Sanaa’s Opening Night

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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… 

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

8 thoughts on “Sanaa’s Opening Night

  • June 2, 2009 at 2:06 am

    We ate there last week during our visit, and I concur with the above review. The food was excellent and interesting, the wine list full, the service friendly (if, um, unrushed), the setting was very nice. Animal Kingdom Lodge has some of the best food at WDW, and Sanaa just adds to that. It’s just a 10 minute walk from the main Jamba House to Kidani Village, and well worth it.

  • June 2, 2009 at 6:46 am

    I think you’re right about the last minute ADRs. I stopped by the counter on Wednesday 5/6 and was able to grab an ADR for that Friday night at 6:30.

    As far as the food goes, I love Indian and am very glad to see this added to the selection at WDW. I go out of my way to avoid bland food. However, I wish that our server had told us about the base level of spiciness, and that it could be adjusted to your preference. While I did like the food, I felt that it fell flat compared to my normal order of vindaloo. If I had known that it would have been mild and could be kicked up, I’m sure it would have been an excellent meal. I agree that the bread service was excellent, and the curry duck was also quite good (though again, a little flat for my curry tastes). For the dessert course, I actually didn’t bother ordering anything, as nothing was really that exotic sounding to me. It seems odd to have such an extraordinary place with very ordinary desserts.

    For the service, I honestly can’t say anything bad about our waiter. He was a transplant from Boma and was very happy to actually be able to see his guests rather than them always being at the buffet. However, like Dave above, I would definitely say service was “unrushed”. It was our last night at WDW, so this gave us a chance to relax and savour the meal. If we were a family itching to get back to the parks, this would probably be a problem.

    Overall, it is one of the more unique tastes on property, and will probably be one of my first choices for ADRs in the future.

    • June 3, 2009 at 2:05 am

      I’d assume that things at WDW would be on the less-spicy side, as a least common denominator. Interesting to know that there’s the option of “kicking it up” a notch.

  • June 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Do you know does Sanaa count as one or 2 table service credits on the dining plan?

  • June 2, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Based on the price of the items on the menu I’m almost positive its just one credit. Thanks for reading and happy dining!

  • December 10, 2010 at 8:03 am

    thanks for that dude! awesome idea, interesting read. i been trying to convince my boys that we should have a lads curry night in instead of going out every week, and actually did it last week. awesome success it was, i tell you! i found a tasty keema and a few others from this curry recipe site, and even makde the naan myself too. who said guys cant cook!


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