Lunch is at Sanaa, the ground level restaurant at the Kidani Village section of Animal Kingdom Lodge.
For a more thorough look around the property, see this post.
Sanaa recently received new menus (camera phone pix!):
Drinks and Bread:
We happened to be dining on National Chardonnay Day (always a mistake), so I was taking a serious look at a bottle of the Springfield Estate, but ultimately decided to put my $50 towards Woodbridge on the couch. I’m sure it tasted like wine.
Sanaa is a large, well-themed restaurant that is rarely, if ever, busy for lunch. Being only a few minutes away from Animal Kingdom theme park, you often see me recommending a visit after completing an Animal Kingdom itinerary or as a break from the crowds and heat.
Be sure to ask for a window table when checking in.
This is the view from the table zoomed out. Giraffes and zebras are common sights. A reservation before dusk is best if you’d like to see the animals – otherwise it may be too dark to see much of anything other than your reflection.
Of course, you can request a more secluded table away from the window.
The bar is also an option should you be dining outside of the lunch/dinner hours, there’s somehow a long wait for a table, you’re dining alone, or simply prefer more informal service.
The menus are mostly the same with some subtle changes/switch outs. Now, all nine “accompaniments” are available with the bread service for $2 over the price of three. If you’re dining at Sanaa, I highly recommend ordering the $10.99 bread service with the nine accompaniments. We ordered the Traditional Naan, Spicy Naan, and the Papaadum, which is the thin cracker that I’m holding up. There didn’t seem to be much difference in flavor between the spicy and traditional naan. All of the accompaniments are interesting and unique, perhaps with the exception of the hummus, which is rather pedestrian. Lisa and I both had our favorites and I’m sure you will too. My favorites (the right favorites) were the Cucumber Raita, Coconut Chutney, and Coriander Chutney.
Theoretically, the accompaniments are supposed to be arranged so the mildest are on the left and the spiciest are on the right. But this hodgepodge presentation did lead to a few surprises.
Having heard good things, I ordered the Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Beef Short Ribs with Basmati Rice (or Five-Grain Pilaf )- $21.99 for lunch or dinner. I tossed and turned over the various options. The Spicy Durban Chicken/Shrimp sounded really good too. At first glace, it didn’t seem like a tremendous amount of food for +$20, but there’s more chicken hidden underneaf the creamy butter sauce with a hint of curry powder. Very good, but I’m not sure it lives up to the hype. There is not a lot of complexity to the dish. The basmati rice was blander than I was expecting, but tipping it into the butter chicken sauce alleviated any problems on that front. I know you’re relieved. The Beef Short Ribs impressed – three ribs sans bones and fat in a hearty gravy. On a previous visit to Jiko, I paid $43 for the Short Rib entree (literally one rib) that was considerably less food with more fat and less flavor. I cut the ribs with a fork and they were delicious. Highly recommended on all fronts.
Not the most attractive picture perhaps. BLAME LISA. Actually, I’ve been trying to explain the concept of bloggability to her. That is, we don’t do things because we want to, we do things because they’re bloggable. And so we have the $13.99 Bison Burger – Goat Cheese and Spicy Mustard Sauce, which recently replaced the traditional beef burger. She was a little hesitant about the mustard sauce, but it turned out to be one of her favorite dishes of all time. Of all time. This is more or less a fork and knife excursion with the burger toppings set on top of a piece of naan bread. The clever and/or shameless may be able to fold it and get it into their mouths. I don’t remember Lisa using a knife or fork. Anyway, her comment is, “Delicious. That is all.” She may just have a future in blogging. The bite I got was tender and flavorful with ripe, fresh vegetables and flavorful bison that wasn’t at all game-y. Very good and definitely worth the $3 more it costs over a regular dazney quick service patty.
Service was excellent – personable and efficient. You can’t beat the ambiance with the giraffes and zebras just feet away and the food/service are excellent as well. I would say it’s a hidden gem, but everyone says it’s a hidden gem. So it’s an obvious gem.
Changing gears slightly, it’s June 13th again at 3:30pm. This was the last day this wall was up at the bus stops.
I think the only real world differences are that Beach Club/Yacht Club (Stop 3) and BoardWalk/Swan/Dolphin (Stop 4) are now separate. Art of Animation moves over next to Pop Century at Stop 13. That means another three minute walk to the entrance as you may remember Art of Animation originally had the best stop closest to the entrance.
This is my favorite time of day to arrive at Animal Kingdom. With the 8pm close, we’ve got four hours to explore the Park in crowds that only decrease as it gets later.
These Animal Guides have been available alongside the Times Guides and Maps for a few months now:
If only they stocked Red Pandas.
Wilderness Explorers is the new interactive game that debuted at the beginning of the month. You receive your booklet at the arrowed hut. According to the Times Guide, Wilderness Explorers beings at 10am, so you may not be able to grab your booklet until then. But there’s no rush.
You’ll receive this pretty sweet full color, 40-page booklet for “free.”
Your first task is reciting the Wilderness Call with the resident troop leader. They’ll answer any questions you might have and present you with a little pencil.
There are 31 badges in all. Each is identified on the map and explained on the individual page.
Your troop leader will let you know that exploring the wilderness is a lifelong activity and you aren’t expected to complete every badge on the first day. You certainly could if you put your mind to it, though. Note that there’s a description of where the station is underneath the name of the badge which makes things considerably easier to find than relying on the map and large icons.
There’s a wide variety of activities, though you may be able to tell from the “Hand Washing Badge” that it’s geared towards children. Other badges, like the Asian Culture Badge, will have kids interacting with cast members in a fun way.
It’s also a way to get kids excited about doing things they may otherwise have no interest in, like the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. In that respect, it’s like the World Showcase Adventure at Epcot. The kids can chase down Perry while the adults hunt down La Cava.
Almost all of the locations use existing cast members and infrastructure.
Wilderness Explorers seems like it would be a lot of fun for kids – it’s definitely an easy way to get them more involved in the theme park experience. And if they get really into it, they might not even whine when you drag them through the Maharajah Jungle Trek. There isn’t a big prize at the end should you complete all of the badges. You might promise Junior a Mickey Bar or something. Maybe a one year subscription to easyWDW.com would get them excited.
Animal Kingdom was a recommended Park on this website. TouringPlans had it as their only Park to avoid.
It’ll be about two hours until Animal Kingdom really empties out, but crowds in DinoLand were already thinning. We’ve got a 10 minute wait for Primeval Whirl here at 4pm.
That looked to be pretty accurate. You don’t want to be here when this queue is full. Ordinarily, I’d recommend hitting the least popular/high capacity attractions before heading over to DinoLand two hours before Park close. That includes Pangani Trail, Maharajah Jungle Trek, It’s Tough To Be A Bug, and potentially the stage shows. DINOSAUR had a 20-minute posted wait, but at least it’s inside and well air-conditioned.
Still 10 minutes at TriceraTop Spin.
Work continues on what should be the FASTPASS+ queue for Finding Nemo the Musical.
There’s occasionally confusion over where Expedition Everest’s single rider line is in relation to everything else.
Single Rider usually just has an “Open” sign, but may also have a posted wait. There’s also a ride vehicle over there if you’re concerned about being able to get in/out. The posted wait was still 40 minutes with FASTPASS out to 6:10pm. It would drop to 10 minutes by 7pm.
The Ice Cream Truck had been missing for a couple weeks. It’s back – probably painted and refreshed.
Feeling somewhat delirious after running around Disney theme parks nonstop for six hours, I knew it was time to stop and get something ice cold to drink when I hallucinated the monorail traveling through Animal Kingdom.
This is a $5.39 Frozen Chai from Royal Anandapur Tea Company across from Yak & Yeti. While expensive, these frozen drinks really hit the spot when it’s hot out. Unlike the standard Disney frozen beverage, these are easy to drink with small ice crystals mixed in with the tea rather than that blended ice/syrup combo that’s prevalent in Disney’s own artificially flavored frozen beverages. Highly recommended, though I think I prefer the Frozen Cappuccino for the extra caffeine kick.
Kali River Rapids had been down for about three hours earlier in the day. FASTPASSes were gone and there was no posted wait, causing a lot of people to enter the line. With the limited capacity and elevated interest with the high temps, peak waits should be 60 to 90 minutes most days over the summer and it is a higher FASTPASS priority than Everest of Safaris.
Work continues on building the new theater for Festival of the Lion King.
While construction is related to the presumed Avatar expansion, it isn’t exactly the first example of Avatar construction.
Walls otherwise line the bridge and extend around to Tusker House.
Waits at Kilimanjaro Safaris had already dropped to 25 minutes with FASTPASS 40 minutes out.
Feels crowded with another three and a half hours of operation.
Unlike the lines out the door we saw at Magic Kingdom, there are just a few people in line at Pizzafari. Granted 4:30pm is not exactly peak meal time.
Not a lot going on over at Animal Kingdom these days, despite it being host to what should be Disney’s only major construction project outside of the Mine Train. Wilderness Explorers is a sound addition for the target age range. And even if you’re not necessarily interested in collecting all 31 badges, you may want to pick up a Handbook to bring home or to check out some of the more interactive activities.