If you were to rank the Walt Disney World parks based on their epicurean reputations, I think most people would put EPCOT first. The year-round festivals and World Showcase really give that park the edge.
But the battle for second? Some might choose the Magic Kingdom, but really that park’s fare tends to be a little on the cautious and traditional side.
For me, the battle for second isn’t really close. It’s Disney’s Animal Kingdom ahead of the others and maybe challenging EPCOT for first.
The Animal Kingdom restaurants are unique and flavorful. Like EPCOT, they offer international offerings that manage to be familiar and exotic.
In fact, I might argue that Animal Kingdom has the best quick-service restaurants in Disney.
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What does quick service mean?
Essentially, any restaurant or food stand that doesn’t have table service – meaning a wait staff – is quick service.
That means a restaurant like the Satu’li Canteen – which has counter service – is a quick service restaurant despite the spacious indoor/outdoor dining room.
Restaurants that are not quick service in the Animal Kingdom include Tusker House, Rainforest Cafe, Pizzafari and Tiffins & Nomad Lounge.
What are the best Animal Kingdom quick service restaurants?
Well, that will depend somewhat on taste.
You may think Africa has the best quick-service restaurants or prefer the ones in Asia. Maybe you’re big on the culture of Pandora: World of Avatar.
There are a lot of great places to get a quick meal or snack in the park so we’re not going to include every popcorn stand. That said, we will try to make note of the best quick dining options.
Let’s count them down.
16. Dino-Bite Snacks
Well, we started out praising the Animal Kingdom food culture, but there’s a reason I don’t mention Dinoland USA as a foodie destination. Specifically, Dino-Bite Snacks has a limited menu of typical amusement park snacks.
I’m not here to tell you an ice cream cookie sandwich or a hot fudge sundae won’t hit the spot. But it’s just not special. You can get a Mickey Pretzel in a lot of places.
This is the dining choice if you are looking for something a little less adventurous. It has all-beef foot-long hot dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches and a cobb salad on the menu. Plant-based options are also available.
Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with it. It just seems a shame to eat something you could get back home with so many other options on the table.
14. Isle of Java
This coffee shop on Discovery Island offers a handful of snack and breakfast items including the Tiger Tail Chocolate Twist – a churro with chocolate sauce – or a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit to go with a variety of drinks and coffee.
You can also choose from a selection of beverages including coffee and cappuccino to kick-start your day.
13. Pongu Pongu
This drink stand in Pandora has a handful of breakfast and snack offerings.
The Pongu Lumpia is a pineapple cream cheese spring roll and there’s also a Na’vi-sized pretzel.
But the star of this stand is the many specialty drinks – which are mostly alcoholic. Try the Mo’ara Margarita – with Sauza Conmemorativo Añejo Tequila or Bols Blue Curaçao with lime juice topped with boba balls.
12. Harambe Fruit Market
This Africa Market, just outside the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris, is a great spot for a quick snack.
Fruit offerings include bananas or mandarin oranges.
You can also get an all-beef hot dog, Mickey Pretzel or churro but the real star of the show is the Grilled Corn on the Cob. You will have a choice of with or without African spices.
11. Dawa Bar
This Africa bar – located next to the Tusker House Restaurant – isn’t the place to go if you’re hungry. In fact, there’s no food on the menu. However, it is one heck of a watering hole.
What should you try? Pick your own poison, but I’m partial to the Harambe Iced Tea – with Snow Leopard Vodka, New Amsterdam Gin, Don Q Rum, Van Der Hum Liqueur, sweet-and-sour and orange juice with a splash of Sprite or the Old Elephant Foot IPA.
Dawa would, in fact, be ranked higher if it had food. Any food.
10. Anandapur Ice Cream Truck
Two words: Yeti Sundae. That’s all you need to know, but I’ll add this: It’s chocolate and vanilla soft serve, blue cake crumbs, sugar, sweet snowflakes and a chocolate Yeti image. It’s delicious.
This quick service is known for the Buffalo Chicken Chips. It is house-made chips served with buffalo chicken and blue cheese dressing topped with tomato and celery relish.
The stand, however, mostly serves dessert-type offerings including churros, ice cream and a Trilo-Bites Twist made with Dole Whip orange and vanilla soft-serve ice cream.
8. Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery
This eatery in Africa starts the morning somewhat normally with typical offerings such as muffins and a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit.
But when snack time comes around, we’re in business. The Marinated Pork Flatbread and the Marinated Chicken Flatbread are fantastic. And the Vegan Impossible Empanadas are quite good as well. It’s a sneaky good lunch spot.
7. Tamu Tamu Refreshments
Let’s just put this down right here. This is one of the places in Animal Kingdom which will give you – for a certain amount of coin of the realm – a brief glimpse of refreshment heaven in the form of Dole Whip.
Get the Simba Sunset or the Pineapple Float. The alcoholic King’s Cooler is especially nice as you’re winding down in the evening.
Located in Africa, it’s not a bad place to grab something quick for breakfast before going off on one of the park’s treks.
Get the Colossal Mickey Cinnamon Roll for a massive sugar rush before your safari begins.
6. Harambe Market
This outdoor market eatery in Africa isn’t going to blow you away with variety.
You can get the Ribs Bowl, the Chicken Bowl or the Ribs and Chicken Bowl. Each comes with cilantro rice and a mixed greens bowl topped with salsa. It’s all very good.
Also of note, if you have picky eaters this is one of the places with chicken nuggets on the kids’ menu.
And while the food menu doesn’t have a lot of variety, the drink menu is a little more adventurous. Try the Frozen Flamingo, a non-alcoholic frozen concoction with flavors of strawberry and passion fruit – or the Watermelon Lemonade.
5. Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe
This mini-Yak & Yeti offers a couple of breakfast bowls in the morning then switches to Asian classics for lunch and dinner.
The Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich comes with a little heat. The Rib Tips are the right choice here, though.
4. Flame Tree Barbecue
In my experience, Disney typically does barbecue very well. The Flame Tree – on Discovery Island – is among the best.
Try the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork, the Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich or go all out and get the Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler.
3. Eight Spoon Cafe
The Baked Mac and Cheese is excellent and the Baked Mac and Cheese with Pulled Pork might even be better.
I have not tried the Pulled Pork Jelly Doughnut Sandwich, but it sounds so crazy, it wouldn’t be on the menu if it wasn’t good.
2. Satu’li Canteen
I like the idea of having to invent an entire food culture from scratch. The chefs who came up with the menu at this Pandora eatery did exceptional work.
I’m a fan of the Chili-Garlic Shrimp Bowl – which has shrimp tossed in a chili-garlic sauce topped with crunchy vegetable saw and boba balls and served with your choice of sauce.
And also, try the Ocean Moon Bowl – which has blue noodles, tuna, watermelon radish, pickled daikon, rainbow carrots, avocado, cucumbers and red cabbage with miso and sweet soy drizzle topped with micro cilantro.
There are grilled beef and chicken bowls available as well.
The cheeseburger steamed pods – Bao Buns – come highly recommended by my teenage daughter, Sofia.
Try the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse for dessert.
1. Yak & Yeti Restaurant
This eatery located in the Asia section of the park may be my favorite Disney restaurant. It’s a pan-Asian experience, offering different flavors from around the continent.
Small plates include Bang Bang Calamari and Firecracker Shrimp as well as Pork Pot Stickers or Pork Egg Rolls.
Shareables, which are meant for two, include Ahi Tuna Nachos, Korean Fried Chicken and Lettuce Cups – which have minced chicken breast, chopped vegetables, saigon haison sauce and crisp lettuce cups.
In addition to a variety of salads, the Yak & Yeti offers several noodle bowls, including a variety of Lo Mein and Malaysian Seafood Curry with jumbo shrimp and crab ravioli, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms, all tossed in the red curry coconut sauce.
I also recommend the house specialties including the Chicken Tikka Masala and Bhaktapur Duck with roasted half duckling, plum BBQ sauce, jasmine rice and stir-fried vegetables.
Items from the grill include a Kobe Beef Burger, BBQ Ribs and Hibachi Steak & Shrimp.
What is your favorite quick service location in the Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments!