Guest Review: Tusker House Lunch With Finding Nemo Package

UPDATE: When Tusker House switched to a character meal for lunch in 2011, the Finding Nemo Package seating was discontinued. As always, things change often in Disney, so be sure to ask your reservations agent for details.
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I am so pleased to bring you this post by guest author Michele (also known as @MyMuse18 on the twitter) all about Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House Finding Nemo package (i.e. — book lunch at Tusker House and get reserved seating at the Finding Nemo Musical. Take it away, Michele!

After my fun-filled Backstage Safari tour, a Hidden Mickey hunt through Camp Minnie-Mickey, and strolling through Asia, it was time for my dining reservation at Tusker House! By making a reservation between 1:00-1:45pm specifically, I also received a reserved seating voucher for the 3:15 showing of “Finding Nemo: The Musical.”

I checked in at the outdoor podium and had just enough time to watch a dance lesson. One of the dancers even posed for me!

Dance Lesson at Tusker House

A Dancer Poses for Michele

After watching all this dancing excitement, I went into the waiting area behind Tusker House and [Read more…]

The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (And Alternatives When They’re Full)

Chef Donald

You guys remember when we covered the Top Ten Disney Dining Tips, right? Overwhelmingly, the tip that was mentioned the most by Disney Food Blog readers was making Advanced Dining Reservations for high priority meals at Disney parks and resorts.

While this might be obvious to many, not everyone knows which Disney restaurants fill up the fastest when it comes to reservations. Having a little frame of reference on this might be extremely helpful as you’re planning your Disney dining and trying to determine what meals are high priority for you. So, I’ve prepared a little primer on which Disney restaurants are the toughest to book, along with great alternatives if you don’t happen to get your favorites!:

1. Le Cellier

Le Cellier Steakhouse has been, for years, one of the toughest tickets in Disney World for both lunch and dinner. Seriously, I have heard Le Cellier cast members mention more than once that they’re continuously booked up for lunch and dinner 6 months in advance, with walk-up reservations rarely an option. In my opinion, this is due to three things: [Read more…]

Duck Three Ways

Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant currently has a dish on the menu called Duck Two Ways:

Duck Two Ways
House Cured Pastrami with a Vanilla-White Balsamic Melon Pear Salad, and Braised Leg
with a Ginger Carrot Puree, and Natural Reduction 28.00

But I thought we could do them one better. Here’s the DisneyFoodBlog’s Duck THREE Ways:

Chef Donald

Chef Donald

[Read more…]

Tusker House Reserve Seating for Finding Nemo: The Musical

findingnemo
For those of you who can’t see enough of the new Finding Nemo: The Musical in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, don’t forget that you can get reserved seating for the show if you dine at Tusker House for lunch between 1:00pm and 1:45pm!

This is a great deal — you get to eat at a fantastic restaurant and follow it up with one of the premier Disney shows on property (seriously; Finding Nemo: The Musical is a wonderful show). At the moment, cost is around $23 per adult and $13 per kid for the lunch buffet, but on March 28th, the cost goes up to around $27 per adult and $14 per kid.

Call 407-WDW-DINE for reservations :)

Image copyright Disney

Best Disney World Restaurants for Vegetarians

Boma Open Kitchen

Boma Open Kitchen

This is a tough blog post, as people define “Vegetarian” in so many different ways! To try to give you the most up-to-date and tested information, I’ve included readers’ top picks for table-service and counter-service locations and rounded out the post with some great feedback from travel-blogger SoloFriendly, who’s got some great ideas for meat-free Disney World dishes. Finally, I’ve listed a few other resources for you to check out if you’re doing Disney as a vegetarian or a vegan.

 

 

Best Disney World Restaurants for Vegetarians

Reader Picks: Table-Service
Boma
Boma, Jambo House, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma was the landslide winner among food blog readers who chimed in about Vegetarian options. It’s a buffet, which automatically offers a wide variety of choices; but with an emphasis on African soups, hummus, salads, and grain-based dishes, it’s a great option for meat-free eating.

Reader Comment from Beth via facebook:
Hubby is vegetarian when out thanks to being Kosher at home. His favorite was Boma since there was so much to pick from. The staff there was amazing to walk around and tell everything that was safe if you requested it.

Sanaa
Sanaa, Kidani Village, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
One of the newer restaurants in Disney World, Sanaa has another African- and Asian- themed menu (dinner menu) on which every section has at least one (and usually many) mouth-watering vegetarian selections.

While I loved my meal there, I’ll quote SoloFriendly’s helpful comments:

Sanaa Spinach and Paneer Cheese

Sanaa Spinach and Paneer Cheese

They’ve got a lot of very creative menu items that are vegetarian, so if I was really sick of salads and wanted something totally different, I’d go here. They offer all sorts of wonderful breads and vegetarian accompaniments, more than one vegetarian appetizer (paneer cheese, roasted cauliflower, and potato and pea samosas) and entree, unusual salad choices, and a vegetarian soup. There is no doubt in my mind I could have a very filling and delicious meal here without eating meat. In fact, I could do so more than once without repeating the same dish twice. (By the way, here’s SoloFriendly’s Sanaa Review)

Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Downtown Disney
This well-known Downtown Disney restaurant features several meatless choices, including creative salads, vegetarian pasta dishes, and yummy flatbreads/pizzas. The most famous item, however, is the butternut-squash soup! Here’s the dinner menu, and for some photos, SoloFriendly’s Wolfgang Puck Cafe review.

Reader Comment from Jennifer via facebook:
Wofgang Puck’s. Between sushi, salmon, margherita pizza, and [pumpkin] ravioli, you have many options.

Tusker House Buffet

Tusker House Buffet

Tusker House, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Coming highly recommended by readers (and me!), Tusker House serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets in the Animal Kingdom theme park. Vegetarian options abound at all meals, and servers will gladly show you which items are vegetarian. This gives a quick list of some items that are routinely available on the lunch/dinner buffets, including Hummus and baba ghanoush, Jollaf rice, Pearl couscous with sweet basil essence, Spiced tandoori tofu, and Tunisian couscous salad.

Vegetarian Quiche and Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

Vegetarian Quiche and Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

Reader Comment from Erwin via facebook:
For ease of locating things, Tusker House. Last time we were there, the server pointed out that (facing the buffet from the dining room) everything to the left of the dessert island was vegetarian, with the obvious exception of the meats on the deli board. Everything to the right was not, which included the Israeli couscous side dish (probably made with chicken broth).

Reader Picks: Counter-Service

Tangierine Cafe

Tangierine Cafe

Tangierine Cafe, Morocco Pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase
Another multi-vote winner, Tangierine Cafe offers numerous wraps and side dishes that are, or can be made, vegetarian. Check out SoloFriendly’s photo-packed review of her Vegetable Platter dinner, which includes “falafel bread, olive salad, hummus, lentil salad, tabouleh, and a tangierine couscous salad,” at the cafe.

Reader Comment from @jobber99 via twitter, recalling his favorite veggie meal at Tangierine Cafe: Falafel with hummus, pita, rice, taboueh, and baklava.

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons, The Land, Epcot’s Future World
Sunshine Seasons always tops best counter-service lists, and this is no exception. The food-court-style restaurant offers different stations for different types of food, including Asian Cuisine-inspired foods, Soup and Salads, Sandwiches, Grilled items, and Desserts.

Sunshine Seasons Asian Cuisine Station

Sunshine Seasons Asian Cuisine Station

In addition to the standard vegetarian fare (soups and salads) at Sunshine Seasons, you can find grilled vegetable sandwiches and other vegetarian entrees.

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom
Cosmic Ray’s is truly a favorite among vegetarians for its (actually quite good!) veggie burgers and vegetable wraps. Perhaps the out-of-this-world (sorry. had to do it.) burger fixin’s bar will sway your decision… .

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

Other reader suggestions included: Garden Grill (dish suggestion: tofu veggie noodles), Columbia Harbour House (dish suggestion: lighthouse sandwich), Yak and Yeti (make a meal of the veggie side dishes), Starring Rolls Cafe (dish suggestion: Veggie Wrap), Mama Melrose’s, Coral Reef (dish suggestion: Wild Mushroom Lasagna), Coronado Springs’ Pepper Market, California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Kona Cafe, and The Hollywood Brown Derby. We’d love to hear your suggestions; contact Disney Food Blog via facebook, twitter, or email.

Cosmic Ray's Condiment Bar

Cosmic Ray’s Condiment Bar

If these suggestions don’t strike your fancy, remember that Disney offers a whole website page about special dining options as well as phone numbers and email addresses to connect with dining personnel before your trip. This is a great way to get information and request special dining options for your vacation. Disney is very accommodating when it comes to ensuring your dining experience is a good one; it just may take a bit of pre-planning. Also, if you’re already in a restaurant and don’t see anything for you on the menu, mention to your server that you’d like to hear more about Vegetarian and Vegan options. Many Disney World Chefs are more than willing to put together a delectable dish just for you — even on short notice!

Disney Contact Information for Special Diet Considerations
General Disney Special Diets Contact: SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com, or 407-824-5967
Animal Kingdom: WDWAKSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-938-3288
Hollywood Studios: WDWSTSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-560-3551
Epcot: WDWECSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-560-6395
Magic Kingdom: WDWMKSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-824-5967
(thanks to WDWinfo)

Other Helpful Links, Books, and Tips
Helpful grid of Vegetarian and Vegan items in Disney World Parks: While this does not include all restaurants and dining locations (and no resort options), it’s still a VERY helpful guide for those visiting the parks.
Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando (2000): One of the only dining guides for vegetarians in Disney World
Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando, Second Edition (2003)
Website and Book Updates For Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando

As a disclaimer, in this blog post “Vegetarian” pretty much means the ingredients are “meat-free;” the qualification does not pertain to how or where the dishes are cooked, and does not take into consideration inclusion of eggs/dairy.

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!

Jungle Juice vs. Frunch

Jungle Juice at Tusker House

Jungle Juice at Tusker House

Jungle Juice and Frunch are very often mistaken for one another, so I figured I’d try to clear up the whole specialty breakfast juice question.

You can find Jungle Juice at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom (and sometimes at Boma). You can find Frunch at Boma breakfast (at least you used to be able to…the last time I was there, the juice looked a lot like jungle juice, so any confirmations would be helpful!). Also, remember that jungle juice is commonly known outside of the Disney Character Breakfast crowd as alcohol-based…so, definitely don’t add that to you 5-year-old’s morning meal…

Jungle Juice Recipe
1 part Orange Juice
1 part Passion Fruit juice
1 part Guava juice

Frunch Recipe–serves 12
One 8 ounce can Lemonade, frozen and canned (follow directions on can to dilute)
One 8 ounce can Pineapple Juice, frozen and canned (follow directions on can to dilute)
One 8 ounce can Orange Juice, frozen concentrate and canned (follow directions on can to dilute)
12 ounces Mango Juice
6 ounces Grenadine

Tusker House Breakfast (or…Duck a l’Harambe)

I hadn’t had Tusker House breakfast in years. I had great memories of going to the little counter-service eatery right after the park opened, getting my breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, shredded potatoes, and a biscuit, and sitting out at one of the tables, lazily watching commando dads and exhausted kids taking “monster steps” toward the Kilimanjaro Safari queue line. Sigh. Those were lovely mornings.

The Duck of the Hour

The Duck of the Hour

No sooner had I developed a routine, however, when Disney pulled the rug out from under me and established Tusker House as a table-service buffet rather than my beloved counter-service stop. They moved the Duck Breakfast there, too–no longer dubbing it “Donald’s Breakfast-o-saurus,” as was it’s name when hosted by Dino-land’s Restaurant-o-saurus, but “Donald’s Safari Breakfast,” implying its new home next to the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.

Tusker House Buffet Area

Tusker House Buffet Area

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love ducks as much as the next guy. And I love having breakfast with ducks…and mice, and dogs, and chipmunks, too. But I was a little perturbed that my slow, lazy, relaxing Tusker House breakfast was about to be turned into a typical loud, crazy, take-a-buzzer-and-hope-to-get-a-seat-within-an-hour character buffet meal.

Oatmeal and Mealie Pap

Oatmeal and Mealie Pap

Luckily, my first experience at Donald’s Safari Breakfast was a good one. We were seated after only about a 10 minute wait, and despite the hoarde of cheerleaders occupying an entire section of the restaurant, we were waited on quickly and efficiently and were doted upon by the characters twice during our hour in the restaurant.

Beef Bobotie, Veggie Quiche, Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

Beef Bobotie, Veggie Quiche, Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

The “complimentary” Jungle Juice was also a considerably successful attempt to brighten my experience (I LOVE that stuff!).

Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice

Tusker House is serving some fun, ethnic breakfast items along with the standards, and the massive size of the restaurant keeps the crowds from being unbearable. I think I’ll consider it a must-do character breakfast from here on out–alongside our favorite Crystal Palace!

Go! Enjoy! And say Hello to the duck for me!