Disney! (Downtown Disney, Sanaa, Celebration, Princess Lunch in Norway, Food & Wine Fest, Epcot) – Vacation Part 3

We thought we’d take it easy and not hit all the parks this time. So instead of going to all 4 Disney parks, we just replaced 2 of them with 2 Universal parks HA! Our “totally relaxed” schedule: Sunday night: 1900 Park Fare & HalloWishes Monday: Magic Kingdom Tuesday: Islands of Adventure & Downtown Disney Wednesday: Day off – lunch at Sanaa Thursday: Universal Studios Friday: Epcot Tuesday night, after walking 4000 miles at Islands of Adventure, we thought it’d be a great idea to visit Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is under contruction – new parking garages, new name, new restaurants and stores, etc. Parking is a NIGHTMARE. We did score a decent spot back behind La Nouba. Right now, there are a lot of construction walls. We joked that it was almost like going for the first time – we had no idea where anything was! 20141007_200755-2 I really wanted to visit the new Marketplace Co-Op store that is now housed in the old Sports Mickey shop (that Jason loved!). The concept is that it has small boutiques inside that feature unique merchandise not found anywhere else – or things they are testing before mass producing them. Since much of the shop merchandise around WDW is the same year after year, it’s nice to have someplace offering different items on a regular basis. IF they actually do that; we’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚ 20141007_211159-2 20141007_211149-2 20141007_211155-2 The boutiques include a girl’s clothing/accessories, team sports, home decor, jewelry and accessories, and makeup/beauty items. The makeup area was mostly Disney Couture stuff along with some perfumes found around WDW (including the infamous Laila perfume sold in Epcot’s Norway). The team sports didn’t have much to look at – very little Disney specific stuff and more team branded items. The little girl’s store had cute stuff, and it was quite large. The jewelry and accessories area was pretty big, too. Lots of Vera Bradley and Disney Dooney and Bourke bags along with some Disney scarves. A lot of the jewelry seemed on par with Charming Charlies but at 4x the cost. I, sadly, bought nothing there. The home store was really what I wanted to see and I was disappointed it wasn’t any larger but it had cute stuff. Right now, they are featuring items inspired by Adventureland which is my least favorite Magic Kingdom land so I didn’t have a pull to buy it all. I did go home with a white ceramic Cinderella’s castle! It’ll find a home on our bookcase soon. And at the Marketplace, you get something other than the generic Disney bags: 20141007_215326-2 Even on a random Tuesday night, with awful parking, Downtown Disney was crammed with people.ย But always worth a stop! —– On Wednesday, Jason golfed while mom and I relaxed, shopped, and had lunch at Sanaa. I’ve been DYING to try it as it’s gotten rave reviews since opening (and because it’s one of my favorite cuisines!). It’s located over at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Kidani Village. I made a lunch reservation via My Disney Experience app 30 minutes prior. We weren’t sure where to go so we parked at the main lodge, asked a castmember how to get there, and tookย the shuttle. Kidani Village is beautiful! It’s a DVC property with the rooms seemingly surrounding a grassy area where animals roam. The restaurant is located on the 1st floor facing the savanna. 20141008_133148 We waited just a few minutes for our table. I couldn’t believe how crowded the restaurant was on a Wednesday for lunch! Often, the resort restaurants are slow at lunch since most people are enjoying the parks but not Sanaa! Our table wasn’t by the window but it still had a nice view. The restaurant is beautiful. 20141008_134415-2 20141008_134419-2 Their cuisine is a blend of African and Indian but just about everything we ordered was very Indian inspired. Mom and I decided to split a few things. We started with the salad sampler and chose the chickpeas with cucumber and tomato salad, watermelon, cucumber, and fennel salad, and Bhel Puri. 20141008_134608-2 I wasn’t familiar with Bhel Puri before and now I’m obsessed with recreating it at home. It’s the salad in the middle and it’s made with puffed rice and vegetables in a tamarind sauce. We actually loved all 3 choices. We decided to split an entree. Butter chicken is my favorite Indian dish to eat (and make!) so I wanted to taste theirs and see how it compared to mine ๐Ÿ™‚ They don’t offer it as a stand alone dish but instead as a combo. For the second entree choice, I asked the waiter for his recommendation and he suggested the Goan Seafood Curry. 20141008_135738-2 Both were delicious! The Butter Chicken was, of course, amazing. I swear I could drink the sauce. The seafood curry was also very good, with lots of fish and shrimp. It was a little spicy but not too much to handle. It’s pretty obvious to me why it’s gotten such rave reviews. Nothing is dumbed down. It’s flavorful, authentic, and unique. So much of the Disney dining has been streamlined (some blame the dining plan) but Sanaa was an escape from that. It was just darn good. Arguably the best Disney food I’ve had in years. My only beef is that I think the portions are small for the price. Disney portions are typically fairly generous for the price. The entree above was $23 and really didn’t include enough basmati (which is ridiculously cheap to serve). But really, I’d pay whatever they charged because I think the food is unique, the service was great, and the atmosphere is beautiful. Following lunch, we walked out to the animal viewing area. 20141008_142855-2 20141008_142906-2 20141008_142918-2 20141008_142954-2 Looking back at the hotel: 20141008_143016-2 20141008_143041-2 20141008_143201 I can see why families choose to buy there! It’s a beautiful resort. —— Mom kept dreaming of Thai food so one evening (maybe Thursday?), we finally fed her craving ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a Thai restaurant in Celebration, right near the downtown shops on Market St, called Thai Thani. Since a lot of people like to stop into Celebration on their WDW trips, I thought I’d include it. 20141007_185234 The restaurant was almost completely dead, with only a few tables occupied, so we were seated immediately. Mom and I both ordered Thai teas because, well, duh. They’re amazing. 20141007_190124-2 You’ll have to excuse the pitiful phone pics. Mom started with Tom Ka Gai soup, which she said was delicious. 20141007_190119-2 Jason ordered the sweet and sour chicken: 20141007_191310-2 Mom ordered the Bangkok chicken: 20141007_191342-2 I ordered the pork curry fried rice: 20141007_191317-2 We all thought it was delicious! If you’re on the lookout for a good Thai place in Orlando, I’d definitely recommend it. —– We ended our week with Epcot for Food and Wine Fest. IMG_8191-2 We came in through the International Gateway and who was walking towards us? Ariel and Eric! No one was around so we quickly jumped over for a picture. Unfortunately… the sun was crazy bright and Jason’s head became a blurย ๐Ÿ™‚ 20141010_115534-2 And… my mother doesn’t realize where the lens on a phone is ๐Ÿ™‚ We learned several years ago that while you CAN nosh all day on just booth samples, it gets mighty pricey. So we had lunch at Akershus with the princesses! Jason’s only dining request for the week was this one. It took weeks but I finally got a reservation for lunch (we had only done breakfast here before). IMG_8144 When you arrive, you take your picture with a princess and later get a photo package (included in price). I haven’t scanned that picture yet but it was Belle in her formal yellow dress. IMG_8148-2 IMG_8152 Akershus is located in Norway and is a medieval castle in design. It’s really lovely inside and of course, packed with cute kids in princess dresses. IMG_8154-2 You start with a trip to the cold buffet which is stocked with salads and seafood. The smoked fish is especially delicious! We are in Norway, afterall ๐Ÿ™‚ IMG_8156-2 You get a choice of entree and we were quite possibly the boringest table ever and all ordered the pan seared salmon and it was delicious! The fish was perfectly cooked (not dry!) and well seasoned. IMG_8164-2 We saw Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, and Ariel in addition to Belle in the foyer. IMG_8158-2 IMG_8161-2 Mom’s boyfriend, Bobby: IMG_8169-2 IMG_8171-2IMG_8165-2 IMG_8174-2 IMG_8178-2 Dessert is brought out and served family style. It includes a chocolate mousse cake, rice cream with strawberry sauce, and apple cake. All delicious, though the chocolate was very rich! IMG_8180-2 After we stuffed ourselves full of seafood, we went towards Future World. By now, I’d realized that my shoes – though comfortable normally – were not working without socks and I was on my way to blistertown. And therefore, crankytown. Jason and I hit the one store at Epcot that sells socks and bought some really fashionable Mickey socks to sport the rest of the day. But my feet didn’t hurt! IMG_8221 We saw Fuel in concert. Anybody remember them? They put on a good show. We missed Wilson Phillips by mere days and I was sad ๐Ÿ˜ฆ IMG_8223 More from around Epcot: IMG_8187 IMG_8198 IMG_8209-2 IMG_8210-2 IMG_8216-2 IMG_8234-2 IMG_8256-2 IMG_8262-2 IMG_8274-2 IMG_8297-2 Walking near the Beach Club: IMG_8305-2 IMG_8311-2 We tried a lot of the Food & Wine Fest samples and I’ll be sharing those on my food blog next week! seeaimeecook.blogspot.com

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