It’s been a LONG time since we’ve talked about Tusker House, so let’s get down to business!
Tusker House Restaurant
Yep — Tusker House is known for its bounty of African dishes, but it’s also a character dining destination. BUT — if you’re coming for the characters, be sure to book your ADR for breakfast and lunch. Mickey and friends don’t make an appearance for dinner.
We have a ton of yummy pictures to share with you, so let’s go!
Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney parks due to its truly incredible themeing, and Tusker House takes this one step further.
It’s one of the Disney restaurants that doesn’t just incorporate theme on the surface — I could spend hours exploring all of the specialty decor, finishes, and props Imagineers have added to this massive restaurant.
You’ll enter the restaurant through the village of Harambe in Animal Kingdom’s Africa, and Tusker House serves as Harambe’s “open air” market on the edge of the Harambe Wildlife Preserve. The podium for the restaurant was outside during our visit. Once you check in, you have the option to wait at a few outdoor tables that are leftover from the days when Tusker House was a counter-service restaurant.
Also, next door is one of our favorite watering holes — the Dawa Bar. This is a great spot to order up an African Margarita or an African beer while you’re waiting for breakfast or lunch.
Once you’re inside the restaurant, you’ll have a chance to look around and take in the rich detail. The restaurant is a buffet, and the food is set up in the open air market I mentioned previously. But the seating areas are themed as a Safari Company’s offices and waiting areas!
Even though the interior is sub-divided into several dining rooms, windows like this one allow light and air to circulate, and add to the themeing. Check out that carving around the window!
Seating is at rustic tables and chairs that look hand-carved. Chairs are comfortably padded and ample.
Now that you’re seated, be sure to look around! You’ll find lots of themed wall hangings and authentic-looking signs that will keep you entertained between bites.
These quaint signs point you toward the restrooms and pay phones!
This sign listing safari drivers lends itself to the safari company themeing (how convenient that Kilimanjaro Safaris is right outside!) Can you spot the Hidden Mickey?
Another sign depicts area safaris that are available. Wouldn’t you love to go on that Serengeti Hot Air Balloon trip? Me too!
Want to brush up on the correct Swahili terms for the animals you’re about to see on safari? You’re in luck! This handy sign provides you with lots practice for getting the names just right.
The main marketplace area of the restaurant is a massive, two-story room housing the buffet. The balcony that overlooks the market is laden with fun finds, like masks, fabrics, and more.
And don’t forget to look up! A place with lots of sunshine demands an inventive solution for shade during the day. These lengths of fabric filter light beautifully but still provide protection.
And take a moment to observe the detail of the buffet set-up. Carts are fashioned from whatever villagers can find.
And because we visited at 11am, while they were still serving breakfast and switching over to lunch, there were toasters for bread and bagels as well.
Another fun draw to Tusker House? Characters for breakfast and lunch! Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and their friends delight guests with lots of personal attention, and it’s a bonus that they’re dressed in seriously fun safari gear!
But beyond the characters there are some awesome dishes, so let’s have a look!
First up, I’ve gotta tell you about the juice!! As I mentioned, Tusker House is a buffet restaurant, which means it’s all-you-care-to-eat for one price. If you wish (and I DO!), you can start your meal with a fun concoction called Jungle Juice. This is a fan favorite, and with good reason!
An exotic mix of passion fruit, orange, and guava juices, this is wonderfully sweet with just the right amount of a tart kick. While it’s part of your meal here, they’ve begun serving it in some other spots around Animal Kingdom, including Harambe Popcorn just outside Tusker House.
The same stuff is known as Lilikoi Juice at Kona Cafe in Disney’s Polynesian Resort; and it’s very similar to another guest favorite, Frunch, which is served at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. So now that you’re clear on your juices, let’s move on.
Breads, Spreads, and Chutneys
Because we were there in late morning, we had the best of both worlds! Items from breakfast and lunch were available at the same time! An assortment of bagels and quick breads were still on the buffet while we browsed.
The quick breads here are fantastic! They are so moist and flavorful, it’s tempting to fill up on them. But save some stomach space for the other goodies!
You’ll also find some unique flavors here, like the yeast-based Chocolate Mango Bread!!!! and the Mealie Cornbread, which has large pieces of corn in it. Both are delish and deserve a spot on your plate!
If it’s lunch that you’re interested in, you’ll find an interesting assortment of flatbreads like Pita and Lavash along with lots of toppings and spreads.
Spreads and chutneys run the gamut here. There’s Tabouleh and Hummus from North Africa, Spicy South African Preserves, and Sambals from Suriname. It’s a wonderful tour of Africa on your plate!
If salads are a favorite for your family, Tusker House offers plenty for the traditional and adventurous eaters. Check out this Apple and Endive Salad!
The refreshing Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Mint Yogurt Dressing isn’t something you’re going to see on every buffet across the “World.” That’s what I love about this place.
But picky eaters, don’t fear. You’ll find familiar favorites, like Caesar Salad and Mixed Greens with Housemade Dressings alongside more original dishes.
Entrees and Sides
Entrees and Sides at Tusker House provide a bounty of beautiful and exotic flavors! I guarantee that you’ll see foods here that you won’t see in other places at Disney, unless you frequent some of the other African themed restaurants, like Sanaa or Boma. Even so, the sheer volume of variety + characters makes this an excellent choice.
Fans of soup will love this hearty Ham and Bean version.
As with the salads, you’ll find an array of sides that are quite unique as well — but there are also familiar options for the less adventurous eater. Love couscous? You’ll have multiple varieties to try, from a Tunisian Couscous Salad to Pearl Couscous with Sweet Basil.
Likewise, there are several varieties of rice, some cold and some hot, so that you can taste this staple made in different ways. You can also use it as a base for some of the wonderful meat-and-sauce or vegetarian dishes that we’ll see in just a minute.
There aren’t many pasta dishes offered, but this Orzo Pasta with Olives and Feta brings a taste of the Mediterranean to the party.
But potato lovers, never fear! You’re covered too, with both rustic Mashed Potatoes as well as wonderful Roasted Potatoes served with a rich brown Gravy.
The Potato and Pea Samosas are very, very good as well. Fans of Sanaa will be familiar with these little vegetarian savory pockets.
And of course, there is a wide array of vegetable dishes ranging from more familiar combinations like Green Bean Salad with an Onion Vinaigrette, to exotic choices like a Casserole of Sweet Potato with Coconut.
There are also a number of entrees that are braised or roasted, including this tasty Spiced Vegetable Tofu.
One of the best dishes to try — and I guarantee you won’t find this one on the menu of Chef Mickey’s — is the Beef Bobotie.
Largely considered the unofficial national dish of South Africa, this savory meat and egg casserole is normally found on the breakfast buffet here, so we were able to sample it during our visit.
Seafood Stew with a sweet Tamarind BBQ Sauce is full of scallops, shrimp, and mussels, and makes a hearty meal when served over rice.
Consistently one of my favorites, Cape Malay Curried Chicken is very good, with its complex and slow-cooked flavors.
I skipped the Baked Salmon :-), but it’s certainly impressive and I bet it would please fish lovers. Keep in mind that peri peri is chile sauce, so I’d expect this dish to have some zip to it.
Ah! And now we have finally arrived at the meats! Tusker House boasts eighteen feet of rotisseries, known as the “Wall of Flames,” where chefs spit-roast meats throughout the day. It’s pretty impressive to see! As a result, you’ll see plenty of meats and poultry on carving stations and in serving dishes.
The Berbere Rubbed Roast Beef is delicious.
But if there is one rotisserie option that you must try, it’s the Kenyan Coffee Barbeque Pork. Juicy, expertly cooked meat is slathered with a rich, sweet barbeque sauce, making for a flavor that’s perfect African-American fusion!
For the Kids (And Picky Eaters!!)
As with every Disney buffet, there’s a section that’s for the less “culinarily adventurous” (I just made that word up) here, too! On the day we visited, we found plenty of sandwich fixings, as well as other kid-friendly foods, like applesauce.
I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite treats here, too: Corndog Nuggets! Look out, kids. I am totally snagging some of these for my plate!
Buffets are such a terrific option for junior diners. The atmosphere is laid-back and un-rushed, and there are lots of options for them to try. If they don’t like one dish, they can always head back and try another selection.
Super Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese (do I detect plastic cheese in there?) is another popular option on the kids’ spread…and another dish I figure a lot of adults are dipping into.
And while there are lots of veggies available at Tusker House, these Green Beans in Olive oil are a nice simple choice for people who like an uncomplicated approach.
And with that, we were ready to turn our attention to sweets!
While it was a holdover from the breakfast menu, I had to show you the Cinnamon Rolls, with their thick glaze and rich cinnamon ribbon.
Everything on the lunch dessert buffet was tasty and fresh as well. I managed to leave just enough room for a sample of my favorites.
This Fruit Cobbler is out of this world! I can never pass it up. Today’s version featured peaches and cherries.
The Banana-Cinnamon Bread Pudding is very good as well…and of course, you can snag some of that Vanilla Sauce to pour over or dip other dessert selections.
My favorite offering on this day had to be these little Pecan Chocolate Tarts, though. The rich, decadent, chewy treats were amazing! I totally stole some for later.
Everything else that I sampled was very good and artfully presented. Lemon Bars…hubba hubba!
Whew!! Are you as full as I am?!?
I love Tusker House, and there are many reasons for that. In a place where buffets and character experiences are bountiful, it sets the bar just a little higher with interesting (and delicious) foods and top-notch character interaction.
That unique menu really gives Chef Mickey’s or Crystal Palace a run for their money in my opinion, and it can really relieve some of the theme park food tedium you might experience during a Disney World visit with kids who aim for burgers and pizza at every restaurant.
The menu of African-inspired flavors is varied enough to be interesting, while offering familiar foods that will satisfy the most narrow palate in your group. And with endless options and an all-you-care-to-eat format, you can sample until you find something to enjoy.
And because Tusker House is lesser known than other more popular character dining experiences, it’s much easier to get a reservation to see Mickey and his friends here.
So if you’re having trouble scoring that elusive Chef Mickey’s dining reservation — or you just want something a little more laid back and more interesting — be sure to check out Tusker House. You just may find a brand new favorite.
Have you enjoyed eating at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? What are your favorite dishes?