Last month, I had the joy of unexpectedly heading to Disney where I was treated to an Animal Kingdom park pass, a backpack with fun goodies, and a gift card given with the request that I try on of the new Animal Kingdom dining options, Satu’li Canteen. I tried it, and now I’m scheming how to get back.
When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened Pandora: The World of Avatar in late May, of course they included restaurants. Satu’li Canteen is the quick serve restaurant in the world and with the Pandoran focus on plants and nature, the food tends to be on the better for you side. As the actual movie featured no food, this allowed some creativity, and Disney did a great job. They introduced unique items with an international flair.
While a few items are pre-prepped and standard, typical for Disney, the newest of the Animal Kingdom dining options includes a create-your-own-bowl option that gets prepped to your specifications. The bowl has limited options, which means you don’t wait a long time to eat, and the flavors are amazing at a nice pricepoint.
From the moment you walk into the canteen, you see Na’vi art and culture celebrated throughout. The canteen “began” as the mess hall for Resource Development Administration (the bad guys in the movie), but Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) turned it into a restaurant for explorers to the planet to enjoy. The feel holds true to the rest of the world in this section of the park, and all seating offers either shade or indoor air conditioning, a bonus in the hot Orlando sun.
Quick Take on Disney’s New Animal Kingdom Dining Options at Satu’li Canteen
- Get the create-your-own-bowls. They are delicious and better for you. Adult portions $11.49-12.99 and kid versions $7.49-8.49.
- Don’t forget dessert, but share with others – the portion sizes for meals are generous. The blueberry cream cheese mousse ($5.29) is fantastic
- Satu’li Canteen is on the Disney Dining Plan
- You can order ahead via the My Disney Experience app to avoid waiting in lines
- They serve beer and wine, as well as a specialty drink and traditional beverage choices
- The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (check out the menu before you go)
My Experience with Satu’li Canteen
While there, I tried two of the entrees – the steamed “pods” bao buns and the chopped wood-grilled chicken Satu’li bowl. I’ll be honest that when it’s summer hot in Orlando, I can’t eat much food in one sitting. I knew I would never finish the adult create your own chicken bowl ($11.49), so I selected the kids’ meal version ($7.49) that still came with plenty of food, coupled with my choice of small milk or water. The kid and adult meals have only two real differences. The adult portion is obviously greater, and the adult version includes sauce and base variations and gets topped with yogurt boba balls.
I enjoyed the mixed whole grains and rice, but adult could also choose from bases including red and sweet potato hash, quinoa and vegetable salad, and romaine and kale salad. I can’t wait to go in cooler weather when I can try the adult version with a different base. Kids and adults both choose from a protein of slow-roasted sliced grilled beef, chopped wood-grilled chicken (my choice), a sustainable fish fillet, and crispy fried tofu (chili-spiced for adults). Adults also have the option to choose a sauce to top the bowl. Options include a charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, and creamy herb dressing. They all sound amazing. Beef and fish are more expensive ($8.49 kids and $12.99 adults) than the chicken and tofu ($7.49 and $11.49), but all meals are well worth the cost for the fresh food you receive.
I will admit that the cheeseburger “pods” I tried didn’t live up to my love of bao buns. Back home, I enjoy traditional bao, and while the outside included the slightly sweet fluffy pillow I enjoy, I found the inside somewhat bland. I saw no cheese and tasted little in the cheeseburger, but it wasn’t bad. I simply expected more. As we left, I discovered hot sauce available in the condiment area and wished I had tried it with that. That said, a friend commented that it tasted like the burger from a popular fast food chain. I agree entirely. If you want a more traditional flavor here, this is your best bet. The steamed pods also come in vegetable curry, and both cost $10.99.
The cheeseburger steamed “pods” come with ketchup, mustard, and pickles mixed into the meat. The condiments aren’t visible, however, which may prevent picky eaters from complaining. The meal comes with root vegetable chips that I enjoyed. The colors make them more fun than traditional potato chips, and the included cole slaw adds more color to the plate. The slaw retains its crunch and isn’t too heavily dressed. If you don’t like those sides, however, you don’t have an alternative here.
Save room for dessert! While I didn’t have a chance yet to try the chocolate cake, it sounds beyond the ordinary. It includes a crunchy cookie layer, banana cream, and goji berries. I made it a point to try out the blueberry cream cheese mousse (both $5.29). The dessert’s look does justice to the Pandora theme with the vibrant colors. The bright blue is just a thin layer on the outside, with the inside creamy mousse a more traditional blueberry color. It’s a perfect refreshing dessert without being too heavy. The passion fruit curd complements the blueberry so well. I would come here just for this dessert.
While adults have the choice just between the create-your-own-bowls and the steamed “pods” at the newest of the Animal Kingdom dining options, kids with a more picky palate have additional options. As a parent whose kids enjoy more adult foods but in smaller portions, I appreciate the child size bowls. I know parents need traditional kid friendly options like the cheeseburger steamed “pod” ($7.49) that truly tastes like a fast food burger, a beef hot dog wrapped in dough ($6.79), and a cheese quesadilla ($5.99). The more traditional kids menu options come with chips in addition to the water or small milk. That said, they don’t meet the nutrition guidelines for complete meals the way the bowls do.
Satu’li Introduces Order Ahead, a First for Animal Kingdom Dining Options
As with all Disney quick-serve restaurants, the lines move quickly. That said, utilize technology. Through the My Disney Experience app, you can order your meal in advance. Simply select the items you wish to order and customize them as you would at the restaurant. You pre-pay via the app, as well. Once you arrive, tap the “I’m here” button within the app to let the restaurant know to begin your meal prep. The app then alerts you once your food is ready. Finally, you pick it up at a separate designated window with no queues at all! Right now, if you have the Dining Plan, it won’t work in the app, but they plan to update that soon.
While Satu’li started the mobile app concept, look for other quick service restaurants throughout the Disney family to include it over time.
Have you been to Satu’li Canteen? What’s your favorite amongst the Animal Kingdom Dining Options?