by Chaz Saldi
Flame Tree BBQ is a quick service restaurant located in Discovery Island of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The restaurant can be found right before the entrance to Dinoland USA, making it a hidden gem of a quick service restaurant for this area of the park.
As it is a BBQ restaurant, Flame Tree has your basic selection of barbecued food that you would find elsewhere such as ribs, pulled pork, or maybe a half of chicken, along with some type of salad that tends to change more often than the rest of the menu. (You may remember that Flame Tree used to serve turkey legs as well, but that changed in the beginning of 2016 when Animal Kingdom as a whole stopped selling them. While we still love Flame Tree, and would not have ordered the turkey leg meal most of the time anyways, this is still a bit of a disappointment).
R.I.P. turkey legs
The seating at Flame Tree may seem like basic tables under awnings, but a closer look will reveal that there are hidden animals all over the area. There are chameleons, red pandas, macaws, and other various animals that you will see in the rest of the park decorating each covered seating area. On slower days, you should have no problem getting a table right by the waterfront, although this may change when Rivers of Light begins. The one downside of the seating area is that there are a lot of birds that congregate around the tables. These cranes will almost beg you for your food, but as long as you stick by the rules and do not feed them, they shouldn’t annoy you too much.
Brittany always orders the half rack of ribs, well… she usually orders the half rack. A couple of trips ago, we made the mistake of not realizing that the regular menu item had changed to a full rack, and that you need to specify that you want the half rack instead. When we realized we were going to be given a full rack, we decided that between the two of us we could probably make a good dent in it. We were wrong– the full rack of ribs was way too much food. Unfortunately since this visit the option of ordering a half rack at all has completely disappeared, and the only way to get it is to order the combination plate. We’re not sure why the change was made, and we still get the full rack if we just want ribs since we just can’t stay away, but removing the more reasonable sized (and priced) portion is kind of a pain for us.
We love the ribs, and while they may not be the best we’ve ever had, they are pretty awesome for quick service standards. If you’ve grown up in an area where you’ve been surrounded by good BBQ restaurants, Flame Tree probably isn’t the place for you (for the same reasons Columbia Harbor House is not for me, being from New England) but otherwise you’re looking at some pretty good, and reasonably priced ribs. The ribs are flavored using a dry rub, so don’t expect anything too saucy like the ribs from Harambe Market or Sunset Ranch at Hollywood Studios, however there are two types of BBQ sauce you can get on the side, one regular and one sweet and spicy, and both are delicious. Like most meals at Flame Tree, the ribs also come with baked beans and cornbread.
I usually order the pulled pork sandwich, that is also a delicious meal especially for the quick service price. On a recent visit however, to further the full rack of ribs fiasco, I actually went with a then-new menu item: a sampler that included ribs, chicken, and pulled pork. The sampler was perfect for when you’re indecisive, however it is a lot of food and I would absolutely never do it again if the person I’m with orders a full rack of ribs.
Flame Tree has consistently been our favorite quick service in Animal Kingdom, and it’s a bit of a tradition to stop there about once every other vacation either on our way in or out of the park. It really depends on when we plan on going to Dinoland, as that is the side of Discovery Island that Flame Tree is located on.
Unless you have incredibly picky eaters (in which case you should probably be going to Pizzafari or Restaurantosaurus) Flame Tree should satisfy everyone in your party. They also have some kind of rum/lemonade drink that changes on occasion (most recently it was mango rum lemonade) that we would usually caution against as a pre-mixed drink, however it is actually quite good. It’s not the best mixed drink in the park (you’d want the Dawa Bar for that) but in terms of what is usually offered at a quick service restaurant it’s not a bad drink to go with.
We give Flame Tree an 88% rating. While the food offered is not as adventurous as some of the other offerings across the park, the quality is still very high and even picky eaters will likely find something they will like. The atmosphere in the seating area is also one of the best you will find in the entire park, especially if you are looking to sit down in the shade and relax. Flame Tree is one of our favorite quick service restaurants in Animal Kingdom, probably second only to Satu’li Canteen in Pandora, but we had to deduct points for the removal of the half rack of ribs and for the lack of indoor seating. We generally love sitting outside here, but can understand why guests who are much more sensitive to Florida’s heat and humidity than we are may be annoyed, and sometimes getting to Flame Tree on a rainy summer day just isn’t ideal.
Have you tried Flame Tree Barbecue? Let us know what you think in the comments!