Jambo from Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Tusker House Restaurant
Time to visit one of our favorite character dining locations: Tusker House! Tusker House is located in Animal Kingdom’s African village of Harambe and offers a character buffet for breakfast and lunch and a “family style dinner buffet” (really just a buffet — no family style service), also with characters!
One added element of dining at Tusker House is the opportunity to reserve the Rivers of Light Dining Package here, which saves a seat at Animal Kingdom’s newly-revamped Rivers of Life: We Are One nighttime spectacular. Generally, the price differential between the character meal and the dining package is pretty small here, so you may find it’s worth the slight splurge to score that reserved seating.
We weren’t after the Dining Package this time, but we sure were excited to see if the food and experience at Tusker House lived up to its past quality. And we ended up eating TWO full meals at once, which we really didn’t expect! (Read on to find out how we did it!)
We’ve got a lot of food to share with you, so let’s get going!
Tusker House is a charming restaurant located on your left-hand side in Harambe as you head toward Kilimanjaro Safaris. Check in is at a stand near the Dawa Bar, and you’ll be given a pager. Here you’re welcome to glance at the menu — but keep in mind it’s pretty generic because it’s a buffet! (Don’t worry: we’ll get more specific, and we have photos of EVERYTHING below!)
Once your pager buzzes, you’ll be led around the back of the restaurant, where your Safari Adventure awaits! (Is it just us, or should every meal at Disney World be called an “Adventure”?)
In keeping with the safari theme, Tusker House is housed in the Safari Orientation Center.
You’ll find a lot of detailed signs and decorations around the bright restaurant that really immerse you in the story. Like this helpful guide to animal names in Swahili!
The restaurant itself is HUGE — much bigger than it appears from the outside. There are four different dining rooms, each decorated with African textiles and artwork — like these adorable wooden animals!
There’s also a wall inside near the buffet designed to resemble a boma: a protective wall used as enclosures in many African communities to protect lives and property from dangerous predators. You’ll note that this term is also the namesake of Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (which, incidentally, is also an African-inspired buffet)!
The seating at Tusker House is various sized, chunky wood tables and chairs. Nothing too exciting — but they are easy to get in and out of when the characters come by or when you need to make multiple trips to the buffet. (Trust us: you’ll appreciate this.)
And now, for the main attraction: the buffet area.
The buffet and its surroundings are designed to look like an open air market. Isn’t it just gorgeous? We love the textiles hanging from the ceiling that give the illusion of only sky beyond. (Don’t worry — those are skylights; you’re not in any danger of getting drenched in one of those stereotypical Orlando mid-afternoon downpours.)
You’ll see food on several different carts and stalls — so make sure you check it all out before you grab anything. This will help conserve food waste, like Donald and this friendly sign request. 🙂
And speaking of Donald, let’s see who you can expect to see at your table while you dine!
Characters weren’t always at the Tusker House; in fact, Tusker House’s predecessor, Donald’s Safari Breakfast, started at Restaurantosaurus. But a few years ago Donald and the gang moved over to Tusker for breakfast, and shortly thereafter they started joining at lunch. Eventually the migrated to dinner, too, meaning you can dine with safari-attire-clad character three meals a day!
They are definitely dressed to impress — what else would you expect?!
Donald is reminding us he’s number one while wearing the cutest safari jacket and hat. And where would Donald be without Daisy!?
Could she BE any cuter?! My favorite thing about Daisy is while she never wears pants, she always coordinates her shoes and bangle bracelet to her outfit. (Maybe she’s just good at planning ahead for a buffet meal, come to think of it…)
The Big Cheese himself also joins in on the Safari fun at Tusker House.
I simply cannot handle how cute Mickey’s hat is with the ear holes cut out. Plus he’s got a canteen full of POG/Jungle juice. (We assume; Mickey was unavailable for confirmation.)
And finally, the foursome is rounded out with the Goof! He’s also prepared for the Savannah with his utility vest and cargo shorts. Gawrsh, he’s cute.
As you can see — you’ll need to make sure you have your autograph books out and cameras ready during your meal at the Tusker House!
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for — the FOOD!
While the food at Tusker House is served buffet-style, you’ll still have a server to bring drinks. Non-alcoholic drinks such as sodas, juices, and coffee are included. You can also order a cocktail off the drink menu if you’re so inclined. (A cocktail or other adult beverage is also included for those on the Disney Dining Plan and age 21+.)
And everyone starts their meal with a glass of the infamous P.O.G juice (also known as Jungle Juice here in Harambe). P.O.G Juice is a mix of Passion Fruit (in other locations Pineapple), Orange, and Guava juices. It’s always a fun, refreshing way to start off your time at the Tusker House!
The first buffet station we visited was a wonderful assortment of hot items, some of which are classic breakfast choices and some slightly more unusual for a Disney buffet. Some of the more familiar items include Tater Tots and Ham & Cheese Frittata.
Nearby, the Beef Bobotie is a more exotic choice. Bobotie is a traditional African dish made with a base of minced meat, egg, raisins, and vegetables. It may sound or look a little unusual — but I promise, it’s fantastic. The meat is spiced wonderfully and it’s lighter than it looks.
Fried Plantains and Mealie Pap (similar to grits) provide lots of starch and long-lasting energy for your day.
Breakfast classics Sausage, Scrambled Eggs, and Bacon are readily available of course.
We aren’t done yet! There were also Roasted Potatoes and pre-made Omelettes.
We also spotted a few heavier, non-traditional breakfast items that definitely had a lunch-y vibe, such as the Cape Malay Chicken Curry and Basmati Rice. Interestingly, this disappeared when the lunch items started coming out… . (More on that in a bit!)
As with any Disney Buffet, there’s a kids’ section! But don’t worry — kids of all ages are free to take from here as well.
Let’s take a closer look at those waffles — besides classic Mickey you can also find Nala and Simba! This makes sense; we are in Animal Kingdom after all.
There’s also maple syrup freely flowing to top off all your breakfast selections.
Along the wall, there are cold items such as a yogurt bar, including toppings and fruit.
Also on the cold bar is Lox with all the fixings!
The last items on the cold bar are various cold salads. The Golden Beet Salad is piled high with arugula, red onions, and beets.
There’s also a Black Eye Pea Salad and the Trek Salad, which is made with coucous and tons of vegetables.
And what would breakfast be without ALL THE CARBS?! There are more than a few bread options at the Tusker House buffet. Bagels and condiments for bagels are abundant.
You’ll also find plain white and wheat bread.
There’s a toaster nearby if you’re so inclined.
My personal favorite of the savory breads is the Jalapeno Corn Bread. It’s moist and tasty, with just a bit of heat.
The Raspberry Chocolate Chip Bread is a fabulous choice for a slightly sweeter carb.
And the Blueberry Bread is a close runner-up.
Near the breads, you’ll find oatmeal with plenty of add-ins.
There is also a small assortment of cereal and milk.
Now on to sweet pastries and treats! (You didn’t think we were done with carbs yet, did you?) There are donut holes (which are literally just Krispy Kreme donuts — but still delicious of course.)
You can also pick up a Chocolate Twist, which is similar to a chocolate croissant.
Here is also where you’ll find my favorite sweet bread on the buffet — and maybe my favorite item on the buffet in general: the Zebra Coffee Cake.
I mean just LOOK at this beauty. It’s a layered cake with traditional and chocolate coffee cakes and a delicious crumbly topping. Honestly, I have considered booking another Tusker House reservation just for this…
The sweet breads aren’t finished yet — you can also snag some Banana Bread Pudding with puddles of sweet cream sauce.
And rounding out the bread offerings is a breakfast classic: Biscuits and Gravy.
These are pretty good — though the biscuit is a little on the dry side. However the sausage gravy is full of flavor, so just go ahead and pile it on to solve any crumbly biscuit problems.
Rounding out the breakfast items is the carving station where a chef is serving up Rotisserie Ham.
Top it off with the Sweet and Spicy Mustard, and you’re really in for a treat. The mustard isn’t overwhelmingly spicy, but there is a subtle heat. It’s balanced nicely with the sweet ham though, so don’t be too stressed if you aren’t into hot foods.
After we got our plates, our table was, well, you could say full.
One of the real highlights was the Cape Malay Curried Chicken, which is far from a usual breakfast buffet selection. The chicken was cooked perfectly and very moist, and the curry sauce was incredibly flavorful. I don’t care if you have an 8AM reservation — you need to try this dish!
Another stand-out was the Lox. If you’re a fan of fresh salmon with all the fixings, this is pretty darn good — and not your average theme park breakfast!
The rest of our choices were delicious as well! Everything was cooked well (as well as can be expected at a busy buffet), and everyone in our party found something to enjoy — from the most adventurous eaters to the pickiest.
But now for the two-meal intrigue. How did we eat two meals in one sitting, you ask? Well, it just so happened our breakfast reservation was at 10:30AM, and breakfast finishes service at 10:55. Around that time, they start consolidating the breakfast items like so…
…and start putting out lunch items! Even though we had just stuffed ourselves with a filling breakfast, we knew we had to try a few lunch items, too. For research purposes, of course. 😉 So let’s stroll through the lunch buffet!
On the hot bar, bacon and eggs were replaced with chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy.
The chicken was cooked perfectly and was nice and moist, while the mashed potatoes are whipped with the skins on in the style of smashed potatoes. YUM.
Other new sides included Pigeon Peas and Rice, Collard Greens, and Roasted Root Vegetables.
New hearty main dishes were also available for lunch. We really enjoyed the Spicy Coconut Shrimp Curry, which had some good heat balanced by the coconut. It was great over rice.
Other options were the Vegetable Tandoori and Kushri (or Kushari), which is a traditional Egyptian dish made with lentils and rice. This one incorporated couscous, too.
One of our lunchtime favorites are the Vegetarian Samosas, a traditional Indian bite served with Tzatzki Sauce. (Pro tip: the Tzatzki Sauce is good on anything — I highly recommend the chicken.)
At lunch, there are new options at the Carving Station as well. You can enjoy the roasted Pork Shoulder with the Sweet and Spicy Mustard as well as the Peri Peri Salmon.
Both were cooked beautifully. The salmon was flaky and light, and the pork was moist with the mustard adding great flavor.
The Kids’ Buffet also gets a lunchtime makeover. Where there were waffles and bacon, you can now find Macaroni and Cheese, a Corn Medley with carrots, and CORN DOG NUGGETS.
And YES, the adults are free to grab off the Kid’s Buffet at lunch as well. The Mac & Cheese is a real highlight with the big curly noodles and super creamy sauce. And we highly recommend sopping up the mac and cheese sauce with the corn dog nuggs. This is always a highlight for us!
At lunch time, you can also build a salad off the Fresh Salad bar.
And, of course, they added new bread options! The Herb Focaccia Bread is to die for, as are the Cluster Oat Rolls.
These are super soft rolls, and the oats add a different and welcome texture.
Moroccan Bread is here too! This is a short leavened bread with seeds.
Fresh Pita Bread joins the lunchtime carb party, although it looks a lot more like naan than pita. Either way: flatbread carbs!
And if you’re wondering what to do with all these delicious breads — then check out the hummus spread! (Pun intended.)
Near the breads and spreads, a soup crock of Cream of Corn Soup that sounds like a pretty great excuse to eat even more bread. Dunking is required, right?
I almost passed the soup because #twomealsinonesitting, but this was the BEST thing I ate all day. Be warned — it does pack some heat, but it’s incredibly flavorful, creamy, and delicious.
And finally — we made it to DESSERT! The Bread Pudding is still an option, along with Magic Bars (!!!), Mini Raspberry Pastries, and Chocolate Turtle Brownies.
You’ll also spot mini Chocolate Cheesecakes and an array of cookies.
Of all the desserts, our table voted the Magic Bars and Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes the winners!
PHEW! Are you full yet? It’s hard to imagine leaving hungry after a meal at Tusker House — and if you hit the buffet at just the right time, you, too, might also find yourself enjoying not one but TWO meals at once! And we actually really recommend this approach if you’re keeping a tight food budget on your next Disney World trip. You can pay for your one massive late-morning meal and easily stay fueled until dinner, thus omitting the need for a third meal of the day. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you’re only going to spend one table service credit per diner, but potentially cover two of the day’s meals. And since the food on the Tusker House buffet is some of the best buffet food in the World, it’s satisfying in more than one way!
Nosh or Not?
You’ll love Tusker House Restaurant if:
- You enjoy character dining and want to see your favorites in their safari best.
- You want to try new things and crave a meal a little more exotic than your average Disney buffet.
- You want to take advantage of the Rivers of Light Dining Package AND knock out a character meal simultaneously!
You might want to skip Tusker House Restaurant if:
- You don’t have the time to sit and fully enjoy a lengthy meal — there are rides to ride!
- You have no desire to meet characters and prefer to enjoy African fare a Animal Kingdom Lodge’s buffet, Boma.
- You or your crew don’t dig African cuisines and would skip a lot of the options here.
On our last visit, we were a bit disappointed with the variety in the dishes, and it was a bummer because Tusker House had been relatively consistent in its quality and offerings. This time, the restaurant redeemed itself! We are happy to report that we loved just about everything we tried and found the selection impressive by theme park standards (and maybe even some real world standards)!
There are enough “familiar” foods for the picky eaters to be more than happy, but there was also a lot of new and adventurous dishes as well. The variety and quality is superior to other character buffets like Chef Mickey’s and Crystal Palace, plus you still get to meet popular characters. There are lots of reasons to give Tusker House a try — and you know we’ll be back (for research — really). 😉
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Is Tusker House a must-do for your family? Let us know in the comments!