Jambo! We were super excited to be back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to try an old favorite that has JUST reopened!
Checking out newly reopened restaurants has become the new normal around here! We’ve had a few spots reopen recently and recently we ventured to the welcoming village of Harambe to take part in not just one but two meals on reopening day at the newly reopened Tusker House Restaurant!
While you may remember this being a typical Disney Character buffet meal it has had some reimagining after the pandemic. While the food options are still very unique to Tusker House it is no longer a buffet. Rather, the food is served family-style and is all you care to enjoy (like we’ve seen at all other buffets since reopening). Also, similar to before the pandemic the characters that will join you on this safari are Donald and some of his familiar friends ready to explore!
With all that said let’s go explore all that Tusker House has to offer for lunch and dinner now!
The amazing warm environment of Harambe still bleeds into the Tusker House vibes and you can feel that from the moment you start to walk up to the restaurant.
Similar to other Disney Table service restaurants, the check-in process is very simple and straightforward. You will go to your Dining reservation in the My Disney Experience App and check-in there.
Once you have checked in on the App you will receive a notification and text that you are checked in and then another notification once you are ready to be seated.
Once you get inside the restaurant you will feel like you stepped into a gloriously climate-controlled open-air market in the heart of Africa.
If you remember dining here before the closure you would know that it was a buffet and the only major difference in the layout other than some minimal spacing of the tables, is that there are now guests dining where the buffet was previously located.
The seating here is still the same as before the closure with standard tables and chairs. The table was already set with a paper napkin and all of your eating utensils.
Once seated we were given a virtual menu with a QR code to look at the prix-fixe menu which is priced at $55 per adult and $36 per child.
At this point, even though we had already feasted on a delicious breakfast, we were still ready to dig into what Donald and his friends had to serve for lunch! Let’s get into it!
The food at Tusker House is inspired by African and Indian flavors and has A LOT of unique offerings as opposed to other Character Dining experiences in Disney World. Lunch and Dinner are $55 for adults and $36 for kids — the same price as dinner currently at the Contemporary’s Chef Mickey’s (probably the most comperable character meal offered at this time). The starters for this menu are compromised of a delicious bread service and an African-inspired salad with a citrus vinaigrette dressing.
The Entrée and Sides menu are pretty unique to Tusker House. You’ll receive a little bit of everything and are free to ask for more of anything you’d like. There are 3 types of meat and shrimp for your proteins and a variety of hearty sides.
While the dessert menu seems small and not very descriptive you will see later how awesome those “animal-inspired desserts” are. There is also a plant-based dessert available upon request and that is a Chocolate Mousse.
If you’re looking for allergy-friendly or plant-based options, be sure to speak with a Cast Member. We noted some of the plant-based items above but below is a full look at the allergy-friendly menu we were provided.
For lunch and dinner, the Cast Member told us that the first course (meaning the breads and salad) are already plant-based and vegan (note that Disney defines their “plant-powered cuisine” as one that is “made with plant foods like grains, nuts, vegetables and fruit—and without animal meat, dairy, eggs or honey.”)
For the main entrees, a plant-based Impossible Durban Curry is available upon request. Again, for dessert, you can ask for a plant-based chocolate mousse.
Here’s a look at those Allergy-Friendly options from Disney’s online menu.
You’ll find allergy-friendly starters, entrees, sides, and more.
You can see various items that can be made for different allergies.
There are a variety of standard drinks as well as a few non-alcoholic mocktails…
…and the real behemoth of the menu, the Cocktails. This was a pretty big menu for cocktails and should have something for any flavor profile.
There is no kids menu here at Tusker House because the kids eat what the adults eat and only pay a lower price for their portion.
So without further ado, let’s get into what everyone has been waiting on the FOOD! To drink, we ordered the Lost on Safari which is actually NOT on the menu but is commonly ordered and featured at the Dawa bar and is a customer favorite. This drink costs $14 and is made with Staar African Rum, Spiced Rum, and Pangani Punch (which is a sweet tropical-tasting juice blend used at Dawa Bar). It was strong and had a good flavor but VERY sweet. If you are not into sweet drinks you may wanna take a pass on this one.
Next up on our food safari are the starters. Heads up, the first started made us perk up like little meerkats when we heard those two magical words: BREAD SERVICE. We love a good bread service like the ones at Sanaa or Nomad Lounge so ANOTHER option for (ahem…bottomless!) bread service was VERY appealing. The bread service features freshly made rolls and delicious crispy papadam bread (these are basically thin crispy bean-based giant crackers, to put it simply). It was DELICIOUS and the spreads that went along with them were delicious as well.
There were three different spreads with the bread service that included a chimichurri coriander that was slightly sweet with a hint of spice, a mango chutney that was sweet and had a good heat to it, and finally a red pepper hummus that was pretty basic but was done well.
Guys. We need to stress this again for everyone to appreciate: bottomless bread service. OMG. So it’s no where near as robust in terms of choices as you’d find at, say, Sanaa. But what you do get got two thumbs enthusiastically up from us. You’re welcome.
The other starter is the African-inspired salad. This was very refreshing and a nice break from all of the carbs and meats we have been consuming today! The lemon-citrus vinaigrette was good but could have had definitely had more lemon flavor or maybe a lemon to squeeze over the salad. If you’re a fan of simple salads you will enjoy this one. The fresh veggies on the side were actually the second salad — Kachumbari. Traditionally, this is an East African tomato and onion chopped salad. Here, the pieces were cut a lot larger than many kachumbari, but the flavors were fresh and enjoyable.
Ok, now it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for, the main dish. The entrees featured a Moroccan spiced Beef, Spit-roasted Herb Chicken, Berber-marinated Pork (we think they mean Berbere, a common Ethiopian spice blend), and Cape Malay Green Curry Shrimp. The sides that came with the entrees were House-made Mac and Cheese (!!), green beans with carrots and corn, roasted potatoes, and jasmine rice.
The meats were all pretty good. The Moroccan Spiced Beef was cooked extremely well and the chimichurri sauce on top of it was SO flavorful and it paired perfectly with the crispy roasted potatoes. Heads up, though — the potatoes are served under the meat leaving them soggy from meat juices and chimichurri drippings. Not bad, but not crispy either.
Next up was the Herb Chicken and even though this seemed like a pretty basic rotisserie chicken it did surprise us with the amount of flavor it had. This chicken was still pleasantly moist and tasty.
The last and least exciting of the trio was the Berber-marinated Pork and vegetable medley. Both of these items were cooked well but lacked anything that made them stand out. The veggies were your basic mixed veggie blend — fine, but forgettable. The pork could have used a lot more flavor. We think a sauce or even better/stronger seasoning could bring it to another level.
Now the highlight of our entrees, the Cape Malay Green Curry Shrimp with Jasmine Rice. This dish was not quite as spicy as the other curry that we had during breakfast but it had TONS OF FLAVOR. The shrimp in this dish were massive and juicy and the dish as a whole was very unique compared to other items we have gotten at Disney World. We could definitely eat seconds of this!!
Last and certainly not least of our entrees and sides is the show-stopping House-Made Mac and Cheese. This dish was super creamy and rich and was everything that we remembered. This has been a fan favorite at Tusker House and we are super excited to see it is back. So to reiterate: bottomless mac and cheese and bread service. Did you make a reservation yet? 😉
Now for all the sweet tooth fans out there. Here come the desserts! These desserts did taste good but the presentation and look of these are what truly made them amazing. (Also, has anyone else noticed Disney has been crushing these family-style dessert plates recently?? So many fun optionsp resented beautifully.)
First up was the Safari cupcake. This left a lot to be desired. This was as basic as a cupcake can get. It was vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. This dessert would be perfect for the kids or any picky eaters. If you just want to get down with a plain cupcake (nothing wrong with that!) this will please!
Next up is the Flourless Honey Bee Cake. This one caught our eye the most and was by far the most unique of the trio. The layers of honey filling (made with real honey!) cut the rich flourless chocolate cake. We were pleasantly surprised how well the honey flavor came through!
The final dessert ended up being our favorite of the three. The Tree of Life Brownie was topped with tiny meringues, green tea, and coffee flakes. While it did not have a very strong green tea or coffee flavor the chocolate in this brownie was very rich and chocolatey! We loved this one and the attention to detail with the toppings surrounding the Tree of Life.
The entrees and sides were exactly what we expected, delicious and unique compared to any other character dining experience! Now with 2 Tusker Houses meals under our (heavily bulging) belt, it was time see the other big draw of Tusker House: characters!
Let’s be honest one of the best parts of this dining experience is seeing Donald and all his friends all decked out in their safari gear ready to go on an adventure! Well, we have good news we caught all of their appearances to show you! First and most importantly we saw the star of the show, Donald!
Next up was Daisy working it per usual!
The next friend up was our pal, Mickey!
Last and certainly not least was the Goof! Goofy came out and gave us all a good laugh.
We received the cutest card featuring an picture of Donald and all his friends!
On the back of the card are all of the autographs although with the characters back to signing themselves, these cards may not be available.
There is just something about being able to go back into these restaurants and experiences that we have missed for so long. It was good to be back (you know…for the second time in one day!).
Nosh or Not
Grab your safari hat and head over to Tusker House if…
- You have been missing character dining.
- You like to eat a little more on the adventurous side.
- You are looking for a bigger portion for a sit down meal. The food here is substantial and filling and, don’t forget, bottomless!
Stay back at the village and eat leftovers if…
- You tend to be a picky and not looking to try unique cuisine.
- You’re in a rush and not looking to spend an hour or two sitting for lunch.
- You are eating on a budget and do not want to spend a lot of money
We missed eating at Tusker House and being able to dine with Donald and his friends is still one of the best character dining experiences on property. This was one of the better buffets on property prior to the closure and, while you still get the same amount of food during your meal, the lack of variety could be an issue for some. The consistency and quality of the food served here is one of the big positives about eating here and as long as you aren’t a picky eater we think that you would highly enjoy it. If your kiddo is only looking to eat chicken nuggets, they might be disappointed by the more exotic flavors of food served.
The characters were great, per usual. We’ve enjoyed spotting the characters in their safari gear here in the past. The character made plenty of rounds and, while they aren’t wlaking up to your table, they’re still giving everyone plenty of face time. If you’re in the market for a character meal, this is a tough one to beat in terms of who you get to meet, its location in a park, and the qulaity food.
We typically really enjoy our experiences at Tusker House. The food is both approachable and unique at the same time — not easy to pull off! Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a ton of sit down meals compared to other parks, so it’s great to have this option back. We enjoyed our filling breakfast AND lunch. Maybe after a month to digest all of this good food we’ll come back and give that bottomless bread service a run for its money! Welcome back, Tusker House!
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Do you prefer the new family-style meals or do you wish buffets would come back? Let us know in the comments below!