REVIEW: Family-Style Dinner at Pizzafari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Last night marked the debut of the all-new Pizzafari family-style dinner in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The new offering is priced at $20 for adults, and $12 for children. If you’re using the Disney Dining Plan, it’s 1 QSR redemption. The dinner runs from 5pm to 8pm, nightly. There are no Annual Pass, Tables in Wonderland, or Disney Vacation Club discounts for the dinner.

Atmosphere

Guests partaking in the family-style dining are separated from regular dining guests, and seated in one of two private rooms. The tables are pre-assigned and you get a number at check in. Each table has a pizza stand and two salad tongs.

After checking in, you head to the far left podium to put in your salad and drink order. This podium is reserved for guests with the family-style dining reservation, so you won’t have to wait behind guests who are there for the regular quick service option.

Here’s a look at the menu. All items are included in the price, as well as soda. There are a few adult beverages available at an additional cost.

After placing your order for salads and drinks at the podium, you collect your food and head to your table. Note that you do get the large soda, which would normally run you $3.69, but is included in your meal. Refills are not included.

Food

Here’s a tour of the menu. If you want more of anything on the menu, including drinks, you will have to pay regular cost.

First up are the salads, a Caesar and Caprese. Both tasted fresh and were enough to satisfy the two of us, but the portion size on the Caesar was enormous. As it was explained to us, all of the portion sizes are adjusted by party size, but we found the Caesar salad specifically to be the biggest portion of the meal. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just know that you’ll have plenty of salad to start.

After about 5-10 minutes of starting off with your salad at your table, the rest of your meal is brought out to you by a Cast Member on a cart. The pizza, pastas, and desserts are all delivered at the same time. This allows for the most efficient delivery of food by the Cast Member and leads to the “family-style” experience of having all the food on the table, ready for you to grab whatever you’d like. Here’s an overview of what our plate looked like when loaded with the offerings. There was enough food for the two of us to have two servings of what’s seen below.

Let’s explore the two pastas first. Here’s a look at the baked ziti, which our table opinion was split on. The pasta came with a hearty amount of mozzarella and ricotta cheese, which separate the layer of pasta from the marinara sauce. It was definitely a heavy dish with the layer of cheese, but the pasta was cooked well and plated warm. The opinion on whether it was too heavy and too much cheese was split, but it was an otherwise nice option. It’s not the quality that you would find at a table service, but it’s definitely an elevated quality from a normal quick service pasta. You can tell that there’s an effort being made here, and it’s appreciated.

The consensus was clearer on the fettuccine alfredo with chicken. It was bland. Sitting atop another good portion of pasta was a sliced half chicken breast. There wasn’t enough alfredo sauce, and it was too monotone of a flavor when you did get some sauce. It was a serviceable dish that I hope Disney can tweak to make it a tasty dish.

The pizza was the clear standout of the meal. Unlike the standard pizza offering at Pizzafari, this pizza was hand tossed. This lead to a much higher quality pizza than we expected. When considering the other offerings such as the pasta and starter salads, we found the portion size of two fairly big slices each to be enough, although I’d like to see Disney offer a slice or two more at no additional cost for those who might be extra hungry. It’s that good of a pizza and worth the upgrade to the family-style dinner over the regular counter service option alone. The ingredients were noticeably fresh and the pizza was plated hot enough to require the Cast Member to use clamps when placing it on the stand.

We finished the meal with miniature cannolis, which were actually quite good. We actually liked them better than the single, $9 cannoli we were served at Maria & Enzo’s for dinner. A forgiving crust protects a slightly-sweet, creamy filling. Because all of the food is delivered at the same time, your cannolis will be room temperature by the time you get to them. I’m not sure how viable it is to have a Cast Member who isn’t a server monitor your table and try to time dessert delivery, but room temperature cannolis aren’t that great of an option either.

Our Thoughts

Ultimately, we’re judging this offering on value. After all, it’s a quick-service family-style offering from a restaurant that you might not usually give a second glance. At $20, it’s probably about $5-$8 cheaper than it could be, which works out great for the guest. You’re getting somewhere close to $80 worth of food for two people at an effective rate of 35-40% off. All of the food ranges from ok to really good (in the case of the pizza), which is more than acceptable for a quick-service offering. If Disney were to charge closer to $30 a person we would likely pass on the meal, but at $20 per person, the family-style Pizzafari dinner is one you can’t go wrong with.

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