Best Animal Kingdom Table Service Restaurants Disney World

by josh on May 28, 2010

With only three sit-down restaurants, Animal Kingdom has the most limited choices of any of the theme parks that make up Walt Disney World.  In fact, there are fewer options at the Animal Kingdom than there are at several of the Deluxe Resorts.  Considering about 30,000 people visit the Animal Kingdom every day, it may appear as though the dining facilities are inadequate.  However, the Animal Kingdom usually closes around 5-6pm, and many guests choose to dine elsewhere.  It’s not uncommon for visitors to bus over to the nearby Animal Kingdom Lodge to dine at Boma, Jiko, or Sanaa or park hop over to Epcot for a meal and a few late evening rides.  Luckily, all three of the restaurants at the Animal Kingdom have something to offer.  The Yak & Yeti and Tusker House buffet in particular are vastly underrated and would be an excellent choice on or off the Disney Dining Plan.

Be sure to read over the full reviews for more information on any of the restaurants listed.  You can either click here for the full list in alphabetical order or click the individual highlighted links throughout this post.

Most Unique Menu

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House

3. Rainforest Café

Yak & Yeti has the most unique menu, featuring a wide variety of Asian inspired dishes including roasted duck, baby back ribs, skirt steak, lettuce cups, and wonton soup. The restaurant also offers different beverages than the standard Disney-owned restaurants. With a menu similar to the popular Boma buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Tusker House serves a number of interesting African and Indian inspired dishes including seafood stew, curry chicken, couscous, and about a dozen unique salads and soups.  For the less adventurous, there are also plenty of “normal” dishes like rotisserie chicken, top sirloin steak, cold cuts, and a host of others.  Rainforest Café comes in third because it’s a chain restaurant that has about two dozen locations nationwide.  You’ll find the usual variety of sandwiches, burgers, and salads as well as some more interesting dishes.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Dining Plan

1. Rainforest Café (Average Entrée Cost $21.13, Average Dessert Cost $7.25, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $32.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $40.98)

2. Yak & Yeti (Average Entrée Cost $20.73, Average Dessert Cost $7.19, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $25.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $33.98)

3. Tusker House (Adult Breakfast: $30.99, Child Breakfast: $16.99, Adult Lunch: $32.99, Child Lunch: $17.99, Adult Dinner: $32.99, Child Dinner: $16.99)

Of the two restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan, Yak & Yeti is clearly the most expensive at about $10 more than Tusker House at Dinner and about $17 more expensive at lunch.  The Yak & Yeti only has one menu for lunch and dinner, so it’s just as expensive at lunch. Rainforest Café is not on either of the two most common Dining Plans, but the most expensive entrée at Rainforst Cafe is $31.99 for the tenderloin steak.

Best Value Out of Pocket

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House Lunch

3. Rainforest Café

Yak & Yeti is the best value out of pocket because of the high quality of the ingredients, large portions, interesting atmosphere, and superior service. Although the most expensive entrée at Yak & Yeti is $25.99, there are also several entrées in the $16-$18 range for those looking for a more economical choice and you can always split an appetizer, entrée, or dessert to cut down on cost.  Tusker House’s prices are about average for a Disney buffet, but it does offer high quality food and great service, in addition to characters at breakfast and lunch. At Rainforst Café you’re paying for the scenery and animatronics as much as you are for the food and the quality suffers because of that.  It may be a worthwhile stop with kids, but you can also walk through quickly without sitting down to eat. With most entrées $25 or more, the food simply does not offer a noteworthy value, although kids may love the ambiance and less expensive sandwiches and burgers are available.

Best Atmosphere

1. Rainforst Café

2. Yak & Yeti

3. Tusker House

Rainforest Café is a successful franchise not because of its food, but because of its fun atmosphere.  The T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney is even more extravagantly themed, but Rainforst is probably the second best themed restaurant in Disney World.  The caveat is that it does get loud and it won’t be an intimate dining experience, so I wouldn’t suggest it if you’re looking to get away from the noise and crowds of the theme park. Yak & Yeti comes in second with a plethora of interesting relics, statues, artifacts, and art. No two rooms are decorated alike and you’ll probably want to make a trek up to the bathroom just for an excuse to walk around and check everything out.  Tusker House is sparsely decorated and not particularly interesting, but it is roomier than most other character buffet locations. Personally, I would take room to walk and a little privacy over neat décor, so Tusker’s House’s lack of an extravagant theme isn’t so bad.

Best Food

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House

3. Rainforest Café

Yak & Yeti consistently serves the best food. Tusker House is one of the best buffets at Disney World, but bite for bite it doesn’t compare to the more careful preparation and quality control of Yak & Yeti. If buffets are your thing then you’ll be more than satisfied with Tusker House, but anyone looking for a traditional table service meal should make a reservation at Yak & Yeti. While many of Rainforest Café’s entrées may sound appealing on the menu, they generally aren’t executed well. The sandwiches, wraps, and burgers are all perfectly decent, but don’t expect a world-class paella or steak.

Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at the Animal Kingdom

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House

3. Rainforest Café

It’s fairly easy to hone in on the best table service restaurant here, considering there are only three choices. Yak & Yeti is the clear favorite, serving high quality, affordable entrées in a beautiful setting. Service is usually great and the restaurant is well air-conditioned and comfortable, which makes it an even better destination after rushing around the Animal Kingdom for most of the day.  Tusker House is an excellent buffet, but comes in second because of the relatively high cost, the possibility that some of the buffet items may not be enjoyed by all visitors, and the lack of interesting decorations. Of course, it would be ranked first if you’re looking for a character breakfast or lunch in the area. Rainforest Café comes in third due to the inadequate quality of many of its more expensive entrées and the fact that it’s inconveniently located at the front of the Park.  If you have a reservation in the middle of the day then you’ll want to plan to be near the front of the theme park or risk having to walk the entire Park to get to the restaurant.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

B.O. April 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I’ve read that you can have your picture taken with Donald at Tusker’s breakfast before sitting. Do you know how much the picture is? and if you don’t want to pay for it, can yoou take your own picture?


josh April 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Yep, the Photopass photographer will take a picture with your own camera. Just ask. They usually offer to take a picture if you have your camera out too. You can either have the photo added to your Photopass CD or pay for it outright. It’s outrageously priced – about $30.


B.O. April 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Great! Thanks so much for the info!


Anonymous January 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm



Laura February 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Just an update. The Rainforest Cafe at AK is now on the Dining Plan as a TS!


Dixie May 31, 2012 at 7:57 am

Just chiming in with Laura that Rainforest cafe at both AK and DTD are on dining plan so you can update your info.


Al July 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Agree with everything you say about all three restaurants for both lunch and dinner, but I believe that, for breakfast, Rainforest Cafe is worth a better review. It is hard to mess up breakfast and, given that, the atmosphere wins the day.


Kat January 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm

The Rainforest Cafe is on the dining plans now


Monica February 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I have to disagree with you on the Rainforest Cafe. We ate there in May, 2012 and the food was the best of everything we ate while in Disney World that week. Out of 17 of us, it ended up being most, if not all, of our favorite meals. However, we did eat at the Downtown Disney so perhaps it was better?!?! I had a steak and it was fabulous!


Rhonda April 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Whoa you had me VERY worried because Rainforest Cafe is on my reserved meals! Thankfully it IS NOW on the Disney Dining Plan list.

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