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African Inspired Meals in Walt Disney World — Tusker House

Jambo! Join me in welcoming Disney guru Mary Jo Collins and Disney World Moms Panelist Bernie Edwards back to the blog! In this article they’ll share with us various locations to enjoy an African Inspired Meal at Walt Disney World. We also get a close-up look at the Tusker House restaurant. Twende! Let’s go!

Theming Outside Animal Kingdom's Tusker House

Visiting the Walt Disney World Resort has become synonymous with the enjoyment of great dining at restaurants both inside and outside the theme parks. For many of us, these meals lend us the opportunity to experience exotic foods from exotic places.

African Food in Disney World
Fortunately for guests of Walt Disney World, African cuisine is showcased in a variety of table service restaurants offering a peek at the food that has been influenced by the marinade of cultures, colonies, trade routes and history of this land. To describe or categorize what African food is in a few words would be impossible.

The cuisine is as varied in Africa as the cuisine of any large continent. The continent’s regions each have significant differences in their own distinctive dishes and preparation techniques. However, in Africa the various cuisines traditionally combine locally available fruits, cereal grains, vegetables, meats and milk products.

Tusker House

African-Inspired Table-Service Restaurants
As there are a variety of cuisines found in Africa, there are also a variety of Table Service restaurants in Walt Disney World that serve African inspired food. Choosing which one of these restaurants to try may depend on your location on property, the style of service you prefer or the fanciness of the venue and cuisine.

In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is Tusker House, a reasonably priced, family-friendly buffet. Over in Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion, Restaurant Marrakesh offers unique Moroccan fair with live entertainment.

Outside of the parks, guests have three other dining options. In the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma – Flavors of Africa, is an outstanding buffet with a broad collection of dishes. Jiko – The Cooking Place is also located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge and is a Disney Signature Dining Experience serving a new African fusion of tastes. Lastly, in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, there is Sanaa, a traditional restaurant with Indian influences.

Tusker House
While visiting Harambe Village in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is an excellent Table Service option offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is a Character Dining buffet – Donald’s Safari Breakfast ($20.99 adults and $11.99 (3-9)). Characters generally appearing are Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Goofy. Mickey Mouse in his safari outfit makes an excellent photo opportunity for you and your family!

A Daisy Fan!

Safari Donald Duck

For this breakfast buffet, there are many recognizable foods. From assorted Danishes, breads, muffins and croissants to Ham and Cheese Frittata, the flavors are familiar and non-threatening to a picky eater. The Carved Rotisserie Honey-glazed Ham and Spiced Corned Beef Hash are delicious picks.

Tusker House Carving Station

Two unique dishes to sample are the Beef Bobotie Quiche and Mealie Pap, a traditional porridge made from mielie meal (ground maize). The assorted jams and chutneys give the pastries an unusual fragrant spin.

Oatmeal and "Mealie Pap"

Bobotie, Quiche, and Sweet Potato Casserole

Lunch ($20.99 adult and $11.99 (3-9)) and dinner ($28.99 adults and $13.99 (3-9)) at Tusker House are also buffets serving items with an African flare, but also foods that Americans are accustomed to. Starters include such favorites as Tunisian Couscous Salad, Curried Basmati Rice, Blatjang Chutney and Mixed Dried Fruit Sambal. Among the entrees that can’t be missed are Cape Malay Curry Chicken and Seafood Stew with Tamarind BBQ sauce, a favorite dish of Bernie’s that keeps him returning.

Tusker House Dining Room

Peri-Peri Marinated Salmon Filet is boldly seasoned by the African bird’s eye chili that grows wild and is extremely spicy. The vegetables and sides are also complemented with spices used extensively in regional African cooking such as the saffron-infused vegetables and cabbage. Saffron specifically is used in Moroccan foods and was first imported there thousands of years ago. The Pearl Couscous laced with Sweet Basil Essence is another side that has roots in Morocco. Couscous is one of Morocco’s most famous dishes. The Spicy Potato and Pea Samosas are another favorite of Tusker House. The fried pastry are seasoned liberally with cumin, curry and ginger and give an Indian touch to the buffet.

Tusker House Theming

Basically, the buffet at Tusker House consists of the same dishes for lunch and dinner. Lunch is significantly less expensive than dinner and has a unique benefit if your Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) is between 1:00-1:40pm. Guests dining during those times receive reserved seating to the 3:15pm show of Finding Nemo the Musical. While dinner at Tusker House is more expensive than lunch, it does have the benefit of being an easy ADR to obtain. Exiting the restaurant, it is also neat to walk through Disney’s Animal Kingdom after park closing on your way out of the park.

Let us know what you think of Tusker House in the comments below! Next in this series : Bernie and Mary Jo will look at Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!

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12 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSS mealie pap!!! omfg i LOVED that at the tusker house breakfast!!! i remember first hearing about it on private chefs of beverly hills LOL and when i saw it was there i was like omg i must try, and it’s so good! i really enjoyed having the character breakfast there – it’s one of my favorites (up there with 1900 park fare and crystal palace!)

  2. Val says:

    Tusker House is affordable and delicious. Some of the best and most unique food in the world. My favorite after Boma. Try it you won’t be disappointed. I try to have a late lunch.

  3. Chuck says:

    Hi AJ,
    We met at the WDWRadio 200th show celebration in December. Once again, enjoy your blog immensely for the great info on my second favorite thing at WDW: food. Any wonder that we enjoy Lou’s show?

    Thanks to MaryJo and Bernie for convincing me in one fell swoop that Tusker House will be a must on our next visit, this coming December as it turns out. If I can do a super sales job with my wife and daughter, I might get a breakfast and lunch out of the deal to try some of those wonderful-sounding dishes!

  4. AJ says:

    Rachel — Awesome!! Thank you for the review!

    Val — Agreed!

    Chuck — Hi!! Good to “see” you again!! Let us know how it goes with Tusker House! :-)

  5. Katie says:

    I LOVE Tusker House. Absolutely LOVE it. The food is excellent, and there is a wide variety. Tusker serves a variety of the ethnic foods described above, but also have roasted meats, salads, and other choices for the unadventerous. The flavors in the food are excellent. I don’t recall any of the food being overly spicy (as that is a concern for some people). I have always had attentive servers who bring us refills on drinks and clear plates promptly. Also, I don’t think this was mentioned as it’s not African themed/influeced, but there is a dessert section of the buffet. And who doesn’t like all-you-”care”-to-eat desserts??
    It is a great value for the price (especially if you have Tables in Wonderland and eat a a late lunch). Tusker House is my favorite in-park restaurant and is a must do every trip. (Yes, I know Epcot has some great options, but Tusker wins.) Warning though, you may have to be rolled out. :)

  6. Katie says:

    PS – As long as we’re talking about Lou, I remember he said the following about Tusker on one of his shows, “Dare I say better than Jiko??” That there should tell you something!

  7. Katie says:

    Sorry for the third post – Boma** (not Jiko)

  8. John Grigas says:

    We ate a Tusker House for lunch a couple of weeks ago . . . AMAZING! Half way through lunch, our kids asked if we can just park hop back to AK every day and have every lunch at Tusker House.

    It was remarkably family friendly. Some really good african/indian influenced dishes, plenty of “American” choices, and a wide variety of fresh choices for the kids (or anyone).

    I was stuffed enough, but I could not pass on the best dessert we had on the trip: Cinnamon Banana Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce. Glorious.

  9. JoAnn says:

    I did enjoy Tusker House when I had lunch there last year. I am thinking of trying Yaki & Yeti’s this year. After reading this, I may stick with Tusker House. Decisions, decisions….

  10. Michael says:

    Just curious, for those who have had the Mealie Pap; I’ve heard that it’s quite similar to American “grits.” Anyone feel this way?

  11. AJ says:

    Michael — I can see that comparison. The Mealie Pap is a bit more “solid,” though.

  12. James says:

    I really haven’t enjoyed the dining option in Animal Kingdom all that much. I reluctantly made a decision to dine at Tusker House about 2 years ago because my kids were tired and I didn’t want to drag them over to Epcot for our ADR at Biergarten. Tusker House was a pleasant surprise for me. The variety of food was excellent, and everyone in my party found multiple items that they enjoyed. For me, the best items were those with the African flare! I can’t remember the names of the items after 2 years, but I enjoyed everything so much that I would gladly dine at Tusker House again!

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