A brand new dining experience has just made its debut at Pizzafari!
Plzzafari is a Counter Service restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Located on Discovery Island, this spot is best known for its unique and colorful atmosphere, as well as its primary food item as highlighted in the name: PIZZA.
It’s always operated the same way you’d expect at any Counter Service location: place your order and pay at the register; pick up your food at a counter; then bring it all to whatever table you manage to find, depending on how busy it is in the moment.
But now — from 5:00 – 8:00 PM daily — a new service style is available. Though daytime will continue to offer the typical Counter Service experience, the evenings now ALSO present Pizzafari Family-Style Dining!
Let’s see how this works…
Now, if you’ve ever paid a visit to Pizzafari, things will look quite similar at first. In fact, the typical counter service operations also still take place in the evening, so guests seeking the regular meals here still have that option.
Outside, you’ll may notice the small update to the posted menu informing about the new Family-Style Dining available in the evenings.
Though not necessarily required (based on availability), guests can make Advance Dining Reservations for Family-Style Dining. Upon arrival at Pizzafari, guests opting for Family-Style will check in at a marked podium located in the corner of the ordering area.
There, guests are provided with a Table Number.
Next, it’s over to the designated cashier (on the far left of the ordering area) to place your drink order and pay for your meal.
Similar to regular Counter Service, you head to the food counter to pick up your own first course and drinks.
Then it’s off to find the table, where you’ll be seated in one of two dining rooms which have been specifically designated for this experience! We were seated in the Nocturnal Room.
However, when there are more guests taking part, the Take Your Home Room will also be used for Family-Style Dining.
In fact, one really cool part of the evening was a visit from a Cast Member who spoke to us all and shared about the room and the artwork! (Did you know the artist who painted these gorgeous rooms worked on Peter Pan and The Jungle Book?)
It’s hard to resist the chance to check things out no matter where you’re seated, because the painted murals surrounding you throughout the restaurant really do deserve a good look. See more of the artwork here!
Before the Cast Member’s visit, though, we took our seats at our table. Each one is set with rolled silverware and plates.
You can grab items according to your preference from the condiment station, as per usual.
Once you’re all set up, the second course is delivered to you via a cart, as the third is later.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… because I bet you’d like to know what’s coming on those carts, so let’s dig in!
For the set price of $19.99 for adults and $11.99 for guests ages 3-9 (or one Quick Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan), guests receive every food item listed on the menu.
Notice I said “food” 🙂 . Though non-alcoholic beverages ARE included, beer and wine are an additional purchase. (The exception: of-age guests on the Disney Dining Plan are able to receive an alcoholic beverage with their meal if they wish, since those are now included on the Plan.)
As for the food, though, it starts with the two appetizers picked up at the food counter: a Caprese Salad and a Caesar Salad.
The Caesar Salad is pretty much as expected: romaine, parmesan cheese, croutons, and Caesar dressing (but not too much of it, which I’ve always appreciated here with the side Caesar salads on the regular menu). Fresh and just fine, but nothing remarkable.
The Caprese Salad, though…
What a nice change of pace! The fresh tomatoes and rich mozzarella drizzled with balsamic is simple, but delicious. It’s all pre-cut, which also makes table sharing easier for families.
Guests receive not one, but all three entrees! These include a Baked Ziti pasta, with a meat sauce that makes this dish especially hearty.
Though we knew the menu would feature a chicken dish, we now know that it’s Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken!
ANOTHER rich, decadent entree, in some part due to the protein from the chicken.
Personally, I could have happily had some more alfredo sauce on those noodles… because is there ever such a thing as too much alfredo sauce?
Still, it’s another pretty solid offering. By this time, things were stacking up pretty well for the new experience. But if you’re like me, you are probably most curious about the Pepperoni Pizza. Would the star entree be any different from the less-than-spectacular pizza typically served not only at Pizzafari, but at Counter Service pizza locations all across the parks?
In a word… YES!!
The cheese? Plentiful. The toppings? They cover almost the entire pie, unlike the usual Disney counter service pizza where it’s almost half crust. My pepperoni was even somewhat crisp!
Will it rival your favorite New York slice? No, of course not. But, truly, I was surprised to find that it was definitely an improvement over the usual Counter Service deal.
And, if you still have room (which, thankfully, we always do!)… Miniature Cannolis are the final component of the meal.
These weren’t filled with the most decadent mascarpone cream ever, but the crispy, golden shells were totally on point.
Plus, they’re simply fun! I love that each member of the family gets their own cannoli (or two…). Which brings me to my next point: I noticed families of four receiving bigger pizzas, and larger pasta portions, too. So, know that the serving sizes are provided with the size of the party in mind. Case in point: a nearby family of five (2 adults, 3 children) noted that they only thing they wish they had more of was the pizza. Otherwise, they were satisfied.
Speaking of… let’s say you want more of a particular item. You can pay one price for more of that item for your group (as opposed to being charged per person — you’re charged per item). The price depends on the item (for instance, an additional family-size pizza would be $12.00 extra). More pasta? You’re looking at $8.00.
And that’s how Family-Style Dining at Pizzafari works! So… what did we think of this new experience?
Nosh or Not:
You may want to try Pizzafari Family-Style Dining if:
- You want to totally maximize your Counter Service credit from a financial perspective, since the $19.99 price tag will definitely do that for you.
- You kind of love the idea of not taking individual orders for your family for a Counter Service meal — it’s all decided for you and the kiddos!
- You enjoy the unique setting of Pizzafari, but haven’t been intrigued by the offerings in the past and want to try something new.
You may want to pass on Pizzafari Family-Style Dining if:
- If you’re paying out-of-pocket, you’d rather put $20.00 towards a meal at a Table Service restaurant.
- You aren’t interested in being tied to an Advance Dining Reservation time for a Counter Service meal.
You know… I am pleasantly surprised by Pizzafari Family-Style Dining. The food is taken up a notch or two from the regular service, and small touches like the visit from the Cast Member and table settings offer nice touches to the experience. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s similar to breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant in that — if the menu appeals to you — it’s almost a no-brainer in terms of maximizing your Quick Service credit. For those paying out-of-pocket, there is more to consider. But many Counter Service entrees alone can range around $11-12 (and in some cases closer to $14), and that doesn’t include a beverage, dessert, salads, etc… so, that’s something to think about, too.
I’ve long enjoyed the atmosphere of Pizzafari and have wanted to spend more time immersed in the colorful, unique ambience. But the regular Counter Service offerings just weren’t enough to lure me in too often. So I’m glad to say that this was a positive experience in regards to both setting and food.
Disney did not indicate whether Family-Style Dine would be a permanent addition to Pizzafari, so we’ll be curious to see what happens from here. (EDITOR’S UPDATE: At time of publishing, reservations only came up through the end of October; however, as of late September 2018, reservations are coming up through February 23, 2019.) In the meantime, if you give Pizzafari Family-Style Dine a try, please let us know what you think!
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Pizzafari is located in Animal Kingdom’s Discovery Island. Take a full Food Tour of the area in our DFB YouTube Video!