Today, we are going to take a look at the Rivers of Light dining package offered at Tiffin’s inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In this post we will look at the cost, what you get for that cost and whether or not we think it’s worth it.
Dining packages, like most of the upcharge items at WDW, are a bit controversial among fans. We personally do not mind most upcharges, and actually really like many of the dining packages. I get why many folks don’t like the idea of paying extra to get the best experience, but it’s still completely optional and in most cases you can still have a similarly great experience with a bit of proper planning.
The one upcharge that we wholeheartedly recommend is the Fantasmic Dining Package, particularly at The Hollywood Brown Derby which we reviewed here.
The reason we are so high on the Fantasmic package is that it’s the only way to get a center view of the show. The reason this doesn’t bother us is that you can actually make out pretty well in terms of getting your money’s worth at the Brown Derby. Usually the dining package meal is actually cheaper than if we had ordered the same meal out ala carte off the menu.
When it comes to Rivers of Lights, we have to look at things a bit different. First off, Rivers of Light is not nearly as good as Fantasmic. While we enjoy Rivers of Light for what it is, we don’t consider it a must see if you have limited time on your vacation. If you are only visiting AK one night and need to choose between RoL or experiencing Pandora after dark, we would go with the Pandora.
Because of this, Rivers of Light is also not nearly as popular as Fantasmic. At this point, its pretty easy to see Rivers of Light without a dining package. Not only are same day fastpasses fairly abundant, but standby doesn’t even fill up a lot of the time. All the seating areas offer fairly similar views as well so its not like you need to do the package just to get a specific angle of view.
With that said, we still strongly recommend, IF you were already planning on eating at Tiffin’s anyway. The reason for this is that you can make an absolute killing in terms of value with the dining package. As you will see below, I saved a large chunk of change by ordering through the package. The cost of the Tiffin’s RoL package is $67 per adult, plus tax. Let’s take a look at all I got for that.
First off, I will start by saying that we LOVE Tiffin’s. Not only does it have a relatively unique menu and fantastic food, but its also one of the best themed restaurants on property. The amount of little details in every nook and cranny of the restaurant is incredible. For what its worth, we have also had top notch service there every single trip.
The restaurant has 3 different dining rooms. For this meal, I was seated at the “Trek Gallery” located to the left of check in behind the Nomad Lounge. In this room, the walls are lined with Himalayan decor, very similar to what you would find throughout the Expedition Everest queue (makes sense).
Upon being seated, this card was waiting for me at my table.
It’s a small thing, but still a really nice touch.
I dined at 2 pm on a Tuesday and the restaurant was pretty empty.
While I wasn’t in the main dining room, the room I was in was pretty much dead. The restaurant is still one of the easiest reservations to get which perplexes us a bit. This is easily one of the best restaurants inside of any Disney park, yet it has struggled to fill up for pretty much all of its (almost) 3 year existence. I suppose the high prices along with the somewhat exotic menu scares some away. We strongly suggest giving it a shot though as we have never felt like we did not get our money’s worth there.
Back to the meal itself, for the RoL package you get your choice of any appetizer, entree and dessert off the menu. The menus themselves are in a very nice leather binder, which kind of resembles a travel log or something of that nature.
While reviewing the menu, I was served a few slices of this warm, yummy bread.
The bread is a pomegranate foccacia severed with an oil and vinegar for dipping. The bread is a little on the sweet side but we enjoy it. Its very different from your typical basic bread service which we really appreciate.
For an appetizer, I went with the ($12) Mushroom Soup: Wild Chanterelle Ragoût, Truffle Oil, Crispy Shiitake.
While not much to look at, this soup was delicious. The creamy (broth?) was poured table side on top of the chanterelle ragout and crispy shiitakes which was a nice touch. The levels of flavor it this soup were incredible. It had just enough spice to kick it up a notch (yeah I grew up watching Emeril) and the crispy shiitakes added a welcomed crunch to the dish.
In the past I’ve ordered the grilled Octopus here which is also very good, and a better value ($16) in terms of the package. However, the soup was new to the menu so I wanted to give it a shot. I was glad I did since it was so good, but you wouldn’t be going wrong by ordering the octopus either.
The entrees are real you really can pile up the value of your dining package. For my entree, I ordered the ($65) Surf and Turf: Grilled Wagyu Beef, Lobster Tail, Purple Potatoes, Charred Peppers, Chimichurri Butter, Bonarda Reduction.
That’s right, the cost of my entree on the regular menu is only $2 cheaper than the cost of the entire package. By the time I add a soda it would actually be more expensive than the package.
Everything on this plate was incredible. The lobster tail was cooked perfectly and season so well it didn’t even need butter for dipping. The (American) wagyu beef was a nice medium rare and melted in my mouth. All the sides were great as well with the purple potatoes really standing out. Again, we appreciate the fact that its not just your typical side of mashed potatoes, and instead is something totally unique to the restaurant. The sauce and butter brought all the flavors together wonderfully.
For dessert, I went with the Whipped Cheesecake: Amarula Panna Cotta, Sesame Crumbs, Espresso Sponge.
The first thing you’ll probably notice is that it doesn’t look like cheesecake. This is just another example of the restaurant separating itself from the pack. The presentation here is lovely and the flavors are out of this world. This is easily my favorite dessert inside of a Disney park, and could give the Ohana bread pudding a run for its money as my favorite in all of WDW.
The cheesecake was impossibly light and airy and I could have eaten an entire piece of the espresso sponge cake and been entirely happy with just that. So good! The sesame crumbs added the perfect amount of crunch and the fruit added a much welcome freshness to the dish.
Overall, everything about our meal was fantastic. In terms of value, I got the $12 appetizer, $65 entree, $10 dessert and $4 soda. That is $91 worth of food for $67. Even if I had elected for a cheaper entree, you would still be looking at a $75 – $80 value. For this reason, you absolutely can’t go wrong booking the Tiffin’s Rivers of Light dining package, even if you decide you don’t even want to watch the show.
We’ll be back soon with Part II of this post where we will take a look at that evenings Rivers of Light! Until then, thanks for reading!
Bye for now!