Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers a wide variety of dining choices. How do I choose the best Animal Kingdom restaurants? Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers a unique combination of excellent aspects of a zoo. Also, Animal Kingdom functions as a world-class theme park. Though this combination sometimes confuses Walt Disney World visitors, Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park provides experiences not found elsewhere.
Regarding food, Disney’s Animal Kingdom restaurants offer some distinctive choices. With lands based on places like Asia, Africa, and even Pandora – The World of Avatar, dining can be an exciting adventure at Animal Kingdom. However, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Restaurants have food for the picky eater and those with dietary concerns. The food styles range from typical theme park food to eclectic cuisine.
Before delving into the cuisines of Animal Kingdom, one should remind themselves of the history of this theme park. Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrated its 25-year anniversary on Earth Day, April 22, 2023.
Roy E. Disney About Animal Kingdom
Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney, said at Animal Kingdom’s official dedication ceremony on April 21, 1998, that “Disney’s Animal Kingdom, like the world itself, will evolve and grow. It’s truly a living thing.” Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
An Entirely New Kind of Theme Park
Animal Kingdom has grown in so many ways over the last 25 years. In addition to more dining choices, the theme park has gone through many ups and downs. Disney’s Animal Kingdom combines Walt Disney’s love of animals, both real and imaginary, with exciting attractions, spectacular stage shows, and entertaining characters. For over 25 years, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has entertained guests with this unique theme park.
Over the last 25 years, the park has continually evolved with new attractions, entertainment, and even new lands such as Asia and Pandora – The World of Avatar, giving guests new reasons to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Central Florida.
Along with those theme park adjustments, the dining options have evolved at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We have seen the dining options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom change from ordinary in most cases to some excellent theme park dining.
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Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants
Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers traditional theme park cuisine and many non-traditional options. The choices can feel overwhelming with all-the-counter service, table service, and food & beverage kiosks. One will not go hungry at Animal Kingdom. So, what do you select when visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Food counts as an important part of a Disney vacation. Still, you do not have time to try everything.
To take some of the pressure off you, we have ranked the best table service options, counter service options, and snack options. We will also sneak in some places to avoid within this list of best Animal Kingdom restaurants. We have dined at all these places. This list of the best Animal Kingdom restaurants will help with your quest for pleasant Disney dining.
Table Service: Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants
Disney’s Animal Kingdom contains four table-service dining options. These are Rainforest Café, Tusker House, Tiffins Restaurant, and Yak & Yeti. Even our lowest-rated table service choice deserves consideration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, depending on your group.
Table service restaurants involve making an advance dining reservation. This can be done using the My Disney Experience mobile app or web browser. If you have yet to download this to your mobile device, you should do that in preparation for your trip to Walt Disney World.
Most Searched For Advanced Dining Reservations at Animal Kingdom Restaurants
Thanks to data from the users of MouseDining, we know which Animal Kingdom table service restaurants are most searched for to acquire a reservation. In many cases, the most searched-for restaurants indicate the highest quality food. At the time of writing, the most searched-for Animal Kingdom table service restaurants are:
- Tusker House Restaurant
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant
- Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Tiffins Restaurant
If you decide to dine at Tusker House, you should prepare to make your reservation at the 60-day mark when reservation slots open. Based on the historical volume of Walt Disney World guests searching for advance dining reservations there, you should focus on that one if interested.
We understand that booking a dining reservation for your vacation 60 days in advance sounds absurd. In fairness, Walt Disney World guests used to have to book 180 days in advance for the hardest reservations to acquire.
Our Ranking of Animal Kingdom Table Service Restaurants
#4 Rainforest Café
Since Rainforest Café is part of a larger chain of restaurants, you may have one near where you live. After 2020, fewer Rainforest Cafés operate now. Nevertheless, the two on Walt Disney World property do well from a business standpoint. The second one at Walt Disney World runs at Disney Springs.
One interesting aspect of the Rainforest Café at Animal Kingdom is that it offers reasonably priced (and above-average quality) Walt Disney World breakfast.
Now, exceptions exist to this claim, but most kids enjoy this place. If you struggle to keep a child entertained in a restaurant, Rainforest Café saves the day. The kid’s menu offers numerous entrée choices and plenty of sides to choose from. The kid’s menu here presents several kid’s desserts also. All the standard coloring pages help the kid experience. Still, the animatronics and rainforest-theming elements will direct your child’s gaze. If that fails, then there are plenty of animal displays to walk around viewing.
Rainforest Cafe guests visit due to the themed dining experience. The exterior of the location looks well-themed. This place never emanates a boring standard dining experience. Rainforest Cafe offers decent food but not to the same level as the other three table service options at Animal Kingdom.
Though some children may become over-stimulated by the animatronics and other themed entertainment within Rainforest Cafe, this place deserves consideration for dining if your group contains young children. As mentioned, the breakfast here provides high-quality food and better value than lunch and dinner.
The Rainforest Café at Animal Kingdom has two entrances that might be useful depending on your plans while at Walt Disney World. One entry can be found outside the theme park. In other words, you do not need ticket media to enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom to dine at this Rainforest Café. The other entrance can be reached from inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Based on this setup, you will need your ticket media or Disney MagicBand to enter or return to the theme park. However, this arrangement offers a distinctive potential advantage to this dining option.
The Rainforest Café at Disney Springs ranks as one of the most challenging dining reservations among the 21 Disney Springs table service options. Despite that, the Animal Kingdom Rainforest Café does not have the same demand.
Suppose you must take a child or grandchild to Rainforest Café at Walt Disney World. It will be easier to get a table at the Animal Kingdom restaurant. If you employ this strategy, we recommend booking lunch and checking operating hours since it will close early on some evenings.
#3 Tiffins Restaurant
As shown earlier, this Tiffina offers an easy opportunity to acquire a reservation at Animal Kingdom. However, it also comes with the highest price tag.
The food tastes great here. This upscale dining option at Disney’s Animal Kingdom provides an excellent opportunity for those looking for authentic signature dining at Animal Kingdom. If you missed dining at some highly respected upscale table service options at Walt Disney World, Tiffins Restaurant makes a solid “Plan B.”
This restaurant is in the Discovery Island area of Animal Kingdom. Though it is a quiet dining environment, you will be close to the excitement of Discovery Island’s central hub area.
This menu qualifies as adventurous for most theme park guests. You can purchase many expected but well-prepared steak, chicken, and seafood items here. Still, the menu features things like Spiced Chickpea Falafel, Charred Octopus, Tamarind-braised Short Rib, and Braai-spiced Veal.
The primary reason we rate this lower on the list of best Animal Kingdom restaurants relates to the price point. Several entrées cost over $50. The Butter Chicken costs almost $40. Having dined here before, we understand the reason for the higher prices. However, the price point exceeds what most theme park visitors usually expect to pay for dining.
Despite the high food quality, the time required to dine at Tiffins for the whole experience cuts into the theme park time more than it should. Though this only sometimes happens, we have heard of people dining at Tiffins for over two hours. We would steer people to the other two remaining table service options over this one. Yet, the food quality here ranks higher than most Walt Disney World Resort restaurants.
#2 Tusker House
Tusker House in the Africa area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers character dining all day. This African-inspired buffet provides some excellent items for guests to enjoy.
The interior and exterior of Tusker House are lovely. Tusker House has four different dining room areas with unique African-inspired décor. The buffet area looks like an outdoor African bazaar or marketplace.
Character dining happens all day here. Safari Donald serves as the star of the operation. Of course, he often allows other friends like Daisy, Goofy, Mickey, and Minnie to join in the safari fun. Regarding character dining, Tusker House provides the best combination of food quality and character dining inside the four Walt Disney World theme parks.
We do recommend the breakfast experience here. Even though the Rainforest Café breakfast costs less, we would choose this one. The buffet offers enough standard breakfast menu items and more exotic African-inspired options. We also feel that the character experience operates better at breakfast than later in the day.
Lunch and Dinner
The lunch and dinner buffet menu features some more exotic African dishes. Examples include spit-roasted Tandoori chicken, green curry shrimp, flavorful chicken curry, and stewed African vegetables. You can find healthier options and tasty menu items you may have never tried before during lunch and dinner at Tusker House.
If character dining ranks high on your list of things to do, Tusker House makes a good choice. We find that characters are easier to meet at Animal Kingdom though. The concept of buying a character meal to have the characters come to you makes less sense here as opposed to the Magic Kingdom theme park.
The breakfast buffet costs $45 per adult, typical for character breakfasts around Walt Disney World. The lunch and dinner buffet costs $14 more.
#1 Yak & Yeti
Yak & Yeti offers table service dining in the Asian area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Overall, we rank this Animal Kingdom restaurant as the best table service option.
Landry’s Restaurant Group operates Yak & Yeti. Landry’s also runs the Rainforest Café locations and T-Rex Café. As opposed to those more kid-centric options, Yak & Yeti offers some of the best table service dining options in the Walt Disney World theme parks.
Yak & Yeti serves a mostly pan-Asian-style menu. However, this place does not offer breakfast. The lunch and dinner menus include small plates, shareable appetizers, soups, salads, noodle bowls, grilled entrees, and desserts. This restaurant also offers an extensive kid’s menu, several vegetarian choices, and many alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Popular Menu Items
Some of the more popular items at Yak & Yeti are the Ahi Tuna Nachos, the Kobe Beef Burger, Teriyaki Chicken, and Chicken Tikki Masala. The menu contains enough variety that everyone can find something they like.
Yak & Yeti uses a variety of Southeast Asian décor to set the scene for your dining experience. Those that love Asian food will love this place. Those that do not love Asian food will still be okay here based on a large number of selections on the menu.
The dining atmosphere at Yak & Yeti brings a nice feel of the Asian culture in a peaceful setting. If possible, request to sit upstairs, the view enhances your dining opportunity. Also, though the dining will not be as child friendly as Rainforest Cafe, this Landry’s Restaurant offers a solid kid’s menu.
Yak & Yeti reasonably compromises between higher-priced options while not giving up too much in quality.
Counter Service: Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants
In most Walt Disney World explanations of dining, the term counter service indicates a place where you walk up to a counter, order and pay for food, pick it up, and then take it to the table. Disney sometimes uses the term quick service to indicate the same thing.
Since Universal Orlando Resort primarily uses the term quick service, you may hear that less than Walt Disney World. Still, they mean the same thing. However, we have noticed in recent years that Walt Disney World uses the term quick service more often.
Of course, counter-service dining may look different if you select mobile order. Many Disney counter service options accept mobile ordering via the My Disney Experience mobile app. However, it is easier to think of any restaurant without wait staff as counter service if you do this. Also, you cannot make advanced dining reservations at counter service dining options, unlike table service dining.
Best Counter Service at Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers many counter-service dining options. When you factor in food and beverage kiosks, Animal Kingdom guests have many choices in terms of counter service.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers more non-traditional theme park food than the other three Walt Disney World theme parks. We would suggest being at least a little adventurous in terms of dining while at Animal Kingdom.
Best Animal Kingdom Quick-Service Restaurants
As you might expect, Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers some quick-service locations with standard theme park fast food. They are great options for picky eaters and kids but don’t stand out from the rest with their dining options.
Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus are both quick-service locations that offer traditional burgers, fries, and pizza.
If you are looking for food more unique to Animal Kingdom, here are our top five quick-service options.
#5 Terra Treats
Speaking of better for less money, Terra Treats is a food kiosk in the Discovery Island area of Animal Kingdom. This unassuming stand provides the best counter-service pizza at Animal Kingdom. In fact, if someone were to write a blog about the best pizza at Walt Disney World, Terra Treats would make the list.
The pizza choices at Terra Treats are:
- Tomato and Cheese Pizza Slice ($6.29)
- Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza Slice ($6.79)
- Roasted Mushroom and Leeks Pizza ($7.690
This pizza will not be the best pizza you have ever eaten. Most pizza at Walt Disney World tastes average. Still, this pizza costs less than Pizzafari, and you will not have to wait in line very long, either.
#4 Flame Tree Barbecue
This location started serving barbecue before it was cool at Walt Disney World. Before Regal Eagle Smokehouse at Epcot and Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Hollywood Studios, Flame Tree Barbecue sold barbecue meats.
For theme park barbecue, this place works well. Guests will find all the standard barbecue options here and a plant-based alternative.
#3 Harambe Market
Harambe Market, in the African area, provides dining for the carnivore in your group. Okay, there is one plant-based option here. However, if you like ribs and chicken, Harambe Market calls your name. We would argue that the flavor of these ribs and chicken options tastes equal to or better than at Flame Tree Barbecue.
Harambe Market provides several entrée choices. It also serves decent quick-service menu items like ribs you might not find elsewhere.
These meats receive a touch of exotic spice. This place will not satisfy people looking for burgers and fries. However, those looking for non-traditional counter service should explore this African-themed food area. Like many quick-service options at Animal Kingdom, this place has open-air seating for enjoying your food.
Though the menu has been reduced since the theme parks reopened in 2020, Harambe Market still offers a step-up regarding quick-service at Disney. If kids are included in your group, Harambe Market sells the typical nuggets and “Uncrustables” for them. Yet, a more adventurous kid’s meal can also be purchased here.
#2 Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café finishes high on our list. This walk-up counter service option in Asia provides quality breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Being in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom, this selection serves a range of quick-service style Asian food.
This quick-service option serves different food than the table service at Yak & Yeti restaurant. We often confuse the two places when explaining to people. Both restaurants reside in Asia, making the confusion larger. If you look up a menu online, look at the desired Yak & Yeti option.
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café can become popular at standard mealtimes. Still, this place offers lots of outdoor seating. We do wish you good luck finding a well-shaded place to eat, in any case.
The breakfast menu serves as an improvement on the standard Disney breakfast biscuit sandwich. Yak & Yeti Local Food Café serves sausage and egg English muffins and breakfast burritos with high-quality for quick service hash brown bites.
The lunch and dinner menus consist primarily of Asian cuisine. We recommend egg rolls, teriyaki beef bowls, and vegetable tikki masala. This counter service location also sells a variety of hamburgers, including a plant-based option and the American Kobe Cheeseburger. We suggest these burgers over the ones at Restaurantosaurus.
Since the Asia area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom usually has fewer people than Africa and Pandora – The World of Avatar, you might enjoy relaxing dining at Yak & Yeti. We have experienced during the non-peak dining hours that the views and atmosphere add to the dining experience at Yak & Yeti.
#1 Satu’li Canteen
Without a doubt, the best quick-service dining option at Animal Kingdom resides in Pandora – The World of Avatar. Satu’li Canteen ranks as the best quick-service dining inside any Walt Disney World theme park.
As Disney says about Satu’li Canteen, “Between your aerial adventures on Avatar Flight of Passage and family-friendly voyages aboard Na’vi River Journey, tuck inside the Quonset-hut structure called Satu’li Canteen—long ago an RDA mess hall, now a peaceful dining facility adorned with Na’vi art and cultural items.”
Only Open For Lunch and Dinner
Though Satu’li Canteen does not serve breakfast, it opens daily at 10:00 a.m. We have enjoyed some of the excellent quick-service options here for late non-traditional breakfasts, in any case.
The ordering method at Satu’li Canteen functions like a Subway, Chipotle, or even Blaze Pizza over at Disney Springs, with guests moving down a food assembly line. Cast members make the made-to-order bowls. Guests select their protein, sauce, and base when ordering a bowl. We are partial to the rice options when we order, but other base options exist, like potato hash and salad.
Guests may choose to mobile order via the My Disney Experience mobile app. The mobile ordering process also allows guests to select the items they want with their order.
Not to be overlooked, Satu’li Canteen serves Cheeseburger Pods. This bao bun-style item can be purchased as an adult entrée with two cheeseburger pods and chips. Also, the kid’s meal version includes one pod. If you ever wanted to know what a McDonald’s cheeseburger tastes like in bao bun form, Satu’li Canteen must be a stop on your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
With these pods, bowls, and some enjoyable desserts, the dining choices at Satu’li Canteen are nearly limitless. Satu’li Canteen offers a spacious indoor dining area and an outdoor seating area. For soft drink fans, the sodas here come with free refills while you are dining at Satu’li Canteen.
Based on these positives and more, we recommend Satu’li Canteen as the best Animal Kingdom regarding quick-service alternatives. You will find healthy dishes blended with flavor-filled spices, wholesome grains, and farm-fresh vegetables.
Unlike most quick-service options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Satu’li Canteen provides great tasting, healthy and vegan-friendly items. We have never tasted anything terrible at Satu’li Canteen.
However, we feel that Satu’li Canteen, Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café, and Harambe Market make the best Animal Kingdom restaurants for quick-service.
Snacks: Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants
Disney’s Animal Kingdom presents guests with typical theme park snacks. Still, some remarkable non-traditional snacks can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Though we love the themed refillable popcorn buckets, you can only eat so much popcorn and pretzels while at Walt Disney World theme parks.
Fortunately, Animal Kingdom provides some clever improvements to theme park snacks. One of them will be our number-one snack choice at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
#3 Pongu Lumpia
This divisive snack choice can be found at Pongu Pongu in the Pandora – The World of Avatar area. Pandora – the World of Avatar draws large crowds all day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The lure of the fantastic Flight of Passage attraction in this area leads most guests to start their day here.
A Pongu Lumpia consists of pineapple cream cheese within a spring roll wrapper. Regarding the Pongu Lumpia, the people who like this sweet treat claim it is the best snack. Luckily for them, Pongu Pongu sells this item all day. However, many guests disdain the warm cream cheese inside this treat. We suggest this as a good option but be prepared for a different feel and texture than your average snack.
#2 Tacos at The Smiling Crocodile
Though we would like to mention the pizza at Terra Treats again as a snack, The Smiling Crocodile offers some tasty tacos. The Smiling Crocodile, a food and beverage kiosk, resides in the Discovery Island area of Animal Kingdom.
The tacos cost about ten dollars. You can choose between pulled pork, chicken, and vegetarian options. Each order includes two street-size-style tacos. These make a good snack to share between two people. The flavor merits being on this list. In addition, the queue for these tacos rarely reaches an outrageous length.
#1 Churros at Nomad Lounge
We know churros sound boring. Have you tasted the churros at Nomad Lounge? Have you been to the Nomad Lounge? You should on your next visit.
In fairness, we might be cheating with this choice. The churros come from a lounge, so in Disney terms, that is something between quick and table service restaurants.
This highly sought-after dining option, Nomad Lounge, opens at 11:00 a.m. daily at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This lounge resides near the table service option of Tiffins Restaurant.
Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants: The Nomad Lounge
The Nomad Lounge offers an oasis from the hustle and bustle of theme park activity. This relaxing lounge area features excellent beverages and high-quality appetizers.
The Nomad Lounge will draw a crowd. For example, we were recently at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a Saturday. The wait to enter the Nomad Lounge was over an hour that day. This was at 11:02 a.m. The wait became longer as the day went on. The My Disney Experience mobile app provides a way to sign up for the walk-up list here. Still, that wait might be extended.
Many experienced Walt Disney World visitors stop at the Nomad Lounge whenever they visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Even though it does not fit the counter or table service category, it must be listed as one of the best Animal Kingdom restaurants.
The Nomad Lounge churros cost nine dollars. They come with vanilla crema and strawberry-guava sauce. As you might expect, these taste far better than typical Walt Disney World churros. As a bonus, these churros qualify as gluten-free to aid anyone with that dietary concern.
Of course, this is Nomad Lounge. You can order something besides the churros. Take your time if you make it inside the Nomad Lounge. Did we mention that some of the best alcoholic beverages on Walt Disney World property can be found here? Once again, take your time, and ask the cast members for another order of churros.
Planning That Next Walt Disney World Vacation?
Typing this list of the best Animal Kingdom restaurant selections has made us hungry. We apologize if this list of best Animal Kingdom restaurants made you hungry. Still, having a positive dining experience during your Walt Disney World vacation makes everything slightly better.
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