Today, I am posting a recap of Animal Kingdom and a recipe for Bobotie (South African Spiced Meat Casserole). Here are previous posts from our Orlando trip: Epcot, Downtown Disney, Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando Part 1, and Legoland Florida.
We started the day with breakfast at the Tusker House. Our reservation time was set for right at park opening, so we were able to get into Animal Kingdom a few minutes early. It was nice to take a leisurely walk to the back of the park with minimal people around. It is also a great way to get photos without being surrounded by a crowd.
Tusker House is located near the back of the park in the Africa section. The food is offered as a buffet with a mixture of American style, African, and even a carving station. For breakfast, the highlighted African foods were Beef Bobotie, Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole, Basmati Rice, Mealie Pap, and Mealie Cornbread. Chutneys were available for the pastries. I also had Jungle Juice with my breakfast- an orange, passion fruit, guava juice.
I absolutely love the detailing put into the restaurant, especially the fabric draped ceiling over the buffet. The only issue I had was with our particular table. It was situated in the back corner of the dining room and a little cramped. The lighting was low, making it difficult to get good photos with the characters. This issue was very slight and overall, we had an amazing experience.
Characters are at the Tusker House for breakfast and lunch. They include Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy in Safari outfits. We spent about an hour in the restaurant and saw all the characters twice (and Mickey a third time since Evan ran into him on the way to the bathroom and got an extra hug).
Since we were celebrating Evan’s birthday during our trip to Orlando, Evan got a birthday card and cupcake following our breakfast at the Tusker House! Once he blew out the candle, Mickey came over to visit with him a second time. Mickey is Evan’s absolute favorite character. He has a Mickey stuffed animal from our trip in October and he carries it around the house and on all car trips. Spending a little extra time with Mickey made his day.
After Tusker House, we immediately went over to Kilamanjaro Safari. We had fast passes for the ride, but the line was short enough that we didn’t need them and could save the passes for something else. Evan absolutely loved sitting in the truck and pointing out all the animals.
I was so happy Evan got a second chance to meet Pooh and Tigger after not feeling well during our Crystal Palace breakfast a couple of days prior. We just happened to be walking into the Dinosaur section when a Cast Member mentioned there was no wait for the meet and greet. Perfect timing!
The Boneyard in DinoLand USA was Evan’s favorite part of Animal Kingdom. He could have spent the entire day here. This large play area has plenty of activities for those under 10. A lot of it is also shaded, a welcome break from the very hot day. There is a multi-level maze with slides and rope bridges, a dig site, musical bones, and other interactive exhibits. We ended up spending a good portion of the day here since Evan didn’t want to leave. We also enjoyed being able to sit for a bit while Evan played. Chad and I had visited Animal Kingdom before, so we didn’t mind missing some of the other areas of the park and just followed Evan’s lead.
While Evan was catnapping in the stroller, I took the opportunity to look closer at the Tree of Life. The Discovery Island Trails include a network of walkways that take you around the tree. There are over 300 animal carvings to pick out. Along the pathways, there are also various plants and animal exhibits. I was able to see otters, kangaroos, a Galapagos tortoise, and multiple species of birds.
There are entertainers throughout Animal Kingdom. In Asia, DJ Anaan features a Bhangra show in the afternoon. In Africa, you can watch a street party hosted by the Burudika band. There are also a couple of musical shows: Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical. We absolutely loved Festival of the Lion King last time we went to Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, it was in the process of being refurbished this trip.
After we saw everything on our list at Animal Kingdom, we went back to Magic Kingdom since Evan wasn’t feeling well earlier in the week. Before we left, we grabbed a Mickey Pretzel for a quick snack.
Bobotie (or Bobotjie) is a South African casserole with spiced ground meat and topped with an egg custard. Beef and lamb are commonly used today, but mutton and pork are also seen. It is often served with yellow rice, chutney, and sambal oelek. There is a wonderful complexity of flavors in this dish. The curry adds a bit of spice, but it is countered with sweetness from the jam and raisins. I was actually slightly apprehensive to try it. I have never really liked raisins, but I am starting to come around. They definitely something extra to the Bobotie.
Chutney is originally an Indian condiment made from fruits/vegetables and spices that was introduced to South Africa by the British. I was able to find chutney in the European/Jewish section of the grocery store. I used a mango chutney. There are many recipes available to make your own and they are also available on Amazon: Mrs Balls Peach Chutney and Mango Chutney.
Sambal Oelek (Ulek) is a chile condiment originating from Indonesia. It is made from cayenne peppers and only seasoned with a little salt and vinegar. It is great for those who want to add a bit of heat. It is available in the Asian section of larger grocery stores or the Asian food market. The only premade paste I have been able to find contains preservatives: Huey Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste 8 Oz, but you can also get the seasonings to make your own paste: Spicely Organic Seasoning, Sambal Ulek Salt Free, 0.4 Ounce.
Bobotie (South African Spiced Meat Casserole)
Adapted from Port and Fin
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 slices bread (wheat or white)
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons curry powder
3 tablespoons peach or mango chutney
2 tablespoons apricot or peach jam
2 tablespoons thinly sliced almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, divided
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
4-6 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a circle or rectangular casserole dish (8-9 inches in diameter).
In a wide bowl, soak the bread slices in milk, turning to make sure both are coated.
In a large skillet, drizzle oil over medium low heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent. Don’t let them brown. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it into small pieces, until browned.
Mix in the curry powder, chutney, jam, almonds, raisins, lemon juice, and salt. Remove from heat.
Squeeze the milk from the bread back into the bowl, then crumble the slices into the beef. Add 1 egg and stir until well combined.
Add the 2 remaining eggs and turmeric to the milk. Beat until combined.
Place the seasoned beef into prepared casserole dish. Spread with a spoon or spatula until even and flat on top. Cover with the milk mixture. Top with bay leaves.
Cook in preheated oven until the eggs are set and golden, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with rice, chutney, and sambal oelek.