Heading on an expedition to Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World? Lucky you!! This is the newest of all Theme Parks at WDW, and it’s by far the biggest (to the tune of 540 acres!). So it makes sense that in all of this glorious real estate, Guests might find an abundance of eateries.
And indeed, there are currently a whopping 31 places to grab some grub at Animal Kingdom Park. This includes counter service restaurants, bars, lounges, food trucks, and table service restaurants.
It’s easy to find a place to grab a quick bite to eat in the Park, and there are plenty of excellent (and amazingly themed) quick service restaurants – I’m looking at you, Satu’li Canteen and Restaurantosaurus! But if you’re looking for a table service restaurant, the pickings are a little slimmer.
There are only four table service restaurants in Animal Kingdom Park: Rainforest Café, Tiffins Restaurant, Tusker House Restaurant, and Yak & Yeti Restaurant. None of them are bad, per se, but some are certainly superior in terms of food, ambiance, and overall dining experience. Here we break down our choices for which to dine at and which you can sleep easy about not including on your dining list!
Skip: Rainforest Café
This is by far the easiest restaurant to put on your “to skip” list at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park! For the uninitiated, Rainforest Café provides American dishes in a jungle setting, complete with animatronic rainforest creatures, lush jungle vegetation, and periodic thunderstorms.
Rainforest Café sounds fabulous in theory, but it has several strikes against it. First off, Guests can likely find a Rainforest Café in or near their hometown since there are locations across the United States, Canada, and even the globe (there’s even another location in Disney Springs). If you’re anything like us, you don’t want to waste your precious WDW time on a dining experience you could easily enjoy at home.
The food here is also average at best. Sure, there are fun jungle-themed names like Anaconda Pasta and Sparkling Volcano, but no matter how you dress them up, the dishes aren’t in themselves worth a trip to Rainforest Café.
If you’re looking for a similar but far superior experience, you could always visit T-REX Restaurant in Disney Springs. But give this restaurant a miss when in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.
Eat At: Tiffins Restaurant Instead
Instead of traveling to the rainforest, travel the world by dining at Tiffins Restaurant, in Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Tiffins brings you tantalizing dishes gleaned from the farthest corners of the globe – but you don’t need to leave Orlando to enjoy them!
Africa, Latin America, Asia – they’re all represented here in the creative and mouth-wateringly delicious menu. Charred Octopus, Tamarind-braised Short Rib, North African-spiced Tofu, South American Chocolate Ganache – there are flavors to delight every palate! There’s also something exciting to eat for both carnivores and veggiesauruses here.
But a dining experience at Tiffins goes well beyond food. This restaurant celebrates the spirit of world travel by honoring the brilliant Imagineers who created Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Wander around the restaurant to soak up all the global details, and specifically the artwork inspired by notes and sketches done by Imagineers themselves.
Skip: Tusker House Restaurant
Confession time: when we ate at Tusker House Restaurant in Animal Kingdom’s Africa, I was mesmerized by the marketplace theming: the bright swaths of tented fabric overhead, the artifacts are hanging on the walls, and the authentic village feels everywhere.
And if you choose to eat here, you’ll probably have a decent experience, especially if you enjoy spicy food and experimenting with African-inspired dishes. However, a word of warning – this is a family-style restaurant, which means you’ll pay a fixed (and steep) price for the all-you-can-eat food.
We found this restaurant to be somewhat overpriced, like most of WDW’s buffets. This is even more true now that character dining has been modified: Safari Donald Duck and friends still make an appearance, but they won’t sign autographs or give hugs, so you’ll have to be content photographing them from a distance. If you’re looking for a table service restaurant to skip in Animal Kingdom Park, this could be a contender.
Eat At: Yak & Yeti Restaurant
One table service restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park that we never skip is Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Asia. The theming in this part of the Park is some of the most magnificent in all of WDW, so spending time here is a treat!
Yak & Yeti Restaurant is the perfect place to head after riding Expedition Everest (don’t reverse the order because that could have unpleasant results). It features a menu of Pan-Asian delights and includes options for meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike. It’s beautifully decked out with artifacts and architecture from Southeast Asia, so remember to look around!
My go-to is always the amazing Fried Wontons with pineapple and cream cheese – to die for! Other specialties include Bhaktapur Duck, Miso Salmon, and the Pork Pot Stickers. The details here are lovely – order tea, and it will arrive in an ornate cast iron teapot, for example. You don’t want to miss this one!
Making choices about where to eat when in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park can be tough, with so many options overall. Luckily, there are only four table service restaurants, which limits your decisions if you’re looking for a relaxing sit-down meal. So go ahead, and make those advanced dining reservations!