Whoever said Animal Kingdom is a half-day park obviously wasn’t thinking with their stomach. It’s home to some of the best dining in all of Walt Disney World, and thanks to a strong snack and dessert game, it’s arguably best experienced as a 2-day culinary adventure. (They should use that as the park’s new catchphrase!)
Between stands offering treats and savory snacks in shareable portions, and counter service restaurants serving desserts and side dishes, there’s a lot to try at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We’ll cover all of the best options in this post, detailing what’s worth your money, and limited stomach space if you’re not planning on doing a multi-day snack safari at Animal Kingdom.
Before we get started, I have to offer a pretty big disclaimer: half of the snack stands at Animal Kingdom are closed on any given day. It’s not uncommon for Walt Disney World to shutter a few out-of-the-way outdoor vending locations on slow days in other parks, but at Animal Kingdom, this happens all the time and even with prominent locations.
This list has been a work in progress since last fall as I’ve tried to sample the few elusive items that looked appealing on the menus of closed booths, and we went during the heart of spring break season to make that happen. Even then, closures abounded.
As such, I’m leaving off several items that are good, but are so rarely available that your chances of being able to order them are minimal. (Many of these are featured in our Snacking Our Way Around Animal Kingdom with the Tasting Sampler post.) However, you should also be aware that pretty much any snack stand could be closed at any time, so don’t get too attached to your choices while planning–they may not be available.
With that said, here’s our list of the best snacks and desserts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom…
The most well-known snack at Animal Kingdom is the Pongu Lumpia: Pineapple Cream Cheese Spring Roll.
This arrived with the opening of Pandora – World of Avatar, and immediately won a lot of fans–us included. It’s relatively inexpensive, offers a satisfying blend of sweet and savory, and has a crisp exterior to contrast with the gooey interior. It’s a good value out of pocket.
Our next snack is a relatively new, “perfect for Instagram” dessert at Harambe Market. Unfortunately named, “The Most Beautiful Cake” features coconut cake topped with creamy coconut Mousse filled with a pineapple center and accompanied by coconut crisps.
I was really weary of this at first, worried it’d be another photogenic-but-flavorless dessert. I have zero problems with photogenic food–to the contrary, I value presentation–but it needs to be backed by actual quality. This is.
The light coconut cake blends well with the creamy pineapple, and the mouse on the exterior provides added depth. The crisps may not seem like much, but they too offer enhance the dessert with a bit of texture. This is Sarah’s new ‘favorite snack’ at Animal Kingdom.
The Buffalo Chicken Chips at Trilo-Bites are my current favorite snack at Animal Kingdom.
This is a hearty, lunch or sharing sized portion of house-made chips covered with shredded buffalo chicken and coated with creamy blue cheese and drizzled with ranch dressing, plus some garnishing. These chips are made to order (and generally take a few minutes to prepare) and offer a range of flavors–salty, spicy, savory, creamy, and even a zesty freshness.
I love them–if these were served in Magic Kingdom, they’d be my go-to lunch option. In Animal Kingdom, it’s tough to turn down Flame Tree BBQ, Satu’li Canteen, or Yak & Yeti, though.
Another rich dish I love is the Baked Mac & Cheese served at Eight Spoon Cafe.
There are two varieties of this, with the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Shrimp and Sweet Chili Sauce version pictured above. It’s good, but I prefer the version with pulled pork. However, there’s only one problem with that…
Aside from some cosmetic differences, it’s also almost identical to the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork at Eight Spoon Cafe, but for less than double the cost for nearly triple the portion. If you’re solo and wanting to graze, go for the Eight Spoon Cafe version. Everyone else should share the one served at Flame Tree BBQ–it’ll provide snack sized portions to 3-4 people.
Within the last few weeks, Mr. Kamal’s has changed up its fries to being a seasoned offering topped with Tzatziki Salad and Sriracha Ketchup to what you see above: seasoned fries with four different dipping sauce options.
The price, however, has not changed. This means you’re looking at dropping $6 (or wisely using a Disney Dining Plan snack credit) on a thing of fries.
Above are the various options. You’re probably familiar with ketchup, which is also known as catsup in some localities and doubles as a feline greeting.
As for the other dipping sauces, they’re all varying degrees of good. I love the saffron aioli, but I’m a total sucker for aioli. It’s tough to justify paying this much for fries–even nicely seasoned ones like these. Instead, we’d recommend grabbing some of the dipping sauces on your way to Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, where you can order a side of fries for ~$2 less.
Switching gears with a sweet dessert, here’s the ice cream cookie sandwich at Dino-Bites Snacks. This is actually the Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich, which is a limited time offering, but they’re all good.
As for another limited time offering that we really hope becomes permanent, there’s the Scrooge McDuck’s Billionaire Bacon Caramel Sundae at Trilo-Bites Food Kiosk. That plus the Buffalo Chicken Chips is about the perfect Walt Disney World meal!
Next up, the Malva Cake Sundae: Warm Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce.
This might be an unconventional pick with the Dole Whip with Rum offered at this same window and the Colossal Cinnamon Roll for two over at Kusafiri Bakery, but we think the “just add booze” to Dole Whip trend is played out and that cinnamon roll is overrated. By contrast, this gooey dessert is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Use a Disney Dining Plan snack credit on this.
Finally, a potentially honorable mention: the Donut Holes at Isle of Java. When I had these earlier in the year, they were fantastic. Warm and fresh on the inside, with apple pieces, and a delicious cider glaze. (In fact, that’s how they’re still described on Walt Disney World’s online menu.)
When I ordered them last week, they were a weird chocolate variant that tasted a few days old. Even if they weren’t ridiculously stale, the overabundance of chocolate flavor masked any amount of citrus flavor that was present. If you have snack credits to burn, it’s worth rolling the dice on these; the Apple Cider ‘version’ they used to have (and might still have some days?) is/was excellent when fresh.
That covers it for our favorite Disney’s Animal Kingdom snacks. As we’ve repeated several times, this is the unheralded food park of Walt Disney World, and what Animal Kingdom lacks in quantity as compared to World Showcase it makes up in quality, with a better signal to noise ratio. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be spending multiple days at Animal Kingdom, so choose your meals and snacks wisely!
What are your favorite savory snacks and decadent desserts in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Do you agree or disagree with list of the best options? Ever caught any of the elusive options in a rare window when their kiosks were open? Any “extinct” Animal Kingdom snacks that you miss? 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!