Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Lunching With Creatures At Disney's Pizzafari Restaurant

Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of the best themed and most detailed of the Walt Disney Parks. Discover our new series called “STOP: Look: Listen”, where we explore an area of the park and share the details and themes that make it so special.

 Above photo provided courtesy of: and

Many Disney fans have watched classic Walt Disney animated films or visited one of the Disney Parks. There is a special connection with Frank Armitage, animator and Imagineer, to Animal Kingdom's Pizzafari restaurant. He passed away in January 2016 and has left behind a legacy of creativity, artfulness, and invention. We dedicate this story to him and his family.

Theming is an essential feature of what makes the Animal Kingdom so extraordinary. Many guests rush in, eat, and then they are off to the next FastPass+, or another attraction. Many areas have a back story that is extremely subtle. NOT here at Pizzafari ...the theme, art, graphics, back story, and “Hidden Magic” is AMAZING and in your face.

Let's stop by for lunch, explore the rooms and the “Art of Pizzafari.” If you have a Tables in Wonderland card you can use it for a discount here. It is one of the few counter service restaurants that accepts it.

What’s Your Sign?
As you approach Pizzafari, “STOP: Look: Listen.”
Notice how colorful the building is. Examine the sign and find the two deep red chameleons forming a pizza shape. Hint: look at the top and bottom of the design.

Inside the Pizzafari building, it is all about the Disney family. According to the Disney Wiki and Wikipedia, Disney convinced Frank Armitage to come out of retirement. He painted 34 incredibly vibrant murals that decorate the five rooms of the restaurant.

Within the main food order area, the theme is "Ornamental Animals".  Look up and observe peacocks, butterflies and Clownfish. Notice how colorful and unusual the mural of a huge peacock above the service windows is. Look to your left and there is a mural of Clown fish painted by Armitage's daughter, Nicole.

Look up on the poles. There are little wood carvings of butterflies in each room.  These are authentic Oaxaca wood carvings from Mexico.

Three of the rooms have “Hidden Mickeys” in them. It will take some effort to locate each one, but well worth the search. See if you can find them.

Here are a few hints:

  1. There are six hidden Mickeys to be found in the rooms you eat in
  2. Four of the hidden Mickeys will be found in the "Nocturnal room"
  3. One can be found in the “Upside Down Room”
  4. One can be found in the “Home Room”

Let’s Eat Here…No, Here…No, over here…
There are five themed dining rooms that you can select from. Let’s take a tour of each room and explore the amazing artwork by Frank Armitage and his daughter, Disney Imagineer, Nicole Armitage Doolittle.

1.      Camouflage Room : Creatures and predators that rely on stealth and naturally blend into their native surroundings. Look for - like polar bears, leopards, tigers, fox and lions.

2.      Upside Down Room: Creatures that normally spend much of their life hanging upside-down and have an inverted view of the world. Look for animals like bats, possums, parrots, monkeys and snakes.

STOP: Look: Listen: Can you find the ONE exception? Look on the back wall above the door-jamb. Is there a possum hanging from a tree over the door that was not so lucky. Can you find the little blue bug and its remains?

3.  Home Room: Animals who carry their homes with them or on their back.
Here you can discover turtles, snails, crabs, lobsters and kangaroos.

4.      Nocturnal Room: Creatures that normally spend much of their life in darkness, and who usually roam the night. This room includes tigers, owls, wolves, and raccoons.


Look for the incredible tiger in the Nocturnal Room.


5.      Bug Room: Paintings on the wall represent insects and bugs of all shapes and sizes. How many can you discover that crawl and fly?

“STOP: Look: Listen.”

And the theming doesn't end in each room. Listen to the music. All the songs are about animals. If you stay long enough you can listen to a dragon reference in the park. Puff the Magic Dragon plays on one of the music background loops. See if you can hear a Beatles song.

Four Seasons Room ???   Each room has a interrelated theme that determines the collections of animals that you may find.  The themes are not always obvious groupings.
Maybe if I follow this snake, I can find that “Four Seasons Room

All images property of Dr. Howie DiBlasi unless otherwise noted

About the author: Howie DiBlasi is a retired educator, business owner, author, and an Ed Tech consultant. He has been a lifelong Disney fan since 1959. 
He has been blogging about Disney, travel, and technology for the past eight  years and can be found on twitter HERE, and his website HERE
He is also the host of the My Disney Class Podcast, found HERE.