Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is one of our favourite parks to visit at Walt Disney World. We find it offers some truly unique park experiences and we even love spending time just meandering through the different lands (the park is huge, so this can take a while). Animal Kingdom also happens to have some truly great restaurants, including our favourite character dining experience at Tusker House Restaurant. If you’re considering making a reservation, here’s our Tusker House Review to help you decide (or for those that don’t want to read it all, our Disney Dining QUIPS are down at the bottom):
Tusker House is located inside Harambe Village in the Africa area of the park. At first glance the restaurant doesn’t seem to have any overt theming, but if you take a few moments to notice all of the intricate details that the Imagineers added to create the atmosphere and experience at Tusker House you’ll see a strong sense of the theming.
The buffet area is an ‘open-air’ market. If you look up towards the ceiling, you’ll see different coloured and printed fabric billowed from one side of the room to the other. The walls look to be exterior walls with second–storey windows, cracks and exposed brick. Even the buffet tables are market stands, wagons or are covered with a thatched umbrella.
The dining areas are low key in theming, but if you look closely, you’ll notice humourous signs, art, intricate carvings. Each room has its own unique pieces adorning the walls and windows into the adjacent dining areas. The floors are tiled and the table and chairs are dark and rustic wood, but comfortable. Overall, we find the restaurant to be warm, inviting and relaxed.
Tusker House serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Currently these are the breakdowns of prices:
- Breakfast is $38 USD per adult ($23 USD per child)
- Lunch and dinner are $52 USD per adult and ($31 USD per child)
Prices don’t include taxes or gratuities and they can vary depending on the season. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, each meal is 1 table service credit per person.
They do accept Tables in Wonderland here, which gets card holders 20% off, and Annual Passholders get 10% off. These discounts are not applicable to the Rivers of Light Dining Package. This dining package gives you the added bonus of a VIP seating voucher for the Rivers of Light: We Are One nighttime show. There is, however, and additional cost for the Rivers of Light Dining Package:
- Breakfast – $46 USD per adult ($28 USD per child)
- Lunch and Dinner – $60 USD per adult ($36 USD per child)
It does cost more than the regular buffet if you’re paying out of pocket, but for anyone on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s still only 1 table service credit per person – so that’s a win!
Tusker House offers one of the more diverse buffets on property, and that’s one of the reasons we really enjoy it. We like the mixture of classics, such as the character waffles available during breakfast, but we also like the African and Indian dishes that are part of the menu, such as the Beef Bobotie (a meat and egg dish), chutneys and curries. They also have a carving station at each meal and lots of options for ‘picky’ eaters, such as park classics like mac and cheese and corn dog nuggets.
The Banana Bread Pudding is a must have, but I’ll admit I’m partial to the not-so authentic or adventurous Krispie Kreme donut holes available at breakfast and the zebra cake. I’m also a fan of any place I can get smoked salmon, which is plentiful here.
Our drink of choice is the Jungle Juice, which might just be Ryan’s favourite non-alcoholic drink on property. It’s also known as POG juice. Passion fruit, orange and guava juice, making for a deliciously sweet concoction.
The food is great here, but the characters share an equal billing for the guests. While they are subject to change (just as they are at every location), the meal is called Donald’s Safari Dining, so Donald will always be there. Alongside Donald is a handful of his friends. We have consistently seen Goofy, Daisy, and Mickey in addition to Donald. They all wear safari costumes which fit with the theme of Animal Kingdom. Tusker House is fairly close to Killimanjaro Safaris, so it works well as a tie–in.
There is the typical character parade/dance around the restaurant with kids here. It’s always cute and a fun part of the dining experience. I find Daisy’s sass can really shine during this part of the meal and it’s quite entertaining.
The character interactions we’ve had here have all been a ton of fun and we’re not just saying that because Donald is our all–time favourite character (but that might be a factor). Tusker House is the perfect restaurant to meet four classic characters all in one spot without having to wait in line.
We have to mention the cast members here, specifically the servers. They do a fantastic job of giving guests a heads up as to when each character is going to be stopping by their table. They will often pass by to tell you a character will be on their way shortly and to hold off on heading to the buffet. Other times, they may even come find you at the buffet to make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to see each character.
If you miss a character, you probably won’t have a chance to catch them again, since they have timed the characters appearances quite well with how long guests are expected to dine. While there are no PhotoPass Photographers that follow the characters at Tusker House, we’ve had many cast members offer to take photos of us with our own phones so we can both get in the photo, which we’ve greatly appreciated.
This is one of the few character dining experiences we’ve made a point of returning to. There are other locations where we feel it’s more about meeting characters than the food. After all, the characters are really what you’re paying the premium price for, (we’re looking at you Chef Mickey’s!). But at Tusker House, you have the convenience of eating in the park, meeting classic characters and a really solid buffet with a wide variety of dishes. It’s a win all around for us.
In the past we’ve done the Rivers of Light Dining Package here. But we’ve decided against booking this package again in the future, unless we happen to have the Disney Dining Plan. When paying cash for the meal, the package is an upcharge and we find that VIP vouchers typically aren’t needed for Rivers of Light and therefore not worth the extra cost. If you are on the Dining Plan, then definitely go for the Rivers of Light Dining Package because you’ll get a little extra bang for your dining credit. If not on the dining plan, save your money and show up 20-30 minutes early for the show – you’ll be just fine.
This is one of our go-to character buffet experiences and we highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it out yet. We love booking an early breakfast here where they have a good balance of sweet and savoury options and then heading over to Kilimanjaro Safaris. That being said, you really can’t go wrong with any meal at Tusker House.
Disney Dining QUIPS – Tusker House Restaurant
Quick – Tusker House is a family-friendly buffet available for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner inside Animal Kingdom. The menu consists of American and African dishes with enough variety to please any picky eaters.
Unique – This is the only restaurant in Animal Kingdom to offer Character Dining. Safari Donald and a handful of his friends (Daisy, Goofy and Mickey…subject to change) will make their way to your table periodically throughout the meal for you to meet and take pictures with.
Impressions – The dining room décor may not have a ton to look at, but the open air market-styled buffet is a warm and inviting place to dine. Tusker House has one of the stronger buffets on Disney property, with many unique dishes. Combine that with the chance to meet some of the fab-five characters and it’s a recipe for success in our view.
Palate – The African-inspired dishes are really worth trying out, but in particular, the meat-carving station is always a winner. In addition, the banana bread pudding is a real star on the dessert table – get it at breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Skip or Stay – Stay, absolutely! It’s a really nice break from some of the more traditional American-fare at other restaurants around Walt Disney World. Also, who doesn’t love meeting some of the fab-five…especially Donald!