Disney’s Animal Kingdom has grabbed the spotlight in Orlando due to the official grand opening of Pandora this past weekend. Reports from soft openings and special previews are all over the Internet, and the general consensus is quite positive. This attention should help to draw more guests to the park, though perhaps not as many as Disney hopes. If nothing else, Pandora should encourage visitors to stay longer at the Animal Kingdom. That trend will cause more guests to enjoy meals at the park, and there aren’t that many sit-down options. Situated in the heart of Asia, the Yak & Yeti Restaurant doesn’t receive that much chatter. We visited this comfortable spot on our recent Disney World trip in March, and it surprised me in several ways.
We arrived at the Yak & Yeti for our 1 p.m. ADR and were ready for a break from the heat. The temperatures were in the high 80s, and the Animal Kingdom always feels hotter than your normal park. Many other patrons had the same idea, which exposed the limitations of the waiting area. There is a small room near the front desk for waiting, but most guests will need to step outside to wait for a table. Thankfully, our wait was only about 15 minutes. The restaurant’s downstairs is fairly cramped, but we lucked out and received a prime upstairs spot. The small section near the stairs includes just a few tables, and they’re spread out well. It was a relaxing haven that gave us a much-needed break from the Spring Break crowds.
Disney describes the Yak & Yeti on its website in this way:
“Travelers can relax and replenish with a pan-Asian feast in this beautiful Nepalese-style restaurant.”
This description seems to imply that you’re eating a family-style meal with giant portions, but I’ll agree that it’s an attractive space. There’s a wide range of Asian décor that fits with the Animal Kingdom land. It has a similar vibe to the theming around Expedition Everest, but with a little less subtlety. Landry’s operates the Yak & Yeti, and that’s an important distinction to remember. The menu has a nice variety, but there is a chain restaurant vibe to the experience. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or over the top; it just varies slightly from many Disney sit-down restaurants. Our server was attentive and enthusiastic, though a little over the top.
I should mention up front that this review is about a single experience at the Yak & Yeti. Depending on when you visit and what you order, the results could be quite different. This should at least give an idea of the general framework for this restaurant.
We decided to start our lunch with an appetizer, which led to the most unintentionally funny moment of the day. The Pork Pot Stickers were fine but not that distinctive given the $10 price. What made them worth it was the server, who introduced the dish by saying “here are your potties!” with a straight face. Is this an actual phrase used in restaurants? A Google search just brought up a lot of entries about toilets. When you spend your days with girls that are eight and four, there’s only one thing that gets the term “potty”. Regardless, it’s one of those random moments that still makes me laugh several months later.
The Yak & Yeti offers a nice selection of appetizers, including Firecracker Shrimp and Pork Egg Rolls. There are also “Shareables for Two” like a Dim Sum Basket and Ahi Tuna Nachos. Everything is presented well, though the price can add up quickly. The Shareables are about $15, which isn’t that far below the entrées. Disney has been shrinking its menus since the rise of the Dining Plan, so it’s refreshing to have so many options here. There are also side salad and soup picks as well as the full meal salad portions. It’s not that hard to eat healthy if you’re careful.
I did enjoy the beer selection, which puts the Skipper Canteen’s new options to shame. Along with expected choices like Bud Light, Heineken, and Safari Amber, the menu includes less common beers like the Golden Monkey and Lucky Buddha. I chose the Funky Buddha Florida Hefeweizen, and it did not disappoint. I didn’t specify the size, which led to a massive 22 oz glass. If you aren’t looking to imbibe at that level, be clear with your server when you order. While not from Asia, the Florida Hefeweizen was a beer highlight from the trip.
The Main Course
Most of the entrees fall into the $18 – $25 range, which are above counter service but far below that of Tiffins. The selection includes noodle bowls, wok dishes, and grilled options plus specialties like the Bhaktapur Duck, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Chef’s Fresh Catch. It’s a diverse group of dishes, though most won’t seem that surprising or outlandish to guests that frequent similar restaurants back at home.
I ordered the Kobe Beef Burger, a 10 oz burger with sesame soy mayonnaise, shitake mushrooms, and scallion compote. It was quite tasty and wasn’t your typical Disney burger. It was also served with crispy shoestring fries, which were similar to Steak ‘n Shake fries. I wasn’t hungry again for quite a long time. Given the amount and quality of food, the $19.99 price was a solid value.
My wife ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken, which includes ginger, garlic, bell peppers, and pineapple along with a side of rice. It was a solid dish and a decent value at $18.99, though quite sweet even when compared to expectations. This meal was definitely a step above your standard entrée of this kind but might be the best choice given all the other options.
The Yak & Yeti also does well in terms of kids’ meals because of the considerable options. The seven entrée choices include the expected Macaroni & Cheese and Chicken Tenders but also offer a Pork Egg Roll and Teriyaki Chicken Breast. Each meal comes with a choice of two sides plus apple juice or milk to drink. There were eight side options, which means even picky eaters like my girls can find something to like. They both chose the Macaroni & Cheese with Grapes and Go-Gurt as the sides. While not the healthiest picks, they both were thrilled. They also enjoyed the ice cream sundae desserts (only $2.49!) to cap off the fun meal.
What made the Yak & Yeti so refreshing was its place in our touring day at the Animal Kingdom. We stayed for the 8:45 p.m. Rivers of Light show and didn’t plan to eat a large dinner, so a satisfying lunch was essential. Despite a surprising $100 check for the meal, it worked out well. No one left hungry, and that’s so important when you’re traveling with young kids. It was also a fun environment for the girls, who had plenty to look at while waiting for the food. Even the restrooms area has interesting décor just outside the doors.
Another positive of the Yak & Yeti is the location in Asia near Flights of Wonder. It allows guests to spend their morning in Pandora or Africa and then venture to the back of the park for lunch. It’s even better for a late dinner because of the proximity to the Rivers of Light FastPass seating. You could easily walk right past this restaurant without noticing it due to the crowds near that spot. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal at the Animal Kingdom but don’t want to drop your money bags at Tiffins, the Yak & Yeti is a solid choice. Here are some additional photos from our visit to give you a better gauge of this dining spot.