REVIEW: The Tasting Sampler at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Offers Up Some Good Values and Sweet Surprises
The ever-popular Tasting Sampler is back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park after being briefly introduced back in December. For just $50, you can munch your way through the park and have your very own mini food festival. This year, they’ve even added a bonus $10 card to use at a number of quick-service restaurants to give it an added value. Take a look at all the items we tried and see if this sampler is worth it for you!
The sampler costs $50 and includes two digital value cards: one $50 card that can be used at over 40 outdoor food and beverage locations throughout the park (and does not expire), and a bonus $10 card that can be used at the following quick-service restaurants after 5pm from April 12-22, 2019: Restaurantosaurus (DinoLand U.S.A), Pizzafari and Pizzafari Family-Style Dining (Discovery Island), Flame Tree Barbecue (Discovery Island), and Satu’li Canteen (Pandora – The World of Avatar).
When you purchase the sampler, you’ll receive an email for each digital value card. Each email will have a barcode that can be added to your digital wallet on your mobile phone and scanned at most food and beverage locations throughout the park. The fact that it’s on your phone makes it far more convenient and different than any other food festivals at Walt Disney World.
Once you purchase your card, you get a handy map to guide you to all the participating kiosks.
At each of the outdoor food and beverage locations, you can use the $50 card to purchase anything on the menus.
We’ll start our tour in Discovery Island.
Eight Spoon Café (Discovery Island)
Baked Macaroni & Cheese served with Pulled Pork – $6.49
House-Smoked Pastrami, Sauerkraut Kale Slaw, and Whole-Grain Mustard.
This is just fine. For theme park pastrami, it’s what you’d typically expect. It isn’t the worst, and it certainly is edible, but don’t expect it to be life-changing. The bread was soft, sure, but the dish overall was still forgettable. This is not something I’d waste my card value on.
Pulled Pork Street Tacos – $6.99
Two Pulled Pork Tacos tossed in our House-Made Sauce with Cotija Cheese, Pickled Onion, and Cilantro served on a Corn Tortilla.
The pork on these tacos was the driest, most flavorless pork I’ve ever had at Walt Disney World. These tacos look great, but they’re very, very dry. (And bland. Did we mention bland?)
Overall, The Smiling Crocodile was the one bad stop out of our tour. Feel free to skip this kiosk completely and save your money. But if you do get something from here make it the following item:
Chips and Queso – $4.99
Multicolored Tortilla Chips served with our White Queso.
These are somehow the winner of this kiosk. While the chips are nothing out of ordinary, the queso is one of the best ones I’ve had from a counter service restaurant. The cheese is thick (or as the kids call it, thicc) and there’s more than enough to cover and/or pair with the chips included. Is this a good value at $5? No. Is it still good? Yes.
Kusafiri Bakery (Africa)
Chicken & Shrimp Curry (listed as a Curry Sampler) – $6.79
This dish is absolutely fantastic. If it were served on real plates, you wouldn’t know the difference, because it’s true table service quality food. Everything’s well spiced and seasoned. The shrimp doesn’t stand out much, but there’s lots of it for the price, and the chicken has a lot of flavor, with a bit of a kick. Even the rice is well cooked! Overall, a really great dish for the price, and a tremendous value.
Terra Treats (Discovery Island)
Meatball Slider – $6.49
House-Made Beef and Spinach Meatball dressed in Marinara with Shaved Cheese on our house-made Focaccia Roll.
If you’ve read any number of WDWNT food reviews, you know how hard I am on Disney’s attempts at Italian food. That being said, this is actually a fine meatball. It’s a big, surprisingly flavorful, and has more spice than I’d anticipate given that it’s from a counter service. The bread is nice and soft, and holds up well with the marinara sauce. Still, this isn’t where I’d spend my money, but if you don’t come from a traditional Italian family and uphold these same standards, you might just find this to be an enjoyable dish.
Sausage and Peppers Pizza – $6.99
Deep-Dish Pizza Slice with Italian Sausage and Red Peppers.
It’s really a shame that the toppings are as sparse as they are, because where they’re present, this beat any counter service pizza, any day. Hopefully you get one with more toppings on it. If this were prepared with more care, this would be a top 10 food item on property.
Our particular slice didn’t have enough toppings to be fully considered a pizza, but we’ll go with what Disney is calling it. In any case, the surrounding bread is very good. Still, at $7, this item is incredibly steep, given the size.
Caravan Road (Asia)
Tuna Tataki – $6.25
Chilled rice and slaw served with Seared Tuna and Sake Soy-Glaze.
I’m probably a bit of a tuna snob after three weeks in Asia, but my friend Josh of notorious easywdw fame did seem to enjoy this, so your mileage may vary.
You really get what you pay for here, and what you’re paying for is a $6.29 tuna counter service dish. Take that with a grain of togarashi.
Pork Bao – $6.29
Shredded Pork in a Hoisin sauce with Pickled Vegetables and a Steamed Bao Bun.
More dry pork. The bun is dry too, and does the dish even more of a disservice here than the corn tortilla did for the street tacos. Avoid this at all costs. It’s just… very bad.
Mr. Kamal’s (Asia)
You now get to choose from a selection of four sauces to top your Mr. Kamal fries: Ketchup (adventurous, we know), Tandoori Honey Mustard, Saffron Aioli, and Spicy Kimchi Honey Ketchup.
I really loved the Spicy Kimchi Honey Ketchup, and the Tandoori Honey Mustard had a little bit of spice to it. They’re all good, and based on who’s in your party, everyone will have a favorite. There’s something for everyone with this new dipping sauce setup.
Seasoned Fries – $5.99
If you notice that they look a bit more bare than usual, it’s because the seasoned fries no longer come with all the toppings they used to. Instead of just tzatziki and ketchup on top, you can mix and match with what you like. At $5.99, it’s not a great price for just fries, but not many counter service spots give you this many sauces to choose from, apart from D-Luxe.
Strawberry Ice Cream served between Sugar Cookies rolled in Strawberry and Vanilla Cake Crumbs.
First off, this is huge. For $7, you can feed the entire family. However, as usual with Walt Disney World cookies, the cookies they use to make these are mostly stale.
In this specific situation, we had four bloggers photographing first, so there was time for the ice cream to seep into the bottom cookie, making it extra soft and easy to eat. The top cookie was still very hard, though. The strawberry ice cream combined with the cookies did simulate strawberry shortcake quite well.
The main takeaway with this is, two to four people could easily share this and be happy about it as a good value. It’s also a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan, so take advantage if you’re participating in that.
Layers of vanilla soft serve, caramel, and bacon bits are topped with even more vanilla soft serve, gold-painted chocolate bits and a gold-foil chocolate Scrooge medallion.
I’ve had bacon in plenty of ice cream desserts and milkshakes. (I could write an ode to the Smokey Bones Chocolate Shake, also from this location.) Now, this is by far one of the most bacon-heavy desserts I’ve ever had. I’m talking monstrous pieces of bacon, quarter-sized chunks. You can’t get a bite of this sundae without it having some bacon in it.
That being said, if you don’t like bacon, you’re better off avoiding this because it’s truly hard to eat around the bacon after a point. This is insanely good, and probably also terrible for you, but it’s served in a large cup and can be easily be shared.
Isle of Java (Discovery Island)
Chocolate Donut Holes – $4.99
Chocolate Donut Holes rolled in sugar and spice, freshly fried and served warm with a chocolate orange glaze.
First off, you may think from some of the photos that this is a stick of meat or a kebab of some sort, and honestly, that probably would’ve been much better than whatever this actually is. The donut holes are very big and they look like they’re gonna be very good and rich, but the flavor just doesn’t match here. They’re incredibly dry and bland, and the chocolate orange sauce does little or nothing to save them. We were a group of four and we still couldn’t finish all three donut holes. They were that bad. Let me put it this way:
Imagine that someone put a bunch of oranges in a cardboard box. That box was put into the back of a car and left in direct sunlight for many, many hours. The oranges were then removed and that same box was then served to guests as these chocolate donut holes. That’s the closest way I can describe what these truly taste like. Please, please don’t waste your money on these. You’ve been warned.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler can be purchased through April 22, 2019 at noon and can be used at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during regular operating hours. For a full list of participating locations and menu offerings, feel free to check out our comprehensive list here.