Happy Earth Day! I thought I would write about our lunch with an Animal Specialist today since it is Earth Day. A few years ago, we had lunch with an Imagineer at the Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We enjoyed hearing about New Fantasyland (which was still in planning stages at that point) and talking with the cast member about how he came to work at Disney. So, we decided to sign up for another dining experience with a cast member. I believe it was around $60 per person, which was not bad at all considering we got a full lunch at Sanaa, as well as the experience of talking with an Animal Specialist and being able to see an endangered tortoise up close.
The lunch was at noon and we had 6 other guests at the lunch with us (since we were a group of 6). My aunt, sister, and I made it there around 12:02 but my dad, grandma, and mom had already checked us in. We were waiting on another group to arrive anyways. We were seated quickly and the chef came over to talk to me about my shrimp allergy. Instead of having shrimp as one of the small dishes for the main course, I would get beef.
The cast member introduced himself to us and told us about his experience with animals and then his history with Disney. He worked at Discovery Island before it was closed which was neat because my parents, aunt, and grandma remember when that was open. We were served naan bread, as well as a few types of other breads with lots of sauces. My favorite was the mango salsa and I could have just ate the bread for my meal.
We went around the table and introduced ourselves to the rest of the group. My family was the biggest group so we told how we were all related. I booked the lunch but yet am not as interested as animals as other members of the lunch group so some of what they were asking about I would never have thought to ask. The cast member then proceeded in telling us about a few key topics and answering questions as well about the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge and at Animal Kingdom. We learned some very interesting information. The main course came out, which I forgot to take a picture of, but was arranged in separate smaller bowls of rice, chicken, shrimp (or beef for me) and then there was a large plate for you to mix the dishes together. I thought everything was really tasty and was disappointed I could not finish my dish. There were three different desserts, but I only took a photo of the one I ate, which was a chocolate dessert, of course. Yum! The photo makes me want to go back and order it.
So you might be wondering, what did we learn about the animals at Walt Disney World? Well I won’t tell you too much because you really should book a reservation for one of these lunches (which are only offered twice a week by the way-usually Wednesday and Saturday). But we learned how the animals are monitored, how new animals are introduced into the community, how some animals are easier to train the others, and even how animals might like one trainer over another.
After lunch was concluded, we went outside, where it was sunny and very hot, to meet an endangered tortoise. I would be more specific and say the species name but we had some controversy over this after the lunch and could not remember if the cast member had said reticulated, radiated, rotated, etc. when naming the species. If anyone sees this post and is a tortoise specialist, please comment! We got to go up close to two of these tortoises inside cast member gates (which is always cool). The animal specialist told us how the tortoises had different personalities and were named after the two original chefs at Sanaa when the restaurant opened. I would definitely recommend booking this experience or dining with an Imagineer. Both can be booked through calling up Walt Disney World Dining. The lunches do fill up so try to call a few months before your trip!