We return to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to check out what we can expect to find on the fast food front. We recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios to do the same thing.
Animal Kingdom has (arguably) the best quick service options of any of the theme parks with Flame Tree Barbecue and Satu’li Canteen at the top of the list. Even Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, which I would put towards the bottom of the options available at Animal Kingdom, would be better than just about anything offered at Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom. You might even be able to put it towards the top of the list at Epcot given Sunshine Seasons recent fall from grace and what is actually a pretty serious lack of good overall options in World Showcase.
We’ll begin with what is still the new kid on the block in Satu’li Canteen in Pandora and then move next door to Pongu Pongu.
Above is the original menu, from when Satu’li opened a little more than a year and a half ago, in late May 2018.
While Satu’li has been popular with guests, we’ve already seen in a flurry of changes over the course of the last 18-ish months. The Combination Bowl that includes Beef and Chicken is a recent addition. Chili-Garlic Shrimp were added, while the Sustainable Fish Filet is no longer an option. The only surviving Base is the Red & Sweet Potato Hash, while the Charred Onion Chimichurri is now known as “Charred Green Onion Vinaigrette.” I’m not sure either sounds particularly appetizing.
The $17 “Combination Bowl: Grilled Beef & Chicken – Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef marinated in a blend of Garlic, Herbs, Red Pepper Spice and Red Wine Vinegar, paired with Wood-Grilled Chicken Thighs marinated in Garlic and Olive Oil, topped with crunchy Vegetable Slaw and Boba Balls served with your choice of Base and Sauce” is exactly what you would expect if you’ve tried either the Chicken or Beef Bowls in the past. The cost is $3 more than just beef and $4.50 more than just chicken and you probably come away with about two-thirds of the regular portion of each, or 1.5 times the meat of ordering one or the other. Portion size can depend on who is plating the meals as I’ve seen the meat piled up high on one occasion and other times received much less, sometimes within a few days of each other.
Underneath is the Lo Mein Noodles Base, which adds quite a bit of heft to the dish along with a light soy flavor mixed in with a few mild peppers. The “Charred Green Onion Vinaigrette” was served on the side by default. It adds a salty, garlicky onion flavor that works better with the meat than the noodles. The Lo Mein is a relatively new addition, first popping up alongside the shrimp back in August. I’d like to see an Asian sauce of some kind added here in the future – Teriyaki, Orange, Sweet & Sour, etc. would go really nicely with the beef, chicken, and noodles.
Here’s the $15 Shrimp back when it was offered as a summer special with “Chili-garlic Shrimp, Lo Mein Noodles, Red Pepper, Broccoli and Green Onion tossed in a Honey-soy Dressing served with a Cucumber and Mango Slaw.” The Honey-soy Dressing would be another good contender to add to the permanent menu. The Shrimp is the most expensive protein at $15 and you come away with just five, each of which is medium in size. They do a nice job of soaking up the subtle flavors of the salty soy and sweet honey, but I think you’re better off sticking with the Steak or Chicken for less money and more to eat. Ostensibly, Disney had pulled shrimp from a variety of menus due to people being severely allergic to shellfish. It’s a bit odd to see the move back to shrimp here given the quick service’s success.
The Fish, which is not currently offered, was pretty good with the panko breading adding a little bit of a crunch. They had originally served Mahi before moving to Cod. It’s possible that there was a problem with the supply.
On to potential accompaniments, the “Hearty Salad” Base is exactly that.
There’s romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes.
It’s served with a small mound of quinoa mixed with beets, onions, red peppers, and zucchini, among other things, that’s a little out there both in appearance and flavor, particularly considering there’s no mention or explanation of what it is on the menu. I didn’t personally care for the ice cold temperature or gritty, gummy texture with an assortment of unidentifiable pieces in it, but you may have better luck.
The “safest” of the options is probably the Grilled Beef with the Red & Sweet Potato Hash and Creamy Herb Dressing, which you can order on the side.
Satu’li Canteen opened with two “Pod” options appropriately themed to the landscape of the Valley of Mo’ara.
The “Vegetable Steamed Curry Pods – Bao Buns – Steamed Vegetable Curry Pod with Eggplant, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, Carrots, and Shallot Cilantro Cream served with Crunchy Vegetable Slaw and Vegetable Chips” were removed from the menu a couple of months ago.
They look okay from the outside, but the inside looks just about as good as they tasted, which is to say, not very. The flavor was just kind of bland yellow curry with a few vegetables that were all prepared to different levels of done-ness. Some were barely cooked, others mush.
If you’re after a vegetarian entree, then I would recommend your one remaining option with the Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu Bowl, which is exactly that with plump, crispy squares of tofu with a pleasant kick of spicy pepper with each bite. I would say that tofu can be a bit finicky and quality does run the gamut from very good to somewhere less so. Hopefully the odds are in your favor.
If you’re specifically after a vegetarian entree anywhere in the Park, then I’d recommend the Roasted Vegetable Bowl from Harambe Market, which I recently reviewed here along with everything else you see above.
While the Cheeseburger Pods no longer grace the regular adult menu, they are still available to kids in the form of this $8 “Steamed Cheeseburger Pod stuffed with Ground Beef, Ketchup, Mustard, Pickle and Cheddar Cheese served with Vegetable Chips and Grapes and small Dasani Bottled Water or Lowfat Milk.”
The buns are soft and chewy and do an admirable job of holding in the ground beef and other ingredients, which make up a little less than half of the pod. My contention stands that they taste exactly like a basic McDonald’s Cheeseburger. I don’t mean that to be overwhelmingly derogatory, but that’s the main flavor I get from the Mustard, Pickle, and Cheese.
Prior to their removal, the two Cheeseburger Pods that came served with Chips as the adult entree above would have set you back $12 – add an adult fountain beverage and you’re at $16.
If for some reason you still want to order them, you can simply order two Kids’ Pods for $16 and switch out the sides of grapes for two more side of chips. You can also substitute the drinks for fountain beverages, which means you’ll come away with two small cups that you can refill to your heart’s content along with the same two pods and a lot of chips.
My favorite of the Kids’ Picks, and a guilty pleasure for both myself and Erin, is the $7.29 “‘Teylu’ All-Beef Hot Dog wrapped in Parker House Dough served with Vegetable Chips and Grapes and small Dasani Bottled Water or Lowfat Milk.” Again, you can double up on the chips either when you order at the register or, more conveniently, via mobile order, and switch out the drink for a refillable fountain beverage. This is a delicious, relatively light theme park meal – the dough is soft and fluffy and the hot dog is plump and carries a nice spicy flavor. Even as somebody that eats at Victoria & Albert’s at least once a month, it’s really good.
Your last of the Kids’ Picks is the $6.49 “Cheese Quesadilla – Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheese in a Tortilla served with Vegetable Chips and Grapes and small Dasani Bottled Water or Lowfat Milk.” This is about as basic as it gets – cheese plus tortilla – but the execution is spot on. You can see that there’s a little crispiness in the tortilla towards the center and there’s a nice amount of perfectly-melted cheese tucked away inside. It’s a nice “safe” bet and for a vegetarian, a good little snack or very light meal.
The kids also have the option to go with a smaller version of the Bowls with their choice of Chicken or Tofu for $8 or Beef for $9.
On the opposite side of the portion-size spectrum is this $75 Family Platter, available only after 5pm, and including “Choice of four Proteins and a sampling of each of our Bases and Sauces, served with Vegetable Slaw and Four Non-Specialty Beverages.” We thought it came out to about six Bowls worth of food along with four regular fountain beverages. That’s about $84 worth of food with an average bowl price around $14, plus $16 worth of beverages, for a total value of almost $100 for the $75 ask.
Of course, portions can vary here as well. From my original review, I noted that the hot food gets cold very fast as it sits alone on the platter and it can be a bit awkward to serve everything into the provided bowls with the two sets of tongs provided. But it’s a nice way to try a little bit of everything and if you have four or five hungry adults, there might be a little bit of savings available if you’re looking to stuff yourself full of Satu’li.
Satu’li offers mobile order with one of the more convenient pickup windows available on the far left of the ordering area.
With plentiful indoor and outdoor seating, the quick service operates from 10:30am through 8pm. Breakfast is no longer offered.
“Real” plates and silverware are offered, which is a nice change of pace from the plastic that you’ll run into at every other Animal Kingdom quick service. Fountain beverages are also easily refillable, which is a nice bonus. Restaurantosaurus in DinoLand offers the same refill situation.
Satu’li opened with two unique draft options, the Hawkes’ Grog Ale and the Mo’ara High Country Ale, both brewed by Terrapin out of Georgia, along with Stella and Bud Light. Orlando Brewing I-4 IPA and Orlando Brewing Blonde Ale have since replaced the two macros. I originally poo-poo’d both unique drafts, but I think it may have been due to the fact that the kegs were sitting somewhere for a while waiting for the new Land to open. On repeat visits, I’ve found both refreshing. They’re both high quality beers.
At least the Na’vi Flute Cup is only up 50 cents in 18 months. Time to invest.
The $5.29 “Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse – Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse with Passion Fruit Curd” is a lot smaller than when it debuted during cast member previews.
It still has a really nice, naturally sweet fruitiness and the cool temperature makes it all the more refreshing. It’s precious enough that I think it’s worth adding to a meal, though there’s certainly no shortage of sweets available around the Park.
Overall, Satu’li Canteen is a nice, relaxing quick service that offers plenty of seating in a relatively calm atmosphere. Add easy mobile ordering, refillable fountain beverages, and actual plates and silverware, and you have all the makings for a pleasant overall experience. With enough variety to satisfy those looking for anything from a healthy salad to steak and potatoes, along with the high quality of the ingredients, you come away with one of Disney’s best overall quick service options.
Pongu Pongu is the name of the takeaway bar just outside of the entrance to Windtraders, which also serves as the exit from Avatar Flight of Passage.
I won’t bore you with an all-encompassing history of the changes here, but the same “Colossal Pretzel” that you can order in the Germany Pavilion at Epcot is a somewhat recent addition. Also, the Pongu Lumpia was originally served as a pair, but now flies solo. The Rum Blossom also appeared about a year after Pandora opened. Here’s the current menu:
The Lumpia were briefly removed from the menu for one reason or another, but have since returned.
The cost has gone up 70% each, but just over three bucks may not be a ridiculous price to pay for a crispy, sizable fried roll stuffed full of sweet cream cheese and pineapple pieces dusted with sugar on top. I do wish we could rewind time…to just a year ago…when they were two for $4.59.
The Colossal Pretzel lives up to its name. Their quality depends almost entirely on how fresh they are – ours actually was fresh for once, and because of that, was nice and soft with a little hint of the taste of Bavaria with a lot of salt for good measure. With a Mickey Pretzel and cheese now up to seven bucks, this is a relative bargain as it’s at least twice as much bread for just about four more dollars after tax.
I like the $11.25 “Rum Blossom – Bacardi Superior Rum with layers of Apple and Desert Pear Limeade topped with Passion Fruit Boba Balls.” It’s just the regular Night Blossom with what I’ve found is typically a heavy pour of Bacardi Rum. If your husband hassles you about ordering a second, just tell him that Josh says the rum helps offset the incredible sweetness of the slush. There’s no way he will ever tire of hearing, “But Josh says.” Trust me on this.
Not only did Pandora bring us one world class attraction and Na’vi River Journey, but we also have the opportunity to enjoy two great quick service additions as well.
We’ll move on to everything else Animal Kingdom has to offer.