonderful place to detox after a hectic morning in the theme parks. But what I find enchanting about this place is that it’s the only Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort restaurant that actually has a view of the hotel’s main draw — the African animals on the savanna. Go for lunch or an early dinner to guarantee plenty of daylight, and request to be seated next to one of the restaurants large picture windows. Expect to see giraffe, zebras, Ankole cattle, African birds, and other incredible animals.
Another one of the best views in Walt Disney World, ‘Ohana‘s wall-to-wall windows give guests a generous view of Seven Seas Lagoon, the Polynesian Resort grounds and Volcano pool, and the major landmarks of the Magic Kingdom. Book a spot here when the restaurant opens for dinner at 5pm to take in the relaxing late-afternoon and evening sunlight spilling over Seven Seas Lagoon, or make an advanced dining reservation just in time to catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant!
The View From Tokyo Dining
An excellent restaurant for sushi gourmands, Tokyo Dining also offers one of the best views in Epcot’s World Showcase. During the day, look out over the World Showcase promenade and amuse yourself with some wonderful people-watching; in the evening, schedule your meal in time to see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth explode over World Showcase Lagoon.
Other great spots to enjoy the view, in my opinion of course, are Narcoosee’s, in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort; Cantina de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico — I imagine the new incarnation opening in the Fall will have some astounding views of the World Showcase Lagoon; and Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue, where you can enjoy a stunning view of Expedition Everest from the seating area.
What are your thoughts? Any additions to the list or experiences you can share about great views from Disney restaurants — and whether or not they make the meal better for you?
You can find more Disney Restaurant information from AJ Wolfe over at The Disney Food Blog.
by Kristen Helmstetter
on June 1, 2009
Five friends and I had the opportunity to try Disney’s newest restaurant, Sanaa, on its opening night. Located in the Kidani Village DVC Villas addition to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this eatery offers African dishes which have been heavily influenced Indian flavors. It was explained to us that Indian cuisine is served regularly in this area of the world because of its proximity to the eastern coast of Africa after those flavors were brought to there by spice traders. The design of the space is meant to feel cozy and intimate. It is decorated with hanging lanterns, African artwork, and a tree spreading over the ceiling. If that isn’t cool enough for you there are huge windows overlooking Kidani Village’s savannah.
So now that you have some background on the restaurant let’s get to the good stuff; was it any good? I have to say it was a fantastic meal especially for the very reasonable price. With so many guests complaining of the simplification of menus around Disney property due to the popularity of the dining plan, Sanaa was a breath of fresh air. You aren’t going to find these dishes anywhere else on property and they will keep me coming back for more. As for the service, our server was polite and prompt, but it was very difficult to hear what he was saying. It was nice not to be rushed to allow another party to fill our table. Not only did we get to share a great meal, but we were allowed to enjoy great company. Everyone at our table seemed to agree that it was a great experience.
My meal started out with tasty Malawi Mango Margarita (for research purposes, of course). Along with several specialty cocktails, Sanaa also has a selection of African and Indian beers. Likewise, they boast a vast wine selection from around the world.
Our table of six then shared several of the menu’s lovely appetizer offerings. Everyone’s favorite starter seemed to the bread service. Diners pick three of four breads and a selection of three accompaniments such as different chutneys and hummus. Since we had so many people we ordered two allowing us to try almost all of the options and all of them seemed to be hits.
For my main course I chose to have the selection of curries. There are four different varieties, and diners pick two of them. All of the entrees are served with either Basmati rice or a five grain pilaf. I went for the Chicken with Red Curry Sauce and the Shrimp with Green Curry Sauce with Basmati rice. They were both delicious, but I think I liked the shrimp a bit better. I am certainly not the biggest “foodie,” but I am a fish snob and I thought these shrimp were pretty close to perfect. I decided to have the dishes as they are normally served and the heat level was mild with just the right bit of kick for me. Our server told us that any dish could be kicked up to individual tastes. Some of my friends took advantage of this special request and were quite pleased with their selections.
We were all stuffed, but managed to make room for dessert. We got one of each of the dessert to taste and pass (not the most sanitary, but none of us came down with swine flu)! I have to admit as much as I loved this dinner, dessert was my least favorite course. This part of the meal just seemed to fall flat after such wonderful appetizers and entrees. The most well received sweet treat was definitely the Chai Cream and the least favorite was the Carrot Halvah. I thought the other desserts were ok, but nothing to write home about.
If you are not the most adventurous eater I encourage you to give it a try anyway. I love Indian food and I also really enjoy Boma in the main building of the Animal Kingdom Lodge so I wasn’t concerned. However, one of my fellow dinners had never dared to try Indian, so she was nervous. With guidance from friends and our server she was able to select an entrée she really liked. And if you still aren’t convinced you want to try a curry, there are some options for the less adventurous eaters as well.
Another great thing about this restaurant is that it’s off the beaten path. My hunch is many average Disney guests won’t even know its there. I bet it will be a great go to place to get an ADR at the last minute for lunch or dinner. If nothing else you’ll be able to get away from the bustle of the parks, enjoy a quiet and tasty meal, while looking out over the savannah. With all of these things in mind, I persuade readers to give Disney’s latest culinary offering a try on your next trip to WDW.
Next time I’ll discuss my recent stay at the Wilderness Lodge…