REVIEW: Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom – The Most Overrated Counter Service at Disney World

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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

Flame Tree Barbecue Menu, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Flame Tree Barbecue Menu, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Flame Tree Barbecue Menu, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Flame Tree Barbecue Menu, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Flame Tree Barbecue Menu, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Flame Tree Barbecue Menu, Disney’s Animal Kingdom

French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese ($6.49)

French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese ($6.49)
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.

French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese ($6.49)
French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese ($6.49)

Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich ($10.99)

Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich ($10.99)
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)

1/2 Chicken ($13.99)
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.

1/2 Chicken ($13.99)
1/2 Chicken ($13.99)

Ribs, Chicken, and Pulled Pork Combo ($19.99)

Ribs, Chicken, and Pulled Pork Combo ($19.99)
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.

Overall

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

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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Marc
Guest
Marc

I must say I 100% disagree with you here. I love the Flame tree and its a must stop for me every time I go to Disney. To each their own I guess, but The Chicken/Ribs platter is delicious and the baked beans are outstanding.

flanaganid
Guest
flanaganid

Based on the photos, the food doesn’t look the same as before the refurb last year. It appears as though they’re skimping on the rub, and may have changed recipes on a couple things. The ribs used to be totally and evenly coated, and yours look like they got a passing sprinkle if at all. The pulled pork had the rub mixed throughout and tended to be fairly moist and juicy, and yours looks plain and dry. (Though I do admit that any pulled pork without sauce or slaw is going to be on the dry side.) I think there… Read more »

Carol
Guest
Carol

I totally agree with you! I thought I was the only one that didn’t get it, and accurate review in my opinion.

rebeccamck
Guest
rebeccamck

I kind of agree. The fries are meh and I hate coleslaw of all kinds. I’ve only dined there once (back in 2011) and I don’t remember anything standing out about that experience. It wasn’t terrible but wasn’t excellent either. It was so much food (combo platter x 3 adults and 1 kid whom I think had a kid’s meal) we just probably couldn’t finish it all. I’d like to try the watermelon salad some day but other than that I’d probably dine elsewhere.

Steph
Guest
Steph

I completely agree with you, I have never had a good meal here. Every time I eat at this restaurant, I go in with high expectations and every time I am very disappointed.

Elena
Guest
Elena

I have never eaten here but am thankful for the honest review. I feel like Even though the prices are rising the quality of food that is overestimate is declining. This definitely sits on my mind for next years trip as far as stay on property. We have been doing so for the last few years that we have come and some times twice. We will be back in November and if the quality is still the same I guess I would not mind paying for a car rental and staying off property.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Never eaten there, but I’ll be sure to avoid it. Life’s too short for anything but awesome barbecue.

Doug
Guest
Doug

I completely agree with you! As a BBQ lover I find that the offerings at WDW in general are not that good(have not been able to score a reservation at House of Blues my last two trips, so this opinion may change). It is disappointing since BBQ is one of my favorite foods, and we are in the South when we’re there. Every time a new restaurant announcement is coming I pray that it’s a good BBQ joint.

Ken Harrington
Guest
Ken Harrington

Last i heard, “Discovery Island” has been closed for many years.
That being said.
I miss the original menu at flame tree and the variety of BBQ sauces they had when Animal Kingdom first opened.
I use to suggest to people to go to Tusker House but, their menu changed as well and is not as impressive as it once was. I never go back there any more.
Flame Tree is still my favorite treat when i visit.

Len
Guest
Len

The central part of Animal Kingdom where Flame Tree is located is called Discovery Island so while the island by that name in the middle of Bay Lake has been closed for some time, the “version” at Animal Kingdom is not

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

HaHa!
Next time you try to make a snarky remark Mr Harrington, make sure you have your facts straight.
That way you end up sounding like an Idiot. Lol

andrew
Guest
andrew

I think the onion rings for $4 aren’t too bad but I avoid the rest.

Heidi
Guest
Heidi

I actually felt this to be a more fair review than others, my only gripe albeit minimal is when people — and many are guilty of this — claiming to be sick after eating a particular thing or at a location. There are many different “bugs” that get your tummy turning & some may infect you days before you feel sick, others attack much more quickly.

Kim
Guest
Kim

Well, you aren’t wrong. The food is rather dried out, flavorless and overpriced. Now. It didn’t used to be that way.

Like with all good things at Disney, once they see something become popular, the response is to raise prices and cut value. Those ribs used to be among the best one could get at any quick service establishment anywhere. Now, they barely pass for edible. The chicken is greasy, basics like fries and onion rings way too overpriced, for what they are, and again, far more expensive than they should be.

Kim
Guest
Kim

Sorry, I meant to say “cut quality” verses what I did say (cut value, which is implied)

Tim
Guest
Tim

Though I am from Memphis and barbeque is pretty popular in the Bluff City, I have eaten and Flame Tree a few times and have to disagree with you. I happen to be an avid distance runner and have gone the healthier option. I have only eaten the smoke turkey breast sandwich — with ample amounts of their special BBQ sauce. Have yet to try the watermelon salad, but plan on having it next time (I have eaten variations of the watermelon salad outside of Disney). Hailing for Memphis, BBQ is a food group and the Flame Tree pulled pork… Read more »

Marlene
Guest
Marlene

We agree ! The last time we were there (pre refurbishment) we all got sick AND it was the only place I got mosquito bites all around my ankles even with knee high socks and long pants. With all the current mosquito concerns, I hope they have addressed that issue. Thank you for offering the first not-wonderful review I’ve read. We thought we were the only ones !

Look in the mirror
Guest
Look in the mirror

This place is awesome. Have been their several times and has been fantastic each time. No complaints from us, oh wait I forgot it’s Disney so I must get on these forums and bitch!!

Derek
Guest
Derek

Disney employee obviously posted this comment above. How about fixing the parks instead of posting how guests complaint who want you to stop being so cheap and cutting quality to disgusting level. Review is truthful. Used to be good. VERY few places on Disney worth eating at anymore. They cut quality of everything by 10 and charge triple now.

JimV
Guest
JimV

I’m largely disappointed with the food at Animal Kingdom. Tusker House was pretty bad and it costs a lot to eat there.

Terri
Guest
Terri

The last few times I have been there it’s been just so so , it used to be my go to place , next time I go I will be finding something else to take its place! I’m no longer stopping there I can make bq ribs and pulled pork better at home so no need to stop there.

Jacky
Guest
Jacky

Totally agree with you. I would say a few years ago it might have been better. Recently, the food has changed. The chicken is dry and hard to eat. Last time, I ate there I got sick as well.

Neil
Guest
Neil

Phew I thought I was the only one that felt that way! I have a hard time passing up BBQ. But I just can’t bring myself to try it again.