The Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler has returned for Walt Disney World’s crowded pre-holiday week, which means all of the park’s snack stands are open (with expanded menus), making for a fun culinary crawl. In this post, we’ll share food photos of everything we tried, thoughts on the experience, and how you can leverage the Tasting Sampler for better value-for-money.
For starters, the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler is a digital value card that you can only purchase online. The sampler costs $50 and includes two digital value cards: one $50 card that can be used at over 40 outdoor food and beverage locations throughout the park (and does not expire), plus a bonus $10 card that can be used at most Animal Kingdom counter service restaurants after 5 p.m. from April 12-22, 2019.
The Tasting Sampler itself is also only available through April 22, which might seem like a very limited time offering, and it is. However, the same deal appeared during Christmas, and its return suggests it must’ve been at least a modest success. To purchase, visit offers.Disney.com and use the code DAKDINEBONUS. You’ll receive an email with a barcode that can be added to your digital wallet on your mobile phone and scanned at most food and beverage locations throughout the park.
We’ve been wanting to try some of the rare Animal Kingdom snacks for a while, but the stands that allegedly sell them seem to be perpetually closed. We also are a bit “worried” that we won’t have the opportunity to do opening day at Epcot Food & Wine Festival in 90-degree plus heat and humidity, and given yesterday’s weather, this seemed like an appropriate alternative.
Delighting at the chance to likewise experience what’s basically a quasi Food & Wine Festival at Animal Kingdom, we bought a couple of the gift cards and, despite the lack of an Italy booth, figured we’d make the most of the hot and busy day.
As most of the items available for the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler have an extremely limited run and are not going to be available on a regular basis, I’m going to approach this a bit differently. First, my take on the experience as a whole, which should be applicable to subsequent iterations of this promo, irrespective of menus. I’ll follow with the full Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler menu and quick-hits as to the specific items we tried.
If you have at least two people in your party and plan to snack or drink (or both) at Animal Kingdom and spend a full day in the park, the Tasting Sampler is definitely worth buying. The digital gift card is valid at almost every snack stand and outdoor bar in the park, including the popular Dawa Bar, Tamu Tamu Refreshments, and Pongu Pongu in Pandora. If you get a couple of drinks from these locations, you’ll easily use the entire $50, leaving you with a bonus $10 to spend on Flame Tree BBQ or Satu’li Canteen for dinner.
If you do not plan on drinking alcohol, we’d recommend having more than 2 people if you want to take advantage of the Tasting Sampler.
While there are several great snacks at Animal Kingdom, the “problem” is that there’s also a surplus of very good to great counter service restaurants. You probably don’t want to forgo lunch to graze from snack stands. It’s not cost effective and in most cases is not as good as just doing a single meal.
However, treating this as a mini-Food & Wine Festival and snacking around Animal Kingdom is a fun experience. We certainly enjoyed it, even though the food we purchased was a mixed bag.
If you’ve already done the counter service restaurants several times and are looking for a fresh way to eat your way around the park, it’s certainly enjoyable and presents enough interesting options that you can find ways to spend that $50.
Here’s a full list of the special items available for the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler, plus additional locations where it can be used. Next to each item we tried, we include whether we recommend it…
Kusafiri Bakery (Africa)
Chicken & Shrimp Curry (delicious and hearty portions of each; highly recommend either this or the individual curries)
Caravan Road (Asia)
Tuna Tataki Bowl (tasteless tuna; not recommended)
Pork Bao (dry pork and bun; not recommended)
Mr. Kamal’s (Asia)
Fried Chicken Dumplings (no better or worse than what Trader Joe’s sells in the freezer section; not recommended)
Kamal’s Fries with Dipping Sauces (pricey for fries, but dipping sauces are delicious; recommended)
Trilo-Bites Food Kiosk (DinoLand U.S.A.)
Scrooge McDuck’s Billionaire Bacon Caramel Sundae (huge pieces of real bacon; highly recommended)
One thing we did notice is that there were pamphlets on thick card stock for the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler throughout the park. These were quite nice and not something we would’ve expected for such a limited time offering. There was also a ton of signage, none of which was the quality you’d expect from a temporary offering.
Despite this, several Cast Members commented (along the lines of), “oh cool, this is the first one of these I’ve seen today.” This was understandable at rope drop when we were literally the first guests served the toppings-less “pizza” at Terra Treats. It made a lot less sense to hear that around 3 p.m. at Dino-Bite Snacks, which always has a line.
The idea of doing the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler, especially as a means of drawing guests away from popular counter service restaurants, is a clever one.
Animal Kingdom doesn’t have the quick-service restaurant capacity it needs on busy days, and this is a potential solution to this problem–but not if a ton of money is spent on signage, pamphlets, and other marketing, and guest utilization rate is low.
The food we bought was a mixed bag, but we nevertheless hope the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler catches on. It’s an enjoyable way for repeat Walt Disney World guests to experience the park’s dining scene in a different way. Plus, the value proposition (free $10 gift card!) is good if the sampler works for you. Even if the Tasting Sampler turns out to be a bust, hopefully some of the new menus stick around and give snack stands that are perpetually closed a new reason to stay open. Animal Kingdom is already the best food park at Walt Disney World, and more snack options would further cement that status.
Do you plan on doing the Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler? Would you do it if the sampler were available during your Walt Disney World trip? Do you agree or disagree with our perspective on it? Intrigued by any of the new snack options available right now at Animal Kingdom? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!