Just a couple weeks ago, we went on a trek that took us all over Disney’s Animal Kingdom to check out the recently refurbished Flame Tree Barbecue as well as the various locations that were serving Flame Tree dishes while the popular restaurant was closed.
That included the Gardens Kiosk, which was previously known as the spot to find allergy-friendly snacks and information regarding dining with special diets in the park. (By the way, you can still find those resources in their updated location. The Allergy-Friendly Kiosk is now located at the spot that was previously known as Discovery Island Ice Cream, just across the way from Creature Comforts outside of the entrance to the Africa section of the park.) [Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this post, the Gardens Kiosk has had a name change; it is now The Smiling Crocodile.]
Not only did the Gardens Kiosk return with an all-new menu… it also returned with a different look. The new paint colors are shades of brown and green as opposed to the previous orange and yellow hues. And with an updated focus on salads, I’d say the earthy colors fit the bill quite well!
That’s right… Gardens Kiosk now features vegetarian and better-for-you fare in the form of two new salads: the Trek Power Salad and Farmers Salad. Rounding out the small menu is a
selection of beverages featuring Lemonades (Raspberry sweetened with Stevia and Cucumber-Mint Pomegranate) and Green Tea infused with orange blossom honey.
We grabbed both salads along with what seemed to me the most intriguing beverage: the Cucumber-Mint Pomegranate Lemonade.
After placing our order, it was fun to see the salads freshly mixed by the Cast Member inside the kiosk.
As typical with food kiosks around the parks, there is no seating specifically for Gardens. Since it previously served as a grab-and-go snack location, that wasn’t really a concern before.
Now we have not-so-much-grab-and-go salads; but no worries — the ample seating at Flame Tree Barbecue is steps away; and there is also a long and rarely populated stone bench right nearby, lined with trees for a bit of shade.
Let’s start with the Trek Power Salad: a healthy mix of quinoa, beets, edamame, pineapple (noted as “citrus” on the menu, so the featured citrus may be subject to change) and a light citrus dressing. The mix is placed over a bed of spinach, ending up as a bright and beautiful mix of colors.
I’ll admit: I was somewhat put off by the mention of beets. However, the beets and pineapple were well-diced, resulting in much more of a blend of the flavors (earthy and fruity, with a hint of the mildly nutty flavor from the quinoa) with the edamame bringing a bit of crunch. The citrus dressing delivered a nice, bright complement to everything.
The protein from the quinoa makes this a more filling choice than the Farmers Salad, but by no means will it weigh you down. The portion isn’t huge, which is also why it qualifies as a snack on the Disney Dining Plan, as opposed to an entree.
Speaking of the Farmers Salad… it’s a mix of blueberries, cucumbers, goat cheese, candied pecans and mixed greens brought together with a balsamic vinaigrette.
I hadn’t expected the way the cheese melted into the salad due to the heat of the day, adding a cheesy, creamy texture to the whole thing. The vinaigrette was very strong, but mixed surprisingly well with the sweetness of the blueberries and the pecans.
For something that looks to the eye to be.. well, rather garden variety, this was pretty tasty!
The Cucumber-Mint Pomegranate Lemonade was the choice to wash it all down, and of course it comes complete with an Animal Kingdom signature paper straw.
You’d think with the amount of flavors listed in the name that one would overpower the rest, but that wasn’t the case. You can pick up on all four flavors resulting in a refreshing, sweet-and-sour beverage. There is no shortage of fun, cold beverage options in Animal Kingdom thanks to locations like the Royal Anandapur Tea Company (Frozen Chai!) and Upcountry Beverages, but the new options here bring their own interesting flavor to the mix.
So, that’s what’s going on at the Gardens Kiosk these days! Not exactly your typical burgers-and-fries joint, is it 😉 ?
What do you think of the new options at the Gardens Kiosk? Please let us know with a comment!