Considering the many up-and-coming events on the way to Animal Kingdom (kicking off on Memorial Day Weekend), it’s no surprise to see menu changes popping up in several eateries, too.
We recently checked out the updated menu at DinoLand’s Restaurantosaurus, and we’ll soon be taking a peek at several news items that have shown up at Pizzafari. Today, though, we’re visiting Discovery Island’s Flame Tree Barbecue, which has recently received a menu makeover of its own (this follows up from the spot’s physical makeover last year).
Flame Tree Barbecue is absolutely a crowd favorite when it comes to full meal Counter Service options at Animal Kingdom. Similar to Pizzafari, the name tells you just about everything you need to know regarding the main attraction. Here, it’s barbecue. And I think some of the popularity lies in the fact that you can often pick up on the smoky and tempting fragrance in the air around it, even before you spot the eatery itself!
Once you get there, it can be pretty hard to resist. So let’s waste no time and get into our visit!
Flame Tree Barbecue is located in Discovery Island, and longtime visitors will probably notice the results of last year’s makeover easily. Aside from the extended roof offering some shade to guests waiting for registers, the colors in the ordering area have changed from the previous bright shades to more subdued, earthy tones (you’ll notice the same trend at pretty much every eatery that lines Discovery Island these days).
In other areas, though — including the order and preparation area — you can still get your fill of bold, bright colors.
Outside seating remains the only option here, but many tables and several entire seating areas are pleasantly covered for those hot Florida days.
Plenty of trees throughout the area offer even more shade, in addition to being beautiful to look at.
An added bonus: many of the small seating pavilions (all located behind the ordering area) offer views of Discovery River and Expedition Everest as well as what will soon be the Rivers of Light nighttime show.
And remember, even though the upcoming Rivers of Light evening spectacular has met with delays, Discovery River is scheduled play host to a new show, “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” while Rivers of Light remains in development. Though we don’t know the setup of that show, seating at Flame Tree Barbecue may offer some nice views.
As we’ve discussed during previous visits, the theming here is certainly unique…
The Circle of Life is the common story thread throughout the area, which goes hand in hand with the park’s goal of educating visitors about our animal friends in a fun atmosphere.
Don’t worry about the little ones, though! The bright and fun colors serve to keep the whole predator-versus-prey element from being violent or scary.
In fact, the whimsical color palette that remains in play throughout the seating area might keep many guests from noticing scenes like these below at all.
Tables and chairs are likewise colorful and mismatched in keeping with the rest of the outdoor area, though a few of these have also received a toned-down makeover.
Now that we’ve meandered a bit, let’s get to those new eats!
The barbecue-based menu at Flame Tree still includes go-to classics like the Pulled Pork Sandwich and Ribs and Chicken Combo.
Thankfully, the terrific Onion Rings they serve here survived the recent menu makeover! But we’ll be checking out the new side item today instead: French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese.
Make sure to stop by a condiments station to load up and add to your BBQ goodies. (Note the stations are not in the ordering area like a typical Counter Service. You’ll find several located throughout the seating pavilions, so you can grab your seat first!) In addition to ketchup, they also have self-serve offerings of tasty barbecue and sweet and sour sauces.
Heads up: you may need a fair amount of those sauces if you plan to dig into the first newer item on the menu: a FULL Slab of St. Louis Ribs!
You may be quite familiar with the popular 1/2 Slab, which is still available for those who are intimidated by this massive amount of food (the half option is noted under the Full portion’s menu listing).
The Full Slab comes in at a whopping $19.99 (and is also available for one Quick Service meal credit on the Disney Dining Plan, like the rest of the entrees at Flame Tree Barbecue). But check this out… if two people in your party are interested in this menu item, this plate is easily sharable. Along with a full rack of huge ribs, you also get sides of slowly-baked beans, coleslaw, and a large piece of the amazing jalapeño cornbread!
Plus, yeah… that full rack of ribs! As always, both the smoky flavor and tenderness of the ribs was spot-on.
Taking the menu spot of the Jumbo Turkey Leg, which was recently removed entirely from Animal Kingdom (don’t worry — you can still find this iconic eat at the other three Disney World parks) is another GIGANTIC plate to consider: the Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler.
Noted on the menu as the “Ultimate Flame Tree Barbecue Platter,” this is the plate for those who want some of everything! Let’s take a look at the portions for each of the three (which are also served with the same three side items as the Full Slab of Ribs). Here are the smoked ribs…
We needed to take a couple of pictures to give you an idea of the serving of smoked chicken.
And finally, you receive a large amount of pulled pork!
Yeah, this plate really is MASSIVE! But it’s pretty awesome having the option to try all the house specialties. And like the Full Slab of Ribs, this is totally sharable (especially keeping in mind the similar price tag to the Full Slab).
Not quite in the mood for ALL of that 😉 ? The new salad selection might be more up your alley. The Roasted Chicken with Mixed Greens Salad joins the Watermelon Salad in the lineup.
Unlike the disappointing version of this salad of the same name that we tried at Restaurantosaurus, Flame Tree’s take entirely filled the nice-sized plate. The salad is a mixture of field greens and slices of roasted chicken breast.
Red apple wedges and lots of shredded cheddar and pecans are where this version further differs from the Roasted Chicken Salad at Restaurantosaurus.
The dressing mixed with the greens is a tasty apple cider vinaigrette. The chicken was mildly seasoned, but it didn’t have the same kick that the Jerk Chicken Salad that was previously served here offered. It was still very nicely flavored overall, though. The only thing I’m sad to see gone are those cornbread croutons!
Okay. Here it is: for those of you looking for a completely BRILLIANT use of your snack credit from the Disney Dining Plan during your Animal Kingdom visit, check out this new side item: French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese!
Lots of French Fries fill the plate, and they are topped with the same tender and very slightly charred pulled pork that makes up the Pulled Pork Sandwich. It’s all further topped with a hearty drizzle of barbecue sauce.
The overall combo is rich and tasty, offering plenty of bang for your buck for those paying the $6.49 out of pocket, too. When you consider the amount of pork packed in here, along with the potatoes and generous amounts of cheese, this really strikes me as more of a small meal than the side item it’s classified as. Seriously, grab some forks and napkins (because this isn’t really finger food anymore after all that pork 😉 ) and DIG IN!!
Flame Tree Barbecue should still be a guest favorite when it comes to Animal Kingdom Counter Service options. And its popularity, I believe, will only continue to rise. This is not only because the food still offers one of the most appealing Counter Service bets in all the Disney World parks, but it’s also due to some prime real estate. Flame Tree’s lovely outdoor seating is bound to become even more appealing when evening activities kick off at Animal Kingdom on Memorial Day Weekend, with a location right in the heart of much of the upcoming action.
However, with these new options and their focus on unusually large entrees, it will likely pay to consider the menu in advance and be a little more strategic in ordering than you may have been in the past (or, for first time guests, to understand that these particular portion sizes and Counter Service prices are unique to Flame Tree Barbecue at this time). Though prices are steep for the two new entrees, you may find that you actually save a buck or two with sharing while still getting your fill of tasty barbecue goodness.
With so many changes taking place right now and even more on the way, you’ll see us back here at Disney’s beautiful Animal Kingdom VERY soon!
What is your favorite barbecue classic to grab at Flame Tree Barbecue? Let us know in the comments below!