Review: Dinner at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There are some fantastic new things to enjoy around Walt Disney World — and especially at Animal Kingdom. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to forget our favorites! So today, we’re heading back to Tusker House.

The buffet restaurant has been around for quite some time now, but I’ve continued to think of it as a hidden gem. Not only does it offer a character dining experience — and now, you can dine with your Disney friends for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — but the menu is also more interesting than most that you’ll find in Disney buffets.

The last time I visited, it was to enjoy that sort of between-breakfast-and-lunch period. (It’s not technically called brunch, but that’s sorta kinda what it is.) This time, we’re taking in an evening meal to see if everything is still as awesome as it always has been.

Atmosphere

You’ll find Tusker House in the village of Harambe. Just head back like you’re going to Kililmanjaro Safaris, and you’ll see it on your left.

Tusker House - Outside View

Tusker House – Outside View

The themeing here is superb, as it is with every other part of Animal Kingdom. The restaurant itself is fashioned as the Safari Orientation Centre, with rooms tumbling into one another.

Safari Orientation Centre Sign

Safari Orientation Centre Sign

Rich details supply an immersive experience. Signs that dot walls remind you of the building’s antiquity.

This No Smoking Sign Made Me Laugh!

This No Smoking Sign Made Me Laugh!

If you plan to embark on a safari during your journey, you may want to know the proper Swahili words for common greetings and animals. Study this chalkboard and you’ll be good to go.

Swahili Words

Swahili Words

You can also see at a glance where your favorite driver is. I wonder if I can book a seat on the next Mt. Kili fly-over?

Driver Board

Driver Board

As I mentioned before, Tusker House rambles a bit. The dining area is comprised of four dining rooms, each differently themed. I love the natural light from the skylights.

Dining Area

Dining Area

Internal windows like this one allow for plenty of light and air circulation between the rooms, too.

Window Inside

Window Inside

More Seating

More Seating

Seating varies throughout the restaurant. Some chairs are amply padded…others, not so much.

Small Table Seating

Small Table Seating

During our most recent visit, we actually snagged a window seat.

Seating

Seating

But wait until you see the buffet area. The themeing is perfect.

The buffet is housed in its own hall, and it appears to be an outdoor market taking place in the courtyard of this building. Food is displayed in a series of stands and carts throughout the space.

Buffet Area

Buffet Area

Shade from the hot sun comes courtesy of these lengths of fabric, which filter the light without blocking it entirely.

Ceiling from Another View with Balcony

Ceiling from Another View with Balcony

Beautiful Ceiling

Beautiful Ceiling

Be sure to look up and look around. This balcony is filled with detail that you don’t wanna miss.

Balcony

Balcony

When you do decide to start filing those plates, however, there’s plenty to choose from. You’ll find dishes below the food on little lit shelves.

Buffet Area

Buffet Area — Bread Cart

I recommend taking a quick tour of the space and seeing everything that’s available before you dive in. That way you can make the best decisions and keep food waste to a minimum.

Buffet Area

Buffet Area

Now that you have the lay of the land, let’s take a closer look at another aspect of Tusker House that makes it special: character interaction. We’ll take a closer look at the food soon!

Characters

A few years ago, characters only joined in the fun at breakfast and lunch. These days, you’ll find the crew at all three meals.

You may wonder what sets the characters here apart. Well…if you can find something more adorable than Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy dressed to go on safari, I’ll need you to let me know.

Mickey’s Canteeeeeeen!!

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Donald and Daisy look quite well-prepared in their coordinated jackets.

Donald Duck

Donald Duck

Daisy Duck

Daisy Duck

I’m also digging on Goofy’s little French Foreign Legion flappy hat. :-)

Goofy

Goofy

Don’t forget — you can also book Tusker House for a Rivers of Light Dining Package. You’d be so forward thinking to combine character autographs with reserved seating at the nighttime spectacular. Go you!

Time to check out the food now, though. Follow me for a tour of that buffet.

Eats

One super cool aspect of dining at Tusker House is the beverage selection. Jungle Juice — a combo of passion fruit, orange, and guava juice — always hits the spot. :-)

Jungle Juice!

Jungle Juice!

As you head to the buffet, Donald is there to help you remember to “Be a Pal to the Planet” — and don’t take more food than you plan to enjoy. Remember, you can go back as many times as you like, so there’s no need to load up the first time ’round.

Be a Pal!

Be a Pal!

As I embarked on my trip around the buffet, my first stop was to check out the assortment of breads.

Corn Bread

Mealie Corn Bread

Bread and Rolls

Bread and Rolls

There was plenty to choose from, with everything from mealie corn bread (awesome), to rolls, to squares of focaccia.

More Bread

More Bread

We also found wedges of pita bread.

Pita Bread

Pita Bread

The pita is especially good with the assortment of dips and spreads that are available. We found tabbouleh,  hummus, spicy South African preserves, and chutney. Butter was available for guests wanting something something a little less exotic.

Dips and Spreads

Dips and Spreads

If you’re looking to start your meal with fresh fruit, you’ll find cubed melon, grapes, and watermelon salad with feta cheese and onions.

Fruits and Watermelon Salad

Fruits and Watermelon Salad

There was an assortment of inventive vegetable and grain salads, too. Cold dishes featured green beans, black eyed peas, and couscous.

Tusker House Salads

Tusker House Salads

As with most Disney buffets, Tusker House offers a carving station with selections that change up daily. During our dinner, they were serving an array of options, including pork tenderloin.

Carving Station

Carving Station

A whole ham looked incredible, with a crispy outer crust.

Ham on the Carving Station

Ham on the Carving Station

While I’m not much of a pescatarian, I had to admit that seeing whole fish roasted in corn husks was really impressive.

Whole Roasted Fish

Whole Roasted Fish

The buffet also features selections that are situated at just the right level for little guests to make their own choices and help themselves. I love that they always feature corn dog nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and vegetables. We found corn on this part of the buffet as well.

Kids Station: Corn Dog Nuggets, Mac and Cheese, and Corn

Kids Station: Corn Dog Nuggets, Mac and Cheese, and Corn

There were also mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, and roasted chicken on the kids’ buffet.

Kids Station: Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Chicken

Kids Station: Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Chicken

I couldn’t resist snagging some of the corn dog nuggets and mac and cheese. You know. Research. ;-)

Corn Dog Nuggets and Mac and Cheese

Corn Dog Nuggets and Mac and Cheese

Beyond the carving stations and kids’ buffet, there were lots of other dishes and sides to choose from, including sweet plantains and roasted chicken.

Plantains, Roasted Chicken, and More

Plantains, Roasted Chicken, and More

There were creamy shrimp and curried chicken stews, served alongside plain white rice.

Shrimp, Rice, and Stew

Shrimp, Rice, and Curried Chicken

We also spied one of our favorites — potato and pea samosas. I never miss a chance to snag a few of these!

Potato and Pea Samosas

Potato and Pea Samosas

I also spied mashed potatoes with gravy as well as greens and a rice pilaf.

Sides

Sides

There were roasted veggies as well.

Tusker House Sides 17_-023

Samosas and Roasted Vegetables

Be sure to leave room for a little something sweet. Tusker House has one of my favorite dessert buffets on property. You’ll find a full array of miniature pastries, like these colorful cakes topped with mousse and fresh raspberries.

 

Mini Pastries

Mini Pastries

Sweet cakes and glazed pastries were other options.

Sweet Breads and Dessert

Sweet Breads and Dessert

But in my opinion, it’s best to save room for the bread pudding. I loved that this one was topped with extra vanilla sauce and studded with plump raisins.

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

Magic bars (!!!), caramel brownies, and an assortment of cookies rounded out the desserts options.

Magic Bars

Magic Bars

Caramel Turtle Brownies

Caramel Turtle Brownies

Chocolate Dessert

Chocolate Dessert

Cookies

Cookies

After a little something sweet, I was ready to head off for Rivers of Light!

Rivers of Light Crowd and Expedition Everest

Rivers of Light Crowd and Expedition Everest

Nosh or Not?

You’ll love Tusker House Restaurant if:

  • You enjoy Character Meals, especially when the characters are dressed in super cute clothes.
  • You’re looking for a unique, all you care to enjoy dining experience.
  • Attention to detail, incredible detail, and an immersive experience.
  • You have both picky and adventurous eaters to please, or are looking to explore somewhat exotic fare.

You might want to skip Tusker House Restaurant if:

  • You’re looking for a quieter, more adult dining experience (in which case Tiffins might be the place for you.)
  • You are juggling a baby or toddler, or have another reason not to want the hassle of making multiple trips to a buffet.
  • You aren’t a fan of Character Meals.

Overall

I still love Tusker House, but on this visit there seemed to be much less variety than I’ve seen here in the past, and that included everything from breads and interesting bread spreads, straight through to the sweets. But this still going to be one of the most unique and “exotic” buffets.

And Tusker House is your one and only character meal stop in Animal Kingdom. The character interaction is good here. I also still love to wander through the large restaurant, taking in the detail and decor.

But these days, I have to say, if you’re looking for a buffet meal with interesting and exotic flavors of African and Indian cuisine, I’d probably give Boma the slight edge.

So, given that I’m not quite as impressed it this time, I have to ask: Is Tusker House still one of your Disney Dining Must Dos? Leave a comment and let us know where this fan favorite ranks with you!

Comments

  1. heather_kg says

    I’ve loved Tusker House since my first visit, and so scheduled it for dinner when I went with my husband and mother-in-law back in January. I didn’t realize it was a character dinner at the time, and felt bad for the added expense, but… it was completely worth it. We ate late, and had THE BEST Daisy and Donald. I’m a huge Donald fan (ie, completely obsessed) and the two of them played with us for most of the night. Took us by the hand to hassle the other, sat down at the table with us, and I’m pretty sure Daisy propositioned my husband. ;) Of all the magical experiences I’ve had, this blew them out of the water.

  2. says

    My husband has never done character dining, and I haven’t done it in 15 years! We like to try different, more adventurous food while on vacation – eating is half the fun! lol Tusker House sounds like a perfect place for us, and I love the theming. We will have to try it next time we go!

    Thanks for all the great info once again! :D

  3. Essie says

    Thanks so much for this report. I’ve often wanted to check out some of the foods at the AKL, but was unsure about the food. This place would let me try all of the exotic foods that I want without commuting to an entre. Also, I love the character outfits!!!!!! This is a must for my next trip!

  4. Mark says

    We are not fans of character dining, but the food here is excellent, so we put up with it. If you’ve pictured everything on offer, then I do agree with your comment about much less on offer than before. Looks pretty disappointing actually. Where’s the butter chicken?

  5. says

    We haven’t eaten there yet, but will when we get to go again. It sounds like a great place to eat. Next year we will be going on a Disney Cruise on the Fantasy, so WDW will have to wait a while.

  6. Margaret says

    Unfortunately we had a awful experience this past visit. Tusker House is usually our favorite for breakfast. We had a reservation at 10:25 and they did not seat us till almost 11 and really rushed us and were starting to take away the breakfast food. I was extremely upset that we were basically shuffled in and out. We did have the Dining package and I am glad the tickets for the show were part of the meal cause the show was equally disappointing. Don’t think I will be wasting my dining credits on Tusker House anymore I I am positive I will never sit through Rivers of Light again

  7. Carly says

    Thank you for this review! We have a lunch coming up in November for a larger group (well I guess only 10 of us). so hopefully everyone finds some things they can eat and enjoy b/c we were really hoping to get a breakfast ADR as we know it is really yummy., but no such luck. Oh well. Bonus is we get to meet the characters!!!

  8. Jean says

    We have had lunch there twice with our grandson Jake age 9, we all loved it. Jake is a huge Donald fan and he spent alot off time at our table. We loved all the different foods. It’s our favorite character dining place. Going in 29 days and we can’t wait.

  9. Lisa says

    We had a chance to go to Tusked House in May and were happy with the characters. I wish we were as fond of the food. It was better than some buffets but still not great. The redeeming quality was the Rivers of Light seating with our package. Glad we are trying Tiffins ROL this next trip.

  10. sheryl says

    We LOVE Tusker House although it’s usually a breakfast meal for us. It’s a great way to start a day at AK, especially if you can schedule a “Safari” right after. :) We enjoy everything about this place: the variety and uniqueness of the food, the characters and the interesting surroundings. Was there in January and it will be on the list for the next trip! Glad to see your dinner review though. You never know, maybe we’ll change it up and try lunch or dinner instead.

  11. Ashley says

    I’m the meal planner for our family trips and admittedly a fairly picky eater. My aunt & I had enjoyed Boma on a previous trip so we tried TH on our last trip 5 years ago. My cousin was a waitress there & raved about the food & at that time the last 2hrs of the day didn’t have characters so was cheaper than lunch (we don’t eat many table service meals due to $$). We both really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. Everything was very tasty and there was so much variety. The desserts were the only disappointment as most were either dry or tasteless (didn’t try the bread pudding as neither of us like it). It was also very quiet in the restaurant as there were only 2 other tables full.

  12. Christine says

    We love Tuskers having visited multiple times and can’t wait to try dinner there when we next visit. A couple of years ago we tried Boma but were not impressed. The kids couldn’t find much that they liked but excellent server magicked up burgers and fries for them. Plus there’s the hassle of getting there and you are taken right out of parks. No it’s Tuskers for us. It’s great for early breakfast and a chance to get into park ahead of crowds. For lunch it’s a cool shady spot for a chance to recharge batteries and bow dinner. Whoopee I can’t wait.

  13. Betty says

    Thanks for all the information about the Tuskers never eaten there in all the years going to Disney.hope we aren’t disappointed with the meal.

  14. Lori says

    Um…where’s the review? This is just pictures and descriptions of the buffet. Did anything actually eat anything? If so, was it good? Because telling us what was eaten and whether or not it was good and why is what a dining review is. This is just a long Instragram.

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