Best Animal Kingdom Quick Counter Service at Disney World

by josh on December 13, 2012

While Animal Kingdom’s quick service options are fewer in number than the other major theme parks, they are all above average in the grand scheme of things.

Most Unique Menu

  1. Yak & Yeti (Anandupar Local Foods Café)
  2. Flame Tree Barbecue
  3. Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  4. Restaurantosaurus
  5. Pizzafari

Owned and operating by Landry’s rather than Disney, Yak & Yeti offers a diverse menu of Asian favorites along with a cold salad or sandwich if you prefer.  Over at Flame Tree, you can order St. Louis Style Ribs along with a fruit plate, smoked chicken salad, or smoked turkey breast sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise.  While Tamu Tamu Refreshments only has four entrees on the menu, each can’t be found anywhere else, with the exception of the Fruit Salad that is also available at Mr. Kamal’s near Flights of Wonder.  Restaurantosaurus now offers a unique Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Chicken BLT Salad, which are slightly different than others.  Rounding out the choices is Pizzafari, which mostly serves the usual Disney pizza.  But it also offers the unique and very good Chicken & Vegetable Pasta Salad and the Hot Italian Sandwich is only available here and Catalina Eddie’s at Hollywood Studios.

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

  1. Flame Tree Barbeque (Average Entree Price $10.47, Most Expensive Entree $15.19)
  2. Yak & Yeti ($9.99, $10.99)
  3. Restaurantosaurus ($9.54, $10.19)
  4. Pizzafari ($9.29, $9.69)
  5. Tamu Tamu Refreshments ($8.97, $9.19)

Coming in at a whopping $15.19, the most expensive quick service entree is Flame Tree Barbecue’s Ribs and Chicken Combo.  Over at Yak & Yeti, their most expensive item is the $10.99 Beef Lo Mein.  Restaurantosaurus’s most expensive entree is a Bacon Cheeseburger, while Pizzafari’s are the Vegetable or Pepperoni Pizzas.  Finally, Tamu Tamu adds a $9.19 entree.

Best Value Out of Pocket

  1. Flame Tree Barbeque
  2. Yak & Yeti
  3. Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  4. Restaurantosaurus
  5. Pizzafari

The Flame Tree serves the best quick service barbecue in all of Disney World.  Portions are large and less expensive than Fairfax Fare or Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.  Although Yak & Yeti is the second most expensive quick service at the Animal Kingdom by average entree cost, the portions are large and if you add a $4 side of egg rolls or chicken fried rice then you should have plenty of food for two people to share (and possibly enough even without the additional side).  The quality is also high and the food tastes better than either of the Asian counter services at Epcot.  Tamu Tamu Refreshments is a little less expensive than the other options and the food is quite good and unique.  It’s also largely unpopular, causing nonexistent lines most of the time.  Restaurantosaurus has seen an improvement recently, but you’ll still find the basic burgers, nuggets, and salad on the menu.  Finally, Pizzafari sells your standard Disney pizza along with the better Hot Italian Sandwich and Pasta Salad.

Best Seating

  1. Restaurantosaurus
  2. Pizzafari
  3. Flame Tree BBQ
  4. Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  5. Yak & Yeti

Restaurantosaurus wins here, offering plentiful indoor, air-conditioned seating in a richly themed environment.  If you prefer, there’s outdoor seating as well.  Pizzafari has ample indoor, air-conditioned seating.  It’s also an excellent spot to get off your feet and enjoy a treat from one of the outdoor vendors, especially during off-peak meal times.  Flame Tree BBQ has a pleasant outdoor seating area, but you may have to deal with the birds that are common in the area.  They can be annoying as they swoop in to steal your food, walk around eating food off the ground, and poop as necessary.  If it isn’t too hot out, the tables overlooking Expedition Everest across the water are among the most serene at Disney World.  At Tamu Tamu, your options are to sit outside across the street at the Dawa Bar or off to the side, where there are additional tables.  It’s mostly covered, but still hot in the summer.  Yak and Yeti’s biggest detraction is its complete lack of indoor seating.  Not only is all of the seating outdoors, but there is no covering other than small umbrellas over some of the tables.  This can make for an unpleasant dining experience, especially in the summer heat and rain.

Best Food

  1. Flame Tree Barbeque
  2. Yak & Yeti
  3. Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  4. Pizzafari
  5. Restaurantosaurus

For whatever reason, Disney executes their barbecue options at Flame Tree better than anywhere else.  The chicken, ribs, salad, and even the barbecued pork are better than other locations.  And you can add a refreshing fruit plate to a meal or opt for the cold turkey sandwich.  Yak & Yeti is also quite good and some of the best quick service Asian food you’ll find on property.  Tamu Tamu Refreshments features just four items, but they’re all above average.  And the homemade chips are also prepared better than any other quick service location, including Tomorrowland Terrace and Diamond Horseshoe.  Pizzafari serves the usual Disney pizza, which isn’t anything to write home about.  On the plus side, the Hot Italian Sandwich and Pasta Salad are well above average and come recommended.  While it did add a couple of interesting options in August 2012, Restaurantosaurus still serves up the usual, average-at-best Disney burgers, nuggets, and hot dogs.

Overall Best Counter Service at the Animal Kingdom

  1. Flame Tree Barbecue
  2. Yak & Yeti
  3. Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  4. Pizzafari
  5. Restaurantosaurus

The possibility of running into some birds isn’t enough to keep Flame Tree out of the top spot.  Quality barbecue and pleasant surroundings make it an easy number one selection.  It’s also in the top five best counter service locations in all of Disney World, so be sure to give it a try if the menu sounds appealing.  Despite potentially uncomfortable seating, Yak & Yeti is an excellent choice as well. It’s also a good opportunity to order a type of food that you won’t find at the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.  While the menu is limited to just a few selections and the seating is all outdoors, what Tamu Tamu does do is very good.  The Slow Roasted Pulled Beef Sandwich in particular is a quality item that you won’t find elsewhere.  Pizzafari beats out Restaurantosaurus because of its slightly more interesting menu and a similar seating arrangement.  Restaurantosaurus does offer a more diverse menu, so be sure everyone is in the mood for pizza, salad, or an Italian sandwich if you choose to visit Pizzafari over Restaurantosaurus.  If a burger or chicken nuggets sound better than pizza, then you’re better off at Restaurantosaurus.

Overall, the Animal Kingdom has the strongest quick service locations of any of Disney World’s theme parks.  There’s plenty of variety and the quality is higher than most other locations.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann May 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

The last time I tried Flame Tree was 2005. We usually eat TS. I remember not caring for it then and was planning to try Pizzafari.. We’re paying OOP so now I have doubts. We’re from SC and are used to good BBQ. Will FT disappoint us too much? We will also need to cool down-another reason I planned pizza. There will be 10 of us in early August. Thanks.

Jeremy May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

Where do you all usually find a place to sit when you get to-go food from Yak & Yeti? We will be going to WDW in September, and sitting out in the hot sun doesn’t really sound like a great idea.

Carol September 3, 2012 at 9:56 am

Love Flame Tree! The food is great, the value is good, and if we are doing OOP my daughter and I share. It’s still enough. My favorite in AK!

BeckyW December 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

Yak & Yeti was GREAT! My super-picky daughter even enjoyed the Honey Chicken. Definitely one of the best CS meals we had all week.

Toby December 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Flame Tree is our lunch for every AK visit. We enjoy the food, value and covered seating down by the lake. Kids love the birds.

Dan Young December 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Another vote for Flame Tree. Get a big ol’ plate of ribs and enjoy them down by the water while watching everyone having fun on Everest across the way – magic!

Cindi December 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm

We really liked both Flametree BBQ and Restaurantosaurus. The birds did not bother us while we were dining. The heat though really did and indoor air-conditioned dining is a plus for Restaurantosaurus and offsets the fact it is just your average burger, fries, and chicken. Portions were large at both places and I would return to either. I can’t wait to try Yak & Yeti now too! It sounds delish.

Lee March 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Food was good at Yak & Yeti but outdoor seating is a HUGE detriment, especially in August. In addition to unbearable mid-day heat, the trash containers stink and attract a large number of yellowjacket hornets. NOT a pleasant experience for many reasons.

mike March 26, 2013 at 1:58 am

Yeah found the same problem at flametree first time I didn’t enjoy My meal there

Brandi January 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

We ate at Yak and Yeti cafe in 2011 and it was awful. We all had chicken in our meals and it was very overcooked. Will not go back. Also, finding a seat was very difficult.

Marie March 4, 2014 at 6:06 am

Is the dining plan really worth it? the quick service plan adds $800 to our package… I can’t believe my family of 4 would spend that much on food (my kids are 10 and 8 and not big eaters)… just looking for opinions. Thanks

Jen Jones March 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Marie – In my opinion yes, the dining plan is worth it. If you haven’t done any research on counter service prices you should check those out (this will be helpful in planning out where you want to eat as well). I think you will be surprised how fast your total food amount will add up especially with snacks thrown in at about $5.00 each. Your 10-year-old is counted as an adult so under the dining plan they will choose from the adult selections. I have 3 kids (10, 8, 5) and the oldest is our only one that really eats. Our last trip she was 9 and was actually hungry after eating her kids meals so she would eat off our plates. I’m happy she will be getting the adult portions on our trip in September. I don’t know what it is about Disney, but our other kids who are not big eaters, eat like they have never eaten before when we visit. I don’t know if it’s all the walking or heat or the fact we let them eat whatever they want (it is vacation after all) or all the above, but they can put down some food on Disney trips. We love our Disney food just as much as we do the park fun.
We like the plan that offers a quick service and sit down meal (can be used for character dining) with one snack per day per person (you need to tip at the sit down dining). We did quick service dining our first trip back in 2009 and we surprised by how much we loved it. We loved it so much that we decided to bump our dining plan up on all future trips. It is worth it…I don’t think you will regret it. It makes the trip that much easier and enjoyable to know that food is taken care of. So easy! Best of luck in your decision and have a great trip!

Kelsey March 25, 2014 at 4:40 am

We never do the dining plan. It isn’t worth it for us. Like Jen said, the cost of food does add up, but the portions are large. DH and I almost always share an entree, and rarely (if ever) get dessert. We had the dining plan when it was offered free in the fall of 2011, and we were miserable from eating so much food. Full stomachs and thrill rides don’t mix well. We also threw a lot of food away, which I would have a very hard time doing if we were paying for the meal plan OOP. We did that once, too, and it was still a bad choice for us. We spent so much time trying to get the most “value” out of the plan that we didn’t really eat the foods we enjoy the most.

If you know that everyone in your party will eat a full entree, have a soda, and a dessert at EVERY MEAL, then the dining plan is sort of worth it (breakfast is just an entree and a drink). But, we don’t eat anywhere near that much. We split meals, often drink water, and add snacks between meals if we get hungry (usually we bring our own crackers, etc.)

Another important point is that the dining plan only covers two meals a day (unless you get the super expensive one). This means that you will still have to either skip a meal, eat something in your room for breakfast, or pay OOP for one meal a day. So the $800 for the meal plan only covers 67% of your meals.

If you’re really curious to see which is the better value, put the $800 on a Disney Gift Card, use that to pay for all of your food, and I’m willing to bet you that you will have money left on the card at the end of your trip.

Rebecca June 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

My family only travels to Disney when they offer the free dining plan on select dates. The dining plan is a lot of food, but we have a suggestion. Instead of every person in your party getting the quick service lunch. Use one of the quick service and split breakfast, then the other person’s quick service credit and split lunch. That way you can still order the big lunch’s and share them, and not feel like you have eaten too much. Then it covers your whole day.If you were to put the 800.00 on a gift card and pay out of pocket, yes you would probably watch what you were eating and spending, and not choosing the “expensive” entrees. But we were able to book for our sit down meal, character dining, which freed up HOURS of waiting in line! Part of the disney magic is eating things you have never tried before. Dining at Biergarten at Epcot was one our best memories for our whole family. Eating Seafood at Coral Reef, Short Ribs at Akerhaus, eating in a convertible car at the sci-fi in hollywood, sure beats 7 days of hotdogs and burgers.

Anonymous July 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

This is amazing! I just found your site a few days ago, and I am loving it for the help it’s given me on counter service dining. My family can’t afford to eat at table service restaurants or on the dining plan; so even though I have been to Walt Disney World at least 10 times, this information has been amazingly helpful. Thank you so much!

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