-by Darlin’ Diva
For our family, no visit to Walt Disney World would be complete without a visit to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. While we’ve only stayed there once, we’ve managed to visit the Lodge on every vacation. Why? To EAT! Well, we also love the gorgeous lobby and the savannah overlook where we can take in the views and see an amazing array of animals, but we mainly go for the food. The buffet at Boma and the signature dining at Jiko have been long-time favorites. Sanaa was the one place we’d never tried and on our most recent vacation, I found the perfect time to try this great restaurant I’d heard so much about.
Since my husband and I were vacationing alone for the first time in 25 years, we got to pick restaurants for their grown-up appeal and potentially romantic settings. Sanaa scored well on both of those criteria! We knew we’d be visiting the Animal Kingdom Park on the first day of our vacation, which made that a terrific day to make our ADR (advance dining reservation) at Sanaa – once we left Animal Kingdom, we’d be just a short bus ride from Animal Kingdom Lodge. TIP: If using Disney’s bus service to reach Animal Kingdom Lodge, you’ll want to allow enough travel time. From Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom, the travel time can take longer than expected.
Sanaa is located in the Kidani Village section of Animal Kingdom, but we arrived early at Animal Kingdom Lodge, exited the bus at Jambo House and planned to walk to Kidani Village about 15 minutes before our dining time. We got there about an hour early so we’d have time to do two of our favorite Disney vacation things – visit the savannah overlook off the back of Jambo House’s gorgeous lobby then enjoy a glass of wine at the Victoria Falls Lounge (right off the lobby). Luckily, our plans went off without a hitch and we had plenty of time to make the warm, but leisurely 10 minute trek to Kidani Village. This was a first for us and it didn’t take long to notice that the walkway afforded some pretty amazing Florida lizard watching! TIP: If you’re not too tired, this walk, at least during sunset, would be a lot of fun for kids who love finding lizards – once we noticed them, we counted over 30 of all sizes and a variety of colors.
The Kidana Village lobby is gorgeous, but we didn’t have time to dwell on it’s beauty – it was time to eat!
The first thing we noticed about Sanaa was the friendly staff! The hostess who showed us to our table and our server were both wonderful. We didn’t have to look at the menu to choose an appetizer – we’d heard so much about the Indian-style Bread Service, we absolutely had to try it! Sometimes when you hear rave reviews about a dish, the hype becomes much bigger than the item(s) could possibly deliver, but this is completely NOT the case with the Sanaa Bread Service – this experience completely lived up to its reputation! It’s simple, but complex at the same time – you choose three different flavors of flat bread and they’re served with nine different dipping sauces. The sauces cover every flavor imaginable from sweet to savory to spicy, tangy, light, rich, smoky – you name it, there’s a sauce!
The entrée selections on the menu included a variety of dishes from vegetarian to steak and seafood. We both decided to get the ” Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned – Dinner” Where you have a “Choice of Two – Butter Chicken, Spicy Durban Shrimp, Chicken Vindaloo, Goan Seafood Curry, or Lamb Curry served with Basmati Rice or Five-Grain Pilaf”. We were very happy with our choices. I had the Butter Chicken and the Goan Seafood Curry with Basmati Rice and thought the flavors were fantastic. With the bottle of wine we ordered, this meal was just perfect. Neither of us could come close to finishing our entrees which was the fault of our over-indulgence in the Bread Service, but we wouldn’t have changed a thing.
The atmosphere in Sanaa is both exotic and cozy – the beautiful décor and unique menu make this often overlooked table service restaurant a hidden treasure. TIP: The Bread Service alone is worth the trip to Sanaa, so if you find yourself at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in need of a snack, don’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy one of the best treats we’ve found at Walt Disney World.