REVIEW - Tiffins at Disney's Animal Kingdom

May 27, 2016 in "Tiffins"

Tiffins overview
Posted: Friday May 27, 2016 4:54pm EDT by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed a brand new signature restaurants to its dining line-up today with the opening of Tiffins.

For the first time, Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers high-end dining, with pricing comparable to some of Walt Disney World’s established guest favorites, such as California Grill and Citricos.

It might sound ambitious to put a high-end restaurant in a park like Animal Kingdom, and it is yet to be seen if the risk will pay off. But the team at Disney has not tip-toed around the idea, and has instead gone all out to create a restaurant that could be equally at home in one of the deluxe resort hotels.

The motivation behind the new restaurant more than likely originate from Disney’s desire for the park to become an all-day venue. The new nighttime offerings, such as the upcoming Rivers of Light, and Kilimanjaro Night Safaris, mean there is much more to do once the sun goes down. And perhaps a signature dinner is the perfect addition to the new after-dark line-up.

The Tiffins Building

Built onto the back of the existing Pizzafari with new construction, Tiffins is currently somewhat tucked away in the corner of the park. It sits on the side of the walkway to what was Camp Minnie-Mickey, and although it's just a dead-end now, come 2017 it will be the main walkway to Pandora - The World of AVATAR.

There isn’t a great deal to see on the exterior. It fits in well with the nearby Pizzafari, but keeps a fairly low profile. To the left of Tiffins is the Nomad Lounge, which although part of Tiffins, has its own name, menu and space. We'll be back for a separate look at the Lounge.

Arriving at the main entrance you immediately get a sense that this is not your normal theme park restaurant. The Tiffins sign is simple and elegant, complete with a row of Tiffin boxes on the top of the sign.

The menu display is equally elegant, and will give diners the first indication that this restaurant is indeed signature.

Stepping through the doors, which are covered with beautiful hand carved animals, you find yourself in the lobby.

A beautiful gold ceiling is a highlight of the room, along with a wooden carved map of the world behind the check-in desk.

Tiffins is a gallery of art based on the travel and adventure that inspires the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the restaurant stays true to that throughout.

There are three dining rooms, the Safari gallery, the Grand gallery and the Trek Gallery.

Tiffins Safari Gallery

Perhaps the most detailed of the three dining rooms, the Safari Gallery, is decorated with photos and artifacts of the Imagineer’s exploration of Eastern and Southern Africa, which was the inspiration for Harambe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

You’ll find signs, artwork, photographs, and even one of the electrical boards from Tusker House.

The dining room is beautiful to look at. While covered in interesting things to see, it still feels very luxurious and high-end.

The seating is leather, and includes a combination of tables and booths. A wooden ceiling and thick wood paneling throughout adds to the air of luxury.

Tiffins Grand Gallery

The largest of the three dining rooms, the Grand Gallery reflects folk influences that led to the design of the park.

In the center are wooden carvings that once lined the walkway to Camp Minnie Mickey.

At the rear of the building are intricately carved wooden animals and insects, that also once had a home on Pizzafari.

Like the Safari Gallery, the room looks and feels beautiful, with leather seats, wooden paneling, and a combination of booths and tables.

Tiffins Trek Gallery

Similar to the Safari Gallery, this third dining room represents the adventures of Imagineers overseas, but this time in South Asia, and specifically the creation of Anandapur.

Artwork, photographs and artifacts cover the walls, and there are things that you are sure to recognize from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Tiffins - The Food

 

The physical menu is one of the best menu presentations at Walt Disney World. Bound in a heavy leather book, it adds to the feeling of adventure and word travel, and underlines that you are dining in a special restaurant. (View full menu)

A complimentary bread basket starts your culinary adventure at Tiffins, giving you a chance to look over the menu and make some hard decisions.

The appetizer line-up is very different, and includes some interesting ingredients. A Marinated Grilled Octopus, Flash Fried Icy Blue Mussels, Cheese and Chicken Liver Pate, and a Fish Crudo are some of the more unusual dishes.

We tried the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters, accompanied with the Tiffins Signature Bread Service.

The fritters were a great way to get started. Light, with a satisfying crisp outside, you get a serving of three for $11.

The Tiffins Signature Bread Service at $10 is beautifully presented in a stack of containers, with three types of bread on the top, and a set of four accompaniments below. There is a Harissa Yogurt, Lime Chutney and a Black-Eyed Pea Hummus.


Something to be aware of, is that there is a complimentary bread basket which is delicious, but contains one of the three breads that is also part of the appetizer bread service.

Moving to entrees, there is a solid line-up of proteins, including a Chermoula-rubbed Chicken, a Berkshire Pork Tenderloin, Pan-seared Duck Breast, a Berbere-spiced Lamb Chop, a Hoisin-glazed Halibut, and the most expensive dish on the menu - the Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib. A Vegetable Curry is the only entree without a meat.

The lowest price entree with a meat is the Chermoula-rubbed Chicken at $34, and the majority of dishes are in the $40 range.

The Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib was without question our favorite dish at the restaurant. Cooked to absolute perfection at a medium-rare, it had a depth of flavor that is hard to find. Wagyu Beef isn’t cheap, and at $53, you only get 4 slices, but it is most definately worth it.

The Whole-Fried Snapper at $43 was our second entree, and although nothing could really compare to the Wagyu Beef, it was wonderfully prepared and had a great flavor. The fish was moist and tender, and the accompanying fermented black bean sauce complemented it perfectly.

Finally for dessert, we tried two interesting sounding dishes - the Passion Fruit Tapioca Creme and the restaurant’s signature Calamansi Mousse.

Both were incredibly fresh tasting, light, and were the perfect sweet ending to the meal. Priced at $12, the desserts are on the small side, but ooze quality.

As you would expect, there is an extensive range of specialty drinks, beers and wines, along with a couple of non-alcoholic options.

The Verdict

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been crying out for a good restaurant, and we are happy to say that Tiffins is it.

Fans of Jiko and Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be pleased that Tiffins follows in a similar mold. There is very much a depth of flavor that you don’t see in many restaurants, and it is thankfully far superior to the recently opened Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen that attempts a similar world traveller inspired menu.

The ambiance of the restaurant is calm and relaxing, and although it is a signature location, families visiting with young children can be easily accommodated. The kid’s menu is one of the better ones, including short ribs and salmon.

Service of course varies, but on our visit, everything was exactly as expected.

It is likely that drinks, and a three course dinner will cost around $100 per person, and that’s a lot, especially inside a theme park. Tiffins perhaps is not a place that you visit in between rides on Everest and Kilimanjaro. But it is perfect for an evening out when you have the proper time to enjoy the experience.

With the opening of Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it goes right into the top 10 of Walt Disney World restaurants. Once inside, you quickly forget you are in a theme park, and the break from the hustle and bustle of the park is very welcome. This is not a restaurant pretending to be high-end, it is high-end. It is a close call with Jiko, and the only way to find out is to make it part of your next trip to Walt Disney World.

Tiffins is open daily for lunch and dinner. Lunch is served 11:30am to 3:30pm, and dinner from 4pm to 9:30pm. The Disney Dining plan is accepted with two credits. As Tiffins is an in-park restaurant, there is no dress code beyond that required to enter the park.

As always, WDWMAGIC restaurant reviews are paid in full by the reviewer, and are not part of any promotional tasting.

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Gabe1Jul 01, 2016

Thank you. I liked your tour of Tiffin more than the Disney Promo video! Appreciate you sharing. This photo reminds me of the backstage Trek Food and beverage containers for the lunch break.

flyerjabJun 30, 2016

@Gabe1, here are a sample of a few things in this restaurant. I have many more, but you almost can't help but look around when you are in there. Lobby Nomad Lounge Dining Areas 148873 148874 148876 148878 148879 It is a beautiful space. Parts of this park have adopted what was the best about Epcot. The culture on display throughout this restaurant - and the African and Asian sections of the park in general - crushes the displays in World Showcase. And this restaurant really shows you how much effort the Imagineers put in researching and developing this park.

Gabe1Jun 30, 2016

I am very fortunate to have experienced AK-EMHs at night years ago twice. It was pretty but at that time the lighting was not in any way good for total darkness. Some area paths were very very dark. A trip two years ago I was at AK until close, there was a huge storm earlier and nobody was at AK any longer. It was pretty at sunset and I have some pretty photo's looking across the pond at Everest. I am hearing the lighting at AK at night still is insufficient in many areas for navigating the uneven paths. I am looking forward to Rivers too, guarded that elements might get chopped out just to launch Rivers. I'm with you, it is disappointing, like Frozen still having the same issues of Maelstrom. I'll hope for the best however Disney has messed up everything they have tried to do with that River-like it is cursed. I was unfortunate enough to ride the boat cruise around the hub during the opening of AK. It was horrid, a very long, slow tour of nothing happens, nothing to see. It was hot and everyone was bored. They tried adding some commentary and some wildlife on the boats are the Safari Village (now renamed Discovery Island) but nothing helped. The show Jungle is just another misfortune to the Rivers failures over the lifetime of AK. I really do hope that Tiffin's makes it or they fix it if not like they are trying with the Canteen at the MK. So much hinges on Rivers being a big bang otherwise anyone can just visit Avatar during daylight hours as the Safari Night time isn't reviewing as a Bang! Wow! not to miss experience either.

flyerjabJun 30, 2016

I am at the opposite end of the spectrum from you regarding DAK. Harambe, Anandapur and Serka Zong are my favorite areas of all the Disney and Uni parks in Orlando. I love just standing on the bridge from Discovery Island to Harambe and looking from the theater district, to the main town, and then towards the Marketplace. The depth in theming is remarkable to me, as are all of the nooks you can hide away in if you are eating a snack/drink, or just relaxing for a bit. There are also areas in Asia that I love to just be in also, I don't need to even be riding anything. Those parts of the park are just Zen for me (Dinoland not so much). The refurbs that they have done on Discovery Island have also helped to improve it from both appearance and traffic flow standpoints. What I would suggest for you is to go there as the sun is setting, just when the lights are coming on in the Oasis, and just take your time on some of the meandering pathways as they lead up to Discovery Island and the Tree of Life (my favorite park icon). I would have a reservation booked for Tiffins, and give yourself time there. Look at some of the things that they have in the lobby and some of the rooms. Also enjoy the lounge before or after the meal - it is beautiful. Then I would start your adventure in that park. For me, I was truly disappointed with how they bungled the RoL show. WDW has been doing this lately and it is becoming annoying. I really hope that they get that fixed because the park needs that show. The JBAwM is not watchable to me, and it is not what that incredible theater was designed for. I can only imagine how great an evening there will be when you can eat at Tiffins, hand out in the Nomad Lounge, and then head over to the theater for the fixed and everything is working RoL show. That will be a great evening in a theme park.

halltdJun 30, 2016

Ate there for the first time tonight and the food was awesome. I had the curry popcorn soup for an appetizer and the duck for entree. Mmmmmmmmmmm. I will totally return and try more items on the menu. PS: Reservations online were showing booked solid. But, the place wasn't very busy at all. So, if you can't get reservations online and still want to go, I'd be willing to bet that it'd be pretty simple to do a walk-up with little to no wait. If there was a wait, get some drinks at Nomad and call it a night. But, there were many empty tables in all the dining rooms while we were there.

Gabe1Jun 30, 2016

AK is the only park at Uni or WDW that I have had problems warming up too. I've gone from hating it-being there for its Opening, to 1/2 day in 2 weeks and now up to a couple half days. I'm warming up to it a bit. Add to it while Epcot WS is is very hot since so many of trees are now gone that once yielded shade to the main walkway to make room for special events and dessert parties :mad: I find AK over the top humid and warm coupled with so many attractions outdoors so little relief. I tend to agree with WDWMagic that Tiffins could be a nice Signature for those heading there in the evening that shower and change. Unfortunately there will likely be that mix of sweaty smelling guests in park clothing of the day mixed with those who hoped for a different atmosphere. I haven't heard any good rumors as to when Rivers will finally launch but if it does launch during FREE DINING I'm betting at least temporarily the capacity might be met at Tiffin.

flyerjabJun 29, 2016

I think the one advantage people will have now is that the restaurant is not operating at capacity as it is so new, and expensive. Maybe they might not encourage that if every seat is full. It is hard not to though, I have to say, because the history behind the research that went into creating DAK is everywhere in that establishment.

Gabe1Jun 29, 2016

I understand Disney encouraging guests to view the hallways and main lobby. The dining room not so much, visitors strolling around in between tables and paths between tables would make me uncomfortable while dining, let alone fine dining. I would have liked to have gone and looked around Yak and Yeti too I just couldn't bring myself to stroll around where people were dining.

flyerjabJun 29, 2016

I had inquired as to if it was alright to look at some of the items they have on display and they said certainly. In some cases, what they had on display was directly behind a table so I kind of avoided those (that would have been uncomfortable) but there were many other things that were in-between tables, in the hallways, the main lobby, etc., where you could go up and look. The details and care put into the artwork and displays is great. Pretty much what I expect from DAK at this point.

Gabe1Jun 29, 2016

Yep, after watching the video I wondered if it was way back originally inspired by the Grand Hyatt's Tiffins. I can see the similarities in both the lounge and the restaurant. Interesting both Tiffins are fine dining and the Hyatt's Tiffins is only minutes from Disneyland Hong Kong. Makes you wonder? Just a coincidence? US $70 high end buffet in Hong Kong. Yeah, I never subscribed to the idea that just because food is expensive that makes it fine dining. I know what I pay for food at a Stadium and Chef Mickey's runs about $50 for dinner, not exactly high end vittles. Even a pizza at Via Napoli family pizza is $48 So glad you liked your meal. Question? You are encouraged to walk around the areas where guests are seated in the restaurant and lounge and tour the artifacts? You have me wondering. AK was once bright vibrant colors, now gone to earth tones much like Future World was once cheerful and they have gone that way of earth tones. Even the shopping district of the original DTD is calm colors for the most part now. We all saw the Poly be transformed to a more minimalist similar to Swan and Dolphin motif so maybe this is the 'designer' look for Disney? McDonalds started this trend several years ago and Wendy's is now following in their footsteps. It does seem to be a trend at WDW, minimalist.

flyerjabJun 29, 2016

We were in the parks a few weeks ago and after our visit, we - wife, 3 kids and I - all declared that the best restaurant that we ate at was Tiffins. I felt that it was worth the price as the food was exceptional and the service was outstanding. Also, I will add that this restaurant also acts as a cultural experience. The artifacts that the Imagineers have throughout this restaurant are beautifully presented, many with large write-ups explaining the cultural and historical significance that they have to the people in the different areas that were visited when designing DAK. We were allowed to browse throughout the dining areas, as well as the Nomad lounge, and they are all designed wonderfully with so much to look at. And the Nomad lounge itself is one of the most beautifully-designed spaces on property, both the indoor and outdoor sections. It wasn't busy when we were there because it is off the beaten path - for now. When that main thoroughfare to Pandora opens next year, there will be a constant stream of traffic going by this establishment. And I know that it is expensive, but to us it was completely worth it.

RiderJun 29, 2016

They probably anticipated traffic to be a little light until Avatar opens and the slow corner it's in becomes a major thoroughfare. I haven't tried the food yet but Nomad Lounge has already become my second favorite Disney bar.

Gabe1Jun 29, 2016

Ha! Seriously? That is how they sealed off the area? Come on folks. ROL could fill the tables, it certainly helped at the Studios. It isn't a testament to fine dining more how desperate guests are to get a seat at Fantasmic. Quality steak I'm going to Yachtman or Shula's if I'm on property. And yes, when my kids were small we'd stay at the FQ or POR for 14-16 days each year, minimum. $89 a night. No way could I justify the current prices for a room there now for that length of time.

Jon81ukJun 29, 2016

I agree CRT isn't a signature dining experience and it isn't sold as one (see the DDP brochure https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw_nextgen/CoreCatalog/WaltDisneyWorld/en_us/PDF/2016Dining.pdf) if just charges two credits as it is more expensive, partly due to being one of the most popular places and also because tip is included in the pre-purchase price. Its the same reason that in-room dining is two credits. I think Le Celier was too popular for its size and that why they tried to reform it to Signature, but it never quite worked, at least Brown Derby was the most expensive in the park from day one