It’s been a long time coming, but Flame Tree Barbecue is back open for business at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Flame Tree Barbecue
As you may remember (or perhaps experienced if you’ve paid a visit to Animal Kingdom since New Year’s), Flame Tree Barbecue closed for refurbishment on January 5th. Since it is arguably the most popular Counter Service spot at Animal Kingdom, measures were taken to ensure guests could still enjoy a few Flame Tree dishes at alternate locations even while it was closed. This ended up being a very good thing, since the refurbishment — originally slated for an early April reopening — was extended into May… aaaaand then into June… when it finally reopened on the 30th of the June.
So, today we’re going to visit all of the counter service spots affected by the refurb (Flame Tree Barbecue itself and the alternate food locations) to see how things have shaped up. Because, you see, Flame Tree Barbecue isn’t the only place that received a bit of makeover (heads up: the Allergy-Friendly Kiosk has a new location!). But since Flame Tree Barbecue IS the main topic, why don’t we just start there?
Flame Tree Barbecue
Welcome back, Flame Tree Barbecue!
It has returned with its signature bright colors, lovely seating areas and
lush landscaping well intact.
And, yep, animals are still eating other animals throughout the restaurant’s many pavilions.
Now, one of the key additions during this time has been more shade, affecting primarily the ordering area. The roof has been extended to make the often-long lines here a bit more bearable in inclement (or just plain super HOT) weather.
Additional shading has been added throughout the sprawling dining area as well, but in many ways it’s the same old Flame Tree we’ve known and loved throughout the years.
If that’s the case, then why did the reopening take so much longer than anticipated? Well, this is simply rumor, but it does seems as though the waterfront construction for the upcoming Rivers of Light Nighttime Spectacular (slated to debut in 2016) may have played a large role due to its proximity to Flame Tree Barbecue.
One thing that was missing (on the day of our visit, at least)? This signature Flame Tree Barbecue sign.
So, just follow the fragrance of smokey barbecue wafting through the air around Discovery Island! Oh, and speaking of barbecue… the menu at Flame Tree didn’t return entirely unchanged. Most items remain the same, and Ribs, Chicken, and Jumbo Turkey Legs are still the star dishes. (And the Onion Ring Basket didn’t disappear! Whew!)
But there are a few new items to report: a Watermelon Salad has replaced the Fruit Plate with Honey Yogurt, and a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad now takes the place of the Smoked Chicken Salad.
While the focus of the Watermelon Salad is — as you might expect 😉 — large fresh chunks of watermelon, the other components make this dish a little more interesting than the name implies.
You can immediately spy the arugula (which lends its hint of almost pepper-y flavor), but what’s less obvious to the eye is the pickled red onion and small bits of feta cheese, all topped with a white vinaigrette. Many folks enjoy the combo of red onion and fruit, but the main surprise is how the strong and slightly bitter vinaigrette works well with the sweet watermelon.
The Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad is a more filling option, and the spicy jerk chicken lends a nice heat to the otherwise standard bed of mixed greens.
Black beans and corn make up a fair portion of the mix, but the spicy chipotle yogurt dressing adds to the kick from the chicken. Oh, and those croutons on top? Cornbread!
Now that we’ve seen what’s up at Flame Tree, let’s explore what’s changed — and what hasn’t — at the alternate food locations that were serving Flame Tree goodies during the refurbishment!
Allergy-Friendly Kiosk and Dino-Bite Snacks
Do to the domino effect of Flame Tree dishes being spread to various nooks and crannies around the park during the refurb, the spot formerly known as Discovery Island Ice Cream (situated just across from Creature Comforts — now better known as the new Animal Kingdom Starbucks) was transformed into the Allergy-Friendly Kiosk while the original allergy-friendly location — Gardens Kiosk — served up Flame Tree entrees. (Whew! Did you follow all of that?)
With the reopening of Flame Tree, however, this now remains the new “permanent” location (as permanent as anything is in Disney World, anyway!) for guests to find allergy-friendly goods as well as information regarding dining with special diets throughout the park.
For those wondering where they can grab their Bugs Sundae or hand-scooped ice cream now that Discovery Island Ice Cream no longer exists, fret not! Those items remain on the Dino-Bite Snacks menu (Dino-Bite Snacks is the next door neighbor to Restaurantosaurus).
So, what’s become of the original Allergy-friendly location, Gardens Kiosk? I’m glad you asked…
Gardens Kiosk has returned with a paint refresh AND an entirely new menu… and one well-befitting its name, at that!
Gardens is now serving a small menu focused on salads (the Trek Power Salad and Farmers Salad) and a rather unique array of bevvies. (Raspberry Lemonade sweetened with Stevia? Iiiiiiiiiiiteresting.)
We’ll be taking a closer look at both new salads in an upcoming post, but here’s quick glimpse in the meantime!
Stay tuned to DFB for a full review of these beauties soon!
The already small, and always subject-to-change, menu is now even smaller… but, boy, does it have a doozy!
Do you remember, by chance, the Pulled Buffalo Chicken Waffle Sandwich that came around on peak crowd days a few times last year? In case you’ve forgotten, here it is…
Well, now it’s back… in the form of the Buffalo Chicken Waffle SLIDER (which, incidentally, makes it a eligible for a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan!).
You can read our original review of this dish here. But in my opinion this new slider form is a more manageable portion. With the very intense kick of the buffalo sauce, the pulled chicken, and the rich blue cheese dressing (AND a couple of waffles, while we’re at it!), there is just a LOT going on here. In fact, for something classified as a “slider,” this is still a more than ample serving.
Oh, and the soft-serve Waffle Sundae has returned to Trilo-Bites, too! It comes complete with your choice of vanilla, chocolate, or twist soft-serve, hot fudge, walnuts (these are made to order, so if you prefer without walnuts, just say the word), dollops of whipped cream, and a cherry on top. And there IS indeed a waffle bowl under all that ice cream.
Now, keep in mind that Trilo-Bites has been known for tweaking its menu with some frequency ever since it lost its star dish of Jumbo Turkey Legs. Is the Buffalo Slider here to stay? We sure hope so, but only time will tell. So, if this one’s on your list, be sure to get while the gettin’s good!
Now, there was one other spot affected by the Flame Tree refurb, and that was Discovery Island’s Beastly Kiosk.
But it returned with its new menu a bit earlier than the other spots, so we already know what happened here. But just in case you need a little reminder :), it’s now home to a couple of pretty impressive Baked Pasta dishes in addition to its regular offering of pretzels, like the Mickey Pretzel and the Jalapeño Cheese-stuffed Pretzel.
You can check out our review of the Baked Lobster Macaroni and Cheese and the Baked Pasta Marinara with Mozzarella here.
Well, that about sums it up! Thanks for trekking around Animal Kingdom with us once more. As always, we hope you had a WILD time!
What do you think of the latest additions and changes to dining at Animal Kingdom? Please let us know with a comment!