Posts Tagged by Animal Kingdom Lodge

Anaheim Antics: Keeping Fit at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Today is a day that forever changed me and the events that occurred 13 years ago live with me everyday. Take a moment today to reflect, remember and most importantly tell people you love them…life is too short.

Now…let’s talk about vacations!!  Everyone loves a vacation, but what about your fitness?  Does that begin to suffer due to all of the fun you are having?  Well John is here to tell us that it doesn’t!  This month’s Anaheim Antics are brought to you from his recent vacation to Walt Disney World where he heroically kept up with his race training.  No excuses!!

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“I’m on vacation!” The mantra we use to enjoy some much deserved time off. We get to eat what we want and do what we want, all guilt-free. But like all vacations, we eventually get the bill, and when it comes to our health, the bill can come with post-vacation lethargy and a few extra pounds.   In recent years, however, consumers have become more health conscious, and true to the laws of supply and demand, the market has responded. The fitness club industry is now a $25 billion industry, and vacation resorts are no stranger to wanting a piece of that pie. Disney is no exception, having added fitness centers to its Resort Hotels. Even the four Disney Cruise Line ships have fitness centers that rival the competition.

For better or worse, vacationing is no longer an excuse to not stay fit. On a recent stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I decided to see what the fitness possibilities were. Being a Disneylander, I was already familiar with the fitness centers at the three Disney Anaheim hotels. And, to be honest, on previous visits to the Walt Disney World, fitness was furthest from my mind. Not so this time. If you’ve never visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s a must see. The acreage is ample, the architecture and design are top notch, and the immerse experience is all-inclusive. And fitness? How’s about two fitness centers appropriately themed to the Resort?

Anaheim-Antics-Animal-Kingdom-Lodge-Zahanati-Fitness-Center-1

Adjacent to Jambo House is the Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center. Loosely translated as “wellness center”, Zahanati is a full-service workout facility and sauna offering full-service massage, body and facial treatments. The workout room is nicely appointed, with a full variety of machines. There is an abundance of cardio equipment and strength training machines. Were this not African themed, I’d use the phrase “practically perfect” to describe this venue. The atmosphere was relaxing, clean, and motivating. It would be easy to spend an hour here as you work your way through a workout circuit and finish with a treadmill run while enjoying the lush view outside.

Anaheim-Antics-Animal-Kingdom-Lodge-Zahanati-Fitness-Center-2

Zahanati is the larger of the fitness offerings, but its location at Jambo House makes it a bit of a hike for Kidani Village Guests. Sure, you could get on a shuttle or golf cart to Jambo House, but that’s the equivalent of pulling into an LA Fitness parking lot and finding the space closest to the entrance. Thankfully, Disney Imagineers took Kidani Village Guests into consideration.

Anaheim-Antics-Animal-Kingdom-Lodge-Zahanati-Fitness-Center-3

Adjacent to Kidani Village is the Survival of the Fittest Fitness Center. The name alone is enough to make you smile. It’s smaller than Zahanati, but no less appointed.   A full array of cardio machines including treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, stair climbers, and weight machines are available here. It has the same relaxing and motivating ambience of its big brother at Jambo House. Its view adjacent to the Samawati Springs Pool makes good use of its bank of windows and ample natural lighting.

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Both Zahanati and Survival of the Fittest Fitness Centers make use of MagicBand technology to grant access to Guests. But these fitness centers are not the only fitness opportunities available to Resort Guests. Being an Anaheim resident, where land at the Resorts is at a premium. I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of acreage dedicated to, well, just roaming. There are numerous walking paths coursing throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge that are perfect for that morning run, jog, or walk. Anyone jogging along these paths in an early morning will be taken by the lush greenery and spectacular views.

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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t burn off more calories than you take in when walking a theme park. If that were so, theme park visits would be a mandatory part of every fitness plan (hey, I might be onto something there!). It’s still necessary to stick to a health and fitness plan when vacationing. Thankfully, vacation spots like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and other Disney Resorts make it much easier to stick to a plan. That means you’ll be able to continue training for that Disney race while on vacation, and when the vacation is over. We can officially say goodbye to weight gain and post vacation lethargy. Okay, maybe not, but at least we have the option, and that itself can be enough to make our vacation even more relaxing and enjoyable.

RADically yours,

John

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John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

Friday Feast: Jiko

01 Jiko_Sign

I’ve visited Jiko a few times over the years, but I have recently discovered a love for this restaurant. Not only is it located at one of my favorite hotels, the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but the food is just beyond amazing. B and I ate here once and he wasn’t as big a fan as I was, so who better to bring back for an amazing meal than your best girlfriend. Enter Amanda….my foodie partner in crime! We had 2 amazing meals here this year and now Jiko is our favorite dining location in Walt Disney World. In fact, Amanda is celebrating her Mom’s birthday there tonight…Happy Birthday Mom!

Partners in Crime :)

Partners in Food Crime 🙂

Our favorite place to eat at Jiko is the Chef’s Counter. There are six seats here that overlook their partial show kitchen where they make all of the appetizers. This includes the flatbreads which are cooked one of the super hot brick ovens. The ovens get up to 685 degrees and only take 5 minutes to cook the flatbreads! The chefs (most of them) are very friendly and happy to answer any of your questions. If you’re a foodie, this is a great place to become more immersed in your meal.

00 Jiko_Chef's Counter

Chef’s Counter!

00 Jiko_FlatbreadsSo let’s dive in! Many are hesitant about dining at Jiko because of the “exotic” cuisine. But in reality, it’s not all that exotic and just purely delicious. Here are some of the menu options:

Jiko Apps

Jiko Apps

Jiko Soups & Entrees

Jiko Soups & Entrees

Ok, some of the ingredients might be strange and unusual, but just give it a chance. How can you go wrong with this amazing bread and butter to start?! There are two kinds of bread, honey wheat and rye focaccia with flax seeds, and the butter is a sundried tomato butter combined with cilantro, turmeric and ginger. Yes, it’s amazingly delicious. Oh and if you have an egg sensitivity like I do, let them know and they will separate the bread for you…pretty cool!

Honey Wheat Bread includes eggs

Honey Wheat Bread
includes eggs

Rye Bread egg-free

Rye Focaccia
egg-free

On both visits, Amanda and I split the same appetizers. After having the Grilled Wild Boar Tenderloin for the first time, I’ve pretty much been dreaming about it ever since. The meat is insanely tender, the pap (a traditional African corn porridge) is amazingly creamy and the spices are insane. This tiny little appetizer packs a flavorful punch!

06 Jiko_Wild Boar

Amanda and I are cheese addicts…if there’s a cheese plate on the menu, we’re getting it! Jiko has a great one with some interesting accouterments, including a date and mango jam, ground pumpkin seeds, plum gelee and a honey crisp.

Cheese Plate

Cheese Plate

08 Jiko_Cheese MenuMouth watering yet? Let’s move on to the entrees. The most famous entree at Jiko is their Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon. When the restaurant first opened, it came with an amazing Mac & Cheese. The menu was changed to the current Spoonbread Souffle, which I’m sure is good, but no comparison to the Mac & Cheese. Good news, you can still request it and the kitchen is happy to oblige!

011 Jiko_Filet

Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon with Mac & Cheese

If you’re a fan of beef, you might also like the Short Ribs. These are perfectly tender, but beware that they are quite spicy. Amanda ordered this on our first visit and while I thought the beef was good, it was a bit too spicy for me.

013 Jiko_Short Ribs

Spicy Beef Short Rib

On our second visit, we both went the seafood route at the suggestion of our amazing waiter Hassan (who we had both times!). I was ready to get the Filet Mignon again, but was also intrigued by the Yellow Snapper. And I’m so glad he convinced me to go with that! The Pan-seared Yellow Snapper with Tea-smoked Lentils is beyond amazing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was probably the best dish I’ve had in WDW. The sauce is a Citrus-Curry Beurre Blanc and if I could put this on everything I would. Basically, order this dish….

Yellow Snapper

Yellow Snapper

Tea-Smoked Lentils with the Yellow Snapper

Tea-Smoked Lentils with the Yellow Snapper

Sigh…I want that right now. Amanda ordered another delicious seafood dish, West African “Jerked” Scallops. Girl likes the spicy stuff! These were very good and I particularly enjoyed the Coconut Curry Sauce. However the baby carrots were very underdone and hard to eat…boo.

012 Jiko_Scallops

Jerked Scallops

Well there’s always room for dessert, right? Jiko has a very interesting dessert and after dinner drink menu, and me, I’m more partial to liquid desserts.

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Dessert Cocktail & Coffee Menu

Dessert Cocktail & Coffee Menu

Most of the desserts have eggs, so I steered clear of those. But Amanda raved about both the Coffee Creme Brûlée and the Chocolate Cake. They look delicious!

Kenyan Coffee Creme Brulee

Kenyan Coffee Creme Brûlée

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cinnamon-Chocolate Flourless Cake

I did try their sorbets, Coconut and I can’t remember the 2nd flavor!, which were quite good. Great egg-free option!

Sorbet

Sorbet

Now the after dinner drinks…I tried both the Zebratini and the Nutty African. YUM! The Zebratini was a bit too sweet for me, but the Nutty African was right up my alley!

Zebratini

Zebratini

Nutty African

Nutty African

Yowza…that’s a good meal! I wish I was there right now! Look how happy I was after my last meal there…

Pure Contentment

Pure Contentment

Have you eaten at Jiko? What is your favorite dish there?

Friday Feast: Sanaa

Sanaa Sign

This meal has been a long time in the making.  After reading numerous stellar reviews and given my love of “exotic” foods, Sanaa always sounded right up my alley.  My only barrier was B who HATES anything flavored with cumin (and I mean hates!) and isn’t a fan of Indian spiced food.  So I figured my girls only trip over Princess weekend would be  the perfect time to check it out.  Oh yeah!

After the runDisney meet up and picking all of our things up at the Expo, my partner in crime Amanda and I headed over to Sanaa for a late lunch.  This was my first time at Kidani Village and I was taken aback by how small it was.  After coming over from Jambo House, the lobby seemed tiny but eerily familiar.  We headed downstairs to check in for our 2:50 reservation.  Did you know there is a hidden Mickey  in the woven baskets on the wall next to the check-in desk??

Hidden Mickey next to the check-in desk

Hidden Mickey next to the check-in desk

The restaurant is small, but incredibly detailed to look like an outdoor African marketplace.  There are beads, artifacts and other various artwork scattered throughout the restaurant.  I love the lanterns and really wanted to steal them for my patio set at home!

Sanaa Quote

Sanaa Entrance

Sanaa_Lights

To the left when you enter is a really nice lounge area that I didn’t even know was there.  I will definitely be returning here for drinks and appetizers on a future trip.  I think I can probably get B to agree to that!

Sanaa_Bar

We were seated at a table right nice to one of the giant windows overlooking the savanna…how lucky were we?!  The restaurant was actually pretty dead at this time, which is really good to know because I’m sure you could easily get a walk up.  We were greeted by a few zebra who hung out with us the entire meal!  Our server was even taking pictures of them because she said it was very rare that they would come this close.  They must have known we were animal lovers 🙂

Zebra_1

Whatcha eatin??

Whatcha eatin??

I told the server that I have an egg allergy and was brought a separate egg allergy specific menu.  This was the first time I’ve seen this at a Disney restaurant…super cool!!  I think I was so excited about the menu that I completely forgot to take a photo of it…total fail on my part, but here’s the link to the menu so you can see all of the fun offerings!  The chef came out as usual to consult with me on what I can and can’t eat.  I also can’t have cucumbers or squash, so she pointed out those items I should avoid.

We were there on National Margarita Day (February 22nd), so obviously we both started out with the Malawi Mango Margarita.  This is a frozen margarita with tequila, tangerine liqueur, mango puree and lime juice.  It was tasty, but a bit too sweet for my taste overall.

Malawi Mango Margarita

Malawi Mango Margarita

Margarita with a side of zebra butt??

Margarita with a side of zebra butt??

Earlier that day we gorged ourselves with delicious Kouzzina breakfast, so we weren’t going to order too much food.  I was having a really hard time deciding what to have, but we finally settled on sharing the Indian-Style Bread Service and the Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs.

When you order the bread service, you have a choice of 3 breads and 3 accompaniments.  Let’s start with the breads.  We chose naan, garlic ginger naan and papadum.

Indian-Style Bread Service

Indian-Style Bread Service

I LOVE naan.  The texture, the flavor…everything!  This was great naan, but I couldn’t really tell the difference with the garlic ginger naan.  Usually garlic naan is incredibly strong, but I could hardly taste it here which was a tad disappointing.  I’m sure Amanda was happy about that though so she didn’t have to smell my garlic breath for the rest of the day.  The papadum was the surprise hit of the group.  It is crisp, cracker-like bread made from lentils and rice flour (gluten-free!) and has caraway seeds throughout.

For our accompaniments, we went with the mango chutney, red bell pepper hummus and tamarind chutney.  Our selection was more limited since neither one of us eat cucumbers and 3 out of the 9 choices have cucumbers, but we were very happy with what we got.

Clockwise from the top: Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Tamarind Chutney, Mango Chutney

Clockwise from the top: Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Tamarind Chutney, Mango Chutney

All 3 choices were on the sweet side, but went nicely with our bread selection.  There are some very spicy choices on the menu, but we decided to steer clear of those.  The hummus and mango chutney went really well with the naan since they were thicker.  The tamarind chutney was more like a thin sauce and was great for dipping the papadum in.  Overall, this was a hit!

As an entree, Sanaa offers a choice of two proteins that are simply slow-cooked in gravy and served with basmati rice or a five-grain pilaf.  Instead of getting two different proteins, we ordered 2 short ribs so we could each have our own little dish…genius!

Short Ribs in Gravy & Basmati Rice

Short Ribs in Gravy & Basmati Rice

Oh. My.  This was INSANELY DELICIOUS!  The short ribs were incredibly tender and just fell apart when you cut them with a fork.  And the gravy…whoa.  This was intensely flavorful with both Indian and African spices incorporated.  At the suggestion of our server, I poured the rice out on to my larger plate and then poured the short ribs and gravy all over it so it would soak up all the goodness.  This is one of the best things I’ve had on Disney property…hands down.

Gravy Goodness

Gravy Goodness

We were pretty full after all of this, so we sat and enjoyed the view while sipping the rest of our margaritas for dessert.  I’m glad we came for lunch so we could see all of the animals out on the savanna.  I would think that the experience wouldn’t be as good for dinner when it is dark out.

I really loved my meal here and can’t wait to go back and try some of the other menu items.  I think the Tandoori Chicken and the Shrimp with Green Curry are next on my list to try!

Have you been to Sanaa?  What is your favorite meal there?

Princess Weekend is in Full Swing!

This is the 1 year anniversary of my first half marathon…wow!  I am so lucky to be spending it right back here in the World running my 2nd Princess Half Marathon!  As usual full recaps are coming later, but I wanted to share some fun photos from my first day here.

Amanda & I at the runDisney Meet Up

Amanda & I at the runDisney Meet Up

Lines, lines & more lines at the Fit for a Princess Expo

Lines, lines & more lines at the Fit for a Princess Expo

Got my Princess Swag!

Got my Princess Swag!

Some giraffes chillin' at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Some giraffes chillin’ at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

My first time eating at Sanaa...OMG YUM!

My first time eating at Sanaa…OMG YUM!

So much more fun stuff to come, so stay tuned!  Best of luck to all the 5K runners this morning…smoke that course!

Oh and don’t forget…if you’re in the area, come to my RAD Princess Meet Up today at noon in Downtown Disney!  You won’t want to miss it 🙂

DTD RAD Meetup

Are you here for the Princess Half Marathon?  How’s your trip going?

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend Final Race Instructions

Final race instructions are now available for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend!  It’s only 16 days away!

The instructions include all of the information you will need about the races, transportation and other events around the weekend.  Let’s take a look:

Since the Health & Fitness Expo is usually everyone’s first stop, we’ll begin there.  The Expo will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS) on Friday, November 9th from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Saturday, November 10th from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.  All race participants  MUST attend the expo to turn in signed waivers (click here to print your waiver) and pick-up race packets, which include your race bib with B-Tag timing devices, race shirt, and goody bag.  The goody bag also doubles as the bag to use for bag check during the race.  This is also where you will receive any commemorative items you may have purchased during registration.  If you are unable to attend the expo, instructions are included on how to have someone pick-up your packet for you.  Participants for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K, and the Disney Kid’s Races all MUST go to packet pick-up.

Also included on the first page are some helpful race etiquette tips like how to handle water stations and to make sure you yell encouragement to your fellow runners!  I like that one because you are guaranteed to get encouragement right back.  Disney runners rule! 🙂

Page 2 has all of the information you will need for Race Day.

  • Host Resort Transportation  The following are a list of host resorts where buses will be available to bring participants to and from ALL events surrounding the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  This includes the Expo, half marathon, 5K, kids races, and after party.  For the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, runners must be on a bus by 8:00 pm to ensure they make it into their corrals on-time at WWOS.  Shuttle service will be suspended between 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm because of road closures, but will recommence at 10:00 for the Finish Line After Party at Epcot.
    •  Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
    • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
    • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
    • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
    • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
    • Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
    • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
    • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
  • Driving Directions  If not staying at a host resort, participants will need to provide their own transportation to all events.  An important thing to note is that there will be NO parking or guest drop off at WWOS (race start) on the evening of the race.  Runners and spectators will need to park at the Epcot and take shuttles to WWOS.  Runners must be on a shuttle by 8:00 pm, so make sure to leave extra time to park your car and wait in line for a shuttle.  Good news is that the parking fee will be waived for runners and spectators arriving at Epcot after 6:00 pm.  Yippee!
  • Costumes This is one of the best parts of Disney races…the costumes!  Runners get so creative and it’s so fun to see.  Please note that runners are NOT allowed to wear a face mask of any kind and will be removed from the course if this is violated.
  • Bag Check  Participants must use the clear bag provided at the expo to check any belongings during the race and affix the label with their bib number on the outside.  All bags must be checked by 9:00 pm in the start area at WWOS.  Bags will then be transported to Epcot and available for pick-up at in the finish line area and must be claimed by 2:15 am on the morning of November 11th.  Unclaimed bags will be moved to Epcot Guest Relations.  I have a feeling that this back pick up will be similar to that for the Princess Half Marathon, which went really welll, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned by the process if you are new to runDisney events.
  • Start Corrals  The start corrals will be located in the parking lot of WWOS.  The race begins promptly at 10:00 pm, so you will want to make sure you are in your corral with plenty of time to get in the spot you want.  Your corral will be listed on your race bib and you will only be granted access to that corral or one behind you.   You can find your corral placement by printing your waiver and finding the corresponding corral for your bib number.  I will be in Corral C, so make sure to come say hi!
  • Starting Times  The following are scheduled start times for the corrals at WWOS:
    • 9:58 am – Wheelchair Start
    • 10:00 am – Corral A Start
    • 10:05 am – Corral B Start
    • 10:10 am – Corral C Start
    • 10:15 am – Corral D Start
    • 10:20 am – Corral E Start
    • 10:25 am – Corral F Start
  • Race Bibs  Bibs must be centered on the front of your shirt.  Safety pins will be provided in your race packet at the expo.  Do not bend our fold your bib, as the ChronoTrack B-tag will be affixed to the back of the bib which will be used to track your time.  If your bib is not properly centered, damaged or covered, your time may not be recorded properly.  Your bib will also be used for the on course photographers, so make sure the number is clearly visible…oh and smile for the camera 🙂
  • Pacing Requirements Remember, you must keep a minimum of 16-minutes per mile throughout the race or you will run the risk of being picked up and brought to the finish line.  Keep this in mind if you a planning to stop for character photos.  Those lines can get long and it’s easy to lose track of time.  Pace cyclists will be on the course to let you know if you have fallen behind.
  • Changing Tents  Changing areas will be available in the finish line area at Epcot so you can get out of those sweaty clothes to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival.  You’ve earned that Fisherman’s Pie in Ireland!
  • Finish Line  I’m so glad that they moved the finish line to the Epcot parking lot this year.  This will allow for more room for spectators to view the race and they’ve even added a long line of bleachers!  This is the same area where many of the other runDisney races finish and it always seems to run smoothly.  Oh and see that little orange box?  That’s a beer tent!
Looking for the course map?  You can find it here!  More information is also available over on the runDisney website.  Don’t forget to get your copy of the 2012 DFB Mini-Guide to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival to plan for the Finish Line After Party!  I know I’ll be stuffing my face with some Food & Wine goodness and an ice cold beer!  Can’t wait to see you there 🙂
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