The Best of Rate and Review II
compiled by Deb Wills
Editor in Chief, AllEars®
This article appeared in the October 20, 2009 Issue #526 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Usually, we write restaurant reviews to share with you, our AllEars® readers. This week, though, we bring you another in our occasional series: The Best of Rate and Review. This gives you the chance to tell us what you think. We've dipped into the vast pool of our Rate and Review section, where our readers (that's YOU!) share their thoughts about their favorite things.
Our Rate and Review section not only has a large area for your comments but also asks you to rate each eatery on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), with two options of either recommending or not recommending the restaurant. In addition, you can summarize the pros and cons.
From that, we've compiled "The Best of Rate and Review" for your reading pleasure this week. We're bringing you excerpts from a random sampling of honest, firsthand critiques from people who have recently experienced these Disney eateries, this time focusing on the dining spots at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
There are only three full service restaurants in Disney's Animal Kingdom: the Rainforest Cafe, Tusker House and Yak and Yeti. I'm sure it will come as no surprise that the Tusker House is the highest-rated full service eatery. Breakfast is recommended by 89% of our reviewers, with an average rating of 8.2; lunch and dinner are recommended by 93% of you with the same 8.2 average rating. Asia's Yak and Yeti is recommended by 86% of reviewers with an average rating of 7.8%. Finally, the Rainforest Cafe (which you can access without a park admission) is rated 6.8 with 82% of you recommending it.
We heard lots of grumbling when the Tusker House changed over from a counter service restaurant to become an all-day buffet, but it seems like most folks are happy with the dining experience there now. Tusker House's breakfast has been consistently cited as having good food, service and characters (including the sometimes elusive Daisy Duck). The biggest downside at this restaurant is noise, followed by crowded tables and aggressive photo sales. Lunch and dinner at Tusker House are without characters, and some have described it as "Boma Lite" (implying that it is a scaled down version of the popular buffet at Animal Kingdom Lodge). The biggest positives mentioned are the variety of food choices as well as the lunchtime reserved seating option for Finding Nemo the Musical. The cons are similar to breakfast -- the restaurant is loud and crowded.
Yak and Yeti, located near Expedition Everest, is the newest of the three sit-down restaurants at Animal Kingdom. The pros most often cited here are the food, service and ambiance. The cons were few, but included how expensive and how cold the restaurant is.
The Rainforest Cafe in Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney serve the same menu. (T-Rex at Downtown Disney is part of this chain, with similar but differently themed fare.) It's pricy, loud, and waits can be very long at peak times. Still many of you like the themed atmosphere and cool air.
Looking at Animal Kingdom's traditional counter service options, our readers have rated from highest to lowest: Flame Tree Barbecue (8.3), Pizzafari (7.9), Yak and Yeti's Anandapur Local Cafe (7.41) and Restaurantosaurus (6.2). The favorite things about Flame Tree include the food, great outdoor seating with shady options, and the onion rings. The biggest problem many of you expressed at Flame Tree is the overabundance of ducks and other birds in the seating area, as well as the lack of an indoor seating option. Popular hot menu items include St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken and beef/pork sandwich. For cooler fare, Flame Tree offers Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich, BBQ Chicken Salad or Fruit Plate.
Pizzafari is by far the most colorful restaurant at Animal Kingdom, and each room has its own theme. Take a few minutes to see if you can determine what each of the themes might be (hint: we have them described on AllEars.Net). Menu items include pizza (of course), Caesar salad and also a Hot Italian Style Sandwich, which many mention as a fave. Other positive comments about Pizzafari: cool place to dine, lots of seating and great location. Many folks list "none" for the cons at this spot, although there were some negatives -- mostly regarding the long waits during peak periods.
Yak and Yeti's Anandapur Local Cafe's big portions seem to be the strongest positive at this location, along with quick service. Several of you mention this is a great location to use your snack credits from the Disney Dining Plan, and the honey chicken is a favorite. The problems seem to focus on seating -- lack of table space, lack of shade and no indoor seating.
Regarding Restaurantosaurus (once sponsored and serving McDonald's fast food) -- there aren't a lot of comments. Menu selections now are basic burgers, chicken nuggets and a veggie burger, making it a typical quick service eatery with a toppings bar and indoor seating. The cons mentioned here include the limited menu selections and early closing time.
Although it's not really a place to dine, one of the highest ratings in Animal Kingdom eateries is the Royal Anandapur Tea Company. It is recommended by 100% of the reviewers with a 9.0 rating! Comments like, "try the Chai Freeze," "great teas," and "Yum Yum Yum," were frequently noted. The biggest complaint is that the Disney Dining Plan is not accepted here.
Many of you also enjoy the innovative Picnic in the Park dining option. For those of you not familiar with it, the concept is fairly simple. You can purchase a meal for a family packaged in an "Every Tree Has Character" reusable bag. Meals include a choice of entrees, side dishes, desserts, and water. There are two tiers available for groups of two to six. Take it to one of a number of picnic spots throughout the park. Plates and utensils are provided. A whopping 88% of you recommend it with an 8.1 rating. Convenience, quality and quantity were cited many times as the pros. The largest complaint is the small size of the water bottles for the beverage choice.
So, that's a quick snapshot of what average guests have found about the dining at the Animal Kingdom theme park. We encourage you to visit our Rate and Review area to speak out and let us know what you think, not just about the restaurants, but many other aspects about Walt Disney World including resorts, kids' clubs, special tours, and even the Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland.
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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.