A couple of weeks ago Miss Bonnie and I made a quick trip over to the World to spend the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so I thought I’d share a few things we saw when we were there…

View of the new Harambe Theater as you cross the bridge into Africa

View of the new Harambe Theater as you cross the bridge into Africa

We wanted to check out the new theater in the Africa section of the park that was built to house the Festival of the Lion King show, so we went online a few days before and got some fastpasses for the show. Mama Ginny and Papa Harry also made plans to go at the same time and met us at the park to spend the day.

View along the waterway in the new Harambe Theater area

View along the waterway in the new Harambe Theater area

The new section of Harambe looks great, just like it had been there all along…

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Been wondering where to get me a new cassette recorder…

there are plenty of signs and posters advertising the local merchants…

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An homage to Michael from the Harmony Barbershop?

encompassing pretty much any need the locals or tourists may have!

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Thank goodness I can go to an astrologer after I take my computer class!

They all have a weathered look just like they had been there for much longer than just a few weeks.

This sign is giving me a haddock...

This sign is giving me a haddock…

There are more signs and details in the queue for the Lion King show.

Sign in line

Warning sign in the line for the Lion King show.

The interior of the new building is nothing much to write home (or blog) about – it looks like they used the same metal benches from the old building (oh how I, and my aching back, wish there were backs on them!).

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Poster promoting the performance.

The show itself is the same as the prior version – it’s always been very popular, so it really didn’t need fixing (and if there had been any major changes I’m sure the interweb protests would abound!), but some changes/tweaks would be nice for those who have seen the same show many times.

Macaw

More Macaws than you can shake a stick at (not that you should, mind you…)!

In addition to seeing the new theater, we were also excited to see the new Macaw show that had just debuted. As it was still in soft opening, the show (entitled “Winged Encounters — The Kingdom Takes Flight”) wasn’t listed on the daily times guide, so we had to ask a cast member for the times and exact location. The next show was only a few minutes away, so we headed to Discovery Island.

Feed me!

Feed me!

There was no signage or anything else for the upcoming show, but a large circular perch between Disney Outfitters and the nearby restrooms looked to be the spot. We waited just for a bit and as several cast members gathered around we were obviously in the correct location. Soon one of the cast members welcomed us and encouraged all those nearby to gather around the tall perch and before long many of the large and colorful parrots swooped in and took their places, some coming in just above our heads.

Who you lookin' at???

Who you lookin’ at???

During the course of the show (which I’d guess was about 10 minutes or so) we were given lots of info on the macaws – their natural habitats, diet, how some of them are endangered and so forth. We also heard about how they care for the birds there at the park and get them to fly in and out for the show. There are actually two flocks that alternate as they do fly quite a distance from their backstage area to the show location, and there are some different species in the two groups.

The lead cast member mentioned many times during the show how these large birds are not very good pets, and while they do have some specific requirements that don’t make them ideal for many (if not most) people, I think they really did overstate the case for them being horrible household pets (and if you ever are considering taking one of the beautiful birds into your care, please be sure that you are well informed as to their care before getting one!). I hope they temper this aspect of the show a bit as it goes on.

At the end the birds again took flight back to their backstage abode, some flying very low over the excited crowd. We all quite enjoyed our first look at this show, and we’ll be sure to see it again. If you’re going to be in Animal Kingdom anytime soon, I suggest you check it out!

Pardon the glare...

Pardon the glare…

After all the Psittacidine-playtime we certainly needed a relaxing refreshment, so Dedicated Readers won’t be shocked that we headed for the Dawa Bar.

A new sign behind the bar now noted that the specialty drinks served there (including our beloved African Margarita) were now being served in an “African Tumbler”…

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One face…

of course for an inflated price…

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another face…

upon further investigation, the barkeep told me that the design was by the famed Imagineer behind AK himself, Joe Rohde… and no, you don’t have to get the drinks in the glass if you don’t want it (saving you six bucks, just be sure to tell them when you order)…

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and yet another face…

or if you just want the glass, you can also purchase them separately (again, for six bucks).

Cheers!

Cheers!

So after taking our drinks to the quiet of the courtyard behind Tamu Tamu we discussed our day and made plans to return soon…

There you have it, a quick look at some goings-on in Animal Kingdom… as always, we’re back to the kitchen, and soon we’ll be back to the World!

See you soon!

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I realized it’s been a while since we’ve done a “Weekend Eats” post, and it’s not because we haven’t been to the World, it’s just my usual slack posting schedule… so here, Dear Dedicated Readers, is a combo edition of several relatively recent visits to WDW, and a very recent trek to another off-property-property…

Brisket, Turkey "Ribs" and the amazing Maple Bacon Cupcake at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Brisket, Turkey “Ribs” and the amazing Maple Bacon Cupcake at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Even though I’d made a couple of trips to the Flower & Garden Festival (which you can review in the posts “A First Taste of Spring: Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Opening Day 2014” and “Second Helpings at the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival“), Bonnie hadn’t been yet by mid-April, so we made a day trip so that she could exercise her camera-muscles on the festival foliage, and of course sample some of the savory offerings…

And beverages had to be sampled as well...

And beverages had to be sampled as well…

There was an interesting “visitor” at Epcot on that day…

World Showcase food truck in, of all places, the World Showcase...

World Showcase food truck in, of all places, the World Showcase…

the Epcot-centric food truck that normally resides at Downtown Disney made a test appearance at the entrance to World Showcase. I was told by a management-type that it was a test run for that weekend to see how guests responded – if it did well we might actually see the truck (or trucks) show up again during the Food & Wine Festival (which sounds kinda crazy, but if they parked one or two closer to the entrance of the park it might just work).

Eggplant "Scallop" from Urban Farm EATS booth

Eggplant “Scallop” from Urban Farm EATS booth

We wandered, ate some good stuff, and after an all-to-brief visit, we made our way back home, but it wouldn’t be long before we were back…

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits

the next weekend, to be specific, as Miss Bonnie graciously indulged my desire to see one of my childhood faves, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits (and shockingly, after five concerts, Bonnie still doesn’t know the words to “Henry the Eighth”).

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

And during the weekend we did have some more of the goodies served at the kitchens of the Flower & Garden Festival.

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

The manicotti from Italy was a dish I hadn’t sampled yet this year – cheese-filled as advertised – good but not life-changing. The shrimp & grits was a favorite from Florida Fresh last year, and Bonnie deemed it just as good this go round.

Mmmm... margaritas....

Mmmm… margaritas….

Oh yeah, there was a visit to La Cava…

 

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2014 Walt Disney World Orlando Kouzinna Cat Cora

Kouzzina on Disney’s Boardwalk

Saturday morning of that weekend we had a “good-bye” breakfast at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina.

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash - with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

The restaurant is scheduled to close the end of September after a five-year run in the former Spoodles location on the Boardwalk. I’ve always enjoyed the place, and had a really great experience and meal there during Food & Wine a few years ago, which you can see a bit of in the post “Who’s that strange man trying to fondle an Iron Chef?” (and no, I never followed up with a full post on that night…). I’ll be sad to see it go, and so to say farewell we decided to have at least one more meal there.

Classic Golden Waffle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, Chopped Pecans and Bacon

Classic Golden Waffle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, Chopped Pecans and Bacon

As we were seated and our server arrived with the menus I though she looked quite familiar – turned out it was the ever effervescent spikey-hair-blonde Holly who seems to always be on hand at the River Roost in Port Orleans when YeHaa Bob Jackson is on stage! She was a bit more subdued at a more sober breakfast service (although there were a couple of “eye-openers” on our table…) than during the raucous YeHaa Bob shows…

Mama Ginny and Papa Harry, who had never been there before, joined Bonnie and I for breakfast and liked it so much that they returned just a couple of weeks later.

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread, and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread, and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

The Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast, which Bonnie & Harry both had, was the real winner here – it’s a nice combo of somewhat unusual flavors for a breakfast meal and they both were happy members of the Clean Plate Club at the end of the meal.

Afterwards we made another trip to Epcot for some more Flower & Garden food and fun…

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunces and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunes and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

I really liked the lamb roll from Morocco – a crispy egg-roll-like-thing filled to the brim with shredded meat!

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

We also tried the mushroom and cheese quesadilla from Mexico with less than spectacular results… it was fairly bland, and we both agreed it wasn’t very “Mexican” to our tastes…

"Second verse, same as the first..."

“Second verse, same as the first…”

And yes, there were some more songs to enjoy that evening…

Home of the Don't-Call-It-A-Cronut

Home of the Don’t-Call-It-A-Cronut

On Sunday we found ourselves once again around the World Showcase and I finally tried the Croissant Doughnut from the Refreshment Port…

Outside the Cronut

Outside the Croissant Doughnut

this hybrid between a croissant and (you guessed it) a doughnut is better known as a Cronut, but that moniker has been trademarked, so hence the “Croissant Doughnut”.

Inside the Cronut

Inside the Croissant Doughnut

There are flaky layers inside the cinnamon-sugar coated outside, and yes, it’s pretty dang tasty, but at $4.49 I think it won’t be an everyday treat…

Lemon Scones, Pork & Apple Sausage Roll and Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Stilton from the Buttercup Cottage

Lemon Scones, Pork & Apple Sausage Roll and Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Stilton from the Buttercup Cottage

We ended our eating at Epcot for this weekend by having a trifecta of dishes from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK. We enjoyed all the items, and I liked the sausage roll a bit more the second time than I had when I first tried it.

The next weekend we found ourselves back in the World for Expedition Everest weekend – we weren’t participating in the race, but several friends were in WDW for the event, so we came to just hang out a bit… and eat some more…

The backside of Ankole Cattle

The backside of Ankole Cattle

We were staying at our favorite resort, Kidani Village, and made a quick trip over to Animal Kingdom late on Friday afternoon.

As it was close to closing time for the park by the time we got there, many of the quick-service eating locations were closing down, so we stepped into Yak and Yeti and quickly were granted a table.

We ordered a couple of adult beverages while we perused the menu and eventually settled on just having a couple of appetizers.

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Neither were particularly memorable – they looked better than they tasted. The food wasn’t bad, just sorta there – we’ve certainly had better-tasting items there before. The marinated cucumbers alongside the wings were probably the best thing on the table (other than the beverages…). Our server was great though!

It still irks me a bit that they don’t take Tables in Wonderland – they do give a 10% annual passholder discount, but it’s only on entrees… gee, thanks…

Not quite sated, we headed to the bar at Sanaa when we made it back to Kidani.

Indian Style Bread Service

Indian Style Bread Service – Jalapeno-lime Pickle, Coriander Chutney & Tamarind Chutney with Garlic Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan and Onion Kulcha

You can order appetizers from the restaurant while at the bar (and I have seen them serve from the full menu in the bar as well in the past, even though they say they aren’t supposed to do so), so Bonnie had a glass of wine while I tried an IPA as we looked over the bar menu.

We settled on one of our absolutely favorite things, the bread service. You get to choose three of five great Indian breads, and three accompaniments for $9.99 (or you can have all nine of the saucy sides for two more bucks). Unless you’re carb-phobic, this is a great choice to start a meal for two or more, or like we did here share between two for a nice, filling later night snack. The naans are our number one, and are freshly made to order, they are pretty hard to beat with any of the accompanying sauces.

And yes, they do take Tables in Wonderland at the bar there!

We wound up going all over the place on Saturday to find sustenance…

DVC construction at the Poly

DVC construction at the Poly

After a quick trip to the Wide World of Sports to check out the race expo, we went over to the Polynesian Resort to see about the goings on there.

The addition of a Disney Vacation Club area to the resort had been announced quite a while back (and very obvious construction has been taking place for several weeks), but there had been many other rumors going around about some other changes to the resort, and as it happened, many of those changes had been officially announced the day before we got there (most notably to the adult-beverage-indulgers among us, the addition of a east coast version of Trader Sam’s!). We did our best to get info from several cast members there as to the exact location of where the new bar will be, but all, including a couple of managers, claimed ignorance as to where in the resort Trader Sam’s will eventually reside.

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Looking to fill our grumbling bellies, we made our way to the temporary location of the resort’s quick-service eatery, Captain Cook’s. The normal location for the restaurant (lower lobby level facing the pool) has been shuttered for a while undergoing a refurb – with the announcement of the upcoming changes (and the recent closing of the Wyland Gallery) we now wonder if Cook’s will actually return to it’s former location or wind up somewhere else in the resort. It’s old site sure seems like it would be prime territory for a new bar…

Capt' Cook's current lunch/dinner menu

Capt. Cook’s current lunch/dinner menu

We’ve enjoyed several items from Capt. Cook’s before (notably the Pork Nachos and Pork Sandwich). This day we tried a new item, the Thai Coconut Meatballs.

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

We also ordered a side of the chips – a seasoned combo of potato chips, tortilla chips and fried wonton skins. This isn’t on the menu, but if you ask they’ll gladly serve you up a nice plate of them.

Capt. Cook's Chips and Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Capt. Cook’s Chips and Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

The meatballs themselves were fine, but I found the sauce to be way too sweet. Bonnie liked them a bit better, but after she added a bit of soy sauce we both found them more palatable. Also a few steamed/stir-fried veggies on the plate would have been nice. The chips were the hit of the table – I’d go back just for some more of those!

While in the neighborhood we met up with our friend Corndog Laura and took a quick monorail trip over to check out the DVC rooms at the Grand Floridian (they are pretty gorgeous!). From there we went back to Kidani, and as Laura hadn’t done it before, we took the cultural tour of Sanaa.

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

We were taken around the restaurant by a lovely young woman from South Africa and she gave us background on the details of the dining area. It’s a very interesting tour, and at the end they feed you! We (once again) got a sampling of the bread service, this time on the house!

In case you’re not aware, they give this tour for free every day at 4 PM. You don’t have to sign up, just arrive at the restaurants podium a few minutes before four. You don’t even have to be a guest staying at the resort, just show up!

Likewise they do a restaurant tour (also at 4 PM) over at Jambo House. Just make your way to the entrance of Boma and you’ll get a tour there (along usually with a sample of one of their great soups and a Zebra Dome or other dessert). From there they take you to Jiko for a tour of that dining establishment, and they usually wind that up with a sample of their signature Taste of Africa appetizer (which is also a bread and dips sampler). Definitely worth a trip over there (if you’re not already staying there), and a rare freebie at Disney!

As if we’d not had enough to eat for the day, we wound up heading over to the Coronado Springs Resort to check out the options at the Pepper Market. Laura went for the roasted chicken, while Bonnie & I shared a huge serving of nachos.

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

The big plate of chips was topped with chicken and beef (you can choose either or both), salsa, gooey-cheese-like-product and sour cream (jalapenos were one the side in deference to Miss Bonnie’s still mild palate). If you want a big plate of messy, bad-for-you goodness, that’s more than plenty for two people to split, this is a diet-busting deal for ten bucks. If only the beers alongside were a better deal…

On our Sunday getaway day, we went over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the final bits of construction on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (and hope for a soft-opening ride, but that wish was to go ungranted…).

We did however get shown a pretty amazing Hidden Steamboat Willie in the exit queue of the Little Mermaid ride…

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

it’s almost impossible to see from a picture, and you’d likely never notice it without it being pointed out to you, but when you see it, it’s down-right spectacular! We’ll be glad to show it to you sometime in the park!

For our final feasting of this weekend in the parks, we wandered into Pinocchio’s Village Haus.

Caprese Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread

Bonnie snagged us a seat overlooking Small World while I got us a Caprese Flatbread to share. Tomatoes, mozzarella and a Balsamic drizzle atop a flatbread crust, this was a very passable lunch (along with a side of fries to sate Miss Bonnie’s spud-addiction). It’s worth a try if you’re looking for something just a bit different in the Magic Kingdom.

Friar's Nook Menu

Friar’s Nook Menu

While there I took a peek at the Friar’s Nook menu and noted that the Blue Cheese & Balsamic version of Mac & Cheese (that we had quite liked on a prior visit) had been replaced with a Pot Roast one… we’ll try next visit…

So to continue (and conclude) this extended edition of Weekend Eats, we head off property proper to visit the east coast of Florida.

We’d long been talking about wanting to visit Disney’s Vero Beach resort, and when the Iowa O’Briens had planned a trip there and asked us to come along, we jumped at the opportunity.

Early morning on the Treasure Coast - view from our room at Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Early morning on the Treasure Coast – view from our room at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

The resort is fairly small, but nice and full of Disney-touches. Like most of the DVC resorts, you’re not hit over the head with characters and such (in fact, the only walk-around characters appear at one lone character breakfast on Saturdays), but there are enough details, Hidden Mickeys and the like to keep even the most rabid Disney-phile happy. And without the lure of the hectic parks nearby, this is a perfect place for a relaxing stay with a Disney touch.

As we spent most of our time either at the beach, the pool or just exploring the resort, (and since we’d also brought along some foodstuffs to have in our room) we actually spent relatively little time at the on-site dining establishments.

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That being said, we did visit the Green Cabin Room bar a couple of times, and really enjoyed our time spent there. Located on the second floor of the resort facing the ocean, the interior is dark and cool and chock-full of details and memorabilia of the ships that had sunk offshore of the Treasure Coast (so called because of the abundance of riches that is on the sea bed from the many shipwrecks).

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Overlooking the Atlantic is a small outside deck with just four prime tables and a long bar by the window with hightop chairs. On our first visit we sat at the latter, the few tables all being filled.

Chicken Wings and Kettle Chips with Blue Cheese and Herb Dipping Sauce

Chicken Wings and Kettle Chips with Blue Cheese and Herb Dipping Sauce

We ordered the chips with blue cheese and dip along with an order of wings. The chips were good, but the cheese, while nice and strong flavored, was a bit skimpy. The fluffy fresh-herb dip was just right when you could find a nice bit of the blue cheese to pair with one of the crispy chips. The breaded wings were just average and came with a choice of three sauces (Thai Chili, Buffalo or Barbeque) – we asked for both the Thai and Buffalo and they gladly brought us ramekins of each for dipping. Despite the less-than-stellar eats, the beer was cold (and the wine expensive), the service was top-notch and it was a beautiful day with a great view of the ocean… life was good that day at the Green Room Cabin…

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

The next day we met the O’Brien Brood inside the bar for some more consumables. This time we chose the cheese and meat platter. Served on a long cutting board (which could have served well as a paddle in case one of or party decided to get a bit out of line) this was a nice selection of cheeses (a couple nicely stinky) and cured meats with warm flatbread and cool grapes on the side. Cheese plates are now offered at pretty much all the restaurants and resort bars in Property proper, but this one was a bit different, and a bit more hearty, with the inclusion of the meats. Bonnie and I scarfed it down with much glee and enthusiasm.

The drink menu here is the standard one used at all the bars on WDW property, with just the beers and wines varying slightly. The food menu is a bit more varied and complete compared to the ones at most of the bars on Lake Buena Vista property, there is even a separate bill of fare for lunch. All the food here comes from one floor down out of the kitchen of Shutters (the more casual of the two sit-down restaurants at Vero, the other being the more upscale Sonya’s).

We’re looking forward to getting back to the Vero Beach resort – we vowed to return sooner rather than later for another chill-out weekend – and maybe we’ll actually try the two sit-down restaurants the next time!

There you have it Dear Dedicated Readers, another (much longer than I expected) edition of Weekend Eats – hope you enjoyed the vicarious vittles!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

We’re back to the World, and of course, the kitchen! See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dedicated Readers will no doubt recall how much we loved a couple of special events held in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park the past several years…

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the Taste of Africa Street Party in 2010…DSCF9053

and in 2012 the Sundowner Celebration.

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Both featured food demos…

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musical acts…

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special food items…

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and more beverages than you can shake a swizzle stick at!

Wine Walk at Taste of Africa Street Party

Wine Walk at Taste of Africa Street Party

So why bring this up now you say?

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Well, today Disney sent out an email to annual passholders with this semi-cryptic message:

 

When the sun goes down, the story comes alive.

Annual Passholders, mark your calendar for Saturday nights this summer where you can enjoy an all-new, never-before-seen, immersive experience.

Look for more details soon, because the grandest tales and tastes of Africa are going to come alive like never before.

There was also a link to a video which hints that we will see the Rivers of Light show this summer for sure.

The event(s) look to be dubbed “Harambe Nights”, and rumors around the interwebs say that DAK cast members (and I assume the rest of us civilians shortly thereafter) will get the lowdown in early May.

As Animal Kingdom shifts into being a later night destination with the new light show and upcoming Avatar Land, I had been hoping we’d see a revival of something like these events (which I’d been told by more than one cast member were specifically trial runs for the opening of Avatar and guests staying past the usual early closing times for the park). The precise use of the phrase “tastes of Africa” also gives a clue to this (hopefully) being some more than just the addition of the Rivers of Light show, but also a special food/beverage affair as well.

From the email it looks like annual passholders may be the guinea pigs and given an early look at the show and any extra foods/drinks/entertainment/etc. This would be especially welcome news for AP holders as special events, previews and the like have been few and far between in recent years (read that to mean “non-existent”.

If you want to take a look back at the prior events, you can check out the posts “Taste of Africa Street Part: A preview of things to come?“, “Taste of Africa Two???” and “Sundowner Celebration: A first look“.

This has certainly got us excited around here at Eating (and Drinking) Around the World, and we’re waiting to make our reservations for the first Saturday night! What are your thoughts?

 

Hello again, Dear Dedicated Readers, several days ago we took our first delayed look at the events of the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in the post “WDW Odds and Ends: 2014 Marathon Weekend Spell-Check Edition“, so now it’s (finally) time to take a little look at some of the dining (and drinking) events from the same weekend…

Pork Belly Nigri

Pork Belly Nigri

Despite being in the World for a long weekend, we did relatively little dining out, but what we did do was memorable, so let’s dig in!

Quite a while before the weekend we’d been asked to join several friends in trying out the newly renovated California Grill high atop the Contemporary Resort and of course we jumped at the chance…

Passion Fruit Margarita

Passion Fruit Margarita

Dinner was the night after the 10k, and some of us were still a bit creaky after the race that morning, but a few adult beverages would serve to ease those with a few pains…

Bonnie and I started with one (okay, maybe two…) of the delicious Passion Fruit Margaritas off the cocktail menu while our companions made wine their libation of choice.

BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread

BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread

As we perused the menu and enjoyed the great company, we also took in our gorgeous surroundings and the fantastic view (there have been plenty of great pics online of the refurbed restaurant, and my photography isn’t going to surpass what’s already been published, so take a look at some nice pics over at the Disney Food Blog).

Bonnie & I decided to share one of the flatbreads and a not-so-everyday-sushi item as our appetizer course.

A closer look at the BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread...

A closer look at the BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread…

The BBQ Pork and Apple Flatbread had pieces of coffee-brined pork, and was topped with apple butter, queso fresco, BBQ sauce and julienned pieces of sweet apples for crunch. Nope, it didn’t suck… but as good as it was, our other app choice was, well, flipping amazing

Pork Belly Nigri

Pork Belly Nigri

The Pork Belly Nigri was a roll of bacon and yuzu seasoned rice with a nice piece of cured pork belly sitting on top and all drizzled with a lightly spicy teriyaki sauce… damn…

Duck in all its Glory

Duck in all its Glory

Other apps around the table included Duck in all its Glory (duck served in several ways: House-made Sausage, Rillettes, Prosciutto, Duck Liver Pâté) and Yuzu-marinated Sashimi…

Yuzu-marinated Sashimi

Yuzu-marinated Sashimi

a beautiful plate of Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Hamachi, Snapper with Wasabi Oil.

Oak-fired Filet of Beef

Oak-fired Filet of Beef

Entrees included Oak-fired Filet of Beef (served with tomato risotto, marinated baby tomatoes, petite basil and tomato butter)…

Georges Bank Scallops

Georges Bank Scallops

Georges Bank Scallops (with French curry spice, squash ravioli and citrus butter)…

Spicy Kazan Roll

Spicy Kazan Roll

while Bonnie and I shared one of huge and delicious sushi rolls: the Spicy Kazan Roll with crab, shrimp, scallops, tuna and fireball sauce. The sushi here isn’t cheap, but it’s pretty darn good!

As always one of the best things about the California Grill is the spectacular view, and during Wishes the lights are dimmed and the music is piped into the restaurant!

Wishes!

Wishes! as seen from our table

While the wife and I were stuffed to the gills, some of our party still had room for dessert…

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Sundae Sampler - perhaps the most adorable dessert ever!

Sundae Sampler – perhaps the most adorable dessert ever!

The food and service on our visit to the California Grill was great, and the refurbished space was gorgeous. Yes, it’s among the more expensive locations on property, so it will remain a “special-event” type of place for most diners, but we’re already looking forward to going again… mmm… pork belly sushi…

Thanks to Alice, Elizabeth, Karen and Marty for some great company on that night! Yes, lucky me, I was the only guy along with five lovely ladies!

The backside of the Spice Road Table

The backside of the Spice Road Table

The next day Bonnie and I made our way to Epcot (big shock, huh?) and met up with Papa Harry and Mama Ginny. Word had been going around that the highly anticipated Spice Road Table in Morocco was scheduled to make it’s official opening that day so we wanted to check it out.

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Much of the 10k route was through Epcot, and it was the day before during that race that some of us got our first look at the Spice Road with the final construction walls down.

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So on this Saturday we made our way to World Showcase in the morning and as the rope dropped to allow guests in we, along with several others, hightailed it to the restaurant. As we got near there was a fair amount of activity in the outside seating area which we were facing, so it seemed they were getting ready to receive diners.

Outdoor seating area at Spice Road Table

Outdoor seating area at Spice Road Table

The cast members at the restaurant welcomed us and ushered in the first guests with much applause.

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Bar area inside Spice Road Table

Bar area inside Spice Road Table

We were led in past the gorgeous bar and seated outside by one of the hostesses. She left us with the menus and soon our server (who was great BTW) arrived.

Spice Road Table Menu

Spice Road Table Menu Cover

He gave us a complete rundown of the restaurant and the ideas behind the menu – the food items are made from authentic recipes from the ancient Spice Road (see the back page of the menu below for some details on this).

Back of the Spice Road Table Menu

Back of the Spice Road Table Menu

He noted that some of the items may not be to our (or even his) particular tastes, but were authentic to the original recipes and not altered to make them more appealing to American palates (and I’m paraphrasing here – I actually wish I’d taped his discourse as it was quite interesting and informative). He left us to peruse the menu and when he returned we selected our beverages to start…

Spice Road Table Beverage Menu

Spice Road Table Beverage Menu

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Spice Road Table Wine Menu

Bonnie ordered the White Wine Flight…

White Wine Flight

White Wine Flight

she thought all were fine, but other than the Ksara Blanc de Blanc (which she graciously allowed me to sample and I quite liked) were nothing special. The flights come in glasses with the Spice Road logo on them and a description of each wine is provided.

Estrella Damm Beer

Estrella Damm Beer

I had a Spanish beer while Papa Harry ordered a glass of wine.

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Tangier’s Breeze

Mama Ginny had one of the signature cocktails – the Tangier’s Breeze. When asked how it tasted, she replied “Like something I want to drink for the rest of the day”! I think she liked it…

Spice Road Table Wine Menu

Spice Road Table Small Plates Menu

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Chef’s Special and Dessert Menu

We ordered our food and enjoyed the beautiful weather, setting and company while we waited for our meal to arrive.

Hummus and Olives

Hummus and Imported Olives with Cornichons (little pickles) and Za’atar Flatbread

Mama Ginny wasn’t famished, so she selected the Hummus while the rest of us opted for the samplers.

Mogador Sampler

Mogador Sampler

I ordered the Mogador (seafood) Sampler with Mussels Tagine, Salted Cod Croquettes & Fried Calamari.

Tingis Sampler

Tingis Sampler

Bonnie & Harry both chose the meaty Tingis Sampler composed of Moroccan Lamb Sausage, a Harissa Chicken Roll and a Lamb Slider.

Mama Ginny was a bit underwhelmed with the hummus selections – I tried them and even though the plain version wasn’t anything special, I personally liked the tomato version, and the olives and pickles were nice. This would be a good item for a table to share as an “appetiser” to some other small plates.

Mussels Tagine

Mussels Tagine

I’d really been looking forward to trying the Mussels Tagine as I’m a Mussel-Fan, but these didn’t really do it for me…

According to the menu these are prepared with cilantro, garlic, lemon confit and tomato sauce… I’m more used to a steamed or perhaps grilled presentation of these bivalves served in the shell, but these were sans shell and had a more mealy texture like you’d find in a tinned, smoked version. They weren’t bad mind you, but I wasn’t excited by them and doubt I’d order them again.

Salted Cod Croquettes

Salted Cod Croquettes

I was pleasantly surprised by the Salted Cod Croquettes however – I was expecting a stronger flavor from the salt cod, but these fritters were mild and nicely flavored.

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

The best of the sampler was without a doubt the Fried Calamari. Our waiter said this was by far his favorite item on the entire menu, and these crispy, tender (for calamari) rings and tentacles were delicious! I’ve downed plenty of fried squid in my day, and these were among the best I’ve ever had – I’d return here just for more of these!

Moroccan Lamb Sausage

Moroccan Lamb Sausage

The Tingis Sampler was pretty much all a hit. The dense Lamb Sausage came served atop a salad of chopped tomato, red onion and cilantro and was quite good.

Harissa Chicken Roll

Harissa Chicken Roll

The Harissa Chicken Roll (with a side of spicy ketchup) is the same item as usually seen at the Morocco booth during the Food & Wine Festival. Like an egg roll filled with slightly spicy chicken mixture and studded with corn kernels this is a really nice item.

Lamb Slider

Lamb Slider

The real winner of the sampler for Miss Bonnie (and I couldn’t argue with her on it’s virtues) was the mini lamb burger (yes, I have an aversion to the term “slider”… keep waiting for that rant Dedicated Readers…). Served on a seeded brioche bun and topped with a tzatziki sauce, this juicy lamb patty was really good… I’d love a full-size version of this!

Despite this being a “small plates” kinda-place, we were all sated after our choices and couldn’t find the room for dessert – our servers favorite was the Chocolate Pyramid, which we saw at a neighboring table, and sometime we’ll return to try it out…

Now for a couple of notes about this place…

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You do get served on real plates and with real silverware, the napkins aren’t cloth, but they are very heavy and have the logo nicely printed on them.

When asked if we wanted water, we were brought bottled sparkling water (which of course we were charged for), so be sure to specify you want a glass of ice water unless you want otherwise.

At this time they do not take Tables in Wonderland, but our server indicated “they were looking into it”…

Also for the time being the bar was only for drinks being served at the tables, but our server noted that they hoped to have the bar open for walk-up guests in the fututre.

Inside seating area

Inside seating area

The restaurant is gorgeous… simply gorgeous…

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but the seating areas are fairly small – total capacity looks to be under 100. And I’m sure the outside seats will be in high demand for Illuminations.

There’s been a lot of “compare and contrast” online about this and the Tangerine Cafe, but they are really two different animals and two different experiences. Yes, per “volume of food” this is more expensive, but it’s also a sit-down, even if the servings are “small plates”… I’d give it a try before downplaying it as many seem to have done… we’re looking forward to going back and trying some items we didn’t have on our first visit!

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In the attached building is also the gift shop, a section of which is currently devoted to food items.

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Spices, coffees, teas, wines and more are available for purchase.

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Next door to the gift shop is the Art of Henna…

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and at the end of the building opposite the restaurant is a take-out window…

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with an assortment of sweets and beverages.

Juice Bar Menu

Juice Bar Menu

Here ended our visit to Morocco, but we weren’t quite done with Africa…

Dawa Bar

Dawa Bar

as we made our way to the village of Harambe in Disney’s Animal Kingdom…

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for a visit to the recently re-located Dawa Bar for a few African Margaritas.

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With the on-going construction in Harambe due to the new theater being built for the Festival of the Lion King show, the Dawa Bar was moved from it’s original location to the new one a few yards away to the right of the entrance area/podium for the Tusker House restaurant.

The back side of beer!

The back side of beer!

The new bar is certainly larger and more open than the previous incarnation – you can even walk all around the back of it if you are so inclined.

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There is more seating right at the bar, but there is precious little other seating right now, and we’ll have to see if the former plethora of tables returns after the construction walls come down and the area opens up again.

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After a couple of rounds we made our way out of the park, and thus ended our culinary and cocktail highlights of Marathon weekend.

Hope you enjoyed the look back at some eats & drinks… there is more from the World to share with you soon!  But for now its back to the kitchen!

WDW Weekend Eats

September 25, 2013

With the opening of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival just days away, let’s whet your appetite with a very quick look at some other eats from around the World…

If you’ve checked out the last three “Odds & Ends” posts (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot), you know Miss Bonnie & I made a trip to the World recently, and yes, we also had some things to eat…

"Spider Roll" from the Cabana Bar and Beach Club

“Spider Roll” from the Cabana Bar and Beach Club

We started off the weekend, along with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry, by having a casual dinner at the Cabana Bar and Beach Club.  This location is actually the pool bar/restaurant at the Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Bonnie and I shared the “Spider Roll” to start – unlike a traditional sushi roll, this was actually a cylinder of rice that was then topped with the usual suspects: fried soft shell crab, avocado, etc., and served with a ginger sauce. Maybe not as easy to eat as a regular roll, but  the flavor was good, and it was a unique and attractive presentation.

Chilled Roasted Pepper Soup

Chilled Roasted Pepper Soup

Bonnie had the salad of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella while I chose the combo of a Pork Banh Mi Sandwich with Chilled Roasted Pepper Soup.

Braised Pork Banh Mi

Braised Pork Banh Mi

Bonnie cleaned her plate, and I liked both the sandwich and soup (especially the latter), and at $10 for the combo I thought it was quite a good deal.

Buttermilk Battered Chicken Crisps

Buttermilk Battered Chicken Crisps

Mama Ginny went for the fried chicken crisps, which came with some decent waffle fries, while Papa Harry had the Crab Salad…

Crab Salad

Crab Salad

with compressed watermelon topped with big pieces of lump crab with a lemon vinaigrette.

We all enjoyed our meals, and agreed we’d gladly return. This is a place that definitely falls under the radar of most Disney guests, and I probably never would have found it except for the fact that they have always had some interesting dishes served at the Swan/Dolphin Food & Wine Classic.

This is a casual yet upscale place, with many unique dishes and cocktails, but you can certainly get a standard burger and a Bud if that’s your want… if you’re in the Boardwalk area it’s certainly worth a try… you can check out the Cabana Menu here.

Now let’s venture inside a park…

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over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this kiosk sits along the path between Africa and Asia, it once served sauced fried chicken pieces, but for now at least, it’s the default location for quick service veggie food.

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We tried the samosas…

Samosas with Mango Chutney

Samosas with Mango Salsa

a traditional Indian fried snack filled with potatoes and peas.

Inside the samosa...

Inside the samosa…

The filling could have been a bit more aggressively seasoned, but the sweet and just-so-slightly spicy salsa added some extra flavor.

We also tried the cold Asian Noodle Salad.

Asian Noodle Salad

Asian Noodle Salad

We both really liked this combo of toothsome noodles with lots of broccoli and snow peas with a sesame dressing.

After some semi-healthy eats at AK, let’s go to the semi-unhealthy in Epcot…

Sommerfest

Sommerfest

The Sommerfest quick-service locale in Germany recently underwent a menu renovation and we went to check out a couple of the new items.

Sommerfest Menu

Sommerfest Menu

Formerly just a brat & weenie joint, now there is much more variety, and lots of fine adult beverages including the grapefruit beer that was uber popular at the Food & Wine Festival last year!

Nudel Kugel (left) and Currywurst

Nudel Gratin (left) and Currywurst

We sampled the Nudel Gratin (basically a German Mac & Cheese), which Bonnie loved, and at $3.49 it’s a good deal.

Currywurst with Chips

Currywurst with Paprika Chips

I really liked the sausage doused in the mild curry-flavored sauce. The freshly-made potato chips were really good – we’ve seen lots of these on property over the past couple of years, and that’s a Good Thing… (channeling my Inner Martha there…).

While at Epcot we grabbed a couple of things to take back to out Beach Club room for later…

Cheese Plate from Boulangerie Patisserie


Cheese Plate from Boulangerie Patisserie

Bonnie is a cheese-fiend and loves to grab the Fromages, along with a baguette or two, from Boulangerie Patisserie in France. Of course you need something sweet to follow…

Peanut Butter Brownie

Peanut Butter Brownie

so we picked up the highly-recommend Peanut Butter Brownie from the new Starbucks location… and the recommendations were right… Bonnie even tried to convince me I didn’t want to finish my share, but I had none of that!

All-in-all some tasty, new and fun eats! Hope you enjoyed!

We’ll be at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in just a  few short days… will we see you there???

Animal Kingdom Odds & Ends

September 22, 2013

We looked at some odds & ends from the Magic Kingdom a few days ago, so to continue on with a look at our recent visit to WDW, let’s now take a quick look at some odds & ends from Miss Bonnie’s favorite park, Animal Kingdom.

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We checked out the fairly new meet-and-greet for Mickey and Minnie, and while in line you get to see several cute pictures of the rodent couple while on their adventures around the world…

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the room where you get to see M & M and have your photo taken with the renowned couple is chock-full of details…

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including a Mickey-shaped butterfly net.

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We also stopped by the fairly new allergy-free/healthy-eating kiosk (officially known as the Gardens Kiosk)…

Gardens Kiosk on Discovery Island

Gardens Kiosk on Discovery Island

Here guests can get info about dining locations in the park for those with special dietary needs and also purchase some gluten-free snacks (some packaged and several freshly baked items from babycakes in Downtown Disney) and beverages (including gluten-free beer) along with fresh fruit. I chatted a while with the cast members there, and they said that the response to the kiosk had been quite good and this was a test and similar kiosks could eventually be rolled out in the other parks.

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The official Disney website has this to say about the Gardens Kiosk: “Happen upon this oasis of vitality to find healthy offerings as well as other helpful information regarding Guests with specific food allergies. Discover a snack suitable to your dietary restrictions while you learn about other nutritious options available throughout the park!”

What it doesn’t mention is that, yes dear Dedicated Readers, you can get a beer here at nine in the morning… good thing to know…

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And speaking of beverages, we also made a visit to my favorite spot in the village of Harambe: the Dawa Bar.

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Due to the continued construction of the new theater for the Festival of the Lion King show, the bar was reported to be moved the day after we were there, but the cast member working behind the bar that day said she didn’t know exactly when or where it would be relocated to. Below you can see the construction wall right behind the bar with the walls of the new theater peaking above the construction wall.

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While in Africa, we took a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris with the hopes of seeing a couple of the newest additions to the animal population of the savannah.

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We were rewarded with some great views of two baby giraffes who had just recently made their first forays onto the savannah. There is one youngster of each species (Masai and Reticulated), and they are about as cute as any six-foot-tall animal can be!

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So there you have it, a few odds & ends from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot is up next so we’ll see you soon!

Let’s play a game…

September 9, 2013

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or maybe two…

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A few weeks ago Miss Bonnie, Mama Ginny, Papa Harry and I got a chance to check out the two newest interactive experiences at Walt Disney World – A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas in the Magic Kingdom and the Wilderness Explorers in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I figured it was about time to share a some pics and a little commentary on the two games – this will be more of a “teaser” and mostly spoiler-free for those of you yet to try them out (but if you want more details and spoilery-info, just let Google be your guide, it’s all out there). So let’s start in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom…

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You “enlist” for A Pirate’s Adventure in a small building (which previously had been a camera/film store) in Adventureland.

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Your park ticket (and I assume also now Magic Bands) serve as your “talisman” to enlist…

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you are instructed which map to pick up…

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and told basically now to get the heck out…

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The small structure is chock-full of maps and details, so linger a bit if you have the opportunity.

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You’re given one of five maps (actually on the day we were there, there were only four as one of the adventures wasn’t working that day)…

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and told where to begin your quest…

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You touch your talisman to a designated symbol at each location and, well, things happen…

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You visit several locations around Adventureland during each adventure, and when you complete the map you can either stop or continue on to collect the other maps and finish other or all the adventures – if you do finish all the adventures you’re treated to a special “finale”.

Many of the locations are crammed full of details…

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hidden Mickeys…

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and other “Easter Eggs”…

And what's this a reference to?

And what’s this a reference to?

The effects here are more physical objects (a la the Kim Possible/Agent P games in Epcot) rather than the video screens of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, and I like the way they were done. All in all we really enjoyed our day exploring this new activity in the Magic Kingdom, and according to one of the castmembers many of the effects are different at times (I won’t say how some of them are, just not to spoil things for those of you that would rather find out for themselves), so this looks to have a lot of repeatability factor. If this proves to be popular for the long-term (as I suspect it will), we may even see them adding other effects as they did in Epcot as the games there went along. Of course it would have been more fun if we could have had a bit of grog while we played…

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Over at Animal Kingdom is a much more low-tech, but no less interactive activity…

Wilderness Explorers Headquarters on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island

Wilderness Explorers Headquarters on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island

just like Russell from the movie “Up”, you can become one of the Wilderness Explorers and earn badges while treking around the park and (shhh, don’t tell the kids) actually learn something along the way.

A brand-new Wilderness Exploere being given his first instructions for one of the Troop Leaders

A brand-new Wilderness Explorer being given his first instructions from one of the Troop Leaders

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When you sign up you get your Wilderness Explorers Handbook, which has a few pages of introductory material…

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followed by many pages where you have to visit a specific area of the park and complete some requirements to earn your badge (sticker) for that page.

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Troop Leaders are at each location to help you in earning your badges…

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Miss Bonnie apparently being told to "talk to the hands" of one of the Troop Leaders

Miss Bonnie apparently being told to “talk to the hands” of one of the Troop Leaders

There are places to explore, and badges to earn, all over the park.

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There’s a wide variety of things to do (and learn)…

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including meeting someone from Asia!

Completed Gorilla Badge page

Completed Gorilla Badge page

There’s lots of cool facts and information presented at most of the badge locations…

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plus there’s plenty of hidden fun details in this experience too!

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You can earn as many or as few badges per visit as you want, and you can bring your handbook back each time you visit the park until you become a Senior Wilderness Explorer!

Really, really love this! It’s educational, and the kids (as well as the adults) were engaged at the badge stations – while earning the stickers may be the main motivation for many of the youngsters (okay, and the oldsters too) there will be lots of learning going on at the same time!

When we first visited, the Wilderness Explorers had been going on for just a few days, but the castmembers all said it had been very well received, and from what we saw it looks to be an early success, and I hope it continues to do well as this is one of the things Disney has always done well: “Edutainment”.

Badges? We need some stinking badges!

Badges? We need some stinking badges!

And if this continues and is popular, how long before we see WE sashes and actual embroidered badges for sale? If you have to earn them before you can buy them, I’m all for it!

Well there you have it Dear Dedicated Readers, an Eating (and Drinking) around the World look at the two newest interactive experiences at WDW… have you done either (or both) of them? What do you think?

Back to the kitchen… see you soon!

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