For years, Animal Kingdom has had the reputation of being just a half day park and until the recent expansion of Pandora – World of Avatar, the food was well, unremarkably forgotten about. Fast forward to years later and Animal Kingdom is not only an all day park with some of the best attractions on Disney Property, but also has added some of the best Disney dining that is now available.
When planning a Disney World vacation, one of the most important things to keep in mind is going to be your meals. Before you begin to book your dining reservations, it is important to know what parks you will be attending each day. This is going to make the selection easier.
Before we go any further it is important to keep some key factors in mind when contemplating dining at any Disney World location:
Not all Disney Dining is created equal. There are two popular and distinct type of dining locations. The first is going to be quick service locations in which you order your food from a cashier and then pick up the food yourself and head over to a table you also choose. You clean up after yourself, so prepare to do some worth yourself. A table service location is going to be where you wait to be seated, are served by a server and of course the restaurant cleans up after you.
When it comes to table service restaurants, you are going to NEED dining reservations. Sometimes you will be able to walk up and get a table but there is most likely going to be a wait and it is going to throw a giant kink into your plans for the day. It is better to be prepared and have your plans decided before you make your way into the theme parks.
Dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance, and you need to take advantage of that. The earlier you decide where you want to eat, the better chance you have of scoring dining reservations for some of the more in demand restaurants.
Quick service locations now have the option for Mobile Ordering. This is going to allow you to prepay and plan your quick service meals before you arrive there and pick them up as soon as you arrive by selecting the option in the My Disney Experience App. This is going to be a way to skip the line and save time.
No matter who you ask, everyone is going to have a different opinion on the dining plans. For some they are a great way to save money and have everything paid before you begin your vacation, but others have found that they save money by pre-planning their meals and budgeting them out. No matter what you choose, the most important thing to keep is to research and be prepared. The more prepared you are, the more informed of a choice you can make. While I personally enjoy having everything paid for before I get there, if you’re looking to save some money, check out one of the many Disney Dining calculators to see which would fit your family best.
While talking about planning, make sure you remember you can and should book those dining reservations 180 days in advance (well before those fast passes) because if you do not remember, you could possibly double book yourself when making fast passes or any other magical experience.
If you are selecting a dining experience that is inside the park, make sure you have a ticket that day, if you do not then you will not be able to eat there.
If you book a dining reservation and then decide you want to eat somewhere else, make sure you cancel because if you do not then you will be charged a no show fee which can really be a bummer! You have never locked into dining reservations until 24 hours before the reservation begins
The Best Places to Eat at Animal Kingdom
So now that we have covered the basics, let’s dive into the 6 best dining locations to eat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
One of the newest additions to dining at Animal Kingdom, Tiffin’s comes in at our number one spot. Located right before the entrance of Pandora in Discovery Island, you will find a watering hole fit for even the finest of travelers. Now the cuisine here is not for the faint of heart, although there are still some options for picky eaters. The style of the food is based on African, Asian and South American dishes. But believe me it is worth the adventure. The food here is finely crafted and there is something new for everyone to try. Make sure you check out spiced rubbed venison or Wagyu eye of rib-eye. The guava mousse is based off of some of the finest South American flavors and is going to be one of the best desserts you will have in all of Animal Kingdom.
Now this is a more expensive dining spot so make sure you budget out for it. It is worth two table service credits and costs anywhere from $35 to $59.99 per adult. For a while you could snag a table at Tiffin’s without any issues but with the growing popularity of Animal Kingdom, they are essential now. And there is no dress code to dine here so come in your theme park best to enjoy the cuisine. If you cannot manage to snag a reservation here, you can always check out Nomad’s Lounge. Located inside Tiffin’s, this is a relaxed lounge area with a bar and plenty of eating options. Also, it is a cheaper option if you are looking to explore with food without a whole meal (these are small savory plates instead of whole meals). Either way you cannot lose with either one of these choices.
Usually quick service meals make it lower down on my lists, but Satu’li Canteen is going to be one of the best quick service meals you will have while dining at anywhere on the Disney Property. The portions for the bowl meals are huge and no matter how many times we have eaten there, the food comes out better than the last. You really feel like you are eating at a canteen in the heart of Pandora! My favorite meal is going to be the Slow Roasted Sliced Beef Bowl and the best part is you can choose whichever base and sauce you want.
If you eat here more than once you are always going to have multiple choices when selecting your meals. They do have mobile ordering which makes it perfect if you are waiting in line for Flight of Passages and realize your party wants to eat after. All you have to do is log into the My Disney Experience App, pick what you want and pay. When you are ready to eat head on over and select ready for pick, and you are all set! This is going to run about $14.99 and under per person and is worth one quick service dining credit. You do not need any reservations to eat here and like all quick service options, there is no dress code required.
Located over in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom you are going to find the Tusker House. Now unlike many other dining locations, depending on the time of day you come, you will indulge in two separate dining experiences. During the day, the Tusker House turns into a classic Disney World character buffet with all the staples of an American breakfast including waffles, eggs, bacon or sausages and then also mixing it up with some of the best African flavors they have including beef bobotie and chutneys.
There is going to be something for everyone here while Donald and his pals make their way around the restaurant with some of their finest safari gear on. During the dinner menu, there will still be characters but instead of breakfast, you are going to be able to splurge with fantastic African cuisine and some of the best hummus dips you will find. This is a great way to snag not only a meal that adults will love but characters at the same time. This is going to be worth one table service dining credit regardless of the time of day your party will be eating and runs about $35 to $59.99 per adult. There is no dress code to dine here but reservations are a must! This is a high demand venue because it is the only character dining at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom!
Yak and Yeti
Located in Asia at Animal Kingdom right near Expedition Everest, you are going to find one of the older and most recommended dining experiences. Known for their pan-Asian cuisine, Yak and Yeti’s is going to quench the taste buds of any traveler that makes their way through the front doors—and the decor is amazing! You are going to feel as if you are walked right into the foothills of the Himalayas to enjoy a meal of the ages. Make sure you make room in your belly to try the fried green beans or sweet and sour chicken.
And do not worry, even picky eaters will be able to indulge with the Kobe Beef burger. There is no dress code to eat here, but due to its popular location, dining reservations are strongly recommended. This is worth one table service dining credit and runs about $15 to $34.99 per adult. Make sure you end your meal with the fantastic mango pie and if you are looking for a more affordable option make sure you check out the Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes which has some pan-Asian favorites at the quick service price point which comes in very handy when trying to do a cheap Disney vacation.
Now maybe your entire family is full of picky eaters and you are worried about satisfying the whole family or you have a little dino lover in your party. Head on over to Dino Land USA and head straight to Restaurantosaurs. This is located right near Dinosaur so once again if you are waiting in line and realize that the entire family is turning into a bunch of T-Rexes from hunger, you can order right online through Mobile Ordering and have your meal ready to go!
They have both black bean and Angus burger to fit the dietary needs of any honorary explorer and this is worth one quick service dining credit. Now if you do not have the dining plan this meal will run you about $14.99 or less per person coming in at a very affordable price point. You do not need reservations since this is not a table service restaurant and there is no dress code as well.
Another one of the newer dining location at Animal Kingdom, Harambe Market is going to be located in Africa right near the Kilimanjaro Safaris. There are four separate dining locations including: Kitamu Grill, Famous Sausages, Chef Mwanga’s and Wanjohi Refreshments, all providing four different African based cuisines. My favorite meal has to be pork sausages with curried onion relish from Famous Sausages but the spice-rubbed ribs from Chef Mwanga’s are also a fan favorite.
This is going to be worth one quick service credit and is $14.99 per person and under. This is an outdoor dining area so there is definitely not dress code or dining reservations required. Just head off of the safaris and stop her for lunch or even a quick snack throughout your day!
There you have it, the 6 best places to eat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Just remember to know your family’s needs, do your research, make sure you know the type of palate each member of your family has and you will be able to eat with ease during your Disney World magical vacation. The number one rule of Disney is to always be prepared and by knowing where your family wants to eat beforehand at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the rest of your vacation will just fall into place!
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