REVIEW: Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom – The Most Overrated Counter Service at Disney World
For years, I’ve been told by hundreds of other Disney World guests that their favorite counter service restaurant at the resort is Flame Tree Barbecue at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Heck, it was the winner by the largest margin in “The Top 10” segment’s history on the WDW News Today Podcast back in the day (in voting to rank quick service options at the Vacation Kingdom of the World).
Now, I’ve been to the restaurant at least 4 times in the decade and I have never really had a positive experience. Twice, myself and others in the party got sick after dining here, and the other two times I was just truly underwhelmed.
Now, I fully expect the comments regarding this article to be hateful as I bash the beloved Animal Kingdom smokehouse, but I want you to understand that I tried. I visited twice in the last month in an attempt to give Flame Tree Barbecue a fair chance, and both times I was fairly unimpressed. That being said, this place isn’t all bad and I certainly found some redeeming qualities outside of the menu:
It is beautiful – the seating area is gorgeously themed (even if it is outside in the Florida heat) and offers breathtaking views of the park, as well as serene dining gazebos surrounded by trees and water features.
The spicy barbecue sauce makes anything better. Available at the condiment station, you are welcome tog et as much as you please.
Well, let’s get this over with, and then I will provide my address so the angry mob can find me…
Flame Tree Barbecue Menu
French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese ($6.49)
These sounded so good that I was excited to eat here, but they did not meet any expectations. I HATE the Disney counter service french fries (check out my Plaza Restaurant review), and they are presented here with toppings that do nothing to enhance them. The pulled pork here is mostly flavorless and the cheese is probably the equivalent of melted Kraft American Cheese Singles.
Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich ($10.99)
I though the pulled pork sandwich would be a safe option… I was wrong. The bread was pretty standard and the pork itself flavorless. I did order this without the coleslaw as I am not a fan of it, but this felt like something I had ordered at Six Flags Great Adventure not too long ago. I expect more from Disney counter service.
1/2 Chicken ($13.99)
This particular dish was ordered by a peanut/tree nut allergy guest, so some of the sides have been altered to protect the innocent. The chicken itself is good, but requires a fair amount of work to get the meat off of the bones. Once you do, it may not feel like $13.99 worth of food. The coleslaw and beans are fine enough as sides.
Ribs, Chicken, and Pulled Pork Combo ($19.99)
Yes, there is a $20 entree at this counter service location, but is for sure big enough to share. I split this with another adult and we were both pretty full after. That being said, the chicken is the same from the 1/2 chicken dish, so I need no reiterate my feelings on it. Both the pulled pork and ribs were flavorless, and the ribs were fairly fatty. The spicy barbecue sauce I added from the condiments bar helped a lot, in fact, I would happily walk food over from any other location just to add that sauce to it. The jalapeno cornbread wasn’t bad, but paled in comparison to what you will find at Trail’s End, Boatwright’s, or similar establishments around the Walt Disney World Resort.
Flame Tree Barbecue is underwhelming in my opinion. I like barbecue, and I even like a fair amount of quick service barbecue joints outside of the theme parks. My review doesn’t come from adversity to the type of cuisine served here. I feel like this could be much better with little effort. I would very much like to see a menu revamp for Flame Tree in the not-too-distant future. Until then, I will likely not be returning to the Discovery Island eatery.
Overall Score for Flame Tree Barbecue – 2 out of 7